Contemplative Prayer

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Contemplative Prayer Class

AI Summary: 





In review, we've been a little scattered and we haven't really commented a lot of Martin's text. I think that's okay because we can sort of be following two tracks with reference to Martin and then also discussing questions that come up in reading Martin's text, but we don't necessarily have to follow it paragraph by paragraph. He's pretty clear. Last time, you may remember, we talked about some theses about contemplation, and that's a list which we'll develop further as we go on. We'll tack more on from different angles. And also we talked about those qualities of maturity, which seem to be convergent, whether you're talking about human development, whether you're talking about psychotherapy, or whether you're talking about monastic asceticism, spiritual development. Those, that list from Navranjo's book that I quoted to you, you have it on the handout


too. We were going to talk about the context of contemplation, which Martin was doing in his second section there, but we didn't get very far with it. I'd just like to point out one or two simple things, which sometimes are helpful for having a mental picture, in order to give things a certain order, keep things in place. If you look at the world religions, they tend to split themselves down the middle into two kinds. One is very easy to identify, because it's our Judeo-Christian revelation, and it includes Islam of course. These are the three religions of the word, in which God comes into the world through his word. God enters, you may feel aggressively, but at least articulately, he enters and reveals himself. The other religions, the Asian religions, the great ancient and highly developed spiritual traditions of the East, are something quite different from that. They may be avatars, they may be manifestations, but it's not a collective, communal, historical


revelation, anything like the same sense. It has a whole different feel, a whole different fabric to it. What we do find at the center of those Asian religious traditions is the non-dual experience. I refer you to that book by David Loy, which still isn't on the shelf, or quite shelf, but still not materialized. It should today. So on the one hand, we have the religions of the word, and on the other hand, we have the religions of non-dualism. I know who's done away with the chalk, it's the fellow who cleans that rug over there. On the one side, you've got the religions of the word, and on the other side, you've got the religions of non-duality. That's a very crude oversimplification.


Nevertheless, it's very useful in this way. Consider that our basic, in the Benedictine tradition, our basic monastic practice is Lectio, that's the contemplative root of our spirituality. And also, you may say, well, liturgy is at the center. Yes, but liturgy, what is liturgy? Liturgy is a kind of embodiment of the word, it's a kind of embodiment of the revelation in a sense. It's an actualization or an acting, an enacting of the word. Often in the history of religions, they say that there's myth and there's ritual. Instead of myth, we've got the word, we've got this revelation, the sacred history. And our ritual, the liturgy, goes right out of that. The two go together. They're one thing, really. Of course, you also have ritual in these other religions. One practice, therefore, which is fundamental, is our Lectio. The other one, I think, that goes along with it, that is in a good parallel, is meditation, is the emptiness of meditation. In other words, descending into what we were calling the non-dual or the unitive.


The quiet sitting, the descent to the center, that opening, as it were, of the screen of consciousness to the infinite, to the unconditioned. Those two go along together. And they, together, interact and produce what I would call a sapiential spirituality, in which we go deeper and deeper into the word, and in which the non-dual experience is given a structure and a content. It's given a body, as it were, by the word. So there's an interaction between us two. Now, of course, that's not all we have in our life. And sooner or later, you know we're going to get to one of these. I've turned it upside down, so I've put this non-dual experience at the bottom. And I think I put the word over here, just trying to make it hard for myself.


And over here, I think we could put community, something like that, relationship. And this too is crude, but it's just an idea of filling out the spectrum, but trying to put this in the universe or in the context of our whole life. And up here, you could put something like work, which is the material expression of our monastic life, or whatever is pumping here at the center. And this, obviously, has a Trinitarian background to it. In other words, we're thinking of the invisible, almost unnameable Godhead, and it's two expressions in the word and in the spirit. And then finally, a kind of embodiment, which for Jesus was not just work, but it was also suffering, it was passion. There are a lot of things that go up here, obviously. If you've seen this before, it's probably the other way around, with word over there and something else over here.


And also, I remember a book by, once again, Ron Howard Hornstein, called The Psychology of Meditation. Some of you have heard this before, where he points out that there are three kinds of meditation. I found it very useful. The three, you can expand to four. But the three that he talks about are, first, the way of forms, which corresponds to our way of the word. Secondly, the way of movement, which corresponds for us to song, to a lot of our liturgical practice, and to any kind of affective prayer. Remember where Cajun talks about the prayer of fire, which would be pure movement. Think of the charismatic thing in tongues. In other words, there's a dynamism, there's a flow. Call it a flow of psyche or of spirit, whichever you like, because it's really both, I think. But your prayer is somehow identifying itself with that flow, with that movement, with that dynamism, with that flame. Whereas in the way of forms, you're centered and attached to some kind of image or word or mental apparition.


Okay? Idea, image, word, symbol. All of those things which initiate a different kind of activity in your mind, in your psyche. It's like mind and feeling. It's like, as Rana says, rationality and emotion. But then there's a third type of meditation he points out, which is the meditation of emptiness. And that's his triangle. The first one, the way of forms, he calls Apollonian or Apollinian. The second one he calls Dionysian. And the third one, really, it's the way of emptiness. And typically it's Zazen for the third way. Or any empty prayer of quiet, let us say. That track of the apophatic meditation. Which is also... Excuse me? Who's this author's name? Naranjo. Claudio Naranjo. The book is The Psychology of Meditation. I think I've got it out now. I'll put that on the Clare shelf. It's a little book, very useful. But there's a fourth way, okay?


Especially for the Christian. Remember that our way is a way of faith. And Martin will talk a lot about light and darkness. The fact that contemplation itself is a kind of light and darkness, or darkness and light, whichever you prefer. The fourth way is in the obscurity, then, of even being without the explicit thought of praying, or of the presence of God, which is simply in your activity. That's what would be up here. In other words, in a life in grace, your very life itself, your very activity, especially if it's service, is a kind of meditation. It's a kind of flow of that same non-dual experience, that same non-unitive reality of God's grace through your life and out into the world. In other words, an expression of that, a good expression of that is obedience, okay? Well, what have you done in the case of obedience? You've become transparent to something which is greater than yourself, have you not? You've deliberately put your own ego and your own will out of the way,


so that the one can act through you. Presuming that, let's say, the order of the superior... Unfortunately, it's very often not true in our case, but... Presuming that the order of the superior is mediating this one to you. That's the idea, though, isn't it? I mean, from a contemplative point of view, the idea is to get your ego out of the way, to be transparent to the one thing that there is, is it not? So, obedience is a good illustration just for that reason. But a lot of other things in the monastic life are like that. It's apophatism carried to the point of getting yourself out of the way, of disappearing, in a sense, into the one thing, into the one reality. So, work and obedience are good expressions of that. And you could call them, therefore, the fourth or the invisible way of meditation. I think a Zen person would be very much in agreement about that. Because he would say that Zen is every moment of your life, you know? Carrying water and chopping wood, or carrying wood and chopping wood, or whatever you're doing.


Is it kind of related to the domestic notion of habitus? Because a habitus is acting, even when you're not conscious of it, right? But if you're acting in virtue of that habitus, which is, let us say, a divine habitus, then that's it, you're there, you know? So the life of faith itself, even when not, what would you say, explicit, conscious, or thematic in terms of the divine presence, the divine reality, is yet functioning in virtue. Think of the incarnation as well, you know? Incarnation means that every bit of life is capable of being filled with divinity. And it doesn't mean that we become monomaniacs by just thinking every minute. As we try to do when we begin, you try to pray constantly, in the sense of being always conscious of God. And then the wheels start slipping, if you want. Yes? I'm just wondering about that notion of habitus, because as I recollected,


I thought habitus was kind of the middle term between will and then doing it. But how did you get from intending to do something to doing it? Mark, you got me into this trap. Mark, you got me into this trap. You're responsible for it. Well, the way you described that non-thinking but acting, that's how I always understood the habitus, when it becomes so natural to one, this virtue, that one acts naturally without thinking almost, in a sense. I know I struggled with the problem when I was in the seminary, working at Skid Row, talking to Monsignor John Fissing. I don't have enough time for prayer, and I just can't seem to put together my work, my ministry, with my desire for God. And he gave a beautiful talk, asking me,


well, did you ever study St. Thomas in the seminary? And talking about habitus. And you could see that that was the way he was able to live and pray and put it all together. So when you were saying this, it kind of resonated with what I had heard from my experiences. I think there are a bunch of analogies, like in the New Testament, and in Christianity, if you think about it. The idea of the grain, of wheat falling into the ground, very often is like the idea of God, or the light, or the consciousness, which has to fall into action, which has to fall into reality in some way. So it's like it falls into the ground of the body, the ground of the earth, the ground of daily life, the ground of the world around it, in a sense. But actually, you're losing consciousness of that which you have received as it goes into doing. See, the early Christianity was very much in that line. They'd say, you know, it's not so important what we think or what we say, it's important what we do. It just seems to me that what I heard you talk about, the non-dual about it, in that easy flow,


it strikes me that would be kind of more that all-pervasive kind of substratum on which everything else is. Yes, oh yes. I'm not sure that would be habituous. Well, I'm not sure of the technical language either, because I wouldn't have chosen that word, because I'm not familiar enough with that angle of Thomas. I think Bernard is doing his talk here on habitus. No, I'm not. No, I'm not. I am. I'm doing an innate ignorance here. On habitus. On habitus. As long as you're wearing your habitus, you're absolutely, virtually in contemplation. So, yeah. One question. Yeah. This infinite or absolute comes to us through the word, or through community, or through work. What about mysterious areas like nature, creation,


the ocean, mountains, or the unconscious dream, and so on? I'd like to say to you that, at a certain point, it's all pervasive, this possibility of the open. I think we could develop this in various ways. Let me develop it just in one other way to try to bring that in. If you consider, let's say, put ourselves in the cosmos, put ourselves in nature, and how would this work? I think if you take a scientific route towards the understanding of nature, and you go really deep, like some of the contemporary physicists do, you can reach a kind of threshold of contemplative understanding on the track of science. On the other hand, if you go by the way of poetry, and you go really deep, you reach another kind of contemplative experience of nature, which you find frequently, I think, in the poets. Even Coleridge, when he writes about the contemplative experience, I mean the poetic experience, the creative experience,


it's a unitive experience in which all the faculties of the human person are drawn together, and you become one with nature in some way, in this act of, whatever it is, this poetic genesis. So it's the same form, reproducing itself in the context of nature. And then here is the simple context of nature, even sensually, in some way. So I think it's perfectly transferable into that sphere. And something like the unconscious dreams? The unconscious, I'm inclined to think, would be over on this side. It's hard, starting with community, of course, it's hard to make the connection, but what I'd also put over here is psyche, for instance, in the sense of the full psyche, the union psyche, let's say. And therefore also anima, the psyche from a feminine perspective, and largely the unconscious, because the unconscious is on the side of totality rather than specificity. And it's on the side more of the whole image and movement of psyche


rather than fixed structure and conscious form, which we have over here. So I think that would be over here. Yes? I hope this is not too far off, but we talk so often about finding our other half in non-duality. Yes. To even the whole thing out, does the Asian tradition also need to find their other half in the word, and in what way? Okay. When we say finding our other half, I think we're using a convenient sketch rather than a nuanced thing. Because from a simple point of view, the people who have devoted themselves to the word have tended to neglect, let's say, this side, and also lately this side, and even largely this side.


So in a sense it's more than that. But if we just talk about the non-dual and the word, we can say that we need to refine non-duality. After we've said that, after we've found that, then we have other things to fill in. But that's the first crude approximation. That's the other half. I think when B. Griffiths went to India, however, he meant soul, and so he meant psyche as well. I think that's the first very crude and rhetorical approximation, for something which is more complex. First saying that. Then what do they need to find? Well, ultimately, unless we say that their religious track has its own destiny, even if they never find Christ, even if they never find the word, it's okay to say that because many people never hear of Christ. Many people who are alive today over there, let us say in Asia, will never hear of Christ. So their way of salvation is a different one. You can think of it as an implicit Christianity, if you wish.


They need the word, and they also need a lot of that which is developed from the logos, from the word, in our Western culture. And they're getting it in a terrible way, as they get sort of the ugly end of technology and so on. But they need that, what would you call it, that rational and human development which has happened in the West, which is complementary to what they have. In our tradition itself, there already is the word and the non-dual. The non-dual is already there. That's right. Prologue to John. That's right. But is there an implicit revelation? Is there an implicit revelation even in the Asian experience? I'm thinking it's creation. I mean, they're all in relation with creation. Yeah, I think it is a revelation. But it's not a revelation in our sense, okay? You can say there's a revelation of... I don't want to say transcendence because these words are too crude and simple, but there's a revelation which comes and announces itself as a revelation because it's verbal, let us say, and it's historical.


That's our Western, I'm calling it Western, Western revelation, Judeo-Christian tradition. There's a revelation of imminence, which is the non-dual revelation, which is simply in creation already, okay? So, B. Griffiths would talk about that as, what would he call it? Cosmic revelation. Cosmic revelation, okay. And I think of it in terms of imminence because imminence and non-duality as well, okay? There's no need for duality. There's no need for distinction because it's a kind of movement into resonance with the whole and in an interior way, but not only interior. So that's the other revelation. And it's almost as if... See, when Christianity comes into the world, it comes into a world which is already divided into that revelation and then a Jewish revelation. And it brings a synthesis, but the synthesis has never somehow been allowed to reach its fullness, to reach its maturity, because it's always getting eclipsed and amputated and truncated and so on.


But we're always on the threshold of that synthesis, of that arrival at, let us say, a Christian Advaita, a non-dual Christianity. And that threshold, that horizon, is very much alive today. So when we talk about a sapiential Christianity today, that's what we mean, is a Christianity which is open to its non-dual core so that it can blossom. But everything tends to inhibit that. Excuse me. Yes? You say that Christianity offers us a synthesis between the non-dual tradition and then the tradition of the world in Judaism. Yes. And given that then, where would Islam, how would Islam be necessary if the synthesis is given in Christianity? Okay, I'll tell you the truth, I don't know why Islam is necessary. Like many others, I find it difficult to look at Islam


as a general religious phenomenon in a very positive sense, okay? As individual piety, and as a spirituality, I'm looking at Sufism, it's absolutely beautiful. But when you look at it as a historical phenomenon, and in the general picture, it's hard to see its place. Sometimes it's almost like a regression because of an unfulfillment. It's almost like something that comes in when Christianity does not play its role. And it comes in and it fills, as it were, the level of simplicity which has somehow not been, what would you call it, not been filled by a too sophisticated Christianity or a too institutional Christianity or something like that. I don't understand it well enough to really try to give you an answer. But notice that we're between two pictures. We're between a picture, a simply empirical picture of religions. And then we don't have to say why Islam is necessary, let us say.


It's just there. There is a logic between Judaism and Christianity, isn't there? I mean, we Christians certainly say there is. But Islam is a puzzle to us. I think Islam is the other brother who comes along and says, look, you haven't got it yet, you haven't got it right, and forces us in some way to expand in a direction that we wouldn't have expanded, in other words, to develop. Almost in a negative way. But other than that... And so often it seems like going back to a fundamentalism, you know, going back to an extreme dualism, a violent dualism. Okay. I'm sorry for throwing this all at you in such a hasty way, but maybe we'll come back to it and clean it up later on. Today we have something very important to talk about, and that is Christian contemplation, okay? And obviously we can't be just to it in half an hour,


but we'll do what we can. And maybe pick it up next time, too. We haven't said much about Merton's section 2, remember, where he talks a lot about the different aspects of the context of contemplation, about community, about a true and false withdrawal, and exterior and interior religion, all those things. But he's quite clear about those things. I don't know that we need to add anything. In talking about Christian contemplation, I would like to pick up the end of his second section, which is on page 27, and then move into the third section. And what I'll do is, quite quickly, attempt a kind of synthesis of what he's saying, or a distillation, and then add some further material. At the end of that second section, on page 27, he starts talking about Christian contemplation. He's making a transition to his next section,


even though he didn't break it up into these pieces. This is later editing. The fact that contemplation is not mentioned in the New Testament should not mislead us. We shall see presently that the teaching of Christ is essentially contemplative in a much higher, more practical, and less esoteric sense than Plato's. Now, here you see the beginning of a kind of tug-of-war. A person who looked at the New Testament superficially might say, especially if they had a prejudice against it, and had another contemplative tradition, might say that there's no contemplation in the New Testament, there's not a word about it. It's all about activity, love, faith, all those things. Nothing about contemplation. On the other hand, you can say that the core of the New Testament and the entire teaching of the New Testament, that's what it is about, is essentially contemplative. And when Merton attempts to use the word contemplation


and relate it to the New Testament, he's got himself in a bit of a tug-of-war, as I say. Pulling one way is the word contemplation with its restricted sense, okay? Because it comes from a Greek and Roman tradition. It's a Latin word, obviously, but it comes from a Greek tradition in which it had a special sense, a limited sense. It's intellectual, it's elitist, it is, in a sense, anti-material. And looking from another perspective, it's masculine. It's a purely logos approach to whatever it's talking about, okay? Now, the New Testament knows nothing of these limitations. The New Testament is an explosion of a kind of unitive divinity into the world in which contemplation is the, what would you call it, the cognitive layer or aspect or dimension or experience of this. But the thing itself is bigger than contemplation.


The thing itself goes beyond that. And so you'll find immediately Martin having to talk about transformation or divinization. And he talks about the true self. In other words, contemplation is only one aspect of it. So if we over-specialize, we get too professional about this, we can miss the point. And that's always the risk. There's a tug-of-war also, as you know, between monasticism and Christianity, between monasticism and the Gospel. Because the two centers are not exactly at the same point. And that's true, of course, in general. That the New Testament, Christ comes into the world and establishes a center which interacts with every other center. It doesn't simply preempt and take over and replace every other center. And that's true of monasticism itself. So, anyway, I'm getting far afield. In this section, it's a neat little section. When I looked at it first, this last one in section two, this last part, I looked at it first and I said, well, boy, that's great. It's a nice little concentrated summary of what he means by Christian contemplation.


And then I noticed how defensive he is there. He's fighting a mistaken notion of Christian contemplation, or of contemplation in general. Because he will fight to the death in defense of the notion of contemplation, of that whole complex of reality. And the spiritual orientation that it indicates. He pulls into defensive high gear. It reminds me of... What he's fighting is that notion of contemplation. There's a Yeats line that goes, Amid a rich man's flowering lawns, where slippered contemplation finds its ease. Slippered contemplation. He's kind of... He's kind of intimidated by that accusation. So, it drives him pretty deep, though. He talks about pagan theoria and so on, of course. And once again, he's getting into sarcastic gear as well.


So, when Merton turns a little sour... You know, that's Merton. But there's plenty of positive in what he's talking about, obviously. He talks about pagan theoria here. He won't talk about paganism in a negative sense in many other places. The word contemplation suggests lingering enjoyment, timelessness, and a kind of suave passivity. Which sounds like the world of the earlier Merton. So it's straightened out. Yeah, and the first seeds of contemplation, you can write. The important thing in contemplation is not enjoyment nor pleasure, not happiness nor peace, but the transcendent experience of reality and truth in the act of a supreme and liberated spiritual love. You can see that Merton is moving from what he calls the pleasure principle to the reality principle, gradually, year by year. And he gives great importance to truth as well as to reality. The important thing is not gratification and rest,


but awareness, life, creativity, and freedom. That word creativity is interesting, because that's not typical. I don't think of the ancient and more Platonist views of contemplation, nor of the early Christian views of contemplation. That's something that's in our time. It's in the spirit of our time, and we have to deal with that. So, he kind of gives them this little burst and then goes on to the next section. The structure of this next section, three, is pretty interesting. He starts out with the part on exile and return. He doesn't give it a number, I've numbered it one, which is about the fall. And it's the classical patristic story of the fall from unity. Remember how we began with Merton's interior experience. It was a question of a unitive being that man, he uses man for, Adam,


was at first somehow integral. And see, in this notion of contemplation, it's simply intrinsic in it, is the idea of unity, because it's a unitive experience. That's the very taste of it. That's the very heart of it, in some way, is to be unity. It's almost as if it were the experience of the divine or of oneself as unity, as one. And which immediately slips beyond our consciousness, because our language is all dualistic. It's like not being able to see anything unless it moves, or unless there are two of them. That's the way we are. Man was created as a contemplative. He's still got to use that word, because he's fighting a centuries-old battle, I think, especially in, let us say, Cistercian monasticism, in defense of that orientation. The fall from paradise was a fall from unity. Now, that's a synonym for him with contemplative.


Unitive and contemplative are basically synonymous for him, the same thing. Contemplation equals unity. And this image of man somehow being shattered from unity into multiplicity, and from being inside himself, as it were, self-contained, and thrown out into a dualistic universe, into a world of illusion, it's a very, very powerful myth and metaphor. And Merton uses it elsewhere. Do you remember The New Man, his book The New Man? He does it very nicely there, too. And it's classical, patristic. But notice it does have a certain bias to it, which is intellectual, which is somewhat spiritualizing, somewhat uninterested in matter, a very masculine or patriarchal bias. Notice what he's got in there about the division of the sexes,


actually being a posterior to sin for some of it. This is a typical Greek picture, okay? And woman as being a temptress, okay? So somehow, and later on, Eve being identified with the psyche, that is, being identified with the mutable soul, with the movement of the soul, including the unconscious and all of the instincts, the whole, what would you call it, energy complex of psyche, and being put on a lower level than what? Reason, which is allied with spirit and nearly identified with spirit. The rational mind, and remember, intellect for the Greeks is also a contemplative intellect. It's the nous. And right next to it is the rational mind. And on a lower level is psyche. And we're still trying to recover from that. The whole of our psychology, you know, the movement of psychology in the last hundred years is an attempt to get out of the problem, out of the box that that's put us into.


I'm being over-simple, but it's largely true. And it's not just due to the Greeks, of course. But in this mystical context of the Fall, still, what did they do wrong? I mean, is that choice, is that choosing to eat from the tree, is that a symbol for the breaking into consciousness? It's like there would seem to be a necessary path that you had to somehow get into multiplicity. That's the unfortunate side effect of consciousness. I mean, even within that intrinsic thing, I still don't feel like Merton has said yet what exactly is it that humanity did. Well, you can say that he hasn't assigned himself that task, okay?


He hasn't assigned himself the task of answering that question in this particular paper. I think in The New Man, I think he has to take a better crack at that and try to say what it is. And of course, the answer would usually be, from the Fathers, I don't remember Merton's answer, but the answer would usually be... It's a little like the thing of Martha and Mary, that you're busy about many things, there's one thing that matters. It's somehow breaking out of the... No, it's a mistake to make it too metaphysical. There's got to be, what would you say, a break of faith. There's got to be a break of relationship. There's got to be a breaking out of that which one knows to be true and in a bond of love and fidelity in order to do something else. Okay? But I don't remember what Merton says about it. There's got to be something like that. But I don't think we should get too far off on that road


of trying to answer that, because it takes us off the track of his progression here, of the main theological track. At this point, what he's doing here, he can abstract from that question of exactly what did they do wrong, and use the myth of Genesis 1 and 2, Genesis 2 and 3 it really is, in order to illustrate this whole contemplative picture, the movement from unity and multiplicity. And then his next section, you see, is going to be his presentation of Christ as the response to this, precisely the return from the multiplicity and illusion back into the unity. And even the last section about the sacred and the secular is still responding to this first movement from unity to multiplicity, you notice? The section on the sacred and the secular defines the sacred in terms, somehow, of this beginning from interiority and therefore from unity. And the secular is precisely the enslavement to the multiple


and the dread of the unitive. So it's the being wedded to that land of unlikeness, to that world of illusion and multiplicity out there. Now, somebody could attack this and say, well, this whole thing is a Greek Platonist picture, because what's wrong with multiplicity? What's wrong with the diversity of creation and so on? But I think what Merton is doing here is valid, though, because he's not trying to say everything. He's not trying to write a whole metaphysical and theological balanced treatise. He's trying to follow his track of a reasonable theology and spirituality of contemplation based on the scriptures and the fathers. I think he does it well. For me, that line starting about four down from Sedon, Augustinon, that's very scary, very different from what you're doing,


because it seems to link Adam and Eve in this conflictual thing where Adam, had he been allowed to be Adam, would have gone into contemplation. And Eve, or the feminine, which is the outer external, that's very scary in its ultimate implication. That's an illustration of that great flaw and danger that's in the fathers. Even the Greek fathers were so profound. That Greek intellectualist masculine bias. And anti-feminine, really. Anti-feminine. It's a misogynist thing there. Very scary. Which gets even into the spiritual interpretation. It's not just on the outside when they're talking about equasial discipline or something like that. It's right in there, spiritual interpretations. And it's very confused, because if complexity has to be as linked to technology and science, that can't be more than masculine. Exactly. If the unity of embracing. Exactly. So there seems, tucked in there, a misogynist thing that's rather arbitrary.


That's right. What would you say the other side of that is? That if there was a bias like that in the beginning, that means we're left with something still to discover and to develop, okay? The whole pie has not been eaten. Something has been left for us. The whole pie hasn't even been cut. So there's still something left to emerge in our time. And which has to do with this side. It's just like Jungian psychology, with the side that's been neglected, that's been repressed, that's been denied, and which we would call the inferior function or something like that. That's where the new creation is coming from. So it means turning over a lot of things. And it means a new direct contact with the scripture and trying to get to the heart of it freshly so that it speaks to you directly. Because even the Fathers are not a reliable enough guide here. These things jump right out at you. They glare at you when you read them. And even in the years since Merton, of course,


there's been quite a bit of development in that, hasn't there? Merton wouldn't even use quite the language he uses if he were writing today. Even the focus on contemplation, okay? The focus on a center, on a concept, on a notion, on an idea, on an ideal of contemplation has an enormous shadow to it. It means that we're excluding... That's a masculine bias in a sense, that focused, purposeful concentration on something. Is that where the New Testament is at? No. Somehow it's got to be complemented by another... That's why I think the movement from a focus on contemplation to a focus on wisdom is very useful, especially if you take wisdom from the feminine aspect, from the Sophia angle. Then it's not an isolated center, as it were, which is the unitive contemplative experience and everything else sort of left out in the cold, but it's something which permeates everything and in which everything participates and which brings everything together in a very mysterious, almost musical way.


A musical way. We'll get into that for us, too. ...all kinds of different things. That's right. And you see, there's a lot of that in Merton. In the last years of his life, he's moving towards that in a beautiful way. Just read that Hagia Sophia. And some of the things that he writes in conjectures of a guilty vice-temper are just marvelous in that Sophianic sense. He starts the whole book talking about Barth's dream of Mozart, remember? And he talks about the Sophianic Mozart that will be the salvation of Barth, rather than the theologian in his head. So when Merton is writing from his head, as he frequently has to do, even here when he's using the Genesis story and all the symbolism, he's not as... What would you call it? He doesn't sing like he does when he's allowing that Sophianic thing that's moving in him to speak in his more poetic book. The extreme of that is in the book The Ascent to Truth, that very scholastic work on contemplation,


which he didn't even like himself, and which almost killed him while he was writing it. Yes? Because I think here Merton's just referring to the tradition. The great fathers of Augustine, but he doesn't really take sides. No, he doesn't really take sides. To a certain extent, however, in adopting their structure, their basic theological structure, he necessarily brings along with it some of its imperfection, some of its bias comes along, drags along with it. Towards the end of that first paragraph, and then it flows to the second, he's accepted the substance of that. Division. Because actually now the more contemporary interpretation would be just the opposite. Because according to the fathers, it's the masculine, Adam is the contemplative, Eve is the feminist,


the feminine. But now I think normally our understanding is just the opposite. The masculine stands for the rational, the strict logical reasoning, and the feminine stands for the more intuitive, contemplative, substantial aspects. That's right. Notice the aspect of this in ecclesiology. That as the church becomes freed up from that other perspective, it discovers itself. It discovers itself as feminine, discovers itself, in a sense, as wisdom. And of course, the equating of theology with science, rather than with sciencia, rather than the sapientia, has a lot to do with this, of course. Not in the patristic time, but since the 13th century or so. Great acquisitions, but also this shadow. The Jungian parallel to that


is the idea of the anima for the man as the door, actually. The feminine is the door to interiority for a male. Yes, exactly. So, the second part here is called Contemplation and Theology. Now, here we have a chiasm with the first part. Because we had the fall from unity into multiplicity and the ejection, the eviction from this unitive center. And now Jesus is the one who comes to bring us back. But how does he do that? And here is the strength of it. Merton is very good at this. The strength of Christian theology is that the incarnation is deification. That Jesus became man, became a human being, so that we might become God. That's our usual statement of it


from the fatherhood, from Irenaeus or Athanasius. Probably both. That's a kind of, what would you call it, a logical statement of it. But in this event, that unitive divinity becomes human so that we might enter into that unity and so that a unitive humanity might be born. But this unitive humanity is not just unitive, it's divine. So it's not just Adam, but it's Adam deified in some way. But see, the whole spring of Christianity, the whole dynamism of the Gospels in a sense is right here. In this removal of all barriers, that which mediates, which is Jesus, is not a mediator between one thing and another, but a mediator who makes two things one in himself, if we can speak of God in that sense.


Does this propose anything that the Eastern Fathers said about even if Adam and Eve hadn't fallen, Christ would have come anyway to complete something that needed to be completed? Probably, yes. If Adam is being deified, is he being returned to his original state in regard to being before the fall, or is he being taken beyond something in that he was before the fall? Yeah, he has to be taken beyond. He has to be taken beyond. So, in some way, Christ would have been necessary. Well, yeah. I think that Scotus takes a line, something like that, but I don't remember whether he uses it, whether that's part of his argument, you know. The African-Syrian is a big one. I don't remember finding it in the Fathers. The recapitulation. Yeah, the recapitulation is in Irenaeus, of course, and that's what we're talking about in the sense that the unitive beginning comes into the world and brings everything else back to the beginning in itself, by coming into it,


by entering into it. It opens itself and receives everything into it to come back into the beginning. It's a wonderfully powerful idea, especially when you realize that the beginning is this unitive source, you know, this fullness, this divine, creative fullness. There's no end to that idea. It's not just an idea. And that's at the core of John's prologue, you see, and then in Irenaeus. On page 33, he mentions baptism, but only in passing. And at that point, there'd be a great deal more to say, because Martin thinks of baptism as being the point at which the seeds are planted, okay, the seeds of deification are planted in you, but they need to be developed by asceticism and by contemplation and by a moral life and so on. Now, if you read the early fathers,


the really early ones, you know, first couple of centuries, and especially the Syrians, you get a totally different idea. Everything is there at the beginning, okay, and the baptismal experience is the primordially archetypal, contemplative and unitive experience in Christianity. And the way they write about it, you don't have any doubt about it. Remember, baptism is illumination. Baptism is fotismos. So that is the equivalent for us of illumination, of enlightenment, of satori in the Buddhist tradition, but it's much more than that. It's got a kind of, what do you call it, convexity to it. It's got a fullness to it due to this coming, this flame of the Holy Spirit which has come into the world and into the human heart. I say much more. I don't like to make those comparisons. They're not appropriate. We don't need to make them. More and less comparisons. It's just something different. Different and the same. On page 33, and also earlier, when he says, according to his typical language,


it's, we are children of God, not by nature, but by adoption. Yes. This kind of language still strikes me as funny, where he's talking about that our real self is, like our true nature is, but we're not by nature. Yes, it makes it sound extrinsic. Yes, he slipped, I think. He slipped from the level of his true self discourse at that point into something dualistic. So that's more like Western theological language than scriptural language? Yes. Actually, there's something in there that we need to conserve. There's a mystery there, which is very, that is, the mystery of the interrelationship of grace and nature is a very difficult one. It's an insoluble one. But there is an adoption, but the adoption is a recreation, and the recreation is a new beginning, which is the beginning itself. And it's impossible to peel the onion, sort of, and get it exactly right in words. But also the whole kind of


high, descending, Christology thing kind of crumbles at that point, too, doesn't it? I mean, if it's all one, what is there to descend to? It's not really a descent, then, is it? I think those, see, those are just metaphors. Descent is a metaphor, because God's not up there in the air. But it's a very useful metaphor. We get to a problem as when that idea of something coming, which is essential in some way to Christianity, Christian theology, Christian tradition, at least, is replaced by the idea of just an emergence, let us say. You'll hear a lot of people today who have a largely Eastern background say that, well, Jesus didn't really bring anything new into the world. He simply elicited or opened up that which was already in the human person. That doesn't quite do it as far as Christianity is concerned. Maybe a better expression can be found from our side, from the Christian side, but that language doesn't do it yet.


It isn't enough. In other words, there is a newness. There is a quantum change at that point, okay, which is not simply eliciting, not simply awakening, not simply freeing, opening up, enlightening, that which is already there. There's more to it than that. There's some kind of communication of that. Okay. So that rather dualistic language has something important in it that we need to keep. We can do away with the verticality at a certain point. We move from a vertical language to a language of center, largely, you know, of interior art. That SCOTUS perspective, according to many, is profound in its link to the Greek and link to those later epistles that from the beginning, all things were created through the Word and somehow, even through Christ, not that he did incarnate or something, so that this Eastern thing


that Christ simply elicits, in a deep sense, we could acknowledge that Christ is making explicit what was Christian from before the ages. That's right. That's right. So that whole question, so that Jesus doesn't just come because we've fallen, so that had we not fallen, there'd be no reason for it, but Christ is the ultimate shape of it all when it comes to fulfillment. That's right. You can say he comes into his house in order to bring it to life, something like that. As long as we think of it in terms of him coming to man or something like that, it's not quite clear. Think of him coming into the creation in order to bring it into its fullness by bringing it into God. It's this idea of that which is created out there at first being brought in, the recapitulation, into the very generation of the Son by the Father, which is an interior thing. That which is created being brought within that which is generated, so that it partakes of the interior life of the divinity.


We're talking about humanity, basically, but there's some relation to the cosmos as well. He comes through the cosmos. Yeah. Anyhow, this section of Martin's is very important, as you can see, for what he's doing. Do you see the relationship to what he did at first in that first section of this where he talked about identity and contemplation as being rooted and inseparable from your being and being an awakening experience of the new man. Then he brings it into the Christian context and builds or, what would you say, develops the Christian theological framework around it to explain how that happens in Christianity, how we conceive of its happening. And as we can see, there are some things that we might wish were balanced better or filled out there. But nevertheless, he's got the main thing. This idea of deification, if you haven't had a lot of exposure to theology, sooner or later focus on that


because that's the core of it in some way, which is very difficult often for, to survive, very hard for it to survive in an ecclesial context because it seems to do away with mediation and the Church is concerned with mediation. And so you'll find a kind of cautious tendency to diminish and mitigate and nearly exclude it very often. But that's what we're talking about. That's the power of Christianity and the depth of it. And when we say deification, of course, we do, at that moment, it's very hard to say a word that doesn't just say one side. Every word is like a hemisphere, you know, and there's another hemisphere to answer it and in a sense to swallow it up. When we say deification, we sound as if something altogether new, that nature started out being completely separate from God and then is raised up or brought in or transformed. That's not quite true either, is it? Because nature is never without grace. That's one of the acquisitions


of our contemporary theologians. That nature, there was never a nature which did not have the presence of grace. It's in the creation and even sin doesn't banish completely the presence of God and the grace of God in some way. Okay, I guess it's about time to quit. I think we'll have to probably spend another time on this, especially in order to talk about that baptismal thing at more length, which is very important. Let me say one thing, though. When Martin says that the idea of contemplation, though not explicit in the New Testament, is there everywhere, I'd like to accent that, underline it, and make it one of our theses. That actually the core of the Scripture, and particularly of the New Testament, the core of the New Testament is the unitive, the non-dual reality of God. The mystery, let us say the Christ mystery,


which is a unitive mystery, a mystery of non-duality, a mystery of all things becoming one, discovering their oneness, entering into the oneness which is God. And the contemplative experience is simply one aspect of that, is simply one window into that. So that's the center, the heart of the New Testament itself, and the explicit passages where we find some kind of contemplative experience, as we'll see next time, are just like the volcanoes through which that's issuing, through which that's coming to the surface. But the whole thing is molten. The whole thing is that unitive reality inside. That's what the New Testament is about. That would be the thesis. Notice the parallel there with what we said about the human person. That the human person has at its core this unitive self, which Merton calls the true self, or you can call the Christ self. The same thing is true of the Word. That the Word has this core to it. It has an exterior which is multiple


and which is largely masculine. It has an interior which is unitive and which we can speak of as feminine. And the same thing is true of the Word and the human person. And of course we're using that feminine word almost instrumentally sometimes because it works, because it expresses that somehow. We might have to define it more carefully at some point. But if we think of a masculine exterior to the Word and to the person and a feminine interior, it's not a bad picture to start with. And the feminine being unitive, being that which is in some sense inconceivable and certainly inexpressible, but which we know from the beginning, which is, as it were, the core of our knowledge, which we always know. We know it as well as we know love or happiness or joy


or just what light is or anything like that. Okay, we'll pick up from there next time. I think in this section, Bertrand puts Christ at the center in the Christian congregation, but at the same time also very arguably stressing the spirit of Christ. That's right. So next time, I don't know whether you could also bring out the spirit, the universal aspect of his exposition. Yes, there's something... I find it difficult there in some way. The reason... It's much harder to talk about the spirit conceptually and verbally than it is about the Logos, than about Christ, okay? And so it seems to me that there's something limping


in our pneumatology and also in the way that Martin talks about the spirit that doesn't quite get there because it doesn't cross that threshold which is really the... What would you call it? The plenitude or the unitive fullness of the spirit. We think of it too much as, I don't know, as another step, as another linear piece that closes the ring, as it were. But it's some kind of pouring out of a unitive, not an enclosure, but fullness and plenitude and pleroma instead. And our language just doesn't get there. So I'll see if I can say something. I'll try to say something, but yeah, okay. Thank you. Oneself