Proof

16. “the divine dark”

In setting out the via negationis (or ‘negative’) approach to God, ‘De Theologia Mystica’ treatise of the 5th century mystic and theologian Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite describes the ineffability of God as “the Divine Dark”:

The Divine Dark is nought else but that inaccessible light wherein the Lord is said to dwell. Although it is invisible because of its dazzling splendours and unsearchable because of the abundance of its supernatural brightness, nevertheless, whosoever deserves to see and know God rests therein; and, by the very fact that he neither sees nor knows, is truly in that which surpasses all truth and all knowledge.”

– The Pseudo-Dionysius: ‘De Mystica Theologia’

Referencing the Sufi poem ‘The Colloquy of the Birds’, Evelyn Underhill’s 1912 ‘Mysticism’ (’A study of the nature and development of man’s spiritual consciousness’) says that the sixth of the ‘Seven Valleys’ along the road to the hidden Palace of the King is known as the Valley of Amazement in which “the pilgrim’s receptive power appears to be taken from him and he is plunged in darkness and bewilderment. This is the state which Dionysius the Arcopagite, and after him many mediaeval mystics, called the Divine Dark, and described as the truest and closest of all our apprehensions of the Godhead. It is the Cloud of Unknowing: “dark from excessive bright.”

“’That meek darkness be thy mirror.’ What is this darkness? It is the ‘night of the intellect into which we are plunged when we attain to a state of consciousness which is above thought; enter on a plane of spiritual experience with which the intellect cannot deal. This is the ‘Divine Darkness’ – the Cloud of Unknowing, or of Ignorance, ‘dark with excess of light’ – preached by Dionysius the Areopagite, and eagerly accepted by his English interpreter. ‘When I say darkness, I mean a lacking of knowing . . . and for this reason it is not called a cloud of the air, but a cloud of unknowing that is betwixt thee and thy God.’ It is ‘a dark mist,’ he says again, ‘which seemeth to be between thee and the light thou aspirest to.’ This dimness and lostness of mind is a paradoxical proof of attainment. Reason is in the dark, because love has entered ‘the mysterious radiance of the Divine Dark, the inaccessible light wherein the Lord is said to dwell, and to which thought with all its struggles cannot attain.’

– Anonymous: ‘Cloud of Unknowing’

Reinhardt associates the phrase ‘the divine dark’ with Meister “Eckhardt” [sic] on several occasions, including the unpublished and undated texts ‘[Oneness]’ and ‘Black’ as well as in his ‘Black as Symbol and Concept’ contribution to the 1967 telephone seminar, subsequently published by artscanada. The phrase ‘the divine dark’ is more correctly associated with the Blessed Jan Van Ruysbroeck, as in:

When love has carried us above all things, into the Divine Dark, we receive in peace the Incomprehensible Light, enfolding us and penetrating us. What is this Light, if it be not a contemplation of the Infinite, and an intuition of Eternity?

– Blessed Jan Van Ruysbroeck: ‘The Spiritual Espousals’, c1340

It is possible that Reinhardt’s error in confusing Eckhart and Ruysbroeck was due to a book review published in ‘The Tablet’ in 1963, which said:

The mysticism of the New Testament with St. Paul’s “through a glass darkly” and the teaching of the mystical body takes us to Dionysius the Areopagite and the Confessions of St. Augustine with significant quotes from the famous Book X, the real basis and ground of European mystical thought. Two themes are traced of the divine dark or unknowing, and spiritual marriage. Dr. Happold has chosen his anthology with knowledge of the principal texts so that we have Eckhardt [sic] on time and Ruysbroeck on the mystic way.

– The Tablet: ‘Books of the Week’, p. 11, 06 July 1963

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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

55. “Break through its own paradigms Reinvent cherishable world within prison of temporality”

The paradigm of the world is eternal; and his existence, as a paradigm, is that which is essential, and not accidental to him. But because he possesses the power of being a paradigm essentially, hence, as he is eternal, he will be eternally the paradigm of the world. If, however, an existence eternally is present with the paradigm, the image also will necessarily always exist; for a paradigm is a paradigm with reference to an image. But if the image was not when the paradigm was not, neither will the paradigm be when the image is not; since, in this case, it will no longer be a paradigm. For either it will not be a paradigm if the image is not, or it will not be the paradigm of the image. Of things, therefore, which are predicated with reference to each other, the one cannot exist if the other is not. Hence, if the paradigm of the world is eternally the paradigm of it, the world always is an image of an eternally existing paradigm.

– Proclus: ‘Argument the Second’ in Thomas Taylor: ‘Fragments that Remain of the Lost Writings of Proclus’, 1825

However, unless he would rather foist on Plato what he [Proclus] himself thought, just as he took over from Plato that the cosmos must be like the paradigm, so too must he show whether Plato wanted time to be infinite in both directions in order to infer the rest from Plato’s assertions in the following way: if the cosmos is like the paradigm in this way – by existing for all time just as the paradigm exists for all eternity, and if according to Plato is infinite in both directions. But in fact, since he is not able to show that this is Plato’s opinion, he assumes on his own without proof that time is infinite in both directions.

– Philoponus: ‘Against Proclus on the Eternity of the World 12-18’

But we never break free of our paradigms of order, and the new ones are always related to the older ones. Thus, when we speak of living in an age of perpetual transition, we are not abandoning the fiction of an end, but merely “registering the conviction that the end is immanent rather than imminent.”

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