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Divine Darkness

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Divine Darkness

Becoming Increasingly Intimate with the Divine Light, the Absolute Transcendent Truth

Clearly, the nature of this process and its accompanying experience can lead us to the conclusion that the absolutely transcendent truth is unknowable. When absolute transcendence is taken to mean true nature totally apart from any manifest form, this is true. However, we see this as one possible understanding of this process. While it is true that our experience is such that we feel we know less and less as we are enveloped in the divine darkness, we are actually becoming increasingly intimate with the divine light, the absolute transcendent truth. We perceive and discriminate less, but this decrease of discrimination is not an increasing ignorance. It is the increase of a different kind of knowledge, a knowledge that is in its nature beyond discrimination, beyond the recognition of qualities and attributes. It is the simplicity of the source, which is so single that its knowing is an unknowing. As we become more enveloped in the divine darkness we are actually enveloped in divine light, for the divine light is dark. It is black light, the source of all light, not colorless but pre-color. We might think that clear light is the ultimate light, as is asserted by some Buddhist schools. However, clarity is an attribute, albeit a fundamental one. It is the absence of color, but not the ontological antecedent of color. Black light is the luminous divine darkness, the source of all light, and the origin of awareness.

Moving Away from Manifestation Toward Transcendent Truth We Lose Consciousness of Anything

This experience of no perception, internal or external, is reported by advanced practitioners of most wisdom traditions. This indicates that we cannot know true nature in its absoluteness, because as we move away from manifestation and toward the transcendent truth we lose consciousness of anything. Such a conclusion is supported by the fact that the movement deeper into pure true nature, as awareness relieves itself of the perception of manifestation, is an experience of being increasingly enveloped by darkness, a divine darkness that feels like grace. The sense of the experience is that the light of true nature darkens the consciousness of the soul, liberating her from the perception of phenomena, as it draws her nearer. The soul feels
increasingly close to the source as she feels more enveloped by darkness. At the point of complete nearness, that of unity, the darkness is complete, and there is no perception or awareness of anything, including darkness.

The Unknowing of the Divine Darkness is Actually the True Knowing of the Transcendent Truth

The understanding that the unknowing of the divine darkness is actually the true knowing of the transcendent truth has been known by many of the Western mystics. Plotinus saw it as knowing through presence, not through intellection, a knowing specific to the knowing of the One, for “the main source of the difficulty is that awareness of this Principle comes neither by knowing nor by the Intellection that discovers the Intellectual beings, but by a presence overpassing all knowledge.” (Plotinus, Enneads, p. 539.) The most well-known Western mystic of divine darkness is Denys the Areopagite, who speaks of the ascent of the soul using the analogy of Moses’ ascent of the holy mount, demonstrating that he saw the divine darkness as the ultimate knowing: “And then Moses is cut off from both things seen and those who see and enters into the darkness of unknowing, a truly hidden darkness, according to which he shuts his eyes to all apprehensions that convey knowledge, for he has passed into a realm quite beyond any feeling or seeing. Now, belonging wholly to that which is beyond all, and yet to nothing at all, and being neither himself, nor another, and united in his highest part in passivity (anenergesia) with Him who is completely unknowable, he knows by not knowing in a manner that transcends understanding.” (Quoted in Andrew Louth, The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition, p. 173.)

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