Beyond Divine Darkness

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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. 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.

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

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. The answer is a resounding no and a resoundingly permanent deletion from my library. Rating : 1. April March February January November He insisted on personal experience as the primary thing in religion, and so became the father of a great family of devout and saintly mystics who advanced true religion. And he did well in maintaining that there was an experience of Reality which transcended mere head-knowledge — a finding of God in which the whole being, heart, will and mind were expanded and satisfied, even though language could not formulate what was being experienced.

Considering the far-reaching influence of the brief but profound Mystical Theology of Dionysius, it is comparatively little known, even to students who are ardent lovers and followers of some of the great Christian mystics who were themselves the spiritual children of the pseudo-Areopagite.

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As far as we are aware there are not many English versions of this work available; therefore the version here given may be a means of bringing this real treasure before a wider sphere of mystics; for it contains the very essence and foundation of true mysticism. Supernal Triad, Deity above all essence, knowledge and goodness; Guide of Christians to Divine Wisdom; direct our path to the ultimate summit of Thy mystical Lore, most incomprehensible, most luminous and most exalted, where the pure, absolute and immutable mysteries of theology are veiled in the dazzling obscurity of the secret Silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of their Darkness, and surcharging our blinded intellects with the utterly impalpable and invisible fairness of glories surpassing all beauty.

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Let this be my prayer; but do thou, dear Timothy, in the diligent exercise of mystical contemplation, leave behind the senses and the operations of the intellect, and all things sensible and intellectual, and all things in the world of being and non-being, that thou mayest arise by unknowing 1 towards the union, as far as is attainable, "with Him who transcends all being and all knowledge.

For by the unceasing and absolute renunqatiop of thyself and of all things thou mayest be borne on high, through pure and entire self-abnegation, into the superessential Radiance of the Divine Darkness.


Unknowing, or agnosia, is not ignorance or nescience as ordinarily understood, but rather the realization that no finite knowledge can fully know the Infinite One, and that therefore He is only truly to be approached by agnosia, or by that which is beyond and above knowledge. There are two main kinds of darkness: the sub-darkness and the super-darkness, between which lies, as it were, an octave of light. But the nether-darkness and the Divine Darkness are not the same darkness, for the former is absence of light, while the latter is excess of light.

The one symbolizes mere ignorance, and the other a transcendent unknowing — a super-knowledge not obtained by means of the discursive reason. It is caused by the superabundance of Light and not by the absence of lumination: it is 'a deep but dazzling Darkness' Henry Vaughan.

There is a Divine Darkness which is not Evil, and which Ultimately Becomes Light.

John, I, 5. But these things are not to be disclosed to the uninitiated, by whom I mean those attached to the objects of human thought, and who believe there is no superessential Reality beyond, and who imagine that by their own understanding they know Him who has made Darkness His secret place.

And if the principles of the divine Mysteries are beyond the understanding of these, what is to be said of others still more incapable thereof, who describe the transcendental First Cause of all by characteristics drawn from the lowest order of beings, while they deny that He is in any way above the images which they fashion after various designs; whereas they should affirm that, while He possesses all the positive attributes of the universe being the Universal Cause yet, in a more strict sense, He does not possess them, since He transcends them all; wherefore there is no contradiction between the affirmations and the negations, inasmuch as He infinitely precedes all conceptions of deprivation, being beyond all positive and negative distinctions.

In one sense the Infinite is most truly described by what He is , whereas all finite existences are most properly described by what they are not in relation to Him who is; yet, inasmuch as all affirmations are necessarily drawn from that which is finite, it follows that God must transcend them all, and, therefore, without contradiction, it is true paradoxically to affirm that He possesses and does not possess both positive and negative attributes. Thus the blessed Bartholomew asserts that the divine science is both vast and minute, and that the Gospel is great and broad, yet concise and short; signifying by this, that the beneficent Cause of all is most eloquent, yet utters few words, or rather is altogether silent, as having neither human speech nor human understanding, because He is super-essentially exalted above created things, and reveals Himself in His naked Truth to those alone who pass beyond all that is pure or impure, and ascend above the topmost altitudes of holy things, and who, leaving behind them all divine light and sound and heavenly utterances, plunge into the Darkness where truly dwells, as the Oracles declare, that ONE who is beyond all.

The mystics speak of other kinds of darkness; for example, the darkness of the night of purgation, and the dark night of the soul, but the Divine Darkness is in a different category from these. It was not without reason that the blessed Moses was commanded first to undergo purification himself and then to separate himself from those who had not undergone it; and after the entire purification heard many-voiced trumpets and saw many lights streaming forth with pure and manifold rays; and that he was thereafter separated from the multitude, with the elect priests, and pressed forward to the summit of the divine ascent.

And this I take to signify that the divinest and highest things seen by the eyes or contemplated by the mind are but the symbolical expressions of those that are immediately beneath Him who is above all.

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  • Through these, His incomprehensible Presence is manifested upon those heights of His Holy Places; that then It breaks forth, even from that which is seen and that which sees, and plunges the mystic into the Darkness of Unknowing, whence all perfection of understanding is excluded, and he is enwrapped in that which is altogether intangible and noumenal, being wholly absorbed in Him who is beyond all, and in none else whether himself or another ; and through the inactivity of all his reasoning powers is united by his highest faculty to Him who is wholly unknowable; thus by knowing nothing he knows That which is beyond his knowledge.

    Since it is absolutely impossible for the finite reason to receive a pure knowledge of God save through processes which divide and limit His Infinite Nature, the mystic at last with absolute faith must plunge into the Darkness of Unknowing, which he can only do when he has reached the loftiest point to which the highest human faculty will raise him.