1. It happens that we may contemplate God not only outside of us
within us and above us. [Thus we contemplate Him] outside through
traces, inside through His image, and above us through His light,
signed upon our minds the light of eternal Truth, since the mind
immediately formed by Truth itself. Those who exercise themselves
first manner have already entered into the atrium of the
second have entered into the sanctum; but the third have entered
Holy of Holies with the High Priest, the Holy of Holies where
above the ark
are the Cherubim of glory overshadowing the propitiatory.
understand two ways or degrees of contemplation of the invisible
eternal things of God, of which one deals with God's essential
the other with the properties of the Persons.
2. The first way first and foremost signifies Him in Being itself,
He Who Is is the primary name of God. The second signifies Him in
goodness, saying this [goodness] is the primary name of God. The
refers above all to the Old Testament, which preaches the unity of
divine essence, whence it was said to Moses, "I am Who I am."
refers to the New Testament, which lays down the plurality of the
by baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Spirit. Therefore our Master Christ, wishing to elevate the youth
served the law to evangelical perfection, attributed the name of
principally and precisely to God. No one, He said, is good but God
[Luke, 18, 19]. Damascenus ["De fide orthodox.," 1, 9] therefore,
Moses, says that "He Who Is" is the primary name of God.
following Christ, says that goodness is God's primary name.
3. If you wish then to contemplate the invisible traits of God in
so far as
they belong to the unity of His essence, fix your gaze upon Being
and see that Being is most certain in itself; for it cannot be
to be, since the purest Being occurs only in full flight from
just as nothingness is in full flight from Being. Therefore, just
utterly nothing contains nought of Being nor of its conditions, so
contrariwise Being itself contains no Non-Being, neither in
in potency, neither in matters of fact nor in our thinking.
Non-Being is the privation of Being, it cannot enter the intellect
through Being; Being, however, cannot enter through anything other
itself. For everything which is thought of is either thought of as
Non-Being or as Being-in-potency or as Being-in-actuality. If,
therefore, Non-Being is intelligible only through Being, and if Being-in-potency
understood only through Being-in-actuality, and if Being is the
that pure actuality of Being, Being then is what first enters the
intellect, and that Being is pure actuality. But this is not
Being, which is restricted Being, since that is mixed with
Nor is this analogous Being, for such has a minimum of actuality
has only a minimum of being. It remains, therefore, that that
4. Marvelous then is the blindness of the intellect which does not
that which is its primary object and without which it can know
just as the eye intent upon the various differences of the colors
see the light by which it sees the other things and, if it sees
not notice it, so the mind's eye, intent upon particular and
beings, does not notice Being itself, which is beyond all genera,
that comes first before the mind and through it all other things.
it seems very true that just as the bat's eye behaves in the
light, so the
eye of the mind behaves before the most obvious things of nature.
accustomed to the shadows of beings and the phantasms of the
world, when it looks upon the light of the highest Being, it seems
nothing, not understanding that darkness itself is the fullest
of the mind [Ps., 138, 11], just as when the eye sees pure light
to itself to be seeing nothing.
5. See then purest Being itself, if you can, and you will
it cannot be thought of as derivative from another. And thus
that must be thought of as absolutely primal which can be
neither from nothing nor from anything. For what exists through
Being does not exist through itself and of itself? You will
that, lacking Non-Being in every respect and therefore having no
nor end, it is eternal. You will understand also that it contains
in itself save Being itself, for it is in no way composite, but is
simple. You will understand that it has no potentialities within
every possible has in some way something of Non-Being, but Being
highest actuality. You will understand that it has no defect, for
most perfect. Finally, you will understand that it has no
diversity, for it
is One in the highest degree.
Being, therefore, which is pure Being and most simply Being and
Being, is Being primary, eternal, most simple, most actual, most
and one to the highest degree.
6. And these things are so certain that Being itself cannot be
by an intellect as opposed to these, and one of these traits
others. For since it is simply Being, therefore it is simply
because it is simply primary, therefore it is not made from
from itself, and therefore it is eternal. Likewise, since it is
eternal, and therefore not from others, it is therefore most
Furthermore, since it is primary, eternal, and most simple,
contains no potentiality mixed with actuality, and therefore it is
actual. Likewise, since it is primary, eternal, most simple, most
it is most perfect.
To such a Being nothing is lacking, nor can
added, Since it is primary, eternal, most simple, most actual,
perfect, it is therefore one to the highest degree. For what is
because of its utter superabundance is applicable to all things.
is simply predicated because of superabundance cannot possibly be
to anything but the one. Wherefore, if God is the name of the
eternal, most simple, most actual, most perfect Being, it is
that He be thought of as not being nor as anything save One alone.
Israel, the Lord our God is one God." If you see this in the pure
simplicity of your mind, you will somehow be infused with the
of eternal light.
7. But you have ground for rising in wonder. For Being itself is
last, is eternal and yet most present, is simplest and greatest,
actual and immutable, is perfect and immense, is most highly one
If you wonder over these things with a pure mind,
look further, you will be infused with a greater light, until you
see that Being is last because it is first. For since it is first,
produces all things for its own sake alone; and therefore it must
very end, the beginning and the consummation, the alpha and the
Therefore it is most present because it is eternal. For since it
eternal, it does not come from another; nor does it cease to be
from one thing to another, and therefore has no past nor future
present being. Therefore it is greatest because most simple.
is most simple in essence, therefore it is greatest in power;
power, the more greatly it is unified, the closer it is to the
Therefore it is most immutable, because most actual. For that
which is most
actual is therefore pure act. And as such it acquires nothing new
it lose what it had, and therefore cannot be changed. Therefore it
immense, because most perfect. For since it is most perfect,
nothing can be
thought of which is better, nobler, or more worthy. And on this
there is nothing greater. And every such thing is immense.
Therefore it is
all-inclusive ("omnimodal"), because it is one to the highest
that which is one to the highest degree is the universal source of
multiplicity. And for this reason it is the universal efficient
all things, the exemplary and the final cause, as the cause of
principle of intelligibility, the order of living.
therefore it is
all-inclusive, not as the essence of all things, but as the
and most universal and most sufficient cause of all essences,
because most highly unified in essence, is therefore most highly
and most fertile in efficacy.
8. Recapitulating, let us say: Because, then, Being is most pure
absolute, that which is Being simply is first and last and,
origin and the final cause of all. Because eternal and most
therefore it encompasses and penetrates all duration, existing at
their center and circumference. Because most simple and greatest,
it is entirely within and entirely without all things and,
therefore, is an
intelligible sphere whose center is everywhere and whose
nowhere. Because most actual and most immutable, then "remaining
causes the universe to move" [Boethius, Cons. III, met. 9].
perfect and immense, therefore within all, though not included in
beyond all, but not excluded from them; above all, but not
beyond them; below all, and yet not cast down beneath them.
highly one and all-inclusive, therefore all in all, although all
many and it is only one.
And this is so since through most simple
clearest truth, and most sincere goodness there is in it all
exemplary causality, and all communicability. And therefore from
it and by
it and in it are all things. And this is so since it is
omniscient, and all-good. And to see this perfectly is to be
was said to Moses, "I will show thee all good" [Exod. 33, 19].