Ineffable Oneness

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The experience of ineffable Oneness is the Father’s secret shared with the Son and the Spirit, shared with us as the Name unveiled, as light of wisdom and glory.  Saint Denys’ little treatise, ‘Mystikes Theologias,’or ‘Theologia Mystica,’ is not a rational theological discourse concerning the mysteries of God, but a God-centred glorification of God’s mystery of ineffable Oneness, radiant Oneness of Godhead shared by the Father with the Spirit and the Son.  Saint Denys’ witness to ineffable Oneness begins and ends within Holy Trinity but opens at centre to the Name’s ‘dazzling darkness’ of ineffable Oneness, secretly hidden in the heart of the Father’s glory.  Hidden Oneness was acknowledged as the divine essence in Patristic tradition but never conceptually defined.  Saint Denys is a profound witness to Oneness not by propositional affirmation but by apophatic negation, which for him includes the negation of every negation, including symbols whose logical function is negation and negation of negation.  Saint Denys speaks, for example, of ‘dazzling darkness’ to express ineffable Oneness beyond word, image, name or number, expressing the Name’s apophatic wisdom of dazzling Oneness.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus was witness to Oneness with the Father (John 10:30), but in ‘I AM’ sayings without predicates, such as, ‘Before Abraham was, I AM,’ (John 8:58), veils as well as unveils the nameless Name of Oneness.  The Patristic tradition was never tempted to reduce the Thrice Holy Name to a modalistic monism or radiant Oneness to a reductionistic collapse of dualism into sheer confusion. 

Sometimes the Name of Oneness, manifesting in the midst of glorifying ‘I’ awareness and deifying ‘AM’ presence, was expressed in the tradition as ‘Godhead’ beyond God, plunging pure awareness beyond every last trace of self-centred awareness, thrusting presence beyond every last form of objectifying, dualistic cognition, releasing awareness into presence as ineffable openness, opening awareness of openness beyond all notions of openness or presence.  The wisdom intention of apophatic negation is purification of the heart by hallowing the Name, cleansing awareness of all dualistic fixation, including all dualistic or reified negation.  In imageless prayer of the Name, pure awareness embraces deifying presence beyond every kind of objectifying reification.  Dazzling, uncreated, unconditioned presence purifies awareness from all dualistic cognition.  Enlightened unknowing (agnosia) turns and sees, spontaneously centering where ineffable Oneness is centred, gently sharing the Name’s ineffable mysteries of Oneness, Oneness of awareness conjoined with Oneness of presence in utterly ineffable Oneness.  

According to Saint Denys, sanctification begins with purification of awareness, then ascends from illumined awareness into uncreated presence, but illumination is not yet direct theophany but simply the dwelling place of theophany.  Oneness of Godhead is the Father’s secret, God’s theophanic awareness of his christophanic, theandrocosmic presence, transcending all that concepts grasp, all that conceptual thinking knows.  Consequently, Oneness reveals itself as itself transcending all dualistic opposition between awareness and presence, seer and seen.  Awareness and presence are one, indivisible, ineffable Oneness when turning turns and seeing sees who sees.  When unknowing knows the ineffable Oneness of the Father and the Son, Oneness of knower and known, wisdom knowing as the Spirit knows the Son, abiding in his midst.  For Saint Denys, unknowing awareness of Oneness plunges awareness beyond every last trace of self-centred cognition, releasing presence from every least hint of reified self-identification, every lingering delusion conditioned by confusion or division.  Oneness lets wisdom know that in the hallowed Name, all separation ceases to separate when confusion ceases to confuse.  This is revelation of the Name which desert wisdom knows is the Kingdom of God coming with power.

Glorification initiates desert seers into the nameless presence of the Name of Oneness, imageless awareness of the Name as glory’s Chariot Throne.   Saint Denys certainly speaks of ‘Godhead’ beyond God, of Oneness beyond God, God known conceptually, but is under no illusion that ‘Godhead’ can be conceived, let alone defined.  ‘Godhead’ for the desert says unapproachable light of presence (Shekinah), inconceivable presence of presence (parousia), communicating ineffable Oneness as enlightening awareness.  Awakening wisdom’s awareness of deifying presence, Oneness is glorified and glorifying.  Uncreated light stills the passive imagination, opening it to mysteries of uncreated stillness and uncreated creativity, plunging the conceptual mind into awe-struck wonder, opening the active imagination beyond itself to wisdom.  But uncreated light dazzles just as uncreated glory stills awareness with Great Peace.  

When awareness ascends the altar of the heart, it undergoes the extinction of all confusion and the annihilation of all division, restoring sick separation to healthy union and diseased confusion to sound communion.  God’s uncreated flame of love is truly an all-consuming fire but never consumes what is embraced, preserving ineffable union conjoined in hallowing communion.  Christ’s  awareness is both God-centred glorification of God and God-centred glorification by God, glorification which the Spirit imparts in our midst.  It is Christ who communicates glorification as God-centred glorification of God and God-centred glorification by God, opening the Spirit of wisdom to ineffable Oneness and Oneness to the stillness of ineffable Godhead.  Wisdom is silent and aware but awe-struck with wonder amidst the hidden mysteries of glorification in stillness.

Because God became what we are, we may indeed partake in what he is, but also share in the ineffable Oneness which is his.  Christ’s divine-human glorification of God becomes ours by grace with our participation in his divine-human glorification by God.  Saint Denys calls this axial Oneness of conjugal glorification ‘ineffable,’ unsayable and so unsaid even when spoken of, veiled even when unveiled in wisdom’s embrace of the Name.  Presence is sudden, awareness timeless as the Name’s ineffable Oneness, as wisdom’s hidden conjunction with glory, as the Name’s veiled communion.  The ineffable beauty of Oneness is holy, the luminous suddenness of the Name profoundly revelatory, although the Name never ceases to veil from external scrutiny the hidden secrets of the Father’s heart.  Glorification hides ineffable Oneness, this invisible mystery at the heart of the Name’s many mysteries, this veiled union at the heart of communion, ecstatic Godhead at the heart of Holy Trinity.  

For Denys, the Name’s revelation of Oneness is always sudden, timeless, total and complete.  The seer becomes the Oneness that is seen, becomes the completeness that is known.  Thrice-holy glorification of God’s Name is always sudden, instantaneous, infinite presence, unveiled as immediate, boundless awareness.  The awakening of the ‘eye of the heart’ is always sudden, always timeless in its awareness of presence, presence of awareness manifesting consummate completeness.  Stillness is sudden as Oneness silences the mind, as Oneness calms the soul and wisdom enters into her rest.  The stillness of ineffable Oneness is the Sabbath completeness of God, which the Father knows and shares secretly with his Word, but which remains unspoken in the world.  The Spirit proceeds from Oneness to awaken hearts with ineffable words, freeing glorification to abide in ineffable Oneness, awareness beyond separation, presence beyond division.  Beyond every exclusive identity and every divisive definition, ineffable Oneness reigns as invisible glory in the midst, being the Name’s communication of the completeness of Great Peace.