Contemplative Prayer

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.


Contemplative Prayer class

AI Summary: 





The second session of this second phase on contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition, which I think shares so many things with also the Tibetan tradition, where my father Bruno can be here. We mentioned last time the profound complementarity between his approach and our own. It's almost a miraculous dovetailing of the two approaches. We had started to explore, as the cloud of unknowing invites us to, the different resources, faculties, the senses within, of the imagination, the memory, to get to know ourselves better so that we can know what is the kind of royal path to communion with the divine. The advantage of this approach is, it's certainly in the cloud, if we can't know ourselves,


how can we know that moment of communion with God? It's also, I think, very appropriate for our own time. Father Joseph asked, when he saw my outline, which begins with human and Christian love and then gets up to God as love, he said, shouldn't you start there with this great objective context, this ground of it all, and this fulfillment of it all, which is God being love, and not just start in this, what can be a constricted focus within us of what faculty and what moment, et cetera. I think objectively and theologically, he certainly has a point. Archimaldi's spirituality tries to be also very emphatically objective and not just caught up with the inner, what's happening to me, and get involved with a self-preoccupation. On the other hand, as I say, it's so congenial to us to begin with the subjective, the interior,


the psychological, and this also parallels, again, with the cloud, it very much parallels with Bernard, when he starts to build that ladder of love that will get us to the full union with God, he starts at this most humble level of within me, my loving me for me. So we want to take this more humble, subjective, phenomenological approach, but not forgetting for a moment the other. This works, the approach the cloud is trying to suggest, precisely because God is love. We just quoted you, Father Joseph, too bad that you weren't here, when you said in my outline, why not start with the great objective reality of God as love, and that would be most appropriate theologically, et cetera. In part two of your eventual book. That's right. That's right. After 10 years, is it? It'll come, that's right. And in this context of the objective reality, the ultimate context, milieu, and horizon


of it all, it's hard not to share something of our own experience yesterday of the Native American sweat lodge, because I think it's an incredibly intense experience, it's the whole person, certainly also the physical, et cetera. But you're in there in this little kind of womb in the earth, and then the rocks come in, then they're heated, and then the water's poured in, and suddenly there's these huge, inescapable waves of heat that hit you. And at a certain point, when he's quite revved up, as Little Bear was yesterday, it just becomes quite intolerable. The parallel struck with me in a certain sense, that's what New Testament agape is. T.S. Eliot says, we cannot stand too much reality. So as some of the mystics see it, the purpose of creation, the purpose of all these things


that God put out there is to veil this immense energy. Our God is a consuming fire, to kind of keep it at a safe distance, because we wouldn't be able to bear it. And an extremely intense experience, also like ecstatic experience, or also like the sweat lodge, is suddenly opening it up through this parable in the sweat lodge of just steam heat. Then, I think it works, it was a horrendous experience, but at the end, having gone through something like death, Raniero says it almost goes beyond the symbolic to the real, you really are dying in there, but there is some kind of mysterious, ineffable new life, ground to it all. And there's just no words for it, but our very stuttering, faltering language of love, at least for me works, for some other kind of language might work better.


But the whole purpose of that is not pain in itself, it's not a masochistic trip or something, but it's to get through this intense suffering, shared with the suffering of all of humanity, to this ground, so that kind of around and beyond, and as the base, kind of like the blackboard for every particular thing we write on it, et cetera, that's the ultimate about which what we're doing and our attempts at articulating it all are simply very faltering pointing of the finger in that direction. Another kind of moving part of it, so I found this kind of ultimate ground thing there in the sweat, first in the waves of heat, but then in going all beyond that and the anger and the fear and the pain to some kind of ultimate intuition of the unity of it all


and the absolute fullness of it all, et cetera, in a benevolent way somehow. Well, one way to articulate that would be certainly wisdom, one way would be love. Then each, Little Bear has a whole theology that there are four basic races. There is the white race that comes at the end, I should start, there's the red race, the Native Americans, there's the black race, our African-American brothers, and of course back in Africa, et cetera, then there is the yellow race, all our brothers and sisters from Asia, then there's the white race. So we had four sessions and we would come out of the sweat lodge kind of staggering and jump in this hog trough, I guess it was, of hot water. But in each session, one of these traditions was to present a prayer, a chant, et cetera. So what should we present for the Christian? Well, I suggested the Our Father, which is our Lord's Prayer, and Cyprian says, no, we


don't want the Our Father, so what do we do? So he came out with Ubi Caritas, among others, but was that the first Ubi Caritas? Extremely moving, and of course we know it comes from Holy Thursday and we translated it as we were singing, but where charity and love are, there God is. And that seemed to, for our group, at least for the Christian group, to be extremely helpful just in moving through the suffering and the death into resurrection. And it is a Holy Thursday chant. Well, either it's true or it's not, either it's just sentimental, you know. If it's true, that's basically what the author of The Cloud is trying to say. And that whole tradition, even people like Saint Thomas, et cetera, where charity and love are, there is God. And as 1 John puts it, those who abide in love abide in God because God is love. So it's taking that objective and ground, et cetera, and taking it seriously.


Having said all that, anything else you want to share about Sweat Lodge or questions or perplexities? Yes. You might have mentioned the next two songs, which I think were also great. Yes, we had the Miserere. And then we had the Esperance. And the Babe, for God's mercy. Yes. Which was very soothing, but that's what we just needed, was mercy at that time. Yes. And then it was last year, the Battle Cry, which was a serious song for all the oppressed men and all people. Jesus helped us a lot. Then the other thing, your comments are reminding me of another thing that I think we all shared and helped us to get through. It was intercessory prayer, praying for the suffering and the dying. That put it in a context. And Little Bear explained out of his tradition that this incredible self-mortification that the Native Americans would put themselves through, putting pins through their breasts and pulling themselves up in the air and things. Again, this isn't a wild masochistic.


This is to try to share in this incredible suffering and dying of all of creation to come into some new space of union with it all. And Little Bear tied it right into Jesus' being nailed there so he couldn't get out from it. And this as love poured out. So, out of quite a different tradition, though Little Bear likes to note all the parallels, what we're trying to do here, and looking at these mystics out of the 14th century, I think is extremely appropriate. It's a way that can help, can illumine, both at that extremely primordial level of the mud and the sweat and the blisters and the pain, etc., or at the most refined mystical poetry of a John of the Cross or the Canticle of Canticles or something. There's a spread and a richness to the love thing at its best that might help us in that


regard. So, let's go back to our faculties and our resources. So, in this tradition at least, which parallels St. Thomas Aquinas, we do have our senses, we have our feelings, imagination, memory, but this tradition talks of two spiritual faculties, two higher faculties, spiritual or higher in the sense that with them we can embrace all of creation, and with them we can even penetrate into the mystery of God, the transcendent, beyond time, beyond space. Now, at least, again, according to this tradition, the cloud wants to make very explicit that of these two faculties, the way to go is not understanding, is not wisdom. The way to go is through love, which is the highest act of the will, this other spiritual faculty. So, let's just look at that.


We may not agree, we may be off on some other weird position, but I think we should at least confront this. So, this has a front page. We're going to look now from one of his other works, the anonymous author of the cloud, in this wonderful collection of his other treatises. Scholars know that we have from his pen about five treatises. How would we know that if he's anonymous? I mean, if we have Karl Rahner, and we have works by Karl Rahner, we know he wrote them all. But if we have works that are intentionally anonymous, how can we say, are we running out? How can we say that they're all by the same man or woman? By the style, by the terminology, by the content, the thought form.


Precisely. This is it. Now, this is where scholarship, this is where getting into the head helps so much. So, we're able to gather these works. We're able to see how one of these works marvelously, I think, complements the other, etc. But this is a short treatise, absolutely marvelous, in this collection of other treatises in the Paulist series, The Pursuit of Wisdom. You have that on the title page. This is called The Assessment of Inward Stirrings. Here our anonymous writer is still counseling this young hermit, but on a very specific problem of discernment, of kind of urges, spiritual urges. This young guy is off there in solitude and he says, hey, I have these urgings to do much more in the area of fasting. I'm not doing as much as some very serious solitaries are. On the other hand, sometimes I flip on that and I think I should be eating more. I'm getting too thin and my relatives complain. So, which is it?


How do I discern which it is? And sometimes I feel I should be doing more vigils. I'm not here just to sleep all the time. And this is an ancient tradition, vigils for union with God. On the other hand, sometimes I think I need more sleep. Which is it? How do I discern this? Sometimes I think, what was the other one? He comes up with these wonderful, oh, solitude. I should be much less in contact with people. Other times I think Christian community is what I need. How do I discern this? And the first principle of the author is avoid being apish. That is, avoid discerning what you should do on the basis of, well, that guy over there is doing that and I'm not quite keeping up with him or something like that. That's the way not to go, says the author. I think this is extremely wise. First of all, that guy might be on the right track for him. But that doesn't mean at all it's the right track for you. And in fact, that guy might be on the wrong track even for him.


But what you've got to know is what is right for you. And whenever people say, well, he's doing it, why can't I do it? I think bells should go off. That shouldn't be the deepest kind of motivation for justifying why we're doing what we're doing. Then he makes the theological point. And he is a very serious, trained theologian. So he's not just anti-intellectual. He's not just, let's not study anymore. Let's despise the intellect. Let's get out of the head forever, et cetera. He uses the head to kind of descend from the head into the heart, as the Eastern Orthodox tradition would say. You say, well, look at these. You've got fasting. You've got eating. You've got vigils. You've got sleep. You've got solitude. You've got community. They're all means. They're not the end. We don't go into the religious life to fast. We go in for something else. So he says, line these up as oppositional pairs, and then put something mysterious in the middle.


So if you go to the top of page 140, which should be at the back there, let's read some of this. So let's go to that first paragraph towards the top four lines down. And now you ask, what is this third thing that he's saying, put right between solitude and community, fasting and feasting? What is this third thing? I shall tell you what I understand it to be. It is God. For him, you must be silent if you are to be silent. For him, you must speak if you are to speak. For him, you must fast if you are to fast. For him, you must eat if you are to eat. For him, you must be solitary if you are to be solitary. For him, you must be in company if you are to be in company. And so for all the rest, whatever they be. So he doesn't just base all this on intuition, sort of kind of his own Briggs-Meyer personality type or something. He tries to argue theology here. For silence is not God, nor speaking is God. Fasting is not God, nor eating. Being alone is not God, nor company God.


Nor yet any one of such pair of contraries. He is hid between them. Now we want to look very carefully at this. And he cannot be found by any work of your soul, only by the love of your heart. That's how we're going to find him. The love of the heart. He cannot be known by reason. This is where he's pretty rigorous. You've got these two spiritual faculties. Intellect and will. Forget intellect. He cannot be thought, grasped, or searched out by the understanding. But he can be loved and chosen by the true and loving desire of your heart. Choose him then, and you are silent in speaking, and speaking in silence, fasting and eating, and eating and fasting, and so with all the rest. I always think that's so eloquent and sublime. If you go to that center and cleave to that center, how? By the will cleaving to God in love.


Then the rest will sort itself out one way or another. So what we've got is this deepest theology coming forth in the context of this particular pastoral problem. Should I be fasting more? Should I be more into solitude or something? And the solution is don't worry about it so much. Worry about the central focus of your life. This loving choice of God, which is attentively to gather him up and seek him out with the true will of a clean heart, etc., etc. So he ties will in with the heart. Part of our agenda is to see how Christian contemplation relates to Scripture. Well, if you take that central category of the heart, that's what he means also by the will. That deepest, not the sentimental or the emotional, but that deepest level where we make our fundamental options and choices, etc. Then if you skip down, can you skip down another four? And this is true even if the person who makes this contemplative


decision, this search, sees nothing that can be conceived with a spiritual eye of reason. For if God is your love and your intent, the choice and ground of your heart, we were talking now about choice and ground, etc. This is enough for you in this life, even though you never see more of him with the eye of reason all your life long. Such a blind shot with a sharp arrow of love that longs can never miss the bullseye, which is God. Then he quotes from the Canticle of Canticles and does one of these lovely kind of allegorical readings. If you'll jump over the Latin, which is always very sad. You have wounded my heart, my sister, my beloved, my bride. You have wounded my heart in one of your eyes. That's probably not there at all in the Hebrew, but still that's there in the Latin. So what is one of these eyes? Now he has to go and explain this. There are two eyes of the soul, reason and love.


Now this is fascinating. His theological tradition would say reason and will. And in other places we've seen above, he slips in the will, but he's got them so merged. For him, the will is only there but to love. So he says reason and love. So love becomes synonymous there with will. By reason, we may search out how mighty, how wise, how good God is in his creatures, but not in himself. But whenever reason falls short, then it is love's pleasure to look alive and to learn to occupy itself. For by love, we can find him, experience him, and reach him as he is in himself. It is a high and wonderful love. When our Lord says of the loving soul, et cetera, you have wounded my heart with one of your eyes, et cetera. And so he goes on. But see, in this treatise, we have the same underlying theology. So as Father Joseph said, that's how the scholars know.


The author of that was the author of the cloud. Because as we'll see now, the cloud has the very same theology but stressed in different terms. I like that image of the two eyes of the spirit, the two higher faculties. But you kind of have to close the one eye and just focus through the eye of love. So now we're going to pass out another. Did you have so many handouts? I guess you did. I really like that. It's wonderful. Part of the question is what kind of reason he's finding it. Amen. Because I don't think it's any different from any other. Absolutely. We'll see that at the end, the experience of the highest contemplative love generates a wisdom experience that I think is quite parallel with it. There's the second page of this. But I think he would stress that the way into the cloud,


the surest way is love. So now we're going back to the cloud of the knowing. And these are two key passages there. And we're going to try to see, is this just one of those very esoteric, refined arguments that intellectuals like to get into? Or can it kind of change the whole shape and approach and logic of a contemplative life? So where are we now? We're in the cloud. And this is always our William Johnson translation, which is convenient as an image paperback, but also since he's coming here, et cetera.


So we've got that. If you look at, what did I hand out to you? 53, 54, and 54, 55? 48, 49. OK. All right. If you go to 49, that chapter 4, did I give you 50, 51? Yes. Yes. Good. No. For us, yes. For us, no. Are you sure, Father? You're just being a, let's see if we have more 50, 51. Oh, here's some more 50, 51. Here we go. And here's another. I don't need that 50. No, you got one. All right. Don't you just? No? I have. So let's look at 48 and 49. Well, let's look specifically at 49, chapter 4, of the simplicity of contemplation, that it may not be acquired through knowledge


or imagination. Remember when Patrick Collins was here and how important imagination was for him. We got into a little dialogue at that point. Also, it wasn't clear what he meant by imagination. But there are certain currents of very contemporary theology that really wants to give value to imagination, saying almost that's the royal way into Godhead. And so you got to explore what they mean by this, et cetera. But at least in its more traditional meaning, the author of the cloud would absolutely reject that. You don't go away. The term itself suggests these images. It's an extremely powerful faculty we have. It's the Ignatian method of sitting down and closing my eyes, and I'm there again at the cross, and I can hear our Lord moaning, and there is Mary, and then I start to talk to Christ. Extremely powerful. But that's not the way into the most immediate


non-dual communion with God, because precisely it's mediated by images, being there and the cross, and Jesus is groaning, et cetera. So let's skip down just about five lines from the bottom of page 49. Well, let's start at the first, that first sentence. I have described a little of what is involved in the contemplative work, but now I want to discuss it further. He says it's lickety-split as a work. Now, this is fascinating, because if you take as the royal faculty of contemplation the will, that's something we do. So contemplation becomes not just me sitting here awaiting the kind of infusion of celestial gnostic, God knows what, I don't know. But it's my putting my will into motion through loving God,


and that will be sustained by grace, and that will be illumined by grace. So there will certainly be a passive surrendering receptivity there, but I don't have to sit around and wait. The first thing I can do when I get up in the morning is take up this work of contemplation. It has to do, he says this in another passage, it's a very hard work, it's a demanding work, but keep at it. Then there will be glorious moments where we're kind of carried forward. Some mystics use the example of being in the rowboat and just keep rowing, and then suddenly to our great astonishment we're aware that it's got a sail and it's just zipping along on its own. Then it might get into a squall, is that the word? Suddenly we have to row again, kind of thing. But it's that kind of thing. But if you're focusing on the will, it's definitely a work that we have to be involved also. So this approach could never go the way of quietism,


where I just sit and empty all my faculties and then God had better come in and do something. Here, in some mysterious way that he'll spell out, I've got to do what I've got to do. So now if you go down about five lines from the bottom, this is entirely just. Oh yeah, if you go before that, you will be held responsible for all the time given you. We've got this whole life of contemplation. We can't just say, well, God didn't give me these infused lights or something. No, I've got to do it. And this is entirely just because your principled spiritual faculty, the will, needs only this brief fraction of a moment to move towards the object of its desire. Then if you turn the page to 50, do you turn the page or is it... Are you on page 50? If you go down about four lines, it is God and he alone who can fully satisfy the hunger and longing of our spirit,


which transformed by his redeeming grace, that's important, this isn't the Pelagianism, this isn't, it all depends on what I do, but this is transformed by redeeming grace, is enabled to embrace him by love. He who neither men nor angels can grasp by knowledge can be embraced by love. For the intellect of both men and angels is too small to comprehend God as he is in himself. Try to understand this point. Rational creatures, such as human beings and angels, possess two principled faculties, a knowing power and a loving one. So we'll write a direct echo of what we've just read. No one can fully comprehend the uncreated God with his knowledge, but each one in a different way can grasp him fully through love. So it's extremely high, presumptuous claim for love as the way the contemplative goes. Truly this is the unending miracle of love, that one loving person, through his love,


can embrace God, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation. And this marvelous work of love goes on forever. It begins now, and then that's what all eternity is about. For he whom we love is eternal. That's again that objective ground, that ultimate horizon to it all. Whoever has the grace to appreciate the truth of what I am saying, let him take my word to heart. For to experience this love is the joy of eternal life, while to lose it is eternal torment. Let's go just a little more. He, with the help of God's grace, becomes aware of the will's constant movements and learns, here's the learning set, to direct them towards God. So that's our main work. Don't spend too much time with the memory, certainly, or with the imagination. Even the most sublime theological considerations just go into the unknowing and just cling to God through love.


Direct them to God. We'll never fail, this is pretty high stuff, to taste something of heaven's joy, even in this life. And certainly in the next, he will savor it fully. Now do you see why I rouse you to this spiritual work? You have taken to it naturally, had people not sinned, for people were created to love, and everything else was created to make love possible. That's a great one-liner. So all of creation is there to facilitate this one great contemplative work, which is the work of Adam, the work of Eve, etc. And then he says, but don't think it's going to be easy. Don't think that this will just be a whiz because of the Fall. This is precisely what the Fall was all about. We saw that in Merton. It was a falling away from contemplation. It wasn't eating a piece of fruit that you shouldn't have eaten or something like that, or some dreadful sexual sin or something. It was somehow, mysteriously, this primordial, no, I don't think so, to my call, to intimate union with God.


So redemption, here we've got a whole implicit Christology and soteriology, is getting back on this contemplative way, which is this way of moving into the will to love. Nevertheless, by the work of contemplative love, we will be healed. So, we'll look at one more quote, and then we'll discuss this. So I think the point is, perhaps, if you go to 5051, I forgot to note that beautiful phrase before, God is our love. So again, that's moving beyond the subjective, my act of love, which will get me to God. But there's some ultimate sense with, it's God who in me is loving God. That's one of the culminating moments of John of the Cross, where in the most sublime experiences of contemplative prayer, it is Trinitarian,


and it's the Holy Spirit, who is this living flame of love, who's loving the Father in and through us. So page 50, if you look about four lines, five lines down, it is God, and he alone, who can fully satisfy the hunger and longing of our spirit, which transformed by his redeeming, did we read that? Yes. Okay. Okay, so we're go. So that's very briefly his approach to it. And as Bruno says, what does he mean then by understanding? Does he mean what Merton is talking about when he's talking about this highest wisdom? What would you think? Do we have a direct contradiction there between the cloud and Merton? What would you think, Father Bruno? Many of the writers in our division, I think, is in a collapsed situation. He's fighting a certain kind of more developed rationality,


probably the kind of scholasticism, or hyperscholasticism, which is not really intellectist, in the sense which is unitive, but is the thinking, step-by-step discursive line, a systematic line, which knows what is right, this and that, but doesn't know the ground. But the kind of intellect and the kind of knowledge that we're trying to talk about, in a sense, is that which knows the ground. It also isn't rock, okay? That is, there is a level of intellect, for intellect and love are the same thing, and both of them are a unit in the ground, a direct oneness to the ground, and experience, which can be called knowledge, but in a way, it's broader than that. Yeah, in the sweat lodge yesterday, our yellow people offered, what did they offer, Supreme? Hearts, yeah, hearts. Yeah, and it goes on, no intellect, no will, no... So, in a sense,


you've got to get beyond all this language, that's precisely the point. Yes, what's between intellect and will, or what's between knowledge and love, in the spirit of the text, okay? Now, what's between them is also, in a sense, beyond them, and is also, in a sense, their root. And I think that's what we're all talking about. Yep, yep. So, isn't there, in some writers, a kind of, this would be a more modern thing, an implicit accusation that the rise into consciousness also brought about the fall into sin. So, reason in and of itself, because being part of consciousness caused us, gave us the choice, dualistic knowledge, knowledge is good and evil, okay, eating is good and knowledge is good, fear is good and evil, but it's difficult, it's difficult to renounce that use of ration or reason entirely. It's one thing when you're meditating, it's another thing in life, you can't renounce that. Once it's been acquired, it can't be given up. So, people get themselves into kind of,


what do you say, regressive vines for that argument, they're not careful. But, that's something that's not really talked about very much, but I find it a fascinating kind of, but that our greatest gift in life is also our greatest, to me, also one of being our curse. Isn't it true that we can somehow precipitate it into a dualistic world, a dualistic universe, or maybe consciousness, in which, whether it's our love, or it's our reasoning, our thinking, our knowledge, it's polarized either way, and it turns against us in either way. So, our strongest faculties on either side somehow are our biggest traps, just because of our conformed conditional areas. Absolutely. This love way can get us into every kind of difficulty and misery. So, you said our greatest gift, the intellect, that's where the cloud would come in here and say, well now, wait a minute, our greatest gift would be the highest act of the will, which is love, etc. I mean, in the sense of like,


in terms of evolution, like that the human being would have developed consciousness. This is from actually a rabbi I read about, that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we asked for this understanding of the difference between good and evil, and we got it. But by getting that, we were able to choose between good and evil in a new way. But there is a whole different way of going, just to know the difference, just to like it, or not like it. We'll now be looking at the psychologist Asa Jolie, and what he says about the will. He says, this is a dimension that we've virtually forgotten. We're very attentive to feeling, to deep affect, to imagination, also to intellect. But I think some of what Merton wrote about our passivity, you know, we plunk down in front of the TV and the most we can do is decide what show.


But this, what Asa Jolie and others will be arguing, is if you go back to the deepest point of the true self, to use Merton's language, there you get to our capacity to be free. And this is what God really risked about, putting these two people there to use the mythical language, and giving them freedom. And in this great mystery of their freedom, whatever it was, so it's not precisely intellect that did them in, it was using their deepest freedom, which should have found its highest act in love, in saying no to love. And I think you're right, it would go down into I want to possess knowledge, so that would, but all I want to say is you can do a psychology according to which the highest level of evolution isn't consciousness in the sense of reason or intellect, it's consciousness in the sense of I having the capacity to be aware of who I am and to shape that in my freedom


and responsibility. But it's all... That's where it's at, by will we chose to go farther. Precisely. Also, I would propose what he calls an act of love is also an act of knowledge. Absolutely. Because it's not blind love. It's a very, what we call a very selectively directed love, is it not? The discrimination that God, the ultimate, is the, let's say, the object of this. Okay, so it's based on an act of hatred of knowledge. So almost always when you get to the deeper level, the sharp opposition of discrimination between these faculties becomes illusory. The only thing, I'd have a problem there, kind of picky picky, when you say it's not blind love, that's precisely the phrase he uses with glee because it's not, it's kind of John of the Cross versus Dark Knight, or et cetera. It precisely can't see. It's based on faith. It's based on this. But you're right. It's not loving anything


and everything. Yeah. No. Yeah, I agree with the author of The Cloud of Knowing. If we want to make a comparison, then of course the loving desire is somehow superior to a speculative knowledge without involving our loving desire. But I think at the end, the two are inseparable. Absolutely. It becomes a knowledge through loving knowledge, or even the two faculties. Theoretically, of course, we can distinguish these different faculties of the highest spiritual faculties of will and of intellect and will. But as Rana insists, the real, the deepest faculty for our encounter with God,


for meeting God, is beyond intellect and will. Beyond the sense of when the two are still united in the ground of the soul before the differentiation of the two faculties. When there's still one at the deepest level of the soul, he quotes, he's basing his reflection on the German scholar Meisner et al., the Rhine mystics, Meisner et al., John Cardinal and so on. The so-called ground of the soul, or the peak of the soul, the Zen speaks there, or the Zen would. And I think they also refer to by The Cloud of Unknowing, the peak of the soul, or the ground of the soul. And all of them say they are the same thing. The highest point of the deepest level of the soul in the spiritual field, it means the same thing. And there, the two are still one. Intellect and will are still one.


And that's the, for Rana, following this medieval tradition, is the real faculty, mystical faculty, real human faculty to encounter God in a contemplative or mystical way. It's the ground of the soul. And I think that's very meaningful because it's at the ground of the soul where we meet the ground of our being, which is God. It's at the deepest level, the ground of the soul, we meet the ground of our being, God himself. But I agree, this distinction is helpful just to put us into the right track, not to think that speculative knowledge is the highest thing we can achieve. That might be the influence of the older Platonic tradition, contemplation in the sense of pure knowledge or speculative knowledge. The fullness in the divine mind. That's not the highest thing. The highest thing is love and desire.


But the love and desire is mixed, combined with knowledge. Absolutely. The two are one. Otherwise it's irrational, it's wildly impulsive. Yes? On a second moment ago, it's not always, or even that often been possible for me to know the difference between good and evil in the context of what is happening to me. It's an illusory dualism when I apply it that way. And to rationalize my way, I know there's a lot of people I've heard God is able to bring good out of evil, but I think, you know, probably it was already there and part of God's plan for me. And then there is the Thomist. By the way, St. Thomas would agree with the cloud as you continue to work on this level. In terms of the end,


he says the will is higher than the intellect because the will somehow goes right into the beloved. This is a marvelous phrase in the Scholastic that if I'm still at the level of at least apprehending things in their intelligent aspect, I see people here, I see pianos here, I see blackboards, etc. I'm bringing them into my head, not the physical, that piano isn't suddenly in my head, but what that object is over there, pianoness, is in my head and I know what that is, that's a piece of furniture that makes music, etc. So that's what intellect is about. And then I understand piano according to my own capacities in my mind so that someone like Ezekiel would understand what a piano is all about quite more than I would, though we both have piano in our head. So the marvelous Scholastic phrase,


whatever is known is known through the mode of the knower. But there's something about love through the will that goes out to the other as the other, even if it's totally not understood. That's why the author of the cloud is so confident in saying with love we can cling to God, possess God, etc. We don't have to encompass God in our understanding. It's not bringing God into our head and then fully... It's going out to God and so the Scholastics say love in that quality is ecstatic. It takes me out of myself and in that sense it is unitive. It gets beyond mediations of abstract forms and things. So there's that. I just follow this a bit how I think it could be helpful for us to understand and deal with our day-to-day hard life as contemplatives. Asa Jolly is a good psychoanalyst


that some of us got to meet who is a disciple of Freud and Jung, etc. Kind of at the heart of his work about who is the human person, how do we heal the human person, bring the human person to wholeness. He says it's through the will. How many of you know Asa Jolly? Not personally, but his books? Bruno checked it out about 17 times, both books. So Asa Jolly, he's an Italian. And we moved him over from Penelope and sat down and chatted with him. Very impressive guy. Very spiritual. Asa Jolly. Marxist person. Roberto. We have two of his books. He's kind of classic. And this is out by Penguin. So he's a psychosynthesist. In some ways, he's very close to the clown.


He says, we've got to do our own faculties. We've got to put them in some kind of order. We have to quiet the lower faculties. For him, at the deepest level of the human person, again, is the will. We've so focused on other sides of what's in. He's saying if we really want to heal ourselves, also psychologically, but also spiritually, get in touch with, I do have a will. I'm not just able to know things, ponder things, imagine things, feel things. The will can truly be called the unknown and neglected factor in modern psychology, psychotherapy, and education. He says this is particularly paradoxical because it's precisely at the center of the human person. Closer to the self, here he uses union language, than the intellect or the emotions. He's got this model of the human person. He puts will right there at the center. We will draw attention to the paradox


that the very fact of the central position of the will has been the cause of its being ignored. We'd rather deal with things that are more accessible, more lively, and less threatening. Will means I've got my responsibility. It means I can do the most amazing things with my life, for the good or for the destructive. To get back to, I think, what Patrick Callow was saying there, yeah, I can, the heart is there, then sin isn't there, even if I'm doing something objectively sinful. It goes back to that wonderful phrase of St. Augustine, love and do what you want. If you're on, and he means love properly, that is love of God and love of neighbor. If you're doing that, you can do anything you want. It'll all sort its way out, which is another way of putting what the cloud was trying to get at regarding do I want more solitude, do I want more community, et cetera.


If I'm clinging to God and love, the rest will take care of itself. The very fact of the central position of the will has been the cause of its being ignored. That is, the will is the function which is most directly related to the self. The psychoanalyst Rank has gone so far as to say that the human being experiences his individuality in terms of his will, and this means that his personal existence is identical with his capacity to express his will in the world. And so he goes on and on. Then we have another book by him, The Act of Will, and he goes on more and more in these terms. We're usually, again, focused on other stuff, but this is where if we want to just heal psychologically, we have to heal physically. This discovery of the will is hard to describe. As is true of any experience, it cannot be fully communicated by words. So he says it's a mystery.


Fundamental among these inner powers and the one to which priority should be given is the tremendous unrealized potency of man's own will. Its training and use constitute the foundation of all endeavors. There are two reasons for this. The first is the will's central position in one's personality and its intimate connection with the core of his being, his very self. The second lies in the will's function in deciding what is to be done, in applying all the necessary means for its realization and persisting in the task in the face of all obstacles and difficulties. And we would have to, as Christians and as contemplatives, add very decisive third steps. Again, the highest act of the will is love, which is fulfilling our Lord's commandments, which is placing us in the heart of God and all the rest of it. But it's an interesting approach also to the monastic life. When we had a meeting with the abbots, I guess it wasn't this last meeting, but a meeting before, one of the abbots from Asia, an Asian, said,


you Westerners are always anguished. How are my young monks feeling? He said, we don't care how they're feeling. Are they, from their deepest will, living their monastic practice in life? And we had this most amazing presentation by a psychologist that lots of the Asian peoples don't even have much language about I'm feeling depressed or I'm feeling happy. They're so communal and so into the ultimate ground of it all, so to speak, that me focusing on my being angry because Ezekiel frowned at me this morning or something like that, it just isn't something you talk about. You know, you don't spend much time with kind of thing. So that's, I think that opens up some stuff. What brought all of us here, we certainly had to inform ourselves about what is monastic life, who specifically are the commodities, how does it work in terms of formation,


but we could have all that information at a certain point. We had to engage the will. That's, again, very difficult for moderns, especially in terms of engaging the will for a lifelong commitment. I can do it for a while, as Robert Miller says, when I can foresee in the immediate future that it'll be opportune and to my advantage. But when I go into that mystery of farther down the line, how can I commit my will to a lifelong yes, whether to a spouse or to monastic life or whatever. But that's why we're here. It's not so much how much we know. Some people can know a great deal more than others. It's not how vivid our imagination or how deep our feelings, etc. It's at some point we risked with the decision, with the option, and then doing all the things that have to be done in terms of phone calls and letters, etc. Also, yesterday I was aware of that. We were out.


You had these four breaks from the sweat lodge. And right after the first one, no one really wanted to go back in there. And you weigh the reasons, yes and no, etc. But some go back and some don't. And very likely the people who don't go back are more intelligent than the people who do. But that's the will there. And so it's extremely decisive. And so with every day. Sometimes I might be in extremely mellow space in terms of, again, my affective life and intuitions and the unction of God and all the rest. And then all that might absolutely collapse and I might have the sense that my contemplative life is collapsing. My vocation is collapsing. I might sit there in rotunda after Vespers and nothing's happening. God just isn't there. Well, might as well pack up and leave then. Because it's all about God being there. But in this perspective, it's about, in an immediate way, me cleaving to God in love through the will.


And this isn't kind of a Nietzsche will to power or anything. This is, if anything, a kind of a will of surrender. A will of, I can't grasp this, I can't control this. I just have to be there in love with the mystery kind of thing. Questions, comments, objections? Yes? We've got a strong tradition, certainly in Catholicism, of the will. But it's principally been channeled into obedience. It's principally been vertical. And it's principally been in a sense of renunciation of one's will. We're not, especially in the last few years, we're also in a position where it's reduced. Whereas, in Merton, in the text of the music practice, his principal theme, in every regard, is freedom. He begins and ends with freedom. It's almost the criteria of the fruit. He talks about love, but he also talks about freedom. I think he talks more willingly about freedom. Which, of course, is one approach. What is that phrase, I think, of Dante,


in his will is perfect freedom, or something? As well as our peace. What is it that is our freedom? Well, anyway, it all goes together somehow. Good, yeah. Absolutely. Other comments about this? So let's try to get a little into what do we mean... You can't give a definition of the will. You can't give it, because it comes from that deepest ground, and ultimately everything is one there. But I think we have some sense of the will as well as that faculty by which I do things, I decide, I go out of myself, I walk the talk, I just don't talk about it. I actually do it, that kind of thing. But the will, again, in its highest moment of love, according to this theology, which is also St. Thomas', goes out and cleaves to that other.


One of the most ambiguous words in American language, as we mentioned, is this term of love. It can go from the absolute most trivial of, I love chocolate chip cookies, to the salacious, how's your love life, to the sentimental puppy love, to romantic love, spousal love, and the whole phase of filial love, and friendship love, and parental love, the whole thing. So it's one ambiguous term. The first thing you want to know is, what on earth are we talking about? And the whole business about agape and eros, and how they relate and all this. I'm going to toss out a kind of a limping, non-eloquent definition, aware that this is something you don't define. This is something that's much better treated in poetry. And every now and then,


these theologians just burst into poetry, and it's much more illuminating then. But we've got to see what on earth we're about, and what on earth we're not about. So one way of defining love is the person-willing union with the beloved. So each word there is important. The person, it's important to remember, it's not the will that loves. It's the person who loves, through his or her faculty of the will. It's extremely important to come back to this ground of it all, as Bruno and Joseph were saying. So this primordial, free subject, willing, but it is the will here. It's not just thinking about love, and here we get the letter of James. If you just say to them, we'll go out and have a nice day, and feed yourself, et cetera. And you don't do. How is that? So the person-willing what? Union with the beloved. And this is pretty highfalutin language.


It can be a very kind of modest form of union, which can just be benevolent love, where I just will the good of that other. But that's still union with that other at the deepest level, because that person is willing their ultimate good, their ultimate beatitude, at the depths of their will. So when I get into a benevolence, which etymologically is to will the good of the other, that is love. St. Thomas Aquinas says somewhere, what is love but benevolence? Willing the good of the other. But if you go all the way with that, that's profoundly unitive in the ultimate perspective again. Because I want this for me, and I want that for me, and that other. But my deepest journey for me is full union with God, even if I can't articulate that. So if someone else is willing ultimately that for me, even though they don't agree with me on this, and that, and that, and that, that's a union at a very deep level.


Then it can go to much fuller forms of spousal union, and friendship love, and Christian love, et cetera. But in any case, it entails the willing, that is the going out ecstatically to the other, not necessarily mystically ecstatically, but going out to the other in a way that unites, that gets beyond the dual that makes of these two one. At least in their deepest will. And that definition, it seems to me, works whether it's love of our enemy, or love of our spouse, or love of our child, or it doesn't work for things like loving cookies, or something like that, but it works whenever there's these deep interpersonal, and it works, I think, for love of God, primarily. There, especially, we're willing union with the beloved, and that's why that's that sharp arrow that takes us right into the heart of God, as the cloud says. Can we live with that?


Hello? Hello? Well, think about it. Chew on it, and see what happens. Then, we'll just start to play with this. I found this extremely helpful. This isn't precisely in the cloud, but this is in another great English on mystic and spiritual writers, St. Peter in his, what do you call it, Mirror of Charity. He says there's three phases of love, and he puts them in a rather odd order for us coming out of the secular model. I think it's good, quickly, to go through that, how we tend to see it, and then how he puts it, but he says there's these three phases that come in one order or another, but I think in our model of romantic love, the thing you hear in rock music, or country western, or love story,


or something like that, there's this first attraction. This is huge. It knocks you off your feet. That gal over there just sweeps me away, and there's nothing much I can do about it. I just fall head over heels in love. Now, if the volition comes in at all, often it doesn't. You don't even think about that. I just swept off my feet for her, and then if she responses, if there's the reciprocity, then the magnificent fruition. I love her. She loves me, and we live happily ever after, et cetera. If there's not the attraction of fruition, if there is at first, but when the magic goes out of it, well, I just dropped her. It's no longer there, so it's not love. I don't love her anymore. There's no longer the attraction. There's no longer the fruition. So this is a model, I think.


It's very current of romantic love. It's disastrous for the marriage. It's disastrous for any kind of, and this doesn't work just with romantic, but also friendship. I might respect that person as an academic colleague or something, and then we dialogue, and it's just so marvelously fruitful. C.S. Lewis with his group of evenings, et cetera. Friendship, love. But then if we get into some basic disagreements, and it just doesn't work, and we just drop each other, and I find another friend, that kind of thing. And so this can work with God, you know. There's points where I'm just swept off my feet by God, and where the God's there, and God seems to love me, et cetera. But when that's there, not there anymore. Now St. Aaron puts an entirely different order and priority to these three phases of love He says these two biggies for current secular love are not necessary. It's wonderful if they're there,


but they're not necessary to the heart of love. That's why Jesus can command us to love our enemy. If it's based on attraction and fruition, which is an absurd commandment. If it's based on volition, benevolence, love, that comes out of my deepest love, and I begin there. I'll prioritize the beginning of every day. I'm going to try to love everyone, no matter what. They might be Republicans or Democrats, or they're a different enneagram or whatever it is. It doesn't matter. There's this basic real commitment, and that's going to carry me through. Whatever be the attraction, there might not be any attraction. There might be just repulsion. That happens also in our relation with God. There might not be any fruition, at least for periods. That also is a parenthesis there. Our faith and hope is in the kingdom, at least,


that we are the fullest of fruition, and that we certainly have foretastes in this life. But in this model of the phases of love, again, this comes out of this mysterious faculty within us, and this carries us through whatever, with all kinds of grace. We put grace down here for this period of life. But this is, in a real sense, non-conditional love. And it might have to be tough love. I might have to tell my kid who's, I don't know, gotten into a drinking problem, I'm going to throw you out of the house if you don't get into a 12-step. That could be the expression of love, or covering that over. Oh, he's my brother, he's my son. That would be not benevolence. The criterion here is I'm doing what's really for the good of the other. And he may be absolutely charming and try to get me away from that tough love.


Well, no, I just stick through, so I can work that way, or... But this is an entirely different order of the three steps. And with these, they're for the fullness of love, but not for the substance of love. The father's distinguished between the essay, the being of the thing, what really has to be there, it's going to be there. And then the plenum essay, the full being. If you've got a human being, even if they're without arms and legs, they might... But they're still a human being. But it's more to the fullness of the human being if there are the arms and legs also there. But you don't stop treating the person as a human being if they don't have arms and legs, that kind of thing. So this, we're open to this. And in someone like Xenia, we see that it can be there in practically an ongoing way.


Something like friendship, love with our confreres, friendship, love with God, etc. But not necessarily, not always. And we don't build on that. The danger of this is it really builds on the sand, the shifting sand of attraction and fruition. Questions, comments, all that. And for me, if you keep working on this, it works out all kinds of things. Why should we permit friendship? Our migrant, our very rigorous Lutheran friend, he says, philia, friendship, love, isn't Christian love, because it's a special love. And the Catholic response is every love is special. And in friendship, love, there is an attraction and a fruition. That's not to be excluded. We see that in Christ, how deeply he loved Lazarus and Martha and Mary, etc. John, who is his beloved, etc.


So that's legitimate. You don't frustrate that in the monastic tradition there was a time when we wanted to exclude friendships, because I would think I'd have favorites. But maybe in the human condition, inevitably, there are resonances, there are things that work between two people that don't work between others, etc. But that doesn't cancel out that I love everyone in the Christian scheme. Comments, questions? Pardon me? Yeah, this is 3B. We are absolutely assured that there will be the full fruition, but maybe not in this life, that's all. In heaven, the scenario says, we'll all be the most intimate friends with one another. In this life, we may not be allowed more than five, six, seven good friends,


but up there will be the full attraction, fruition, volition, completion. Whereas this has no perspective of the afterlife. I've got to have it now. I've got to keep moving, or I might lose out, kind of thing. Okay. For our homework assignment, we were going to talk about mountains and sacred mountains, etc., since that was our basic. But we'll try to come back to that next time. And then we're going to try to come back. Again, we wrestled with that question, how do we tie this weird, is it kind of something out of Neoplatonics or something, this business of contemplation? What relation does that have with Scripture? Jesus doesn't talk about meditational practices or getting into apatheia or non-duality or something. So how do we tie contemplation into Scripture? Is it as some, and certainly the Protestant tradition


held up until recently, is it a kind of invasion and corruption of the apostolic Christian faith? Where suddenly we're not going out and preaching the gospel, loving our neighbor, but we're trying to get into the seventh mansion or trying to God knows what kind of thing. And I would just suggest that if we go this route of our royal equation of contemplation as agape, then suddenly there's not too many problems maybe. We want to look at that next time. But if contemplation is agape, if we can make a reasonable case for this, what happens in rediscovering texts of Scripture, being able to claim the very heart of Scripture and seeing how it's right at the very heart of our daily monastic life. Amen. Thank you.