The Emerging Gospel: Christianity As New Creation: The Silence

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The Emerging Gospel: Christianity As New Creation

I: The Silence

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#set-the-emerging-gospel

#preached-retreat

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And this morning I want to talk about one, so we relocate ourselves at the apex here. But we might start that by talking about apophatic spirituality, apophatic theology, which is a negative word. In fact, apophatic means exactly the opposite of saying, it's not saying, or non-saying, or negative saying, or speaking about something by saying what it is not. Of course, the master of that is Pseudo-Dionysius in the Western tradition. God is not this, not that, God is above everything. You get echoes of Buddhism there, because Buddhism is the apophatic tradition par excellence. The core of Buddhism seems to be in this not-saying. In pursuing something with such a, what would you call it, such a centered focus, that the essence itself is all, you won't even speak of the essence, but that you pair off somehow all the accidents, all the expressions, all the manifestations, and go straight for the heart of the thing. That's what's characteristic of Buddhism.

[01:02]

There's a strong tradition of that in Christianity too, but it's not the dominant tradition, that's the thing. It's in people like, it's already in Judaism, it's very strong in Judaism, the idea that you can't have an image of God, the idea that you can't even express the name of God, you can't even speak the name Yahweh at a certain point, that absolutely merciless prohibition and banning that hatred of anything, any idol, any image, anything that could somehow take the place of God. That's apophatic too. But it's apophatic in a strange way, as we'll see. It's in a strange way because it turns around by being so human. There's something that the apophatic has to do with the human. It's like you find the opposite poles here, always relating to one another. They kind of do a dance with one another. If you are absolutely apophatic, like in the Jewish tradition, there's nothing left, there's no image of God left but the human person, and that's the visible human person down here. So this somehow evokes this. You see that also in a lot of the contemporary Buddhist poets, American Buddhist poets like

[02:07]

Gary Snyder, where what you have is this emptiness, is this light of consciousness, as it were, and nature itself, those two things. So the clearing of the mind, as it were, and the getting rid of all images, and even maybe impulses and things like that are feelings, leave you just with the thing that's out in front of you, just with the physical thing that you're facing. That's very frequent, I think, in contemporary Buddhist poetry, even in haikus, like the peach tree in the courtyard or something like that is an expression for enlightenment. But a haiku that talks about the cherry blossom, something like that, the purely objective thing, the purely natural thing, the purely physical thing, and the absolute clarity and emptiness of consciousness go perfectly well together with one another. You don't make any statement, you don't make any affirmation, you don't express any feeling, it's just the thing. But the thing is seen in the emptiness of this light, the thing is resonating, as it were,

[03:09]

in the space that's opened up here, by this unitive reality. So this is very characteristic of Buddhism, and the depth of Buddhism is there, I mean, Buddhism is marvelously deep, and has marvelous resonances in Christianity. It's a way which represents an archetype, which represents a reality that goes all the way to the bottom of things, very profound. And Christians have been often unfair to Buddhism, of course, in the past, thinking of it as merely, mere negativity, because Buddhism can be very life-affirming, but at the same time it is negative, it's the negative way. It's like the negative way that emerges as a heresy, or something like that, inside of Hinduism. Hinduism being largely affirmative, having this apophatic dimension in it, and then Buddhism takes off with it and carries it all the way. It's like a Hindu-Protestantism in a sense, which, and there's a little parallel between Protestantism and Buddhism, in the way that Protestantism relates to Christianity in a

[04:10]

kind of non-sacramental way, going in the other direction, and Buddhism relates to Hinduism. But it's not quite the same, as I believe. Let me read, Merton, by the way, is a wonderful contemporary source on number one, and on the apophatic way, and on this pure unitive experience, because he really went for it. And he went for it not only from his own vocation, from his own monastic life, and his own inner impulse, but his contact with the East, and particularly with Buddhism. That's what he was going for, with this non-dual experience which he found in Zen. So if I read a few, and also because he's a poet, he expresses this marvelously. The poetry of the East is not quite so accessible to us, I think. We need somebody in our own culture to feel all of the overtones, all the resonances, and Merton being square in the middle, even of our American culture, gives us that. So if I read more of him than you might expect, that's the reason for it. Here's something from his preface or introduction to the Japanese translation of Thoughts in

[05:17]

Solitude. No writing on the solitary meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind and the pine trees. Now that's marvelous. Let me read it again. No writing on the solitary meditative dimension of life, and that's what we're talking about up there, okay, number one, can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind and the pine trees. So his statement completely cancels itself, but it evokes that movement which is strange in its, what would you call it, its elusiveness, the wind and the pine trees. It's not the pine trees, it's not the wind, it's the wind and the pine trees. It's something that's there and then it's not there, and it's already been said better by not saying, okay? The statement is perfectly apophatic, and yet it points to two things. It points to that consciousness, that empty consciousness of illumination, that center of the person which is conscious, and it points also straight to nature, doesn't it, the wind and the pine trees.

[06:18]

You see, when we get up here, we're very likely to be in immediate contact with this here. When we get to the core, to the center, to the inside, that's when suddenly we see the outside with new eyes, or we hear the outside with new ears, and then he goes on to talk about what those new ears might be. These pages, he says, that's his book, seek nothing more than to echo the silence and peace that is heard, and he puts heard in quotation marks, when the rain wanders freely among the hills and forests. But what can the wind say where there is no hearer? There is no hearer, there's nobody to hear it. So then he imagines himself out of the picture, actually the self itself out of the picture. This is purely apophatic and goes beyond that. There is then a deeper silence, the silence in which the hearer is no hearer. That deeper silence must be heard before one can speak truly of solitude. So that's this going beyond the self even, the apophatic, the negative way, which carries

[07:20]

us essentially beyond the ego, or beyond the self that looks at itself, beyond the self-conscious self, consciousness of self, into something like pure perception, whatever we want to call it. It's beyond our words too. All of the words here are just pointing. I've got a couple of poems of Martin's, he's written so much about this that you have a big choice. This is a little poem called Wisdom. It's not about the immediate experience, this is more about a kind of consciousness. I studied it and it taught me nothing. I learned it and soon forgot everything else. Having forgotten, I was burdened with knowledge, the insupportable knowledge of nothing. How sweet my life would be if I were wise. Wisdom is well known when it is no longer seen or thought of. Only then is understanding bearable, when it is no longer seen or thought of. It has to be perfectly invisible in some way. And what he's talking about here is the invisibility of the wisdom, but also the invisibility or transparency of the self, isn't he? If only I could get myself out of the way, I wouldn't know anything, and somehow I would

[08:24]

know everything. It's as if he's speaking about this light that fills the universe somehow, this illumination that's everywhere, if we could only get out of the way and let it fill us, if we were only empty enough so that it could come through our windows and fill the room. When in the soul of the serene disciple, with no more fathers to imitate, poverty is a success. It is a small thing to say the roof is gone, he has not even a house. Stars as well as friends are angry with the noble ruin. Saints depart in several directions. Be still, there is no longer any need of comment. It was a lucky wind that blew away his halo with his cares, a lucky sea that drowned his reputation. Here you will find neither a proverb nor a memorandum. There are no ways, no methods to admire, for poverty is no achievement. His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction. What choice remains? Well, to be ordinary is not a choice. It is the usual freedom of men without visions.

[09:25]

So you come back into the ordinary, back into bodily life, you might say, where there is nothing special. That is very Buddhist, that way of writing. In poetry like that, there is always a self-consciousness, though, especially when you imagine a person pushing words around to get them right, to express that which he wants to then somehow unsay. In the traditions, you can find plenty of apathetic quotes like from Hinduism and Buddhism. Here are just a couple, especially Buddhism, but there is no shortage in Hinduism. Who sends the mind to wander afar? Who first drives life to start on its journey? Who impels us to utter these words? Who is the spirit behind the eye and the ear? It is the ear of the ear, the eye of the eye, and the word of words, the mind of mind, and the life of life. Those who follow wisdom pass beyond, and on leaving this world become immortal.

[10:29]

There the eye goes not, nor words, nor mind. We know not, we cannot understand how he can be explained. He is above the known, and he is above the unknown. Thus we have heard from the ancient sages who explained this truth to us. What cannot be spoken with words, but that whereby words are spoken. Know that alone to be Brahman, the spirit, and not what people here adore. Then it goes on. That's from one of the Upanishads. Here's something from the Dhammapada, the Buddha's text. All created things perish. He who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain. This is the way to purity. All created things are grief and pain. The one who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain. This is the way that leads to purity. All forms are unreal. The one who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain. This is the way that leads to purity. Purity here is emptiness. Remember the importance of emptiness in Buddhism, that concept of the shunyata, which has been called the core, the heart of Buddhism, and is synonymous with enlightenment, synonymous

[11:32]

with the contemplative experience of fulfillment or realization. So there'd be plenty of quotes, especially in Buddhism. In Judaism, I just want to accent that once again. The apophatic tradition in Judaism is very strange because we find it in the middle of so much stuff. And we find it in the middle of the revelation of a God who speaks aggressively, intrusively into the world. Right? So it's very different from the apophatic tradition of Buddhism, the emptiness of Buddhism, where you continually seem to be going away from that which can be perceived, where you seem to be seeking the absolute. You won't even give it a name, but you're seeking the absolute beyond every mediation. And in Judaism, we have a God who is insistently manifesting himself and expressing himself into the world. So it's a very strange, negative way that we have in Judaism. And yet it's there, and it's very strong. And first of all, in that prohibition of idols, the prohibition of any image of God, any attempt

[12:36]

to render God, God is expressed as the I am, as it were. I am he who is. Remember that's said at the burning bush, and that burning bush, the flame there, is like the image of that reality which is God in the Old Testament, in Judaism. It's an intensity of being which burns up every image, which burns up every expression. It's marvelous. But the thing about it is that it's personal. It's what we call a person. Whatever we mean by person, I don't think we know what we mean by person. We know that best of all, ever since we looked into our mother's face. In another way, we don't know what we mean by person. But whatever person is, this God is personal, in Israel. And you can say that the whole thrust of the Judeo-Christian tradition is to create the person, that person who is Christ, that person who is us. We'll come back to that and sort of wind up with that in the end when we're talking about that fourth point, because that person is physical in the end, and somehow includes within

[13:37]

itself the whole universe, the whole world, all of creation. So this apophatic is the personal apophatic. I dislike continuing to use that word apophatic. It sounds so, what do you call it, so erudite or something, but it's important because it identifies that tradition in Christianity and in the other religions. This is the personal apophatic, which means that something is spoken by a person, but that person you may not touch, you may not reach. Remember, nobody can seek out and live in the Old Testament. That's another expression of that same thing, because God is a consuming fire. It's an, you might call it an extrovert apophatic almost. It's outgoing, it's energy, and this is what we're going to find in the New Testament. It's particularly connected with our point three there. There's an apophatic, there's an unknowing, which is in energy, an unknowing, which as it were, is in the very intensity of an experience, and not an experience of withdrawal, not an

[14:39]

experience of remoteness, of going away, of moving out of the world, but something that comes into the world and bowls you over, or scorches you, and that you can say nothing about. It's like pure energy, pure being, you might say. And it's identified with this I am, this name of God in the Old Testament, Yahweh. In Christianity, I've got a few quotes about this, but I think we have to feel it in Christianity more as the God of which Jesus speaks, whom we do not experience directly, something like that. It's a whole aura around parts of the New Testament. It's a whole aura around the New Testament. When we use that word mystery, we're talking about that. It's to the great credit of Karl Rahner that he revived this sense of the word mystery

[15:39]

in Christianity, and he identifies God with mystery. In other words, God is the horizon and beyond the horizon. If you have a limit to your consciousness, if you have a limit to your life, God is what's outside that, but he's also inside it. But we have to think of him first as everything else, but what we touch, but what we know, but what we possess. And yet breaking into this reality, present within the reality that we know, and yet somehow he is the outside. He is the infinite perspective, infinite reaches, infinite spaces, and these are all images outside of what is tangible to us, outside of what we possess, what we know, what we're confident about, what we appropriate, what we domesticate, what we make our own. He's all the rest, this God that we're talking about. A little quote from 1 Timothy, the blessed and only sovereign, the king of kings and lord of lords, who alone has immortality, this is a kind of hymn that Paul is singing, and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see, to him be honor and

[16:41]

eternal dominion. Remember that? It's a little canticle that we use sometimes. Who alone has immortality, dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see, Notice how the paradox of the apophatic is already in light, isn't it? Light is what makes everything else visible. Light is the most visible, sensible of things, isn't it? It's the most powerful, you can say, reality in its own order. It's that which renders everything visible, and yet it itself is beyond intelligibility. It enables you to read everything else, to understand everything else, it interprets everything else, it brings everything else to life and makes it speak, and yet you can't say what light is saying, can you? What does the light itself say? It's as if it says a word too deep and too big for us to hear. And remember that the first creature is light, according to the Old Testament, according to the first creation account, isn't it, in Genesis 1, and God said, let there be light, as if inside that light was everything else. And God divided the light from the darkness, but there's a kind of darkness in light, because

[17:45]

we can't read that light. All we can read, maybe, from it is the great affirmation that's in it. It's a beauty beyond beauty, the light itself, isn't it, in a way, because it's indescribable, because it doesn't have a form. It renders everything else beautiful, visible, but it itself is a beauty that's beyond our metaphors somehow. We can compare other things to light, but we have trouble comparing light to anything else, do we? It's kind of the vanishing point of metaphor, the vanishing point of beauty, and of knowledge. Now that's light on the visible level, but there's a light, isn't there, in our own consciousness. You see, there's a light on the level of the mind, there's a light on the level of the spirit. There's a whole spectrum of lights, as it were, right to the light which is God. And the epithetic tradition would say, well, he's not light, he's darkness as well. But he's both, but intensely experienced in both, intensely experienced as light. John 1.18 says that nobody's ever seen God, the only son, or one version has it, the only

[18:53]

God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. Now, if nobody has ever seen God, how does Jesus, or the Word, or the light make God known? The one who is in the bosom of the Father, what does that mean? Does it mean physically? Does it mean that God has a bosom? That God wears a certain size shirt, probably from L.L. Bean, I presume, or does it mean something else? Is that in the bosom a metaphor? Is it a metaphor for oneness? It is a metaphor for unity. Is to be in the bosom of God, to be in the heart of what we're talking about there, the heart of that unitive reality, in other words, to be one in the one, is that not what Jesus is? I am the Father of one. To be in the bosom of the Father is to be one with the Father. Now, he is the one who has revealed God, whom no one has seen. But how has he revealed that God? How other than by union. How else does the one who is in the bosom of the Father reveal the Father, but by bringing us to the same place where he is? And place, too, is a metaphor, isn't it, John, when he says that, let my servant follow me

[19:56]

and where I am he will be. What does that mean? That means not a place. That means that unity. That means that place beyond place, the bosom of the Father, which is the one, which is the one. To be there. See, all our metaphors disappear at this point. It's like all the words fused together and you have this one reality, just like the light, which is the one. One John has it, no one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. Now, once again, to abide in us doesn't mean just to abide in a place. We're the dwelling of God, but that's a metaphor, too, isn't it? And beyond those metaphors there's always union, because God is the one. To have God dwelling in you means that you are somehow one with God. That's the essential thing. The metaphor has a kind of loving trick in it. The metaphor makes distance as it makes connection, but that distance in the metaphor, the secret of that, inside that, is the union which it's expressing.

[20:56]

God dwells in you. That means you're becoming God. That means that the fire of God is burning in you and turning you into itself. The Eastern Christians have kept on to the apophatic tradition a lot better than we have in the West. For instance, Lossky writes, Vladimir Lossky writes about the apophatic as being unitive. In other words, it's not just about a God who is remote and inaccessible and unknown. The unknownness, the inaccessibility, intangibility, is the only way to arrive at unity. So the other side, the back side, the inside of this unknown God, of the unknowability of God, is the unitive quality of God, which is terrible language. What I mean is, to not be able to see God means to be one with God. The only way you can be one with God is to let go of the image.

[21:59]

Remember when Jesus goes away, and he says, it's better for you that I go away, doesn't he, because I'll send a spirit if I go away. If I don't go away, I can't send a spirit. What does that mean? If you can still see me, you can't be one with me, you can't be me. If you can see me, if you can possess me, possess me on the outside, possess me outside of yourself, hang on to me as an object, as a friend, whatever, externally, you cannot be what you must be, which is myself. I cannot give God to you in a unitive way if you insist on hanging on, as it were, hanging on to the God whom I have revealed in myself. So when Jesus disappears as the visible, the one that we see and hear and touch, he disappears so that we may have the spirit, that's so that we may know this God as he knows this God, that is by unity. And when we move in this direction, we're always moving away from the image, moving away from that which is tangible, that which is solid, and so on. And remember this is mediated in these different ways. And it finally expresses itself down here in incarnate form, in the human person in

[23:07]

the Eucharist, in a creation which is transformed into the Eucharist. Now, the kind of life that is involved with this point, this point one, is the monastic life, of course, in the different traditions. The best expression of this that I found, the most direct expression, is in Raimundo Panacar, when he defines monasticism in his book, Blessed Syntheticity. That must be about, how many years old now, about 14, 15 years old, that he came up with that notion. But it's marvelous. He has a very good philosophical mind, and was able somehow to come up with this idea, which I suppose maybe is common currency over in India, but it wasn't for me. It was a kind of enlightenment for me. He says that the monk, that monasticism, the monastic person, the monastic vocation, and the monastic archetype in everybody, because everybody has this monastic dimension in them.

[24:08]

There's no, what do you call it, elitism about this thing. This is the dimension of the human person. It's the center, somehow. It's the center. Let me read what he says about it. He says that the center is the metaphor for this unitive dimension in the human person. If we look for oneness on the periphery, on the outside, we cannot reach that equanimity, that peace peculiar to the monastic thing. We cannot have that holy indifference toward everything, because we are not equidistant from everything. Monkhood represents the search for the center. I apologize for using this word monk and so on, so much. But Panekar is talking about precisely the monk thing as a symbol and as an archetype that's in everybody. So he's talking about something that's in every human being, which needs to have this handle on it, this title of monk, because that's the visible, what do you call it, symbol or expression of it. Inasmuch as we try to unify our lives around the center, all of us have something of the

[25:08]

monk in us. This center, by virtue of being a center, is imminent inside, indwelling, imminent to the human being. But at the same time, by virtue of being as yet unattained, it is transcendent. Now, this here is the center. It's not in the center of this figure, is it? But it is the center. It's like you have centers within centers. John of the Cross will say that the center of your soul is a deeper and a deeper and a deeper center, and the deeper center is God. So the image doesn't represent it perfectly, it doesn't show it as a center, but this is the center that Panekar is talking about. Therefore, that's the locus, the location, as it were, of the monastic thing on our map here. It could just as well be at the bottom, too. It is not only a geometrical center, as it were, but also a gravitational one. All stimuli, good and bad, joyful and sad, converge on that center. It sounds like the biblical harp at this point. All arrows tend toward it, but all impulses and all movements also originate there, insofar as we are centered beings. The center, further, has no dimensions.

[26:09]

Ultimately, it does not exist. It is void. Inasmuch as this is so, it will remain immobile while the surface is all a whirl. Another word for it would be to say that it is absolute, that it is unbound, untied, free, and for this reason compatible with everything, inasmuch as it remains unattached. So, it's something of his idea, the center. Does that make any sense? It's making an ugly claim, as it were, for monasticism, but what he's talking about, as I say, is this universal monastic fact, which is simply symbolized by the monastic community, by the monastic person, usually not terrifically realized. But we've got to have an external symbol for orientation, for connection. Now, along with this center, according to Panikkar, the thing that characterizes monastic life traditionally is what he called blessed simplicity. If we talk about a negative way, if we talk about an apophatic way, an apophatic kind of knowledge, which is a knowledge of unknowing, or learned ignorance, you might say, in the

[27:13]

language of Saint Benedict, then we can talk about an apophatic life as well. We can talk about a negative life, can't we? And that's what turns people off about religious life, monastic life, in the contemporary world, it seems like a negative life. Renunciation is not understood in the modern world, because there isn't any grip on the positive that's inside it. There isn't any grip on the great yes that's inside the no, and so the no is meaningless. In fact, it's hideous, you know, it seems anti-human, destructive, self-destructive, because there isn't any sense, any feeling for the yes, for the affirmation that's inside it. Similarly, I think martyrdom is not very intelligible today, is it? You say, well, my goodness, that person had character. I can't imagine why he did it. We admire the kind of, what would you say, the tour de force, we admire the extreme strength manifest in martyrdom, but we don't understand it often, because we don't have a feeling for that affirmation that's inside it. We don't have a feeling for that positivity, that, what would you call it, superabundance

[28:18]

of life that's inside this fact of martyrdom. There's Jesus on the cross, okay? He comes into the world bringing a superabundance of life inside him, which the world can't tolerate, so it has to kill him. It's as simple as that, in a sense. He brings too much. He's got too much life inside him to hang around. Just like one of these meteors that comes into our atmosphere, red hot, and burns itself out. That's what has to happen to Jesus, in a sense, because he's got too much energy in him. He's got too much light, too much life, more than the world can stand. So the world has to absorb him, as it absorbs a meteor, by drowning it into itself, okay? Absorbing its impact and its energy. So the yes inside the no. So the renunciation of monasticism, and starting out, I suppose, with that notion of solitude, of celibacy, is about that. And it's about unity. If you read about Syriac monasticism in particular, they'll talk about baptism as being an immersion

[29:18]

in the one, in the only one. Now, the only one is Jesus. He's the only begotten of God. He's the one who brings this oneness, which is God, into the world, and makes it accessible. But he himself realizes that somehow, in his baptism, when he goes down into the water, comes out of the water, the Holy Spirit descends upon him, he hears the words from heaven, you are my beloved son, and you I am well pleased. As it were, that's the symbolic moment when Jesus realizes the one within himself. It's symbolic not only for him, but for us. See, baptism is that moment for us. And that's why that's there in the New Testament, I believe. The baptism of Jesus is meant to be the moment of our baptism in the New Testament. And we hearing those words, but when we hear those words, you are my beloved child, that means that we are God. That means that that divinity, that unitive reality, opens up inside us. Baptism traditionally was known as illumination. Now, what is that illumination? Is it something outside yourself?

[30:18]

Is it a light that you see? We talked about getting beyond the subject-object thing. That nothing that you can see outside of yourself somehow is directly it. But this light of baptism is directly it, and why? Because it's inside you. And what does it mean if it's inside you? Is it inside you in a place? Is it at the center of your being? Yes. But it's not inside you at the center of your being as something other than yourself. It is your own being. Your own being, which has been illuminated. Now, it's been illuminated as something transparent, right? So that the light of God shines through it. But it's illuminated also in discovering itself to be light. Discovering itself to be light. At this point, your consciousness realizes itself as light. So, baptism, in other words, I would propose as the original fundamental contemplative experience or unitive experience in Christianity. And the reason why we don't know it that way, mostly is because we were baptized as kids, okay? But also because there isn't a context for it.

[31:19]

We don't have a kind of context of community faith and of that kind of experience in order to interpret it that way. We're likely to smother it under other ideas. So baptism has that moment of birth, unitive birth, in which we realize our Godness. Which comes to Jesus in the words, You are my beloved son. You are my beloved child. The receiving of the Holy Spirit is the same thing. The transparency of the water, as it were, symbolizes in some way the transparency of our own self. You have to think of that water as if it were full of light. As on the first day of creation, remember, when God said, Let there be light. He said, Let there be light when the Spirit was hovering over the waters, remember, over the chaos. You think of the waters themselves as filling with light. It's a birth, a moment of birth. So, this unitive reality, baptism and monasticism are all bound up together at the beginning. And even the word beginning is part of this. Remember how John begins his gospel and the beginning was the word?

[32:23]

The beginning. What is that beginning? Well, do you remember the beginning of the book of Genesis, the beginning of the Bible? In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Same words. N-R-K in Greek. God created the heavens and the earth, the beginning is like creation. But the beginning is what also before the creation, which is God. The beginning is that, which is before that, which was. Before that, which was created, in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Sometimes the fathers would say, well, in the beginning God created it all, in the beginning was the Word, the Word was the beginning. But you don't have to say that. The divine is the beginning somehow. But that beginning is what we're connected with up here. And if you consider monasticism, its whole tradition of vigils and all, of the morning, that kind of spirituality is a spirituality of the morning, of the dawn, of the beginning, of baptism, of birth, of the initiation, as it were, of the first light, and of the darkness before the light.

[33:25]

And the moment when the light has not yet come forth in the darkness, and then the moment of the illumination, the moment of the light appearing. That's the sacred moment for monasticism, okay? And that all belongs up here. You can think of Jesus' life, in a sense, as being described by this figure, okay? We said that Jesus starts with the Word, and in a sense he doesn't start at the beginning. He doesn't start with God. He starts with this Word, which is the Jewish cultural context for him. You can imagine him studying the scriptures, and being taught the scriptures, and memorizing the scriptures, which must have been rather a joke, because he is the Word. But there he was, doing this, you know. And then, tempted in the desert, responding with three expressions from the scriptures, you know, the three Old Testament quotations for the devil, and so on. But you can think of him starting that way. Then going out into the desert, the wilderness, which is the place, the emptiness, which is the place of monasticism, where John the Baptist is waiting for him. John the Baptist is like the archetypal monk, okay? The man of the wilderness, the one of emptiness.

[34:26]

You ask yourself, well, what's he out there for? What's he up to? What are they? What did you go out to see? Remember Jesus asked that question? You have to ask that question, because it can't be answered. Because nobody can say what's out there, because it's beyond words. They just knew they had to go out to John the Baptist, and he baptized them. So Jesus went out to John the Baptist, was baptized by him, and the heavens opened. That's what the Gospel tells us. The Holy Spirit descended upon him. He was illuminated. He knew who he was in God. We don't know what happened in his consciousness at that time. We can't tell when the light turned on in Jesus, to what degree it was always there. I'm sure it was always there. To what degree it turned on in his baptism. But we know there was some kind of a quantum happening there at his baptism. Think of that as the time when he realizes this oneness. When he realizes this anointing in himself. The unit of anointing of the Holy Spirit. And the beginning of his life. Now that's the receiving of the gift. Think of Jesus as starting his trajectory at that point.

[35:27]

And moving all the way around. This is the morning of his life. The dawn of his life, when the light rises at his baptism. And think of that as the dawn of our life as well. The morning of our life. The illumination. When we realize who we are. Now who we are not just on the human level, but who we are in God. Who we are as God, you could say. When we realize that we have the light, we are the light in this world. And that we've been given the light somehow to give it to this world. Then think of life swinging around here. There's some kind of noon day here. Which is hard to fix. I've got several ideas about that. But the evening is very clear. The evening is down here at the end of Jesus' life. And when he institutes the Eucharist. The death of Jesus is returned to the ground. Remember he says the seed hasn't fallen to the ground. The falling into the ground, which is paradoxically he's being raised up at the same time, right? Crucified and going to the Father. But the falling into the ground is the time of his death.

[36:28]

The moment of his death. And it's the time when he institutes the Eucharist. In other words, when he puts himself, as it were, into bread and wine. Puts himself into matter. Puts himself into the stuff of this universe to stay here. Okay? In that sacramental form. So think of this as the morning. His baptism. And this is the evening. His last supper, right? The last supper and the room and his discourse and the institution of the Eucharist. And the setting sun. And that sun which sets by optical illusion into the earth. The sun which dies into the earth. So that's what Jesus is doing here. That earth with the sun inside it is the Eucharist. That earth with the divine fire inside it, which Jesus had to die to put there, is the Eucharist. And we'll talk about that later. When we get to our final point. But this beginning point here, we're identifying with baptism, with the unitive experience, with that which is beyond speaking,

[37:29]

beyond speech, with the Father. And that monasticism is a symbol of it. Now, in our traditional spirituality, the word for all of that is contemplation, isn't it? Contemplation as unitive experience, as non-dual experience. But that's had a very hard time making its way in Christianity. Because, just like the Jewish tradition, we have a prejudice against the unitive. We have a deadly fear of the non-dual. So we have to have all kinds of cautions. The center of Israel is the non-dual, is this unitive reality. And yet it can never quite be expressed. It can only be expressed negatively, or in mysterious terms, like that self-identification of God, of I Am. The same thing has been true in Christianity. Even though the unitive leaps out at you in the New Testament, it's carefully contained in the Church. And it's largely a matter of security, a matter of caution. It's largely a matter also of our being boxed into that two box at the beginning, right?

[38:31]

The verbal, or rational, or institutional, structural box. That container, as if that were the whole reality. As if the container itself were divine. We have a very hard time realizing, or staying with, that unitive reality itself. But it leaps out here and there. An example is Pseudo-Dionysius. But it's strong in the early fathers, because the early fathers realized still that God is the unknown. That God is mystery. And that Father is a name for God. But that God is more than Father. That God is mystery. And that God is, what would you call it, is the sky. Is the illuminated sky. And then gradually, as we go on, this building is constructed for security and for comfort. And the sky is closed out. So you don't have that, call it the apophatic sky, the open sky,

[39:33]

the unitive sky, the absolute, what would you call it, scope any longer. But you're closing in. And you're mediating everything. You're mediating everything through the church, and through the sacraments, and through the preached word, and through the hierarchy, and the clergy, and teaching, and all of that. So you've got an enormous structure after a while. And pretty soon you're living indoors totally. And you can't see the sky any longer. And you can't anymore fly. You can't have that exhilaration anymore of moving as it were naturally, and almost effortlessly, in an infinite space. Which is what, somehow, the Holy Spirit gives us. Because we're climbing from one element to another. We're caught in the machinery. Everything is mediated. And the mediation is exclusive and absolute. And at a certain point, when there's been enough squabbling around the church, and enough fights, and enough defensiveness, and enough paranoia, then we have our space so tightly defined

[40:35]

that we can't even have a cosmic theology any longer. It's got to be an in-house theology. Our whole, what would you call it, effort, our theological effort is towards defending the Catholic Church against everybody else. Defending our own church. Defending our denominational boundaries. And the absolute rightness of our particular formulation of Christian faith, for instance. And of religion. So Christianity gets itself in a box like that and Roman Catholicism even more. And every Christian denomination tends to do it. And to lose that apophatic sky. Perhaps it's the Eastern Orthodox who have kept it best because it's most clear and powerful in their tradition in the time of the Fathers. And of course, Protestantism, in a way, is an attempt once again to tear the roof off and get at that open sky, isn't it? But very rapidly, something happens and it becomes closed in again. Until in our time, in the Protestant world, in Protestant biblical scholarship, for instance, the ceiling is pretty low.

[41:36]

And it's kept low by a ruthless kind of rational criticism. Which has a skepticism built inside it. Same thing is true in a lot of Catholic biblical work. I'm not going to say much about what we call the perennial philosophy because we've talked about that at other times. Most of you are familiar with it. But it's something that B. Griffiths brings up again. When he thinks about the common element of all the world's religions, he calls that the perennial philosophy. The perennial philosophy, basically, is this unitive reality that we're talking about. Simply that the God who is beyond. And then, after you say God, you sort of have to pull that word God up too. You have to pull the ladder up into the craft at a certain point. And just leave that mystery floating free without any name. Because that's the only place where we find the freedom that we're meant to have. It's hard for us to believe that that freedom is inside Christianity

[42:38]

as well as without it, outside it. Why did so many people go east, like in the 60s? Why do so many people continue to move out of Christianity towards Asian spiritual tradition? Isn't it because they can't stand living indoors any longer? They can't stand the stuffiness of the house because that sky has been taken away from them. That open space, that freedom has been taken away from them. So they go east. And they find the freedom in Buddhism and then they find it without something else. They forgot to take something along. So they begin to get hungry after a while. They begin to wonder where the human person is. Is there anybody here? Because the other side of this is the person and that's what Christianity brings into the world. So we'll talk more about that as we go on. Let me see if I can find a juicy quote of B. Griffiths about the perennial philosophy. Some of you read this before. One of the greatest needs of humanity

[43:38]

today is to transcend the cultural limitations of the great religions and to find a wisdom of philosophy which can reconcile their differences and reveal the unity which underlies all their diversities. This has been called the perennial philosophy, the eternal wisdom which has been revealed in a different way in each religion. The perennial philosophy stems from a crucial period in human history in the middle of the first millennium B.C., the axial period. Remember that? Carl Jaspers' idea of that breakthrough of personal consciousness in about four or five different places all around the world. And the personal consciousness that is revealed, that breaks through at this time, about 500 B.C. in India is largely this unit of consciousness, the atman of Hinduism, of the Vedanta, or the illumination of the Buddha, the enlightenment of the Buddha, in its negative terms. In the middle of the first millennium B.C., it was then that a breakthrough was made beyond the cultural limitations of ancient

[44:39]

religion, beyond the ritual and mythological levels of ancient religion, which are so strong, to the experience of ultimate reality. That's a strong statement, isn't it? Especially when you're saying it happened 500 B.C. That is, if ultimate reality was experienced then, why did Christ bother to come? This reality, which has no proper name, since it transcends the mind and cannot be expressed in words, was called Brahman and Atman, or the spirit in Hinduism. Nirvana and Shunyata, the void in Buddhism. Tao, the way in China. Being, To-on in Greece. And Yahweh, I Am in Israel. But all these are but words which point to the inexpressible mystery. Now, the danger of that, of course, is suppressing the differences, which are enormous, between those different formulations. Certainly, I can agree that the same reality is within them all, but the differences of manifestation and the whole dynamic that's happening in between those is extremely important. Especially, say, between the emptiness

[45:39]

of Buddhism, Nirvana or Shunyata, and the I Am of Judaism. And later of Christianity, because Jesus uses those words, I Am, doesn't he? Because, in one, you have the movement, as it were, purely towards that first point. Purely into the ultimate absolute, which is God. The emptiness, which is God. And in the other, that I Am, you have a movement into the world. Which is building something in the world, which is recreating the world, which is making the world somehow eternal, because it's making the world somehow divine. It's making it participate in the being of God. If we speak of a perennial philosophy, that is, a reality which is revealed, which is beyond history, and that's what B. Griffiths is saying here, then we have to ask ourselves, what is the meaning of history? If we ask ourselves, what is the meaning of history? It's the same question as, what is the meaning of Christ? In fact, the secret of Christ, the peculiar thing that Jesus brings into the world, is inseparable from history.

[46:39]

It's the new thing that happens in history. When Irenaeus has this question, I think, that, what did Christ bring into the world? What new did he bring into the world? He says, what he brought was newness. What he brought was newness itself. And the newness is himself. In bringing himself, he brought all newness. What does that mean? It's like the fire of newness. The fire of new creation that he brings into the world. Now that fire is different from the emptiness. Remember what nirvana means. It means the blowing out of the flame, doesn't it? The idea is to get past every flame, past every energy, past every movement in you, back to the source. But what's this other thing that's happening into the world? What's this fire that's coming into the world? This fire of newness that's recreating the world in God. It's the opposite movement. And yet the two movements are akin. The two movements do not contradict one another. And both of them

[47:40]

are inside Christianity. That's what we're trying to get to here, okay? The movement to the source, you can say. The movement out of the world. The movement back upstream to the beginning, to the source, to dawn, to the moment before the light rises. That's one movement. We identify that with monasticism. Call that the baptismal movement. And the other movement, which moves into the world and is a fire of creation, a creating fire, which is bringing being into being, which is externalizing, which is giving birth, which is bringing something new into existence and making it grow, which is increase instead of decrease. Call it the positive way, but it's more than that, because it's happening in history. It's not something we do, it's something God is doing. That's the whole movement of Christianity. And that's the other thing. And it's symbolized somehow by the Eucharist, by the transformation that happens in the Eucharist. You can say that transformation, that transfiguration of matter that happens in the Eucharist and has happened in the risen body of Jesus. What Paul calls the somatomatikon,

[48:41]

the spiritual body. We'll get to that later on. That was a long interruption to this quote from Fr. B. All these are but words which point to the inexpressible mystery in which the ultimate meaning of the universe is to be found, but which no human word or thought can express. It is this which is the goal of all human striving, the truth which science and philosophy seeks to fathom, the bliss in which all human love is fulfilled. That's from Fr. B.'s introduction to his Universal Wisdom. So all of that is perfectly this point here. This point here. What's essential to realize is that this point is not the whole thing. This point is in some way inhuman. This point is pre-human. The perennial philosophy in some way is pre-human and tends to take us out of it. Now, if a person finds this and realizes this, of course, they become, what would you call it, supremely human. That's true. But the movement here is not towards, what would you call it,

[49:43]

recreation of the world or recreation of humanity, the whole of humanity. The movement is back towards the Source and to dip oneself into the living water of the Source and be realized in that way. So illumination and enlightenment is at the beginning. Baptism is at the beginning. It's not the end. It's the beginning. It's where we start from. And in Christianity what we have to recover, therefore, is a sense of initiation, is a sense of what did baptism mean? What is the light that turns on when you're baptized? See, in our Western tradition, at least, we've almost completely lost the sense of that. So we have to get back to this point and then start from there and move God in this direction. Which is, after all, the trajectory of the light of Jesus. We'll try to find some equivalent of the Gospel for this point next time, this afternoon. Another aspect of this is the whole idea of the inner self, the unitive self. The, perhaps, best expression

[50:44]

for that is a Hindu word, the Atman. Now, in some Hindu tradition, there's only one consciousness, only one Atman, only one self. So the individual self doesn't exist. But in the later tradition, largely, and other traditions, the Atman is also the individual self. Now, coming from where we come from, we've got to admit an individual self. We can't accept the vaporizing of the individual self into some kind of absolute consciousness very well, can we? I think that's one of the main problems with Ken Wilber's vision of transpersonal psychology and spirituality, that the individual self disappears. See, that's another decision, point of decision you come to here, whether to move back towards that source, where you're going to tend, your individual being is going to tend to disappear into that source, except what happens in Christianity. You get to the source and you find out the source is Father, so you get born. That realization, that baptismal realization, is not a disappearance

[51:45]

of the individual into the absolute, is it? It's the birth of the individual in its, what would you call it, transcendent depth, the birth and the confirmation of the individual in its individuality in which the absolute is realized. You are my beloved son and you I am well pleased. That is, the whole of divinity is in that individual human being, and that's permanent. You're not going to drown into the absolute. You're not going to disappear into the source. Jesus doesn't just go down into the water, but he comes back out, doesn't he? Comes back out and lives a life and then leaves this whole thing with us somehow. I have a lot of quotes about this inner self. Let's see if I can find a couple of them. There's one text from Martin that I love. It's from Conjections of a Guilty Bystander, where he talks about this point vierge, the virgin point. It's an expression I think he gets from Masanyan, the Islamic expert. And some of you will know

[52:45]

this text, I'm sure. Again, that expression, he says, I can't translate it. I think his mother was French, so he was very at home in France, so he leaves things there sometimes. The virgin point comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point of spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. You see the transcendence of that point, which is yet inside us. It's the center of our own being. We can't touch it, we can't reach it, but from there, everything happens. That's the source. Now, the Father, St. Augustine, for instance, will talk about the image of God in us. So, if this is somehow an image of all reality, uncreated and created, it also, the whole thing is in us in some way. These three poles

[53:47]

are in us. Augustine would talk about intellect, memory, and will as being the image of God in us. Conveniently forgetting the physical part. So, this point is part of the image of God. You might say the core or the root, the source, the center of the image of God in us, this point which corresponds to God or the Father. And these are the faculties, as it were, in the image. The faculty of mind, of intellect, the faculty of will, or desire, or love. So, that's been recognized for a long time. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. So, he's really talking about that first point, but it's in us. It is, so to speak, his name written in us as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it,

[54:48]

we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. There's a sister that wrote an article on this particular paragraph in Merton's book, and she tried to find all the equivalents that she could in our tradition and other traditions to give it context. So, she came up with a whole series of texts on this inner point, this inner center, the fine point of the soul, or the spark of the soul. This point, which is the unitive point in us, it's like the hub of the wheel where all the spokes come together, but it itself is emptiness. It's emptiness from our point of view, emptiness at our level, because it is beyond our perception. And in it, however, is everything. All of the rest of the thing is concentrated at the center. And the center seems like emptiness

[55:48]

because it's an intensity of being which somehow absorbs and contains everything else. It's like that fire, once again, the fire at the burning bush, that name, I Am, which contains all the attributes, doesn't it? Jesus will say in John's Gospel, He says, I'm the bread of life, He'll say, I'm the light of the world, I'm the resurrection of the life, I'm the way and the life and the truth. But at the center of all those expressions, those are like the spokes of the wheel, at the center of all those expressions is that I Am. And that I Am is the word of fire, which contains, which eats up, devours all the other attributes, all the other qualities into itself, which is the divine being. But that divine being, that word of fire, that flaming center is also in us. This intensity of being which is emptiness because it contains everything else. Because no other particular somehow does it. It's a superior level of being. And it's interesting that one metaphor for it, the eastern metaphor, the Buddhist metaphor is emptiness.

[56:49]

The empty hub. Also in Taoism, remember, at the center of the wheel, at the center of all the spokes is this empty space on which the whole thing depends. Everything depends upon empty space, the whole wheel. That's one metaphor. But the other metaphor is fire. One metaphor is the extinction of the fire in this emptiness, the center, the empty center. The other metaphor is the fire that burns at the center and regenerates everything from that point, the divine fire. And that's the one particularly which belongs to us. First to our Jewish tradition and now to our Christian tradition. It's interesting to follow that metaphor of fire, that symbol of fire, through the Bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament. Right through Emmaus and Pentecost, remember. Let me get a, just while we go to quits now, let me find another quote or two about this inner self. Here's one from Eckhart. There is in the soul something which is above the soul, divine, simple, a pure nothing, rather nameless than named, rather unknown than known. Sometimes

[57:51]

I have called it a power, sometimes an uncreated light, and sometimes a divine spark. That's Meister Eckhart, very concentrated. Let me read part of it again. Sometimes I have called it a power, sometimes an uncreated light, sometimes a divine spark. The divine spark for him is the divinity that's at the core of humanity, something that's in us, that belongs to us, the root of our being. Here's John of the Cross. I alluded to this before, this quote. The soul's center is God. When it has reached God with all the capacity of its being and the strength of its operation and inclination, it will have attained to its final and deepest center in God. It will know, love, and enjoy God with all its might. When it has not reached this point, it still has movement and strength for advancing further and is not satisfied. Although it is in its center, it is not in its deepest center, for it can go deeper in God. Now that kind of progression is straight up in this direction. On this figure, on another figure, it would be into the center,

[58:52]

into the center, but in this figure it's in this direction. Deeper and deeper into its own center is beyond itself into God. Deeper and deeper into this absolute, into this unity of being. Now this is the point, this first point is also the point at which we talk of divinization, of being, of becoming God, becoming divine. And the point in us at which that is most alive, as the root or source or center of that divinization process, because obviously it's not so visible on the outside usually. We have quotes in the New Testament that tell about that divinization. We gaze upon the divine glory, we're transformed from glory to glory into his image, remember? Or where Johnson says in his letter, we don't know what we are. We're called the children of God, and so we are, but we don't know what we shall be. But we know that when we see him we'll be like him, because we'll see him as he is. Now it's really

[59:54]

saying, we don't know what we shall be. We know we're the children of God. It's really saying we're being turned into God, we're being divinized. Which is the great unspeakable secret of our tradition. Of the Jewish and the Christian tradition. Because it's too dangerous to talk about in a sense. But it's the core of our tradition, is this divinization. And it radically happens in baptism. The rest of our life is trying to let it happen, trying to realize it. Trying to go along with it. So, that's at the heart of this first point, is that divinization. Whichever has to flow out and fill the whole figure. I think we'd better just about quit at this point. Any questions? Yes? This center you said that of our being from which all happens and all flows is also the place from which we know. And know in a very deep sense. It sounds a little bit like what you were saying last evening, when you were talking

[60:55]

about wisdom and how the container wants to break, needs to break. But to help hold us down to wisdom is that which I hope lights us up from this center. And therefore we know. But it sounds like it's the same. It's the same thing, I think. Different metaphors for it. Because when we talk about it as center, we talk about it as a fixed point, don't we? When we talk about it as wisdom, we have to think of it as a stream, as a flow, as something that's moving in us. But those are, once again, it's beyond metaphors. So those two are like the alternative expressions for it. Almost like particle and wave. Like particle and energy, you know. The solid or formed expression metaphor, and the metaphor of flow. Almost like the masculine and feminine metaphors for the same reality, which is beyond both. It's as if we'll have a metaphor, a symbol over here, we'll have another one over here, and they're both pointing towards this point, which is at the center, at the root, and beyond both of them. But what's interesting is that, you know, I think

[61:56]

as I heard, Jesus is that wisdom. That's right. [...] See, that baptism is a real unitive point. I think because for Jesus in his life, the unitive illumination is particularly at that point. You are my beloved son. Now that's dualistic language for a non-dualistic reality. In other words, his godness is realized. But to be the son of God at that point is to be filled with this divinity. A humanity which is filled with divinity. The point where that is more visible is at the transfiguration. It's like baptism and transfiguration are the same thing. Remember the same words happen? This is my beloved son. It's the same thing somehow, but it's in the light rather than just concealed in Jesus. Now, it's unitive because

[62:57]

Jesus is realizing in himself that divinity. His oneness with the Father, as it were, and therefore the fullness of God in him. But also because that's the moment where we, as it were, dip ourselves into the unitive waters and become Christ. It's no longer that we're disciples of Christ, followers of Christ, friends of Christ. We are Christ at that moment. That's what baptism does. So, it's like those waters. Whatever touches them becomes one in the waters because they're the unitive waters. It's like being dipped into God, in that sense. Okay, thank you very much. So... Would you expand a little on in Hinduism, the returning into cosmic consciousness which was always very disturbing to me. This kind of vaporizing of the spiritual self. It's the first time I heard this opened up this way of

[63:57]

returning to the Father and his birth. It's like the missing link almost. Again, Christ returning into that primal wisdom. Could you say a little more? Yeah, the difference between those two directions, I think, is very important. Let me see if I can find another way to put it. And both of them are inside Christianity. Because it's like say that the Buddhist drive into the emptiness beyond that which we know. It's more clear in Buddhism, I think, because it fills Buddhism more than it does Hinduism. I think you have more things going on inside Hinduism than you do in Buddhism. For instance, you have a lot of sacramentality and mediation in Hinduism, which tends pretty much to be paired off with Buddhism. So, Buddhism heads straight for that emptiness. And Christianity goes into it and comes out of it. And it's as if the baptism of Jesus actually, the baptism and the death and resurrection are parallel. Jesus goes into the water, he goes into the ground. He comes out of the water, he comes out of the ground. And when he

[65:00]

comes out of the ground, after entering into the nothingness, finally, in his death, that coming back is a recreation of the world. In other words, the risen body of Jesus, somehow, is the seed, the new matter, the beginning of the recreation, the vindication, the affirmation of the whole world. The affirmation of humanity. We are reborn at that point in a non-deniable way, in a non-negatable way. Remember where Paul says, victory has swallowed up death. Death is swallowed up in this affirmation. The emptiness is swallowed up. So, there's this dialectic in Christianity of into the emptiness, and the reassertion of of reality, of created reality, on a new level in which it's permanent. It's immortal. And it's somehow, what would you say, leavened with the glory of God, leavened with the divine spirit, the divinity itself, the divine fire, so it can't die. The difference, I think, is there.

[66:02]

Notice that entering into the emptiness, or going to the Father, corresponds to Jesus' death and then his ascension. But you've got the counter-movement of Pentecost, and you've got this drive towards incarnation, which is expressed again in the Resurrection and in the Eucharist. It's permanent, physical reality, an affirmation coming into the world. So the idea of creation already, somehow, creation doesn't get taken back. That's the thing. Remember one of the Eastern writers saying that the important thing about creation is it puts freedom before our being. That is, it is a free act of the divine to create. It's therefore a personal act. And that's never cancelled. In fact, it gets amplified as you go on. These different waves of incarnation and resurrection, new creation. Yes? But in the Buddhist tradition, aren't the ox-herding pictures saying something similar?

[67:03]

Yes. That's right. Notice, however, that the ox-herding, that's an individual experience. It's an individual journey, I'd say, for the seer who goes, becomes completely enlightened, finds the bull, the bull disappears, the bull becomes himself, I think, in some way, then he goes back into the marketplace and he's just like everybody else. There's a kind of parable of what happens in Christianity. There's a parable, as it were, of the life of Jesus, too. And how he disappears and then comes back. Notice how he's a stranger when he comes back after the resurrection. They don't recognize him. He's alongside the lake, you know, he's walking alongside them on the road to a man. They don't know who he is. He's everybody somehow at this point. He's become this bread, which is everybody's bread at this point. However, it's an individual thing in Buddhism and it doesn't have this, what would you call it, this permanent affirmation, as it were, of the created reality which you find in Christianity.

[68:06]

It doesn't correspond to resurrection because the seer, as it were, has still got to die and he's going to die into, well, absolute consciousness I presume, if it's that level of the Buddhist tradition. So it doesn't affirm the whole thing in a historical way, you might say, the way it's affirmed in the resurrection of Jesus. The thing about, what is it that defines Judaism and Christianity in this respect? God comes into the world and it's like he starts building something in the world. You say rebuilding the world, whatever, but something that stays and he doesn't take it back. The movement into the world is a building. It's a giving life. It's like he plants a tree and the tree continues to grow even though the tree is mostly invisible. The tree, you can say, is the body of Christ, which continues to grow. But that's not in Buddhism. Or if it is, it's in a more mythologized way at some levels. As it is in Hinduism, you know, with the Purusha and so on, a great person.

[69:08]

It's not in this historical affirmation that you have in Christianity which terminates, is realized ultimately in new creation. New creation of the whole thing. And then the church is in the center of this, of course. Because the church is what would you call it, the difficult visible symbol of this affirmation that God makes of the creative reality. The church which is non-negotiable in some sense. Which isn't taken back. Which has an eternal life to it. Which is right here. With all its ambiguities and difficulties. So the new creation is finally there. It's already there. Would you say it again? In a different way? Okay. It's a little complex because

[70:10]

you've got several layers. First of all, there's the first creation. And the new creation is not a different reality. It's that first creation which has been brought to a new level of reality. But second, you've got the moment of illumination, you might say. The baptismal moment. Or the moment of the planting of the seed. At which point, the new creation is like a fire working at our center. Working itself out towards into the whole of our being. So there, again, you've got an already and a not yet. And then finally there'll be the ultimate moment of realization when the whole of our being is transformed. Called the Eucharistic moment. So there's several stages. The other thing about this tradition, your Day of Christian Tradition, is that the first creation, the first affirmation of creation is never taken back. See, that's what Matthew Fox has to say. I think there are a lot of unbalanced things maybe in Matthew Fox, but that primary, that original blessing, that first affirmation never gets taken back. That the yes that's said in the beginning is stronger

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than any no that will ever be said. That's the essential thing. That's the essential message. And the Fathers knew that too. Irenaeus knew that. There's a ground of being in us which is affirmative and which is never canceled. There's a great yes that's bigger than any no. If we can hang on to that, if we can really believe that, we can go through it all somehow. And everything else God does is somehow built upon that original affirmation. So bringing it back and intensifying it, it's like the first note is this positive note and every other note of the whole symphony, the whole concert is a development of that note. Variations on that first note which is a yes. And remember that first note is really contained in the beginning of His Son in some way, isn't it? In other words, it happens inside God before it happens outside. That affirmation, that outflow of being. You can say that the yes is this side of the Spirit in a sense. The beginning

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of the Son and the affirmation of love that surrounds that beginning as it were, which is the great yes which is never taken back and which then echoes itself, manifests itself in creation. Which is made to receive ultimately that reality. Okay, well, thank you very much.

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