Hermann Häring and Johann Baptist Metz (eds.)

The Many Faces of the Divine

Review by Kim Young Ju, 2002

Häring, Hermann; Metz, Johann Baptist; (eds.). The Many Faces of the Divine. London: SCM Press; Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1995.

As the title of this book implies, the author of this book openly pursues various perspectives on ultimate reality, by whatever name it is called.

He investigates the multiplicity of concepts, images and faces of God and the divine in the world religions, seeking primarily to describe, compare and indicate something of the inexhaustible multiplicity in Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, monotheism, and the doctrine of the threefold God.

Tao (translated as “Way” in Western languages), as an impersonal principle and a central concept in the ancient Chinese interpretation of the world, cannot be compared with the ideas of God in the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). Anyone who goes in search of Tao must give up any idea of wanting to get knowledge about Tao.

In Hinduism, the unity of the divine consciousness and its freedom as the ‘supreme self’ constitutes the supreme sphere of divine being. If the divine consciousness becomes ‘I’, it is necessarily related to its creative power (sakti).

In Zen, the pivotal point is in the emptying of the ego-consciousness, casting off that mode of thinking that divides our being into subject and object, see-er and seen, hearer and heard, thinker and thought, and so forth. However, this state should not be mistaken for absent-mindedness, absolute passivity, or loss of consciousness.

To recover one’s original ‘Face’ is to realize oneself at the very bosom of this faceless, triune Reality with every breath, at every moment of one’s life.

According to Christian belief, God has sunk into the world and can be experienced as immediate presence. God stands over against the world and can be addressed as a personal ‘You’. God constantly takes new form in human beings and their history. So the divine must be understood as ‘You’, as Spirit that has a history and has become concrete in it.