• Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Is your mysticism apophatic or cataphatic?

Orbit

I'm a planet
DIR denizens:
Apophatic theology says God cannot be described or even truly comprehended by humans.
Cataphatic theology says the opposite and assigns specific traits to God.

In seeking union with the divine, which approach do you have in mind? What influenced your decision?
Note: I am using "God" here to mean either God, the Absolute, the Divine, Brahman, the Higher Self, or however you conceptualize what you are seeking mystic union with.
 

beenherebeforeagain

Rogue Animist
Premium Member
I think Apophatic.
While I have experienced "union" with my environment, I intellectually recognize that the environment that I can perceive is a very small part of a much, much larger cosmos, so whatever deity there is/might be, I doubt I would be able to fully perceive or conceive of it. So, I seek mystic union with my environment, however much of it I can manage to unite with, and pretty much leave it at that.
 

George-ananda

Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
Premium Member
I don't personally have mystical experiences (unfortunately) but I assumed they would be apophatic. I am curious to see if anyone answers cataphatic and hear what they would have to say about that.
 

Windwalker

Veteran Member
Premium Member
DIR denizens:
Apophatic theology says God cannot be described or even truly comprehended by humans.
Cataphatic theology says the opposite and assigns specific traits to God.

In seeking union with the divine, which approach do you have in mind?
I tend more to go with Cataphatic. But when it starts to get in the way, then clear the table and go Apophatic. :)

What influenced your decision?
The reason is really more what I am more familiar with, which is envisioning God with attributes. It's complex why that is, but it has something to do with some terribly deep psychological thing with me. To envision Absolute Love, allows me to experience that Absolute Love, and thus realizing it within myself. I have a saying that captures this. "When we accept ourselves with the acceptance of God, we accept ourselves to God". What that translates into is Freedom, to express our deepest creativity, our deepest genius. What holds us back from truly Loving, has everything to do with how free we are within our own Joy. If we don't know that, we don't truly know Life.

So God "with qualities" is what is presenting something to our psyche. That "something" opens us to that Creativity within us, which is normally blocked by the psyche in its self-contraction from its own liberation in the face of Life, when it 'surrenders' itself to Love itself. That can only be done by allowing an image of the divine to guide one along its path to Itself.

Where Apophatic comes in for me is when I have that nasty habit of bringing expectations with me into meditation. :) What was opened to us in meditation through what are really spontaneous images of the divine (Cataphatic), becomes something we sit down and start looking for again, which is in fact not spontaneous but deliberate and forced. This is what coming in with expectations creates. So to get rid of that projecting God from the ego (which is exactly what that is), it's good to clear the slate, to dump your expectations outside at the door. Empty yourself to God, without expectation, without hopes, fears, without desire, without thought. God is not what you think. You die to all of that in you and let go into the Void. And in doing this, you become open to that which is beyond thought, beyond attributes. It is the Ocean out of which God arises.

And then you become God, and that's that.
 

Orbit

I'm a planet
I tend more to go with Cataphatic. But when it starts to get in the way, then clear the table and go Apophatic. :)


The reason is really more what I am more familiar with, which is envisioning God with attributes. It's complex why that is, but it has something to do with some terribly deep psychological thing with me. To envision Absolute Love, allows me to experience that Absolute Love, and thus realizing it within myself. I have a saying that captures this. "When we accept ourselves with the acceptance of God, we accept ourselves to God". What that translates into is Freedom, to express our deepest creativity, our deepest genius. What holds us back from truly Loving, has everything to do with how free we are within our own Joy. If we don't know that, we don't truly know Life.

So God "with qualities" is what is presenting something to our psyche. That "something" opens us to that Creativity within us, which is normally blocked by the psyche in its self-contraction from its own liberation in the face of Life, when it 'surrenders' itself to Love itself. That can only be done by allowing an image of the divine to guide one along its path to Itself.

Where Apophatic comes in for me is when I have that nasty habit of bringing expectations with me into meditation. :) What was opened to us in meditation through what are really spontaneous images of the divine (Cataphatic), becomes something we sit down and start looking for again, which is in fact not spontaneous but deliberate and forced. This is what coming in with expectations creates. So to get rid of that projecting God from the ego (which is exactly what that is), it's good to clear the slate, to dump your expectations outside at the door. Empty yourself to God, without expectation, without hopes, fears, without desire, without thought. God is not what you think. You die to all of that in you and let go into the Void. And in doing this, you become open to that which is beyond thought, beyond attributes. It is the Ocean out of which God arises.

And then you become God, and that's that.
I guess I am Cataphatic, but in the abstract. I assign love as an attribute of God, actually as THE attribute. Otherwise I am Apophatic because I don't think God can be comprehended by humans.
 

Spurs

Member
I believe from experiences that there is infinite levels of existence and I think gods attributes are one of those levels all though they are below infinite other levels I think that God does have attributes just that only an infinitely small amount of them can be even defined by humans and even those definitions are not even close to how great they are in God I don't think that Gods attributes define him as our attributes define us but because of his ultimate infinitude they are simply a single part of him (so apophatic)
 

Manoah

Member
The apophatic [ ] of God may be splayed through the prism of humanity into a beautiful rainbow of various cataphatic traditions, systems, and practices. But this statement seems a bit cataphatic in and of itself!
 

Marcion

gopa of humanity's controversial Taraka Brahma
Definitely apophatic. God for me is the Ultimate Subject and can never be one of my objects. He knows everything about me, but I can know nothing about Him, well not objectively anyway.
 

LuisDantas

Aura of atheification
Premium Member
Personally, I don't do God.

The apophatic perspective does however make more sense as a way of dealing with the Sacred.

A cataphatic approach may be an interesting experiment, but amounts to basically begging to make serious mistakes and commit to them. The least one can say is that it is dangerous.
 

tayla

My dog's name is Tayla
Apophatic theology says God cannot be described or even truly comprehended by humans.
Cataphatic theology says the opposite and assigns specific traits to God.
I think God has at least the same attributes as humans and animals: soul, consciousness, self, free will. But most about God is unknowable.
 

Vinayaka

devotee
Premium Member
DIR denizens:
Apophatic theology says God cannot be described or even truly comprehended by humans.
Cataphatic theology says the opposite and assigns specific traits to God.

In seeking union with the divine, which approach do you have in mind? What influenced your decision?
Note: I am using "God" here to mean either God, the Absolute, the Divine, Brahman, the Higher Self, or however you conceptualize what you are seeking mystic union with.

In my faith it's both. In my experience, it's cataphatic.
 

Sunstone

De Diablo Del Fora
Premium Member
In the end, apophatic. To me, all attributes assigned to god as a result of mystical experiences are after-the-fact interpretations of mystical experiences -- and not pure descriptions of deity.

The actual mystical experience -- so far as I can see -- is beyond human understanding. It is only in the aftermath of it that we begin to ascribe attributes to what we have experienced. The caveat is that we sometimes do that so soon after the experience that we become confused and think we are describing god as we experience god, rather than interpreting god just an instant or so after we have experienced god.

We say to ourselves, "That's infinity!", rather than, "I have just now experienced what I interpret as having been an experience of infinity".

At least, that's how I see it. I'm probably all wrong about that -- I'm wrong about most everything else.
 

Jumi

Well-Known Member
In the end, apophatic. To me, all attributes assigned to god as a result of mystical experiences are after-the-fact interpretations of mystical experiences -- and not pure descriptions of deity.

The actual mystical experience -- so far as I can see -- is beyond human understanding. It is only in the aftermath of it that we begin to ascribe attributes to what we have experienced. The caveat is that we sometimes do that so soon after the experience that we become confused and think we are describing god as we experience god, rather than interpreting god just an instant or so after we have experienced god.

We say to ourselves, "That's infinity!", rather than, "I have just now experienced what I interpret as having been an experience of infinity".
That's right. And even we most likely feel the interpretations are a tad silly if we look at them. When I was reading a sidenote about mystics in grade school mandatory religion classes I thought it sounded foolish or purposely occultative, but later on when we experience things that can't be put into words we realize that in fact our vocabulary these days might not go much beyond our predecessors millenia ago. Perhaps we are even a bit more stuck to the basics of it.

At least, that's how I see it. I'm probably all wrong about that -- I'm wrong about most everything else.
Then let us be wrong together. ;)
 

SalixIncendium

अहं ब्रह्मास्मि
Staff member
Premium Member
My most profound experience, which was spontaneous, might have led me toward cataphatic tendencies, as it was a singular experience and I had nothing against which to compare it (I had actually written it off as an aberration for quite some time), but research in what I had experienced coupled with subsequent experiences has moved me into solidly the into the apophatic camp.
 

dingdao

The eternal Tao cannot be told - Tao Te Ching
I'm in between.
To go metaphorical, and somewhat pantheistic, I can describe the part of the universe I live in.
We can try to talk about God by label: the God referenced in God's Kingdom, The Wall that Talks, The Being of Light, The Atman, or referenced by different books. Or we can try by experience: NDE, Samahdi, Enlightenment, or summoned.
I think the second option provides more of a common basis of discussion.
 

Jumi

Well-Known Member
I'm in between.
To go metaphorical, and somewhat pantheistic, I can describe the part of the universe I live in.
We can try to talk about God by label: the God referenced in God's Kingdom, The Wall that Talks, The Being of Light, The Atman, or referenced by different books. Or we can try by experience: NDE, Samahdi, Enlightenment, or summoned.
I think the second option provides more of a common basis of discussion.
God's Kingdom, Baptism, stepping in the river all seem more like a poetic description of the experiences, metaphors for use that have taken on a different life.
 

dingdao

The eternal Tao cannot be told - Tao Te Ching
God's Kingdom, Baptism, stepping in the river all seem more like a poetic description of the experiences, metaphors for use that have taken on a different life.
Granted, God's Kingdom is conceptual, but it provides a basis for explaining this drunken play.
Terminally ill patients frequently talk of wanting to go home. Including those in hospice at home.
 
Top