We have taken a bit of a hiatus from the Via Negativa meditations to verge into the Via Creativa and Via Transformativa happenings around the Climate Strike and more. Why are we meandering between the paths in this way? If we are going to learn to “pray the news” we must be flexible and always seeking what Eckhart calls “the God inside” of everything—even the news.
The Four Paths are decidedly non linear. I have always imaged them as an open-ended spiral—and spirals go forward as well as backward and this spiral is one that expands and at times may contract as well. One image I hold of what we are doing is this: Salt and peppering the Via Negativa with the VC and VT and VP also. This salt and peppering can—and should—happen with each of the Four Paths.
We saw in the Via Negativa how essential it is to remember the Via Positiva, to call it to mind, when the darkness hits—a teaching direct from Hildegard of Bingen when she was discussing her own dark night of the soul. We saw in Eckhart’s dream of his being “pregnant with nothingness” how the Via Negativa culminates in the birthing of the Via Creativa. And we saw early in these meditations how art as meditation is “the way of the prophets” (thus VC leading to VT). The very goal of the Via Transformativa—justice and compassion—is to bring more and more beings to the table of the Via Positiva so all can participate in the splendor of life.
So we must conclude that none of the paths stands alone or is isolated from the others, each flows in and out of the others, there is true interdependence at work here.
Nevertheless for our mind’s sake and learning’s sake we do have to temporarily isolate each path to travel deeper and understand them more profoundly for each contains its own wisdom and truth and surprises. Our minds learn by temporarily focusing on parts and then returning to the whole.
So in this and a few more subsequent meditations we want to return to some additional dimensions to the very rich Via Negativa Path before we move on to focus on the Via Creativa path. One of these is the Apophatic Divinity, the Darkness of the Divine. Consider this teaching from Thomas Aquinas for example: “We are united to God as to one Unknown.”
Queries for Contemplation
Meditations: What does it mean to hear of the Darkness of Divinity and the Unknownness of the Divine? Does that slow one down a bit with one’s God talk? Does it cause one to reflect more deeply? And talk less frequently of the Divine?
Sit with the phrase “We are united to God as to one Unknown.” Let it speak to you and to your deepest self. What does it say to you?
How do you experience the Four Paths salt and peppering one another?
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.