Johann Tauler

Tauler does not display the idiosyncracies and bold formulations that many of the other mystics we have looked at do. One writer calls him more "balanced" than Eckhart, but that implies that Eckhart is somehow unbalanced, which isn't really fair. Tauler is, though, more practical than Eckhart. He has many of the same themes as Eckhart does, but they tend to be expressed less speculatively and more pastorally.

There was once an "old father", or an early Christian ascetic, who was so devoid of worldly attachments that he could not even retain the memory of them. Once someone knocked on his door and asked him for something, and he said he would fetch it, but when he got into his house he forgot about the request. The visitor knocked again, and the ascetic asked what he wanted. Again he promised to get the object, but again he forgot. When this happened a third time, the ascetic said in desperation, "Come and take it yourself. I cannot retain this image long enough, for my spirit is so devoid of all earthly images."

in Richard Kieckhefer, "John Tauler", Paul Szarmach, ed., An Introduction to the Medieval Mystics of Europe. SUNY 1984: 261-2.

Questions on Tauler:

1. What is the place of reason for Tauler? What does he think of reason?

2. Is there a concept of ethics here? What would ethics look like, for him? How can we know how to act?

3. Tauler, like Eckhart, speaks about the "birth" of God in the soul. Does this bear any resemblance to modern "born again" theology?