Divinity is found in the depth of things, the foundation of things, the profundity of things. We all have a depth, a ground, a presence and there, says Eckhart, lies divinity, for “God’s ground is my ground and my ground is God’s ground.”

At the deepest point: the source of life. The Narrows, Zion National Park. Photo by Karan Chawla on Unsplash

Thich Nhat Hanh agrees:

All notions applied to the phenomenal worlds…are transcended.  The greatest relief we can obtain is available when we touch the ultimate, ‘Tillich’s ‘ground of being.’…Life is no longer confined to time and space.

Thich Nhat Hanh equates “nirvana,” “God” and “ground of being” when he says:

God as the ground of being cannot be conceived of. Nirvana also cannot be conceived of. If we are aware when we use the word ‘nirvana’ or the word ‘God’ that we are talking about the ground of being there is no danger in using these words.

To talk about the “ground of being” and connecting to the ground of being implies connecting with the below, with what is down, the lower chakras.  We do this in dance and drumming, in walking and running and sitting on the earth, in swimming, playing and planting things in the earth. 

Christ emerging from below in “The Six Days of Creation Renewed.” Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias.

Hildegard paints pictures of Christ emerging from below, from the depths of the earth.  The shaman is said to be in touch with the underworld as well as the heavens but to dwell in the middle world, the everyday world of our existence.

To talk about “ground of being” is to talk about being.  Being is a big mystery—why is there being and not non-being?  Why is there being at all?  When Eckhart defines creation as “the giving of being” and that “Isness is God,” he is saying that all being is a representation of Divinity.

This echoes Aquinas’ teaching:

…to exist is the most perfect thing of all, for compared to existence, everything else is potential.

Eckhart says “God is being” and a “fountain of being” and Aquinas says:

A meditation by Alan Watts on the nature of existence. Video by theJourneyofPurpose TJOP.

God is pure existence….God is essential existence and all other things are beings by participation.

Deepak Chopra insists that “God is not a mythical person—he is Being itself.” He elaborates:

The vast physical mechanism we call the universe behaves more like a mind than like a machine. How did mind ever find a way to manifest as the physical world?…The very fact that anything exists is supernatural—literally beyond the rules of the natural world.

The true miracle is existence itself.

Theologian David Hart underscores the necessity of God as being when he observes that

Symbolizing renewal and regeneration to ancients and moderns alike, the Nile Delta resembles a lotus, reviving more than 7,700 square miles of farmland in its annual floods. Image: NASA.

…all physical reality is contingent upon some cause of being as such, since existence is not an intrinsic physical property, and since no physical reality is logically necessary. [Thus] the ultimate source of existence cannot be some item or event that has long since passed away or concluded, like a venerable ancestor or even the Big Bang itself—either of which is just another contingent physical entity or occurrence—but must be a constant wellspring of being, at work even now.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. 5-8.

Banner Image: Mist from Falls, Yellowstone. Photo by Quynn Elizabeth for Earth Web Media on Flickr.

How do you connect to the ground of being?  What practices take you there?  Do you envision a “constant wellspring of being?”

Recommended Reading

Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God

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.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past

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4 thoughts on “God as the Ground of Being, continued”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    We exist to bear forth and birth the potential inherent within, that which has been seeded and sealed within, that which lies there already grounded within our very being…..which life experience itself, in a mysterious way, cultivates, nurtures, and tends to the discovery of, the awareness of, the revelation of, the expression and manifestation of. There is an element of joyful surprise in surrendering and engaging with this mystery that unfolds within the ground of our isness remembered. This little insight I am learning, through my vegetable garden. I forget to place a marker identifying what I planted where….so now I am joyfully awaiting the surprise of what has been seeded and sealed in the ground….that hidden potential slowly coming into existence. I partner with the elements in nature, nurturing and tending to this hidden isness that is unfolding, and slowly little by little, day by day I discover and become aware of the many revelations of its existence expressing and manifesting itself…that leads me to remember that inherent potential I once held in the palm of my hand. All of this reminds me of Julian of Norwich and the vision she had of the seed held in the palm of God’s hand, and the words all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things shall be well.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Further insight to previous comment offered. Choosing not to project labels onto anyone or anything is a way of being open in Heart, Mind and Soul…to joyfully discovering the mystery, that hidden potential inherent within all things, that desires to come into being. Without labels it seems to me there would be more of a sense of freedom in discovering and becoming aware of that which longs to express and manifest itself from within the depths of our isness, that which lies dormant within the groundedness of our being….awaiting existence. Has not this way of freedom been revealed and made known to us, that Jesus invites us to experience …. when he says there is now no male or female, nor Jew or Gentile….no labeling that leads to the illusion of duality, division and separation.

  3. Avatar

    To be “two spirit” — and don’t look now but many of us and just aren’t aware of it, yet. To be grounded in the Ground of Being is experienced through the surrender that comes in silence and solitude. We must be empty to be filled with such Truth and Knowledge. }:- a.m.

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