Eckhart says: “Reason can never comprehend God in the ocean of his unfathomableness.”
Do these words teach you something of the mystery that Divinity is? God as unfathomable, like the ocean is in all its depth and darkness and unexplored mysteries?
If so, that is a very good thing; it is a sign of a spiritual depth and it rings true with what John of the Cross touches on when he says, “launch out into the depth.” Do not stay on the shore watching, enter the deeper waters—especially in this new Age of Aquarius, the age of deeper waters, deeper mystery–even in the midst of deeper dangers and more present evil all around us.
To launch out into the depths and enter deeper waters often means to leave much behind. This is why many of the new generation are leaving institutional religion.
When our institutions are failing all around us, it is good to go to the ocean or deeper places of unfathomableness and let go of cheap god-talk and find the depths of our own souls. Part of that depth is our capacity for wonder and for awe that strikes us and lights the fire, the spark of God in us.
Thomas Aquinas said: The cause at which we wonder is hidden from us… We are united to God as to one Unknown….God alone knows the depths and riches of the Godhead, and divine wisdom alone can declare its secrets.
Indeed, for Aquinas the mind’s greatest achievement [is] to realize that God is far beyond anything we think. This is the ultimate in human knowledge: to know that we do not know God…By its immensity the divine essence transcends every form attained by the human intellect.
Eckhart echoes this teaching when he says: “whatever one says what God is, God is not; God is what one does not say of God, rather than what one says God is.”
Psychotherapist and Hasidic mystic Estelle Frankel, in her important book, The Wisdom of Not Knowing, invites us to “befriend the unknown” and to “trade the certainty of the known for the unknown.” As a lifelong student of Jewish mysticism she has come to learn that being receptive to the unknown, in all its many facets, allows us to become more open, curious, flexible, and expansive in our personal and professional lives. This openness is the key to all learning and creativity. It is the gate that unlocks our wisdom and courage.
She cites the Zohar: “Thought cannot encompass Your divine essence” and she retranslates it as, “you cannot wrap your mind around God.” Wisdom is dialectical and thus “always involves a synergy of knowing and not knowing, discovery and mystery, action and stillness, words and silence.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. 130f.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: Photo by Aaron Birch on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Have you learned that you cannot “wrap your mind around God”? What follows from that? Is our culture learning it, maybe the hard way?
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