12/22/2016

Unmoved Mover

Aristotle said that God is "The Unmoved Mover" (ὃ οὐ κινούμενος κινεῖ).
Aristotle was actually describing the Witness, who is more inward to us than our very mind, ever silent and awake, shining through us in the midst of the busiest activity. The Unmoved Mover is pure Awareness.

When I was hanging out in Trappist monasteries in France we sang this ancient Latin hymn, 'Rerum Deus' by St. Ambrose, at interludes between hours of manual labor. Ambrose based his conception of God here on Aristotle's Unmoved Mover.


'O God, creation’s secret force,
Thyself unmoved, all motion’s source,
Who from the morn till evening ray
Through all its changes guid’st the day'

When Raphael painted Aristotle's Unmoved Mover on the wall of the Pope's apartment at the Vatican in 1518 (pictured above), he portrayed God as a woman, setting the wheel of the zodiac in motion. In the Biblical tradition, this Unmoved Mover and ever-silent Witness of action is Hochmah in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek. She is the feminine divine, the womb of creativity.

May all of us find the immovable silence at the center of our turning; for great music, great poetry, great acts of peace making, come from that stillness. This is my prayer for the new year.

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