Essence

03. “universe of sense”

Again, are those powers, entering the universe of sense, still within the First or not? If they are not, we have the absurdity that the First has been lessened, disempowered, stripped of power originally possessed. Besides, how could powers thus cut off subsist apart from the foundations of their being? Suppose these powers to be at once within the First and elsewhere; then the universe of sense contains either the entire powers or parts of them; if parts of powers, the other parts are There; if entires, then either the powers There are present here also undivided – and this brings us back to an identity omnipresent in integral identity — or they are each an entire which has taken division into a multiplicity of similars so that attached to every essence there is one power only – that particularly appropriated to it – the other powers remaining powers unattached: yet power apart from Being is as impossible as Being apart from power; for There power is Being or something greater than Being.

– Plotinus: ‘The Six Enneads’, Fourth Tractate ‘On the Integral Omnipresence of the Authentic Existent.’

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04. “Movement beyond itself toward its idea”

The will could not experience an actual development of freedom if it were not possible for it to negate its essence. The subjective will must be able to separate itself from the essential, must be able to fall away from the Idea of freedom. The will must therefore determine itself as freedom of choice or as the ability to choose between opposite ends. The antinomy between the proposition that the will can only determine itself toward its Idea, and the opposite, that it can also negate it, is annulled by the recognition that the latter contains the negative condition for the actuality of the former. Only by overcoming the possibility of its opposite can freedom actually substantiate itself.

– Hans L. Martensen: ‘Outline to a System of Moral Philosophy’, 1841

09. “a principle of its own, which, however capable of historical evolution, yet remains unchanged in essence”

“In other words, has Christianity really a principle of its own, which, however capable of historical evolution, yet remains unchanged in essence, so that the Christianity of to-day may be measured against the faith of the first disciples and awarded a rank essentially the same?”

– Rudolf Otto: ‘The Idea of the Holy, An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational’, Oxford University Press, 1958

17. “luminous darkness”

Behind the father-image, behind the mother-image, behind the image of light inaccessible, and behind the image of profound abysmal darkness, there is something else which we cannot conceive at all. Saint Dionysius called it the ‘luminous darkness.’ Nargajuna called it sunyata, the void. Shankara called it Brahman, that of which nothing at all can be said, neti-neti, beyond all conception whatsoever. However, this in not atheism in the formal sense of the word. On the contrary, this is a profoundly religious attitude because it corresponds practically to an attitude toward a life of total trust in letting go. When we have images of God, they are all really exhibitions of our lack of faith.

– Alan Watts: ‘Images of God’

Wherefore John the Sublime, who penetrated into the luminous darkness, says, No one has ever seen God, thus asserting that knowledge of the divine essence is unattainable not only by men but also by every intelligent creature.

– Gregory of Nyssa: ‘Life of Moses’

It is in the deepest darkness, that we most fully possess God on earth, because it is then that our minds are most truly liberated from the weak, created lights that are filled with His infinite Light which seems pure darkness to our reason.

– Thomas Merton: ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’, 1961

29. “Beyond essence, inconceivability Beyond light, limit, the unmixed, the unfettered the unchangeable, the untrammeled Intangible, invisible, illimitable Beyond “seeing,” beyond foul and fair”

O Trinity

beyond essence and

beyond divinity

beyond goodness

guide of Christians in divine wisdom

direct us towards mysticism’s heights

beyond unknowing

beyond light

beyond limit

there where the 

unmixed and

unfettered and

unchangeable

mysteries of theology

in the dazzling dark of the welcoming silence

lie hidden, in the intensity of their darkness

all brilliance outshining

our intellects, blinded – over-whelming,

with the intangible and

with the invisible and

with the illimitable,

Such is my prayer.

. . .

beyond foul and fair,

. . .

– The Pseudo-Dionysius: ‘De Mystica Theologia’ (‘The Divine Dark’)

47. “Interstices of void”

…Plato was well aware of the fact which Aristotle urges as a flaw in his theory, namely that it is impossible for all his figures to fill up space with entire continuity. In the structure of air and water there must be minute interstices of void; there must also be a certain amount of void for the reason that, the universe being a sphere it is impossible for rectilinear figures exactly to fill it up.

– John Cook Wilson: ‘On the Interpretation of Plato’s Timaeus’, 1889

Mr. Reinhardt is a puzzler. His tenacity over so long a period in the service of an increasingly tight premise is admirable. But the logical application of this premise (apparently, that by infinitely painstaking selection and discarding an artist may extract an irreducible essence from color and geometry, the bases of painting) has led him, , as it did not lead Mondrian, close to the discovery that essence but a void may lie at the end of his search.

– John Canaday: ‘Art, Running the Gamut’, New York Times, 21 October 1960

John Canaday, art critic of The New York Times, writing in 1960 of Mr. Reinhardt’s search for severe purity, said it “has led him, as it did not lead Mondrian, close to the discovery that essence but a void may lie at the end of his search.

– New York Times: ‘Ad Reinhardt, Painter, is Dead’, 1 September 1967

54. “the plane of theory”

Hence, the Will by itself is manifestation of the Essence and other existents have been created through its means. We don’t however intend to give here the proof of this sublime matter. The devotee who understands this matter on the plane of theory and metaphysical proof, knows that his own being, as well as his worship, knowledge, will, heart, the actions of his heart, and his inward and outward being all of them are present before His Sanctity or, rather, they are presence itself. Should the pen of his intellect inscribe this truth on the tablet of his heart and should the heart attain conviction in this certain, axiomatic premise by the means of theoretical and practical exercises, he will obtain attention of the heart to the revelations on the plane of faith.

– Imam al-Nawawi: ‘Forty Hadith, An Exposition – Twenty-Seventh Hadith: Prayer And Concentration, Attention To The Worshipped One’

My internal contradictions were resolving themselves out, but still only on the plane of theory, not of practice: not for lack of good-will, but  because I was still completely fettered by my sins and my attachments.

– Thomas Merton: ‘The Seven Storey Mountain’, 1948