God: mystery of God: incomprehensible creator: profound enigma beyond knowing
A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.
As it is perilous for us to have a single idea, concept, expectation, or speculation about any enigma whatsoever- for that destroys it's enigmaticism completely- it is of great importance that we admit once and for all that we do not understand the Great Enigma, God, and that perhaps we will never know God, that God is categorically unknowable, and so we must release God from limitation, and let God be immense and unreachable.
"Can you simply agree that on some of the questions the mystery is too great ever for you to solve? Why not hold the mystery as sacred? And why not allow the sacred to be sacred, and leave it alone?"
God (from Conversations with God)
Can we not just leave It alone? Can we not just let God be God? Is it so hard to accept the impotence of our cognitive faculties, that we must continually desecrate that which is infinitely beyond our scope, by claiming to have even the slightest idea of what it is all about?
Let us remember the Fall, the reasons for it, and the way of return. "Mysteries are not to be solved", suggested Rumi, for "The eye goes blind/ when it only wants to see why."
When we finally see mystery in all things- when we have stopped asking 'why?'- then we shall properly not know things. And when we do not know 'things', then we shall begin to see the one unknowable force in all things. And that unknowable force has, in the past, been called God. But, after all, God is just a word; it is a word for something we cannot understand.
"Brahma", says Shankara, "is indefinable, beyond the range of mind and speech..."
Thus, by not-knowing, we have finally returned the divine to unencumbered imagelessness; we return God to freedom by releasing God from the cages we have built. We have fulfilled the second commandment.
"And if you would know God be not therefore
a solver of riddles."
It is the same with God as with everything- there is no answer, no axiom, no truth, and no solution ...there is only riddle. There is only a solute called mystery, dis-solved in the solution called mystery. And that mystery has simply been named God. And "God is something that cannot be found by the mind", proclaimed Jiddu Krishnamurti.
This is because the mind can 'know' only from one perspective, and yet it can 'unknow' from an infinity of implausible points of view; thus the infinite radiations of The Mystery of God are born in the spacious womb of this ignorance, and not in the confined ovum of conceptualization.
"If you are to know God divinely," intoned Meister Eckhart, "your own knowledge must become as pure ignorance, in which you forget yourself and every other creature."
The Great Self (if I can use that term without muddling up our incomprehension) cannot be contained in the limited vessel of the mind, and thus thought must be conquered, in order to let God be God.
The kun byed rgyal po'i mdo, speaking from the voice of the Creator, categorically states: "Oh great bodhisattva, listen! ...I do not teach that the objects are unrelated to the self because the root of all things is nothing but one self, and therefore it is impossible that the self looks at itself in terms of a doctrinal view. Therefore it is [known as] the teaching 'no contemplation of doctrinal views'. ...I transcend the scope of all sensory perception, and therefore from the primordial, there is no point in theorizing Me or in meditating upon Me. ...no doctrinal view [about Me] should be contemplated upon. Likewise...My true nature lack[s] meaning, so do not reflect upon a possible meaning. ... Unconceptualized I am beyond being an object of thinking. ...The nature of the All-Creating Sovereign, mind of perfect purity, is unborn and of a non-conceptual nature, and from it the various objects come forth as the wonders of origination...of ceaseless creation. ...Oh great bodhisattva, intuit this quintessential point! Because I am totally beyond the scope of sensory perception, I am beyond the scope of the senses, and I do not come through words. My nature is comprehensive and dwells in the empty circle. It is explained as non-conceptual, non-dual, and one from the primordial." [brackets are translator's]
Once again, it is absolutely ridiculous, and futile, to persist in trying to understand what cannot be understood; in our highest pursuits, the mind is absolutely not the Way, instead it is in the way.
M.L. Hawkins suggests to: "Go into the Darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."
The 'infinite darkness', as stated by Hawkins above, is the mind's humble reckoning with the infinite enigma, and only from that humility is the truly magnificent seen for what it truly is: mind-boggling and ineffable. Only in the full appreciation and assimilation of this consciousness do we justify, and not blasphemy, the unsurpassable immensity of the unknowable word God.
"For it is man's function to contemplate the works of god;
and for this purpose was he made that he might view the universe with wondering awe, and come to know its maker."
The 'leap of faith' we have heard so much about is therefore not like some blind, cowardly hope directed towards the expectation that some outward, omnibenevolent force will intercede and protect us (which it might, though that is beyond what we're considering here), but faith, absolute faith, is the acceptance of walking with eyes fully open into the infinite darkness; faith is without expectation, hope, petition, or piety, or it is not faith, it is merely belief. Belief is a characteristic of concept, faith is a characteristic of mystery; for 'belief' is the acceptance of something we do not know, whereas 'faith' is the acceptance that we do not know.
Therefore let us not belittle what is incomprehensible ...by claiming that we comprehend it. This is not simply my own little nudge in your ribs to 'give God his due', so to speak, it is actually of pragmatic importance so as to fully realize all that has been discussed here; for just as we can receive the knowable only by 'knowing', so it is that we can receive the Unknowable only by not-knowing.
"Truth comes to the thought of those who know him beyond thought, not to those who think it can be attained by thought. …It is conceived of by him whom it is not conceived of; He by whom It is conceived of, knows it not. It is not understood by those who understand It. It is understood by those who understand it not."
Seeking the Mystery of God is like seeking the mystery in all things- it is not so much a matter of seeking, but of a ubiquitous, unconditional, objectless, intelligent not‑knowing. For the Unknowable is "Thou of whom no words can tell, no tongue can speak, whom silence only can declare", asserts the Hermetica.
Thus Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels, suggests, "...one cannot attain knowledge of the Unknown God. Any attempt to do so, to grasp the incomprehensible, hinders 'the effortlessness which is within you'." Pagels then quotes from Allogenes, one of the codices from The Nag Hammadi Library, which runs: "...(whoever) sees (God) as he is in every respect, or would say that he is something like gnosis has sinned against him...because he did not know God."
Thus the true 'gnosis' of the Unknowable is actually 'agnosticism' in its most literal sense: a-gnosis, the absence of knowing.
That is, when we unknow God and everything, then we will see God in everything, and we will not know what the word God means, and then we will know God.
Knowledge is necessarily relative. Only non-separative incomprehension can attain the Absolute.
"It is...clear", states Carl Jung, "that the God-image corresponds to a definite complex of psychological facts, and is thus a quantity which we can operate with; but what God is in himself remains a question outside the competence of all psychology. …it must now be admitted that things exist in the psyche about which we know little or nothing at all...and that they possess at least as much reality as the things of the physical world which ultimately we do not understand either."
"Whatsoever you can think about God is not going to be God;
it is simply going to be thought."
Following from this thought, Osho then suggested: "The ultimate is a mystery, then life becomes a life of wonder. ...And wherever you find mystery there is God. The more you know, the less you will be aware of God; the less you know, the closer God will be to you. If you don't know anything, if you say with absolute confidence 'I don't know' if this 'I don't know' comes from the deepest core of your being, then God will be in your very core, in the very beat of your heart. And then poetry arises...then one falls in love with this tremendous mystery that surrounds you."
Everyone must come to their own incomprehension of God their own way: whether it be from looking up at the night sky and witnessing the vast expanse of the unimaginably immense universe, or perhaps from viewing the marvels of the natural world, or mankind's mysterious ways, or by recognizing the inconceivable inward universe we all carry around with us. No matter how wonder comes, it matters only that we accept and revere it.
The authors of The Kybalion state: "The Hermetists believe and teach that THE ALL, 'in itself', is and must ever be UNKNOWABLE. They regard all the theories, guesses and speculations of the theologians and metaphysicians regarding the inner nature of THE ALL, as but the childish efforts of mortal minds to grasp the secret of the Infinite. Such efforts have always failed and will always fail, from the very nature of the task. One pursuing such inquiries travels around and around in the labyrinth of thought, until he is lost. He is like a squirrel which frantically runs around and around the circling treadmill wheel of his cage, travelling ever and yet reaching nowhere- at the end a prisoner still, and standing just where he started."
Now, if we are reluctant to believe the adults who have been continuously quoted here, perhaps we should listen to what comes out of 'the mouths of babes', so to speak, and hear from a little girl named Anna. She says: "When you make Mister God really, really, really big, then you really, really, really, don't understand Mister God- then you do. ...Mister God keeps on shedding bits all the way through your life until the time comes when you admit freely and honestly that you don't understand Mister God at all. At this point you have let Mister God be his proper size- and wham!- there he is, laughing at you."
I suggest to anyone doubting the genius, and inherent spiritual vision of children, that they pick up the marvelous little book from which this last quote arises- Mister God, This is Anna- which is the true story of a four year old girl who was found abandoned on the docks in London, and who continually spouted the most profound and simple truths, exposing the imperfections of dogma and the availability of God to anyone open enough to allow the magnitude of the mystery of God in.
"Where he's concerned there are no boundaries.
You walk all your life, this one and the next, trying to reach him, but the blessed fellow has no end."
As we have seen, it is the original innocence (not original sin), and wondering vision of children that finds the ever-present connection with God, devoid of the hindrance of learned ideas, and the mist of rules.
This 'shedding bits', as little Anna called it, is the essence of the art of forgetting- the continual removing of obstacles until nothing is left. Sri Nisargaddata Maharaj furthers this 'shedding', stating: "Whoever goes there, disappears. It is unreachable by words, or mind. You may call it God, or Parabrahman, or Supreme Reality, but these are names given by the mind. It is the nameless, contentless, effortless and spontaneous state, beyond being and not being."
Joel Goldsmith expands on this, stating: "No one is ever going to find God until he is stripped of all his concepts of God, until he leaves behind every synonym for God he has ever heard and launches forth into the unknown to discover the Unknowable. There is no such thing as a thought about God or a concept of God that is correct... Nothing we can think about God is truth; nothing we can read in a book about God is truth, because these represent merely limited human opinions about God."
"There is nothing you can know about God that is God. There is no idea of God that you can entertain that is God. There is no possible thought that you can have about God that is God."
Here we meet with Goldsmith's sedulous refusal to grant God any knowable attributes, which he so categorically assimilated into his occasional exegeses on Divine Unknowability.
Similarly, quoting an ancient hymn, Stepan Stulginsky writes: "Thou art One and in the secret of Thy unity the wisest of men are lost, because they know it not. ...Thou art existent; but the understanding and vision of mortals cannot attain to Thy existence, nor determine for Thee the Where, the How, and the Why. ...Thou art existent, and Thy existence is so profound and secret that none can penetrate and discover Thy secrecy." Stulginsky then goes on to state: "In all legends and hymns it is pointed that an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable Principle transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. Therefore it is considered that any reasoning about That is impossible... any judgements about That will inevitably be but a limitation of It. Grandeur and beauty of Infinity do not fit in our limited imagination or terms. They must stay in the limits of the ineffable. ...Let's find our place in the Great Cosmic Reality, which is not perverted with a mirage of the obviousity."
Only the finite can be known, not the infinite; we may be able to identify certain aspects of the infinite, which are its finitudes, but that should not trick us into believing we know the whole of it. How could we? It is limitless. No matter how much we know (and we know very little) there is always a limitless amount we do not know, for even if we take away from infinity all that we know, there is no less of the infinity that we still do not know (i.e. ∞-1= ∞).
Hence reductionism (by which I mean reason, logic, or the knowing of 'separate' things) must necessarily fail to grasp the full picture, for, as we all know from the study of complete systems, as stated earlier: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Therefore we cannot look at a piece of the puzzle and claim to understand the puzzle; we must look not at the parts and say "these are only parts" we must look at the parts and say "there are no parts", there is only an unknowable whole.
The realization of this would lead Goldsmith into a respectable attempt at defining what in fact cannot be defined. He offers: "When every concept had been brushed aside, I was left with the term 'the Infinite Invisible'. Why 'the Infinite Invisible?' Because the Infinite Invisible did not mean anything that I could understand. Neither you nor I can grasp the Infinite; neither you nor I can see the Invisible. The Infinite Invisible is a term that denotes something which cannot be comprehended by the finite mind. That does not mean, however, that the Infinite Invisible is the correct term for God. It is correct for me, because it provides me with a term which my mind can encompass. That satisfies me. If I could grasp the meaning of the Infinite Invisible, it would be within range of my human comprehension, and I do not want that kind of God."
"He, the Self, is to be described as No, no!
He is incomprehensible, for he cannot be comprehended."
It is only necessary, then, for us to relinquish our singular perspectives and embrace instead the 'whole' as the mystery which it is, by acknowledging that we perceive only within the limitedness of our 'place' or 'context' within the whole; which is to say, we cannot understand the whole, for 'all is One', and this 'One' is so incredibly huge that only a mind which perceives everything at once could understand everything, and since our minds do not encompass the all, we perceive partially, not impartially. It is in recognizing these blinders- that we can see very little of the immense magnitude of the all- that we allow the infinite mystery to exist behind them. The Mystery is One Huge Mystery. Let our actions and understandings be founded upon this antecedent. For if we do not perceive in toto, and we do not, we simply re-ceive a part. Impartiality, then, is the acceptance of our limitation within limitlessness; it is accepting that the whole is unknown by us, and therefore every partial perspective is suspect of fraud.
When we have given God back his or her rightful being- which is to say, his or her unknowability- then what happens is that we begin to also find out our own proper place in the cosmos; when the event (God) which is so important to our lives becomes impossible to understand, then we also become impossible to understand, after all we were 'created in his own image'. And if that image is beyond our imagination, then we must also be beyond our own imagination.
"Once His attributes are exhausted, no one will have the energy to forge Him new ones; and the creature having assumed, then rejected, them will go and rejoin in nothingness, his loftiest invention: his Creator."
When God's attributes are gone, our own attributes are gone, and only then is it possible for the two mysteries to blend into One; before this absolute unknowing occurred- when we 'knew' God and ourselves- we saw them as distinct, different entities- for that was the only way to 'know' them (i.e. by separating them), but when we finally 'unknow' God and ourselves, only then, when the lines of division vanish, can the separate entities merge into One.
Henry Miller described this confluence, with a description of Proust's inner struggle, when he wrote: "It was a return to the labyrinth, a desire to bury himself deeper and deeper in the self. And this self was for him composed of a thousand different entities all attached by experience to a mysterious seed-like Self which he refused to know."
Thus anything we say or write about the 'great unknowable', which is life, is incorrect. In the attempt to define life in any way, we steal its beauty from ourselves.
For, in fact, mystery preceded God. Hence June Singer asserts: "There is One, beyond Jehovah, beyond Elohim, beyond all knowing, whose nature may be contemplated but not grasped. ...[For] before there was matter or any created thing, or any Creator to conceive of creation; before all that, there was Mystery."
In the beginning was Mystery.
At the quintessential point of openness- when the conditioned mind forgets itself completely- that is when the little being ends, judgement ceases, and the great emptiness occurs which encompasses everything completely; at this point, where duality dissolves away, Jiddu Krishnamurti would say, "the observer is the observed"; a classical Hindu saint would say- "I am That"; in colloquial terms we would simply state, "I am the all and the everything"; And Christ would say, "I and the Father are One". For at this point God now recognizes Him or Herself in you, and as you, and as the Creator of all that is Created, which is naught but God at every moment, living in and as the Mystery of Godness.
But perhaps we have arrived at this supposition too quickly, and have jumped briefly into the topical agenda of the final chapter. Let us go no further than to finish with a few more quick sorties into the future. Let us re-enter the Garden, let us stay there.
"When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown we must believe one of two things will happen- there will be something solid for us to stand on, or we will be taught how to fly."
And, more importantly, as we shall see in a very short time, when we leap off into the unknown, we ...become one with the unknown. That is: "Man is My mystery, and I am his mystery...", stated Baha'u'llah, in the Kitab-i-lquan.
All is one mystery, we need only recognize this, and be it. Realizing this, Clarice Lispector stated of one of her characters: "Because in one perfect moment the world had become whole again, even with its ancient mystery- except that this time, before the enigma had closed...[she] had put herself inside of it, just as enigmatic as the enigma."
(excerpted from THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, by Jack Haas)