In yesterday’s DM we considered the apophatic side of Divinity, the limits of language to name the Great Mystery or what Eckhart called “the ocean of God’s unfathomableness.” We also considered Estelle Frankel’s endorsement of the “wisdom of Not Knowing” and silence, therefore.
If God is Nothingness (among other things), silence can be a door into God, an opening to the divine.
Indeed, Eckhart says “nothing in all creation is so like God as silence.” For Eckhart silence is a requisite for listening deeply to the “Word of God” that dwells within us all. Says Eckhart: The Word lies hidden in the soul, unknown and unheard unless room is made for it in the ground of hearing, otherwise it is not heard. All voices and sounds must cease and there must be pure stillness within, a still silence. Stillness leads to an encounter with the Divine.
There are many kinds of silence. Sometimes we are silent out of ignorance; sometimes out of fear or timidity or shyness; sometimes out of guilt (one bigshot this past week took the fifth amendment in a court trial 440 times lest he incriminate himself).
But, as Maria Montessori teaches, humans can “make silence”—and children ought to do so. Another name for “making silence” is meditation or contemplation. Buddhism offers multiple meditation practices to empty the mind of thoughts. It also has lots to say about the nothingness and unknowability of God. Says Thich Nhat Hanh:
It is impossible to use our concepts and words to describe God…. It’s very wise not to say anything about God. To me the best theologian is the one who never speaks about God.
Meister Eckhart is in full agreement when he says: The most beautiful thing which a person can say about God would be for that person to remain silent from the wisdom of an inner wealth. So, be silent and quit flapping your gums about God.
Eckhart urges us to enter into deep silence to find God. It is best, he says, “to maintain total silence about that which is the source of all things.” This is meditation, this is mindfulness. To be continued
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. 134f., 137.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Are you at home with silence? Do you practice silence in reaching out to what Eckhart calls “the source of all things” and “Nothingness” and the “Ocean of unfathomableness”?
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