Saint Dionysius On Knowing God


We cannot know God in His nature, since this is unknowable and beyond the reach of mind or of reason. But we know Him from the arrangement of everything, because everything is, in a sense, projected out from Him, and this order possesses certain images and semblances of His divine paradigms. We therefore approach that which is beyond all as far as our capacities allow us and we pass by way of the denial and the transcendence of all things and by way of the cause of all things. God is therefore known in all things and as distinct from all things. He is known through knowledge and through unknowing. Of Him there is conception, reason, understanding, touch, perception, opinion, imagination, name, and many other things. On the other hand He cannot be understood, words cannot contain Him, and no name can lay hold of Him. He is not one of the things that are and He is no thing among things. He is known to all from all things and He is known to no one from anything… the most divine knowledge of God, that which comes through unknowing, is achieved in a union far beyond mind, when mind turns away from all things, even from itself, and when it is made one with the dazzling rays, being then and there enlightened by the inscrutable depth of Wisdom.

St. Dionysius (The Divine Names, Chapter Seven sect. 3, Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works; Paulist Press pgs. 108-109).