That which has no form cannot be conceived – and vice versa. It’s easy to see that this is so when we try to think of what a square circle is like, or a four-sided triangle.
But, let’s talk about God.
To put the same thing another way: that than which no greater can be conceived by any mind cannot be conceived by any mind. If that than which no greater can be conceived could be conceived by any mind, then that mind would insofarforth understand how its conception of that thing could be surpassed, and would realize that in conceiving of it he had not yet quite conceived of that than which no greater can be conceived. He would realize that he had not been thinking of the unsurpassable. He would, i.e., realize that he had been thinking, not of God, but rather of something like Gaunilo’s Island, than which always some greater island might be conceived.
So, here’s the shocking consequence of these considerations: Not even God can conceive himself.
God transcends conception as such. He is himself greater than any concept of him – even his own. This is what we mean by calling him to apeiron, ain sof, the Unlimited.
His conception of things – his Logos – is in virtue of his prior actuality. He first acts (not in the order of time, but of logic); then, his only begotten Son understands his act – which is the Son’s own act – which, i.e., is as much the act of the Son as of the Father. Not that the act and the understanding thereof – which is itself an act – are separate, or disparate. They come along together as a package deal, together with the Holy Spirit’s understanding that the Logos has understood the Father, and his own understanding of them both, and of their relations. The Persons then are all three together one act; no one of them could have happened completely without all three of them.
The Logos, then, and the Holy Spirit in whom the Life of God subsists, are both implicit in the Father.
And vice versa. He is implicit in them, and could not be without them. The Father could not be Father without the Son, and ergo the Holy Ghost, in whose collection their threefold communion subsists, and is delivered to the other Two, thereby completing them.
God is inconceivable, even to himself. So then is his exploration of himself as endless and as boundless and as sempiternal as our own exploration of him – the difference being that, whereas the creaturely exploration of God is never completable – so that life everlasting is then vouchsafed to us – his exploration of himself is, in virtue of his eternity, always complete. It does not end, of course, because if it did, God would not be eternal. So it is always lively. It is an active enjoyment. Nevertheless is it complete.
To say that God cannot be conceived even by himself is an aspect of the fact that God cannot come to be, and does not exist, but rather simply and eternally is. He does not decide to form himself according to some merely conceptual ideal form, and then go ahead and form himself that way, and then proceed to be in that way. Rather, he just is the way that he is. All forms of being follow and depend upon his being.
The Suprapersonal Godhead is the Form of God, and has itself therefore no form. It is the Principle of Formation, of Formity. But just as numeration has itself no number, so the Form of forms per se can have itself no form. This is what Maimonides was talking about when he wrote that God is formless.
The formlessness of the Suprapersonal Godhead is the reason that the Persons dwell in and issue from light inaccessible, hid from our eyes even in the BV. The light is inaccessible, not because our eyes cannot see it, but because – like the darkness – we cannot comprehend it.
We cannot enter that Light. But it can enter us.