Cassian - On Chastity

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Cassian Institute




But before we do that, let's finish this conference. We went up through Chapter 11, and Chapter 11, for me, is kind of the peak of this conference. But let's recapitulate a little bit of what was in the earlier part. First of all, remember how this hooked up with Conference 11 on charity, because the question comes up, well, can you have perfect charity without perfect chastity, don't the two go together? And you see they're like the two sides of the coin, right, because where your love is is related to where your love is not, right? Chastity sounds negative, but it's just the other side of love, it's the other side of the love of God, right? If your love is in God, then it's not in the flesh, that's the point, you see, so the two sides of the coin. So it is a logical connection.


And then it's the whole question of is it possible to have perfect charity, and perfect chastity, and of course it is, that's Abba Cherubim's thesis here. And then the question of what it's like and how do you get there. And the fact that Cassian and Germanus don't really know what he's talking about yet, they haven't got to that level, so he keeps repeating that only the person who has experienced this can really understand what's being said, it's not a perfect chastity. Then he contrasts chastity with continence, remember continence is where you still have a struggle, whereas chastity, the gift of chastity, means that somebody has tranquility, he's beyond the disturbances of the flesh, of the passion. And he puts a lot of emphasis on that, the cessation of the battle of the flesh against the spirit. Then he gets to, he's got this chapter 11 which is so beautiful, on what perfect chastity


means, and he uses all these scriptural images, and it's a kind of interior marriage of spirit and body, sort of, so that they no longer fight against one another, but they move smoothly and joyfully along together. So it's tranquility and it's joy and it's all those good things. Then we get to chapter 12 and he starts talking about the miracles which the Lord performs in his saints. Now, these miracles are internal miracles, okay, and he quotes that expression from the psalm, but it's not the same in our translation, mira operatur et anima mea coniocid mimis, but translated into English that means, your works are wonderful and my soul knows them exceedingly. Okay? Now, what would that mean? It means that these are the marvels which are performed inside a person so that only the person who experiences them knows them, aside from, unlike physical healings which are visible to everybody, or other miracles outside, okay?


So these are the special marvels that the Lord works in the saints, and only the saints know them because they experience them, that's the thing. And then he goes on to talk about these miracles, and with much rhetoric, you know, with much eloquence. You can't translate it into English, he piles one word on top of another, as Mr. Cashen often does, and so it sounds almost like a satire sometimes, and he's talking about the person who is weighed down with gluttony, you know, and is filling his belly, and then after this marvel has been worked in him, he gets by with the least of food and doesn't even think about his food. Or the outrageously, you know, irascible person, the person who is always angry, and who is impossible to get along with, and after the Lord works his marvel in him, he's meek and so on, and turns the other cheek, and accepts injuries with it, and so on. He goes on and on with the different vices. And it turns out, he also quotes this Psalm 45, which is beautiful, and remember,


Come and see the works of God which he has done on the earth. He takes away wars even to the ends of the earth. He breaks the yard, he breaks the bows and crushes the shields and burns them with fire and that whole thing. It's one of those Jerusalem Psalms, too. It's 45 in this numbering, but I think it's 46 in the Hebrew probably. That's a beautiful Psalm. I was thinking about that one day years ago when it came to me, a really good idea, that the Lord crushes wars. In other words, he brings his peace and he crushes the wars, and he takes away precisely that, the interior struggle, you see. That's what he's talking about. The interior warfare, but it's from the interior disquiet that the exterior warfare comes, that men fight one another because they have this interior disquiet. And those are the people that haven't even embarked on the interior struggle, you see, because they're not fighting it yet. They're not fighting themselves, and so they're fighting somebody else. So the first stage is to be at war with other men. The second stage is to be at war with yourself.


The third stage is to be at war with nobody, and that's when God comes and gives you interior peace, peace of the heart, which in this case, of course, is chastity. But these virtues are all one. The perfection of virtue is all one. It's love. And so these things all converge at that point, like the spokes of a wheel. Now, notice that these are transformations. They're changing one kind of behavior or one kind of attitude into its opposite, right? It's a kind of a chemistry. In fact, the alchemists used to do this sort of thing. They had all this esoteric language for what they were doing, and they were doing something very much like this. Jung has studied this a lot. The transformation of one thing into another. Now, how would we consider that nowadays, what he's talking about, how would the psychologists talk about it? They talk about the transformation of energy, for instance of sexual energy, into love or


into another kind of energy. Looking at man as a system of energy, like Freud does more or less, he talks about libido, you know, and he talks about sublimation. He says that the libido, the basically sexual energy, turns into another kind of energy, which expresses itself in art and all kinds of good things, all kinds of creative things. We'll talk about that afterwards. We'll go back to that, because it's very important. But you see, it's a transformation of energy, if you want to look at it that way. Bateson doesn't accept that. Bateson says there's no such thing as psychological energy. He says it's bringing in a notion from physical science and putting it inside man, and he says it isn't true. But there's sure something very much like it. And you know it yourself, because you know when you've got energy and you know when you haven't got energy. It's a perfectly good expression for the way that we feel when we're strong or when we're weak, is to have energy, right? And probably man has always used that expression. It's got a certain limit of validity, but you have to be careful how far you take it in psychology. When we carry in those terms from the physical world and use them for expressing the interior


reality of man, we have to be careful, because they all have a limit. Like the people that bring that energy into the highest place in man, as it were, until they make it sort of the same as the Holy Spirit. Now, that's the risk in Teilhard, because he'll take physical energy and he'll say physical energy is the same as psychological energy, basically, because it's a higher form. And psychological energy and sexual energy, and then you get up to spiritual energy, and then finally you've got the Holy Spirit. But it's a continuum, you see what I mean? There's no... the difference between God and man, between the Holy Spirit and energy, sort of, gets lost in the progression. That's the danger. Now, looking at it from one point of view, it's true. Look at it from another point of view, theologically, it's dangerous. Anyway, that's a whole other subject. Okay, it's a transformation of energy, from one point of view. Chapter 13. Only the experienced know this...


I'm rushing through this because we don't want to spend too much. Only the experienced know the sweetness of chastity, and even they can't communicate it. He uses the example of honey. Only the person who has tasted honey knows what it tastes like, and you can't tell anybody else about it, let it taste it for yourself. This expression, sweetness, is used very often in the Fathers, in spiritual sense. Somebody likes it greatly, all the time, and also in the Middle Ages. In the Western Middle Ages, medieval monastic writers, this notion of spiritual sweetness all the time, you think it sounds very selfish, but it's not really, because it's something else. It's not just sensual sweetness, it's something else. It's a very interior kind of spiritual joy or pleasure. I think you have to call it pleasure, in a sense. When you talk about sweetness, sweetness is more pleasure than joy. Joy is something else, it seems to me. In the East, I think they call it feeling, warmth, feeling. In the East, you hear more about warmth, especially because they're thinking about the heart,


right? When you think about the heart, you can't talk about sweetness, but you're more likely to talk about warmth. Today's the Feast of the Sacred Heart. It would be interesting to talk about the contrast between the view of the heart in the East and in the West. But that's all connected to what we're talking about today. And this whole business of chastity and love is the place, sort of the vessel, the retort in which that whole thing goes on, the whole process goes on, is the heart. It's a question of getting this energy into the heart, to put it crudely, or transmuting it in the heart, transforming it in the heart. That's the problem with chastity. We'll talk about that more when we come back to it after we finish the conference, because I've got some books I want to refer to. You've got a point there? I was wondering whether the... if all the energy... I mean, because we're spiritual, one forgets the physical. Well, no. The way we're made, it's very difficult for that to happen.


Sometimes people write that way, you know. They write as if you're going to become completely withdrawn from the physical. Especially in Hinduism, but also in early Christianity, some of the poets write that way, as if man could really become an angel, you know, so that his body would be forgotten, left below. Now, the saints do experience ecstasy when the spirit somehow is withdrawn from the flesh. Like when St. Paul says, whether I was in the body or out of the body, I don't know. Well, that's one of those states, you see, where the body is just sort of... And some of the saints have states where the body is like dead, or dormant, you know, it's like in cold storage, where the spirit goes off somewhere, it's in a high state. But that's not where we're going. Remember the resurrection, that's not where we're going. So that can happen, but it's not much of a danger for us. Usually our danger as a country, right, is to get too much into the flesh. The danger of that kind, of too much separation, is more in our thinking and in our behavior


than it is in our states. Because it's hard for us really to get there, but we can aim there, and that's a mistake. Because then what we do is we abuse the body in some way, or we act as if we didn't have a body, and then we get into trouble somewhere. Because usually it takes its revenge on us. Pascal's old saying, the man who wants to be an angel ends up being a beast for what happens to him. Maybe that's not an exact quote of Pascal. Oh yeah, he talks about this spiritual joy. He loves to go on about that. I won't try to translate it. This is the final miracle that he's talking about. He says, I can't talk about this, the spiritual joy that's in the saints.


And when they talk about chastity, they always talk about this joy. That celestial infusion of spiritual joy by which the soul which has been cast down is lifted up with the alacrity of spiritual joy. Those excesses, those ecstasies of the burning heart and those consolations of joy which are as ineffable as they are unheard of, and so on, by which the saints are aroused to most fervent prayer, as if they were raised from sleep. And he says, this is what the apostle was talking about when he said that what the eye has not seen or the ear has heard, nor has ascended into the heart of man, what God has prepared for those who love him. God has revealed to us through his Spirit.


That's from 1 Corinthians 2. He refers to one of the saints who was in Alexandria, and the crowd was saying, well, what good is your God? You're a Christian. What wonder has he ever done? What miracles has he performed? As if they were asking him for a miracle. And he said, this miracle he has done, that you can abuse me even more than you're doing, and I won't be moved. And I won't be, as he said, I won't be offended. I won't be moved. So the miracle, the great miracle there is the interior miracle. And this is typical. I mean, this is true. That the real miracle of Christianity is not the external healing, but it's the internal miracle, which is the beginning of the resurrection, but which is experienced not so much in the body as in the heart, as in the soul. But it is experienced in the body, but not so much.


It's more intense, it's more full interiorly, and then later in the resurrection it becomes visible exteriorly, and experienced there. But it already affects the body. Okay, Germanus, as usual, is cast down by this rather than encourages it. Well, how are we ever going to get there? So tell us how long it takes and tell us how you arrive at this exalted state. So Chairman goes on and he says, well, it's impossible, of course, to say, to generalize and to say how long it takes to arrive at this point, because just like in any other art, some people, in learning any art or any craft, some people are more quick and others are slower. And for one reason or another it takes some people a lot longer to learn something than does somebody else. So that seems to be so much the more here, he says. Nevertheless, he says that there is a time within which you will be able to know whether this is possible to you. He says six months is that time. If you observe these little bitty rules here, which he lays down.


If you only eat your two biscuits a day, I don't know how big those biscuits were. You have to be mortified and restrained from all idle conversation and from all anger and care and worldly care that is concerned about you. So this is a typical, intentionally contemplative life. And not satiate yourself with water. Don't drink all the water that you want. And you can sleep three hours. Some say four. And then the other thing is that you're not to believe that this comes to you from your own merits or from your own efforts for the two grades. But if you observe that mild way of life for six months, you will know. If you're still alive, you'll know. If you're not alive, then it's evident that it's not possible for you. Whether that acquisition of perfect chastity is possible for you.


In other words, I suppose whether you're called for it. That must mean what it means. It must be what it means. But he puts great emphasis on this thing of not getting elated and not believing that it comes to you. As soon as you begin to experience chastity and tranquility and joy, he says, don't think that it comes to you from your own efforts and your own power. And yet he says it's impossible not to believe that. Every beginner does. You see, as soon as you receive a spiritual gift, you start attributing it to your own merits. And so that's the reason why grace has to be taken away and why you have to go back into temptation, he says. So you can be cured from that self-sufficiency. It's like you're lifted up out of the water and then you're dipped again. You're lifted up and you're dipped and so on and so on. Until you know the difference between grace and nature. Until you realize who you are, sort of without God, and then who you can be with God. And once again, the whole lesson is learning the meaning of that word grace. Because the word grace is a word that means God, really. It means God as gift.


And the difference between me and God, it's learning the difference that's important. So some have to fall into themselves more than others because they learn slower? Yeah. Well, the learning, the slow learning, he hasn't connected with this directly, but that would certainly be concerned with it. In other words, a slow learner, he might be slow at learning for several reasons. Maybe he wouldn't be self-denying enough for one thing or wouldn't be abstemious enough. But also, obviously, he would be a slow learner if he continually got proud about what the gift he was receiving. That means he'd have to go back from third grade to second grade again, you know, go back and start over, start around the course again. Now, this is continually happening to us. I mean, all the time. As soon as we think we've got somewhere, not only that we've got something by our own efforts, but even if we've got somewhere and we're better than somebody else, you can sort of expect to find yourself back at the beginning, at least in a place where you're


completely helpless. And if you rise up again through God's grace, have you risen higher? Not necessarily. It's hard to generalize, because remember that this affects the whole of life, all the time, and that people, you know, people are always different, and that even I'm different today from what I will be tomorrow, so it's very difficult to make generalizations. Sometimes a person could be taken to a higher state, but often not, because you've got this case where a person, we've talked about this before, where a person at the beginning of his conversion is given a great mystical grace or something like that, okay, a great contemplative gift, and then he doesn't experience anything like that again for twenty years or thirty years, okay. Now, there you've got a case where, and immediately, of course, when he was lifted up to that point, he said, ah, now I'm here, now I've arrived, and my efforts that I did in being converted have really paid off, because this is the gift, and now I'm ready, sort of, to go out and convert the world, and now I'm really somewhere, I don't have to worry anymore.


And then, boom, he finds himself back down at the beginning, and he has to climb up all the way again, and he may never, maybe never, have the same grace again. And yet, that may be just the invitation to come back to the same point, and then receive greater and greater graces. It may have been just a taste. It's impossible to say. St. Teresa is a good example. Even though she didn't fall into mortal sins afterwards, but she fell into laxity, and lukewarmness, and so on. She talked too much, in a part of it. That's the great sin of nuns, it seems. Okay. So, put your hope in grace. Now, he says the sign that this gift is coming is the fact that you no longer hope to have it by your own efforts. Now, that's interesting. The sign that you are close to receiving this gift of perfect chastity is that you no longer attribute it to your own efforts. What does that mean? You've got two sides of the thing coming together.


One is the purity itself, and the other is the realization that it's not due to your own efforts. And why? It seems that somehow, because of the experience of the quality of the thing itself, there's experience that's something that doesn't come from you. Okay? So, the experience itself is an experience of a gift. Now, perhaps it's because the experience itself is the experience of the indwelling God, in some way. We talk about it in negative terms when we say it's chastity. But, really, maybe it's the positive quality of it. Which is simply the presence of God, which makes you absolutely certain that it's not you. It's not coming from you. It's not from your own efforts. You see what I mean? And that stands to reason that the thing that's filling us and making us independent of the whole sexual thing, the sexual force of gravity, is God in us. It's God dwelling in us. And we know that doesn't come from us. But up to that point, you see, whenever we, I don't know, we get a kind of a mixed taste of it, we think, well, that could be from me. That's something that I've done. So, this thing is an experience of love, in some way, you see?


Now, when love comes, you know it's not you, in some way. It's pure gift. And that seems to be the thing. So, the very experience of the thing tells you it's not from you. It's freedom, as it were. It's freedom. And you've got two kinds of freedom connected to it. One is the freedom of being free from the sexual captivity. And the other is this freedom of the gift, which comes to you gratuitously, as it were, and which is known as such. It's freedom. So, freedom in the person and love. It seems we're all on the same level at that point. And chastity. This kind of doctrine is greatly in need of being propagated today, of course. Even though maybe not quite in the same language. Then he goes on and he repeats those signs of perfect chastity and so on.


But we had that before. Then he says, once again, that this is only understood by the people who have experienced it. Then he says there's a great difference between one man and another. And the difference between one man and another, the distance, is as great as the difference of that which they have in their hearts, on which they have their hearts set. Sounds like Saint Augustine, doesn't it? And he says this is as great as the difference between heaven and hell. See, in one man's heart will be hell, which is just fleshly lust. And in another man's heart will be heaven, which is God. So, or between Christ and Belial, which means the devil and so on. And then he quotes Saint John to conclude this. If somebody serves me, let him follow me, and then where I am, he, my servant, will also be. The implication being that you simply get where Christ is, that is, in God, in the Father,


what this means. And where your treasure is there your heart will be, too. It's a matter of the heart. Which takes us to the Institute there, where you've got a kind of more centralized teaching on this matter of chastity. Any questions or remarks about this before we go on? A couple of places. I didn't read this just now, so I hope I'll be able to find the right places. Purity of heart is pointed out as being primary here. Now, this is on the spirit of fornification. It's the same problem. It's just treated from another angle. According to this, remember, idea of the eight evil thoughts? And each one has its demon. Each passion has a demon behind it, sort of, tempting you with it. The correction of this vice depends mainly on perfection of our heart. And fornification means any kind of sexual sin, not just what we technically class as fornication.


The correction of this vice depends mainly on perfection of our heart, out of which the venom of this sickness proceeds, as the Lord said, from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, robberies, etc. So that must first be cleansed from which we know the spring of life and death flows, as Solomon says. More than all else, keep watch over your heart, since here are the wellsprings of life. For the flesh serves its decision and rule, that is of the heart. Therefore, he says, very great care must be given to restraint in eating, so that our well-fed flesh should not resist our soul's wise advice. That's one thing I always point out in this Mother Chastity. However, if we devote all our efforts only to chastising the body, without our soul similarly fasting from the other vices, and being preoccupied with religious reflection and spiritual study, we can never attain the highest summit of authentic integrity, which is chastity. While the principal factor in us is soiling the purity of our body. So, as the Lord said, we must first cleanse what is inside the cup and bowl,


in order that what comes from outside may also be clean. Remember how he stressed the importance of meekness and curbing anger, and all of the other passions too, but especially anger, in order to attain that purity. Fasting by itself does not suffice to acquire or keep chastity in all its purity, if it is not preceded by contrition of soul, persevering prayer against this foulest of spirits, as well as continuous meditation on scriptures. You've got to fill the mind with something else. In addition, we must practice spiritual wisdom and manual labor that disciplines and controls our heart's unstable wandering. Above all, we have to build on a foundation of genuine humility, without which victory over any vice can never be won. See, here he goes into a good deal more practical advice, doesn't he, than he did down-to-earth advice, than he did in the conference. Remember, this is sort of the understructure.


This is for the center of medical life. But it's useful. Chapter 9 also is on this purity of heart, pain, and foundation. That is why we must carefully purify our heart. The secret recesses of our conscience where the Lord rules as umpire over our struggles. So we have to guard our heart. And that He treats extensively throughout the following chapters. The guard of the heart, keeping the fantasy and the impulse from coming inside. For the quality of neglected thoughts during the day is felt at night. Sickness latent in the day in the depths of the soul only erupts at night, revealing hidden fever of passions contracted at length during the day by unwholesome thoughts. Just as bad food later produces illness.


This is Raphael Brown's translation and abstract. In other words, some places he compresses it. He doesn't translate all of it. He just sums it up, as in these chapters, some of which are boiled down just to a sentence or two. We're pretty extreme on this. So even when the devil injects into our heart the memory of our mother or sister or relatives or some holy women, we must quickly reject it, lest, if we delay, he make us think then of other women and thus insert poisonous thoughts into us. So watch for the snake's head, that is the beginning of evil thoughts by means of which the devil tries to slip into our soul, lest he insert the rest of his body into our heart through our negligence, that is, consenting to pleasure. For once he gets in, he will destroy our captivated mind by his venomous bite. So we must dash the babies of Babylon against the rock, while they, our carnal senses, are still small. Otherwise they'll grow large. Contrition of heart.


This is important because there's something about chapter 17. The greater chastity's reward, the fiercer the attacks against it. So we must not only strive for bodily continence, but contrition of heart, that the fire in the furnace of our flesh, which the king of Babylon, the devil, is constantly enkindling by the stimuli of sensual thoughts, may be extinguished by the dew of the Holy Spirit descending into our hearts. Remember in conference 12 he uses the same imagery. The three young men in the furnace, remember, of Babylon. Now that would be the furnace of passion, or the furnace of temptation, sensual temptation. And then into the fire descended a dew, a gentle dew, which was God's presence himself, the Holy Spirit. And so the three young men were not burned at all by the fire. And so he says it is with us. But the dew of the Holy Spirit, he's connecting with contrition, not with compunction. And there's something very deep and significant there,


because remember that compunction and tears are the breaking forth of the love of God, of the abundance of the heart, right into the flesh, you see. So the body gets pulled in at that point. The body is brought into the love of God at the point of tears, at the point of contrition. And this is a kind of baptizing of the body, because the tears and the impurity, as it were, are mutually incompatible. So the Holy Spirit takes over the body, the expression is tears or compunction, and the impure temptation is removed, is banished. And what happens? There's a transmutation at that point. There's a transformation of that energy, as it were, as if the river were flowing one way and then it flows the other way. And it's a funny thing, isn't it? And yet the energy is there in both cases. And the very energy that's in the sexual passion seems to be transmuted into the other passion, which is a thing of the heart and it's not a thing of the genital organs, you see.


This is important. Because they connect that compunction very much with purity. And therefore the idea of focusing on our sinfulness and so on, which we're feeling at that moment, we're aware of our powerlessness and our fleshliness because of the temptation. And so this is supposed to lead us to that point where the Holy Spirit comes in and helps us in our struggle, comes down into the furnace. It's a gentle dew. And the gentle dew is connected with the tears of compunction. Okay. Also he says that without chastity there's no spiritual knowledge. Just as the elders say we cannot have chastity unless we first build for it in our heart the base of humility, so too they insist we cannot attain to the source of true knowledge as long as the root of this vice remains in our soul. ...attain that kind of purity before passing the word on


because there's some kind of connection between sexuality and the transmission of the word of God. But that's the thing that's not understood nowadays. There could not be spiritual science without complete chastity. So that's pretty extreme doctrine. And he talks about Saint Paul who excels in the gift of knowledge. That reminds us of that conference 14 of Cassian about spiritual knowledge where he didn't talk so much... I think he did talk about chastity. He talked about purity. Especially humility, but also purity. And then we have the connection with the other vices and the evil thoughts. Connecting this virtue of chastity, we've seen how it's connected with charity at the end of Conference 11, with the various grades of charity.


We've seen how it's connected with spiritual knowledge and contemplation. We see how it's connected with the other passions and inversely, especially with the passion of anger, so inversely with the virtue of humility, you see, and especially of patience. Patience is the outward expression of humility. This is connected with obedience too because patience and obedience are nearly the same thing in the monastic life. Then we saw the difference between chastity and continence. We've talked enough about that. But it marks a change, a turnover, a transformation in a person so that now the body is on the other side, as it were. It's on the side of love rather than on the side of lust. It's on the side of good rather than the side of evil. So the body itself moves over from the flesh to the spirit. That's the point. This idea of a new creation, you see, is experienced in this way.


Marriage of nature and God, in a sense. Which means that man has a kind of interior marriage at the same time and so he has joy, because joy is sort of the wine of the banquet. The interior marriage of the two sides of the body and spirit, the male and female, the omnipotent and the omniscient, whatever you want to call it, and the union with God happen at once. It's as if man could only be one inside himself when he's one with God. Does that become a permanent state? Well, one thing is what we read in the tradition, you see, and the other thing is all that we know from our contemporary experience. I think that among some of these saints it certainly was. Like where St. John of the Cross talks about the degree of love whereby a person is really... it's impossible for him to sin and so on. So there are degrees of chastity, of virtue, which become a permanent state, and yet they're very rare.


Maybe they should be ordinary, maybe they should be normal, but actually, statistically, they're very rare. Now, I don't know whether that means it's a permanent state of joy or something like that, because the joy can vary on an interior level. And even after people have reached the heights of holiness, they can still suffer very much. Take the saints who have experienced the spiritual marriage, which must be the same thing as this chastity, because it's just the other side of it, you see. The marriage with God is simply the other side of chastity. And yet they experience all kinds of trials after that. And even maybe fantasies, images of obscene things and so on, even after that time, you see. But they don't consent to it, they don't accept it in their hearts, but still they're afflicted with it. And deep down underneath there must be this joy and peace. Maximus the Confessor is the one who talks about the transformation of the passions. I spoke to you about him before, but he's one of the fathers who is clearest on this. I didn't bring along his book, but it's in those Centuries on Charity,


which are simply beautiful. If you haven't read them, you should read them sometime. Even though you have to be careful, because he's so severe, he gets scared. Like, you go off cowering like Germanus in Cassium, and you say, well, that's impossible. But he's beautiful in his doctrine. He talks about the glorious passion of charity. In other words, the passions and their negativity and energy which can be directed, as it were, to the flesh negatively, simply gets turned around. So it's all positive. But it's not as if there was anything evil there. The only thing that's evil is the orientation. Or you can put it another way, the only thing that's evil is the lack of orientation toward the true center, which is God, or which is the human person. The only thing evil in any of our passions is the lack of true orientation, which just leaves the man fooling around in his own being somehow. There's no meaning. The soul and the body are all tangled up with one another.


You're familiar, at least you've heard of Kundalini Yoga in the East. Well, that's a process of sublimation and transformation of energy, which begins at the last chakra, on the sexual level, and then ends up at a contemplative level, a level of some kind of interior insight and experience, which is an experience of great joy as well as an insight of intellectual fulfillment. Also, there are a lot of things like that in non-Christian history. There's Muktanandes. He's got the guru, he's got the place up in El Kunti. He's got a lot of... a girl, a Jewish girl, who was here about three weeks ago. For such a long time. Anyway, she's a disciple of his. And their thing is what they call Siddha Yoga.


Which means that this kind of energy that we're talking about, this physical and sexual energy, somehow, in the Kundalini scheme, more or less, is transformed as it's raised up. So it ends up in the center of the person somehow, it goes up the chakras somehow, and is realized on a higher level. And this is done, in their thing, through the guru. In other words, the guru, by a touch or by a word or something, is able to realize that thing in his disciples. That's their doctrine. And somehow, they experience that. Whatever degree of truth there is in it, or whatever it is that's happening, they experience it. It's the rising of the energy. Kundalini. Well, a lot of it's meditation. There's Gopi Krishna, for instance, he's the most familiar, maybe, propagator of it right now. He had a very individual experience. He even had a teacher. He meditated for about 20 years, and then it happened.


Then one day, it just sort of unfolded. He had this experience. Maybe he had it once, and then he meditated for a lot longer. But he achieved a mastery of it, so that it was in his grasp. He simply had the power over himself, and he could realize this state in the time he wanted to. Here are a couple of books. How does that fit in with all this conference we're in? You're not supposed to think that it's your own efforts. Yeah, precisely. Especially, how do they think of these energies in our terms of grace? This Gopi Krishna, I think that in his book, he positively excludes the notion of grace. In other words, I think he says almost exactly this, that I achieved this through my own efforts, and you can do the same. There's no such thing as grace involved. So how do we relate that to what we're talking about?


The same thing takes place in the Christian body, only it's where the center is. The Christian is centered on Christ. It's also in the heart, rather than these other chakras. And it's in the relationship with Christ. These things are really impossible for us to understand because it's as if we knew this much, and the truth is, you know, we only know a couple of little beans of truth as regards these things. The only way that I can put these things together is like this, that the one to whom Christ has spoken and who is drawn into this relationship with Christ is in a whole completely different ballgame, you see? Because his spiritual life is not his own after that. And he can never talk about achieving something by his own efforts anymore. He's in a different context. He's breathing a different air, as it were. And God allows one thing and even fosters one thing for people who don't know Christ and to whom the Word is not yet reached,


outside of that explicit relationship with Christ and orientation towards Christ. And he has another thing for the people who know Christ. That's the only way that I can put it together. And so we're not free to choose something like that. It would be absurd for us to do that sort of thing, you see, simply because it would be setting aside what we have. It would be setting aside this marriage with God, which is already inside of us, for something which is a kind of intra-psychic thing. And you can get as realized as you want in those things until, you know, who knows where you are as regards ultimate salvation. Because for us, once you've been called to that relationship with God and Christ, that's it, once you've heard that Word. And that's the thing that happens in the heart. I mean, that's the awakening of that reality of the Trinity in the heart, you see. And everything is different. It's very difficult to get these things together. And this is true in general with different religious traditions. You just can't find a place where you make a bridge that you can walk across and relate one thing to. It's not that way. Some people try to do it.


I mean in understanding them. You can say, well, this is like that. But that's as far as you can go. A lot of people are working on this now, like D. Griffiths and Oswald Kahnekar and Father Johnston and so on. How do you do this with your religious dialogue? The level of love is certainly valid. To some extent the level of discussion, but you get into trouble pretty quickly there. The level of love and the level of meditation. Well, we need to discuss it a bit because something has to work out on that one. And even on that level of cooperative activity, working together for some good cause, all those levels have to be brought in. But the most important one is the level of love. The level of holding the two things together in your heart. You see, even when you can't join them, you don't know how to join them, you hold them together in your heart. That's all. God has to do it because we can't do it. He brings things about in his own time. But that's largely our function, I think,


is to hold those values together in our heart, which we don't know how to join together. It's true of so many things. The energy that is required for doing an active work, is that also energy that can be used for spiritual? I think so, except that a person needs a certain balance, okay? In other words, you can't take all your energy and push it inside into the spiritual direction unless you have a special gift to do that, a call to do that, let's put it that way. If you do, you're going to twist yourself out of shape and maybe, you know, maybe have a breakdown or something like that. Too much? You can't unbalance yourself that way because we're body and spirit both. And if you go too far over on one side, then the other side takes its revenge and so on. We're just made that way. Now, certain people, of course, have a great talent,


ability and also a vocation to go very much on one side. Like Griffiths, I mean, you read his book and you see how far he's crawled into that interior dimension, you see? Or another person, oh, St. Ignatius or somebody, is told to go out. That's not such a good example because he was a mystic too. But, we've got to follow, first of all, our nature, the balance in our nature, and secondly, our particular core. But those energies are, they can be used for one thing or for another thing, I believe, yes. And how about the quietness, does that spread within you? I think you have to, well, think about it. Yeah, yeah. I think largely that's based on a couple of things. One thing is the belief that that which is interior and spiritual is always better than that which is exterior and material and concrete, okay? Well, you've got a law like that, that the spiritual is better than the material. Well, let's forget about the material and just do the spiritual, okay?


But that's not Christianity anymore. You see, that's some kind of philosophy. It's not Christianity. And the other thing is the experience of the prayer of quiet, or the experience of at least a beginning degree of mystical contemplation. Can so seduce a person that he's convinced, well, this is it. This is the kingdom of heaven. I don't have to do anything anymore. The trouble is, not the trouble, but the truth is that there's a lot of truth in that idea of non-action, that idea of just receptiveness and so on, which is very Eastern, of course. But it's not the whole truth. And it depends so much on, let's call it God's will or God's plan, or my situation, whatever you want to call it, you see? But I can't just choose one area of existence and say, well, that's where I'm going to be, and I'm going to forget the rest of it. That may not be God's will at all. And if it's not God's will, then it's going to turn bad sooner or later. See, we're so apt to do this. We get something good. We receive a good gift and say, ah, that's it. And we sort of fold ourselves around that thing and say,


well, that's my life now. I don't need anything else. We can do that with anything, you know? That's always a mistake, because we're grabbing that thing instead of God, right? If we grab God, well, you can't close your arms like that, and you're going to have to be completely open to whatever comes in life. It may be active, or it may be non-active. Because obviously, active things have to be done. The poor have to be fed, and the gospel has to be preached, and all these things. And yet we know that love is the primary. Love and prayer. If you do that type of thing, and like you've talked about life here, you're going to focus on this one thing. Yes. Eventually, once you just sort of find out this thing. Eventually, you'll probably run into a blank wall. In other words, your health will break down, either your physical health or your mental health, or you'll simply become extremely frustrated. And your drives will get out of control. You see, the drives will get out of control. The drives of the body, or whatever, will get out of control, and they'll just sort of jump you


and take over at a certain point. Or, similarly, the person closes in and makes his existence smaller and smaller, gets more and more defensive and very neurotic, and builds a little fortress around himself. And he no longer has the courage or the honesty to confront the truth or anything outside of himself. You see, that's another solution. Because they're all destructive, destructive warriors. Those things happen. A person needs to develop a kind of sensitivity to his own, his interior state, as it were, and what's good for him and what's bad for him, so he can know when he's getting out of balance. So he can say, well, I need more manual work, or I need more prayer. But we have to make a lot of mistakes before we find that balance, because we have to begin to taste. The only way you know the center, very often, you know the feeling of the center, and then you know the feeling when you're off the road. Like when you're driving a car, you know, and the side of the car goes up and down, you know you're off the road. It's the same way. And the smooth feeling of being on the road.


Okay, I wanted to read some other stuff. We'll have to do it next time. And it's all about that business of sublimation of energy, which is very interesting and very important. A lot, well, there's been quite a bit of thinking about it, but there's no real solid doctrine about it in Christianity. There should be. We really need it. But there isn't any yet. You find various writers who write about it. For instance, this man Assagula in Psychosynthesis has a whole section here on the sublimation of sexual energy. In fact, transmutation and sublimation of sexual energy. There's a lot of practical things too, you know. And there's Teilhard de Chardin, of course, who talks a lot about the energy of love, personal energy and sexual energy, and its cosmic significance, you see, because somehow he says it's the energy of the cosmos, actually, that's in us. And this is all the energy we have, in a sense,


aside from the Holy Spirit, of course. And even with the Holy Spirit, somehow the Holy Spirit has to come into this energy and use it. So we have to learn how to deal with it. And he says the sexual energy is part of this, and man is moving towards a new kind of love, you see, which will not be sexual love as we've known it, which always has that kind of crude physical dimension to it. It will still be physical, but it will be spiritual and creative. He's got a very exciting doctrine on all this. But also it leads people to a new kind of romanticism, into some obvious mistakes. We had a reading from this individual, and the reading was about the heart-to-heart prayer, which is kind of a special thing. But she's got a whole long chapter in here on lifting of sexual energy into the heart. And she's got a kind of a technique there. First, she's got a lot of good quotations from this Philip Sherrod.


And the whole thing about what sexuality means in the Christian context, what it should mean, even though it doesn't yet. And then this technique she's got, meditation for moving the energy from below into the heart, which she says is very effective, but she says it's kind of dangerous. It involves visualizing kind of a geyser moves up in your body, moves up into the heart. And as you visualize that thing, the process is supposed to take place, the movement of the energy, you see, up into the heart area. That's where you want to get it, really, because that's the center of the question. And then it becomes available in a different way for love, for outgoing love. And there's Andre Louf who's got a section, Praying with a Body, in here. And even though this is a book on prayer, there's a whole lot on what we're talking about. That's chapter 6, which I've quoted at various times. The section concerned is entitled, Celibacy and Prayer. And especially pages 63 through 68,


where he talks about this interior marriage. There's a lot of Jung in that, too. Then there's this book by Mr. and Mrs. Joyce here, called New Dynamics. It's got a title which, I don't know why they put that title, because it gives you a completely wrong idea of the book. What it is, is largely a philosophy, a kind of Thomist philosophy of sexuality, which is extremely deep and very good for a background on this. In other words, how marriage and celibacy and the whole man-woman thing and sexuality itself is related to being, is related to the whole universe and to your state of being, and how the interior realization takes place, quite aside from sexual relationships with anybody. In other words, this interior marriage we've been talking about. So, that's a good book. Father Edward, when he was here, gave us a retreat about five years ago. He had this book with him, and he was all enthusiastic about it. And I read a little bit of it,


and then I'd put it aside and pick it up. I still haven't read the whole thing. I got back into it a few days ago, and I find it's really good. The important thing, largely, is to have the right point of view on this whole thing, so that we don't get captivated in one sector or another. To have the right point of view is enormously important in this. To see things in a positive view, in a spiritual view, and in a kind of a cosmic view. Because what's in question is love, right? Is our capacity for love, and our capacity to be human persons in a full sense. And the whole sexuality thing has to be brought into that. Nowhere else. We'll talk a little more about that next time, I guess. And then go on to the Institutes. We were talking about those additional points


following Conference 12 on chastity. And we were talking about the whole question of the meaning of chastity. And the place of sexual energy in a religious life. There's a thing which is much more in the light nowadays than it was in earlier times. And it's something that should be considered. It should be thought about. In fact, this is connected with a whole kind of revolution that we seem to be experiencing right now, whereby that which had been left in the unconscious, and sort of that half of life which had been left in the dark, or pushed into the dark, is being brought into the light. Connected with this whole thing, this whole dialectic between the masculine and the feminine. As well as the revival in the West of the theology of the Holy Spirit,


and so on. A whole lot of things are happening at once, and they're all connected. It's like turning a certain corner. And so we have to look at the spiritual life in this perspective as well. And so chastity becomes a kind of a pivot there. Jung said that most of the people who came to him at a certain point, the people who came to him with sexual problems really had religious problems. And the people who came to him with a religious problem turned out to be largely a sexual problem. So the two areas are very much related as we know. Maybe that's just sort of the lens through which he was looking at it. Because that was his particular viewpoint anyway. Or anima animus. Okay, so we were talking about the transformation of energy, one thing.


And I wanted to read a little bit from Louvre. In his section, in Teachers to Pray on... Those who are praying with the body, Syllabusy and Prayer. The part I'm going to read is on page 65 and the following. And this is a very good treatment, I think. He doesn't have room to go into the subject very extensively, but what he says is very good. So, practice non-violence with him. He's talking about Jesus, as a matter of fact, as kind of a model for man. Also in this question of syllabusy. That's important, that this sublimation that we're talking about


doesn't make a person neuter, doesn't annihilate sexual character. Non-sexuality far transcends the gratification of its transient and constricted eroticism. A fact that will surprise no one who realizes how closely the whole of sex is interwoven with the image of God in man. Now, he started out this section by talking about how God's image, excuse me, is manifested in a double way. With two sides. One side is the truth or fidelity or strength of God. The other side is the mercy or love of God. These two terms in Hebrew, emeth meaning truth or fidelity, and kesed meaning mercy. The two are combined in that expression that the Lord's mercy endures forever. The mercy of the Lord endures forever. Remember that refrain in Psalm 136 and other places in the Psalter, which is a combination of those two aspects of God. Now, if God, sort of, from our point of view,


our dualistic point of view, has those two sides, and if man is the image of God, then we can expect to find those two aspects in man as well. Which here we're talking about as the male and the female pole. Now, remember these are also related, in New Testament terms, to the word and to the spirit. The word being the masculine or assertive or rational, and so on. The spirit being the feminine or affective, and so on. Or a contrapiscible, whatever you want to call it in traditional terms. Something analogous occurs, though on a narrower front, when somebody freely embraces celibacy for Jesus' sake and in behalf of prayer. In his body and in his sexual dynamics, something then occurs that both restructures his whole person and intensifies prayer and his bond with Jesus. If this were not to happen, celibacy would be a desperate hazard and in many cases could only make for a stunted, affective life.


In other words, if celibacy were only a question of sort of mastering the sexual and suppressing it, and were going to be a continual battle against the same power for the rest of one's life, then it would be a pretty precarious thing. Because that power would always remain undiminished. But if it's a question of the transformation of that power into something else, or a higher form, which then is on your side instead of against you, well then it's a different kind of ballgame, isn't it? A different thing. This is why our celibacy would not be feasible apart from that of Jesus. Even then, it is so only because he makes it our very special vocation. For our celibacy must be a sign that the new creation is beginning to dawn and that God has drawn close to man. In other words, it's an eschatological sign. Our celibacy is a call upon our complete sexual dynamic as man or woman, and adopts it as a sign whereby our very life may demonstrate


how everything is saturated by God's love. Sexual abstinence, for Jesus' sakes, presupposes a specific capacity for love, a widening and enlarging process so far out of the ordinary run of things that one is bound to call it charismatic. It's a special grace. This happens in two directions. First of all, outwards, towards greater universality. Virginity creates the possibility of entering into a love relationship with all human beings. The unmarried person's family is the whole of mankind, the good as well as the bad, who are cherished and preserved by the Father. Remember where Jesus said, You shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect? And then, what does he use that for? He's using that as support for his commandments as much for the forgiveness of enemies, remember? Your Father makes his reign and son descending on the good as well as the evil, on those who offend him as well as those who love him. And so you should be. So that absolutely universal love,


not only towards those who love you. Now, the extreme case of loving those who love you is what? It's marriage. Marriage, which is a kind of a cycle or exchange of love. It's loving one who loves you, a reciprocal love. At least it's supposed to be that. Whereas, celibacy is supposed to open you to this other kind of monastic life, with this emphasis on forgiveness of enemies, on not judging and so on. It's supposed to open you up to this absolutely universal kind of love, which, like the rain or the sunshine, descends on friends and enemies alike, okay? Which means a kind of indifference. Which certainly means that we have to walk a long road, doesn't it, to get there. But that's what's supposed to happen. Also, the extension of... What would you call it? Of affectivity, the extension of our energy and our possibility of love, beyond the narrow focus, especially of physical sexuality, so that, as it were, it fills the whole being. So that the whole of one's life becomes filled with the intensity and, what would you call it,


the vitality and the luminosity that's ordinarily restricted to the narrow range of sex. Now here's the second dimension. Sexual abstinence also enlarges the scope of our love inwardly, towards the deep interiority of our heart. Here we come back again to prayer and celibacy becomes a technique of prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit. How is this? When somebody stops looking to the other sex to satisfy his need for love, then he has to find his inner equilibrium in a new way and settle with the opposite sexual pull which unconsciously he carries within him. If this process is properly directed, it can be very productive, even on the human level. If somebody stops looking to the other sex to satisfy his need for love, in other words, he introverts this search for balance, this search for completeness of the image of God, you see. Because he's seeing the sexual urge or the desire for woman or whatever


as the urge for completion of the image of God, which is man's happiness, which ordinarily is driven towards a married love. Well, if you separate yourself from the possibility of the external partner and introvert this search, then the same thing can happen inside of you, he says, in the Holy Spirit. That is, somehow by participation in God. And this is experienced in the life of prayer. It's experienced, as he says, in the heart. So this is the interior marriage. So, you see, there are three marriages at least concerned. One is regular marriage, okay, external marriage between man and woman. Second is the marriage of God and man, right, which is represented by that first one as its sign, symbol. And the third is this interior marriage of man with himself, that is the two dimensions of our life, the two poles of our being, which are somehow joined together, integrated by participation in God, who is sort of the third party.


What he is like the blessing that consecrates the marriage.