I thought it interesting (perhaps) for some here, too, as these sorts of mystical concepts seem to apply across traditions.
"while [the First Cause] possesses all the positive attributes of the universe (being the Universal Cause) yet, in a more strict sense, it does not possess them, since it transcends them all; wherefore there is no contradiction between the affirmations and the negations, inasmuch as it infinitely precedes all conceptions of deprivation, being beyond all positive and negative distinctions. ...[it is] neither without being nor without life, nor without reason or intelligence; nor is it a body, nor has it form or shape, quality, quantity or weight; nor has it any localized, visible or tangible existence; it is not sensible or perceptible; nor is it subject to any disorder or inordination nor influenced by any earthly passion; neither is it rendered impotent through the effects of material causes and events; it needs no light; it suffers no change, corruption, division, privation or flux; none of these things can either be identified with or attributed unto it.... neither does anything that is know it as it is; nor does it know existing things according to existing knowledge; neither can the reason attain to it, nor name it, nor know it; neither is it darkness nor light, nor the false nor the true; nor can any affirmation or negation be applied to it, for although we may affirm or deny the things below it, we can neither affirm nor deny it, inasmuch as the all-perfect and unique Cause of all things transcends all affirmation, and the simple pre-eminence of Its absolute nature is outside of every negation- free from every limitation and beyond them all."
In the work I was doing yesterday I thought this related nicely to the instruction for meditation in the medieval Book of Privy Counsel, where one should meditate on God without trying to find or assign to Him any attributes or preconceptions, but simply rest in Him as He is, not anticipating or desiring any particular experience. It reminds me of instruction I received in the past to surrender to "not knowing" and to what is, just as it is.
Which reminded me of how often we meditate and want it to be a certain way - open, blissful, peaceful, and so on for example (which for me it was not over the weekend - in fact I had rather a lot of gritty body tension and bumpy mind activity for a couple of days).
Given the above description, God (the Source/Cause) is so unknowable, any such striving or grasping can only be an impediment, a way of keeping the self in the picture and trying to maintain control of the relationship.
Thoughts? Hope this isn't too wacky.
You wrote: "Given the above description, God (the Source/Cause) is so unknowable, any such striving or grasping can only be an impediment, a way of keeping the self in the picture and trying to maintain control of the relationship."
I think that's true. What I find fascinating though is that in my experience, this feedback loop that comes into being through striving, grasping, or otherwise trying to control experience can be thwarted by simply recognizing that all of this is going on within the space of awareness. Doubt, confusion, suffering, delusion and pain occur within the same space as certainty, clarity, release, wisdom and pleasure. By recognizing this, we can stop giving fuel to the tangled-up energies and allow them to untangle right before our eyes (so to speak). I was listening to a talk by Lama Surya Das this morning, and he said something about "throwing the clutch" on experience, implying that it's possible to disengage from the tendency to respond to the whirlwind of the dependent nature of phenomena so it can naturally wind down.
In that strange, paradoxical way that things tend to play out in practice, the problem with grasping, aversion, and delusion is our identification with them. Bringing these processes into awareness knocks the wind out of them. They don't simply drop like a stone, but they do tend to unwind - if we're patient enough to allow everything to do what it does without getting caught up in it.
Anyway, that doesn't take away from anything you said. It's just what came to mind. Thanks for sharing this!
The problem with modern meditation comes with the idea that all things that arise must be ignored until they pass.
This has never been True.
What arises has meaning. Of course it passes, but it is not in our ability to make it pass.
Too many people believe that the penultimate of practice ends in silence, darkness, and peace. But if there were any use to this, the Buddha, and Christ, and Krishna, and Patanjali would have said so. For those who want silence, darkness, and peace through these attributes, they should use the blade or the rope.
Knowing comes from giving mindfulness on all things that arise.
Knowing gives Peace that Passeth all Understanding.
Don't die before your time. Live!
jeremy may wrote: The problem with modern meditation comes with the idea that all things that arise must be ignored until they pass.
I'm not currently aware of any modern meditation discussed here that says this. Please say more.
jeremy may wrote: For those who want silence, darkness, and peace through these attributes, they should use the blade or the rope.
I'm confused by this. What should these people use the blade or the rope for? It sounds, well, violent.