Godhead

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An instant's visitor the godhead shone. … It wrote the lines of a significant myth Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns, A brilliant code penned with the sky for page. ~ Sri Aurobindo

Godhead (Middle English godhede, "godhood") is a term used to refer to various notions of the essence of God or Divinity. Godhead in Judaism, is the unknowable aspect of God, beyond all actions or emanations. Godhead in Christianity is also the Divine Nature or Substance of God, but in most of its sects, emphasis is placed upon it as the Unity of three persons of the Trinity: God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The word has been widaely used to translate the Hindu word Brahman, and sometimes used to present concepts of Atman, Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti.

Quotes[edit]

Differences of credal belief are to the Indian mind nothing more than various ways of seeing the one Self and Godhead in all. ~ Sri Aurobindo
We should know the Godhead which has flowed into the Father and filled Him with joy, and which has flowed into the Son and filled Him with wisdom, and the Two are essentially one. ~ Meister Eckhart
In regard to man’s final end, all the higher religions are in complete agreement. The purpose of human life is the discovery of Truth, the unitive knowledge of the Godhead. ~ Aldous Huxley
The Godhead, according to Eckhart, is the universal and eternal Unity comprehending and transcending all diversity. ~ William Ralph Inge
Surely within you some Godhead doth quicken,
As ye cry to me heeding, and leading you home... ~ William Morris
That is every human being’s birthright, to have ingress to their godhead. ~ Alan Moore
There is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. ~ Tertullian
  • What is most needed today is a fundamental theological thinking, one centered upon the Godhead itself, and centered upon that which is most challenging or most offensive in the Godhead, one which has truly been veiled in the modern world, except by our most revolutionary thinkers and visionaries. If we allow Blake and Nietzsche to be paradigmatic of those revolutionaries, nowhere else does such a centering upon God or the Godhead occur, although a full parallel to this occurs in Spinoza and Hegel; but the language of Hegel and Spinoza is not actually offensive, or not in its immediate impact, whereas the language of Nietzsche and Blake is the most purely offensive language which has ever been inscribed. Above all this is true of the theological language of Blake and Nietzsche, but here a theological language is a truly universal language, one occurring in every domain, and occurring as that absolute No which is the origin of every repression and every darkness, and a darkness which is finally the darkness of God, or the darkness of that Godhead which is beyond “God.” Only Nietzsche and Blake know a wholly fallen Godhead, a Godhead which is an absolutely alien Nihil, but the full reversal of that Nihil is apocalypse itself, an apocalypse which is an absolute joy, and Blake and Nietzsche are those very writers who have most evoked that joy.
  • Differences of credal belief are to the Indian mind nothing more than various ways of seeing the one Self and Godhead in all. Self-realisation is the one thing needful; to open to the inner Spirit, to live in the Infinite, to seek after and discover the Eternal, to be in union with God, that is the common idea and aim of religion, that is the sense of spiritual salvation, that is the living Truth that fulfils and releases. This dynamic following after the highest spiritual truth and the highest spiritual aim are the uniting bond of Indian religion and, behind all its thousand forms, its one common essence.
  • An instant's visitor the godhead shone.
    On life's thin border awhile the Vision stood
    And bent over earth's pondering forehead curve.
    Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss
    In colour's hieroglyphs of mystic sense,
    It wrote the lines of a significant myth
    Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns,
    A brilliant code penned with the sky for page.
  • All that the Eternal Father teaches and reveals is His being, His nature, and His Godhead, which He manifests to us in His Son, and teaches us that we are also His Son.
  • We read in the Gospels that Our Lord fed many people with five loaves and two fishes. Speaking parabolically, we may say that the first loaf was — that we should know ourselves, what we have been everlastingly to God, and what we now are to Him. The second — that we should pity our fellow Christian who is blinded; his loss should grieve us as much as our own. The third — that we should know our Lord Jesus Christ's life, and follow it to the utmost of our capacity. The fourth — that we should know the judgments of God. … The fifth is — that we should know the Godhead which has flowed into the Father and filled Him with joy, and which has flowed into the Son and filled Him with wisdom, and the Two are essentially one.
  • Concerning the Gods, there are who deny the very existence of the Godhead; others say that it exists, but neither bestirs nor concerns itself nor has forethought for anything. A third party attribute to it existence and forethought, but only for great and heavenly matters, not for anything that is on earth. A fourth party admit things on earth as well as in heaven, but only in general, and not with respect to each individual. A fifth, of whom were Ulysses and Socrates, are those that cry:— I move not without Thy knowledge!
    • Epictetus, Golden Sayings of Epictetus as translated by Hastings Crossley, 28.
  • Give thyself more diligently to reflection: know thyself: take counsel with the Godhead; without God put thine hand into nothing.
    • Epictetus, Golden Sayings of Epictetus as translated by Hastings Crossley, 115.
  • Ruysbroeck puts it extremely well. He speaks of "a waylessness and darkness in which we never find ourselves again in a creaturely way." We lose ourselves in that divine darkness. And he goes on to speak of God, this "God beyond", as it were, as "a simple nudity, an incomprehensible light". The one who has reached this point " finds himself and feels himself to be that light, gazing at that light, by that light, in that light. Here one has entered totally into the Godhead and one knows in the light and by the light". This is exactly how it is put in the Upanishads and in the Bhagavad Gita, where it is said that one knows the 'atman', through the 'atman'. The 'atman' cannot be known by any other means. God is grasped and held through God.
    • Bede Griffiths, A New Vision of Reality : Western Science, Eastern Mysticism and Christian Faith, Ch. 11, p. 248.
  • Whatever Jesus is, the glorious Godhead is; and to have fellowship with the Son is to have fellowship with the Father. To know the love of Christ is to be filled with all the fullness of God.
    • James Hamilton, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 451.
  • Suso has even left a diagrammatic picture of the relations subsisting between Godhead, triune God and creatures. In this very curious and interesting drawing a chain of manifestation connects the mysterious symbol of the Divine Ground with the three Persons of the Trinity, and the Trinity in turn is connected in a descending scale with angels and human beings. These last, as the drawing vividly shows, may make one of two choices. They can either live the life of the outer man, the life of the separative selfhood; in which case they are lost (for, in the words of the Theologia Germanica, “nothing burns in hell but the self”). Or else they can identify themselves with the inner man, in which case it becomes possible for them, as Suso shows, to ascend again, through unitive knowledge, to the Trinity and even, beyond the Trinity, to the ultimate Unity of the Divine Ground.
  • The Beatific Vision, Sat Chit Ananda, Being-Awareness-Bliss-for the first time I understood, not on the verbal level, not by inchoate hints or at a distance, but precisely and completely what those prodigious syllables referred to. And then I remembered a passage I had read in one of D. T. Suzuki's essays. “What is the Dharma-Body of the Buddha?” ('“the Dharma-Body of the Buddha” is another way of saying Mind, Suchness, the Void, the Godhead.) The question is asked in a Zen monastery by an earnest and bewildered novice. And with the prompt irrelevance of one of the Marx Brothers, the Master answers, “The hedge at the bottom of the garden.” “And the man who realizes this truth,” the novice dubiously inquires, “what, may I ask, is he?” Groucho gives him a whack over the shoulders with his staff and answers, “A golden-haired lion.”
    It had been, when I read it, only a vaguely pregnant piece of nonsense. Now it was all as clear as day, as evident as Euclid. Of course the Dharma-Body of the Buddha was the hedge at the bottom of the garden. At the same time, and no less obviously, it was these flowers, it was anything that I—or rather the blessed Not-I, released for a moment from my throttling embrace—cared to look at.
    • Aldous Huxley, describing his experiment with mescaline, in The Doors of Perception (1954), p. 18.
  • The Godhead, according to Eckhart, is the universal and eternal Unity comprehending and transcending all diversity. "The Divine nature is Rest," he says in one of the German discourses; and in the Latin fragments we find: "God rests in Himself, and makes all things rest in Him." The three Persons of the Trinity, however, are not mere modes or accidents, but represent a real distinction within the Godhead. God is unchangeable, and at the same time an "everlasting process." The creatures are "absolutely nothing"; but at the same time "God without them would not be God," for God is love, and must objectify Himself; He is goodness, and must impart Himself. As the picture in the mind of the painter, as the poem in the mind of the poet, so was all creation in the mind of God from all eternity, in uncreated simplicity. The ideal world was not created in time; "the Father spake Himself and all the creatures in His Son"; "they exist in the eternal Now" —"a becoming without a becoming, change without change." "The Word of God the Father it the substance of all that exists, the life of all that lives, the principle and cause of life." Of creation he says : "We must not falsely imagine that God stood waiting for something to happen, that He might create the world. For so soon as He was God, so soon as He begat His coeternal and coequal Son, He created the world."
    • William Ralph Inge, Light, Life, and Love: Selections from the German Mystics of the Middle Ages (1904), p. xx.
  • To philosophise is to learn to die — philosophising is a soaring up to the Godhead — the knowledge of Being as Being.
    • Karl Jaspers, "Philosophy and Science", World Review Magazine (March 1950).
  • Whence came you, Hawthorne? By what right do you drink from my flagon of life? And when I put it to my lips — lo, they are yours and not mine. I feel that the Godhead is broken up like the bread at the Supper, and that we are the pieces. Hence this infinite fraternity of feeling.
  • The character and conquest of the invincible champion are ever the same. A Lacedaemonian died while writing with his own blood on a rock — "Sparta has conquered!" But, O, there is an illustration higher and better than any derived from mere earthly annals. Jesus veiled His glory in the skies; shrouded divinity in mortality, and with godhead and humanity coalesced in His person, entered the lists with more than mortal strife against the powers of hell.
    • Elias Lyman Magoon, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 451.
  • Originally priests were instructors, they passed out the mysteries and revelations to the masses. Increasingly, they say "you don’t need to have a religious experience, we are having that for you. That’s what we are here for." Eventually, they start saying ‘you don’t need to have a religious experience, and neither do we. We’ve got this book about some people who — a thousand years ago — had a religious experience. And if you come in on Sunday, we’ll read you a bit of that and you’ll be sorted, don’t you worry.” Effectively a portcullis has slammed down between the individual and their godhead. ‘You can’t approach your godhead except through us now. We are the only path. Our church is the only path.’ But that is every human being’s birthright, to have ingress to their godhead.
  • Admittedly, I do have several bones... whole war fields full of bones, in fact... to pick with organised religion of whatever stripe. This should be seen as a critique of purely temporal agencies who have, to my mind, erected more obstacles between whatever notion of spirituality and Godhead one subscribes to than they have opened doors. To me, the difference between Godhead and the Church is the difference between Elvis and Colonel Parker... although that conjures images of God dying on the toilet, which is not what I meant at all.
    • Alan Moore, in "Correspondence: From Hell" by Alan Moore & Dave Sim, conclusion, Cerebus #220 (2003).
  • Come cling round about me, ye faithful who sicken
    Of the weary unrest and the world's passing fashions!
    As the rain in mid-morning your troubles shall thicken,
    But surely within you some Godhead doth quicken,
    As ye cry to me heeding, and leading you home.
    "
  • This possession is a simple and abysmal tasting of all good and of eternal life; and in this tasting we are swallowed up above reason and without reason, in the deep Quiet of the Godhead, which is never moved...And therefrom follows the last point that can be put into words, that is, when the spirit beholds a Darkness into which it cannot enter with the reason. And there it feels itself dead and lost to itself, and one with God without difference and without distinction.
  • Here comes Jesus, and sees the man, and shows to him, in the light of faith, that He is according to His Godhead immeasurable and incomprehensible and inaccessible and abysmal, transcending every created light and every finite conception. And this is the highest knowledge of God which any man may have in the active life: that he should confess in this light of faith that God is incomprehensible and unknowable. And in this light Christ says to man’s desire: Make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide at thy house. This hasty descent, to which he is summoned by God, is nothing else than a descent through desire and through love into the abyss of the Godhead, which no intelligence can reach in the created light. But where intelligence remains without, desire and love go in. When the soul is thus stretched towards God, by intention and by love, above everything that it can understand, then it rests and dwells in God, and God in it. When the soul climbs with desire above the multiplicity of creatures, and above the works of the senses, and above the light of nature, then it meets Christ in the light of faith, and becomes enlightened, and confesses that God is unknowable and incomprehensible. When it stretches itself with longing towards this incomprehensible God, then it meets Christ, and is filled with His gifts. And when it loves and rests above all gifts, and above itself, and above all creatures, then it dwells in God, and God dwells in it.
    • John Ruysbroeck, in [1] Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage translated by Evelyn Underhill
  • There is a distinction and differentiation,
    According to our reason,
    Between God and the Godhead,
    Between action and rest.

    The fruitful nature of the Persons (Trinity)
    Ever worketh in a living differentiation.
    But the simple Being of God,
    According to the nature thereof,
    Is an eternal Rest of God
    And of all created things.
    • John Ruysbroeck, The Twelve Beguines as translated in Ruysbroeck (1915) by Evelyn Underhill
  • We worship unity in trinity, and trinity in unity; neither confounding the person nor dividing the substance. There is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.
    • Tertullian, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 285.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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