Oneness with God

Discussion in 'Religion & Spirituality' started by s3v, 28 January 2018.

  1. s3v

    s3v Member

    Is the idea of becoming God in the state of ultimate transcendence merely a form of heresy, or in fact the pinnacle in one's quest for the ultimate Truth?

    A particularly interesting case of this is Meister Eckhart's on the matter, and can be summarized as follows: “God is ‘No-thing’ – but rather the Being that undergirds all reality – and we must become no-thing to be one with God.” The Roman Catholic Church condemned this as heresy. Let us look then to the Bible with its themes of Oneness in this manner:

    For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

    I and the Father are one. (John 10:30)

    Passages like these clearly warrant the idea that God is not an entity (certainly not in the physical world, but perhaps neither in the metaphysical, too), and coincide with Eckhart's idea of God being "No-thing". In this sense, is it possible to become God and share a Oneness wherein there is no metaphysical differentiation between a man and God?

    This seems like the primary, if not only modal approach to transcendence in Christianity, as all other approaches seem to be rooted in ideology as opposed to Being.
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  2. Raisin

    Raisin Senior Member Staff Member

    I don't think those are the best verses to show that God is not an entity amongst entities (but rather is an entity only in an analogical sense to the entities that we are accustomed to). 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to union through the spirit, which is true enough - but since the Godhead is more than just spirit, and since spirit is identified through its effects in Creation, it doesn't tell me much about Divine ontology. Those verses from John are points on the Trinity and I don't see the relevance. The best verse for your purposes would be Exodus 3:13: "And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you." - where the Name of God is given as both a proper name, and as a referent to Being itself.

    Anyway, Pantheism is always the vice of mystics. People like Eckhart consistently make one very basic error: They move from 'All ought to approach God' to 'All must be God,' and even just as regularly they move from 'All is dependent on God' to 'All is God.' As much as they dress this up with stupid poetry, such claims prove that the insight of the "sage" is naught more than ill-conceived metaphysics and hysterical inference. Because although all does depend on God, that in no way means that there is no distinction between God and His works; And although all must tend towards God, that in no way means that all can move into the Godhead without distinction. Christians are not Vedics. A Christian does not have to deny that Creation, and individual people, really exist. Their divinisation doesn't conflate Creation into the Absolute, nor does it allow for the possibility of a Created thing to become co-eternal with the First Principle of all reality; Rather, man becomes God by PARTICIPATING in the divine rather than by becoming EQUATED into it.

    "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-4)

    "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods." (St Thomas Aquinas, Opusculum 57 1-4)

    "Partakers" and "Sharers" is is language which, even if it ties us to the Being upon which all relies, is still one which doesn't deny plurality. There are still individuals within the Beatific Vision. If we look to the condemned propositions of Eckhart, we see quite a few points where he says blasphemous and idiotic things, simple because he is unable to recognise the reality of distinctions:

    "The fourth article. Also, in every work, even in an evil, Ι repeat, in one evil both according to punishment and guilt, God's glory is revealed and shines forth in equal fashion."

    "The seventh article. Also, that he who prays for anything particular prays badly and for something that is bad, because he is praying for the negation of good and the negation of God, and he begs that God be denied to him. "

    "The ninth article. Recently Ι considered whether there was anything Ι would take or ask from God. Ι shall take careful thought about this, because if Ι were accepting anything from God, Ι should be subject to him or below him as a servant or slave, and he in giving would be as a master. We shall not be so in life everlasting. "

    "The thirteenth article. Whatever is proper to the divine nature, all that is proper to the just and divine man. Because of that, this man performs whatever God performs, and he created heaven and earth together with God, and he is the begetter of the Eternal Word, and God would not know how to do anything without such a man."
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  3. fschmidt

    fschmidt Senior Member

    Both. Al-Ghazali's "Deliverance from Error" addresses this. He demands ultimate truth. And from my perspective, what he shows is that the only thing one can be completely sure of is one's own delusions. And this is the basis of Sufism and other such transcendent religious movements.
  4. fschmidt

    fschmidt Senior Member

    It's interested that every translation mistranslates this when the Hebrew is clearly future tense and it should read "And God said to Moses, I will be what/who I will be." I guess religions can't tolerate the idea that God refuses a static understanding.
  5. Raisin

    Raisin Senior Member Staff Member

    Its not "clearly" a future tense in Hebrew.
  6. s3v

    s3v Member

    It seems the heresy of Eckhart is much more fuzzy than initially presumed. It is first important to note that evidence of his Inquisition is often contradictory and scarce, including Eckhart's reactions to such claims of heresy.

    During the examination of his work for heretic teachings, the commissions reduced his 150 suspect articles down to 28. If anyone can manage to find it, a document called Votum Avenionense contains those remaining 28 articles along with Eckhart's defense of each, as well as the following rebuttal by the commissions. A discovery of this document would be profound in understanding the specifics of Eckhart's thought and the Church's view on its varying degrees (or absolute lack thereof) of heresy.

    Further complications arise when discovering that Eckhart actually died before an official verdict. After his death the papal and Cologne commissions maintained against the remaining 28 articles in question. This is not where it ends, however, because Eckhart apparently revoked much of what was in those 28 articles; as to why - a change of heart, misrepresentation, etc. - is unclear, perhaps revealed in the Votum Avenionense mentioned above.

    Tradition and the Normativity of History (can be viewed in part here), a modern work which references the Votum Avenionense, revealed the following excerpts from Eckhart's aforementioned 28 articles in question (Eckhart's words translated in quotes):

    (page 201)

    (page 201-202)

    (page 202-203)
    The remaining confusion not yet cleared in a satisfactory way by the aforementioned evidence is Eckhart's acceptance that God is in fact superior to man, even in man's quest to become him.

    May an interesting perspective be posed: If a son desires to "become" his biological father out of absolute respect, love and admiration for him, does this imply that he in any way is attempting to "overcome" him, or even become his equal? Would the son later in life still not view his father as his superior, even amidst the father's physical crippling in old age? After all, even if he had "become" his father in every metaphysical sense of worth, he would in fact no longer "be himself"; he would have transcended himself into a superior state, which is the state that existed on a hierarchy above his own. When the pious "becomes" God, aren't they not equal to God, but instead merely no longer themselves, which is a rot of human inadequacies and sin?

    Surely this thought is at best a grey area amongst the Catholic Church in particular, as shown by the general viewpoints of Avignon Papacy, yet the research entails perhaps unsuspecting results.
  7. Raisin

    Raisin Senior Member Staff Member

    Its hardly a grey area. Its a case of the bishops being unduly charitable to an educated figure who was making confused and ridiculous pantheistic claims. You have to jump through semantical hoops in order to make the claims attributed to Eckhart seem even remotely grounded in orthodoxy.

    Not "undoubtedly," since the context we have shows that Eckhart didn't speak of "presence" but rather of identity. Something which is doubly unclear, given that when the Church Fathers spoke of the presence of God in conscientia, or of the dependence of the Self upon God, they spoke explicitly of the Soul being CREATED in the Imago Dei and quite emphatically not of the Soul being internally UNCREATED.
  8. fschmidt

    fschmidt Senior Member

    I looked it up and you are right. It is "I am" but in a permanent sense, so maybe the right translation would be "I am what I am (permanently)."
  9. Raisin

    Raisin Senior Member Staff Member

    Yeah. If I remember correctly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church featured a few comments on that: That there is an implication of endurance in the terminology. That is, it's "I am that I am (eternally)" - with the connotations of "...and therefore I will always be with you, can always be relied upon" etc. A sense of a lasting promise.
  10. Airyanem Vaejah

    Airyanem Vaejah Junior Member

    Meister Eckhart was a realized master. Such knowledge is impossible to put into words, one can only share certain 'pointers'. Unfortunately even those 'pointers' can be easily misinterpreted, which is precisely what happened to him and several others, like Ibn Arabi in the Muslim world. They were nevertheless some of the best metaphysicians of our time. To put a label 'ridiculous pantheists' on them might be conventient, but it's nonetheless improper. They were far beyond the limited philosophical notions of pantheism, they were dealing with pure metaphysics. Pantheism denies the transcendence of God, which Meister Eckhart (or the non-dualist Hindus for that matter) never did. But also, none of this is a question of 'becoming God'. It's a question of self-knowledge, the Delphic gnōthi seauton.
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