This is the time of another saying.
It is not the time of a new saying, for it is clear that in the infinitude of the moment all words have been spoken and language is always already redundant.
What is to be said is not difficult but is easily misunderstood. It is here being said despite this problem because it is something that must be said – or, better yet, it is something that can no longer continue not being said.
There is no longer the hope of God, of a being or entity with which we can create a personal and ultimate relation. It is not just that ‘God is dead’, or even that we killed him or that we no longer found ‘Him’ enough.
What is being said is not simply the death of God because God is not, nor never has been, but, and instead, what must now be recognised in the saying ‘God is dead’ is that it still grasps for the God that comes after God.
Yet, have we understood that this God beyond God is no longer a being (or Being) nor an entity with which we can come into communication with as beings ourselves?
The saying that is said in these words is that ‘He is dead’ has always been the case from the beginningless beginning and will remain so until the endless end, but only and especially if ‘He is He’. If ‘He is not He’ never was nor ever will be, then the ‘Death of God’ has never been an historical event, for how do you kill what is not?
The German philosopher Friedrich Jacobi coined the term ‘nihilism’ as early as 1799 and in a letter to Johann Fichte claimed with complete simplicity; “Nothingness or a God…There is no third” and it is not hard to imagine Jacobi’s influence on Nietzsche and Heidegger too, especially in his equally stark and ultimate claim; ‘Being: Nothing: Same!’
Obviously, it is also necessary to highlight Heidegger’s long and fruitful contact with the Rhineland Mystics, especially Meister Eckhart, and Eckhart’s extraordinary demand, ‘Please God release me from God!’ – which was one of the propositions condemned by the Papal Bull “In agro dominico,”on March 27, 1329.
The great schism at the foundation of western philosophy between Parmenides and Heraclitus, that has yet to be healed, between being and becoming, expresses well the trap we have made for ourselves over these last 2500 years. ‘Being’ is not, nor ‘becoming’ but the West has never fully understood that ‘Nothing is’ – the turn to Nihilism is the beginning of the recognition of ‘nothingness’.
Yet Nihilism is a relative nothingness, grasped from the concept of self, take away the self that is attempting to objectify ‘Being, becoming or nothing’ and the absolutely open field of true self is revealed – nothingness demands nothing other than that it itself is empty.
This simple saying rests simply upon the understanding of where the stress falls in the following words, ‘Nothing is real’! This simple saying is written for those who have felt something of the possibility of nothingness, perhaps when reading Nietzsche, or Heidegger, or the best of what has come to be called post-modern philosophy, or the apophatic movement in Christian Mysticism.
Of course, these are old words to those who have always and already understood from out of the other world traditions where nothingness ‘is’, absolutely. And my very great gratitude stems from how these traditions (zen particularly) have helped to clarify so much of the felt failure of philosophy.
There is gratitude also for how zen has opened up Christianity long after ‘I’ had convinced myself of its failure. And, yes, this is not the practice of Christianity in the dwindling congregations of the West, but the extraordinary ‘giving’ that wells up from out of the source, the ‘ebullitio’ of Mesiter Echkart, the endless flow of form from emptiness and thence back to emptiness from form.
The nothingness beyond God proffers the joyous responsibility of freedom and the recognition that the path of zen is the path of mysticism is the path of philosophy, and that, therefore, the Buddha is the Christ is the Übermensch.
This saying says only this.