The contemplative path is a progression from naivety, light, theory and glory through darkness toward maturity on the way to oneness with God. This is not to say that the contemplative doesn’t develop by studying the theological ideas of God for deeper understanding. The contemplative is, however, mostly summoned to penetrate the wordless Reality in darkness beyond concepts to become intimate with Mystery “absent” and “non-existent” to human experience.
The experience of Absence is the experience of Reality eluding the seeker for Reality is not an object or even a Person. The All can be discovered only in experiencing not discovering Him.
In the biblical tradition, God refuses to give a Name to Moses other than “I AM”. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that what can be affirmed about God must also be denied of him. Our concepts are limited and applied to God as metaphor, exaggeration and analogy.
Reason teaches us and particular experience teaches us the more. Person’s lives are constantly affected by experience. We mostly learn through direct contact with people and things. The reciprocal relationship of knowledge and experience is self evident. Thought facilitates experience and with every new experience new thinking is required and so emerges.
We are creative and constructive beings living within a milieu that supports our plans and creations to an extent. Yet, Divine Reality is resistant to our theoretical systems that tend to run up against its transcendent power. The finite experience of our plans and knowledge continually being bombarded by this resistance demonstrates that our considered search ever widens and follows a new direction. Reality’s truth reveals itself in human persons’ finite experience culminating in suffering in its myriad forms.
We have forgotten we are creaturely beings totally dependent on Reality. A larger part of our suffering is due to our striving to maintain the illusion for ourselves and others that we are something of ourselves. Reality’s truth reminds us that all things are interdependent and their nature impermanent.
The experience of the struggle between our illusions regarding reality and reality breaking through to our true self is an inner experience. This subjective experience of reality cannot be divided into objectively “sacred” and “secular” categories. Since we are speaking of an inner reality, any distinction is in one’s attitude in coping with all reality.