Miester Eckhart was born in 1260 at Hochheim, a village near Gotha and was named Eckhart von Hochheim. He was initially known to have been born in a notable family of landlords, but this was later reported to be false and the origin of his family and early life remain ambiguous.
He received his early education at cologne and later he became a prior at Erfurt and the provincial of Thuringia. In 1300 Eckhart went to Paris to work as a lecturer and complete his education. He stayed there for three years and after returning to Erfurt, became the provincial of Saxony. In 1307 he was appointed the vicar-general for Bohemia, to set the demoralized monasteries there in order.
In 1311 he started teaching in Paris, in one the most famous schools of the order. After this time till 1320, little is known about Eckhart’s engagements.
Eckhart was accused of heresy after he returned to Cologne. Hermann von Virneburg made this accusation before the pope, but these accusations were not acknowledged. In February 1327 Eckhart stated in a public protest that he detested everything wrong and nothing of the kind could be found in any of his writings. In 1329 however, many of his works were regarded as heretical at the close of the statement the court stated that before Eckhart’s death he recanted everything he had falsely taught and preached, by subjecting himself and his works to the apostolic see.
Shortly after this event Eckhart’s death took place. After his death, Eckhart’s disciples were admonished for their inattentiveness and were advised to be more cautious in the future. The court also generated orders against preachers who conducted subtle endeavors to preach things that led people into error.
Eckhart’s works were read widely throughout the 13th century and also by many people in the centuries to follow. His trial on heresy however shadowed his reputation. A very few of Eckhart’s works were known even after his death which is why it was very difficult to conclude what his views were. Eckhart wrote extensively on metaphysics and spiritual psychology.
Many of Eckhart’s works were filled with paradoxes. He refused to call God “god” and referred to Him as “deity”, stating that it is impossible to give God a finite definition and at the same time he mentioned that God is a finite being and that God cannot be defined as something absent or negative. He stated that the true way for the soul to attain salvation, is by its unity with God. Such knowledge is given in the traditional teachings of the Church but according to Eckhart, the way to attain that unity with god does not necessarily agree with the formal preaching of the Church.
Eckhart argued that God manifested himself in all his beings, and that everything real is truly God’s being. The difference between the beings is mainly something negative. He also said that creatures are nothing without their divine essence and may that divine essence be removed there will be nothing left. This concept of Eckhart was difficult to conceive by many of his disciples.
Eckhart’s main teachings were based on the fact that he expected all souls to be internally connected to God and to be led by Him, and in this he emphasized that all the creatures will be led into positivity. His teachings were based on the mere idea of sublimity and purity. It was these influential positive teachings that made him such a strong and influential preacher.
After the 19th century Miester Eckhart received a renewed attention mainly after most of his works were published in 1935. It was after this time that he became renowned as great spiritual mystic and influential philosopher.