February 4th, 1982, Serial No. 00683

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Monastic Spirituality Set 5 of 12

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And a lot of these titles are rather uninteresting or perhaps sound negative, but when you open up what he's talking about, you find that there's a whole lot inside, and that it leads you into the centre, as always, of everything. And really it leads us into the centre of the monastic heart, that's what it's all about, it's finding out what is the quality of the heart which a monk really has. And this is one of the names for it, humility is another name, and so on. And notice the continuity with the other discourses we've been reading. The first one on renunciation, which lays out the whole path and all the elements. Then humility, conscience, and the fear of God. Now these are all in the same area, they're all in continuity, and that humility is a sort of general name for the attitude for the heart of the monk, the disposition of the monk, according to Dorotheus. According to the way of Dorotheus, which is laid down in the first discourse, it's not

[01:09]

the same as every way of spirituality, but there's a certain emphasis. The same elements are always there in Christian spirituality, in monastic spirituality, but the emphasis can be vastly different. Sometimes there can be an emphasis, for instance, most strongly on prayer. Sometimes the emphasis is more strongly on obedience. Sometimes it's on asceticism. Sometimes it's on solitude. But Dorotheus, it's right down this line, of humility and the fear of God, and the fear of God means to be awake to your conscience, really. Humility and the fear of God are the dispositions which mean that a person is in touch with his conscience, in touch with that center that we were talking about. But every time the title comes from one side and doesn't express the fullness and balance of what he's talking about, the expression of fear of God, the expression of humility, is an approach from one side, the traditionally monastic side, but what we're coming to is really the center and not just one side of the whole thing. What we're trying to get to is the core, is this heart, this experience of God, or this

[02:11]

being centered, whatever you want to call it. So there's a continuity with the first three discourses. There's another one later on, he's got on a similar title, it's number 12, on fear of punishments to come and so on, where he starts out with the business of the last things. And his titles are so heavy that they can turn a person off on, on the, what would you call it, the more contemporary, or in a sense more distended or relaxed way of grasping, of understanding the same thing. This remembrance of God, this remembrance also of the total picture, and hence the remembrance of the last things. Remember how important the memory of death is in the monastic tradition, and that's where he's coming from. A few references. First of all, there's a biblical basis for this expression of fear of God, and that's

[03:15]

one reason why he picks it up. It's so consecrated by the monastic tradition because it's already very much in the scriptures. Especially in the Old Testament, but it also gets picked up in the New Testament. In fact, in the New Testament, you'll find especially this paradox of fear and love, which, you know, Dorotheus brings out immediately when he starts his discourse there. Because you'll find St. John saying, perfect love casts out fear because fear has punishment in it. And love doesn't know fear. And then you find the expressions in the Old Testament that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and the fear of God is the perfection of wisdom, and so somewhere. And then you see St. Paul saying something like this, work out your salvation of fear and trauma. So it appears that there is a fear which continues. There's something that can be called by that name which remains with us right to the end of our spiritual life, no matter how far we go. And on the other hand, there's something which just is incompatible with the perfection of the love of God. So, on the biblical basis of all of this, there's that dictionary of biblical theology

[04:23]

under the name of fear of God. Also, there's the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. Cassian, you know, has a conference on perfection, and this conference is very parallel to the treatment of Dorotheus. It's number 10, I think. It's in Western Citizen. It's a conference about Cherimon, in which he talks about the movement from... It starts out this way. Three things enable men to control their sins. Maybe that heavy language. Fear of hell, or the law of the land. Fear of the law. Hope for the kingdom of heaven, and the love of goodness for its own sake. You see the kind of progression that Cassian is making there? From fear, to hope, to love. And then you can put fear on the same level as faith. And then you make a progression from faith, to hope, to love.

[05:24]

And faith and hope turn out to be the two inferior motives for spiritual life, for seeking God. And the love of God is the ultimate motive that stays with you to the end. And the way that he interprets it, it's got a meaning. But you know that's kind of spiritual poetry, or theological poetry, rather than being precisely and accurately theology in biblical terms. Remember how St. Paul says that there are three things which remain. Faith, hope, and love are the greatest of these as well. So faith and hope remain too, in some form, in some way. And we know that faith sure remains to the end of this life. We're constantly being confronted with this thing in the monastic literature, that they tend to make a pattern in which you... It's a ladder, you know, in which you're continually leaving something behind and getting on to something else. Exclusively, in an exclusive sort of way, so that you leave the first thing perfectly, completely behind. Like you leave faith behind, and you leave hope behind, and you have nothing but love. But that's an idealized picture.

[06:25]

And Cassian frequently does that. He has this ladder, and he likes to do that. And then he's got those two ladders at the end of his institute. At the end of the fourth book of the Institutes of Cassian, you'll find this. First of all, you've got the Discourse of Abbot Benufius, remember, in which he says, The fear of the Lord is our cross. Crook's nostril of Timor dominates. The fear of the Lord is our cross. As then one who is crucified no longer has the power of moving or turning the flims in any direction as he pleases, so we also ought to affix our wishes and desires, not in accordance with what is present and delightful to us now, but in accordance with the law of the Lord where it constrains us. Freud puts it in simple terms as moving from the pleasure principle to the reality principle. But Freud is not talking about theology. He's not talking about God. He doesn't believe in it. He's just talking about a kind of law of human nature.

[07:26]

Moving from the pleasure principle to the reality principle. It's kind of a very small reflection of what Cassian is talking about here. And somehow the fear of the Lord comes in there. In changing our direction, somehow the fear of God is necessary. It's like in conversion, you've got two parts. You've got a turning towards and you've got a turning away from. And if you're turning towards something, how do you turn away from it? You turn away from it by being attracted by something that's more attractive? I don't know. To a certain extent we can. But usually, often at least, it's not a stepping over in which you just step over from something good to something better. Somehow there's a step in the middle where you have to pull back from the something good to a point of nothing, maybe, or to a point of something not so good, or a point of something less, so that you can be open and free for the something better. It's usually not a smooth transition right up from something good to something better,

[08:28]

but it's something good to something less to something better, isn't it? There's a turning away as well as a turning to. It's not simply a turning to. And that's what this fear of God business is about, and that's what the renunciation business is about, is the turning away in order to turn to, or the turning away that accompanies the turning to. Because there's a phase, like a blind spot or a desert or a dead phase, in between the turning away and the turning to. Rather, in between having the good and having the better. Now, how does this come out in the scriptures? Well, it comes out in the desert experience, first of all. It comes out also in the passion and death and resurrection of Jesus, doesn't it? He doesn't just turn from something good, which is this life, to something better, does he? He has to go down. He has to go down into the passion, empty himself from falsity, go down into the passion and death, and then he comes up through the power of God. And that's the monastic trajectory, that's the monastic trip.

[09:29]

It's not just from something good to something better. Now, the tendency today, the tendency right now in our contemporary world, is not to accept that, but to say, no, you simply go from something good to something better. And there's always something better. You don't have to go from something good to something less, never. Simply go to something better. Okay, let's try it. He told Peter that when he was young, he went where he wanted to, right? But when you're old, you'll put forth your hands and somebody else will lead you where you don't want to go. That's right. And John says, he was telling him what manner of death he was to die. And when he says Peter, he means the whole church still, okay? He also means each of us. Now, this whole thing about not going directly from something good to something better,

[10:30]

it involves a change in level in ourselves in some way, okay? There's this fellow, Lonergan, he's a fascinating theologian, I can't understand him, but he's fascinating. These are the same parentages of Lonergan, they're both theologians, they both have this transcendental philosophy. He talks about horizons, okay? Now, this is a business of horizons, of having to move to a larger horizon. That doesn't mean you have to move into a larger world, which means that you have to break through the crust of your own world in some way. Now, we think about it typically as going deeper, as going deeper. But you can think about it also as going up or whatever, or going up. But to change your horizon, to go deeper, you have to let go of something, in a sense. You have to let go of something, and you have to be a bit empty. And this is the Sabbath thing, and it's the death thing, and it's the desert thing, and it's the night thing of St. John of the Cross. It's those purifications, whatever expression you use for it. It's the monastic emptiness, it's the emptiness of Buddhism.

[11:36]

You have to make yourself empty, in order to become ready to receive that which is to be given. So there's a period of what? A period of faith. A period of faith and hope before the infilling. Even when the seed may have been given to you, this law of the journey, and the law of time, and the law of life, and growth demands that the seed go into the ground, and you wait, and sit, and believe, and hope. And thereby grow down, and descend to a deeper level, before the fullness is going to happen, before the fruit and the harvest will be there. It's the same law, and it's manifested in a hundred ways. And we know it in our bones, but we are continually inclined to go back to the law of this world, as it were, and to expect things to work in a mechanical way. Always to go immediately from good to better. Another way of putting it is that you have to give in order to get, that nothing is without a price. But the thing is that the price is not proportionate to the yield, the price is not proportionate to what's being bought.

[12:38]

St. Paul says that the sufferings of this life are a little thing in comparison with the glory which is to be manifested in us. Because glory has no limit. Glory just blazes out, and booms out, and spills out, and is abundant in itself. The kind of being which is abundance in itself is hard for us to conceive of until we think of love, until we think of beauty, until we think of joy. There's a being which is always more than itself, a being which is simply more. But to break through into that new horizon, to get to that center, that depth, we have to move away, we have to turn away. And that's what this whole business with fear of God is about. There's something like a word which comes and says, you've got to turn away. The word which calls people out into the desert, the word that comes to Moses, the word that comes to John the Baptist, that calls the people out to see John the Baptist, what do they go out there for? There's nothing out there. That's the question Jesus asks. Where do you go out in the desert if there's nothing out there? They go out because there's a word calling them out there, and the word says you have to move out into emptiness. You have to move out and listen to this word, this thing that speaks to the center of you instead of to the surface.

[13:39]

See, the word calls you out into a place where there's nothing on the surface anymore. The desert is just bare earth, it's emptiness. On the surface level, on the level where you've been expecting your fruits and your feedback and all the good things, the level of the good, there's nothing there. The word calls you into a place where there's nothing there on a visible level. And then what? The word has spoken to the core of yourself, the center of yourself. You know that seed that Jesus compares it to? The sower sows his seed. And then you wait there in the emptiness until from the place where that word has struck, in the center of yourself, which you don't even know, you don't even know that place, but you can hear from it. Somehow we can hear from it. You wait until the fruit comes from there. Until the desert bursts into bloom. But that word can come across, like John the Baptist, as a word of fear. See, John comes, and what does he say? He says, like John, this place is going to be destroyed. And the day of the Lord is coming. And it's going to be a day of thunder. And the one who comes is going to come with a threshing stick. He's going to whack out the grain and so on.

[14:41]

And he's going to cleanse his threshing pole with fire. So that fear thing, somehow, is needed to turn us away and to pull us out into that empty place. To pull us out into the desert. And then in the desert we can await the coming. We can await what we don't know yet. So, somehow, the turning away and the turning from requires that dimension, that aspect of fear, which we don't like at all. And it's like a winter period in between the fall, in between the summer that we know and the spring that we don't know yet. The spring which is a breakthrough to another horizon, another depth, another fullness, another world, another kingdom. Okay, just to justify that whole thing. And then he's got these ladders, which you've heard before, at the end of the Institute. This is till Abbot Pinocchio's. Remember the long one and the short one. The long one is in chapter 39. It's in here if you have this one, 232. The beginning of our salvation and the safeguard of it is, as I said, the fear of the Lord. And then he goes on.

[15:42]

And for through this those who are trained in the way of perfection can gain a start in conversion as well as purification from vices and security and virtue. So he starts with this because it's canonized by the Scripture. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, as he said. And when this has gained an entrance into a man's heart, it produces contempt of all things. Now what does he mean? The fear of the Lord is some kind of a sense of the Lord. It's some kind of a taste of the Lord, which means that nothing else really counts. So the fear of the Lord is a lot more than the fear of the Lord. When we talk about this, we really have to translate it into another language. We have to, in order to understand it. Instead of saying fear of the Lord, see, people in other generations can stand that language, but we can't stand it very well because our ears have changed in some way. So it's better for us to say the sense of the Lord, the taste of the Lord, the remembrance of the Lord, the consciousness of the Lord, the presence of the Lord, one of those things, to get across what this expression is supposed to convey. It must be pretty powerful if it produces the contempt of all things. Notice the negativity of that language.

[16:44]

Whether in the word fear or the word contempt, that continual negativity of the language of monastic literature which turns us off today, but inside that negativity is the whole thing, you see? You break through that shell of negativity and you find the whole thing is right there because he's talking about the sense of God. And he's talking about, instead of the contempt of all things, as if they were dirt, as if dirt in comparison to that thing which you have tasted in your heart, the pearl in the Gospel. That thing that Paul is talking about when he says, for his sake I consider all things as if they were garbage, to the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. What Gasham's talking about, he's talking about in a negative language. So it's a translation that has to happen. Notice how the gold in the monastic literature is hidden beneath his crust. Sometimes also in the scriptures. And then he goes on. He goes on through the other stages, humility and so on, and the ten signs of humility. And then he gives a final summary.

[17:44]

Hear then in a few words how you come out up to the heights of perfection without any effort or difficulty. The beginning of our salvation and of wisdom, quotation marks, is according to scripture the fear of the Lord. From the fear of the Lord arises salutary confunction. Okay, the connection between fear and confunction. What's the difference? Fear is kind of a naked, first of all, fear sounds like a naked shiver or something like that, or a trembling. A person in shock of something which we don't know. Something which is outside of us. Fear comes from something outside of us. We don't feel God inside of us. And what's confunction? Confunction is simply being pierced by that fear. But in both the fear, as we've seen, there's the sense of God, and in confunction there's a kind of flowering of a sense of God into something like tears. So that it's a softening of the heart. A softening of the heart, a penetration of the heart by grace. Which hasn't yet turned to joy, but somehow inside it there's this silver lining of joy. From confunction of heart springs renunciation,

[18:48]

that is, nakedness and contempt of all possessions. See, before he telescoped that and put the light together. From nakedness has begun humility. From humility, the mortification of desires. From mortification of desires, all faults are extirpated and decayed. We're driving out false virtues here and see how the latter, and each step seems to exclude the step before, and it's so clear and it's so untrue also in the sense of that exclusion. And yet it's more like a spectrum than like a ladder. You move it and there are always gradations. But the precision of the language is very helpful because it's no problem to telescope the language afterwards, but to have somebody lay it out like that, even if it's over-sharp, is a helpful thing for us. To be over-clear and then to synthesize afterwards. It's better than not being clear at all. From mortification of desires, all fault now. By driving out false virtues, shoot up an increase. By the budding of virtues, purity of heart is gained. By purity of heart, the perfection of epistolic love is acquired. So there's the ladder from the fear of the Lord to perfect love.

[19:49]

That's in chapter 43 of the Fourth Institute. Fourth book, page 235. So Cashion is different there because he theorizes. And notice how he makes things much sharper, much more structured than Dorotheus does. Dorotheus will take the structure and then what does he do? He gives a homily on it, a practical homily on how to live your life and your own experience and his own experience in the community based on sort of playing around that structure and using it. So Dorotheus is a lot more useful actually for practical life because he's very realistic. Whereas Cashion can stretch you on an idealistic ladder and give you trouble. There's also, for the Western tradition, there's this book of Gilson about St. Bernard, the mystical theology of St. Bernard, in which, as I mentioned before, he traces the path of the spiritual life from fear to love through humility.

[20:52]

And he says that that's the way of St. Benedict and that's the way of St. Bernard. It's also the way of Dorotheus. There's an analysis there of the spiritual theology of St. Bernard compared to the other medieval institutions, which is probably what we're talking about, but much more speculative, much more contemplative in a sense. From fear to love through humility. He says humility is the way. Now he's taken fear there as kind of naked fear, that is as fear of punishment or the negative fear of God because you move through that positive fear of God to love and it's already enough of it. Then there's been a lot of psychological work done on the question of fear and of anxiety and also with respect to Christianity and with respect to the monastic tradition in some sense.

[21:56]

And you get this whole thing coming across that, well, there are two ways to be. One way is to live in anxiety and to live in it with a kind of contracted heart, a contracted spirit, and that's bad. And the other way to live is confidently and creatively in an expansive movement. For instance, Maslow writes in his book, in the medieval way he sets this out, he talks about two kinds of motivation. There's defense motivation and survival motivation, which is basically negative and constrictive and shrinks you and makes you incapable really of anything creative, anything positive or anything abundant. And then there's growth motivation, in which you really expand and thrive. And he sets the two against one another. And of course that seems to throw out our whole notion of the value or any kind of meaning for the motivation of fear. So we have to take that into consideration. You make the over-abundance of fear

[22:59]

because you can't overcome the over-abundance. Yeah, that's what they claim. In other words, you can't over-deal with it. You sure can. You sure can. That's what they're getting at. You see, we've had a kind of Christianity taught sometimes, and a kind of monastic spirituality taught, which is nothing but fear, in a sense. There's a danger in darkness if you don't look out, because the emphasis in the language is always on that side. Look out, and magnifying this motivation of fear. And so, the psychologists bust out on the other side. Somebody like Luther is sort of at the outside of that movement of the human spirit, and says, wait a minute. We've had enough of that now. Forget it. And then all the way over on the other side, there's nothing but love. There's a problem. Because there has to be a synthesis. There has to be some kind of knowledge, a satisfactory knowledge. There's this Paul Tournier, for instance. He's a Swiss doctor. He's also a psychologist. And he writes about the negative effects of hearing the wrong word of scripture

[24:06]

on certain people. When they hear the fear-inspiring, seemingly condemnatory, and threatening words of scripture, time after time, they're just completely paralyzed, reduced to nothing. Whereas, for other people, they don't even touch it. They just bounce off. That book is strong. He's got another book, Guilt and Grace, in which he talks about this thing. And what he's coming from is the experience of a whole bunch of Christians who have been intimidated into a kind of state of uselessness. By that kind of spirituality, we can emphasize this fear so much, instead of love. Because the only thing that makes us grow is love. It seems like they've only been fast with other fears and not other things. Yeah, that's the trouble. They get caught in that and can't move over. So, today, you practically have to start from the other side. We have to translate Dorothy's language into something else. And yet, what he's saying, on the level of practical life, is right. It's the language, the thought that is real.

[25:06]

And also some of the suggested motivations, like fear of punishment and everything. What he's trying to do is wake somebody up. Do you ever have a preacher come in a parish church and come with a fire and brimstone thing, and just shout and rant and rave? And just, with the effect of shock, try to wake people out of their lethargy. Try to wake people out of their indifference. There's a lot of that in monastic preaching. It's as if the abbot was coming and all the monks were dozing. He'll say anything to wake them up. And then, once he's got them awake, he can talk to them. One more thing before I go on. In fact, there's this fellow, this Frenchman, Pierre Salignac, who wrote the book The Christian Dialysis. The Christian Dialysis. Which he considers as being precisely his preaching of fear, which makes people incapable of a positive, courageous, confident, abundant, and loving life. He's coming.

[26:07]

Freudian. Anybody can find plenty of evidence for that. And then, remember Berger in the thing about salvation, and the fear of Christianity, versus creativity and an expansive Christianity. Now, there's another thing that comes in here later on, which is Kierkegaard in that book. The existentialism, the discovery of another level of anxiety. Because you've got neurotic anxiety, okay? Which is a sickness. It has to be gone away with. But then they bore through, and they come to another level. The level of what they call existential anxiety. Which is precisely the thing that wakes people up to a deeper level of reality. The notion of the fear of death, which is not a negative fear. It's a healthy fear. It's like, I don't know, it's like a chill breeze in the morning, or something like that. Which wakes you up to the reality of which you are going to wake. So the whole of this thing is concerned with breaking through from one narrow horizon to a broader horizon. From one small world to a bigger world.

[27:08]

From a superficial level of life to a deeper level of life. And the fear thing can always only be the first step. Only be the first step. And if it goes, endures all the way, that kind of fear, and does not give place to love, and to courage and confidence, then it's a whole big mistake. And it's just never too late. And I thought you were asking me about this because I didn't see that. Fear of the world is madness in one's enjoyment. Yep, yep. That's right. Yes. Yes. You could translate it into tenderness of heart. Tenderness of heart. And the Russians have this word, kubaleni, which is like that, which we can't translate.

[28:10]

We don't have any word for it. That's connected with Kierkegaard's prayer, that existential thing he was talking about. And that, Merton says it, this is in that book on contemplative prayer, the references... Contemplative prayer, chapter 16 through 18, where he talks about dread. And what he's saying is that this dread is the only thing that keeps people from closing themselves at a certain point in their spiritual life. It's the only thing that keeps people

[29:11]

from getting complacent and from going on their own trip of sort of perfection, of their own contemplative trip, or their perfection trip, or their asceticism trip, their prayer trip, whatever it is. The only thing that keeps them from closing up that way is dread. And the real meditation, which is getting somewhere, is the meditation in which there is this element of dread, this confrontation with the element of reality, with transcendence. And here there's always a connection with death, because death is the concrete expression of this thing we're talking about. I know that book by Ernest Becker called The Denial of Death, where he says that our whole psychology, the construction of our character, is a shell that we build around ourselves in order to escape from that fear of death, from the fear of that which is greater than us and which we have no power to control. So we build this control thing around us. He says that's the basis of our character structure. There's a lot of truth in that. A lot of other people say the same thing.

[30:12]

Martin says it when he talks about the false self. The false self is taken apart by dread. The false self is taken apart by fear, which is the knowledge of the reality of the falseness of that shell in the light of the reality which is still dark that comes from beyond. When it turns from dark to light, then it's not fear anymore. It's not dread anymore. It's love. It's contemplation. But as long as it's dark out there, it's fear. But we know that it's true in its light, somehow. We know the falseness of our shell. The things that we're doing is true. It always has been. But there's been a wave. See, for a long while,

[31:14]

things were pretty much together, I think. So the people knew that. If they talked about the fear of God, the expansiveness was already there. Because the whole thing pulsed like a heart. It was all together. Then at a certain point it fragments. And at a certain point in history, you get a dark phase where there's really a spirituality and theology being preached, like Jansenism, for instance, which is so much on that side of fear that people actually are pushed into neurosis and drove by it. And there's a dark shadow even that falls over a lot of Christianity at a certain point in history, during the past few centuries. Which means that the thing has become unbalanced. And because there's been that unbalanced wave on one side, there's a corresponding reaction on the other side of fear that we're experiencing now. And people can't hear about these things anymore. And in either case, the center has been lost touch with. The center, and therefore the wholeness and the balance of the thing, is out of touch. We've lost it. And that's where we get this vibration, this fluctuation from one side to the other. So now we're experiencing the wave of,

[32:16]

what would you call it, resurrection or whatever, or positivity, which is unable to look at the other side in the face. Because you can't look at negativity without positivity. But you can't escape from negativity and that side of life into positivity, into mere positivity. So in the beginning, what's the sample? Oh, no. Yeah, I think the emphasis was incorrect. We lost the center. Or rather, in the past five or six centuries, there's been just a lot of fluctuation and poor contact with the center and therefore with the balance of the whole. And a lot of fluctuation back and forth. For a long time. Now, even in the beginning, you had these fluctuations in some, read that chapter of Gormakus on the penitents, that place of the flagellants. There were imbalances there too. But in general, in the theology of the church,

[33:18]

in the spiritual theology of the church, I think there was a pretty good contact with that center and a pretty good balance. Things were still in a more compact state. But with a big expansion, both mentally and geographically, as you have in later times, it's easier to get in touch with that center. And there were always weird little groups, you know, that would get off on one side and on the other. It looked like that the psychology was some sort of a moniker of a certain point to look at and myself and I have a history of trying to figure out if there were any variations in the psychology that meant this or partly No, it's not so at all. I think what psychology is, is the attempt of the West to make up for its loss of contact with its religious root.

[34:19]

In other words, I think the West has a massive neurosis because it has become so secularized and lost its real center, lost its real human core, which can only be in religion, which can only be in God. And for us, for our Western tradition, it's in Christianity. And having pulled away from this and having sort of shifted its whole ground, its whole foundation over onto the secular, from the religious, there's a massive neurosis. There's a massive emptiness and a massive anxiety and a massive disorientation and that's where psychology grows. What it's trying to do is to compensate, make up, substitute actually for what faith and more organic and religiously oriented doctrine should be doing. Or pastoral therapy and so on. Psychology is a substitute for something that would be in the religious sphere in an integrated culture or at least would be connected with it. You say that for Christ,

[35:21]

in fact, that psychology can't be so far along because you can say that the physical science should be independent, but you can't say that about the human sciences. The human sciences in the end have to be connected with the spiritual depths and with the center otherwise. Because if the center is wrong you lose contact with it and people are sick. So it's a secular substitute I think for the power of spirituality by and large. Which is not to say that everything does is invalid, not at all. If you need it, it's good and it's helpful in our present precariousness. And elucidating that area of knowledge does lend a better balance finally when you get the whole thing together. It's good to be lost in a sense sometimes because you explore some territory that wasn't known before. Any other questions on that before we turn to dark places? About emptiness. This time we did some

[36:22]

of our general survey before instead of after. It's conference next Friday It's the one on perfection. It's number 10. And it's chapters 6 through 13. Now it's 11. It's both in the post-Nicene Fathers and it's also in Western Christianity. So we've got some ideas then to keep in mind as we go through this. First of all, Dorotheus talks about the two kinds of fear. You always get that because that paradox just leaps to your eye when you read the scripture. St. John says perfect love drives out fear.

[37:25]

And yet the psalmist says fear the Lord O you who love him. And we find thousands of similar sayings in Holy Scriptures. If therefore the saints who so loved him feared him, how can he say love casts out fear? St. John wants to show us that there are two kinds of fear. One preliminary, the other perfect. The one found in beginners. The other in those perfected in holiness. Those having arrived at true love. One forms a desire of God through fear of condemnation. This is, as we observe, a starting point. Another forms a desire for God because he loves God himself. Loves him and knows what is acceptable to him. This is, you know, it's a reality which grows in us and it's hard to put it into words. Every statement of it, like this, is somewhat inexact and incomplete. Then he talks about the perfect fear. But it's impossible to come to perfect fear except through that preliminary fear. Now that of course is disputable. I think

[38:28]

some people are given a gratuitous experience of God which dispels all fear for a while. And they have fear afterwards. You know, then they go back to the beginner's fear afterwards. They can be given an experience like that which dispels the which gives them perfect fear, the perfect experience of love of God and the fullness and abundance and positivity and goodness of God, which makes it pretty hard for them afterwards to get back into the position of survival. St. Basil talks about three states. The first, this is a classic thing that comes out in the whole of tradition. For instance, St. Bernard in the West. In different versions. This is from St. Basil's version. There are three states in which we can be pleasing to God. The first is that of fearing punishment. A state of slaves. We're already acceptable to God and it's a state of racism. The second is a state of servants working

[39:30]

for wages, fulfilling orders for our own advantage to see that we're self-centered still. The third is the state of sons where we strive for the highest good. You'll find some people talking about the state of friends. I'll tell you about the state of servants. The state of friends, the state of sons. The state of friends might even be the highest good. Forget how it is for St. Bernard. Because Jesus says, you know, I don't call you servants anymore, I call you friends. So it depends on which sequence you take. This is parallel to Gashem's thing that we're moving from fear or faith through love and through hope. You see, hope is the hope for your own reward. So both the fear and the hope are still self-centered through love which is God-centered. Anthony said, I no longer fear God. He repeats himself.

[40:30]

Perfect fear cannot come out if the man has not that beginning of wisdom. The scripture says the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. So we talked about that enough. Fear is more than fear. So much of this is a semantic problem, it's a problem of words. We're continually mistaking a word for a reality. We're continually being unhappy because the whole of the reality doesn't travel with the word. Because somebody uses a word it really means something else than the obvious, circumscribed definition. By the fear of the Lord every man turns away from evil. For me that seems to be the key to fear as fear. We need in order to turn away from something we need a voice, a word, something stronger that tells us you cannot. Like the negative commandments the Decalogue of the New Testament Thou shalt not. In order to turn away from something under which we're stuck we have to have something

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we have to have a word that pulls us away from it. And the effect of that word can be called fear even if on the other end of it is a promise. It is if you want to have God you cannot have this. But there's something of fear in there in that appreciation of the difference. That knowledge that the two are incompatible. You cannot have God and you cannot have this too. You cannot be saved and do this. You cannot serve God and man and that kind of thing. We need that. We need that unless we're already completely pure. Why? Because the other good at that moment if we're stuck on something the other good is not that evident to us it's not that powerful to us. The most powerful thing for us on the level of our sensitivity or sensibility or senses is what's right in front of us. Whether it be a meal or whatever. And how is something else going to turn us away from that?

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Not by overpowering it on the level of good really, but only through that reasoning thing that says you can't have both of these. You can't have this and also have God. So that's kind of fear in a broad sense. It's the business of turning away not of returning to. The turning away which is part of returning to. Then he quotes this psalm which remember St. Benedict also quotes and comments I think in his prologue. Come my children listen to me and I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Then over in the middle of page 113 he sums himself up and prepares for his second part. Now we've heard what the perfect fear of the saint is and what is the preliminary fear which belongs to our local state. Are we escaped from it? Where do we come to?

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Through the fear of God. So he's described the journey. Now he's going to talk about the how. Lastly we desire to learn how the fear of God comes about and to do this we must say what it is that banishes us from the fear of God. Then he quotes a very rich expression of one of the fathers here. The fathers tell us that a man gains possession of the fear of God. Who is this? It's not identified here. Nesteros. But these are in those obscure sources. We don't have them in English. This reverend number 15 to now was a Benedictine. He collected all these scattered sayings of the fathers that hadn't been in their regular collections and published them in some articles. And afterwards they were all gathered together by the monks of Salam into a three volume French collection but we don't have it in English. Some of them will probably be in Benedict Award, you know, the second of the volume it's called the list of them. First, by keeping the thought of death before his mind

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and remembering eternal punishment. Secondly, by examining himself each evening by how he's passed his day. Thirdly, by never giving rain to his tongue and by keeping a close and continual touch with a man possessed to the fear of God is a spiritual record. That's the fourth one. Notice how all of these are kinds of remembering. What he's really talking about is remembering God. And remember also, first to be a benedict is St. Benedict in chapter 7. It's really the sense of the presence of God that the eyes of God are finding all the time. Not everything else counts. St. Benedict talks about it also in a terrible terms, in terms of fear. And yet, we need something to translate it into in terms of a continual remembrance of the presence of God of the reality. Remembrance of what we're doing. Seriousness. Mindfulness. Language of the East. And here we get to

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just a difference in personality, a difference in psychology between us and the men of the 3rd or 4th or 5th or 6th century. But that was the language for them and they didn't flinch at that language until recently, I'll tell you that. Partly because of that whole, what do you call it, zone of civilization which has buffered us off from the area where fear is a significant confluence. There's a neutral zone that's come in there and it's a little buffer zone so that we don't relate to life well anymore in that way through immediate reactions of fear. ... You've got to remember that some of these people are probably

[46:47]

barbarians. For instance, St. Benedict, Brother Dorotheus, these people haven't all gone to school. I don't know if they had schools in those days. And so it's like an elementary civilizing pedagogy at the same time. It's as if they had to be taught the very rudiments of civilization sometimes. It seems to be true in some of these cases. The Library of St. Benedict puts the Ten Commandments in his book. So it's no wonder. Well, we can grab it at another level with the sense of the presence of God. If one can grasp the presence of God, then that's what it means. There should be something else there too. Not only the sense of the presence of God, but the sense of what that means in terms of the seriousness of God. Because people can sort of glide and float on the sense of the presence of God that we cannot care for. If we don't remember the Word of God, if we don't have the Gospel, can you have Jesus without John the Baptist? Well, Jesus himself is John the Baptist in a sense, because he keeps speaking that same word when he predicts the end of the world, when he predicts the fall of Jerusalem.

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All these things like that to be said. So somehow we've got to have it all there. And even the sense of the presence of God, if it becomes, what would you call it, the sensuality of the presence of God, then it's not authentic anymore. And that's possible. It's possible for somebody with a sense of the presence of God to fall into a kind of spiritual sensuality. Because that's not the whole thing. It can be. A sense of the presence of God can contain everything. And it's certainly a better start than fear. But it doesn't necessarily contain everything. It doesn't necessarily make us true to God. Like some of those people who cried Lord, Lord and didn't hear the Word of the Father. They could have had a sense of the presence of God. But it is the spirit of the presence of God that is the Word of God. The spirit of the person is the Word of God.

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Because you get people to do that. Like the Levite and the priest walking along the road keeping the presence of God. So they didn't see it, but they got it. That's right. Okay, but also the Word of the Gospel tells us that they should have seen what the Samaritans said. The Word of the Gospel tells us that our sense of the presence of God has to be extended to the presence of God and our brother. Things like that. Okay? So that we know. If we didn't have the Word, I don't know if we'd know that. It can be. Because there's a physical thing there too. When I say sensuality, I mean that. There's a physical resonance

[49:57]

somehow of our experience of God which in the end can separate itself from God himself and be a self-centered cycle. As in TM. In the end, it's good to start with because I've seen that people use God as an example and other people use God as an example. And I think it's a good idea to incorporate the Word of the Gospel. Yes, sure. It doesn't relate to God, but you might find some of them. We'll call that sense the presence of God. We'll call that experience the presence of God. Yes. Okay, I don't think we can develop

[51:01]

a new vocabulary which replaces the language of scripture, okay? Excuse me, I don't think you can do that. The scriptural words are what they are and have to remain the Word of God. And yet, for our own sake, it's like here's a scriptural word and then I make another column of maybe five words which for me fill out the meaning of that word in scripture, okay? Something like that. A whole range. And then to check them out, we have to go back to the original word. And there are things in that scriptural word that we're not ready to hear yet but they're still there. And if we simply translate it into a word in our own language, in our own vocabulary, we're going to lose that. We're never going to hear it. It's something that we haven't heard yet. But at the same time, we have to get out the whole spectrum of meaning in that word. And some are part of it, we just can't hear. I mean, part of it we don't want to hear and part of it we haven't heard yet. There is not only the words, it's the actions. It's the actual history.

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How can I be God's Word? How can God say that? How can he tell me to do that? It's a whole theological problem. Okay, then he talks about how he started that, how man gains possession of the Spirit. It's a matter of remembering one way or another. And how do we chase away from us the fear of the Lord when we do the opposite? We don't keep before us the thought of death, of punishment, but we attempt to our own condition or examine ourselves. We live differently and are occupied with different things, pandering to our liberty, giving way to ourselves. Okay, what's all this? Self-forgetfulness, or forgetfulness, in a way. So it's a question of remembering or forgetting. And then he gets to a word which is kind of key here, and he's going to talk about it a long while. That word is parrhesia. P-A-R-R-E-S-I-A. It's a word which has an interesting history in the scripture and then afterwards in the monastic tradition. Because in the scripture

[53:03]

it tends to be a positive in the New Testament. And in monastic literature it's a negative. For a Dorotheus here, it's a negative. The word is translated self-indulgence by the translator here. It would be good if you write in there parrhesia, because self-indulgence doesn't express it. Self-indulgence means something else does. Parrhesia is a confidence, but it's the wrong kind of confidence. In St. Paul it uses the same word for Christian confidence, or for the freedom of the sons of God. I didn't get time to find it in the occurrences in St. Paul. So there's a right confidence of the sons of God, and then there's a wrong confidence. Which is, especially in the monastic life, which is a kind of contempt, or a kind of self-confidence, or a kind of bold complacency which doesn't listen, in a sense, which is closed. And it's very hard to find the words

[54:03]

to translate that exactly, what he's talking about. There are a bunch of words. It's interesting, too, because we see it. If you read St. Bernard's The Steps of Pride and Humility, if you read The Steps of Pride, you get an idea of exactly what this is, because he writes it out, draws it out in descriptive terms, even ludicrous terms. This confidence, and this once again touches the nerve of that problem that we have of monastic spirituality and the monastic tradition, and then what we know of our own experience, and what we know of what Christianity is supposed to be. Christianity is supposed to be confidence and freedom. So how can confidence and freedom be wrong? It's like you have three sides. You have monastic tradition, represented by Dorotheus, and putting it on your guard against this confidence and this freedom. Then you have the word of the New Testament, which says that Christians are born into a new confidence and freedom, and then you have the word of modern psychology, which tells you that you've got to be confident and free in order to be

[55:05]

healthy, in order to be a full human person. You've got those three voices speaking. Now, how do we get that all together? Then you've got, of course, the Old Testament which I didn't speak about. Maybe it's more on the side of the monastic tradition. I think we need to try to understand what St. Paul was talking about first, how that corresponds with the psychological literature, and then what Dorotheus is talking about in the light of that. And then you would find texts, even in St. Paul, where he's talking against that false confidence in the works of the flesh, for instance. A lot of that. St. Paul is exactly the right example to put alongside Dorotheus. Because he is the preacher of Christian liberty and Christian confidence. He's the one who boasts in the Lord. And Dorotheus, it seems to be going exactly in the opposite direction and asking us to go back under the yoke of the old law. The law of fear, the law of contraction

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and shrinking of the heart, in a sense. But even the old law didn't mean that. That was only a wrong interpretation. So how do we get together, really, these two notions of the freedom of the sons of God, the confidence of the sons of God, their boldness. And remember where St. Paul says when the Jews read the Old Testament they've still got a veil over their hearts. And a veil over their faces, in some way, because they don't see Christ inside. But we would unveil faces, behold the glory of the Lord, as we go from glory to glory. Unveil faces, and that confidence he was talking about is parricidal. Now how do we get that together with this monastic thing? We'll talk about that more next time. If you want, you can look up that word. I don't know where it would be, for instance, in the dictionary of biblical theology. It might be under confidence or something like that. There's a subtlety in that true confidence. It's the same thing

[57:08]

as another manifestation that's incredible There's a subtlety and a tenderness within that true confidence and kind of a balance. There's another pull, a counterweight that keeps it from being ego-centered. And in that tenderness, in that sensitivity, I think it's the secret of this other thing within the boldness and the confidence of the sense of God, there should be the refinement which is learned with this putting off of the wall thing, the purification of confidence the purification of freedom that's what it does. So that gradually one moves from a superficial level of freedom to a deeper level of freedom in which he doesn't hurt anybody else in which others can be free as well which is no longer self-centered but God-centered

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and therefore gives space to the other or serves the other first. But there are other monastic writers who write in the same terms about this parrhesia and make it the first of all evils. And what is it? Try to get a look at it before we read this. It's the contrary of the spirit of the fear of God which is a kind of forgetfulness of God and a forgetfulness of oneself and therefore which responds on the surface and therefore which reacts just according to one's own pleasure and that's why the translator calls it self-intelligence it responds just in terms of what I want of what is pleasing to me of what seems right to me. It's the forgetfulness of God and therefore in this self-centered self-centered attitude and it's manifested largely

[59:10]

you notice he's talking about the fear of God and it's contrary but he's talking about the behavior of your brothers once they're here. Immediately this thing is manifesting a lack of respect for others. Another way it's translated by some of the prophets is familiarity and remember that old proverb familiarity breeds contempt there's a kinship between the wrong there's the right kind of familiarity there's a kinship between the wrong kind of familiarity and contempt if there's what you say friendship, the right kind of relationship underneath this then one doesn't have to be that afraid of familiarity even though there's still one can still overstep it depends on the quality of the relationship but notice that here Dorotheus is not talking about relationship with your brothers it's almost as if that's not in the picture in this form, in the sense individual relationships you're relating to God and the relationship to God and his quality is manifested in the way that you behave towards your brothers but he doesn't seem to conceive

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actually of relationships or friendship between his brothers that's a peculiar thing but in a lot of the monastic traditions you don't find that so as the contrary to this false confidence he's talking about respect for our brothers instead of just reverence for them this is an important thing for us because in the quality of our own life together we try to encourage a kind of warmth and spirit of fraternity and a typical thing here now is not using the term brother when we talk to everybody one can do it or not do it but it was insisted on before and we don't insist on it anymore we don't insist on calling

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one another brother Francis and so on but we refer to each other by simply our first name very often and why is that? it's in order to develop a sense of relationship and a friendship without having a kind of formal obstacle in the middle I think the formal obstacle is the term brother now, that would seem to be moving in the direction of this kind of familiarity of this kind of courtesy this kind of confidence and yet we find just empirically that we need it we need it so how do you get to one without having the other? how do you get the right kind of confidence without that forgetfulness and eventually that kind of contempt for our brothers that's supposed to go away I think we're in a much different context today in our community than Dorotheus was when he wrote this this is one of the places where we sort of have to measure the difference I don't understand what he's saying our needs are different and somehow the texture the atmosphere of the life of the community is different even though the essential community

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right and usually an exception is usually made there even when we just use our names it doesn't have to get in our way and there may be a time when we'll want to go back to it but during a certain phase in the growth of our community it seemed essential to let that go and to permit that greater familiarity that greater closeness I won't say greater but easier closeness without it in other words to lean on that side there may come a time when we need to lean on the other side and to use it once again and when we can do it continually without any problem but even if we did I think there should always be room for the exception because a way of speaking like that should be a kind of law like in music where there's always a moment where you depart from that in order for an emphasis because there's a need in other words to absolutize a language

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would be a mistake as a kind of law any other questions? notice how the fear of God has its repercussions immediately here though on the level of community and not just on the level of relating to God himself the thing that just reminded me of this Eli Siegel my friend there he's got this expression that contempt causes insanity and contempt is the beginning of all the problems of the human psyche of all of the man's psychological problems and of all social disorders too and contempt for him is a preference for self which is heedless of the other of which somehow grows by putting down the other or thinking that my good somehow is related to the non-good of the other or at least to the ignoring of the other and ignoring very often

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is a not quite conscious deriving of my good from somebody else's evil there's no such thing as neutrality so ignoring is rejecting in a certain sense and this kind of thing considering oneself and what one likes and heedlessness of the other this contempt that he's talking about is a two-sided thing we're always doing something to one another

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