Chapter One: What is the Divine Darkness?
Direct us, O Trinity, to the heights of Mystical Revelation that is purest beyond all mind-aspects of thought and light! Therein is contained those immutable mysteries of Divine Truth THAT are hidden in the marvelous Translucent Darkness of The Silence THAT alone reveals in secret. This Essential Darkness emanates in Deepest Obscurity, yet simultaneously is radiantly Bright and beyond all aspects of sensate phenomena. It Alone bestows upon us the Clear light of Mind radiating the many splendors of Transcendent Beauty.
This opening prayer is packed with what has become known as the “Dark Gnosis”. Firstly, “Trinity” is the highest mystery within Catholicism and Orthodox circles and is exclusively their concept. It is not found within scripture, and most Protestant traditions completely shun it. Dionysius has chosen it here as the highest revelation that jump-starts the divine mysteries. This Dark Wonder is beyond all surface mind-chatter and is the domain of the Unborn and Absolute. Its Truth is hidden in the “marvelous Translucent Darkness”. This Luminous awareness is the apex of Apophaticism—the dark path that negates all sensate phenomena in favor of the Translucent Light THAT points to what is ineffable but can truly be experienced alone in the depths of silence. A selection from our series on Hsin Hsin Ming reveals the importance of what lies beneath this Dark Prayer:
No-thing is anywhere to be found;
No-thing has the power to Recollect.
The Darkness of the Void is Lucid and Bright.
No dark stain of corporeity soils the Luminous Mind.
IT is not a realm of constricted cognition;
Yea, not a Realm of narrow-reason, emotion and spoiled imagination.
In the Kingdom of True Suchness, Tathata,
Where are the traces of light or darkness?
No-thing-ness can withstand the awesome Translucent Light of the Unborn. Only the Dharmakayic-Spirit of Suchness can Recollect ITself. ITs Void is darkness to the senses and eternal light to the spirit. No amount of corporeity can soil even a hairsbreadth of ITs True Essential Stature. No amount of Intellect can grasp IT. Even the ultimate emotion-filled imagination can never, ever come close to portraying IT as IT IS in ITSELF. The Tathatic-Spirit far transcends any feeble-minded attempts to render IT Holy; IT is not an Other or some form of self-contained Entity (which is in actuality the no-self beast). IT is even beyond the bounds of light and darkness, for IT is both and neither; IT is nowhere and everywhere, and both nowhere and anywhere in-between.
It is only on the blanket of Translucent Darkness of Illumination that the Light of Holy Gnosis can be transmitted. The spirit Translucent learns to absorb this supernal-truth that is ineffable—Secret. This Holy Communion is complete and is forever sealed against all evil. The former ravaging discursive-mindset is still at last. One enjoys perpetual Spiritual Tranquility. Oh Sweet Primordial Darkness, through you we have found our most perfect rest!
All this can only be won in via-negativa fashion. Yea, only through Unknowing everything that is not IT can the puzzle become unraveled. There is a beautiful term for this Transcendent State: Agnosia; it means that state of Unknowing. Dionysius penned it to mean that Living Silence contained in his prayer. It is not the silence of the tomb but rather the majestic flowering that can be experienced on a fresh and clear and vibrant spring morning.
For this I pray; and, Timothy, my friend, my advice to you as you look
for a sight of the mysterious things, is to leave behind you everything
perceived and understood, everything perceptible and understandable,
all that is not and all that is, and, with your understanding laid aside, to
strive upward as much as you can toward union with him who is beyond
all being and knowledge. By an undivided and absolute abandonment
of yourself and everything, shedding all and freed from all, you will be
uplifted to the ray of the divine shadow which is above everything that
Timothy is Dionysius’ dear disciple, and at the same time his friend—a friendship that can only be won through the faithful and abiding spiritual relationship between Master and Disciple. It’s one based on Undivided Trust. If you but trust in the Master, then he will reveal truths to you beyond your wildest imagination. Dionysius also insists that in order for this Spiritual Relationship to blossom you first need to put-aside all that you have known and loved in the past. As Jesus once said, “You cannot serve two masters.” Remaining close to the Master—in a symbiotic embrace you, too, will be able to taste the divine Agnosia. This all conveys the overall Dionysian advice: moving above sense perception and the conceptual realm of understanding, “you will be uplifted to the ‘superexistent’ ray of the divine shadow.” IT is this Divine Shadow that will uplift your spirit in all you encounter, and more.
Thank you kindly for this enlightening and thought provoking entry to this lesson on the Dark Gnosis of Dionysius the Areopagite.
This series brings to mind a little Dzogchen ambient musical accompaniment on the meditation on the Space of the Radiant Darkness:
Thank-you for the comment and wonderful link. 🙂