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Revealing God: Paradox and Mystery in the Eyes of Modern Mystics

Our spiritual imaginations are often shaped by traditional depictions of God, images that, while comforting, can sometimes limit our understanding of God's infinite depth. This post embarks on a journey beyond these familiar confines, guided by the insights of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, and Cynthia Bourgeault. Three modern mystics whose reflections are part of a venerable tradition of contemplative thought through the ages, where paradox and mystery serve not as barriers to understanding but as gateways to deeper divine engagement.

Paradox, in this contemplative context, invites us to hold seemingly contradictory truths in tension, revealing a more profound God than conventional imagery allows.

Mystery, too, is redefined—not as the unknowable but as an ever-unfolding wellspring of revelation.

As we explore these mystics' insights, we open ourselves to new ways of experiencing the Divine, moving beyond static images to a dynamic, unfolding relationship with God, who is always more than we can imagine.

An artistic depiction of a face, styled in an abstract manner with swirling, vibrant patterns and bold colors such as blues, reds, oranges, and yellows. The design conveys movement and energy, with the face emerging from or merging into the dynamic, flowing forms that surround it. The image suggests complexity and depth, possibly representing a creative, lively interpretation of the divine.
An AI depiction of God. Even AI is reduced to base anthropomorphism.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: The Divine Unfolding in Evolution

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and palaeontologist of the early 20th century, brought a revolutionary perspective to the intertwining of spirituality and science. He envisioned the process of evolution as a divine unfolding, with Christ as the Omega Point— the ultimate goal towards which all creation moves.

This view presents a paradox where God is both the initiator and the fulfilment of evolution, intimately involved in the continuous creation and complexity of the universe. Teilhard's theology suggests that every aspect of the cosmos, from the smallest particle to the vast galaxies, is imbued with a divine presence that drives it towards divine unity.

Teilhard's perspective challenges us to see the hand of the Divine in the ongoing narrative of the cosmos, encouraging a re-evaluation of our role and relationship with the natural world. His vision portrays God not as a static being but as a dynamic presence, involved in the ceaseless becoming of creation, inviting us to participate in this sacred evolution towards greater love and unity.

Thomas Merton: Revealing God at the Virginal Point

Thomas Merton, a profound spiritual thinker and Trappist monk of the mid-20th century, charted a course through the complexities of human spirituality, emphasising the enigmatic nature of our pursuit of a God who is infinitely beyond us and yet infinitely within us. At the core of Merton's spiritual exploration is the concept of the 'virginal point' or 'point vierge,' a term he used to describe a place of pure awareness and presence within the human soul, where one stands naked and unencumbered before the Divine.

This virginal point represents the untouched, pristine centre of our being, where the noise and distractions of the ego and the external world fade into silence, allowing for an unmediated encounter with God.

Merton's insights into the virginal point challenge us to move beyond the superficial layers of our identity and to seek God in the depth of our own inner silence. He suggests that it is in this sacred space, at the very heart of our being, that we experience God's presence most profoundly, beyond the reach of language and conceptual thought.

Merton's theology encourages contemplation to experience the Divine as a living reality within us. This encounter reveals the sacred nature of existence, transcendent and immanent.

Cynthia Bourgeault: The Reality of Nondual Consciousness

A B&W portrait of Cynthia Bourgeault
The Rev'd Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault, a contemporary mystic and Anglican priest, brings the concept of nondual consciousness to the forefront of Christian spirituality. She challenges the traditional dualistic view of God as a being separate from creation, proposing instead that the Divine reality is more accurately experienced in the nondual awareness of oneness with all that is.

Bourgeault's teachings on nondual consciousness invite us into a radical reimagining of God, not as an external entity, but as the ground of being from which all existence emerges and into which it is intimately woven.

Through the lens of nondual consciousness, the paradoxes of God's presence and absence, transcendence and immanence, become not obstacles to faith but expressions of the true nature of the Divine. Bourgeault's work encourages us to move beyond the confines of binary thinking to embrace a more holistic and integrated understanding of God, where the Divine is both the creator and the essence of all creation.

 Conclusion: Embracing the Divine Mystery

 The teachings of Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, and Cynthia Bourgeault offer rich insights into the nature and depiction of God, challenging us to expand our spiritual horizons. By embracing the paradoxes and mysteries they present, we are invited to explore a more dynamic relationship with the Divine, one that acknowledges the complexity and depth of God's presence in the world and within ourselves.

  1. How do these depictions of God challenge your own?

  2. Do they open you up to deeper insights into your connection to God?

  3. Which of the mystics do you most resonate with?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.


My understanding of ‘what or who God is’ a continuing learning experience, and spiritually enlightening.

I’ve always imagined God as a supreme force, creating all things, and recently reading Paul’s letter to Ephesians, this feeling was confirmed.

Introduced to some of the works of Thomas Merton, my journey evolved more, and an episode of a favourite TV show - M*A*S*H - came to mind.

A surreal circumstance reminded the chaplain of an important message which he imparted to the camp:

‘God … created us so he could be here himself, so that he could exist in the lives of those he created in his image’

Replying to

Thanks Tony.

I grew up on M*A*S*H. Such a great mirror to life.

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