One

00. [Oneness]

From Oneness, produce the ten thousand things; through the ten thousand things, govern the One.

– Shih-t’ao: ‘Hua-p’u’ chapter 7, ‘Harmonious Atmosphere (Yin Yun)’

No characteristics except its oneness <–

It is not a thing nor a thing in it

Neither white nor black, neither red nor green, of no color whatever

Beingless, becoming not, nameless

Where there is nothing but the one, nothing is seen

Ad Reinhardt: ‘ONE’, Unpublished Notes, 1966-67

…if all images are detached from the soul, and it contemplates only the Simple One, then the soul’s naked being finds the naked, formless being of the divine unity.

– Meister Eckhart: ‘The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense’

So long as something is still the object (vishaya) of our attention we are not yet one with the One. For where there is nothing but the ONE, nothing is seen.

– Rudolf Otto: ‘Mysticism East and West’, 1932 (and Meridian Books Inc. August 1957)

Our thought cannot grasp the One as long as any other image remains active in the soul.

– Plotinus: ‘The Six Enneads’

If he remembers who he became when he merged with the One, he will bear its image in himself. He was himself one, with no diversity in himself or his outward relations; for no movement was in him, no passion, no desire for another, once the ascent was accomplished. Nor indeed was there any reason or though, nor, if we dare say it, any trace of himself.

– Plotinus: ‘The Six Enneads’

It is no less than the Eternal and Infinite Oneness of God, the Certainty of Whose Truth burns up all except Itself.

– Abu Bakr Siraj Ed-Din: ‘The Book of Certainty’, 1952

Enter me, O Lord, into the deep of the Ocean of Thine Infinite Oneness

– Muhyi’d-Din Ibn Arabi

Does Islamic non-figurative art triumphantly proclaim the “Infinite Oneness of God “ or does it triumphantly proclaim again, with all other art, only the same “endless sameness of art.”

– Ad Reinhardt: ‘Art vs. History’, Art News,January 1966

Equality today means ‘sameness,’ rather than oneness.

– Erich Fromm: ‘The Art of Loving’, Harper & Row, New York, 1956

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02. “the one, the good”

Dean Inge tried to show that Plotinus ‘has three names for his Absolute – the One, the Good, and Beauty’. He remarks elsewhere, however (p. 102), that although Plotinus calls the Absolute the One and the Good, he does not call it the Beautiful.

– John M. Rist: ‘Plotinus, The Road to Reality’, 1967

08. “Innermost essence, perfection inner concentration”

The ONE begins to become the MANY, yet in its innermost essence each of the “many” is still the ONE (the Only One), which remains infinite in its absoluteness, while appearing as “many” in its relativeness, or its conditioned, differentiated state.

– The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Letter 15, 1882, Theosophical University Press Edition

Who of them has penetrated into its Arcana, into the innermost Essence of things and its primary correlations?

– H. P. Blavatsky: ‘The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy’, 1888

He who would hear the voice of Nada [the soundless sound] and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana [Inner Concentration]. Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil must seek out the Rajah of the senses, the Thought-Producer, he who awakes illusion.

– H. P. Blavatsky: ‘The Voice of the Silence’, 1889

 

12. “Mystical ascent”

“And the people stood afar off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was”

– Exodus 20:21, (King James Version)

“Since he was alone, by having been stripped as it were of the people’s fear, he boldly approached the very darkness itself and entered the invisible things where he was no longer seen by those watching. After he entered the inner sanctuary of the divine mystical doctrine, there, while not being seen, he was in company with the Invisible. He, teaches, I think, by the things he did that the one who is going to associate intimately with God must go beyond all that is visible and (lifting up his own mind, as to a mountaintop, to the invisible and incomprehensible) believe that the divine is there where the understanding does not reach.”

– Gregory of Nyssa: ‘Life of Moses’

“In the diligent exercise of mystical contemplation, leave behind the senses and the operations of the intellect, and all things sensible and intellectual, and all things in the world of being and nonbeing, that thou mayest arise by unknowing towards the union, as far as is attainable, with Him who transcends all being and all knowledge. For by the unceasing and absolute renunciation of thyself and of all things thou mayest be borne on high, through pure and entire self-abnegation, into the super-essential Radiance of the Divine Darkness. It was not without reason that the blessed Moses was commanded first to undergo purification himself and then to separate himself from those who had not undergone it; and after the entire purification heard many-voiced trumpets and saw many lights streaming forth with pure and manifold rays; and that he was there after separated from the multitude, with the elect priests, and pressed forward to the summit of the divine ascent. Nevertheless, he did not attained to the Presence of God Himself, he saw not Him (for He can not be looked upon) but the Place where He dwells.”

– The Pseudo-Dionysius: ‘De Mystica Theologia’

“…away from what sees and is seen and he plunges into the truly mysterious darkness of unknowing. Here, renouncing all that the mind may conceive, wrapped entirely in the intangible and the invisible, he belongs completely to him who is beyond everything. Here, being neither oneself nor someone else, one is supremely united by a completely unknowing inactivity of all knowledge, and knows beyond the mind by knowing nothing.”

– The Pseudo-Dionysius: ‘De Mystica Theologia’

“…the ascent from the realm of the Intellect and Reason up to the absolute Simplicity of the perfect One as the highest principle is more difficult than the climb from the corporeal world perceivable through the senses on up to the Intellectual World of Ideas… Mere human abilities of thought and comprehension – which are capable of dealing initially with that which has limits, form and finiteness in the visible world, and then with that which has intelligible form – shrink back from the One in Its Infinity.”

– The Pseudo-Dionysius: ‘De Mystica Theologia’

The mystical life has three stages ({the} classical division):

1. Light, the burning bush: purgation – we die to the passions by apatheia.

2. Cloud (obscurity): illumination (gnosis) – we die to intellectual knowledge on {the} natural level and attain to theoria (physica).

3. “Holy of Holies,” Deep Darkness: union – not gnosis but ousia.

– Thomas Merton: Introduction to Christian Mysticism

41. “Nausea”

The Nausea is not inside me: I feel it out there in the wall, in the suspenders, everywhere around me. It makes itself one with the café, I am the one who is within it.

– Jean Paul Satre: ‘Nausea’, 1938

Kermode admires in Sartre’s “La Nausee” the tension between paradigmatic form and contingent reality; but it seems to me clear that the viscous “reality” of “La Nausee” is just as much a fiction as any lies constructed in “bad faith,” although the former may be a fictive version of the world derived from the less explicit, probably unconscious perceptions of “order.” Are our fictions ever checked or qualified by anything but other fictions?

– Leo Bersani: ‘Variations On a Paradigm’, New York Times, 11 June 1967

57. “Far-ranging mockery Wealth of possibility whose individual possibilities tend to cancel one another out”

“…open-ended, provisional, characterized by suspended judgments, disbelief in hierarchies, mistrust of solutions, denouements and completions, by self-consciousness issuing in tremendous earnestness but also in far-ranging mockery, by emphasis on the flesh to the anachronization of the spirit, by a wealth of possibility whose individual possibilities tend to cancel one another out, by unfreedom felt as freedom and the reverse, by cults of youth, sex, change, noise and chemically induced ‘truth.’ It is also a reality harboring a radical mistrust of language, writing, fiction, the imagination.”

– Richard Gilman: Review of Donald Barthelme’s ‘Snow White’, New Republic Vol. 156 Issue 22, 3 June 1967

 

59. “One “retracts””

Each one (retracts) within the time of the utterance of his fellow.

– The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin

Reality no longer sustains the values necessary to the creation of Snow White…, or the witch or the dwarfs; it lacks the floor under the imagination, the ingredients of possible aspiration, the hunger for simulated fate, to create “stories” of any kind. There is therefore no happy ending to this Snow White, no denouement except one that mocks the original’s, no satisfaction to be obtained from a clear, completed arc of fictional experience. Fiction, Barthelme is saying, has lost its power to transform and convince and substitute, just as reality has lost, perhaps only temporarily (but that is not the concern of the imagination), its need and capacity to sustain fictions of this kind…. [The] book makes its way by dealing steadily with the problems of language. One “retracts” what the written world has been composed of not by ignoring it, by writing new language, but by discrediting it as the answer to one’s own contemporary needs.

– Richard Gilman: ‘Donald Barthelme’ reprinted Random House in ‘The Confusion of Realms’ in 1969