God: immanent or wholly other?

Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven, The Empyrean, 19th Century, by Alighieri, Dante, The Divine Comedy, US Public Domain
Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven, The Empyrean, 19th Century, by Alighieri, Dante, The Divine Comedy, US Public Domain

“Were it the case that a fly had reason and rationally seek out the eternal abyss of divine being, from which it came forth, we see that ‘God’, in so far that he is ‘God’, could not fulfill or satisfy the fly. Let us pray to God to be free of ‘God’.” –Meister Eckhart

Meister Eckhart, theologian and mystic, addresses the difference between our symbols  and the truth that lies beyond symbolic representations. Eckhart speaks to two notions of God: the symbolic notion of ‘God’ and the truth of God which lies behind the symbolic notion.

If we are to know God, then we must seek to know the truth which lies beyond the symbols and images of ‘God’. There are 1000s of names for God. There are many ways of knowing and understanding God. What is important, is not how we define ‘God’ but the experience of God, the truth of God– felt in the heart.

Whether we are embracing our relationship to God or denying the existence of God does not really matter. We are still deeply in relationship to God. All beings are in realtionship to God because God is the essential image of Being.

Meister Eckhart speaks of the “eternal abyss of divine Being.” One might say that “eternal abyss of divine Being” is also the “eternal abyss” of our own being.

This is the paradox of the God image. On the one hand, God is wholly other– an absolute other. On the other hand, God is immanent to self. The image of God arises spontaneously within the self, and for some it is realized as the very nature of the Self.

Note: In the sermon given by Meister Eckhart he does not put quotes around the word God. I put the quotes in to clarify his language, so as to differentiate between the symbolic notions of ‘God’ and the truth of God.

2 thoughts on “God: immanent or wholly other?

  1. This is very interesting and has brought me to this: In Persian, the term for god is “Khoda”. The term was used long before Islam whereby the Zorastrian Ahura Mazda was also referred to as “Khoda”. Now the interesting part is that “khod” is Persian means the self.

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