Christ, the Poets and the Person

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Part of "The Awakening Self: The New Testament and the Poets" retreat.

Archival Photo




Different date on cassette case vs. cassette itself. Case date -1999.MM.DD. Using ealier date.


Leaking into the West for hundreds of years, so people like Whitman and Emerson and Coleridge
and so on, that was leaking into their minds and into their writing, so we'll find some
of it.
The idea of non-duality.
And it's in the New Testament, I mean, the New Testament is kind of, what would you call
It's an earthquake event of non-duality, a fusion event, like nuclear fusion, okay?
But it's in a language which doesn't make that immediately clear to us, so we kind of
have to dig for it.
But it's true in the baptismal experience, in being in the body of Christ, and it's true
in the experience of community, the koinonia.
Those are two manifestations of non-duality within Christianity, okay?
And which bridge the gap between God and the human being that was there in the Old Testament.
I was wondering, John, if you were to pull back into the Christ event, but do it through
the participation, like the third, where like you said, the poetry comes from imagination
and stuff.
Do you think that clarifies the mystery of, like, you know, I guess that's the metaphor
of the Big Bang, do you think it helps clarify the mystery of the work surely from your being
Well, sooner or later you need the rest of it, okay?
Because I would say that, like on this diagram, that personal realization is invaluable.
It's essential to it, but it's not the whole thing.
It's not the whole story.
So there's more to it.
There's a kind of embodiment dimension to it.
There's a dimension of interiority in which we really need to find God as also as other
within ourselves and have the fullness of God, which is beyond our own nature, beyond
our own creativity too, okay?
And then there's the dimension of relationship and otherness with people.
And there's the dimension of truth, for instance.
It's awfully, even if you have that interior experience of yourself, say the creative experience
and so on, okay, and everything, yet somehow you need something to connect yourself to.
The fact that something has happened in the world, something objectively has happened
into the world when Christ came into the world, for instance, okay?
That's extremely important.
Because otherwise somehow we don't hook up with that current of energy that's flowing
from that Christ event.
We don't do it the same way.
So to have explicit faith in Christ is an enormous help.
That connects us, as it were, at this point, okay?
And it makes it easier somehow to realize the whole thing.
How successful do you think that the few poets who do work with them in tradition, say the
late T.S. Eliot, Jarman, and Hopkins, how successful are they in transcending this objectification
as dualism and freeing themselves from it as poets?
Okay, that's a good question and a hard question also.
I think it's different with each one.
It seems to me that Eliot becomes too content with the tradition and with replanting himself
in the tradition, okay?
It's strange because he's so wild as a poet to start with, you know?
He's so completely modernist and so completely free and creative, and yet there's something
as if he has to go back and cling to the tradition in an objective way, which I think somewhat
suppresses the vitality of his insight.
It encloses his freedom in some way, so that this personal poet is not as free as it is
in some other poets, okay?
And I think with Hopkins it's another case that he didn't break out of the thing totally,
What you find in Hopkins seems to me to be a violent kind of tension between the Christ
dimension, the dimension of faith, and the very rigid kind of Catholicism that he was
in at that time, okay?
And this complete poetic freedom, the freedom of imagination and of spirit that he finds
within himself.
I don't think they ever got reconciled, or I don't think one ever got embodied sufficiently,
the poetic one, okay, in freedom, inside that container of the other one, okay?
So, in him, the poetic thing feels partly free, but isn't able to fly completely.
In Eliot, it seems to me it's more like it flies and then it comes down and goes back
into the goop.
Okay, let's...
See you in the morning.
Thank you.
Take a look at the English Romantic poets, and not so much at their poetry, but as their
theory, the way they think about it.
And not at some of our American poets.
Are we okay?
You might say that the idea, the theme is that God is awakening in your body, okay?
That the divine consciousness somehow is really trying to break through, as it were, and become
a consciousness in us, a consciousness within the world, which is not only a consciousness
which is present, but also which is embodied.
It's a very simple thing, but it's a very laborious thing as well.
I think Paul, when he talks about the childbirth in Romans 8, he's talking about something
like that, okay?
It's a breaking through of consciousness, but it's also a transformation of the world,
a transformation of ourselves.
I've been thinking a little about this in terms of three concentric circles.
It's very simple.
You've got the world as the outside circle, God as the inside, the center, and we're in
the middle, okay?
We're in between God and the world.
And we are, as it were, a presence, a temple of divinity in the world.
That's what the New Testament tells us, remember?
Paul says you are the temple of God, your bodies are the temple of God.
Your body is the temple of God.
So somehow you're between God and the world, and somehow you are a presence of God in the
You might say a dwelling of God in the world.
That's New Testament language.
But somehow you're God in the world, too, okay?
Somehow you're divinity in the world, which is not to say that divinity is not already
in the world.
That's a more complex problem.
That's a problem that has something to do with the Trinity, with the difference between
word and spirit, the interplay between the spirit that's imminent everywhere, the spirit
that's in everything and in everybody, and the word which comes into the world and sort
of pushes against a container, pushes outwards against a container.
And that container is the temple.
That container is the church.
That container is Israel.
It pushes out against the perimeter, against the container.
And meanwhile the spirit is everywhere, and the two are interacting.
So we kind of discover ourselves as a divine presence within the world, as something which
has God present within itself.
And we can either turn inwards to that divine presence in ourselves, or we turn outwards
to the world.
And the first is the Eastern way, in a way, that orientation strictly towards God.
Not only the Asian East that we encounter today in Hinduism and Buddhism, but also the
Christian East.
It's the age of contemplation, the first millennium, you might say, that turns towards God in that
way, that's right in the center of our spirituality for the first thousand years, the first fourteen
hundred years, maybe.
And then we have a kind of a pivot, a kind of Copernican revolution, and we begin to
discover ourselves more in the world, and facing outward towards the world.
And we can have a guilt complex about that, we can feel that that's an infidelity somehow.
We can feel, like the fathers, that the really important thing is contemplation.
But actually, that's simply the other side.
It's the other side that has to evolve, that has to emerge.
And in living an ordinary life, we know that very well.
You can't just live in contemplation, you can't just live in interiority, important
as it is.
It's only part of it.
We can't be a hundred percent God-oriented, can we?
Because God came into the world and is moving into the world through us and in us.
And so to follow the movement of God into the world is to also go into the world.
Now, what I'm talking about is a little bit pivoting between those two orientations.
The orientation strictly towards God, the orientation out into the world.
It's as if it can be summed up in two words.
The first word is contemplation, which is the interior movement, and for me is almost
synonymous with East.
And the other word is creation, is creativity, all right?
It's action, but it's an action which has a spark of transformation within it, a divine
spark within it, and therefore it's creativity.
And I think that we are the image of God in both of those ways.
And for a long time we knew ourselves as the image of God only as it were through union
with God, through interiority, through contemplation, in that verticality, you might say, that pure
That's what we have in the Baptistic tradition, especially in East, but not only in East.
If you read St. Augustine, that's what you largely have, okay?
But then gradually we realize something happens there, and we realize the energy isn't all
going in that direction, the energy is also moving in another direction, and it's moving
outwards and it's transforming the world.
And in Christianity, that's the East and that's the West.
The charism of contemplation always carries, as it were, the sign of the East with it.
And the gift of creation, of creativity, always somehow carries the sign of the West with
it, and the West is where it happens and generates the modern world, generates the world we have
today, okay?
The only trouble is that when the West moves in that direction, we completely lose the
other, and we've got to have faith in it.
But if we're talking about the New Testament and the poets, obviously what you have in
the New Testament is much more in that Eastern direction, it would seem, isn't it?
At least as those people write about it in the New Testament.
It's as if we're still absorbed in God.
It's moving into the world, but it's still absorbed in God.
And so you can derive a vertical Christianity from it, as the Fathers did.
What you have in the modern poets is directed towards the world, and they understand the
human person not in terms of contemplation, but in terms of creativity, all right?
Now, I think we're the image of God, as I said, as unity, the image of God as spiritual,
the image of God as purity and light and as the beginning, as it were.
But we're also the image of God moving towards the end.
We're also the image of God transforming the world, even in a little way.
In fact, our lives have to transform the world in some way, otherwise we're dead.
We can't be alive within the world without transforming it, without affecting it.
So those two directions, okay?
So, however, the whole thing is in the New Testament also.
That is the creative dimensions.
Read the parable in Matthew of the talents and so on, okay?
And the parables of the seed and the parables of growth and the parables of vines and vineyards.
And Jesus is saying in John 15, you have to bear fruit.
Now, that bearing fruit isn't a matter of writing poems,
but it's still bearing fruit, it's still creativity, it's still some kind of effect on the world,
something new being brought into the world.
Suppose the human person is really the presence of newness and the energy of newness in the world.
Suppose that restlessness in us, that dissatisfaction, that emptiness that's never filled,
is not only the emptiness for God, the hunger for God,
but also the hunger to do what we are made to do.
That is to make something new, to bring something new into the world,
to be something new in the world.
See, that's what Jesus was.
Jesus was like a flame of newness burning in the middle of the world, okay?
Tried to put him out, didn't work, spurts out everywhere, comes up everywhere,
like these late flare-ups or whatever they call them after a forest fire.
So the human person has not only the light of God in the world,
but the energy of newness in the world.
I want to talk a little bit more about history, I think, during this first session,
which won't be too long, and then use that as a background for what's to follow.
I think the heart of Christianity, actually, is the emergence of the person.
I think that's really what it's about.
If you think about Christianity and the other religions, the Eastern religions,
what is it that distinguishes Christianity?
Because we find so much that doesn't distinguish Christianity,
so much that's also present in the East, and especially along that contemplative line.
But also along the line of compassion, and so many other ways.
There's so much depth and richness and warmth also in the Eastern religions.
But what distinguishes Christianity is the emergence of the human person,
and the human person coming into the world, the second circle, as it were,
as a new center in the world.
The human person emerging as a center of the world,
which in some way illuminates the world and also transforms the world,
and which generates our history for the past 2,000 years.
But what happens is that we get a kind of polarization, a kind of split,
so that the individual gets split against the community,
the individual gets split against the culture,
the subjective gets split against the objective, and so on.
And so we've lived for literally thousands of years of that kind of split,
which has increased to drastic lengths in our own time.
Now, the poets seem to me to be the people who speak for the person,
who speak for the subjective.
They speak for the subjective against an objective order
which often seems cold and dead and impersonal and empty.
Now, whether that objective order is a social order or whether it's a church,
the poets are the ones who speak for the experience of the heart,
speak for their personal experience, that which has been personalized,
that which has to come through the human individual
and has to resonate in the human person.
Otherwise it's not real for them.
If it's not experienced, it's not real for them.
That should sound very familiar today,
because so many young people especially feel that,
that if they can't experience it, it isn't real.
Christianity is fine, but it doesn't mean anything to me
because it's not mine, because I don't experience it,
because it doesn't vibrate inside me.
It hasn't become real in my own personal experience,
even though I respect it.
You hear that so often.
That's true of many other things as well.
So the key for today of what we call a communication
seems to be that personal experience, the personalizing.
And that's what the poets are about.
They seem somehow to become the voice of personal experience,
the voice of subjective experience,
against everything else very often.
There's so much of that protest in the modern poets.
It was already there in the Romantic poets,
against a kind of mechanical universe,
against the Newtonian universe, and so on.
Read Blake about that.
The trouble is that the mainstream of Western poetry
has long ago left Christianity behind,
long ago left the Church behind, and so on.
It may have a kind of blur of Christianity,
but not the integral mystery that it's left behind.
Because it seems impersonal,
because it seems to have left behind the person,
to have squeezed out somehow the personal juice, the experience,
and to have turned into that hated word institution, and so on.
All those words that have a bad sound nowadays,
doctrine and dogma, and all those things seem negative.
Why should they be negative?
Why has this polarization put a shadow over all of that side of reality?
And why has it pulled doctrine and dogma and institution
out of the totality?
It's just like pulling the bones out of a body.
And then, of course, the bones are hateful in some way,
the bones are distasteful.
But that's because they've been pulled out of the body,
because they are supposed to be part of something larger than themselves.
There's supposed to be a hole there,
in which the personal is not really separated from the totality.
The personal is not really separated from the communal.
In the New Testament, when a person emerges,
a personal experience emerges,
it's inseparable from communal experience.
The birth of the person in baptism,
the new birth of the person,
and the experience of that new birth,
the experience of the spirit,
is inseparable from the koinonia.
It's as if those people were born together.
It's as if when you were born,
you were born with an experience that was already wrong,
but at the same time it was a shared experience.
At the same time it was an experience of community.
The split hadn't happened yet.
But it happens pretty fast.
And we're the heirs of a long, long history of that split.
Another trouble is that nowadays,
the personal awakening becomes somehow the goal of life
instead of the beginning of life.
Because actually, the end of our life is not meant to be
an experience of ourselves.
The end of our lives is not meant to be
somehow another experience at all.
It's meant to be the gift of our lives,
just as it was for Jesus.
I think the experience is meant to be at the beginning.
The awakening, the initiation,
is supposed to be ad initium,
that is, at the beginning, not at the end.
But today, because the personal becomes so precious,
because it becomes so threatened,
it becomes the absolute goal of life.
And the other part is forgotten,
the other part which is giving oneself,
the other part which is, in Jesus' terms,
the way of the cross,
and which so much of Christianity is about,
and which Christianity has often emphasized so much
that the personal seemed to get squeezed out,
that the awakening went under,
and people turned against it,
people threw it away.
So after that enlightenment,
after that awakening,
after that birth,
after that experiential emergence,
then there's something else.
Then there's something else to follow.
And that's the whole way that Christ teaches in the Gospel.
I want to talk about that in terms of the mystery of the cross,
but the mystery of the cross, which actually emerges
as the form of the person, I think.
As the form of the person.
The form of the person, I think, is quaternary.
The person is cruciform in some way.
And I'd like to follow that out later.
First in the New Testament, and then in some of the poets
who come up with that as if out of the inside of themselves.
Let me talk a little more about history.
I've been thinking about the beginning a lot lately.
The beginning of Christianity.
Because I like that analogy of the Big Bang,
and I've used it before.
As you move back towards the beginning of the universe,
you get into, what would you call it,
a direction of increasing energy and increasing simplicity.
All right?
The further back you move towards the beginning,
towards the moment of the Big Bang,
the first nanosecond, as they would say,
the hotter you have to get,
that is, the higher the energy level is,
the faster those subatomic particles have to go
to collide with one another to produce those conditions.
You have to move into an area of extremely high energy,
and as you do, things simplify.
The laws of nature begin somehow to fuse, to coalesce.
They become fewer.
And scientists speculate that maybe there's only one principle,
maybe there's only one law,
maybe there's only one force when you get all the way back there,
all the way back to the beginning.
And the analogy with Christianity is very close, I believe.
As you go back towards the mystery of the Mid-Testament,
you go back into an area of high energy.
You go back towards that Pentecostal fire.
And a lot of the things that are meaningless for us
are meaningful at that temperature.
At that temperature, they all make sense.
But everything cools off and rigidifies and objectifies.
And then all we can do is analyze after that,
after we lose the fire.
But as you move towards that beginning,
you also move into a practically infinite simplicity
where everything becomes one.
And that's what you find in the Mid-Testament.
It's that point of fusion,
before the first discriminations,
when only the, what would you call it,
the eternal distinctions are there,
but within a primal unity.
Now, the thing about that is that
when you get back there, you don't understand it.
Because you are it.
You can't get it out in front of you.
You can't objectify it.
The two words that I think are operative here
are objectification and participation.
As we move forward,
we naturally try to get a grip on what's happened to us.
We naturally try to get a grip on the mystery.
To the extent that we get a grip on it,
it's not the mystery anymore, okay?
And we're outside it.
To the extent that we really grasp Christianity,
objectively, theologically,
in the sense of that we're theological today, okay?
To the extent that we get it out there and we can see it
and we can teach it in that way,
we haven't got it anymore.
We've got something else.
Why? Because we're outside of it.
Because you can't get it in your mouth and speak it.
The only thing you can do, you can be it,
and somehow communicate that,
communicate yourself or something like that.
I'm not saying it well.
So the only way to get back to that beginning
is to back towards it,
as if it were too hot to face or something like that.
The only way to get back to it is by backing towards it.
And as you do that,
things gradually get indistinct.
Now, for instance, you've got to back away
from the scientific, completely objective kind of theology
to a sapiential theology.
You have to back away from a theology
which is all out there in front of you
and all in the books and completely clear
into something where the boundary lines are beginning to fade
and where the first principle is really a unitive epistemology.
The first principle is really a unitive knowing
and a unitive reality.
So you're back into that, you're back through the centuries,
back into that wisdom theology
of, say, 400, 500, 600 years ago.
But then you go back a little further
and you find you have to take another step.
There's this woman, Catherine Lacuña,
that wrote a book about this called God for Us.
She says at a certain point the Trinity was lost.
Because the Trinity was locked up in itself.
The three divine persons were thought about
in scholastic theology, for instance,
in terms of their relations between them.
But how is the Trinity, how are the three persons
revealed in the New Testament?
In their action upon us,
in their communication of God to us,
in their relationship to us.
The only way that we really know
the Father and the Word and the Spirit
is in participating them, okay?
Is in their expression of God to us,
their communication of God to us,
as Caravano would say.
It's the only way we know them.
Because otherwise there are only words and concepts and so on.
The real knowledge is there.
So it's backing away from distinction,
backing away from clarity again.
She says that, like in the 4th century,
there was a moment when that Trinitarian mystery
of the three persons was clear
and still participated.
All right?
Clear and still participated.
There's that moment, that magic moment
when as you turn the knob,
and the focus is just right,
and it's neither too close nor too far, okay?
But then you still have to move further back.
Because as you move a little further back,
you discover that you don't have
a distinctive trinity so much.
You have a trinity which is related to us
so closely that it's a fraternity.
And the figure of the cross reappears, okay?
That's what you find in Irenaeus.
You have the God, the Word,
the Spirit and ourselves, okay?
And somehow they're inseparable at that point
because what the incarnation means,
what the Christ event means,
is the fusion of those,
the fusion of our being with the Trinity
so that we are brought into the fraternity,
we are brought into the communion of God,
the communion of the three.
And so somehow there's an alien,
there's a stranger,
there's an adopted fourth in that three, okay?
And it becomes a fraternity.
And then for a moment as you move back,
as you're back towards it there,
it's focused like that.
And that's in Irenaeus and in Theopolis,
about 200 A.D.
But then you have to back further too
because that's still outside of you, isn't it?
It's still a diagram, it's still a picture.
And as you back further, you lose that too.
And you move right into the New Testament
and you move right into initiation,
right into baptism
in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.
And you say the names of three persons
but there are four points out there in that cross.
You're backed into the mystery of the cross
and you are the fourth of the cross.
You are the fourth of the cross
but you probably don't even know it.
You don't even know it
because it's purely experiential.
It's purely participative.
It hasn't been objectivated yet, okay?
It hasn't turned into a clear theology yet.
It's experience and it's reality.
It's an event.
And that's what happens to you.
And that's why they baptize people
in the name of the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit
and with the sign of the cross, okay?
And that's why they shape their baptismal fonts
in that form and so on.
But it was a mystery
because it was not objective.
Somehow it resonated with the figure of the cross
but it was not an objective picture on the wall.
It was not anything like that.
And that's what you find already
there in the New Testament.
We move back to the point of experience,
the point of the event,
the big bang, if you like,
where it's one thing
which you can no longer articulate.
You can only speak about where you have been.
You can only speak about what has happened to you.
And that's what Paul is doing.
That's what the New Testament writers are doing.
We're having that first letter of John
read now at Vespers
and that's coming straight out of there.
That's coming straight out of the furnace
of that original moment.
And so everything is all melted together
in that first letter of John, okay?
Before there's any differentiation.
The only differentiation is within the unity,
within the koinonia,
differentiation of faith and love,
differentiation of Jesus and God and the Spirit.
That's all.
That's all within the unity
and ourselves within it too.
So that's one history, okay?
And this is a terribly cramped diagram
but what I wanted to do
is show these two histories
and what we're about,
what I'm trying to do
in the structure of these conferences.
This is backing towards the Christ event, okay?
And as we back towards it,
you sort of,
as if the temperature were rising here,
as if you were getting back into the mystery
and so somehow the reality,
from the reality quotient or something like that
was rising.
You're getting back into the reality
of that Christ event.
As you move in this direction,
you're objectifying.
So this is the direction of objectification
and this is the direction of participation,
all right?
Here it's total participation, let's say.
We say that first instant.
The instant of baptism, let's say.
The moment of the early communion, okay?
The day after Pentecost,
something like that, okay?
And then that participation
gradually diminishes
and there's more and more objectification
and it's necessary.
Not only in thinking,
not only theologically,
but also in every other way.
So there begins to be an institutionalization as well.
That's another kind of objectifying, isn't it?
The church from that initial total mystery
begins where the lava begins to cool
and to take form,
to freeze, to coalesce,
to form the body,
to turn into a volcano and so on.
So it's objectifying.
But as it does,
you somehow get focused on that objectification
and somehow the memory of the fullness
of the mystery,
the participated mystery,
gradually fades and runs out, okay?
As you move away from it.
Now, I think that's what happens
at a very early point
in the history of the church.
And then, of course,
the mystery is always present.
So it's always coming through.
But it gets more and more veiled.
Until the modern time
when there are many veils
between us and the totality
of that original mystery.
Mystery of initiation, I call it.
Call it the Christ event.
Do we think of Christianity as an event?
See, because that's what it was.
It was something that happened.
It was the biggest thing
that ever happened.
Do we think of Christianity
as an event?
I think we've got to conclude.
We begin to, eventually.
No, nothing.
We begin to see it that way.
And not a structure.
Not just a truth.
It is a truth, okay?
But as something dynamic.
The other end of this
is the emergence of the person.
Because one history is this,
as it were,
gradual disappearance
of the Christ mystery
as we begin to objectify the mystery
and less and less participate in the mystery.
And of course I'm exaggerating.
Making things, drawing things
in big bold lines here.
The other side over here
is the emergence of the human person, okay?
The emergence of the individual person
but then gradually
and of subjective experience, okay?
But then gradually
the emergence of the person
which is not only individual
but also, once again, communal, okay?
And in the middle,
we have this big area
of what I call objectification
or dualism, all right?
Where participation has,
the old participation
has many cliffs,
has largely been veiled and lost.
And you think of your religion
as something out there
and maybe between you and God,
mediating God to you,
the church itself begins to look like that, okay?
And gradually that gives way
to a new participation
but which is coming through
the isolated individual at first.
Now that's what we have in the poets,
the modern poets.
They're coming out of
often an awful Christianity.
They're coming from a Christianity
which has been through all the battles
of the Counter-Reformation time, okay?
And sometimes through Puritanism
and everything.
So it's really been squeezed.
It's been pulled through the,
those things they make wire with.
It's gone through the needle drive.
And the way that it comes out now
is purely through the individual experience
but not even in the name of religion anymore, okay?
Is that possible?
See, because I think Christianity
is about the emergence of the person.
It's about the recreation of the person
in the center of the world.
What's happening there is
the person is resonating
with that mystery,
with that Christ event,
without even the name of Christ very often, okay?
It seems just like an autonomous individual.
And that's what you get
very largely in the poets.
They're rediscovering the mystery
but they're rediscovering it
in the form of the human person
and through the subjective experience
of the human person
against all kinds of objective
doctrine and dogma
and church institution and so on, okay?
The bitter middle of this thing,
the opposition that happens here,
where it's at most objective
and has the hardest edges,
you have institution
pitted against individual, okay?
Institution, as if that's what the church were,
pitted against individual,
as if that's what the person were.
But the person is not just the individual
and the church is not just institution, okay?
Those are two, as it were,
what do you call them, slanders.
One, a twisting,
a distortion and a reduction
of the reality of the church.
The other, a reduction
of the reality of the person
and they're coordinated.
So one goes with the other.
Insofar as I know myself as an individual,
I can't stand the institution.
And I don't know that the church
is much more than the institution
and I don't know that I'm much more
than an individual, okay?
So we somehow pivot around this point
of the purely objective,
of knowing things objective.
And that's where science takes us, isn't it?
So what happens here, you see,
is as the event disappears,
the dynamism disappears,
and the original fullness disappears,
we go back to something like
what Paul called
those four elements of the world,
the cosmic order,
which is a fixed order, okay?
A fixed order with its hierarchies
and with all these laws about it and so on.
Church has to have laws,
but the laws are just kind of
the bones inside the organism, okay?
But after a while,
what we do is we go back to
a structure which happens to be alive,
rather than a life
which also has a structure inside it, okay?
So you go back to the kind of fixed order
which really doesn't permit
the person to breathe,
it doesn't permit the person to be born,
actually, okay?
And then that one,
with the modern time in the West,
gives way to another fixed order,
which is that of science, okay?
So you go from one objectified order,
which is a religious one,
to another one which is secular.
Now science is part of it,
but a lot of the governmental things,
the other institutional things
in the modern world are the rest of it, okay?
Even the capitalist society and so on,
or the communist society,
it's the old order.
It's gone back into those objective things
which in some way are fixed
and in some way are throttling the person
and keeping the person from being born.
And then we get the poets who come along
and somehow breathe that air of the person once again
and bring it to life, okay?
Of course, it's not only the poets.
The reason why I bring them up
is because I like them,
and also because they do that
with a kind of subjective purity, all right?
You get, in modern times, a very strange thing.
It's poetry for its own sake
or art for its own sake.
I don't know if that ever existed before, okay?
It's as if there's some kind of principle there
that's purifying itself.
I think it's, as it were,
almost the principle of the spirit on a human level.
But it's also the principle of pure subjectivity
of the person, okay?
We think sometimes of different senses of scripture,
different interpretations of scripture,
and I guess it's not familiar
to a lot of its old-fashioned stuff,
but there's a, what do you call it,
a literal level of scripture,
and there's a purely unitive, contemplative,
mystical level of scripture.
But in between, there are two others.
There's what they call in the old days
the allegorical level,
or the level of Christ and of the Church.
That's the doctrinal level of scripture,
of interpreting scripture.
But then there's the personal level,
the person of the person.
They used to call it the topological sense
or the moral sense,
where everything that was in Christ
is reproduced in you,
in your own experience, okay?
In your own experience.
So now it's not a matter of believing in something
that's back there and out there,
because that, too, is a distortion,
talking like that.
But it's a matter of personal experience
in which that mystery,
that life of Christ has become yours, okay?
Now, Huard Cousins in a book
Christ in the 21st Century,
he's been reading a book
by the masters in Houston
about levels of psychic experience, okay?
And they talk about four levels.
One they call the sensorium.
That's your sense experience, okay?
One they call the mysterium.
That's purely spiritual experience,
where everything is in the one, as it were.
That's unitive experience.
But in between those two,
there are two other levels.
One is like the level of the collective unconscious,
or the level of myth.
I think they call that phylogenetic level, okay?
The level of myth, and also of doctrine,
things like that.
That's what we're talking about.
And this is the level of your personal experience
in your personal unconscious.
They call that the phylogenetic level.
Now, he correlates that
with those four senses of scripture.
What was the fourth level down the bottom?
This sensorium.
That's sense experience.
The opposite of that, the diametric opposite,
would be purely spiritual experience, okay?
Which is unitive.
This is always multiple sense experience.
And between the two are these two others.
So this is equivalent to the Christ level
of interpreting of the Word.
This is equivalent to your own experiential
interpretation of the Word,
in which you, as it were,
you are experiencing that life of Christ,
or you're experiencing that life of David,
or that Exodus, or whatever it is,
whereas here it terminates in Christ
and you interpret it in terms of Christ.
There are examples we could use for that,
but what I want to say is that
what we're getting in these modern poets,
ever since the Romantic times,
is this sense, you see, recovered,
but not in a religious way,
not in a religious language.
It's the purely personal level
of the human person,
which they become the voice for,
which poetry becomes the voice for,
in a secular language,
in a secular sphere, secular territory.
Because this somehow has become too objective,
because there's been a polarization, a split,
and this is no longer acceptable to them.
So somehow they refine this
until the whole mystery is trying to
squeeze itself through this orifice, as it were,
through that purely personal experience,
particularly this modern poetry.
That's another way of putting it.
What you find, I think, in these modern poets
is something that's not so significant
for its own sake as it's significant
as the emergence of the person,
and the emergence of the person
in a very deep and total way.
The experience of a person
who is autonomous, that is free,
fully conscious, and also creative,
and in the act of consciousness,
or contemplation,
and in the act of creation, of creativity.
Now, Lewis says so much about
the poetic experience, the poetic act itself,
that that person is somehow living
the image of God.
That person somehow is realizing
the fullness of human being.
That is, the mystery somehow
has forced itself through there,
even in that very foreign-seeming
side of reality, of the world.
So, some of these poets
sound awfully irreligious.
Many of them have rejected Christianity,
and some of them have rejected our religion.
They've rejected the whole objective thing,
and then they try to find it
somehow within themselves,
because they can't help it
because there's nowhere else to go.
I don't mean there's nowhere else to go
but doctrine,
but a particular structure,
but principles.
There's nowhere else to go
than the realization of the human person,
which is what Jesus brings into the world,
which is what Jesus brings forward
in the world that Christianity is about.
And so it starts reproducing itself
from within them.
Let's see if there's anything else
I should cover here.
Just a few things I'd like to leave with you,
before we quit.
One is these two histories.
The history of the Christ event
and its gradual becoming
not participative anymore,
where it's not participating
and experienced anymore,
but it's something out there,
outside of you.
And therefore, it's not the Christ event anymore,
because it's not an event anymore.
It's some kind of structure.
It's a thing.
It's a thing.
It's a noun rather than a verb, okay?
So there's that history.
And then the possibility somehow,
at least mentally,
of backing into the mystery
and losing ourselves into it.
Some people go out directly
to Charismatics,
to Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
That's what that's about,
trying to recover the totality
of that initiation experience,
not as an end,
but as a beginning.
Because somehow we need it.
That's what contemplation is about,
is moving towards that point,
the point of initial fullness,
not as the end of life,
but as the beginning of life,
because that's the place to come from,
because that's really essential.
And then the other history,
which is the emergence of a person,
usually cut off from the whole religious world,
cut off from explicit faith.
But the person which is somehow,
in itself,
at least signifying
that which Christ came to bring, okay?
Signifying with its imagination.
If the organ back here, for instance,
in the beginning was the heart
in the New Testament,
or if it was the contemplative intellect
for many of the fathers, okay,
influenced by the Greek tradition,
what is it over here?
For the poets.
It's something which is not oriented back
towards the beginning,
and inward towards the center,
but it's oriented outward towards the world,
and forward towards the end.
The imagination moves forward
and tries to create something
which is on the way to the end, okay?
So you'll hear about a lot of our imagination
in these poems.
And for some of them,
it's the heart of the person,
it's the core and the fullness of human reality,
but for us to really understand what they mean,
unless we can realize that somehow
in that act of imagination,
in that poetic experience,
they had the deepest experience
that they had ever had of their own selves,
of their own person, okay?
That's the way it was working for them.
And because they're articulate people,
they leave us these kind of gleaming signs
that can be helpful to ourselves, you know,
that somehow can crack the shell of our own being
and help us to get to the center.
Especially because we're born in the same time
when somehow, sooner or later,
everything has to come through our own experience.
We have to recover that level
of participation of experience.
And about that, the modern generation is right,
the younger generation is right.
It's got to be experienced,
it's got to be participated sooner or later.
It's not enough for it to be outside.
It's not enough for somebody to tell you.
It's not enough to have it outside yourself.
It's not enough for it to be the best thing in the world
if it's not yours.
In fact, if it's not you,
if it doesn't become one with your own being.
Because that's what we're brought into this world,
is that somehow a hunger to realize it all
in ourselves, as ourselves even, all right?
And that's what Christ brings.
So, one thing, just I'll leave that on the board,
I don't know what will happen to it tomorrow
because they're having a meeting in the morning,
is that matter of the two histories.
Another thing is a cross-form of the person, okay?
We'll come back to it.
We'll find that in Blake and it's in Jung too, very obviously.
Those four faculties, remember,
intuition and thinking and feeling and sensing and so on.
And so that will come back.
And then the third thing is
what I would call the goal of a one-pointed Christianity, okay?
It's close to what I've just been saying.
What we really want is something very simple.
Something very simple.
And that's what Christianity was in the beginning
and that's what it is at its core.
When I say one-pointed,
it's not a matter of believing a bunch of things
and doing a bunch of things.
It's a matter of being one thing
and that's what you are, okay?
It's a matter of being at home
and discovering what you are at home
and then everything else unfolding from that.
Remember when, just for one example,
Jesus in John 15 says,
I'm the vine and you're the branches.
Remember that?
So, I am the vine and you are the branches.
I am.
Remember those words, I am.
I am the vine and you are the branches.
Then he says, remain in me.
Dwell in me.
As if that were the one thing you had to do
is to dwell in him, okay?
To remain in that one thing
which is infinitely simple, okay?
It comes back to the center of ourselves
and somehow being able to find it,
but then even more important,
being able to live from it,
being able to come from there.
And when Christianity gets to that point again,
it meets the East, doesn't it?
It meets the Asian traditions.
But it meets them with its own particular gift,
which is what?
The human person.
There's not only an inward person,
but also an outward person,
a creative person, okay?
A person in this world,
put in this world somehow
to bring this world towards its fullness.
So, I leave those three things with you.
Tomorrow we'll talk about the New Testament
and please bring a Bible if you have one.
Any questions before we close?
Well, what I mean there is
a dualistic religion
is like the religion that Paul talks about
is the religion of the law, okay?
That is, you've got something outside of yourself
which is directing your life.
And your religious life
consists in submitting yourself to that,
in conforming to an external rule, okay?
And you conceive of God
as outside you and above you, okay?
Now, that's not entirely false, is it?
Because we always have an external rule
and we always have...
There is a dimension of transcendence in God
and God is God.
God is Lord.
Therefore, God is also outside us
and God is also above us.
The opposite of dualism
is a unitive realization
in which your religion
is not separate from your own being
and in which God dwells in you
so that your very self, okay,
is the site, the place of your religion.
Now, that's what Paul means by the Spirit,
the Holy Spirit.
What he's saying is that
in the Jewish tradition,
before you live in submission
to an exterior law,
something outside yourself,
a principle extrinsic to yourself
to which you have to submit
and a God who is conceived as outside yourself
and somehow could not be confused
with your own being, okay?
When you receive the Spirit, he says,
he's referring to baptism,
your principle of life is inside you.
In fact, it can't even be distinguished
adequately from your own being.
So you're coming from your own center.
Your religion, your worship of God
is something that springs from your own center
and somehow is a worship of the God
who is in you as well.
And he says you're the temples of God,
you're the temples of the Holy Spirit.
So the duality or dualism,
non-dualism, I think,
is particularly clear today
between West and East, okay?
The Western religion and Western culture
are accused by Asians
of being completely dualistic.
It's an exaggeration,
but they look at Christianity
as being a completely dualistic religion,
worshiping a God who's outside you and on.
And the East considers itself,
in Hinduism and Buddhism,
as non-dualistic.
The core doctrine, really, I believe,
of, for instance, Buddhism,
or also Vedanta,
is non-duality.
It has different names
in the different traditions.
And non-duality is a very hard thing to think.
It's a thought which can't be thought, really, all right?
So you kind of have to hover around it.
But it's a very fruitful idea
if you stay with it.