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II.—HIS LEADING IDEAS: THE NATURE OF THE GODHEAD IN ITSELF

The basis of their teaching is the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead (ὑπερούσιος θεαρχία). We must, therefore, at the very outset fix the meaning of this term. Now the word “Essence” or “Being” (οὐσία) means almost invariably an individual existence; more especially a person, since such is the highest type that individual existence can in this world assume. And, in fact, like the English word “Being,” it may without qualification be used to mean an angel. Since, then, the highest connotation of the term “Essence” or “Being” is a person, it follows that by “Super-Essence” is intended “Supra-Personality.” And hence the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead simply means that God is, in His ultimate Nature, Supra-Personal.

Now an individual person is one who distinguishes himself from the rest of the world. I am a person because I can say: “I am I and I am not you.” Personality thus consists in the faculty of knowing oneself to be one individual among others. And thus, by its very nature, Personality is (on one side of its being, at least) a finite thing. The very essence of my personal state lies in the fact that I am not the whole universe but a member thereof.

God, on the other hand, is Supra-Personal because He is infinite. He is not one Being among others, but in His ultimate nature dwells on a plane where there is nothing whatever beside Himself. The only kind of consciousness we may attribute to Him is what can but be described as an Universal Consciousness. He does not distinguish Himself from us; for were we caught up on to that level we should be wholly transformed into Him. And yet we distinguish 5between ourselves and Him because from our lower plane of finite Being we look up and see that ultimate level beyond us.

The Super-Essential Godhead is, in fact, precisely that which modern philosophy describes as the Absolute. Behind the diversities of this world there must be an Ultimate Unity. And this Ultimate Unity must contain in an undifferentiated condition all the riches of consciousness, life, and existence which are dispersed in broken fragments throughout the world. Yet It is not a particular Consciousness or a particular Existence. It is certainly not Unconscious, Dead or, in the ordinary sense, non-Existent, for all these terms imply something below instead of above the states to which they are opposed.

Nevertheless It is not, in Its Ultimate Nature, conscious (as we understand the term) for consciousness implies a state in which the thinking Subject is aware of himself and so becomes an Object of his own perception. And this is impossible in the ultimate Nature of the Undifferentiated Godhead where there is no distinction between thinking Subject and Object of thought, simply because there is at that level no distinction of any kind whatever. Similarly the Godhead does not, in the ordinary sense, live (for life is a process and hence implies distinctions) nor does It even (in our sense) exist, for Existence is contrasted with non-Existence and thus implies relationship and distinctions. Consciousness, Life, and Existence, as we know them, are finite states, and the Infinite Godhead is beyond them. We cannot even, strictly speaking, attribute to It Unity, for Unity is distinguished from Plurality. We must instead describe It as a Super-Unity which is neither One nor Many and yet contains in an undifferentiated state that Numerical Principle which we can only grasp in its partial forms as Unity and Plurality.

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