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Conversations with Meister Eckhart Paperback – Unabridged, 2 Jan 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: White Crow Books (2 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907355189
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907355189
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

I don't think I ever meant to be an author, though with over ten books to my name, it could look that way. But here's another instance when appearances deceive.

I was a priest in the Church of England for twenty years, and imagined it would always be so. But then, with my feet well under the table and to my embarrassment in a way, I decided to leave. When people ask why, I say: 'I just knew the adventure was over.' And the priesthood was an adventure or it was nothing.

It was a difficult time after that, emotionally and financially, because I had nothing to go to. I remember crying on the carpet as I lost my sense of trust in life; and when trust goes, you're vulnerable. Late night conversations with my children helped to keep me going, but a middle-aged ex-priest is not the most employable of souls, and I found myself wondering how I was going to survive. Before becoming a priest, I had written satire for TV and radio, even winning a Sony radio award. But I was a long time out of that loop and had no particular desire to return there anyway.

I did try other forms of writing but became familiar with rejection letters. So I looked for supermarket work, which I had some experience of, before I was ordained. I was turned down by four, but was fifth time lucky. Yes! After so much rejection, it was a great feeling to be accepted at last, and I worked hard and happily in that busy supermarket for three years stacking shelves, chasing thieves, working on the till and chairing the shop union. I write about those days in 'Shelf Life'.

But then it felt right to jump ship again and risk the free lance adventure. I was told that every free lancer should have four strings to their bow, for at any given time, at least two would be snapping. I had perhaps one string at this time, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

'The Beautiful Life' (Bloomsbury) had been published while I was working in the shop. It was an important book for me - re-written eight times - and one or two doors began to creak open. I got myself a website ( started offering retreats, counselling and fresh writing including my supermarket diaries and 'One-Minute Mystic,' both of which went on to become long-running columns in the Daily Mail. I'd also started a weekly column in the Church Times. It was meant to last six weeks but is still going after six years. I've been very lucky.

And all the time, there was a book on the boil. An Enneagram book with Lion, was followed by 'One-Minute Mystic' and 'One-Minute Mindfulness' with Hay House. And Bloomsbury has re-printed 'The Beautiful Life' in paperback now. It's a slightly revised version of the original with a new cover and called 'The Journey Home.'

I have also had a wonderful adventure with White Crow books, in the shape of the 'Conversations with' series. They are a series of conversations with fascinating figures from history like Leo Tolstoy, Meister Eckhart, Vincent Van Gogh, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Jesus of Nazareth. What's different with these conversations is that although the questions are imagined, their words are not; it is 100% them. I found it a particularly helpful way to get to know these people, and others appear to be finding the same, whether in e book, hard copy or audio. (Yes, I enjoyed the recording studio experience very much, working with such kind, creative and talented people.)

In the meantime, my counselling work has expanded with one thing leading to another. An unexpected development has been my work supervision of five social workers, which arose from one of them coming on a retreat I led. I've learned a lot from them. And the 'vicar' hasn't died completely. I still get asked to preach in churches occasionally, and to take particular funerals and weddings. And then when work was a bit quiet this summer, I worked for a landscaper and watered the struggling grass in various London parks, which was another joy.

So as I say, I really never meant to be an author, and have no particular sense of being one now. In fact, if truth be told, I'm still the eleven year old boy - aged 53 - wondering what he will be when finally he grows up. Hopefully a footballer.

Product Description


THE NEW YORKER August 30th 2010 SIMON PARKE SPEAKS WITH THE DEAD Book trailers-the low-budget previews modelled on those used by the film industry-have quickly grown tiresome. They're never very interesting, often overly impressionistic and pretentious, and rarely rise above the level of those silly historical reA"nactments you see on cable. They might get better over time, or die out; either is preferable to their current state. An exception, though, are the finely wrought previews for Simon Parke's Conversations with - A" biographies, published by White Crow Books. In this series, Parke bypasses the more quotidian aspects of historical biography by conducting interviewsA" with his subjects-Jesus, Meister Eckhart, Arthur Conan Doyle, Vincent van Gogh, and Leo Tolstoy-with the answers coming from their published writings. The trailers are stagey-with Parke and the actor playing his subject shown in the recording studio while a musical score soars behind their voices-yet the interviews nonetheless feel natural. Much of this feeling owes to the straightforward and unadorned nature of the exchanges, as when Parke asks Vincent van Gogh why he drinks, and the master answers, If the storm gets too loud, I take a glass too much to stun myself.A" The shot cuts to At Eternity's Gate,A" van Gogh's portrait of a man with his head in his hands, but you can imagine the whorls and swirls of the artist's favored darkened skies as well. Here, Parke conducts his interview with Tolstoy in the assured and chatty style of a British talk-show host: This gambit may be viewed as simply a clever gimmick, but there is something compelling about Parke's style, which in a way that is always promised but rarely delivered, does, in fact, bring his subjects to life. Parke's role as the good-natured interlocutor seems to be an essential component of the project, a disposition on display in this cheeky description of his imagined time spent with Tolstoy: He also proved an appalling husband, hated Shakespeare, never came to terms with his sexual appetite and yet had a profound influence on the non-violence of the young Gandhi. My time at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy's country estate, was never dull; and sometimes, surprisingly comic. Soon after I left the great man, at the age of 82, he ran away from home. by Ian Crouch Loose leafs from the New Yorker Books Department.

About the Author

Meister Eckhart - theologian, psychologist, philosopher, mystic - has become more and more appreciated the longer he has been dead. In recent times, thinkers as varied as Eric Fromm, Dag Hammerskold, Matthew Fox and Eckhart Tolle have all acknowledged his inspiration in their teaching. Born in Thuringia in 1260, Eckhart joined the Dominican Order at the age of fifteen, and continued to serve this order in various ways until he died in 1328 - in church custody and facing charges of heresy. He taught theology at the University of Paris, acquiring here his title 'Meister', which means 'Master'. But most of his life was spent away from academia, leading monastic communities in Erfurt, Strasburg and Cologne. In a century of flowering female spirituality, he was a supportive figure to many Dominican nuns and women in the burgeoning lay communities, so hated by the authorities. Meanwhile, the church leadership was in crisis. The Papacy, exiled in Avignon, was involved in unedifying power struggles; while the Franciscan-led Inquisition was turning against its rival Dominican Order. In a time of insecurity, Eckhart's daring talk of inner spiritual experience was considered dangerous. It was his sermons that gave full scope to his adventurous thought. He pictured God as an abundant spring overflowing into the world; while he named detachment above love as the greatest virtue. In this, he echoed Buddhist teaching, as he also did in his emphasis on nothingness and the emptying of self. He believed God too precious to name, and even said in one sermon that 'we must take leave of God.' The church condemned him after he died, attacking his memory with either slander or a veil of silence. But through followers like Henry Suso and John Tauler his thought lived on; while nuns of the South Rhineland committed his sermons to memory and wrote them down. The Pope declared Eckhart 'evil-sounding, rash and suspect of heresy,' but many have begged to differ.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ms. M. Foley on 13 April 2010
Format: Paperback
I tried to read Meister Eckhart writings before but never got very far. In fact I thought he was a Master of obfuscation.

Not any more - thanks to Parke's slim volume of 'conversations' with the great man, my cloud of unknowing (or rather uncomprehending) has lifted a little bit. I still have a long way to go, for example when one thing is asserted and then directly and cheerfully contradicted in the next paragraph. But then perhaps logic and mysticism were never easy bedfellows at the best of times.

The author's skillfull handling of the material is truly admirable - he makes the conversations seem totally natural, despite the chasm of centuries between his interlocutor and our times. And despite aspiring to be no more than a humble and invisible presenter, Parke's humanity, intelligence and humour all shine through.

It's a great introduction to Meister Eckhart thought. It made me want to read other books in this series by Parke, even if not immediately reach for big volume of Meister's own writings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DilCam on 22 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
I have tried a number of books on Eckhart including Cyprian Smith's and Ursula Flemming's. I also have the M.O.C'Walshe translations. BUT there is something about the immediacy of this book - and the conversation is a brilliant concept, very well executed with this difficult subject. I carry the book around with me in my rucksack and open it often. I can't lavish higher praise! Thank you Simon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Ridout on 4 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback
Simon Parke has made Meister Eckhart accessible. The format of personal interviews carries the reader along in a logical and thought-provoking path into Eckhart's mystical thought. This is a book that provokes serious thought and which leads the reader into the essence of the religious experience. It is also a book to dip into more than once, as Meister Eckhart's meaning is oftenfar from obvious.

John Ridout
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you already have a very deep spiritual background this may well be useful to you . Not an easy read - a bit of an intellectual read and I can see a few slight paradoxes in the writings. I was impressed with his views on " time " which has been verified by all the Near Death Experiences books I have read . I read it in conjunction with my most favorite book " Fingerprints of God " (about NDE`s) which is an easier read but makes Eckhart easier to digest ( and verifies some of his views).
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By greta on 26 Dec 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The dialoque with the questioner and his qustions are painful. The questioner is simply not in the same world then Meister Eckhard ..I am reading the answers and skipping the questions which are meaningless.
And obviously if in reality they would have been an encounter with the writer and Meister Eckhard he would have been dismissed after the first 4 questions at the most.
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