God, the word evokes such a lot. In Buddhism however we find that God is as you say, transcendant, but if we dig deeper God is also immanent.
We see this clearly in:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
This is the ineffible, unknowable reality above reality, beyond reality, something outside of words, outside of concepts…
This is the “God” of the Kabbalist, (Ain Sof: endless light)
This is the God of the mystic (christian and otherwise) such as Meister Eckhart
“To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God.”
The Kabbalist (Jewish Mystic, for sake of argument) states ideas such as:
The Nature of God
(from “God is a Verb” by David A. Cooper)
“What is God? In a way, there is no God. Our perception of God usually leads to a misunderstanding that seriously undermines our spiritual development.
God is not wht we think It is. God is not a thing, a being, a noun. It does not exist, as existence is defined, for It takes up0 no space and is not bound by time. Jewish mystics often refer to It as Ein Sof, which means Endlessness.
Ein Sof should never be conceptualized in any way. It should not be called Creator, Almighty, Father, Mother, Infinite, the One, Brahma, Buddhamind, Allah, Adonay, Elohim, El, or Shaddai, and It should never, never be called He. It is none of these names, and It has no gender.
When we call It God, what are we talking about? If we say that It is compassionate, full of lovingkindness, the source of love, we may be talking about our image of what we think the divine nature ought to be, but we are not talking about Ein Sof. In the same way, if we say that the God portrayed in the Bible is vindictive, jealous, angry, cruel, uncaring, or punitive, we cannot be referring to Ein Sof. Ein Sof includes every attribute but cannot be definite by any of them individually or all of them combined…..
The idea of Ein Sof was first described by the twelfth-century Kabbalist, Isaac the Blind. He taught that Ein Sof precedes thought (machshavah), and it even precedes the Nothingness (ayin) out of which thought is born. Nothingness is viewed as a level of awareness that is the result of the ‘annihilation of thought.’
The idea of the annihilation of thought, of course, is paradoxical. Can we imagine a void without beginning or end? Can we, limited by minds that are finite, imagine infinity? The answer is no, we cannot think of Nothing. Anything that we can imagine has some kind of boundary—Kabbalists call it garment or vessel—and boundaries are containers. All thoughts, including all imagination, are garments or vessels.
By definition, a boundary sets limits. We may be able to put a name to infinity, we can draw a symbol of a figure eight on its side and say that this represents infinity, but no matter how much we may believe that our imagination is limitless, we remain confined by the boundaries of our own reality. If it can be imagined, it is not infinite.
As infinity is beyond the imagination, what about that which transcends infinity—that which created it? Ein Sof is not ‘restricted’ by infinity. Indeed, we have suddenly run out of words because the idea of ‘trans-infinite’ is a logical absurdity. What can go beyond infinity? Moreover, what can go beyond the Nothingness that surrounds infinity? This is Ein Sof.
Although we are informed that Ein Sof is inaccessible through any intellectual endeavor, we may still ask if there is a ‘knowing’ that surpasses the intellect. Did Isaac the Blind have access to a level of awareness through which he could sense, somehow, the imperceivable?
The answer is yes. Jewish mysticism teaches that we can know Ein Sof in ways that transcend thought. This aspect of developing a relationship with Endlessness, the source of creation, is the key to all Kabbalah and the lifeblood of all Jewish practice. The secret teaching in developing this relationship with the Unknowable is hidden in the mystical foundation of the nature of relationship itself.
The word ‘God,’ and each of Its various names in Judaism, such as El, Elohim, Adonoy, Shaddai, and so forth, represent aspects of Ein Sof. The exploration of these aspects gives us insight into the nature of Ein Sof . Thus, whenever God is discussed…..we are not talking about a thing in itself, but a representation of a far deeper mystery…..
We can relate to God as an interactive verb. It is God-ing…..Many names of God are included in Ein Sof; God-ing is one name—a name that happens to be a verb rather than a noun…..What would we be without the awesomeness of the unknowable God?
There is no answer to this question; we cannot prove anything about Ein Sof. Rahter, it is a self-reflecting inquiry. Yet when viewed from the perspective of our dynamic relationship with the Divine, it is a self-fulfilling question, for paradoxically the source of the question is the answer it seeks. ‘What would I be without God?’
Consider this question from your inner awareness. Not you the noun, the person you may think you are, but you the verb, the process of being in full relationship, continuously, with its creator. When a question arises wthin you, who is asking the question, and to whom is the question addressed? Assume that there is no ‘me’ to ask the question, and there is no God out there to answer it. The question is part of the process of David-ing and God-ing in a mutual unfolding.
Try to do this in a way that melts all barriers or separation. No subject and no obuect. Simply an ever-opening process. No past, no future; only the Now. Each moment is a fresh opening. Each breath we draw, each move we make, is only Now. This is my dance with God-ing. It is an awesome experience…..
Perhaps you will take a few moments to close your eyes and allow yourself to sink into this idea. Meditate on this thought: The teaching of the mystery of Ein Sof is that the center of our being, out of which awe arises, is that about which we are awed. It is It! When we contemplate our continuous process of opening, right here, right now, we realize that God-ing is always with us…..
The Unknowable can be discerned. Beginning at an indefinable point as sharp as a needle. It radiates in various ways which can be perceived—only in the context of process and interaction. We are not an audience watching the God-ing process onstage. We are onstage, ourselves. We mysteriously begin to get a glimmer of God-ing when we succeed in merging with the continuous process of unfolding creation…..
The intrinsic definition of Limitlessness is that It lacks nothing and can receive nothing, for It is everything. As It is everything, theoretically It is the potential to be an infinite source of giving.
The question arises, however, that there is nothing for It to give to because It is everything. It would have to give to Itself. This has been a major conundrum in philosophy and theology for thousands of years.
Kabbalah suggests one way of dealing with this issue. It says that as long as the infinite source of giving has no ‘will’ to give, nothing happens. However, the instant It has the will to give, this will initiates a ‘thought.’ Kabbalah says, ‘Will, which is [primordial] thought, is the beginning of all things, and the expression [of this thought] is the completion.’
That is, the entire creation is nothing more than a thought in the ‘mind’ of Ein Sof, so to speak. Another way to express this idea is that the will to give instantly creates a will to receive…..”
Here we can see that God is NOT God
If we return to Buddhism the Heart Sutra states:
Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.
The other four aspects of human existence –
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness –
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.
All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases. So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.
There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.
The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now. +
All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.
The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.
Here we see the Heart Sutra telling us that God is transcendent and immanent, that God is not God
If we return to christianity again:
Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.’
“But if by “God“ we mean a reality far surpassing our own fullness of being we must envisage the divine as total realization, abundance of life and actuality, energy unfailing, of which our mode of being is a pale reflection, and at best a symbol. Yet people persist in asking whether or not God exists. As Dostoyevsky pointed out, their question never finds an answer, because it is wrongly put. Its proper context is the experience of active loving, but it is confined within the narrow limits of a notion of existence which is as irrelevant to life as it is unreal and reductionist. The concept of God as a remote entity which does nothing served as a postulate for some philosophers of the eighteenth century, but it is foreign to all the great religious traditions of humankind. For these the question-and it is a burning question-is not of God‘s existence but of his presence, and this implies his power or energy. Yet even today deism is not dead. The reductionist notion of God, which was formerly the preserve of academics, is uncritically accepted by ordinary people in our society, who on the whole do not reject belief that God exists but have little sense of the divine presence and of communion with him. This reductionist point of view is in direct opposition to the religious instinct and mystical impulse, which suffers widespread atrophy in our times.
In spite of all this, the human heart senses that “God” is not a monosyllabic blob but the Ever-present One. How are we to understand, and live, this sense? Christianity is sometimes seen as nothing but a collection of moral duties and soothing reassurances about salvation, rather than as a summons to the deification of the human person.
St. Athanasius of Alexandria, a pillar of orthodoxy during the fourth century, insisted upon the divine being’s exuberance. The divine being, ineffably more alive that we are, cannot be self-contained and barren but has to be Father, forever bringing forth his son from the womb of his own substance. This continual begetting is a movement of being which is essentially fruitful. Our human experience of parenting is only an analogy for the perfect generation in the divine being, where there is no before and after, no differentiation into male and female, and where the one brought forth is not inferior to the parent. This vision of God continually pouring forth his very being would inspire Meister Eckhart a millennium later to speak of God in terms of molten metal which is always boiling over. The son‘s coming forth from the Father is a non-stop act of both begetting and giving birth.
Thus for the Christian tradition the divine reality is essentially personal. The three are not merely aspects of some impersonal substrate, nor are they separate individuals. The doctrine of the Trinity states that ultimate reality is a communion of persons, each dwelling in the others. Here relationship is of the essence. And this communion of persons is the truth and exemplar of all being. In particular it is the hope to which we human beings aspire. We come alive when our eyes meet those of the one who loves us, for we then find our center outside ourselves in the other, and in so doing we touch the mystery of transcendence.
By falling in love we leave behind our own isolation and break away from our old, limited way of life, which is now revealed as loneliness and incompletion. And, even more, in the unromantic daily struggle of active loving, in relationship, we find out who we really are. That is the context in which we can ask about God for it is then that we most resemble God. The Trinity goes beyond both solitude and the mutual opposition of Dualism, for God, as St. John says, is love.”
-–father symeon burholt
And finally we get a clear idea if we turn to Gnosticism, and the Gospel of Philip (note that of course many Gnostics were highly influenced by Buddhism, in fact one branch even boasts that their leader was the reincarnation of Lao Tzu)
Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.
Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word “God” does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with “the Father” and “the Son” and “the Holy Spirit” and “life” and “light” and “resurrection” and “the Church (Ekklesia)” and all the rest – people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct. The names which are heard are in the world [...] deceive. If they were in the Aeon (eternal realm), they would at no time be used as names in the world. Nor were they set among worldly things. They have an end in the Aeon.
One single name is not uttered in the world, the name which the Father gave to the Son; it is the name above all things: the name of the Father. For the Son would not become Father unless he wore the name of the Father. Those who have this name know it, but they do not speak it. But those who do not have it do not know it.
We see things as we are
Not as they are
There are no mundane things outside of Buddhism,
and there is no Buddhism outside of mundane things.
It is I who am you, and it is you who are me. And wherever you are, I am there.
And I am sown in all; and you collect me from wherever you wish.
And when you collect me, it is your own self that you collect.
–Attributed to Christ, found in the Gospel of Eve