Translated and with an introduction by Lute Currie
A descendant of the eminent Austrian botanist Eduard Ritter von Josch, Wilfried von Josch was born in Austria on May 6, 1914. After graduating the gymnasium, he went on to study philosophy in Berlin, Kiel, Munich, and Vienna. He was a member of the Ludendorff Movement since 1929, was in close personal contact with Mrs. Ludendorff since 1935, and knew General Erich Ludendorff personally. He worked with the two controversialists and was published by their Verlag – Ein seltsamer Staat – bringing him “lasting persecution” by the NSDAP.
The earliest work of Josch appeared in Am heiligen Quell, the bi-monthly journal Ludendorff edited, which had print runs of over 100,000 issues. The journal was initially of a philosophical nature but also involved politics later on, sometimes finding itself at odds with the official policies of the regime. The many followers of Ludendorff’s science-based and right-wing neo-pagan religious views (God-cognition), which strongly roots man in his Völk and state, continued to enjoy the publication of the journal until it was discontinued in 1939 due to the authorities’ refusal to provide paper for it, thanks to the regime’s mandate to tone down anti-Christian rhetoric and because of wartime rationing, thus infuriating his wife and intellectual collaborator Mathilde Ludendorff (General Ludendorff died in 1937). The Verlag finally resumed later, after some changes, as Hohe Warte in 1949.
Until his death in the early 90s, Josch’s life was largely devoted to Ludendorff’s religion, with many theoretical works published, making him an important part of it philosophically. He also performed at the Konzerthaus in Vienna and gave lectures on God-cognition, until they were shut down by the police. Additionally, he went on to start his own Journal, Das Kulturwort, which found commercial success and featured work from intellectual heavyweights such as Haidvogel and Lorenz Mack. All of this activity certainly left its mark and he is largely remembered as an unsavoury cultural figure in contemporary Austria.
In “Meister Eckhart’s Political Mysticism” (Quell, 1939), Josch examines the “political mysticism” of Eckhart from the God-cognition perspective. He argues that Eckhart’s teachings assist in the subversion of the Völk, the basis of the Germanic state itself. This was considered a critical message at its time of publication in 1939 Germany, with the phenomenon of zealous attempts to convert Germans, who were breaking away from Christianity, to the allegedly “species-appropriate” teachings of Eckhart. — Lute Currie
If we do not consider the theological controversies around the mystic Eckhart at all, but turn to the merely political purpose of mysticism, we realize that similar mystical endeavours in other countries and ethnic groups are not at all “adventitious.” Given the importance of religions as the means of establishing and maintaining the rule of priest-castes, the use of similar mystical teachings becomes apparent to us in comparable historical situations. In times of crisis in the Church, when the faithful push into extra-ecclesiastical paths, the aid of a mysticism that stands in ostensible opposition to Church teachings can reverse the movement of secession through the internalization and ecstatic exaggeration of religious forms of inner experience. Through its wide range of conceivable God-concepts, it offers the greatest possible appeal to the diversity of spiritual currents. Therefore, in the endeavour of all mysticism whose focus is the destruction of the will and the personality, it achieves in those paralysed of will by it an extensive controllability for the occult Yahweh-commands of the priest-castes. Since far-reaching political developments are first prepared religiously, it does not surprise us to find in India, China, Japan, and Persia at almost the same time a mysticism similar in every detail. In India, the ninth-century Master Sankara corresponds to the occidental Meister Eckhart. Extensive similarities to the Zen doctrine widespread in Japan, Taoism in China, and the Persian doctrine of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī allow conclusions about the political importance of mysticism. Rudolf Otto writes about the relationship of Master Sankara to Eckhart:
Both are equally not accidental phenomena in their time. … With some skill their basic doctrines could be put together and stylized in such a way that the formulas of the one appear only as a translation from Sanskrit into Latin or Middle German, and vice versa. And this is certainly not by chance.
Meister Eckhart’s world of representation is rooted in the occult world-picture of a time and reveals a strong dependence on the views of his two teachers Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great, even if in individual points minor deviations can be noted because of Neoplatonic ideas. If this dependence on Thomas is so strong in his fragmentary Latin writings, that one can almost speak of sameness of thought, then in his German writings, which are intended more for the broad mass of the people, the influence of the Golden Chain (Catena Aurea), a collection of commentaries on the Gospels by Thomas, is unmistakable, and he does not even shy away from copying entire parts. In Eckhart’s predominantly inner-soul view, in contrast to the world of representation of Aquinas which was thought through to the last nuances and formed to the highest clarity of the concept, he remains largely unclear [compared] to Aquinas, [because] the most diverse interpretations of his theology are possible, which even do not exclude the reading in of anti-Christian Germanic ideas. Whilst Thomas on the basis of the Biblical text develops the foundations of “high politics,” Eckhart presents his philosophical thoughts with reference to corresponding Biblical passages. His often very free, indeed seemingly arbitrary interpretation of the Biblical passages allows him to modify what is allegorized by them even when using the usual occult symbolism. Even though Eckhart is aware of the “incarnation of Christ in time” as a historical-political process, the execution of the individual phases of this process does not become for him a recipe for high politics as it is for Thomas, but rather the illustrative background for God’s birth and rebirth that, in his view, takes place in the human soul.
A common thread running through the entire German writings of Meister Eckhart is the purposeful effort to paralyse the will of the individual to the point of total destruction to achieve complete dependence on the priest-castes (Yahweh). This intention, which recurs in various variations in Meister Eckhart’s German writings, is expressed particularly clearly in the following words: “This is what God (priest-caste) is after in all things, that we give up the will.” “Man comes to his own goals only by subordinating his will to the divine, and thus letting God work in him.” Whilst the religious ideas of mysticism are a lure for those who are spiritually struggling, the tendency towards the destruction of the will fulfills the purpose of mysticism for the knowledgeable priest-caste, since it makes those who are religiously gripped controllable for the priestly goals. An obedience of will to Yahweh-command brings those who have been robbed of their will the laudatory appellation “those who are of good will,” whilst the resentment of Yahweh’s consecrated ones is directed against those who have their own will. Eckhart also takes the side of the priest-castes by saying: [those who have their own will] “is not good will. One should search for God’s (Yahweh’s) dearest will.” Since this research would stop as soon as the alleged truth is found, the whole “truth” is never revealed on the part of the priest-caste. In this way the human struggle for truth should be kept in continuous motion, since a certain remnant remains unexplained, which prevents a final judgment and becomes an occasion for further searching. So, we are dealing here with a systematic abuse of the desire for knowledge in the human soul, with the purpose of maintaining the continuous dependence on the priests.
A main trait of mysticism, indeed of every religion in general, is given in the following dialogue between Abraham and Yahweh at Genesis 18:27 in its classical template: “I have taken it upon myself to speak to you, I who am dust and ashes.” In this Judeo-Christian model, we recognize as a prerequisite for the religious relationship to Yahweh the emotion of being submerged and overwhelmed by one’s own nothingness (in Eckhart’s work “losing oneself” and “to become nothing”), which contrasts with the “overwhelming power” of Yahweh. Furthermore, we can see that the momentum of the “energetic” and of “love,” as well as of the “wondering about” and of the “rigid amazement,” the “absolute disconcertment” about the “being completely different” of the Godhead, is especially emphasized. The “attracting, captivating” is, so to speak, increased by the imagelessness of the God-concept. So, we can say that the Abraham experience throws an immensely clarifying light also on mysticism, which we recognize as the highest excess of the beyond-reasonable in religion. Mysticism holds that de-selfing and will-killing is brought about by directing the attention unilaterally to an object (Yahweh), thus triggering, completely unconsciously, a recession and disappearance of self-consciousness. Eckhart describes as an example a scientist who is so engrossed in his science that he can be slain by a man threatening him after ignoring a repeated warning. The seclusion of the soul should be so strong that the whole world sinks around the mystic and only the illusory God-experience is taken seriously. However, this statement is incorrect insofar as the disappearance of self-consciousness does not yet explain the killing of the will, which lies in a completely different area of the soul.
In the occult worldview of priest castes, which was masterfully shaped by Thomas Aquinas and which accurately explains to us the connection the mystic has to the church’s teachings, you differentiate between a spiritually effecting activity and a mere suffering and enduring matter. Thus, symbolized to us is the rule of the Yahweh priest-castes over believers paralysed of will. The interaction of these two worlds results in that history shaped by the priests in an indirect way. Whereas Thomas, as a man of high politics, looks at the questions of world governance from Yahweh’s point of view, Eckhart sees them from the side of the people striving towards Yahweh. As we can already see from Aquinas’ view that “the way of looking at things is not the same in heaven and on earth,” we have before us two different ways of looking at things with different tasks and goals. For the knowledgeable priest Thomas, the exclusively spiritual-political will that directs high politics is naturally of higher value than the mere human endeavour that works for Yahweh, which Eckhart tries to portray as being of higher value. In the Old Testament, in the Jewish persons of Rachel (contemplative life) and Leah (active life), the two modes of contemplation are prefigured, which we then find again in the New Testament as Mary and Martha. Thomas writes: “Therefore Rachel, which means ‘the seen principle,’ represents the contemplative life; but Leah, who was blear-eyed, represents the active life.” This parable makes us understand the relationship of mysticism to the ecclesiastical teaching (scholasticism) of Thomas Aquinas. Mysticism, then, has only the task of leading the will-paralysed people to the priests who knowingly direct politics. The hope that the priest-castes place in occult mysticism is expressed by the theologian Alois Dempf, after advising a precise knowledge of Thomas to understand Meister Eckhart, in the following words:
Thus, it could be that the Thomist movement, which has now begun so energetically among German Catholics, opens for many also the access to Meister Eckhart, indeed, and that his quite peculiar position and mission in intellectual history, his indirect relations to the Reformation and dialectical theology also contribute essentially to the reconciliation of the denominations.
- Quell, Folge 4, 19.5.1939.