Category Archives: Religion

The annihilation of thought

Thought rises to contemplate its own innerness until its power of comprehension is annihilated.

— Azriel of Gerona

Being and nothingness

You may be asked: ‘How did God bring forth being from nothingness? Is there not an immense difference between being and nothingness?’

Answer as follows: ‘Being is in nothingness in the mode of nothingness, and nothingness is in being in the mode of being.’ Nothingness is being, and being is nothingness. The node of being as it begins to emerge from nothingness is called faith. For the term ‘faith’ applies neither to visible, comprehensible being, nor to nothingness, invisible and incomprehensible, but rather to the nexus of nothingness and being. Being does not stem from nothingness alone but rather from being and nothingness together. All is one in the simplicity of absolute undifferentiation. Our limited mind cannot grasp or fathom this, for it joins infinity.

— Azriel of Gerona

God spoke

(‘God spoke, and what He said became our symbols. The shape of a letter is perhaps the shape of His face. God has as many faces as there are letters in an alphabet. God is written in all languages.
   ‘You will be able to contemplate God once you have learned to listen to words, to look at them carefully, that is, once you have learned to read’, he had noted.
   ‘His voice is inaudible, but it is the supporting silence which allows our sounds to be discrete’, he had added.
   ‘You will shatter the image of words. You will take away their sound. You will divert them from their meaning. You will turn them into holes.
   ‘Then reading and writing will throw you into the vortex of a voice absorbed into the void’, he had also noted.)

— Jabés, El, or the Last Book (trans. R. Waldrop)

What you are asking is your treasure house

   Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: “What do you seek?”
   “Enlightenment”, replied Daiju.
   “You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked.
   Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?”
   Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.”
   Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends: “Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”

Zen koans

Like madmen

‘He will laugh at the trials of the innocent.’ Silence of God. The noises here below imitate this silence. They mean nothing.
   It is when from the innermost depths of our being we need a sound which does mean something — when we cry out for an answer and it is not given us — it is then that we touch the silence of God.
   As a rule our imagination puts words into the sounds in the same way as we idly play at making out shapes in wreaths of smoke; but when we are too exhausted, when we no longer have the courage to play, then we must have real words. We cry out for them. The cry tears our very entrails. All we get is silence.
   After having gone through that, some begin to talk to themselves like madmen. Whatever they may do afterwards, we must have nothing but pity for them. The others, and they are not numerous, give their whole heart to silence.

— Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace (trans. E. Craufurd)

Desire

[God is limitless], and that which is limitless cannot by its nature be understood. And so every desire for the beautiful which draws us on this ascent is intensified by the soul’s very progress towards it. And this is the real meaning of seeing God: never to have this desire satisfied. But fixing our eyes on those things which help us to see, we must ever keep alive in us the desire to see more and more. And so no limit can be set to our progress towards God: first of all, because no limitation can be put upon the beautiful, and secondly because the increase in our desire for the beautiful cannot be stopped by any sense of satisfaction.

— Gregory of Nyssa

Incomprehensibility

The more [the soul] approaches the vision [of God], so much the more does it see that the divine nature is invisible. It thus leaves all surface appearances, not only those that can be grasped by the senses but also those that the mind itself seems to see, and it keeps on going deeper until by the operation of the spirit it penetrates the invisible and incomprehensible, and it is here that it sees God. The true vision and the true knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all knowledge and is everywhere cut off from us by the darkness of incomprehensibility.

— Gregory of Nyssa