Transcendence (religion)

Transcendence (religion)

In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of (and removed from) the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways. In religious experience transcendence is a state of being that has overcome the limitations of physical existence and by some definitions has also become independent of it. It is typically manifested in prayer, séance, meditation, psychedelics and paranormal "visions". It is affirmed in the concept of the divine in the major religious traditions, and contrasts with the notion of God, or the Absolute, existing exclusively in the physical order (immanentism), or indistinguishable from it (pantheism). Transcendence can be attributed to the divine not only in its being, but also in its knowledge. Thus, God transcends the universe, but also transcends knowledge (is beyond the grasp of the human mind). Although transcendence is defined as the opposite of immanence, the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Some theologians and metaphysicians of the great religious traditions affirm that God, or Brahman, is both within and beyond the universe (panentheism); in it, but not of it; simultaneously pervading it and surpassing it.


View by religion

Baha'i Faith

Bahá'ís believe in a single, imperishable God, the creator of all things, including all the creatures and forces in the universe.[1] God is described as "a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty."[2] Though inaccessible directly, God is nevertheless seen as conscious of his creation, with a mind, will and purpose. Bahá'ís believe that God expresses this will at all times and in many ways, including through a series of divine messengers referred to as Manifestations of God or sometimes divine educators.[3] In expressing God's intent, these manifestations are seen to establish religion in the world. Bahá'í teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully comprehend, nor to create a complete and accurate image.[4]


In Buddhism — "transcendence", by definition, belongs to the mortal beings of the formless realms of existence. However, although such beings are at 'the peak' of Samsara, Buddhism considers the development of transcendence to be both temporary and a spiritual cul-de-sac, which therefore does not eventuate a permanent cessation of Samsara. This assertion was a primary differentiator from the other Sramana teachers during Gautama Buddha's own training and development.[5]

Alternatively, in the various forms of Buddhism — Theravada, Mahayana (especially Pure Land and Zen) and Vajrayana — the notion of transcendence sometimes includes a soteriological application. Except for Pure Land and Vajrayana , the role played by transcendent beings is minimal and at most a temporary expedient. However some Buddhists believe that Nirvana is an eternal, transcendental state beyond name and form, so for these Buddhists, Nirvana is the main concept of transcendence. The more usual interpretation of Nirvana in Buddhism is that it is a cessation - a permanent absence of something (namely suffering), and therefore it is not in any way a state which could be considered transcendent.