Beyond Names and Forms

“God” is an ambiguous word in our language because it appears to refer to something that is known. But the transcendent is unknowable and unknown. God is transcendent, finally, of anything like the name “God.” God is beyond names and forms. Meister Eckhart said that the ultimate and highest leave-taking is leaving God for God, leaving your notion of God for an experience of that which transcends all notions.

The mystery of life is beyond all human conception. Everything we know is within the terminology of the concepts of being and not being, many and single, true and untrue. We always think in terms of opposites. But God, the ultimate, is beyond the pairs of opposites, that is all there is to it.

–Joseph Cambell, The Power of Myth

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3 thoughts on “Beyond Names and Forms

  1. I like your blog a great deal for quotes like this. I wrestle with such ideas because they sound like they expose something core, but at the same time they are self-refuting.

    How do you wrestle with this?

    For example, if God is transcendent and hence unknowable, how do we *know* God is transcendent and unknowable. So too, saying God is beyond name and form and encouraging one to “leave your notion of God for an experience of that which transcends all notions” *is itself* giving form and name and a notion to a subject–namely your God. So too suggesting that the mystery of life is beyond all human conception can onl be said if you know through your conceptions where the mystery of life is located.

    Perhaps we go with Wittgenstien and just say descriptions of God are ladders to climb in order to push them away. But I think that move will require some work.

    Be well — Again thanks for sharing your thoughts!! (Been busy but I’m half way through Ehrman’s Jesus Inturupted so next time I can speak with some grounding on that subject).

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