April 14th, 1982, Serial No. 00993

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Monastic Spirituality, Set 7 of 12

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And we saw how if we follow this theme, it goes into the core of not only the monastic life, but in some way the Christian life. It gets right into the theological core of our life itself, and so it's not just one thing among others. Like so many of these themes, you can follow it into the center. Today I think we can finish up the discourse, which won't take very long, and then look at some other sources on the same subject, because what this thing is, is a key to where we're at. It's a key to where we're at in our spiritual journey, or in our Christian journey. To what extent we're compelled to judge other people, and to what extent we're able to forgive them. And somehow the whole propagation of the Christian reality rests on this. Remember how Jesus, in the second appearance in the Gospel of John, he appears on resurrection


day to the disciples, and breathes on them, and says, Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven. As if this is the way that the resurrection is transmitted, is through the breathing of the Holy Spirit, and then through the forgiveness of sins. As if he breathes into them the very spirit of forgiveness, and that's the way that Christianity, that's the way that salvation is to be imparted to the world. And insofar as we are not able to breathe that forgiveness onto other people, or even to breathe it in ourselves, we're not in the kingdom. That's a kind of abrupt way of talking about it. And of course we are in the kingdom, and we're not in the kingdom at the same time. Sometimes it's as if our head is in the kingdom and the rest of us is not, and sometimes it's as if our feet are in the kingdom and our head is out of it, every most often. And we know that we have grace in us, and we have salvation in us, even when seemingly we don't seem to be able to live according to it in any complete way, just in a kind


of minimal way, playing along by not committing grave sins. We've got as far as page 136, I'm not going to review the subject today because it's clear enough. How can we put up with these things? That is, how can we put up with judging in this way, in ourselves, with this compulsion to judge in us? It's because we have no true love. If we have true love with sympathy, I forget what I meant by that, sympathy, I think if we have true love and pathos, I think it would be a kind of a passionate desire for reconciliation, and patient labor, we won't go around scrutinizing our labor shortcomings. And then he quotes two New Testament passages. The first one we talked about last time, 1 Peter 4, 8, love covers a multitude of sins,


which works both ways, both in the person who is loved, the person who is forgiven, and the person who loves. It's like a tide that covers sins. And covers... and sin, after all, always has this consequence in the dimension, the interpersonal dimension, so it's like the tide that rises and covers up both ends of this thing. And then the other quote is from 1 Corinthians 13, which is a very important one, so I want to read a little more of it. It's in that great hymn of St. Paul on love, in the short chapter, 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Remember, love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Do you notice how there's a consistent thread through all of these expressions that St. Paul is piling one on top of the other? He's saying the same thing, different aspects of the same thing. Love is patient and kind, to be patient means to bear things. Love is not jealous or boastful, somehow it doesn't have this leaven in it which insists on its own and which is continually rising, either in assertion or in resistance. Not arrogant or rude, love does not insist on its own way, it's not irritable. When St. Paul says, purge out the old leaven, that's what he means, like a leaven, the old leaven is helpful, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrong. What does it mean to rejoice at wrong? It means to rejoice at somebody else's downfall, to rejoice at somebody else's misfortune, to be pleased when somebody else sins. And there's a sneaky little thing in this that does exactly that, it's horrible, but to take pleasure in somebody, in another person's misfortune, even a person that's close to


us, or in the present case, take pleasure at finding somebody in the wrong. And if we consider, well, that's me and I'm doing that, we can despair. If we say, well, that's something in me that's doing it, it's something else. Does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, bears things that are put upon us by others, believes all things, hopes all things and does all things. If we have true love, that very love should screen anything of this kind, as did the saints when they saw the shortcomings of men. Were they blind? Not at all. They simply would not let their eyes dwell on sins. Who hated sin more than the saints, but they did not hate the sinners? That's the key. Somehow this business, we're continually in this problem. Well, fraternal correction is necessary on one side, okay, and we have to be attached inseparably to the truth, to the light, for ourselves and also for others in some way. The sort of prophetic spirit should be able to speak within a community, for instance.


It should not be quenched, suppressed. And yet, on the other hand, we're not even supposed to judge our brother. How do we manage that? You see the Desert Fathers leaning way over on one side, usually, about not judging at all. And on the other hand, we know that if you let fraternal correction go, and if you never give a person the light, it's almost worse than anything. Everything tends to fall apart. Because we're meant to be, in some way, prophets and teachers to one another, to correct one another. So we'll get into that in more detail later. Here, sort of, we bounce back and forth from one side to the other. It's not a systematic treatment of it. And the emphasis is all on not judging, because obviously that's the problem that's there. Probably it's a matter of leaving judgment to... leaving correction to the superior, or something like that, in the context of Delphi. And he uses the example of the fisherman for the way that the Fathers would deal with people. Not trying to haul them into the boat right away.


Not insisting, that is. By force, that is, that they straighten out immediately. By giving them rope, giving them a line, letting them come back freely in their own time. The key there is freedom, isn't it? Giving the other person space. Giving the other person a space of freedom, rather than insisting that they conform immediately to what we see as the truth. Even when we're right. Even when we're right. Allows the fish to run freely. But when he feels the line slacken in the first rows of Conrad, he takes up his slack line and begins fiddling with it. That's beautiful. Sounds like Saint Benedict, even though Saint Benedict doesn't get that poetic. But the idea of persuasion rather than force. So the Holy Fathers, by patience and love, draw the brother and do not spurn him nor show themselves unfriendly towards him. But notice that all the time they have no doubt about the truth of the situation. They have no doubt about what sin is and what virtue is.


As a mother who has an unruly son does not hate him or turn away from him but rules him with sweetness and sometimes does mix cookies with him. So they always protect him and keep him in order and they gain a hold on him. That business about gaining your brother. Remember that expression in the Gospel. Then he gives the example of Abba Ammon. This example, it seems to recur everywhere. Remember the lady in the Old Testament that swiped the idols from her father's house? Who was it? Was it Rebecca or Rachel or something? She sat on him. She was pregnant and she sat on him. I don't think it was her. And so, when the father came searching, I think it was Laban and Rebecca. And so, there's a young woman in Berlux. There was really faith in those days because who would have... Who would have? With his big barrel sitting on top of him.


Who would have? And so, credulous. And so, dismissing them in disgrace, he said, May God forgive you. There's something there that we can't quite accept. It's something that we sort of have to choke on and gulp on before we can swallow. About the rightness of the Abbas condemning their judging the brother when they were right. What is it? It's all right to say, well, you shouldn't condemn him. It's another thing to say that that didn't happen. It is to take somebody's perception of truth away from the sublimity. Basically, you have to have at least this important thing to deal about the thief. I mean, you've got to have enough to go on remorse and let him out of jail. Yeah, yeah. It seems like they have a morality here that you have to resist them when they're wrong. That's right. It's like a different kind of truth. It's a different conception of truth.


And you find that there's a different notion in the old days also about lying. That they didn't have this absolute kind of scientific notion of truth, that you couldn't violate the sort of empirical truth. But you could, you know, for a higher truth or something like that. Truth was that they had a kind of relativity. It was Einstein before Einstein. They had a relativity of truth so that there was kind of a level of densities of truth. Which is very tricky. St. Augustine, you find the same thing. You've got a treatise on mendacium, on lying. And then a lot of those cases in the Old Testament, which we tend to read figuratively, and some of them are mental. Because they're legends. Some of them have still been real historical happenings. That's right. The truth is there, you see. But it has to take a second spell.


An example like this is a tough one. A real, you know, presumably real sin or something like that, if you want to call it out. Right? But there, notice, the sin is not denied. Okay? He didn't cover up her guilt. Presumably she was guilty. He didn't cover it up. He just said, go sin no more. And he didn't even cover it up to the others. He said, who's going to condemn her? But the sin somehow, which he acknowledges to her, it doesn't... Because the others knew it anyway. He didn't have to say, all right, she has sinned. Because they knew it. They'd never even caught it. But he recalls it to her. He says, okay, you sinned. Now, sin no more. But he said, who will be the first to condemn her, the person? Nobody. And he didn't do it. That's the distinction. It's a very hard question. Actuality. In this case, we don't know whether it was converted. The barrel had been poured water over it.


It broke off through the barrel. Let us therefore strive to gain this love for ourselves. Let us acquire this tenderness towards our neighbor. The word tenderness, it was splanked in the air. It has a very visceral sense to it. It's like a Jewish word. Let us help one another as we are members of one another. One of the fathers is asked, should I forgive my brother when he sins against me repeatedly? And he said, what would you do if you had a garment which had a tear in it? Would you throw it out? Or would you patch it up? And he said, well, of course I'd patch it up. He said, well, doesn't your brother mean more to you than the garment? And here it's stronger because he's talking about the body. We're members of one. It was very hard. So if you got a hurt on your body, you wouldn't have to take the number. If we are one body, each is a member of the other.


If one member suffers, all the others suffer with it. Now, here the translation needs maybe to be clarified a little bit. What does our synovium, or its koinobios, mean, the common life? And actually, the French translation is, what are our monasteries? What do our monasteries mean? Because synovium, of course, is monastery. So what he says are, what are our synovium? What are our communities? What is their meaning? And the continuity, the sense being, don't you understand that they are one body, and that each of the monks is... All of the monks are members of one body. See, koinobios and koinonia is a continuity between the two. It's supposed to be the same thing. The Komi is called the monastery itself, called the brotherhood, the holy koinonia. And where is the more general term?


The koinobion. Those in charge of the head, those in charge of the character, those in charge... This image is taken from Saint Paul, talking about the church. So here's the ecclesial model of the church. And according to this edition, that image comes actually from the monastery, first in Saint Basil. Saint Basil is the monastic father who is the most ecclesial, as far as I can see. For him, the monastic life is on the model of the church, and derives its meaning from the church. Whereas most of the other monks are not that way. Somebody like Evagrius being the real stand-in for the church, as far as he's concerned, is going to exist. And then these different missions. Matter of teaching and putting the word of God into the heart of the brotherhood. Sounds like that's the way Luke talks about the word in that ministry. Consoling, giving a hand with work and helping.


The more one is united to his neighbor, the more he's united to God. And then he gives that example of the circle, the compass in the circle, which is a kind of... It may seem like a banal example, because we've seen it so many times. But it's beautiful, it's true. And remember the center that we've been talking about. Now he's got the same geometry here that Panakop has. That is, God is at the center. In our terms, God. And at the periphery is the world. And our lives run between the center and the periphery. Like the spokes of a wheel. Between the hub, the center, which is God. And which is really, who is really interior to us. Whatever we mean by that. We don't really mean that he's inside our bodies, but he is. But we don't mean that he's just at a point inside our bodies. Even though sometimes he can seem to be that. But that's a way... We need a geometrical way, we need an image, a pattern. And that's a kind of permanently valid model.


There's an inside and there's an outside. And there's a variation in depth, and in density, and in meaning, and in worth. And a concentration at the center. The center point is the same distance from any point on the circumference. It says, concentrate your minds on what is to be seen. See the pearl in your brows. The circle is the world, and God himself is the center. The straight lines, okay? To the degree that the saints enter into the things of the spirit, they desire to come nearer to God. And in proportion to their progress in the things of the spirit, they do in fact come close to God and to their neighbor. Looking for a source for this. The other addition there actually quotes Evagrius. But in Evagrius, it's not love, it's gnosis. That is, the saints are one in their gnosis, in their knowledge of God, in their contemplation rather than in love. Maybe it was obvious for him that they were all together in the love of God. The closer they are to God, the closer they become to one another, and the closer they


are to one another, the closer they become to God. Suppose maybe that also the closer they become to themselves, right? Because the circle is ourselves in some way, and as we approach the center, we approach God, we approach the center of ourselves, so that we somehow are one with ourselves. You know, we can be separated from ourselves, split in ourselves, at war with ourselves, out of connection with ourselves, out of contact with ourselves, or we can be one with ourselves. Merton writes a lot about this kind of thing, when he writes about finding your true self as you find God, actually in the same discovery. Now, consider in the same context the question of separation. But when they stand away from God in terms of external things, actually it's the external world, they become more distant from God. This is the very nature of love. The more we are turned away from and do not love God, the greater the distance that separates us from our neighbor. It's obvious enough that there are depths underneath that that can be explored, and


you can go on with a kind of metaphysic of love, in which as we find God, we find our own center, and we love no longer somebody outside of ourselves. That is, there's this guy, Johann, that wrote a book called The Metaphysics of Love. It's a beautiful thing. And he distinguishes what he calls direct love from – I forget what he calls the other term – but there's a love which is between you and something that's outside of yourself, which is fulfilling a need of yours, okay? And in that love you're always needed, and you're never full. It's like moving from potency to act in terms of Aristotle. There's a love which is a hungry love, is a needy love, is never satisfied, always is continually further frustrating ourselves. There's always a condensation of a desire. And there's another kind of love by which we really are in act in the center of ourselves. We've found the center of ourselves somehow, and we love without that kind of leaning outside onto something else, without that kind of insatiable hunger, and therefore there's


a fulfillment in this love. And it's more like a sharing, it's more like an overlapping or intermingling or sharing of beings than it is like one being trying to gobble up another one. He calls that direct love, and it's based on, actually it's based on the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas. It's one of those parts of Aquinas that you don't find written about very often, but which are most important. And the notion of pure being is somehow at your own core, and how being, knowledge, and love are one in that place, and it's no longer a question of need, it's a question of the sharing, the sharing of personal beings in the one being which is the center and which is God. Q. Is it still experienced as other? A. There's still an experience as other, yeah. Just as when we experience God, even though we are one with him, we're still experiencing


as other, because we move forward into him, in a sense. And in the experience of God, it's always going to be as other, even while it's in some way as self. Okay, that's the mystery of the Trinity somewhat, and that's the reconciliation of that problem, ultimately, in Christianity. Christianity so often appears to be dualistic, you love God as out there, but ultimately we love him as ourselves and as another face, too, and that's the beauty, that's the richness of it. Q. I have to think about that now, because being is, I don't think they use it, some of them do, like Maximus the Confessor, yeah, they were, they were, but in Thomas Aquinas it comes from Aristotle, so it comes from another tract.


Now, apostasies as a person, generally they get to theology much more quickly, but I don't want to generalize there, because it's just not Christian, and there are many of them, and so it's difficult, it's dangerous to generalize. They don't use the same, they don't make the same use of being as Thomas Aquinas does. In fact, he arrives at a kind of insight which is unique, which goes beyond anything that orthodoxy has, even though it puts you in a place where you can also lose what orthodoxy has, that's the trouble, because it pulls out of the word, in a sense, into this realm of pure being, and from there you can fall clear out of the Christian scheme, or you can kind of give it a transcendent quality, a universal quality with which it can relate to everything else. So it's kind of a peak which is risky, and at the same time precious in Thomas Aquinas. At this point it's not risky, where he's talking about love, and it so obviously fits right into the reality of Christ, because Christ is the one who somehow welds this together


at the core, and makes it possible for us to know God in a personal way. Not only that interior knowledge, as you have in the Eastern spiritualities, knowing God as the God of being, as we're sort of sinking into him, and in him finding everything else, but in the mystery of the Trinity, knowing God also face to face in some way, as the Jews knew him in the Old Testament, but more immediately, as the apostles knew Jesus in the New Testament, but more immediately than that, because it's the glorified one, and we only see it darkly now. We have that double knowledge, the knowledge as other, the knowledge that the bride has of the bridegroom, or even vice versa in some way, but at the same time the knowledge right in the centre of ourself as our own being, as if he's the rock of our own being. And insofar as we find that, then somehow we can love others not as separate from ourselves, but as being fundamentally one, one at the base, one at the core, with ourselves.


And if we really arrived at that right in our bones, then we wouldn't have that fear anymore that makes us church people. But this is a kind of understanding that you find everywhere. It's not exclusive to Christianity, this thing about the ground, you know, about moving into that cosmic unity. But Christianity brings a new fullness into it, with the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world, a new fullness, a new power, and a kind of dynamism moves out gradually like a wave until it involves the whole world in some way. Cassian brings up this thing of the compass, we'll find that. I just happened to stumble across it because in his book of Joe Grove it occurs. I'd forgotten what it was. But he uses it in another context about the circle around the centre, and the centre there is God, and it's a matter of recollection that he's talking about.


He's not talking about... I don't think he's talking about approaching your brothers. Just for fun I'll find it now, because... It's in this edition of Cassian on page 534. It's the conference of Abbot Abraham on mortification. Now, this is typical of Cassian. Cassian, what he's interested in is keeping their mind and their heart on God. So, he's not concerned as far as he's here with his brothers. I just put this and bring this in as something of interest. Wherefore, a monk's whole attention should thus be fixed on one point, and the rise and circle of all his thoughts be vigorously restricted to it. That is the recollection of God. As one a man who is anxious to raise on high the vault of a round arch, must constantly draw a line round from its exact centre. You're making an arch, he compares his vision. And in accordance with the sure standard it gives, discovered by the laws of building,


all the evenness and roundness requires. But if you try to build it without finding its centre, even no matter how much skill you have, it's impossible for him to keep the circumference even, without any error, or to find out, simply by looking at it, how much he has taken off by his mistake, from the beauty of real roundness. So also our mind, unless by working round the love of the Lord alone, has an immovably fixed centre, through all the circumstances of our works and contrivances, that either fits or rejects the character of all our thoughts by the excellent compasses, if I may say, of love, will never by excellent skill build up the structure of that spiritual edifice of which Paul is the architect. And then he goes on to the other houses and schools. The temple he's talking about, and the temple here is not square but round, and the only thing in a sense that you need in order to build a temple is to get the centre in the right place. Eckhart says the same thing, he says, what's really important in drawing a circle is getting the centre in the right place. Get the centre in the right place and stay with it.


Cassian is saying you have to stay with it, you have to remain fixed in it. It's the same as that first conference he gives. You're fixed in an immovable point. Will without foresight raise in his heart a house that is not beautiful and is unworthy of the Holy Ghost. Here's the temple thing here, and the centre thing. The temple is the centre. One that will presently fall and so will receive no glory from the reception of the blessed inhabitant who will be miserably destroyed by the fall of the building, and that recalls the Gospel. It's a different context. He's not talking about your brother, but he's talking about God as the centre in the same way. Okay, that's a digression. In the measure that we pay attention and take care to carry out what we hear, God will always enlighten us and make us understand his will. In the measure that we do what we have understood, we will understand further, we'll be given further life and further grace. The next chapter is on self-accusation.


Pleasant topic for the rest of time. We'll get into it next time. It would be good to read that. It's not very long. It's obviously related to this one. Now, I wanted to look at Joe Brough's book, this book, A Transformed Mind and Heart. I still haven't received the other copies. We'll get them when I'm done teaching. He's writing about living in community, and particularly in terms of the problem of judging, the problem of how we think about one another, how we judge one another, and the problem of fraternal correction. So he's right in the area that we're talking about. And this is a contemporary version, a contemporary study of it. He starts out getting everything he can from the scriptures, especially from the New Testament.


And then he gets some things from the Desert Fathers, then he goes to Aquinas, then he picks up some things from recent church documents on due process, you know, legal processes. And then he takes a couple of modern people, a psychologist or two, Ellis, who has this rational emotional emotive therapy, and then Lonergan, Lonergan on, I think, conversion. I don't want to oppress you with a lot of this, but just a few ideas. And I'd like to spend some time on that Matthew chapter 18. That's why I asked you to bring your Bible in today. That's the passage in scripture which he finds sort of richest and most conclusive for this question of both fraternal correction and of judgment and forgiveness. He starts out talking about the two qualities which he thinks are pivotal and most essential for this whole business, and one is vulnerability and the other is compassion. The term vulnerability is not always an attractive one to us because, of course,


vulnerability means wound, so it's the capacity to be wounded. But we can translate it into another term which is openness, really. The openness which enables us to be hurt, but it's not as if we were out to get hurt. It's not as if we were priding ourselves on the degree to which we get hurt. That's not the goal. He doesn't mention it, but he talks about the Holy Spirit, vulnerability. He forgot that the Holy Spirit is the most important. And now he's thinking it would be interesting to turn that in. Yeah, yeah. Bring it up a little later, okay, when I get to it. I'm trying to remember. Because think of the Holy Spirit now. Where is its vulnerability? It says, don't grieve the Holy Spirit, okay? And there's something about grieving the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. But the point about the Holy Spirit is that it doesn't take up any space, in a sense, it doesn't push anything out, and it's not visible.


So that, as it were, you can grieve the Holy Spirit and not be conscious of it. The Holy Spirit is, in a sense, like water, which is always there patiently, ever present, and which therefore is terrifically abused because people don't give it its due, don't pay attention. It's its invisibility and that loneness of the Holy Spirit and the all-fillingness of the Holy Spirit that seem to make it God's vulnerability, in a sense, okay? But this is something which we're almost completely unaware of. And if we try to think about it, we get into some kind of a devotional bond. We get over-sentimental if we try to think about that kind of thing. So it's very difficult, unless God gives us an insight as to that reality. Okay, a vulnerability which is openness. And then the key to this question, he says, is in what he calls our scriptural identity. He's coming out of a context of a charismatic community, so you can expect some of the language to be of that kind. And the book is very rich, but it's not exactly charming.


It's not written with a lot of beauty, but he's got a lot of good stuff in it. Now, this business about the scriptural identity, the business of judging, where it comes from, our need to judge is because we don't know who we are, okay? So we're trying to hang on to some kind of identity which is unreal. And as long as we're grabbing on to that plank, as long as we're clutching at that straw, we're going to be thrashing around, in a sense, in the water. And our thrashing is our judging. It's that compulsive need to judge others in order to keep afloat ourselves. Now, remember that Course in Miracles that Father Louis mentioned the other day? I guess that was a recreation on Monday night. That's a kind of an attempt at a, what do you call it, a Christian psychology, but it's supposed to have been received almost primarily, received by inspiration, not quite automatic writing or something like that. The whole thing was dictated by the Lord. Yeah. Yeah.


It was written down by this, I think, a lady psychologist, and then somebody else helped her to get it together and publish it. That's an enormous thing. The books were two big volumes and then another smaller one, a teacher's novel. That's a beautiful thing. That's marvelous. And so much truth in it. It has certain gaps, however, which make it, you have to look at it carefully in certain spots. Now, the basis of the whole thing is forgiveness. I don't want to talk too much about it, because it's been a time since I read about it. I was into that a little earlier, but now I haven't been close to it. The basis of the whole thing is forgiveness, and the key to all our troubles, according to the Course in Miracles, is that we don't really believe in forgiveness, or we have a false sense of identity which consists in thinking of ourselves as being separate from God, and therefore separate from one another. Okay? Separate from God. Now, this is very close to Eastern traditions, this business of the separate ego not existing, and the ego being an illusion, and therefore our whole problem isn't considering ourselves to be separate


and therefore somehow perishable and threatened beings, and guilty beings, that's the key. So forgiveness, for the Course in Miracles, seems to be the liberation from that illusion that we are separate and therefore guilty, and therefore the ability, on the other hand, to forgive, to forgive others. Okay? So that when we get into this stream of forgiveness ourselves, find our oneness with God, then almost as God we're able to forgive others. And we forgive others not really for what they've done to us, but, as he says, for what they haven't done to us, because they can't really do anything to us, because we're not really fragile and threatenable beings in that way. There's a whole lot of truth in it. The weak spots, I think... There are two weak spots in it. One of them is this presumption that forgiveness is there, and that... I don't want to say you have to earn it, but you don't have to go anywhere even to get it.


It is, as you are, you are forgiven, period. And your only problem is to understand that you are forgiven. Then the other weak spot is hooked up with this, being a kind of gnostic tendency, that sin and guilt are only illusion. They're no more than something in the mind, okay? So, if the whole world would wake up to the fact that it's not guilty, then everything would be fine. I'm probably abusing the thing, because, as I say, I'm deeply studying the paper. But those are the dangerous parts there. And they seem okay until you go a long ways with it, and then, obviously, some things are left out, which are pretty important. The whole thing of repentance is you can get short-circuited. If you feel that you never have to repent, but you only have to wake up to the fact that you're already forgiven, there's a bypass of repentance, you see what I mean? A bypass. Which is not the way of the Gospel.


At the same time, there's a lot of valuable truth in it. I don't want to spend a lot of time on that. Now, if you have any questions about it, we can talk more about it in the future sometime. We can pass on it to you. The obstacles to... He says we have to have a new mind. A new mind renewed in the Holy Spirit. The obstacles to receiving others are obstacles to receiving the Spirit. And the chief obstacles are fears. And this is the same as the Course in Miracles. Our obstacles are guilt and the fear that that guilt generates. Sin, guilt, those words are not acceptable in the religion. Everybody turns away from them. It's okay to use a new language as long as you keep all the truth. You can translate as long as you...


You do the same thing. As long as you translate everything. That's right. And as long as God retains his rights and his freedom, sort of. But when we start appropriating God and saying, Ah, we've got it all right now. Even by some kind of law of forgiveness, we've sort of appropriated God. We've found the handling. Then it goes off the track. Whenever we try to rope God into our lives. Because even humans feel free and free to act directly. And expectations are the basis of judgments, but we'll get a little further into that later. And then this question of paternal correction, what it is. In correcting people, he says there are three levels of openness. This is kind of interesting. I like anything with numbers. Page 62. Then he's got a three-fold scheme for working problems, I think. In our community experience, we've come to distinguish three levels of openness.


One of the benefits of this thing is that it does... A lot of it comes out of the experience of the community over about seven or eight years of this, working out problems. And it's real stuff for that reason. Each level has a different implications for how we approach a person with paternal correction. The ideal level is when a person is open and appreciative. He is not only open to having things brought into the light, but is also truly appreciative when they're brought out. He knows his need for support. He desires to draw closer to others through this need and is secure enough not to be threatened by it. Bringing things into the light is a normal part of his brother-sister relationships through which he is able to continually grow. Okay, now here's a person who is willing to hear and he also reacts favorably. So it's like you've got two levels. One is the level of the mind. Either I want to listen to you, I'm willing to listen to what you have to say to me in the way of correction, or I'm not. I may say, forget it, I don't want to hear from you. But on the other hand, I can listen and yet I can either react,


I can move towards it and say, thank you, you know, from my heart, or I can really close up after I've heard it and say, well, no, I've heard that before, or I know that, but that's not real. That's coming from you, or that's your own problem, or something like that. There's two levels. The level of listening, and then the level of accepting. On the next level is the person who is open yet resistant. Now, see, we could quarrel with his words because we might want to use the word open in these different people. This is what he's using. He's open to correction, wants things to be brought to the light, but it's hard for him. He feels resistant, so his emotional level doesn't go along with his intellectual level. Resistant, uptight, threatened, defensive, annoyed, or upset. One another mentions his weaknesses. While wanting honest feedback, he also resists it. You see the people who say, I want to hear everything, I mean, tell me everything, I'm completely open, and then you tell them just a little bitty thing and they won't speak to you for three weeks. There are people like that. This person, the nearest thing, then, that challenges,


because that whole thing about I'm completely open, what is that, you know? That's a pretense to perfection, okay? That's saying, I'm perfect, I'm completely open. And then as soon as you say anything to them that casts any shadow on their perfection, they let you have it. Because that thing is a claim to perfection, you see. The claim to perfect openness is a claim, sort of, you know, there's nothing wrong with me, or I excel in every dimension. This person needs to work through his feelings and come to a deeper security and understanding. And finally there's the person who is closed and resistant. He not only resists correction emotionally, but he also resists it in principle. He's closed to correction because it's too threatening to his false self-image. He prefers to stay in the dark. Attempting to help such a person work through his feelings is a frustrating experience because he has not fundamentally opted to be open. Now, this isn't going to come across in this way. A person who's like that's not going to say, I am closed to correction, is he?


What's he going to say? He's going to say something like, the second fellow's going to feel. He's going to say, well, that's your problem. And saying, well, I know where you're coming from. Or something like that. He's going to have some good reason for not listening. It's not going to be just a refusal to listen. Because we can't live with just a refusal to listen. Unless we're really used to being in kind of the dark house with ourselves. We can't do that. We can't look at ourselves. Such a person needs clear, honest feedback. The truth spoken to him in love which confronts him to the consequences of his choice. And that's why. So you have to relate to these people differently. Then he takes these New Testament texts on judging. I don't want to go through all of them. But it's important to realize that judging can mean two things. And we have to... These two things sort of mark


the two ends of the spectrum, of the horizon. Judging can mean condemning somebody. And that, of course, we're not supposed to do. Or judging can mean discerning what's happening, okay? Now, we have to know what's going on. We have to discern what's happening. Some of the Desert Fathers would say, well, no, you shouldn't even notice this. If your brother sins, you shouldn't even be aware of it. But we have to be very careful with that. I think we have to accept in principle that we need to be aware of what's going on. At least in the world that's supposed to be our world. Now, there's another world, a little beyond that world, which we enter into by curiosity or pride or asking questions. In other words, poking our nose into something that we don't really need to be interested in. We don't need to know what's going on there. But in the world which is our own world, which is rightfully our world and which we move in the monastery state, we really need to be able to know what's going on. We need to be able to discern. But from time to time, our responsibility in that way is going to vary. Sometimes we should just mind our own business, okay?


And sometimes we should be concerned with a group, concerned with a community situation. And therefore, we should be spotting something that's going on and saying, well, how is this going to get straightened out? You see what I mean? Responsibility varies. But in principle, we rightly should have our eyes open about what's going on. And you know what I mean by what's going on. What's good or bad, on the meaningful level. Are things going well or not? Is something happening that shouldn't be there? That's right. When he talks about the beam in your own eye and the speck in your brother's eye,


he's saying, why are you ready to pounce on me? You know, something like that. He's not saying that you should be totally blind to what's going on. That comes out in other places. It comes out in Matthew 18, for instance, where he says, if your brother sins, why don't you go and confront him? Okay, Matthew chapter 18 is the critical passage here. And the whole chapter is on this area. It's very interesting. I hadn't noticed it until this book of Joe Bro. He puts it more or less all in the context of judging and correction and so on. I think we have to say it's broader than that. If you've read about St. Matthew's Gospel, you'll know that there are five big discourses in it, five big sermons in it. And the first one is the best known. It's the Sermon on the Mount, chapters 3 through 7. And there's a second one, which is the missionary sermon, where he tells them, you know, I send you out. Don't carry too much baggage.


How are they to go on their missionary journey? The third one is the parables of the kingdom. Remember that chapter 13 with all of those beautiful parables in it? About the kingdom. Now, each of these is very systematically arranged in Matthew. It's not like they just happen that way. We usually don't wake up to this for a long while, but some things are very carefully put together. Then the fourth one is chapter 18, which is called the Sermon on the Church, or the Ecclesial Discourse. And then the final one is the one on the last things, the Eschatological Discourse, and that's in chapters 24 and 25. We're only interested in this one here. Now, this one is all about, this chapter is all about relations with one another in the Church. It's easy for us to stumble on it and just think that it happens in different places, but the rest of it just belongs to St. Matthew. It's only in this Gospel. Now, the question... Excuse me. This is Matthew's early Church. Oh, sure. He's on the bottom of the horizon.


Yeah. These things together. I see. Now, the exegetes will vary in how much they attribute to the community itself. Some of them will say, well, Matthew wrote this, and then the community added this one. No, they don't. But Matthew was in the community, and so he put it together for the community, too. That's kind of general. Now, the question here is how much continuity to seek between these various things. These various passages, a lot of which don't seem to have anything to do with one another at first sight. How much do they have to do with one another? Because I counted 13 different things in chapter 18 of St. Matthew. How much do they have to do with one another, and what is the principle of continuity? What is the thread that runs through and ties them all together? And are they like beads on a string? I think they are, in a way. And it's worthwhile digging out the continuity. The best I could find that it's like this. The question is, the kingdom of God is like this.


This is what your relations with one another need to be like in the kingdom. Okay? And then it goes down to the different kinds of relationships. The first relationship is a relationship of rank, of superior and inferior. The question is, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And he says, he takes a child and puts him in the middle, as a pattern, as a model. He begins with this living model of the child and he ends up with a parable of the two servants, the king and the two servants. And it's as if this is going to set the image for everything else that's to happen. Where Brough talks about your scriptural identity, this child in some way represents that point of identity and how it reverses our notions of superior and inferior. Because he says, whoever is like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Unless you turn and become like children, you'll never enter the kingdom of heaven. Remember what he says to Nicodemus in St. John? He says, unless you're born again of water and the Spirit, you'll never enter the kingdom.


Notice the resemblance. There's a question about, well, what's it like in the kingdom? Have I got it right? Or how is it in the kingdom? He says, unless, unless, unless, you'll never see the kingdom. In other words, your view is a view outside the kingdom and you have to have a whole different view if you're going to even enter the kingdom. And the model for that different view is the child. Now, what is it about the child? Well, he says, whoever humbles himself like this child, he's the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. But is it just a matter of humbling oneself? What does that mean? There's something about the child. The child is open. The child doesn't have a whole bunch of presuppositions. He hasn't got it all figured out. It's not how he's open to what is happening. And I think that's the biggest key there. But also the child depends on somebody else. The child is in, he's not autonomous. He's somebody's child. Now this, in a sense, both have a sense of identity and a sense of direction. That is, your relations with one another should be governed by the fact that you, all of you, are the children of God.


All of you are the sons of God. And therefore, you're equal in that way, as sons of God. You're equal in that basic identity. And therefore, there can be no, on the deepest level, there can be no superior or inferior. That's only something temporary. That's only a kind of scaffolding. And the real thing is your equality as sons of God. But then, in terms of direction, the child is one who is directed by another, who is not completely autonomous. And when he takes this child, you can see him sort of holding him by the shoulders and putting him in the middle of it. And it's as if this child represents me, and he's got his hands on it. So it's as if that child is directed by him in some way, and directed by unseen hands, in a way, in the community. And so the leaders of the community, this whole thing is for the leaders of the community, the leaders of the community to be like that, to be like that, to be like children who are directed by a superior power, it seems to me. For one thing, they're open, they don't have a whole bunch of, a whole system of presuppositions of their own, an a priori thing, a mental world.


And on the other hand, they're directed by someone above them, whom you don't see. And then they're equal. Everybody's equal. Basically. And then, how do we find the continuity with those other things? Well, the first relationship is the relation of rank. Then the next relationship is receiving and acceptance. And it seems here that he's talking to the leaders. I think he switches. The child is both the leader and the child is the ordinary person, because the leader is an ordinary person. They're all children. So here he switches from talking about the greatest in the kingdom of heaven to talking about receiving the little ones. Now, who are the little ones? The little ones are the ones who believe in him with a childlike faith. The little ones are the ones who have no claims of their own, who have no degrees, no credentials, no nothing. Who just believe. And therefore they're completely open. Now, what does it mean to receive them? I think it means to receive them for care or guardianship, in a sense, okay?


Whoever cares for one of these little ones, in a sense, cares for me. Whoever cares for one of these sheep is taking care of me. He's talking, I think, still to the leadership. But whoever causes... Now, that makes sense of what follows. Whoever scandalizes one of these and causes them to sin, that too is for the leaders, you see, because these people are so open, these little ones are so open in their faith that they can be hurt because they're trusting, right? Basically they're trusting, and so you can hurt them. But whoever hurts them and scandalizes them and causes them to sin, it'd be better for them if he was drowned in the ocean. And then you remember Judas. He's the only one in the gospel that gets said about. It'd be better for him if he'd never been born. And Judas was one of the shepherds. He was one of the leaders who in some way was a source of scandal. And woe to the world for temptations to sin. I've got the RSV here. I'm talking about temptations to sin or causing the little ones to sin. Now, the original word is skandalon, of course, scandal. And it means stumbling block in biblical language.


Whatever causes you to fall into sin, which is done by somebody else. Woe to the world for temptations to sin. Now, these are scandals. They have to come. They're going to be scandals, but woe to the one by whom they come. Again, it's the language with which he talks about Judas. I don't remember which gospel. Maybe it's Matthew 2. And if you're a hand or your foot causes you to sin. This exaggeration, this hyperbole, is that he always bothers us a bit. But obviously he means that any sacrifice is worthwhile in order to keep yourself from falling, keep yourself from sin, keep yourself from falling away and being lost. But I think it also means in the community that your hand or foot. Remember how Dorotheus is talking about the limbs. St. Paul talks about the limbs in the body. So I think he's talking about even if the most essential senior members of the body should become the ones who cause others to sin.


They should be cut off. They should be amputated. Even the leaders, if they cause you to sin, if they become scandals, should be amputated from the body to save your body. I don't think he's talking just about the individual cases. It's interesting. I think he's talking about the head and the foot and the eyes. The signs of those which are the most and so is the doer. So, you know, do all people. And that's kind of the likes of the community. Yes. The eye could be the teacher or the prophet. See to it that you don't despise one of these little ones. Now, here he's talking to the leaders again. You see how the thread runs through. He's talking to the leaders and he says, don't neglect these little ones and don't despise them because their angels always behold the face of my father who is in heaven. So, you think that you're their superior or something. You think that you're their guide, but actually they have another custodian. Somebody else is their shepherd and taking care of them. And that's an angel that always is before the face of the father.


Now, you'd say, these little ones are in the dark. These little ones don't know anything. Remember how the Pharisees would talk about the people, the land, the uneducated Jews. They don't know anything. They were born in sin, they don't know anything. Well, you think they don't know anything, but there's something in them. He's talking about the angel, but he could be talking about their deepest self too. Somehow the face of God is within them. Their angels, their custodians, their guardians and protectors are before the face of God. What does it mean to think this way? I think it is an angel, first of all, but you can look at it symbolically. You can say, in their minds, in their consciousness, they are ignorant or something like that. But before their deepest eye is the face of the father or something like that. If they're believers, okay? If they have faith, then in some way they already know God. They already know the father. So you can say that their deep self in some way knows the father, even though their conscious mind may seem to know very little.


But as long as they believe, that vision in some way is related to them, that vision of the father. As long as they believe in Christ. So the angel, I think, is a reality. There is a guardian angel like that, but it can also be interpreted in many other ways. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep... Now, why does he put that in here? He puts it in there for the guardians, I think, for the shepherds, okay? That they're supposed to imitate the care of the father in looking after the least of the sheep, the little ones, who has gotten astray. And then, so that's the relationship of taking care. And so on. Contempt, neglect. Now we get to this thing of sin. The subject changes a bit. If your brother sins against you, so here's where one of the little ones sins against another. What do you do in the case of sin in the community when that gets into the relationship? Well, you go and correct him. But first, just by yourself. You don't expose him to embarrassment, to shame.


Don't make a big deal out of it, a big confrontation. But just go and speak to him lovingly. If that doesn't work, then take along somebody else. And finally, bring it to the whole community. And if that doesn't work, well then, in a way, he's excluded himself from the community. So let him be as the tax collector and the Gentile. But Jesus doesn't say to hate the tax collector and the Gentile, does he? He just says they're different. He seems to kind of like tax collectors and Gentiles. He says that they're not the same as the members of the community. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Okay, and this in regard also to excluding from the community and to accepting the community. And if you agree on earth about anything. So here the subject is branching out a bit, but it's still this matter of the relation between you and how the relation between you is always the point at issue in the kingdom, in the church. That's the delicate, the sensitive point. And these are all the different variations of that relation.


Sin or scandal, or nurture, or example, or teaching, or listening, or forgiveness. Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. There's a saying, I saw it in a commentary on this passage, the saying in the sayings of the fathers of the Jews, the piety of both, as you call it, that wherever two or three are gathered together to study the Torah, the Shekinah is in their midst. The Shekinah is what? The Shekinah is the presence of God. Remember that the glory of God is in the temple? Wherever two or three are gathered together to study the word, the Shekinah is with them. That's marvelous. It's as if Jesus had that expression and brings it in here, and he is taking the place of that presence. His spirit, his wisdom is in the place of that presence. And then Peter. Now, he starts out, when he starts out the chapter talking about the one who's greatest, right? And he grabs a child and puts him in the midst. And here's Peter the child, okay? Peter really is. I mean, he always asks, you know, the childish questions, right? He always puts his foot in it so that Jesus can then explain it.


He's sort of a straight man, but he's a child. And yet he's the greatest, in a sense, among them, as they read it. How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times. And Jesus says, not 70 times, 70 simply means there's no limit. And then he tells the story. And the beginning and the end of the chapter are the things that are sort of intended to blow our minds or to explode or collapse our mental worlds, our structures of judging. One in terms of who is better and who is superior and who is higher. And the other in terms of to what extent is forgiveness to be limited, to what extent is forgiveness to be given. And he blessed any numerical limit, he blessed any comparison or any scale on both of those terms. One by the generation of the Father, which makes us all his children equally in some way. And the other by this forgiveness which is infinite,


the forgiveness like... The first one is the giving of an infinite gift which makes us all equal by its grandness, right? That is our being children of God. The other is by the forgiving, as it were, of an infinite debt, which really in some way is just the other side of the same thing. That's a hard one to figure out. What is that enormous debt that we owe to God? I think it's a kind of parable, a kind of story which is intended to be taken with a certain... Maybe a bit like a child's story. If you take it seriously, you take it seriously by judging. If you take it in the softer way, you take it as an attempt to express just from the other side that enormousness of the gift that is given. Not so much a debt that's to be paid or squeezed out of you by torture, but the enormity of the gift that's been given and the impossibility of trying to squeeze anything out of somebody else. In other words, it's a choice of two points of view.


Either you take the point of view of wisdom which somehow interprets the parable tenderly as trying to express the enormity of God's gift in kind of, what would you call them, harsh terms, or you choose that other point of view, that other mind which does judge and which demands the ten denarius or whatever it is, which squeezes out the little sum. So it's a choice of those two points of view. So also my Heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. Note that the chapter starts talking about the child of the father and ends up talking about my father and you and your brother. The first is who among the brothers is the greatest, and none is the greatest. And the last is, if you don't forgive your brother then my father won't forgive you. In a sense he can't forgive you because you don't accept his forgiveness in your heart. But forgiveness is a very real thing that can come into you. It's meant to come into you.


That's the key now. The key is that new identity of children of God. Both. That is, the real gift of forgiveness of our own sins is at the same time an ability to forgive others. Because why? It's the guarantee of life. It's the guarantee of having your immortality inside of you. Well, if you have immortality inside of you, in a deep sense you have invulnerability inside of you. Because you can't really be hurt at your core. Because God is your core. So it gives you the ability to forgive. Because your fear has taken over. Your fear of death. It's not a logical process though.


I don't know whether to say that it's rational or emotional. It's more than both rational and emotional. You have to say it's experiential, in the sense that you know that you can forgive. You know that you don't have to consider yourself as being hurt. Okay? Because basically the thing of hurt in you has been healed. The resurrection in you has happened. And so you can't be hurt anymore. It's like the martyrs, you know, who go to their death, even grieffully sometimes, knowing that somehow nothing touches them. You said there's a desire to forgive. It's not simply just forgiveness. You want to. You want to because you don't want to leave... There's sort of a misunderstanding there, where forgiveness hasn't happened yet. The truth has not yet won out, you know, where there hasn't been forgiveness. So you're eager to, in a sense. As if to rush out and say, Well, you can't really hurt me. It's all right, you know, forget it. To heal the other person's wound of guilt. But, like I always have to say,


it's one thing to talk about it, it's another thing to get to it. It's one thing to pursue it in our minds, it's another thing to have it in our hearts. And it's one thing to be able to forgive in a small case, and it's another thing when we really feel hurt, when we've really been hurt. But even in the smallest thing, it can be amazingly hard really to forgive. If we think that we've been hurt at all, if we think that we're able to be hurt by another person, it's almost impossible. As long as that sting of the hurt, that fear, that sense of... Well, the sense of death in us, in a sense, is still there. It's almost impossible really to forgive. As Oscar Wilde said, I can't forgive what I can forget, whether I like it or not.


If you know it was an accident, you can forgive it. I guess we'd better quit for today. So next time I'll go on with that a little more, and then... Most of the time people are striking out at themselves. Yeah. You just happen to be a human being, and you're really stupid. You'd like to, you know, put the blame on yourself. Sometimes they think they'd like to put it in their father, or their wife, or somebody else, but they're fighting themselves. Maybe actually it's a correction. I mean, sometimes they do self-criticize. That's right. It may be sometimes that they want their daddy to come along


and put them back together again or something. Nobody can really do it. And some people do things just to get locked up in prison, because they prefer it to.