Jul 202011

After the last series I muttered to myself about never wanting to do another series again.  Hah!   Well, here I am doing it again because, when I stopped to look at how much I had written, I found I had too much on this topic for a single post.  I sure can be a long-winded fool!  So right now it looks like this will be a three-part series, beginning with an examination of how we might understand “transcendence” in a non-dualist way, followed by explanation of what I mean by “transcendent love” in that context, and ending with a consideration for how those ideas might shape one’s spiritual practice.


What do we mean by “transcendent“?  In common use, and especially in spiritual circles, it usually means a state of elevation above other things.  We mystical types often speak ofdali-salvador-the-rose-8300094 transcendence as a blissful experience or state of consciousness closer to God and further, if not completely, removed from the pains of mundane existence. In short, we make transcendence something otherworldly. This expectation fits neatly into the dualistic thinking of heaven vs. earth, unity vs. separation, love vs. hate, and so on.  In that dualistic thinking we find it easy to define transcendence as otherworldly because we want to escape the part of existence we have judged to be lacking, wrong, corrupted, diseased, bad, or evil.  In short, we have a desire for a “there” we can get to in order to be away from the “here” we find unacceptable, and our notions about transcendence seem to offer us the way out.


Buddha in the Earth Witness Posture

Let’s consider, however, that this might say more about the dynamics of our thoughts and feelings than it does about the whole truth of transcendence. Mystics of many traditions agree that it is possible to know transcendence here and now, even while living and moving in this world. They claim that the non-dual One is not only beyond our common world of seeming separation, but It interpenetrates and is present here and now in a way that defies the either/or logic we are trained to idolize. Christianity is no exception, and here are some of its messages from non-dual perspectives: God is the One in which we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28); the Kingdom of Heaven is within you (Luke 17:21), and it is also spread out over the face of the entire earth (Thomas 113); Jesus speaks of lifting a rock or splitting wood and finding him there (Thomas 77). From such a perspective it is clear that the One we call God, and thus the experience/state of being closer to God, is not limited to either/or duality; it is both beyond the world as we commonly know it and present within it.  One of my favorite analogies for such an experience/state is lucid dreaming, which means being aware that you are dreaming while you are still in the dream.  Lucid dreaming transcends the usual either/or opposition we make; it is both dreaming and wakefulness, and it is suggested this has significant relevance to mystical transcendence.

At this point, it might be objected that the non-duality of God is traditionally spoken of as both transcendent and immanent.  I appreciate this statement and have often used it.  Yet in the present context it can be seen that this statement is only another way of tackling the non-duality of God through our dualistic language and logic, and it is a way that continues to imply transcendence is apart from the here-and-now as we commonly know it.  To me, that use of the word “transcendence” fails to open to its larger meaning of climbing across boundaries, of being without limitation, and so God’s transcendence would remain limited by being conceptually opposed to immanence; a transcendence that is not also immanent isn’t fully transcendent after all.    I admit it’s a bit of a word game, but I’ve found it to be a helpful one, not unlike a Zen koan.

For Part 2: How can we understand love as transcendent in this non-dualist way?


  6 Responses to “Transcendent Love: Toward a Non-Dualist View and Practice, Part 1”

  1. Interesting topic Chuck, hats off for attempting another series! I’m looking forward to watching how it develops…

  2. Hi Chuck,

    I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on this subject. I often find myself wanting to reject the idea of non-dualism, but I also wonder how much of my attitude has been formed as a result of living in a post-Cartesian world, my own reductionist views toward life and the universe, and how this type of thinking extends to my ideas about God and spirituality.

    The Christian tendency is decidedly toward a here/there dualism when it comes to the spiritual life and our relationship with God. From time to time it does seem possible to “transcend” that mode of being, and know that “here” is contained in the eternal. In this regard I like Tillich’s idea of the “Eternal Now”.

    So, good luck in your efforts, Chuck. I look forward to it.


  3. Hi Steve,

    Hey, I’m also a Tillich fan. 🙂 It seems like a good idea to note that I won’t really be making a case for non-dualism so much as taking it as an axiom from which to proceed.

    I look forward to any comments or questions you may have.


  4. now that i have found you, i am not about to let go of you. :)))))))

    truthfully, i experience a lot of dizziness, fuzzy thinking and blurry vision due to something in the mastoids, which has been identified but have no cure yet. it keeps me from mental clarity and saying very much.

    but, i finally see that this malady is not a part of the Beloved. no, it is a kind of death and the Beloved is LIFE, pure Life even while we are in this physical body. it is a bag of garbage, a millstone around my neck and i realize all of his carry one or another set of millstones, whether physical, spiritual, mind or will or emotions. but, none of them are Freedom in the Beloved, the Cherished One, or Life in the Spirit, for “He” has none of them “where He is”……………no, they are weights that keep us earthy, of this earth and we need to be “born again” in each of those areas where these bondages exist…………

    each day i put my arms out, asking the Beloved to take my hands and pull me out of the quicksand, bringing me to Him, the Light where there is unity, harmony, peace unspeakable. not in the “sweet by and by, but in the nasty here and now”………

    and, to lie down and breathe in Life and breathe out some piece of the garbage i have allowed myself to carry for so long. He wants me FREE. as was said, “I have come that ye might have Life and Life more abundantly and that is for NOW. That is what the Beloved One wants for me and not the other “stuff”. It takes really seeing this as “good news” and allowing Him to bring it to pass within us. But, oh, how many blockages we have, many that are deeply rooted. My prayer is that they be pulled out “by the root”, by the root and not just a branch or two.

    that the Light will shine and heal the holes left behind, with Light driving out the darkness. Oh, that He will shine His light into each of the rooms within me, driving out darkness…………….darkness being anything that is not of His Light…………..

    perhaps i too am a fool, Chuck, but if so, i will ask for this till my dying day

    Mark Gill aka Gypsy Earl Grey

  5. […] God is ultimately a mystery while affirming it is also possible to know many things about God.  In Part 1, for example, it was suggested that it is possible to know God is non-dual, and that God is […]

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