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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Matthew Fox––Exploring the Nameless God 

Exploring The Apophatic Divinity (The Nameless God)
SEPTEMBER 28, 2019

The word Apophatic means without light.  The God of Creation, liberation and redemption is more a Cataphatic or “God with light” Divinity.  But the Apophatic Divinity needs attention today also and is an important antidote to excessive projecting or excessive sureness about Who or What God is (or Who or What one rejects when one calls oneself an “atheist”).  Spending some time with the apophatic Divinity can liberate God from too much human projection and even arrogance in imagining we know exactly who God is.

Consider these teachings from various spiritual traditions:

Dionysios the Areopagite says God is “superessential darkness” and a “darkness beyond light.”

Ancient galaxy is “brimming with dark matter” 
Image credit: NASA/CXC/Univ. of CA Irvine/D. Buote
Meister Eckhart says: “The final end is the mystery of the darkness of the eternal Godhead [which] is unknown and never was known and never will be known.”

Eckhart again: God is “without a name and is the denial of all names and has never been given a name—a truly hidden God.”

David Hart: “We see the mystery, are addressed by it…but can approach only when we surrender ourselves to it.”

Thich Naht Hanh.  “We know the Holy Spirit as energy and not as notions and words.”

Thomas Aquinas:  The mind’s “greatest achievement [is] to realize that God is far beyond anything we think.  This is the ultimate in human knowledge: to know that we do not know God…By its immensity the divine essence transcends every form attained by the human intellect.”

Possible birthing place for stars: the darkness of Molecular Cloud Barnard 68 

Estelle Frankel: “Befriend the unknown” and “trade the certainty of the known for the unknown.”

The Zohar: “Thought cannot encompass Your divine essence.”

Frankel again: “You cannot wrap your mind around God.”

Estelle Frankel, who is a psychiatrist as well as a student of Jewish mysticism, draws some practical advice from these meditations on the apophatic divinity when she writes: “Being receptive to the unknown, in all its many facets, allows us to become more open, curious, flexible, and expansive in our personal and professional lives.  This openness is the key to all learning and creativity.  It is the gate that unlocks our wisdom and courage.”

What are the implications of Aquinas saying that the ultimate in human knowledge is to know that we do not know God?  Is this knowledge more important that our knowledge of atoms and energy and galaxies and the size and age of the universe?  Why might that be?  What implications flow from that important knowledge?  Does religion have to begin anew?  And maybe atheism also?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, 126f., 130f.

Queries for Contemplation

IF Frankel is correct, that the apophatic practice is “the key to all learning and creativity” and unlocks both “wisdom and courage” this makes the practice of the apophatic divinity very important, doesn’t it?  Do you practice this understanding of the Divine?  Can you do more of it?  Is your learning, creativity, wisdom and courage expanding as a result?

Do you surrender yourself to this mystery as Hart proposes we do?

Take just one of these statements above about the Apophatic Divinity and sit with it for a number of sittings.  What are you/we learning?

Recommended Reading

Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God
Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview.  In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
Matthew Fox

Rev. Matthew Fox, PhD, author, theologian, and activist priest, has been calling people of spirit and conscience into the Creation Spirituality lineage for over 50 years. His 36 books (translated into 74 languages), as well as his lectures, retreats, and innovative education models, have ignited an international movement to awaken people to be mystics and prophets, contemplative activists, who honor and defend the earth and work for justice. To learn more, visit matthewfox.org
Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

6 thoughts on “Exploring the Apophatic Divinity (the Nameless God)”
MARY SEPTEMBER 28, 2019 AT 4:50 AM
As I read this wonderful meditation and your final questions, this realization arose: I don’t practice this “understanding of the Divine”. It practices me. Perhaps that is one gift of both widowhood and of the aging process.

I believe it opens me to more love and wellbeing.
Much gratitude for these postings.

Awesome! Really. I need to sit on this Apophatic imagery/mystery.
It triggers mind-expansion for sure.
Thank you.

Dearest Beloved Friend Matthew,
Some three to four decades ago, the wise women in Western Australia, in the small esoteric gatherings,
the Circle Dance, Neil’s Douglas-Klotz’s Universal Dances of Peace, our Andrew Harvey Lovers,
The Beshara, the Ibn Arabi kernel, our Beloved fellow Saint, Dom Bede Griffiths,
our Rumi’s and HRH the Dali Lama’s faithful and so on,
Instructed me, (in Great Excitement and Enthusiasm), to Listen to You,
Dear Mathew Fox, with your Original Blessing.
So this soul wandered inside all of these amazing universes,
to finally deeply listen to you Now (in the last few weeks.)
Eternal Gratitude Is my simple message.
Gratius for revealing the Black God, in western sol-literature upon our table.

So Matthew, this soul, dedicates and boomerangs, the following passage to Your Self.

Beloved Friends
Be Brave,
Tide the River of All Nights
Leave the Known Safety
of the Great Fountain
the Eternal Waterfall

Go Inside Your Empty Mirror
Beyond the Gateless Gate
at the Edge of Infinity

There One may Begin to Uncover
the Ineffable Sacred Apophatic
Embracing Entwining Miraging
the Awesome Cataphatic

(Dedicated to Matthew Fox
Looming Midnight New Moon, September 2019)

Michael Moon ~ Dreamtime Poet


Like all life we expand and contract, like a womb, like our breathe, like the mind, like the universe, this is the natural process of life to be one with. I am leaning on my breathe today as a silent reminder we are one with that first breathe of God.

Thich Naht Hanh. “We know the Holy Spirit as energy and not as notions and words.”
We are never going to think our way to God (Holy Spirit.) God will not be comprehended as a thought nor an idea nor a theory. But “God’ surrounds us as divine love/energy, and through Kundalini we can allow that energy to enter our physical, psychic and subtle bodies and feel the reality of that divine love. I call this awareness union with the Beloved Within. At times this energy comes to us as bliss, as time as total ecstasy. Surrender is indeed the key. We must embrace it when it comes, reverence our knowledge of it as possibility when it is not (seemingly) present. It cannot be taught. We cannot make it happen, but we can prepare ourselves to be penetrated by it when it arrives. Yeats said, “Man (sic) can embody truth, but never know it.” We do indeed live in mystery and the mystery embraces us through feelings, not notions. In such states, we affirm our divine origin and nature and know that we are indeed part of the vast immensity for which there is no name.
See ‘Some Kiss We Want:Poems Selected and New”; “The Kundalini Poems.” These contain many poems to the nameless, faceless, bodiless god who is yet a powerful presence in our lives.

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