Utter Transcendence

One of the dominant themes in Boehme’s writings is the utter transcendence of God: His existence outside time and space, inaccessible to all human thought, ineffable by any human tongue.

What then is left which we can conceive of? Nothing is left, a nothing which Boehme calls the Ungrund, often translated into English by the word Abyss, a depth which has no end, a bottomless empty nothingness. …

This Ungrund can only be imagined and is the primal image of the unknowable entity who in traditional wisdom is not to be given a name but can only be announced as ‘I AM’.

Jacob Boehme (Western Esoteric Masters Series), edited and introduced by Robin Waterfield, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2001. pp. 26-27.



“For out of nature is God a Mysterium,  i.e. the Nothing; for from out of nature is the Nothing, which is an eye of eternity, a groundless eye, which stands nowhere nor sees, for it is the Ungrund and the selfsame eye is a will,  i.e. a longing for manifestation, to discern the Nothing”.  The Ungrund thus is the Nothing, the groundless eye of eternity, yet together with this it is will, without foundation, unfathomable and indeterminate will. But this — is a Nothing, which is … “an hunger to be something”. And together with this the Ungrund is freedom. Within the darkness of the Ungrund there is ablaze a fire and this is freedom, a freedom meonic with potential. According to Boehme, freedom is contrary to nature, but nature has issued forth from freedom. Freedom is a semblance of the Nothing, but from it issues something. The hunger of freedom, of the groundless will to something has to be satisfied: … “The Nothing loves to make itself manifest from out of freedom in the deathly darkness, for then the Nothing wills not to be the Nothing, and cannot be the Nothing” The freedom of the Ungrund is neither light, nor darkness, neither good, nor evil. Freedom lies within the darkness and thirsts for the light. And freedom is the cause of light. … “Freedom exists and is set within the darkness, and over against the dark desire is still yet the desire for light, it seizes the darkness with the eternal will; and the darkness aspires after the light of freedom and cannot attain it, for then it passes with desire over into itself, and attains in itself but to the darkness”.  … In the darkness there is kindled a fire and a glimmer of light, the Nothing comes to be something, the groundless freedom gives rise to nature.

Nikolai Berdyaev, Studies Concerning Jacob Boehme, 1930. ©  2002 by translator Fr. S. Janos. [original German text deleted from this quoted passage]