April 30th, 1982, Serial No. 00994

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Monastic Spirituality, Set 7 of 12

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So, we're on Dorothy's Discourse No. 7 this time and the title actually in the original is On Blaming Oneself, okay, and the Greek word is memphistai, memphain, which means to put the blame on oneself. Now, the relation to the discourse that we just covered is obvious, that is, on not judging somebody else, and you notice that this one is related to a whole bunch of other ones that we've already gone through, too. In fact, they're all very closely related. As I said before, we're sort of rotating around one center, and the center, you can look at it in different ways. It's the center in a person, but it's also a kind of central basic monastic attitude, which is all one thing, and which has these different qualities, these different sides or modalities. And so, last time, we saw how it involves pulling in one's horns as far as not judging somebody else, and now we find that it involves judging


ourselves on the other side of the thing, but we have to consider that judging of ourselves very carefully. Now, if we go back, you'll find that the second discourse, which is about humility, is really talking about the same thing once again, only in treating it as humility, Dorotheus treats it more broadly. So I won't repeat a lot of this stuff, and also the references in that whole background that we used for humility. There's nothing to come through of that again. But see the self-aggravation as a part of it, and involving the same problems, involving the same basic problems. I'll recall one or two of them, but I'm not going to do them at length. Then, number three, conscience. Remember, conscience is listening to that voice which is beyond the self, beyond the ego. And this whole business is a matter of getting beyond our ordinary self, our habitual self, our old self, our fallen self, or our false self, or whatever you want to call it, depending on what tradition you attach yourself to. Getting beyond that to another point. So this is obviously another way of doing


that. You stand beyond it, and first the conscience business is listening to something that comes from beyond there. Now, this is standing beyond it and looking back at yourself. Standing outside of your habitual self, and then, as he puts it, blaming or accusing. As I said, we have to have a lot of caution. The one on the fear of God, similarly. The fear of God is actually relativizing your own consciousness, relativizing your own likes and dislikes and your own way of thinking. And so is that business about not judging your brother. That's relativizing your own way of thought. In other words, all of these are ways of trying to get beyond your own world and standing outside your own world. They're very simple things, but we talk about sometimes this business of self-transcendence in exalted and philosophical terms. It becomes very practical, down to earth, every day, in fact, every moment type of thing. Because where we're at is reflected in these attitudes which themselves are reflected in the reactions that we have. And that's where Dorotheus


starts in his discourse of today, with our reactions. And the one on consultation also is another way of getting beyond ourselves. The need for consultation, for spiritual direction, for his virtual father or whatever, no matter, even if he doesn't know that much, or if he's not that advanced himself, is a way of getting outside of our own ego shell. So all of these are, as it were, attempts to find, it's like having a space platform or something, you know, of shooting something into space from which you can escape from the heavy atmosphere of gravitation of your own self, and begin to know and feel and live from a point of view, which is from a place which is free of all of the things that obstruct that, where we're at normally, ordinarily. Excuse me, I missed a word. Recusing or blaming these terms of love and dignity for us, to what extent can we interpret it as something such as accepting responsibility in terms of we make a mistake or we do something


that's not correct, we simply admit it or confess it? Okay, that's a good suggestion for an alternative language. Because it's true, a lot of the language of the monastic tradition, as we've seen, comes across very negative for us. We need affirmative language, positive language. So taking responsibility is good, as long as we give it the full force that Dorotheus is able to give it. Because the point is that you'll notice with Dorotheus that he doesn't stop at the point of reason, okay? He doesn't tell you, take responsibility insofar as you can understand your own part in what's going on, insofar as you can understand your own responsibility for it, then live up to that or accept that. He doesn't say that, does he? He wants you to go beyond that point of reason, make a kind of act of faith, and that's why it becomes a kind of self-accusation. Even, it's like giving yourself... What's the opposite of the benefit of the doubt? See, as opposed to giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, it's like giving


yourself the burden of the doubt, in a sense, but giving yourself the weight of the doubt by leaning against yourself. That's what he's doing, you see? Now, obviously that's tricky, but what I don't want to do is leave it at that point of rational observation. That is, I see that I'm partly responsible for this, I accept that responsibility. He goes further. See, it's an act of faith. Because lots of times, when we're hurt or when something bad happens, we can't see with the eyes of our reason, from where we're at, we can't see fully enough our responsibility. We can sort of... But we've got an option there as to whether to say, okay, I can't see it, I don't understand, it's not clear to me yet, but I accept it. Or to say, well, my responsibility only goes this far, the rest of it to you Okay. So this is the other side of that same attitude. In Dorotheus, in Discourse No. 6,


The Business of Judging a Brother, in fact, he puts the two together in a couple of places in our present discourse. Page 144 at the bottom. He says, We have left the straight road of blaming ourselves and taken the crooked road of blaming our neighbor. It's like in the physics of the psyche, there's a kind of law of conservation of blame. A law of conservation of evil, or bad karma, or sin, or whatever you want to call it. It's like a hot potato. It's like a buck, it has to be passed, it has to stop somewhere, it has to be. And where it stands is an uncomfortable place, so we try to pass it. The law of conservation of blame. Somebody's got to be blamed if something has gone wrong. It's kind of a gut causality that we feel, that somebody's to blame if something goes wrong, and especially if there's pain. It's something worth to think about sometimes, something worth to study. Why do we attach a causality to evil in that way? We've got to pin it on a person, we've got to find a personal cause for it. We've got to pin it


on our brother, we've got to possibly pin it on God. The last one we want to pin it on is ourselves. And why? Where does it come from? It comes from that instinctive guilt that's right in us. We talk about original sin, we talk about original guilt. There's a guilt in us which is deathly afraid of having that thing fall on us, of having that blame fall on us. In fact, it's as if the whole of our life is constructed, the whole of our ego and the structure of our life is constructed in order to push that away. Remember, these people that talk about our basic motivation is coming from the fear of death. Well, what's death, the consequence of? Biblically speaking, it's the consequence of sin, right? So it's as if the whole of our psychic structure, our normal ego, is constructed in order to push away from us that impending blame, which is a response to our own sense of guilt, our own sense of original sin, you can say. This can be very well proposed to account for this


construction of that false self, of that shell of ego that we talk about so much. And it's not something that we sort of, not a problem we get into as a result of a false root that we take to in our life, it's built into us. We've got a built-in tendency to construct that thing and to push away that original guilt, that original blame, just like a walnut has a tendency to grow a shell, we've got a tendency to grow that thing. And it takes a death in order for us to expose ourselves until it grows, a kind of death into faith. And then he says in another place, in 145, Don't you see that this is why we make no progress, why we find we have not been helped towards it. We remain all the time against one another, grinding one another down, because each considers himself right and excuses himself, all the while keeping none of the commandments yet expecting his neighbour to keep the lot. The thing about Dorotheus is he's talking


about self-accusation and it's just leaking out of everything that he says. I mean, his whole talk is soaked with this collective self-accusation, which is habitual in the monastic literature. There's this collective act of penitence, collective breast-feeding, he's just soaked with it. But you can see that it's sincere too, even though it's so strong and it's so one-sided it can strike you as being profound or forced or insincere, but he means it, he feels it in his bones, because somehow he knows that that's the way to God. The thing I'd like to compare it with, in a way, is this beginner's mind, the idea of the student, and we can get it into less heavy terms there, the person who always knows that he has to learn, and therefore he always relativises his own consciousness at a particular moment, which for us is to relativise our rightness or righteousness, to say, okay, I'm wrong, or at least I'm only right in a very limited way, I only have a little light, I only have a little rightness, righteousness. And the prophets, you know the prophets, all our justices are like a filthy rag, that kind of thing. And what is it? It's man in the light of


God, it's the person who begins to wake up to the being of God, to the presence of God, and begins to experience himself in the light of God, rather than in the light of his own mind, in the light of his own reason, his own observation, especially of his own ego, that little light of our own self-centredness, that warm, small world that we live in. That's right. He's already, he's been training himself in dying for his whole life, and so


death doesn't come as any kind of shock. You can read it like a friend, in a sense. Yes. Yes, because then you cease to be completely, if you're completely into your activity in a sense, you know, if I'm in my business completely, or anything else, if that ceases to be, I'm finished. But the person who faces it, who lives with it every day, it's a friend. That's right. It's very, very mysterious, because I think sometimes one can sort of make friends with


death before the time, and sometimes death can come like a wolf, with complete surprise, complete shock, and interior rebellion, and everything, despite the good life that the person is living. And the fact is that the death and the devil are in cahoots, according to the scriptures. So, death is always the enemy, it's impossible, so it's always the friend. It's because somehow it's become transformed, in a way, by what God has done inside the person. But death is always the enemy, otherwise we wouldn't have to go through it. Because it's so difficult to get that all together, to say it clearly, both sides of it. The thing is, remember though, that Jesus carried the whole death of the world in himself,


and so he lived that drama for everybody, in a sense. So death is different since his death. It's like he had to fight death in a way that nobody else ever fought it, and therefore the drama, the hostility, was at its sharpest with him. But having done that, he's built a kind of bridge, the way Paul talks about death. Paul talks about death as being the last enemy, but he says Christ, through death, has defeated the last enemy in some way. So he says, well, you know, I'm ready to go. He says it's better maybe to be out of the body and to be with Christ. So you've always got those two sides. The smoothness, the readiness for death, but death is a wolf, just the same. Death is swallowed up in life. And yet somehow, we can't really...we have to be very careful the way we relate to death. We've got to learn to accept it, to look forward to it, but if we look forward to it, and if


we make an alliance with death in the wrong way, we're in trouble. We can do that in a lot of ways, in which we really turn away from life. Yes, but it's something more of a preoccupation. Yes, that's because they hate life. We can make a kind of a compact with death inside of ourselves, and that's awful. That's self-destructive. Yes, because everything in us fights it, and rightly so. So it calls for total stepping


over into faith in some way to be able to accept it. We may think we can accept it, just because we don't know what it is. We haven't met it yet. But it's very intimately connected, very centrally connected to the monastery. There's nothing against it. I'm not judging people for what they say. Whereas some other persons have a very peaceful day, without feeling anything specifically against their life. Some of the saints also have experienced that same terror before death. One or two of the


Desert Fathers, but closer to us, I think, are Francis LaGloire and some of the others. We're not supposed to know. We're not supposed to know. Okay, the problem with this business of self-accusation is this general problem of humility, the need for a good self-image, and the whole psychological thing. And I won't go into it too much, but there are all these people who write about the self-image and write about identity nowadays. And there's this principle which we have to admit that if we don't have the right kind of self-image, or if we're not able to get along with that one, if we don't have a sense of identity, then we can't operate, we can't be ourselves, we can't function. And in a sense, we're no good. We're condemned to be losers in some way. So we can't just roll


over that with some kind of monastic rhetoric. We have to deal with it. Remember, Merton dealt with the problem when he talked about the identity crisis. He says, I've read you this before, in Contemplation, the Road of Action, he says, The identity problem has to be solved basically before the monastic life. The mystique of humility and contemplation is good only for those who have an identity which they're capable of surrendering as though it were a nothing, in exchange for the all of God, in which they too are found and recovered with all the world besides. To the immature man for whom the accession to a full identity is too difficult a step, a role of passivity and anonymity, a laudable and highly respectable nothingness, can become a very convenient evasion. Okay, that's true, but I think he puts it too sharply, because who, when he comes into the monastery, has really solved his identity problem? So it's a side-by-side matter. You work it out, you work out the sort of the positive and negative at the same time. You work out the human and the monastic at the same time, Merton. And the monastery has to


be big enough, and at the same time, well enough focused, so that people can do that with their different needs. It's not easy at all. And we can always think, at a certain point, I've made a dreadful mistake, I don't belong here, or something like that. We have to go back and recall what God has done in our lives. There's a kind of way of solution out of this dilemma. The business that you need a good self-image and at the same time we're encouraged to accuse ourselves, to blame ourselves, to be continually, as it were, chipping away at our self-image, almost, you know, with a kind of destructive passion with what we think of ourselves. First of all, the first principle is these two levels of identity, the ego and the self. We've talked about this a hundred times, but Merton is the one who's treated this most copiously and usefully for us in our time, with his false self and his true self. Secondly, this progressive deepening of identity, which is the journey of our life. We move gradually from one level, a more external


level, a level of the shell to a more interior level. And then there's a kind of a strengthening of that interior identity through stress. It's as if first we have to allow the building up of the exterior identity, and then it has to die to give place to the interior identity. And even that journey of John of the Cross, the passage of purifications, it has a lot to do with that. There's a period of building up and there's a period of tearing down, there's a time to live, there's a time to grow, there's a time to die. But as we die, we're being born and growing on a deeper level. Now, the inner identity, or the outer identity to a certain extent, but the inner identity, true identity, sort of thrives on stress, and it thrives on adversity in a certain way. And so that's why the monastic thing works. But if we're still not in touch with that inner identity, if we're still on a level simply of outer identities, of external identifications and images of ourselves, and that kind of need for affirmation, well then maybe we can't take in very much stress. Maybe what we need


is affirmation from outside rather than stress from outside. Because the identity is not sufficiently strongly enough flowing into us from inside, as it were, from the Holy Spirit. And so there are different phases to go through. We can only tell by our reactions, you know, where we're at and what we need. Just a couple of lines towards a true identity, with a kind of theological basis, you can say. The first point is that we don't really know who we are. And so, in the end, the apathetic principle that we move into darkness as regards to who we are, we move into mystery, we move from having, from identifying ourselves in one way or another and saying, okay, I can do this, therefore I am, therefore I exist. Or these people like me, these people admire me, therefore I am. Or this person loves me, therefore I am. Or I can look back upon these accomplishments, therefore I am. We move from those external ones, or even I'm doing well


at prayer, therefore I am. Or even I feel good, you know, or I feel strong, therefore I am. We move from those into a kind of emptiness in which we continue to be, although we don't have any reason, we don't have any external reason for being as it were, for believing ourselves to be okay. And then the second principle is this biblical identity that Brough was talking about, remember? That really, where our identity comes from, the only thing we can identify with, really, is the Word. The Word of God tells us who we are, just like it tells us who God is. And our identity and his identity are intimately related because we're his sons, and that's sort of the last word. So the last word in our identity is the Word, which is Christ. And then the third principle is, this is a kind of a Trinitarian pattern, but the third principle is the affirmation that flows into us out of that mystery and into the mystery of our being as it were through the Word, which is the inner affirmation of the Holy Spirit, which without any images tells us


that we are and that we shall continue to be. Remember when Saint Paul says that we don't know how to pray, but the Spirit cries out in our hearts, Abba, Father. And that Spirit which is praying is giving us our identity at the same moment. The Spirit that cries out, Abba, Father, also says to us somehow, without words, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. It addresses us, it tells us who we are. Remember he says that the Spirit witnesses to our spirit that we are the sons of God. And so that's our identity ultimately. But until that's flowing into us, until we have that interior fullness, well, there can be a lot of deserts and a lot of nights to go through. We could make two columns, you know, with all of the stuff that happens on that level of the shallow people and the level of the shallow self, and then the other column of sort of the deeper identity and its qualities and so on. I haven't taken the trouble to do that, but it wouldn't be hard to compile, to fill a sheet of paper. But one of the things on that level of the


shallow identity is this projection, this projection of blame and of guilt upon others, which we talked about in the last discourse as judging our brother, and a kind of competitiveness, and the kind of positive identification of ourselves by negative identification of somebody else. It's a horrible thing. It goes right back to Cain, I guess. And together with a kind of buried self-contempt and self-hatred, which is what we project out on the other person, actually. We can't really accept ourselves. We're scared to death that we can't, that we don't exist, and somehow we perversely project that out on somebody else. And this gives us a breath of life, it puts a little air into our lungs so we exist for another day, strangely. There are a couple of kinds of self-contempt then. There's the kind that Dorotheus is talking about, but there's another kind of self-contempt, which is psychological self-contempt,


which is destructive. And the person who's talked about this most clearly, as far as I've found, is that Karen Horneye, in her book Neurosis in Human Growth. You know, the basis of her theory is this search for glory, as she calls it, which is the construction of this idealised self-image, because we can't stand who we really are, we really can't get along with ourselves. We pull away from life and try to make a reality of our own, which becomes a false reality. The first thing we do is project this idealised self-image and sort of identify ourselves with it, but because we know that's not us, and our real kind of clumsy self is continually bumping into that, we bury that fact, that difference, and we begin to conceive an enormous but unconscious contempt for ourselves. It's conscious and unconscious at the same time, it's a mysterious thing. It's continually coming up and coming out in what we say and do, and yet, in a way, we've never focused on it. But it's in us,


and it's coming up, this self-contempt and self-hatred, because we're not what we pretend to be. And what we are, that is our normal everyday thing, is continually bumping into, is continually interfering with what we're trying to make ourselves. But at the same time, the whole thing rests on ignorance of who we really are. The whole thing is sort of detached from the reality of what we were calling that biblical self, that's not our true identity. Our true identity as persons, our true identity as persons in God, in Christ, the Christ self, the true self, the inner self, this whole thing is sort of completely ignoring that. There's kind of a masterpiece that she's written about these things. If you've ever spent much time in these areas of self-hatred and self-contempt, you'll really, really enjoy the landscape. Self-hatred expresses itself thirdly in self-contempt. I use this expression as an overall term for the manifold ways of undermining self-confidence. Self-belittling, self-disparaging, self-doubting,


self-discrediting, self-ridiculing. There's a kind of self-ridiculing which is okay, because if we do it, it is joking. And there's another kind which is murderous, the same way as we can ridicule other people in a murderous way, or we can sort of kid them in a friendly, affirming way. And then she goes on. To gain a more comprehensive grasp on the poignancy of the problem, we shall consider here four consequences of self-contempt. The first is the compulsive need of certain neurotic types to compare themselves with everybody with whom... That includes all of us. To compare themselves with everybody with whom they come in contact and to their own disadvantage. You notice that thing happening in yourself. It doesn't happen to everybody. We find ourselves continually comparing ourselves and coming up second best, and with a kind of perverse relish of savouring that horrible feeling of being no good, of being inferior, that we


get from that. Second, vulnerability in human relationships. Self-contempt makes us hypersensitive to criticism and rejection. On little or no provocation, we feel that others look down on us, do not take us seriously, do not care for our comfort, and in fact slap us. I've got a couple more. Thirdly, the person in the crutches of self-contempt often takes too much abuse from others. You may not even recognize it, blatant abuse, whether it be humiliation or exploitation. We don't know where the boundaries of our ego, of our self are, and so other people can run all over us. Either we're hypersensitive, you see, and they can't even get near us because we accuse them of exploiting us, or we don't know when they've really camped all over our territory. We don't know when they've really run over us. We don't know where our boundaries are. The last consequence is the need to alleviate or balance self-contempt with the attention,


regard, appreciation, admiration, or love of others. The pursuit of such attention is compulsive because of the compelling need not to be at the mercy of self-contempt. So it's like there's a bottomless hole in ourselves that we're continually trying to fill with the attention. It's sort of the consciousness, the spirit of others. And it doesn't even have to be positive attention. It can even be negative attention. You can be satisfied if somebody else is mad at us, as long as he notices us. It is also determined by a need to triumph in the amount of an all-consuming life goal. The result is a total dependence on others for self-evaluation. It rises or falls with the attitudes of others towards you. So that's a kind of alienation from self, because who we are depends on everybody else. Remember, who is it, Buber? Of course, that Zadig is saying, if you are who you are because I am who I am, and I am who I am because you are who you are, then I am who I am, and you are who you are. But if I am who I am because


I am who I am, and you are who you are because you are who you are, then I am who I am, and you are who you are. Then she goes on and on. That's a good book. Okay, let's go to the other kind. The other kind is the monastic self-contempt, which is based on some kind of a sense of identity, which is strong enough to sustain it, and therefore it builds itself up instead of knocking us down. The whole test is whether the fruits are fruits of life or fruits of death, whether they are positive or negative. It's very easy to tell. It's easy to tell the difference between life and death, depending on how we are taking it. And the monastic is a kind of methodical, kind of systematic, what do you call it, stressing of our identity. It's like the pruning of our identity. The pruning is a good image though, because it's like we've got an identity, which is a tree or a vine, and it puts out these branches. Now, we are tempted to identify ourselves by the


branches, by the foliage, and by the fruit we see hanging on the branches. So what happens? So somebody comes along and starts pruning off the branches, and when we lose a branch we feel that we don't exist anymore, we've lost our sense of identity, because we don't experience the trunk, we only experience the branches maybe, and the buds, and the leaves, and that's our consciousness out there. We don't experience the trunk or the root, we only experience the branches, maybe the buds, the flowers, the fruits, the leaves. And when that goes, as it does in the winter time, then we feel we don't exist anymore. But the monastic thing is a matter of learning, of becoming stronger, through this pruning process, and even accepting and even adopting the pruning process itself. Or trusting and loving people. That's right. Yeah, even during the winter, when everything disappears, when the leaves fall off, we don't think we exist anymore, because there's no sense of life flowing


up within us at that time. And we can't see anything on our branches, there's nothing visible that tells us that we're alive. The tree could be dead. So it's a matter, like the tree, it's as if a tree in the winter time has to have total faith in the sun, in the summer that's coming. Brother Lawrence, do you ever read the Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence? He had this vision one time of a tree which was bare in the winter time. It was a very banal-seeming image. He had this vision of a tree which was bare in the winter and then full of blossoms and leaves in the summer. And that for him was a whole illumination of his spiritual life, and of faith, the meaning of faith, and the shape of our life. It's very simple. So this monastic kind of self-accusation is the acceptance of this thing, which leads to an increase in faith rather than an abandonment of faith, which is what we have in another case, where we knock ourselves down out of self-contempt. There's no faith involved.


That's why it's killing us. There's no life being strengthened by that. It's an abdication, it's a rejection of life. Okay, let's read Dorotheus' discourse briefly. He starts out, notice, he starts out talking about our reactions. That's how we know where we're at. We think that's how we know who we are, but we don't, by our reactions. How is it that at one time a man hears a disparaging remark and passes it by without being disturbed, as if he'd already heard it, and another time he hears it and is immediately disturbed? What's the reason for such a difference? Why is it that one day somebody can say something really cutting to us and it doesn't really bother us, we go on as usual, and another day it can knock us down completely, and really it throws that switch that knocks us into depression and into self-hatred and despair. And that's a very real experience for most of us, not for some people who are particularly robust naturally, but for most of us it is.


He says there are many causes, but there's only one thing at the bottom of it. Maybe we're a little disappointed when we get it, because what he comes up with is a practical answer. It sounds like he's going to go into the depths of the soul and give you some profound philosophical reason, but he doesn't. He's interested in practical things. And he gives you three reasons on the surface. One is that we've got a basically good disposition. Persistence is basically prospering, spiritually and psychically, psychologically, and so it doesn't hit him that hard. But when we're fragile, spiritually and psychically, and really it means psychically, then we easily get knocked over. Secondly, we have a special affection for the person who does it. Well, that may make it especially rough, too. If somebody whom you love or whom you highly respect criticizes you, it has a lot more weight with you. But what he's talking about here is that kind of affection which is also a trust in the other person's affection to the extent that we know that he really loves us, and therefore... or we know that it doesn't really break the


relationship, and so we can go along with that. Because the love itself supports us, the love itself affirms our identity, and within that love we can bear all kinds of things, as if it was a child hurting us in some small way. Thirdly, there's this business of contempt. If we are unaffected by somebody's criticism or disparagement, or even insult, because we don't give any value to that person, well, that's not positive. And he goes into that. He gives the story of his brother. It's strange, you know, I happened to look at the other translation, the French, and it disagrees radically. And I can't figure out from the Greek for sure who's right. I think they're using two different manuscripts. Because the French translation goes along, as it seems to me, with the Greek that he's got there, whereas his translation radically differs from it. But the trouble is, ordinarily I'd give the preference to the source Christian, to those who are more expert in this matter than Wheeler is, but his holds the continuity,


that's the problem. And so I think they've got maybe a manuscript that isn't reliable. Well, that's a surprising thing. The way he interprets it anyway is that this person... See, it illustrates the point here, whereas there it doesn't. Because there the story turns out that this fellow is bearing with... It reminds us of a story from Manathas. He's bearing with all of these insults as if he were a dog. He says, I put up with all these things just as a well-trained dog, or a good dog, puppy dog, will, with what it... It takes anything from its master. But that's out of continuity with the context, so really Wheeler's reading seems better. So he asks this fellow why he's not bothered by what people, what the other monks do, and he says, right, I don't pay any more attention to that than to the barking of a dog, which is total pride and contempt for the others, at least the way it sounds. So that's worse than being sensitive, that air of superiority.


Having heard this, I cast my eyes down and said to myself, has this brother found a way? So, it happens that a man may not be troubled through disdain, through contempt for others. This is a loss. If we're that isolated, that independent, that secure, we're really in trouble. And then, if we're not in a good mood, he repeats those three causes, or because we have an instinctive dislike for somebody, rather than an affection. There are many causes of this, but the root cause of all these disturbances is that we do not accuse ourselves, hence we have all these commotions and we never find rest. It's as if there's a preparation of the heart, there's a preparation of the soul, which is in a basic attitude, which is formed by accusing ourselves. And if we have that, then nobody else can hurt us. But if we don't accuse ourselves and don't form this basic attitude, then we can be knocked down by anything. It's curious that Karen Horneye, when she


talks about that other kind of self-contempt, she says that you have a basic self-contempt in yourself, and as soon as somebody touches you at all, it's fortified by that thing. In other words, it reawakens that unconscious but latent self-contempt and has the opposite effect. See, it's the opposite of this. Psychologically, it's the opposite of this good disposition. What is the point of this disposition, that it then shoots out? Yeah, it then knocks us down completely. In other words, it's like you touch somebody and he falls over, because the merest hint of criticism to this person just triggers an immense self-contempt which is already latent inside of him, so he falls over. This is the opposite of this disposition of self-contempt or self-accusation, the positive kind, whereby nothing really bothers you that much when somebody else says it, because you've already said it to yourself. They're like mirror images, one being in a bright mirror and the other in a dark mirror,


of the same thing. The disposition of self-contempt in its positive form, its healthy form, and in its sick form. Each one, the way that it responds to the external stimuli, triggers. So for him, this is the key. Notice that he said the same kind of thing about humility, he said the same kind of thing about the fear of God. It's as if there's only one way and it's got all these different names, and this is one practice. As we have all these commotions, we never find rest. The Greek word is anapausis. It's not hesikia, it's the word for rest. So the Fathers say there's no other way but this, and we see that no one at any time went by another way and found rest. That's the favorite expression of his, which he uses for different things. So all kinds of things, always disciplining yourself, I'm not taking this road. We're still at war with others. It doesn't kill our paranoia.


No, the paranoia is precisely this thing of projecting problems out on somebody else, putting ourselves in the center of the world and projecting the cause of all the problems out on somebody else, as well as the hostility, so they're out to get us. The whole world is hostily circling around us, treating us unjustly, and so on. And we're in this impregnable castle, not impregnable, this castle of justice. There's no whiteness. Avatthoma. If anything happened to a man who gives himself some punishment or dishonor or any kind of trouble, he would accept it as if he deserved it, and would never be put to confusion. You remember the story of the old monk at Mount Athos who comes to the monastery of Stepanakita, and he says, well, if they give me something it's okay, but if they don't give me something it doesn't mean they give me something that's improved. It's just like


the little dogs, you know. If they get something they're happy, if they don't get something they're not too disturbed. It's that kind of attitude. But how fragile we are nowadays, we modern Americans, so that that thing immediately awakens something else in us, you know. To look at ourselves as a dog, you know. It doesn't strike us as being healthy. There's something really solid under what he's talking about. Okay, what if I'm on the right, if I haven't really done anything to my brother and he accuses me, and Dorothy says, well, look around and you'll find something. Either you really are, you're not completely just, you're not as just as you think you were, if you didn't do it today you probably did it last week, and if you didn't do it to him you probably did it to somebody else. And so he goes on and on. You can't get out of it. But the point is that we're in a state of illusion, and we're trying to be rescued from it, okay. We're in a state of this beginner's mind once again.


We're in a state of blindness, and we're asking to be enlightened. And so almost anything that comes along and helps to break that shell of illusion, helps that shell of self-righteousness, is worth accepting. So there's an attitude that does that, and it's willing to accept the light. Remember that other conference in which he put so much negative emphasis on, what was it, self-justification? What was the other one? There were two of them together there. It's self-justification, you see. And this is what works against self-justification. It's self-accusation, self-non-justification, of the right kind, but it's the precise contrary to it, it's the remedy to anything. And then here's the other one. If he didn't come and speak to me and annoy me, I wouldn't have done it for him. In the case of a man minding his own business, sitting at peace and quiet, he's doing fine, and somebody comes up and says an annoying word to him, and he's all upset. He says, well, if he hadn't done that, I was with God, and he came and took God away from me.


If he hadn't done that, it would have been all right. It's his fault. He's saying, no, it's not his fault. If you hadn't been all set up for that inside, if you had really been with God, if that peace within you had been genuine, he wouldn't have been able to disturb you in that way. It was in you. The fault is in you, he says. Remember that thing we were reading last time, that rational emotive therapy and the ABC thing? Remember, A is the activating external event. Somebody comes and speaks a disturbing word to you. C is the consequent emotion. Is it the disturbance, the anger, whatever it is. It's stirred up. And what's in the middle? B is this structure of thought, this structure of illusion, something in our mind, our deep mind, which makes us react in that way. Now, this self-accusation is directly opposite to that. It's designed to pierce that.


It's designed to seek out and destroy that false, that set of illusory beliefs about ourselves. But you see, what he's saying is the same thing that Brough was saying, that other treatment did. It's not the fault of what comes to you from outside. It's as if he were to say, paraphrasing the Gospel, nothing that comes from outside a man can disturb him. What disturbs a man comes from inside, from the heart. And first of all, in the heart are these false ideas about ourselves. There's this massive illusion. Yes.


Yes, I think the main... I think Dardis has got that in him, as a matter of fact. I think he's coming from a base of that kind of love. But the difference in emphasis is largely the difference between, let's say, a vertical and interior, and somewhat solitary approach, and a communal and horizontal, and call it tactical approach. Okay? I don't think his analyses are kind of casual, as compared to the analyses of some other people who are really meticulous about it. And he's like Saint Benedict, that he's talking about the tactics of living with one another in charity, in community, or how you live together so as to build this charity. Okay? Now, another person of a more interior approach would say, lose yourself in God, and then return and you'll have no problems, just remain in contact with that centre which has been filled with God,


and come back among your brethren and there won't be any problems. That's not his approach. And it's not the approach of most, if not all, of the cenobitical writers in the early monastic tradition. But, just as Saint Benedict can seem very heavy and very negative at times, that fire is inside of him. But isn't there a kind of dialogue between the concrete of this, and the concrete of what he's saying? I don't think that Dorotheus was a mystic of that kind. I don't think he was. I'm using the terms trust, but I'm in a way... Yeah, the trust is there, but it's another expression. It comes out at the end when he talks about putting everything into the context of your relationship with God. Trust in the providence of God. And that's it, that's the ultimate principle for him. But he's very much entering into where his brothers are at, in relating to one another, okay? He doesn't sort of stay up on a mountain and say,


well, just trust and everything will not unravel itself. He gets right down into the fray and says, look, when you're in a problem, when you're in trouble, when you're under stress, conduct yourself in this way, and get yourself back to this place of trust. He's really got it there. But he enters very much into this puzzle with his monks. It seems to me this is a response to the question of trust. It seems to me that Dorotheus is very well grounded in trust. I mean, you see, that was an instance of all the wonderful charity and love. But if you can give us this practical example, which is how trust is a practical application, and I think that's true, then, underneath that, I think the core of Dorotheus' approach is trust. So, on 1.3, he says, above all, you know, after he's given these practical applications, he says, above all, let us be convinced that nothing can happen to us apart from the providence of God.


So, to me, that shows some sense of trust. There's also a couple of other examples on page 146. The story is about how a man was fed less evil rather than honey, and how he was able to accept that in faith and trust. And probably there was some charitable question for his brother, too, that the fact that the old man was so sick that day that he could take no food did not make him happy with his brother, so there must be some charity for him there. But he referred the whole thing to God. And the old man was quite right to say, if God had wanted me to eat honey, he would even have changed the law anytime. So it seems a bit extreme, but it's an interesting example of trust. Now, on 1.47, we need God who grants us occasions of this kind to purify us from our sins, and we run, many can take it on, we run after our neighbor crying, why did you say this to me? Why did you do this to me?


And where we would be able to reap great profit from things of this kind, we bring just an oxymoron ourselves, being unaware that everything happens by the foreknowledge of God, for the benefit of each of us. May God make us really understand this through the prayers of the saints. So it seems that there is a bottom line, or a core, or a sort of green thing for God. So it is some sense of trust in God, even in brothers. What he's preaching continually is trust and love, but he doesn't preach it from a kind of an exalted state of consciousness, but from the midst of the threat, in the midst of the struggle. And it's as expressed in these ins and outs, and back and forth of the relationship with your brother, in the actuality of this anecdotal life, which could be very intense on the interpersonal level. That's what he's talking about. Just like Saint Benedict, it's the same thing. Now, the approach of a solitary writer will be quite different often. Even the approach of Bartholomew, for instance,


is less into the tactical, but he still comes down and talks about past times. But then you'll find him sort of talking from a lofty simplicity often. Dorotheus is a tactician, and he talks to his monks where they are. He doesn't want to say there's no problem. He doesn't want to say there's no problem, just sort of find God and everything will work itself out. He says, well, this is how you keep hold of the center while you're in the middle of the problem. He doesn't demand of them a level of consciousness which they don't have yet. He's very much a pedagogue, a teacher. Okay, where are we here? Yeah, these various cases, you know. Suppose... If he hadn't come and bothered me, I'd be all right. To the degree that a soul advances, it becomes stronger


and has the power to bear anything that comes upon it. This idea of strength, which is, what's presupposed under this whole self-accusation thing. If we're not strong enough to do it, then we'll knock ourselves down. He uses the image of a beast of burden. If you have a healthy beast, he'll get up. Even if he stumbles for a moment, he'll get up. If you have a sickly beast, he's going to stay down. Now, that's the test of whether this self-accusation thing is going to work or not, is whether the beast gets back up under the burden and begins to walk, begins to run perhaps, or whether he just stays down, whether he collapses, whether even any straw is the last straw. Sometimes people can be in that mood. The first straw is the last straw sometimes. And then there's trust and providence. That's where he always gets back to. That's his first and last principle. Nothing can happen to us apart from the providence of God. So, for a lot of the rest of his discourse here, he's brushing aside the secondary causes and getting back to the primary cause. The risk there is, of course, that we start blaming things not on our neighbor,


but blaming them on God. So, we've got to work ourselves out of two blind alleys, out of two pockets, as it were. The first pocket is blaming the things that happened to us on the immediate agent, on the person who did it. It's his fault. He did that to me. Then the problem can be blaming them on God or on life in general. Well, if it's God's fault, that's even worse, because it makes me not only uncharitable, but a blasphemer. So, we've got to get ourselves out of that one. And that can be a real struggle, like Jacob's struggle with the angel. A real struggle to get ourselves into a position of loving acceptance of what comes to us. And then, of course, even if we blame it on ourselves in the wrong way, then we're still in trouble. If we say, well, okay, it's my fault, and it's always been that way, and it always will be that way, because I'm no good, because I'm a failure, I was made that way. And that's worse yet. So, there are all kinds of blind alleys. And the whole difference is whether grace is falling into us, or whether the Holy Spirit is really inside of us,


and is in charge and in control of what's going on, or whether this is just our own psychic palpitations. And then he goes on, what if I need something? And here, he goes right into that line of trusting God, because when you need something, and you're upset because you don't have it, well, and that's striking, the simplicity that he suggests here. Christ, our Lord, knows better than I do if I ought to be satisfied. He's the one who is to take the place of this object or this food for me. Do you get what he's saying there? If we're too upset about not having something that we need, it means somehow that we've gotten hypnotized too much by the secondary causes. We've gotten too much into reliance on this and that, this thing and that thing that I've gotten to need, because he says our only need is God, and our only food sometimes is Christ. And if we have that food, then everything else will come to us. If you've asked the Kingdom of God, everything else will be supplied to you. It's the Gospel.


The man's truly worthy of rest. The same word in that passage. But God will convince the hearts of the Saracens, which were pretty hard in those days, and it's no harder in the hearts of the Christians. And then the different treatments of God. When he treats us, he gives us easygoing. Summertime living is easy. He's building us up in some way. It's funny, we're like a tree. We have to have a summer and a winter. And if we just have one and not the other, we won't grow properly. We have to be built up, we have to be allowed to expand. And when we expand, it's as if all of us expand. And then we have to experience contraction, so that that qualitative difference will once again come out between the inner life and the outer leaves, between the root and the leaves. And if the life is in the root, it's not in the leaves, because the leaves are going to fall off. It's that prosperity, that expansive moment, that summer. And then that contractive time, that winter, when the life sinks down so many in the roots,


and we can only touch it by faith, and we're back at square one again, we're back at the beginning. Looking for the source. So whatever happens, we ought to give thanks for everything that happens to us, always taking the blame ourselves. Now, this is the point where we turn the blame away from God. That can be a real hard one, if we don't have a basically graceful heart, and not a very happy past. We can start blaming God, and saying, well, the whole thing was a wretched mistake. And the point at which we become able not to do that is the point at which God's grace actually flows into our lives, and as it were, softens our lives. We may have nothing external to account for, but we just say, well, okay, that's what it is. And we know that it's right. And we know that it's allowed to be allowed. Okay. I don't know if we need to spend more time on this one,


because it's not that a lot of new things come up in the rest of the discourse. Next time we get together, let's go on to the next one, the next present subject, to Lankan Animosity. You could read a couple of them, because I'm going to be away for a while. And Brother David will be here, and Brother David's seminar will be given. I talk once a week while he's here, which will substitute for the class, but it will be open to anybody else who wants to come, too. I haven't really settled with him exactly what he'll be talking about. It will be something interesting, something in the area of Master Spirituality. I hope you'll tell us this. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.