“He through Whom we see,
taste, smell, feel, hear, enjoy,
He is that Self.”
Transcendence it is the notion that God is an idea too large to grasp, like the Absolute, or the Infinite, and that our own insignificance, and temporality is so patent, and obvious that if we are a Creation of God we may be a just a figment of his Imagination, a millisecond of a dream, and therefore not important, God may exist but it is clear we can’t grasp Him and therefore He is remote, and foreign to us with no hope of contact. From this position as the only alternative for God existence, is easy to derive deductively that then we are not important, add the ambiguity of the apparent injustice that reigns in the world, the existence of evil, and those who suffer it for no reason at all, may confirm the belief that God as Transcendent simply put; He does not care about us, and therefor He is not concerned about our wellbeing, and if He is not concerned about our wellbeing, why he should be concerned about anything else related to our existence?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8–9, NIV)
This position clearly leads if not to plain Atheism, to Agnosticism:
“Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable.Agnosticism can be defined in various ways, and is sometimes used to indicate doubt or a skeptical approach to questions. In some senses, agnosticism is a stance about the difference between belief and knowledge, rather than about any specific claim or belief. In the popular sense, an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves there is a God, whereas an atheist disbelieves there is a God. In the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify knowledge whether God exists or does not. Within agnosticism there are agnostic atheists (who do not believe any deity exists, but do not deny it as a possibility) and agnostic theists (who believe a God exists but do not claim to know that).”
From Agnostic to Atheist there is really little difference if you consider it is just a subjective idea of admitting belief, or disbelief, with little relevance that hardly will change your set of morals, and behavior, probably rooted in family education, or your mostly private, and particular mores, unless you fall in the category of Atheist activism, a contradiction of sorts, since there is little to gain in wining converts to your beliefs, either way, I particularly respect belief, or unbelief, do not care for religious proselytizing, but find naïve the notion that Religion is the mother of all evils, and that secular Atheism or Humanism, is a panacea to Man, and the answer to Mankind problems, ignoring that our Human Nature embrace both Good, and Evil, in each of us, and has little to do with our particular views of belief, or unbelief, but with our actions at the moment of choosing to do good, or evil, it depends on our particular moral strength, or lack of it, not shared, or equal between individuals of the same mind, regardless of belief, or unbelief!
Immanence on the other hand claims that Divinity, Being, That what we can not name, Dharmakaya, Buddha-Nature, God, or whatever you wish to Name It, like for Christians in the famous first chapter, of John the Evangelist, the Word that was God, becomes all things, and materialize as Existence, and furthermore:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”John I, 14.
This doctrine of the Incarnation of God, become a central dogma for the understanding of Christian Cosmology.
The Incarnation of Christ is a central Christian doctrine of today, but that was not always that way, since in early Christianity there were many opposing views in the subject, that caused schism, hot debates, ecumenical councils, persecution, and suppression! That God became flesh, assumed a human nature, and became a man in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second person of the Trinity, was the end result of most Christian groups today, but not in early Christianity, like:
The Ebionites are described as emphasizing the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus as the biological son of both Mary and Joseph, who by virtue of his righteousness, was chosen by God to be the messianic “prophet like Moses”
Ebionism denied that Jesus was genuinely divine, where as Docetism maintained that he was not truly human; they believed that he merely “deemed” or “appeared” to possess human nature.
“The Ebionites did not subscribe to the notion of Jesus’ preexistence of his virgin birth. […] For them, Jesus was the Son of God not because of his divine nature or virgin birth but because of his “adoption” by God to be his son. […] The Ebionites believed that Jesus was a real flesh-and-blood human like the rest of us, born as the eldest son of the sexual union of his parents, Joseph and Mary. What set Jesus apart from all other people was that he kept God’s law perfectly and so was the most righteous man on earth. As such, God chose him to be his son and assigned to him a special mission, to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. Jesus then went to the cross, not as a punishment for his own sins but for the sins of the world, a perfect sacrifice in fulfillment of all God’s promises to his people, the Jews, in the holy Scriptures. As a sign of his acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice, God then raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him to heaven.
It appears that Ebionite Christians also believed that since Jesus was the perfect, ultimate, final sacrifice for sins, there was no longer any need for the ritual sacrifice of animals.”
“Lost Christianities” by Bart Ehrman (2003)
The Elkesaites, Nazoreans, Ossaeans, possibly Ebionites but named differently by diverse sources, or splints of the original Christians, they rejected Paul, and his writings, also where vegetarians, according to the Gospel of the Nazaranes, or the Gospel of the Hebrews:
“They rejected all animal sacrifice. They were strictly vegetarians.
38:4 Wherefore I say to all who desire to be my disciples, keep your hands from bloodshed and let no flesh meat enter your mouths, for God is just and bountiful, who ordains that man shall live by the fruits and seeds of the earth alone.”
They believed that Jesus came to destroy animal sacrifices.
21:8 He also said, “I have come to end the sacrifices and feasts of blood, and if you don’t cease offering and eating of flesh and blood, the wrath of God will not cease from you.
75:9 I say to you, for this end have I come into the world, that I may put away all blood offerings and the eating of flesh of the beasts and the birds that are slain by men.”
The Ebionites survived up to the Seventh century when most were absorbed by Islam. But of course there is some groups today that claim themselves as true Ebionites.
Early scribes were not beyond editing the text in order to prove their own views or to disprove the views of others. When the later Pauline Christians went in search of their own history and discovered the Ebionites, they found that their Jewish and adoptionist beliefs were different to their own. They could not accept that they were the ones who had deviated from the truth. So, first, they set out to discredit and disprove the Ebionites in literature. Secondly, they burnt all the Ebionites’ books.
Luke was edited in three places. Luke 2:33 and Luke 2:48 both contain verses that state that Joseph was Jesus’ father. At least, that is what is said in the oldest manuscripts. Verses such as Luke 2:33 supported Ebionite Christians’ belief in adoptionism. Strangely, in some later manuscripts Luke 2:33 and Luke 2:48 both had the word ‘father’ edited out although over half of our bibles today have thankfully reverted to the original version.Luke 3:22 where God clearly says that he is adopting Jesus was also edited so that it did not say so. “This is one proto-orthodox alteration that proved remarkably successful. Even though the potentially dangerous (“heretical”) form of the text is found in virtually all our oldest witnesses […] it is the altered form of the text that is found in the majority of surviving manuscripts and reproduced in most of our English translations”
Similarly, controversy arose regarding His person. Nestorius and his followers taught that Christ was actually two distinct persons, one divine and the other human. In contrast, Cyril of Alexandria and his followers believed in one person and one nature of Christ. The argument did not cease until 451 A.D. when the Council of Chalcedon formulated the standard orthodox definition: fully God and fully man, Jesus was one person with two natures. It says:
Our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same Son, the same perfect in the Godhead, the same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, the same also of a rational soul and body; homoousios (of one substance) with the Father as to his Godhead, and the same homoousios with us as to his manhood; in all things like unto us sin only excepted. After the Council of Chalcedon, the emperor issued an imperial edict that any army officer who opposed the dogma should be “stripped of his rank.” Through the emperor’s decree, the authority of the Chalcedon Council had great influence throughout the ancient Christendom, even to the present day.
This foundational Christian position holds that the divine nature of the Son of God was perfectly united with human nature in one divine Person, Jesus, making him both truly God and truly man. The theological term for this is hypostatic union: the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son, became flesh when he was miraculously conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
Mainstream Islam completely rejects the doctrine of the incarnation of God in any form, as the concept is defined as Shirk (Idolatry). In mainstream Islam God is one and “neither begets nor is begotten”. Islam specifically rejects the Christian idea of Jesus as a divine incarnation, but rather Jesus is seen as a prophet (nabī) and messenger (rasūl) of God. The Qur’anic text itself seems to fully reject this concept according to mainstream interpretations. Sunnism is the most prominent sect to hold this belief. However when it comes to Mary (مريم Maryam in Arabic), the mother of Jesus, is considered one of the most righteous women in the Islamic tradition. She is mentioned more in the Qur’an than in the entire New Testament and is also the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an. According to the Qur’an, Jesus was born miraculously by the will of God without a father. His mother is regarded as a chaste and virtuous woman and is said to have been a virgin. The Qur’an states clearly that Jesus was the result of a virgin birth, but that neither Mary nor her son were divine. In the Qur’an, no other woman is given more attention than Mary and the Qur’an states that Mary was chosen above all women:
“And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! God hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.”
The nineteenth chapter of the Qur’an is named after her and is, to some extent, about her life. Of the Qur’an’s 114 suras, she is among only eight people who have a chapter named after them. Mary is specifically mentioned in the Qur’an, alongside Asiya, as an exemplar for all righteous women. Mary plays an important role in Islamic culture and religious tradition, and verses from the Qur’an relating to Mary are frequently inscribed on the mihrab of various mosques, including in the Hagia Sophia.
However in Islam the long standing dispute between the Mutazilites VS Asharites, Mujassimah and Mushabbihah, is well known, the Mutazilites spouse a Transcendental position where they argue:
In line with their understanding of God’s transcendentalism, the Mutazilites deny that God can be seen even by the peoples of Paradise in the hereafter. The Mutazilites argue that if the peoples of Paradise can see God, God must be in any material form since human eyes can only see the material things or forms. Since God is a non-material being, human eyes are impossible to see Him even in the Paradise. The Mutazilites do not differentiate between the natures of human beings in this world and their natures in the hereafter. For the Mutazilites, human eyes in this world are impossible to see God as evident from the Prophet Moses wanted to see God with his own eyes and he could not see God. What is impossible for human eyes to see in this world is also impossible for human eyes to see in the hereafter. For the Mutazilites, human eyes need light, proper distance and location to see the seen object. Since God is unseen being, He cannot be seen by human eyes. It is impossible for human eyes to see God because God is an immaterial being, unseen being.
The Asharite school holds that human reason in and by itself was not capable of establishing with absolute certainty any truth-claim with respect to morality, the physical world, or metaphysical ideas.
Knowledge of moral truths must be taught by means of Revelation, and is not known a priori or by deduction from a priori propositions or by sheer observation of the world. It is permissible for a Muslim to believe and accept that a proposition is a moral truth based solely on the authority of a consensus of authorized scholars (ulama). This is known as taqlid (“imitation” in religion).
The ninth century theologian Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari argued that there is no secondary causation in the created order. The world is sustained and governed through direct intervention of a divine primary causation. As such the world is in a constant state of recreation by God.
Mujassimah and Mushabbihah are basically non existent in Islam, however it is the term used by Muslims to throw at each other when they disagree with a different lines of Islam and accuse the other of Anthropomorphism, over Theological, and Hermeneutical disputes, too long, and complicated to list here, Christians who believe in the Divinity of Jesus without being Muslims will fit this category.
Tanzih Incomparability, or utter Transcendence and it’s dialectical opposite Tasbih Similarity or Immanence could be conciliated as the Sheik Ibn Arabi does:
“For those who truly know the Divine Realities, the doctrine of Transcendence imposes a restriction and a limitation on the Real, for he who asserts that God is purely Transcendent is either a fool or a rogue, even if he is a professed believer: For if he maintains the God is purely Transcendent and exclude all other considerations, he acts mischievously and misrepresent the Reality and all the apostles, albeit unwittingly. He imagines he has hit on the truth, while he has completely missed the mark, being like those who believe in part and deny on part.
The truth is that the Reality is manifested in every created being and in every concept while, He is at the same time hidden from all understanding, except for one who holds that the Cosmos is His form and His identity. This is the Name the Manifest, while He is also unmanifested Spirit, the Unmanifest. In this sense He is, in relation to the manifested forms of the Cosmos, the Spirit that determine those forms.”
Ibn Arabi understood that proclaiming God purely as Absolut would split it’s Oneness in two, and negating his Immanence would actually be limited by his own unlimitedness, setting Manifestation, as a separated, and therefore distinct from the Absolute, and that in itself would make God the Non-Manifest, the not known, and therefore the non-existent, and that of course is impossible, and therefore the Absolut has to Manifest in order to be known!
As in the Hadith:
“I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation, then made Myself known to them, and they recognized Me.”
“The manifest of the Real is creation, and the nonmanifest of creation is the Real”
The absolute has to encompass Manifestation in order for his treasures to be be known:
A) The Human vicegerent is the only Being that discloses the truths of the Divine Names.
B) Man is a god in the world by virtue of his divine image.
C) He has no equal or similar.
D) Closest intimacy is the mutual relationship that connects God to this man of no equal.
E) The later still enjoys the status of pure servitude.
F) He can be called the absolute Apotheosis when related to the Absolute God.
G) What he means by Man in all previous premises is the Perfect Man.
H) Adam and Muhammad are two examples of this perfection.
A pure knowledge of God, then, in which we contemplate God as an object free from all similarity to creatures is impossible. The Transcendence of God indicates that God is beyond all that we can define and limit by our reason, but the Immanence of God indicates that God is the true knower manifested in every act of knowledge. God is both, what is most distant from our knowledge , and what is closest and most intimate to every act of knowing. This is because God as the Real, is the all encompassing. God is both absolute object, and absolute subject of all knowing.
The Vaishnava Tradition in Hinduism recognize Paramatman (The Supreme Being or Absolute) as Emanating through:
Vyuhas, the higher Emanations of God in higher planes of Existence.
Vibhavas, God incarnations or Avatars, who appear from time to time.
Antaryami, the immanent Being that live within every being.
Arcavatara, the material representation of God, like an Image, rock, or any object that serve as concretization for worship for devotees.
Now do not make the common mistake to see Hinduism as an homogenous set of doctrines, and beliefs, just like when you say Christians you embrace all kind of different sects, and different interpretations of scripture, and diverse tenets of belief.
Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism,polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, atheism, agnosticism, Gnosticism among others; and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. It is sometimes referred to as henotheistic (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others), but any such term is an overgeneralization.
The Sanatana Dharma
Hindu philosophy is divided into six āstika(Sanskrit: आस्तिक “orthodox”) schools of thought, or darśanas (दर्शनस्, “views”), which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other nāstika (नास्तिक”heterodox”) schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative. The āstika schools are:
Samkhya, a strongly dualist theoretical exposition of mind and matter, that denies the existence of God.
Yoga, a school emphasizing meditation closely based on Samkhya
Nyaya or logics
Vaisheshika, an empiricist school of atomism
Mimamsa, an anti-ascetic and anti-mystic school of orthopraxy
Vedanta, the logical conclusion to Vedic ritualism, focusing on mysticism. Vedanta came to be the dominant current of Hinduism in the post-medieval period.
The nāstika schools are:
Cārvāka, a skeptical materialist school, which died out in the 15th century and whose primary texts have been lost.
In Hindu history, the distinction of the six orthodox schools was current in the Gupta period “golden age” of Hinduism. With the disappearance of Vaisheshika and Mimamsa, it was obsolete by the later Middle Ages, when the various sub-schools of Vedanta (Dvaita “dualism”, Advaita Vedanta “non-dualism” and others) began to rise to prominence as the main divisions of religious philosophy. Nyaya survived into the 17th century as Navya Nyaya “Neo-Nyaya”, while Samkhya gradually lost its status as an independent school, its tenets absorbed into Yoga and Vedanta.
To our Western understanding this could be very confusing since Hinduism or the Sanatana Dharma somewhat has managed to join such diverse, and even opposite views, like the Samkhya, the Vaisheshika, and the Mimamsa schools of thought that deny a Supreme Being, a Materialistic atomistic philosophy, and a practical ritualistic doctrine to the service of Vedic doctrines.
I like to analogize for our Western understanding, imagine the Vatican amalgamating Marxist philosophy in to the Christian teaching of Jesus! However it is common to hear from Marxist philosophers that Jesus is the perfect Archetype of Socialism!
Īshvara (literally, the Lord) Parama Īshvara means “The Supreme Lord”— According to Advaita Vedanta, when man tries to know the attributeless Brahman with his mind, under the influence of Maya, Brahman becomes the Lord. Ishvara is Brahman with Maya — the manifested form of Brahman. Adi Shankara uses a metaphor that when the “reflection” of the Cosmic Spirit falls upon the mirror of Maya, it appears as the Ishvara or Supreme Lord. The Ishvara is true only in the pragmatic level. God’s actual form in the transcendental level is the Cosmic Spirit.
Ishvara can be described as Saguna Brahman or Brahman with attributes that may be regarded to have a personality with human and Godly attributes. This concept of Ishvara is also used to visualize and worship in anthropomorphic form deities such as Shiva, Vishnu or Devi by the dvaitins which leads to immense confusion in the understanding of a monistic concept of God apart from polytheistic worship of Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti in Hinduism .
“As the moving sun He dwells in heaven; as air He pervades all and dwells in the inter-space; as fire He resides on the earth; as Soma He stays in a jar; He lives among men; He lives among gods; He dwells in truth; He dwells in space; He is born in water; He takes birth from the earth; He is born in the sacrifice; He emerges from the mountains; He is unchanging; and He is great.”
katha Upanishad (2.2.2)
In other words:
Absolute Reality is utterly non-dual. The finite conditional mind of the ego-I can do no more than reduce the infinite to finite conceptual names, forms and experience.
Brahman, perfectly subjective Reality Itself, appears through Ishvara as namarupa, name and form, but there is no actual creation, merely avidyic appearances. Therefore, in the Advaita Vedanta non-dual view, there can be no causal relation between Absolute Brahman—ultimate truth—and the relative space-time world. Non-dual Brahman (Ultimate Spirit) transcends yet embraces this empirical domain of Relative Truth. And wonder of wonders, “All is Brahman…” That is our ultimate Relationship.
Many people in our Western materialistic, and secular oriented culture declare themselves atheist, or agnostics, at best they declare God as Transcendent, but I say few have study the matter at all! Fortunately new knowledge, due to recent translations of ancient writings from Oriental Sages, had brought the matter in to a new light, I advise any who want to pursue the matter before uttering their dusty, and trite opinions, get busy, there is yet a lot to learn!