April 16th, 1983, Serial No. 00871

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Monastic Spirituality Set 10 of 12

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So, now that we've finished our purportory exercises, we left off a couple of weeks ago and you may be wondering where we are, so I'll review a little bit. You remember we had been taking some history, the history of Christian monasticism, and we had gotten as far as the will of St. Benedict and we stopped there. And we were going to continue. And then we interrupted and we had a session on the heart. Remember we talked about the biblical theology of the heart. Now that's something we didn't finish either. I did that just before Holy Week and the idea was to give a kind of framework for Holy Week and for Tabasco mystery. And I'd like to take that thread up again later, but we'll take it up in a more monastic way. Remember I referred to that work of Sister Benedicta, Sister Juana Roche, on purity of heart in the monastic tradition.


There's a copy of it over there. I have another copy if anybody wants to look at it. It's rather long to read, but we'll be touching it. And it's good to know about it and to be able to use it as a resource. Then we had that question behind the history study, what is a monk? We were going to look at the history of monasticism with an eye to that fundamental question, what is a monk or the question of monastic identity. And now a fourth thread comes up because we have these Tibetan Buddhists coming. And so I need to say something about non-Christian monasticism. I'm not going to say much about it because I don't know much about it. I don't know much about its history. We have to take it as a fact. That's the chief thing. It's amazing that our mind, our mentality up to 15 or 20 years ago was as if monasticism had only existed in Christianity. And I've mentioned that before, but now we know of course. Maybe we knew it before, but we didn't have birth to it. Because actually Christian monasticism starts from Christianity.


It doesn't seem to draw much from pre-existing traditions. It's probably hard to prove that, but it's not conclusive. But the fact that there is a monastic kind of life which has been in existence for maybe a couple thousand years, as some of the students of Hinduism call it, at least for 600 years. That's a significant thing. And it's in keeping with a lot of other things that we have to recognize. There's a kind of Copernican revolution in our way of thinking that there needs to be nowadays between Christianity sort of coming in and pushing everything out, or Christianity coming into the world and integrating everything else within itself. Christianity sort of not being alongside other things and threatened by them, or threatening them in some way. Christianity able to assimilate everything else, able to integrate everything else.


I don't say that Christianity can assimilate other religions, that's not so easy. But it almost does that. And it can assimilate monasticism, all those things. So we have to think about the difference, the relationship between Christianity and monasticism, and not simply identify the two. Because there has been a tendency also to think of the monk as the one who is a perfect Christian, and they're trying to be a perfect Christian. And that's true, and it's got a dangerous ambiguity to it. Because it would imply that, first of all, that Christianity and monasticism are exactly the same thing. Secondly, that nobody else, no other Christian, really can be perfect. There's only one way to strive for Christian perfection. And it's more a monk than it is a Christian. But there are many roads. It's a difficult problem to throw anyone, and nobody has really understood it. But we have to be able to look at it without cancelling out any of the terms, without suppressing the elements in the picture. Remember, we started out with that introduction from Consider Your Call,


where the question is asked, what is a monk? And then that leads to two further questions. Is Christian monasticism to be approached as one manifestation of a much older and more widespread adventure of the human spirit, which is manifested also in pre-Christian and non-Christian monasticism? Or is Christian monasticism primarily a manifestation of Christianity itself, and to be understood only in terms of the Gospel? Now, that's the question I've just been talking about. And the answer of the author in that introduction is... I think you have a sir, actually. The answer of the author is no, that monasticism is something that pre-exists Christianity. Monasticism is not a specifically Christian phenomenon. It is born of aspirations inherent in the human spirit. It has emerged in the great world religion, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism, as a way of life embraced by those whose desire for God is an overriding passion, and organized to promote the search for union with God. What's Christianity? Christianity, he says, is the way of life of those who have been called


and have responded to the call to share in the life of God through incorporation into Jesus Christ and fellowship in his spirit. It is not primarily a search for an absent God, something which is pretty frequent in monasticism, although not universally, it's not always conceived of as searching for someone who's absent, but a response to his loving initiatives and the celebration of his saving presence in history, in the Church and in the world. Two different things. This has got something to do with the way that we think of Christ, the way that we think of Christ in Christianity. It's very tricky, because we tend to walk around and look at it from different sides, and it changes you. But one thing is, do we consider Christ as if... In what way is he the totality of revelation? Is he the totality of revelation in assimilating other things into himself,


or simply containing in himself, when he appears, the totality? That's part of the question. Is Christ the totality of revelation in his own person as he comes into the world? He brings with him the totality of truth, the totality of revelation, because this is true. Or is he the totality of revelation in which he also draws all truth into himself, centers all truth and all aspirations in himself? This is also true. What we don't want to do is compromise the theology of the Word of God, by which we believe that in the Word of God is a special revelation which is qualitatively different. It's on a different level from any other revelation or any other scripture. See, that's the Judeo-Christian thesis. This is basic to Christianity, to Catholicism, and to Judaism as well. That the personal revelation of God, his initiative in Jesus Christ,


which culminates in Jesus Christ, is on a different level from other revelations of God. Now, for a long while, theologians would talk as if there were no other revelations of God. But Saint Paul himself says that God has revealed himself in what he has made, and he's revealed himself also in the human heart. Yes. That's fine. Consider your question. Yes. Yes. Uh-huh. Well...


Yes. Uh-huh. The thing is that behind the questions there are alternative points of view, all right? There are whole psychological complexes behind each of these questions. There's a whole way of thinking that is involved with one of those answers and with the other, okay? So even though there may be an infinity of questions that could be asked, and there are a lot of questions, you go all around the circle and ask them in different ways, things seem to line up in certain ways. Or you can say that the joints in this particular reality seem to be found in certain places, so that people align themselves in one of two ways along these questions, okay? So those questions are pretty real. I mean, they're not just arbitrarily picked out from a whole basket full. But those are questions that become uppermost in a person's mind. They're kind of critical questions that present themselves, not just one as a... The questions themselves reflect the stage that the person is going through.


Oh, sure they do. But these are questions that don't just come from one person, okay? They're questions that surface at a certain point in the history of Christianity. And they surface right now. They become critical questions right now. And they really do express themselves in something like those terms. And so it's not like they're arbitrary. They're pretty crucial. However, I agree with you that to... How should I say it? That there's some truth on both sides of both of those questions, okay? There's some truth on both sides of the thing. Is monasticism purely Christian or is it pre-Christian? It's pretty obvious it's pre-Christian. And yet Christian monasticism is unique and is a new impulse of the Holy Spirit. That's the truth that's on the inside of us, right? And it's very difficult to express that all at once. I think the questions are valid. And if we don't allow ourselves questions like that, we can't do anything. We can't transact anything. I don't think we can arrive at understanding except in a mute way. In a sort of... In a non-particular way.


In fact, I agree with you quite a bit. It's tough to be beyond that point of view. It's not a general point of view. It's a more holistic point of view. It's a more inclusive connection. It's an economy. It's a non-particular place. Well, okay. But some questions... I mean, you've got some historical questions that you can't overleap. And Christianity is a historical fact, historical phenomenon. So this is a historical question, really. Did monasticism exist before Christianity? It's kind of a yes or no question. And I don't think it's fair for us to jump immediately from a question like that to a kind of transcendent answer, as if it didn't matter. Because the historical fact, it turns out to be pretty important. I think, in fact, it's in being faithful to historical reality that we do clarify and criticize and purify our spirituality, actually. When monasticism shies away from those historical questions,


or when Christianity does, it tends to get into trouble in the long run. Yes? I mean, to answer you. I just want to make a point that there are a series of things in the Bible that seem to make a lot of sense. Oh, yeah. That's what I meant to say. I didn't read it, actually. But I keep having those kind of questions. I've asked them to people who do Buddhism, who are in the same class as me. They have an interest in us. I mean, I've been teaching in the dialogue with a couple of Buddhists. They don't rely. If there wasn't a historical truth that they didn't want to teach, and they didn't want to speak with the Christians, then they would prove that there was no historical question that they didn't want to teach. Then Christians could simply be Buddhists, in a sense. They could make their own point of Buddhism. That's a critical difference between the two. Also, it shows you that even though you can't be a Christian or a Buddhist,


perhaps, at the same time, you can see how they don't necessarily cancel one another out. In a way, they can be complementary because they don't make the same claim. Christianity makes a historical claim that at the time of Christ, God came into the world in a particular way. But He never has anywhere else. And this continues historically in the Church. Buddhism doesn't make any claim like that. So it's not that kind of confrontation. I don't want to get us too far astray because I'd like to finish at least this idea today, this kind of background for what's coming. So the relationship of monasticism and Christianity, we have to let that be a bit of a mystery the way it is. It's not an open and shut thing. They're not simply identical, nor are they contradictory. Now, I wanted to turn to Panikkar and get his notion of what is a monk.


I think it's a very deep notion philosophically. It's not coming from a Christian perspective, and that's why we can use it in considering all kinds of monasticism. And then we can question it from a Christian point of view, which I've done. I've been doing it for a long time. Okay, you've got the Xerox in front of you, I guess. Go through it and pick out some points. Since you haven't had a chance to read it yet, this is not quite clear. But perhaps later you can get a better understanding. You'll find that he throws in a lot of terminology. Some of it is Sanskrit, or other languages. But out of the shrubbery sort of you can pick certain quite clear points. This was given as a talk, I believe. I don't know if it just comes from the tape. It's been edited, actually. It's a published book. This is Panikkar from Blessed Simplicity. If you want to write that on there, it might be well, so you won't forget what came from it.


Panikkar, Blessed Simplicity, which is that symposium in the East about two years ago now on the question of the monastic archetype, as they call it. He presided at the symposium. Okay, here's his first definition on page 10. By monk, monikos, that's the Greek for monk, Christian division, I understand that person who aspires to reach the ultimate goal of life with all his being by renouncing all that is not necessary to it. That is, by concentrating on this one single and unique goal. Precisely the single-mindedness, or rather the exclusivity of the goal that shuns all subordinate or legitimate goals distinguishes the monastic way from other spiritual endeavors toward perfection and salvation. Okay, I think everybody would agree with that, probably, except maybe coming from the point of view of very humanistic monasticism, where people would say, well, monasticism is equally for the people,


you know, for the apostolate, for preaching or something like that. Most people would agree with it, most monks would agree with it. Now, this is a contemplative definition of monasticism, although he doesn't speak of contemplation right there, but there's people out of enlightenment and so on as he goes on. If you read the first conference of Cassian, of Abba Moses, on the goal of the monastic life, you'll find that he's saying basically the same thing, okay? It's implicit in that conference of Abba Moses, because he sets right out to say, well, presupposing, as it were, that you're wasting your time if you don't have a goal in front of you. And then he points out what the goal is. And it turns out that the goal that he points out is very close to the conclusion Panakar is going to come to. He talks of purity of heart, and Panakar is talking about the center. We'll get to that, I'm getting a little ahead of him. His thesis, up on the top of page 11, is that the monk is the expression of an archetype, which is a constitutive dimension of human life. What does he mean by that?


Well, archetype, I don't know whether we need to pause on that word. We know it best from Jung. It means that it's something in the psyche, it's something that's built into the human person, and it's a kind of form. Notice how he didn't talk about vocation. He talked about vocation from the point of view of Christian monasticism, but not in general. It's a sort of form or figure that will tend to surface in the human person. That's just the other topic of the monk. Which is a constitutive dimension of human life. That means that everybody's got it. Okay, that's his thesis. It's in humanity, and so everyone, to some degree, has the monastic thing. And notice, as soon as we use the term vocation, we get into trouble, don't we? Because you can't say that everybody has a monastic vocation, but you can say that everybody has a monastic dimension. So he's taking monasticism out of the personal context


in which we usually think of it when we talk of Christian monasticism, starting by from St. Anthony, where God calls him. He feels the call when he hears the word of the gospel in church. Yes, that's the one where he boils it down to the four temperaments, according to the four Greek myths there. And there's one, it's the NF type, which most of us around here are NFs, which is the realization of the self, which is the way that Pentecostal monasticism turned out to be. So there really is something there. The archetype is a unique quality of each person which at once needs and shuns institutionalization. In other words, it has this love-hate relationship with institution, with the fact of having a community with structure and so on,


with law and specific forms and observances. And he's going to come back to that, so we don't have to pause here. So he tends to point towards the solitary life as being the sort of essential kind of monasticism. Consider the hermit or the idio-rhythmic to be the perfect one, the one who is free of structure. Then he talks about the motive for the monk becoming that, and he speaks of it down at the bottom of page 11, and the following page is an impulse. Not just thinking, come thinking or imagining or desiring to be God. It is the result of an urge, the fruit of an experience that eventually leads him to change and break something in his life. Now, he can't say vocation because he's not talking in theistic terms, he's trying to give a general definition. A Christian would say an experience with God, or something like that.


Urge or experience. Yeah. Well, he says the result of an urge is the fruit of an experience, so I think the urge of an experience is the same here. One does not become a monk in order to do something or even to acquire something, but in order to be, to be everything or selfless, free and being nothing. A monk does not become a monk just because of a desire. We will be told time and time again, you need to eliminate all desires. I speak of an aspiration and an urge. Well, how do you distinguish an aspiration and an urge from a desire? Often you'll find Panicka using a kind of vocabulary of his own, so you have to play along with it, keep in communication. A monk is compelled, as it were, by an experience that can only articulate itself in the practice of one's life. That means by taking up a certain kind of life. Okay. There's an ontological aspiration of this kind in the human being.


It leads me to speak of monkhood as a constitutive dimension of human life. Now, he says this has been obscured at the middle of page 12 by the juxtaposition of other elements which have led to the common belief that the monk represents the highest type in the human scale. And from here it is but a small step to consider the monk to be the perfect man from the ultimate or religious point of view. And this is as true in Buddhism as it is in Christianity. And he finds fault with that. So there he starts to take apart the idea of perfection, the idea of perfect humanity. And the way he does it is to put in another term which he calls the humanum, which can be realized in many ways. Now, this is a tricky passage in his whole thesis. There's something to it. He accomplishes a good thing by it. What he's trying to do is take the monk out of that spot, off that hot spot of being in some way.


He's trying to be the perfect human being as if there were no other goal for humanity than that perfection which he reaches. However, he never quite brings it off. He's never quite able to get the monk off that pedestal. Because you can say, in fact, that the monk aspires to human perfection simpliciter, on a certain level. I think it's a question of depth. We'll get back to that later. And then he goes into his philosophy about what the human being is. And his conclusion, The search for human perfection cannot have a single model. Okay, that's what he's saying. The word perfection has to stand for a meaningful joy, for a simply full human life, whatever and wherever we may believe this fullness, meaning and joy to be. Each person will have his own way of realizing the perfection of humanity. I shall call the humanum, this core of humanity or humanness


that can be realized in as many ways, as many fashions as there are human beings. Humanity is one. The humanum exists in a particular form of each and every individual person who realizes that fullness of being. Each human being has to conquer the humanum in a personal and unique manner. Religion is a path to the humanum. Only religion, he says, is the combination of the spectrum of all the ways to achieve this humanum. Salvation, liberation, whatever we call it. And he goes into some of the many ways of realizing that humanum. Now, down on the middle of page 14, my hypothesis is that monkhood, that is the archetype of which the monk is an expression,


corresponds to one dimension of this humanum, so that every human being has potentially the possibility of realizing this dimension. Monkhood is a dimension that has to be integrated with other dimensions of human life in order to fulfill a humanum, not by bread alone, just manhood. There's one you can think about for a long time. Is monkhood enough, or does there have to be other things in life? You see, the danger here is of dissipating the notion of monastic vocation, or of being a monk, by contending that it's only a part of life and that different people have it in different proportions, some more, some less, but for nobody can it be the totality of life. At the same time, it's true that it's not enough to do the monastic things, the things that are specifically monastic. You also have to do the human things. You have to do the things of human life.


Monastic life, in a sense, is not all of life. Okay? In fact, when we say monastic life, we can mean a couple of things. It's a thing we need to think about. I've said this before, but if we don't sometimes put the accent on the life part of it, you can find that we're quenching that. Some of the things that we do in the monastic life are monastic things specifically, and some of the things that we do are just life things, are just human things. I would go that far towards accepting what he says here. Monasticism, in essence, is a way of life. Yes. The way of life means all life is directed towards one goal. Yes, I think you can say that. The only one purpose for our life is to be free. That's right. And we're all good for this conference, for this family, for this society. That's right. It's a very open thing.


He leaves it maximally open so it can go in all different directions. And that's what I think needs to be challenged. Because, in a way, it's too open, or it doesn't have enough hierarchy to it, in a sense. But he gets back to that. He saves that later on, I think. He's handling a very difficult question. He's able to, I think, say some things that nobody has said as well as he has, but not even he has said anything that perfectly. Not by bread alone does man live. Now, that's a curious paradox, because it's the monk who precisely sacrifices the bread, in a sense, okay? Think of Jesus in the desert. What I mean is that the monastic dimension of life is a monastic part, that we mean by that adjective, is the foregoing, actually, of those simple human, or positive human parts, which would signify the other world, right? Now he talks about the institutionalizing of monasticism,


down at the bottom of that page. This is the paradox. Once monasticism becomes institutionalized, it begins to become a specialization, and it runs the risk of becoming exclusive. Okay, well, that's obvious. Obviously. Not everybody can or should enter a monastery, but everybody has a monastic dimension. Okay. Now, if you get too philosophical about this, you lose the possibility of some people, for some reason, being separated out. If you make it philosophical, and every human being is the same, that's the trouble with a philosophical approach, okay? Every human being is the same, so everybody has this image, just like the white, dirt-coated vessels, and so on, presumably. So, if you look at it from the point of view of theology, though, you say, well, some people are called, as a plan in which we separate certain individuals. That's no longer philosophy. So, his approach has the drawbacks, as well as the strengths, of a philosophical approach. You have to come and complete it with a theological approach, in which the notion of vocation,


or a particular election of people, or separation out of some people who do a particular thing, is possible on the part of God. So, it's a question of the word of God, isn't it? The whole sort of response to this treatment is the word of God on the part of God. Monkhood is a constituent, a part, a dimension of a human being, one archetype. Now, here's something which is really important. The monastery is a total, a total organization of human life. The monk, within the institutionalized framework, often suffers from the fact that his vital impulses towards full humanness are curtailed merely because they're absorbed in the total institution, and sometimes sacrificed for the benefit of that institution. Experience shows that all too often the monk finds himself looking outside the monastery for that human perfection to which he aspires. I'd like to try to re-express something that he seems to point to. If the monastic dimension is only a part of human life,


and the monastery is a total institution, if it dedicates itself only to the monastic part of life, then it's going, in some way, to amputate part of humanity. I think he's saying that. Now, this is true, but it doesn't mean that you can't have a monastic institution. It means that if you over-program the monastic institution, the monastic structure of monastic life, in terms of your goal, of your monastic goal, you're likely to quench human life, or you're likely to deprive of life the very people that you're trying to help. In many different ways he's saying that same thing. An institution tends to do that. If you make an institution for a purpose, it tends to squeeze out or stifle other purposes, and that can happen even in a monastery. I think he's saying that. He says it's a school


of the Lord's service. So, a school, notice that a school is something that you do part of the time, of course. So, there we have to be careful through. That image of school is incredibly eloquent in the monastic life. If it's a school, it should be a school of life, that's the point. And not only a school of one part of life, because most of the schools that we go to only teach us one thing, okay? They teach us arithmetic, or they teach us how to behave ourselves, or they teach us some field of learning. But the monastic life is a total institution in the sense that you're inside it. You're inside that institution, and it governs your whole life. Therefore, it has to be much more broad and supple than another institution, like a regular school. And people who are inside a school institution often do so for fun. It's a learning experience not for the life on this plane as those other planes are, but for the life on the other plane. That's right. So, it's able to specialize like they do.


But if, in trying to reach that other plane, it neglects too much the fullness of the life on this plane, then you have trouble. And so, on the other plane, on this plane? On this plane. I think this is what he's saying, in part. Whenever you design an institution for a goal, you have to realize that it's likely that that goal is only part of life. Now, the monastic goal should include the whole of life. And nevertheless, when we program, when we make an institution, we can very easily make it so that it cuts off part of life, or so that it narrows people, or amputates part of their personality. That's the kind of thing he's pointing to. He has different language than that. He knows them in different dimensions. We just put them side by side. But the monastic dimension is really not just alongside other dimensions. It's not quite as simple as that. And when he tells us what he thinks monasticism is,


then we're going to... that'll jump out. His thing here is incomplete. It's like it needs to be treated again and again and again to get it clear. Okay. He says later, I shall later defend the monastery as a living organism and not primarily an organization. And there, that's true. But there's a difference between an organism and an organization. An organization goes from the outside in, and an organism from the inside out. An organization like is a shell which imposes things, and programs things, and depends on human reason, and that kind of conceiving of a goal. Whereas an organism grows from an inner seed. Now, he's got to explain how he can do that from his philosophical point of view. I don't know whether he ever does explain it. From a Christian point of view, it's easier to explain how it can be an organism. If you say that people are called together it doesn't have a particular conclusion.


And then he says, the institution is the ritualization of the means. But when the means become ends, the institution becomes totalitarian. The thing is, the notion is, the possibility of a totalitarian institution which doesn't really respond to the needs of the persons. Okay, I don't want to spend all our time on this. Down to bottom 15. Now finally he's going to get to what he says it is. I haven't yet said precisely in what this dimension of the humanum consists. It is this. In the search for perfection, man has very often looked for oneness, the monos, the eikon, and so on. I may use a metaphor here, most traditional one in both the east and west in spite of the different emphases. The center, okay, that's the key. He says the monk is concerned with the center. If we look for oneness on the periphery, we cannot reach that equanimity, that shama, that peace, particular to the monk. We cannot have that holy indifference towards everything because we're not even distant from everything.


Monkhood represents the search for the center. And as much as we try to unify our lives around the center, all of us have something in the monk-ness. The center by virtue of being a center is imminent to the human being, but at the same time, by virtue of being as yet unattained, it is transcendent. It's inside and it's outside. It's ahead and above us, but it's also in our center. Now here he's not speaking, of course, of any particular tradition. The Christian, the Buddhist, the Jaina are only qualifications of the search for that center, for that core which monkhood seeks. And at this point the Christian jumps up and yells. The monastic vocation as such precedes the fact of being Christian or Buddhist or secular. Does that make you uncomfortable? Or Hindu? Or even Atheist? He used the word vocation,


and that seems to me to sharpen the problem. See, here you run into a real collision between the notion of what's primary. Is it primary you're called to be a Christian or is it you're called to be a monk? And what is the relation of the two? You see, if you pre-empt that center for monkhood, then how can you get by by making your Christian vocation your vocation by Christ or your vocation to Christ? So, it jumps up and to focus the problem of the relationship between Christ and the center. Yes. That's right.


Yeah. Yes. If he takes the word vocation seriously he can't do that, can he? Because vocation is a Christian word and something that's planted in your being is not a vocation. You can only use it as a kind of figure of speech. So the problem here is how does your Christian vocation we can call it a Christian vocation how does that correspond to this monastic dimension to this center? You can, but not perhaps quite as properly because I'll bet that they don't have that word. I don't know, but I'll bet you that that particular word vocation doesn't come up in their language for their own religious life because it doesn't work that way. Yes.


Yes. Okay. Now, this notion of the center most of the value of what Panakar is talking about is in this notion of the monk in the center and I think that's true that the monk is a person who is concerned with the center. Now, we have to think about that. Is he concerned with the center because he seeks for the center or because he seeks to live from the center? Is it a question of trying to move towards it or is it a question of trying to relate to it and live from it? I think we have to answer it in a more broad way. It's not only a question of heading for it it's a question of living from it. But the fact is that the two are not really separate. To live from the center is to grow in the center. In other words, it's to become rooted in the center. So, in living from the center in relating to the center in remaining in continuity with the center we're really seeking the center, okay? And that's the business of the monk. Now, other people may do the same thing but they don't do it with the same focus. That is, they don't think that they, as it were,


have the center in focus but rather they have in focus what they're doing. But they may get to the same end that way. There are people who are not in the monastic life who don't know anything about contemplation or all of those things that the monk thinks about. They can accomplish the same purpose without thinking about it but the monk sets out to focus on it. He makes it his goal. Then the other enormous question comes up of what does this notion of the center have to do with Christ who seems to be another center, okay? And with the word of God because it pre-exists, as it were, the coming of the word of God into the world, as we know it. It doesn't have anything to do with the Judeo-Christian revelation. And yet we see the Christian monk, Anthony being the archetype, as being, as it were, called to this search for the center directly by the word of God. So I present that to you just as something not to be alarmed by but something to keep in front of you because it is almost the problem of our time


as far as monasticism, as far as the boundary line and the growing edge of Christian monasticism in our time. The whole question of how it relates to the East I think rotates around something like this. How the word and how the Christ event relates to the center. Jesus comes into a world which in the word comes into a world which already has all these things in it. And it already has in it a search for the center. And the human being already has a center in him. Now how does the coming of Christ into the world relate to that pre-existing center? And how does it relate to those traditions of searching for the center and living from the center which already are pretty advanced in the Eastern religion. The direct contact of course is small. You don't find those people being converted to Christianity. You don't find histories of monks or groups of monks or other traditions coming into Christianity. But nevertheless


there is a very broad history here. Something is happening in the world. Jesus, the word incarnate comes into the center of a history. And everything rotates around that and everything prepares for that. And so this too, in some way, prepares for that. If we just look at the sort of detail of it we can't see that. We have to step back and look at the whole thing. But to find the way in which all of this relates to our center, which is Christ, that in a way is a problem. We may never be able to do it with our heads but at least we can find a way in which we can relate to these realities without violence, without fear, without the kind of aggressiveness that some people would run to. Because Christ is very much a center in himself, isn't he? He's presented that way,


especially in the Gospel of John where he replaces the temple and replaces the sacrament. He comes and stands in the center. What does that mean as far as a human person is concerned? See, the center that Pentecost is talking about is the center that's inside of you. It's the center of your human being, the center of your human person. Now notice that before he said that the monastic dimension was one dimension of his humano but now he says it's the center. Well, it's a much different thing to be the center than to be in any old dimension, isn't it? Picture a wheel, you know, with a hub and then with all the spokes, which he had for the periphery. Those are dimensions, okay? But the center, that hub, is qualitatively different from those spokes that reach out to the periphery. Isn't the dimension of Christ the center of inclusion? It's all inclusion. Because it's the center of Christ, it's the center of Christ. That's right.


That's right. And St. Paul says that you are Christ's. Are you sure? All things are yours and you are Christ's and Christ is God's. You see those three circles? Christ is the ultimate. There is a problem, though, because you'll find spirituality side by side and you'll find experiences and spirituality side by side dealing with the center in different ways. This gets us back to that question of the heart that I brought up before because in the biblical tradition, see, the center of the human person is the heart and there's a theology whereby the Christ event itself goes right square through the center of the center.


It goes right into the heart. Puts the Holy Spirit into the heart and then, as God says in the prophet, I give you a new heart. I put my spirit in you and I take out of your flesh the leather stone and I put there the leather flesh. Now that's the Christ center that's planted into us. But I don't want to get too far ahead of the story. He tells them what he thinks the center is. On page 17, let's see. Which one? I missed a lot of paragraphs. Which one is it? Oh, yes. If we go so far as to identify the Christian monastic way with the monastic vocation or with monasticism per se, then we can only see this mistake. Notice that a dictionary of spirituality


is a great French encyclopedia of spirituality, which we have and it's a marvelous thing, but it doesn't say much about the non-Christian monastic tradition that's what he's protesting about. It talks about Christian monasticism as a self-contained form. Notice three things. Monasticism, Christianity, and Humanity. See how he's dealing with those three things? And he's separating them. They overlap, but he doesn't allow us to say that monasticism is identical with perfect humanity or that monasticism is identical with Christianity. He's going to talk about the center in the East and the center in the West. On page 17, he talks about what the center is.


It's in the center of our being. It is in the middle, equidistant from every single factor of our existence. It's not only a geometrical center, but also a gravitational one. I may have read this to you before. Now I'd like to think about it in this context. Just like the monkeys. All stimuli, good and bad, joyful and sad, converge on that center while arrows turn towards it. Now, in biblical language, this would be the heart of truth. But all impulses and all movements also originate there, insofar as we are centered beings. To the extent that we are concentrated beings, while the blows and scrapes of life are still pain and wonders. When we're thrown into the air, we say, I'm a cat person. And again, all of our actions, words and thoughts will have a power not only on a particular muscle, but the weight of all our being. The center further has no dimensions. It is unbound, untied, free and, for this reason, compatible with everything in as much as it remains unattached.


By the same token, the center has no value in itself. It is a function of all the things for which it is a center. Eliminate all the other things around it and the center disappears. An entire monastic spirituality could be derived from the study of this metaphor. Especially Zen monasticism is concerned with this. There is some kind of monasticism where spirituality will focus right on the center of the center and Zen does that. Completely apophatic. The center as void, as emptiness. What can we say about that in Christianity? You can find quite a bit of that in Christianity. If you look at Eckhart, look at St. John the Cross, look at the Bagraves, look at Thomas Martin. You see, they talk about maybe not using the same line to do center, actually Eckhart does, I don't know if Martin ever did. But that, in other words, that is an experience that runs right through Christianity, through a spiritual relative, whether Christian or non-Christian. Wherever it tends to be, a monastic can connect with it. So it's a very real thing. And I think he's right in saying that it's essentially connected with monasticism,


what monasticism is about. But the puzzle sharpens as to how to relate that to Christianity. He goes on to say that the center in the East and the center in the West appear to be two very different things. The center in the East, he says, is imminent. It's like centeredness itself. He does that on page 18 and 19. Whereas the center in the West is transcendent. The center in the East tends to be, as it were, quiet and simply drawn towards centeredness, drawn towards interiority. It appears to be pure interiority, whereas the center in the West tends to draw the person ahead and upward. Now, the fact that Christianity is a historical religion, the fact that the Holy Spirit, which comes into our center, is not only rest and peace but dynamism and action,


has something to do with it. ... If anything, there seems to be another dimension in the West which is not in the East. But in that other dimension which comes into the West, it tends to forget what there is in the West. There's something new in the West, but that something new carries the West away from what was already there, as it were, in peace. Now, you'll find that in the Holy Spirit, in the experience of the Holy Spirit, there can be that experience of rest and the pure interiority. Look at the hesychast, okay? Look at the hesychast spirituality, the prayer of the heart, and that fire that they experience in the heart, but also the quiet in the heart, the descent into the stillness.


Now, that's very much like the Eastern concept of this, if anything, Christianity has a presence in the process of interiority. But there's also something else there, and that's the light, or, I think there's plenty of light in the non-Christian Eastern interiority. Especially the fire, the dynamism, that appears within that emptiness. Anyhow, here we have an idea which enables us in some way to relate Christian monasticism and non-monasticism, and to begin to inquire into their differences. Next time, I might bring up a couple more questions about that. Maybe say a little more about non-Christian monasticism, although I don't want to say much on that. Then we can go on with that history. I'd be happy if you could read that article by Barman for you


on the evolution of the religious life, and we'll use that for a basis. The first part we've already gone through. We talked about the history of monasticism up to the time of Saint Benedict. So, what we'll be doing is going on from the part which follows it. However, I think it's good to read the first one. Don't be afraid to mark it up, too, because it's the only way, something as dense as this is going to let you keep your bearings. We'll go on from about page 15, I think, around the time of the Carolingian Reform, under Charlemagne, and then see what happens then. Now, this is not just a history, this is an interpretation. He's got a certain theory. It's like he's drawn a certain diagram on the evolution of religious life, and that's what he wants to persuade us on. But I think that's useful, because it helps us to pull it together. Otherwise, it's so complex


and shapeless. Now, if anybody wants to read about non-Christian monasticism, besides what Sister Pascaline said, Jack, I'll have to get that book from you sometime today, to see what's in it. There's this book called The Heresy of Monasticism by Moeller, a Jesuit, in which he's got one, the initial chapter is about Buddhist monasticism. Then there's a book by... What's that one there? Oh, yeah, that's the one. I thought it had a different color cover. We've got another copy of that one. That one's not quite so


relevant. This is a book by Fr. Mayull. He's got a completely unpronounceable name. Mayull de Youll. Those French vowels. Called From East to West, Man in Search of the Absolute, in which he tries to construct a complete history of monasticism, starting from the Hindu monasticism way back. His first chapter starts somewhere between 1500 and 2500 B.C. And then fairly early on, he gets into Christian monasticism and follows that up to the present. And he follows it up to Jellic monasticism and the rest. Also, there's this which is quite good. It's an issue of this missionary journal, devoted entirely to monasticism, in which not all the articles are in English, but there are several articles in English which give a history of Buddhist monasticism and a history of Hindu monasticism


and so on. Quite a precious book. I'll put it up there. Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Thank you. Okay, good. What is the


sense of your problems, now? Anybody listening to that? I think he was doing some smuggling, but he might have just used it off the top of his left hand without thinking. See, it's hard not to...


Ah, see? There. So there he's using it differently, because he's making the distinction. He didn't do that before.