Supra Omnia

Lorie Stevens

The concluding two chapters of the Theologia Mystica are so brief and cover the same principles that we will include them both at this time.

Four: Not perceptible

So this is what we say. The Cause of all is above all and is not inexistent, lifeless, speechless, mindless. It is not a material body, and hence has neither shape nor form, quality, quantity, or weight. It is not in any place and can neither be seen nor be touched. It is neither perceived nor is it perceptible. It suffers neither disorder nor disturbance and is overwhelmed by no earthly passion. It is not powerless and subject to the disturbances caused by sense perception. It endures no deprivation of light. It passes through no change, decay, division, loss, no ebb and flow, nothing of which the senses may be aware. None of all this can either be identified with it nor attributed to it.

In brilliant fashion Dionysius wraps up his thesis by instituting the realization that the Unborn Absolute is no-thing perceivable, and in the ensuing chapter, nor conceivable. In Lankavatarian parlance, IT is Imageless—devoid of all possible phenomenal constructs. Yea, IT is “Above-All.”

The gist of this chapter for understanding The Mystical Theology with its own ascent language is in the complex notion of dissimilar similarities. God, as we have seen, may be named as Word or Being, yet these apparently fitting affirmations finally fall short of the transcendent unknown One. (Paul Rorem, The Dionysian Mystical Theology, pg. 42)

The Unknown and thus Unborn One signifies what is known in Buddhist circles as Absolute Suchness, and as such is devoid of any constructural analysis that may attempt to pin it down. Our series on The Awakening of Faith expressed it thusly:

The Dharmakaya of the Tathagata is perfectly “quiescent” in the sense that it is empty of any attributes. This includes the concept of “space”. Space is a particularized construct that somehow apparently exists side by side objective phenomena; space somehow encompasses this phenomenon but is distinct from it. The prthagjana have it inside their heads that the Dharmakaya of the Tathagata is some form of conceptual construct like empty space. In Essence IT is Self-empty of any and all attributes that attempt to pin it down in the objective order of thingness.

Five: Not Conceptual

Again, as we climb higher we say this. It is not soul or mind, nor does it possess imagination, conviction, speech, or understanding. Nor is it speech per se, understanding per se. It cannot be spoken of and it cannot be grasped by understanding. It is not number or order, greatness or smallness, equality or inequality, similarity or dissimilarity. It is not immovable, moving, or at rest. It has no power, it is not power, nor is it light. It does not live nor is it life. It is not a substance, nor is it eternity or time. It cannot be grasped by the understanding since it is neither knowledge nor truth. It is not kingship. It is not wisdom. It is neither one nor oneness, divinity nor goodness. Nor is it a spirit, in the sense in which we understand that term. It is not sonship or fatherhood and it is nothing known to us or to any other being. It falls neither within the predicate of nonbeing nor of being. Existing beings do not know it as it actually is and it does not know them as they are. There is no speaking of it, nor name nor knowledge of it. Darkness and light, [1048B] error and truth—it is none of these. It is beyond assertion and denial. We make assertions and denials of what is next to it, but never of it, for it is both beyond every assertion, being the perfect and unique cause of all things, and, by virtue of its preeminently simple and absolute nature, free of every limitation, beyond every limitation; it is also beyond every denial.

In cataloging in litanic-fashion THAT which is neither perceivable nor conceivable, Dionysius even takes the risk of downplaying Catholicism’s greatest dogma, the Holy Trinity: Nor is it a spirit, in the sense in which we understand that term. It is not sonship or fatherhood and it is nothing known to us or to any other being.” He’s taking a great risk here since it counteracts what he wrote in the third chapter on the value of the via-positiva and the triune action of the One God in three persons. Why stick his neck out? Because his own mystical-formulations are inescapable and cannot be contradicted nor downplayed, in the parlance of his time: IT IS the Holy Truth. This is indisputable the higher one climbs into the Imageless-face of the Mahasunya, or the great Deathless Void of the Unborn. The Mahasunya of the Unborn Mind, is so called because IT is VOID of all sensory phenomena of the discriminatory mind; yet, from the point of view of Reality (Dharmadhatu) IT is FULL of ITS own perfect and most dynamic creative suchness. Within this Great Deathless Void there is no-thing to see, no-thing to perceive, no-thing to grasp or to cling to…its TOTAL UNEQUIVOCAL RELINQUISHMENT, or entering into Dionysius’ Apophatic Cloud of Unknowing. He concludes by saying that IT cannot be denied ITs Absolute Stature. In point of fact, IT is being denied anytime one chooses to capture IT as either this or that.

My fervent hope in this series is that one can come away with the value of the Dionysian Dark Mysticism—IT is not something to fear but rather an embracing with open arms, heart, and mind the very apex of apophatic terminology that values the Absolute Unborn on Its own terms, and not some[thing] created out of the limited imagination of lesser-mindfields.

May the Dark Wonder of the Unborn Bless you!


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