Foundation for Inter-Faith Dialogue

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The first pretentious line of the story is, my last night in Jakarta, I was, my friend Gunawan Lembono was taking me out to dinner and he wanted me to have an authentic Indonesian meal, not one of these tourist places. And we wound up at this place called Baba, and I walked in and literally my jaw dropped. I could not believe this environment, this place. ...hanging from the ceiling of these big carved wooden statues of the Buddha and pots of incense and big pillar candles, so the smells of the sites and the smells of the food and this music playing. And I said, what is this place? And he said, oh, this is a Chinese-Buddhist-Indonesian restaurant. Okay, I had never put those three things together before, Chinese-Buddhist-Indonesian.


And there we were, because there was a large influx of Chinese to Indonesia and he himself had Chinese blood. Of course, many of the Chinese were Buddhists and they were in Indonesia. So, the next day, it sounds even more pretentious. ...Australia, away from Jakarta, and I'm ... because I always try to buy some music whenever I play something. So, I'm listening to gamelan music, which is the native music of Indonesia. This is from Sundanese gamelan music, this beautiful flute melody going by. And I fell in love with it, I wanted to sing it so bad. So, I reach into my backpack and pull out the first book I have, and what is it? It's the teachings of the Buddha. And I open up to this thing from the Itubitaka of the Pali Canon, this teaching on loving-kindness. And so, by the time I arrived in Perth, I had ... using this melody. So, the melody is from Indonesia, it's a gamelan melody. These kind of things are never supposed to be done on the guitar. I've never heard gamelan ... this idea of loving-kindness.


You'll hear the verses go by. The one I really fell in love with was ... we'll just do the second verse. After the rain, the sun is shining into a clear and cloudless sky. Now, these, of course, are images of the mind. And when the moon is glowing, slowly absorbing all the stars, so loving-kindness will bring its freedom to the heart. So, anyway, your part, should you choose to accept it, is to sing this little refrain with me. Oh, I've got the wrong key. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. Yeah. Actually, your part goes like this. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. So loving-kindness, when it comes ...


So you pay me the big bucks. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. So loving-kindness, when it comes ... So ... So ... And when the moon begins glowing, slowly absorbing all the stars ... So loving-kindness, when it's glowing, will bring its freedom to the heart.


It glows, it shines, it blazes up. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. So loving-kindness, when it comes, slowly absorbing all the stars ... It glows, it shines, it blazes up. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. So loving-kindness, when it comes, will bring its freedom to the heart. After the rain, the sun is shining into a clear and cloudless sky ...


So loving-kindness, when it's shining, will bring its freedom to the heart. It glows, it shines ... It glows, it shines, it blazes up. So loving-kindness, when it comes, into a clear and cloudless sky ... It glows, it shines, it blazes up. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. So loving-kindness, when it comes, will bring its freedom to the heart. It glows, it shines ... As when the morning star is blazing, chasing the shadows from the dark ...


So loving-kindness, when it's blazing, will bring its freedom to the heart. It glows, it shines ... It glows, it shines, it blazes up. So loving-kindness, when it comes, chasing the shadows from the dark ... It glows, it shines, it blazes up. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. It glows, it shines, it blazes up. So loving-kindness, when it comes, will bring its freedom to the heart. Slowly absorbing all the stars into a clear and cloudless sky ... Chasing the shadows from the dark ... And bring freedom to the heart. ... script here, so if I don't make eye contact, it's only because I really want to get through ...


... schedule. We have a plan and we have a schedule. They've both gone together pretty well. So our topic is The Gift of Contemplative Meditation. And I want to start out with a quote from Fr. Dede. This is from a little article in a paper called The Shalom News. My view is that the deeper your contemplation, the nearer you are to God. And the more open you are to the world, and that is where the hope lies. The deeper your contemplation, the nearer you are to God. The nearer you are to the world, the more open you are to the world. And that's where the hope lies. There's a beautiful quote that I have at the front of my Bible that I use for intercessory prayer.


This is St. John of Cronstadt of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, who teaches that when we are connected with God, all those that we love are somehow connected to God too, just from our love and our being in union with God. Fr. Dede is saying a similar thing here. There was a wonderful talk by Fr. Thomas Keating that he gave to the World Community of Christian Meditation, where he's talking about contemplative prayer, specifically to this work of interreligious dialogue. And we'll be borrowing from him a little bit here at the beginning of this talk especially. And he asks this question, What would be the major elements of a spiritual life that is both rooted in its own spiritual tradition and at the same time is in dialogue with other world religions? What would be the major elements of a spiritual life that is both rooted in its own tradition and at the same time is in dialogue with other world religions?


As contemplative communities, as contemplative people, the other question is, what would our relation be to this world of ours as it moves into the new millennium with its enormous number of human problems that seem to be almost without end? And the third question, what can the Christian contemplative tradition bring to this world that is coming? What would the elements be of a spiritual life that's at the same time rooted in its own tradition and open to other traditions? What should be our relationship to the world as contemplatives, this world as it moves into the new millennium with its enormous baggage? And what can the Christian contemplative tradition bring to this world that's coming, to this new era that's opening up?


I'm really keen on this idea of us entering into a new phase of history. I'm very keen on this idea of the actual consciousness as well. As I look around from what's happened even in the past 30 or 40 years, the rest of the 60s, the whole cultural shift, and Vatican II for the Roman Catholic Church being right in the middle of it. I don't think this is any accident. These things are happening as part of an evolution of consciousness as well. And then the collapse of communism not too long after. Well, Fr. Thomas says that the great gift that contemplative prayer can offer is a very simple thing. It's the experience of the divine presence. That's what contemplatives bring to the world. And this is not for those of us who really believe, is it? Because it's exactly this experience that's actually lacking in the post-modern world.


The experience of the divine presence, this experience of the metaphysical ground, I guess we could say. Again, I'm going to channel a little bit of Fr. B. All the great developments that have happened in Western society, Western civilization. And he traces them back. Like Théodore de Chardin, they actually grew out of Christianity, grew out of the Christian revelation, but have forgotten their metaphysical ground, actually forgot where they came from. So many of the great advances, as wonderful as they are, they have no rooting in the divine, have no rooting in the spiritual experience. So the specific gift of the contemplative is to re-root society in the divine presence, to re-root society in spirit. And who else is going to be able to bring this realization back into society but those who have experienced it. You know the old Latin saying, you don't have.


And the whole reason we do this is not just for ourselves, we're doing this for the whole world. One of the arguments I make for the continuing validity of the monastic life, but even of the strictly cloistered contemplative life, we do think of the whole humanity as a body. And because so much of the body is so active and completely unrooted in the divine, some part of the body has got to stay real close to the source. Abhishek Jananda talks about it, our job as monks is not to be in the canal, but to stay close to the source. For the sake of the whole body, what the monks are doing here on top of this mountain, is for the sake of the whole body, for the sake of the presence present. So then the question really becomes, how? How are we going to share this reign of God that's been entrusted to us? We who have the experience of the divine presence within ourselves, in what mode are we going to share this reign of God


that points to the heart of the world, and points the world to its own contemplative dimension? And I often think that's what even the music work I do, the evangelization that I do, is actually just to try to point out the spiritual and contemplative dimension of life at all. That's almost a pre-evangelical, pre-Catholic dimension, because I think quite often people don't have a sense yet of the spiritual dimension of all reality. Anyway, so then Father Thomas, this is Father Thomas Keating, did I say who that was at the beginning? This is the great Trappist from Snowmass, wonderful teacher, beautiful man. He goes on to ask, if we ask ourselves, as Christians, as any kind of practitioners, whether in this new millennium, what will be the purpose and aim of the religious traditions of the world,


or for that matter, even of special disciplines like yoga or Zen meditation, is it still our desire and our aim to make disciples and converts as we've been instructed to do? Is that what our goal is? Is that what we're aiming at? And he's suggesting, rather, in the light of the historical development of global consciousness, again those kind of key words, global consciousness, that's now emerging. I'm going to quote him exactly. Is there a new understanding of the gospel that's now required in which we see Christ himself and, instead, all men and women are brothers and sisters? Christ emphasizing that. Could it be that the first duty of the world's religions in our time may not be to propagate themselves so much, though this can be done with prudence and charity, but to create communities of world religions?


Could that be our first duty right now? ...born paths between huts. We're back to this idea of dialogical dialogue we talked about with Martin Buber and Raimundo Panicar. Coming to the conversations to learn, coming to the conversations with as much to learn as to propagate. Could it be that Christ himself is urging us to do this, to first of all just build communion? Remember again those foundational steps of dialogue we talked about earlier, dialogue and proclamation. Because we've often, in our history, skipped all those steps, beating somebody over the head with our religion. So, to this vantage point, the other world religions must first of all be considered as brothers and sisters who are greatly loved by God, with something to contribute to us,


something to contribute to the world at large. Perhaps what is needed first and foremost in our day and age is collaboration between all those who have true human values at heart. Again, part of that skopos was our ethical dimension, wasn't it? And especially collaboration among those who have a long spiritual experience, especially those who have human values at heart. Obviously spiritual, it might not obviously be religious, but we're in collaboration with them because we believe that that's part of our ethical responsibility, social action. So, good collaboration with those who are building the world. And especially with those who have a long tradition of spiritual experience. Now, why would we do that? What would our justification for that be? I'll go back to the top. Because we reject nothing of what is truly and wholly another religion.


As a matter of fact, we have a high regard for their manner of life and conduct. We have a high regard for their precepts and doctrines, which, even though they are different from our own teaching in many ways, nevertheless often reflect the ray of that truth which enlightens all people. As a matter of fact, we're actually urged by the Church to do this. To do this very thing. To enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of these other religions. While witnessing to our own faith, we are urged to acknowledge, preserve, and encourage the spiritual among non-Christians in their social life and culture, as well as in their spiritual traditions. Pope Benedict did a very interesting thing for the Honored Pontificate in switching the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to the Pontifical Council for Dialogue Among Cultures. It was a very interesting move, and conservatives and liberals couldn't figure out what to do.


They wanted to criticize him first. But the idea was, you might say on the negative side, because there's not that much dialogue that can actually go on between the religions because of our different articulations of the Talos. But the positive side of it is that we can dialogue in terms of culture, in terms of cultural values. If we can't agree on this Talos, we can't agree on this Skopos. You know, the great disaster that was caused by the Regensburg and his unfortunate statements about Islam. The point he was trying to get at was, this is not rational. The violence is not rational in the religious traditions. Even if we don't agree about, you know, our notion of religion and interpretation of the Bible, can we at least agree on the fact that it's not rational to have violence justified in the name of religion? So there's again the Talos and the Skopos that could be taking place much more at a level of culture than at a level of religion. Because maybe in theology we're just going to keep getting


to the same impasse over and over again. You say potato and I say potato. So, this is the great treasure of humanity that now needs to be shared. Perhaps for the first time in history, we could manifest that all of the human beings are children of God and that each religion has its part to play in revealing the true God and that above all it is God's will that we live together in peace. That would not be a bad place to start. And again, also this idea of the second axial consciousness is moving from tribal to individual, not from individual to global. It's unavoidable. And Kabul is flashed into people's living rooms all over the United States. It's unavoidable at this point that we live in a much smaller global village than we were 20 years ago even. Unfortunately, up until now,


quite often the major religions of the world have been one of the chief sources of violence in our world. At least part of the reason for that is because the greatest security that many people experience is in their religion. It's both a cultural, ethnic, and personal identity. So any kind of real or personal connection to one's religious tradition feels like a breach of greater security. We may be tearing apart the whole fabric of society by it. I always think it's funny, in the loosest sense of the word, if you want to attack somebody in this day and age in the political realm, you either accuse them of being gay, a Muslim, or a socialist. Even according to the strictest teachings of the Church, there's actually nothing wrong with being homosexual, a socialist, or a Muslim. The how about Muslim got slipped in there too.


Even just to call somebody a Muslim is a right way to, oh this is a Muslim, therefore he must be tearing apart the fabric of society. How do those two things go together? Now what they haven't yet accused President Obama of being a gay, socialist, Muslim. All three haven't put those two together yet. We'll see if that comes up, the exit of the National Enquirer. So anyway, we can see it very large in our society right now that any kind of threat to our religion feels like a threat to some kind of a greater security, security of our nation, security of our society, of our culture. And if we're honest, this is one of the reasons we tend to be overprotective, maybe even somewhat over-idealistic about our own particular tradition. Not necessarily because we ourselves are spiritual, not necessarily because we're out there protesting supposedly in the name of God, or necessarily very religious and very spiritual,


but because we want the security of being right. And because maybe even we would get a certain feeling of superiority over it, that we're somehow better than everybody else. Kim Wilber has this really wonderful essay titled Translation vs. Transformation. To some extent he called it confirmation, as in conforming and transforming. Anyway, he talks about this, I think, that in its primary stages, in our own primary stages of development such as human beings, it often acts as a way of creating and building up a sense of the separate self. Me, defining myself as Roman Catholic, which is me from you. I know who I am because I'm not you. I'm this. So it can build up. That's a necessary stage. We were talking yesterday about kids learning


their own religious tradition as they're learning other traditions. And we realize that that's at an early stage of development, is just securing up this sense of separate self. Even since this is where the conforming and transforming go up, it gives the young person something to conform to, a certain image to conform to, an archetype, a model to conform to. But then that separate self or those collective separate selves that get created by the religion has to continue to be fortified, defended, and promoted. So we have this whole collective of separate selves. So we're not just Christians. We're American Christians. We're Roman Catholic American Christians. We've got this identity that we're trying to protect that, which may not have anything to do with spiritual values at all. We're protecting some other kind of sense of separate self or separate selves. On the other hand,


here's where we get into the gift of contemplative prayer, what we talked about earlier, this idea of ... What we find happens through the contemplative experience is that's exactly what begins to dissolve the sense of separate self. So we heard Father Bede say right there, the greater experience I have of union with God, the more open I am to the world. Somehow that sense of ... permeable thing. I'm one spirit with God. I'm one spirit with all that is united with God. The contemplative experience is running just exactly counter to that, to that building up of a separate self or building up of any kind of collective ... Does that make sense what I'm saying? It's a subtle point, but I think it's very important. So as we start in this process of the contemplative life, those walls begin to crumble


a little bit. And with that, these rigidities and exaggerations that we use to defend and promote our tradition actually start to relax a little bit. We've had some experience of a loss of self. We realize what a shaky entity this whole thing is. So our rigidities and exaggerations start to relax a little bit, and sometimes they relax really a lot. And suddenly, having had an experience of the ineffability of God, having had some experience of God's mysterious, fathomless depths, we simply stand in awe. Now what do I mean by these fathomless depths of God? In the Christian mystical tradition, we don't talk about often, at least from the West, we call it our apophatic tradition. In the Latin, it's referred to the via negativa,


the negative way, the dark approach to God, which approaches God not by saying God is, [...] but by saying instead God is not. Recognizing that God is beyond all of our formulations and all of our images. St. Paul says, Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom of God, how fathomless your wonders and incomprehensible are your ways. At some point in the spiritual life, and especially I think in the contemplative life, we realize that we have not got God figured out. And all of our formulations are like, you know, Toy Bear is banging on crap. I try to use this example quite often. How many love songs have been written to try to explain the experience of being in love and not one of them really explains the whole thing. All of our theology, our ritual, our language, at some point it is a finger pointing at the moon, but it's not the reality of the moon. When we really have that experience of the mystery that is the divine,


well, suddenly we might get a little humbler about the mystery of the divine. And there's a great phrase by the Orthodox theologian Paul Dockermoff that I've quoted so many times, and he says, just as there is an apathetic depth to God, so there is an apathetic depth to us. So an apathetic theology corresponds with an apathetic anthropology. And we realize that this whole mystery of human existence is just that. This is an incredible mystery. And then we have this sense of humility and awe, and it may change our perspective on everything. Humble at the mystery that surrounds us all, humble at the mystery that's in all of created reality, as well as the mysterious depths of the person standing in front of us, that's in relation with us. And then we suddenly realize


with humble relief that we don't, as a matter of fact, have the cosmos all figured out. That's not a bad place to be. It could be scary, but it's a good place because that's the beginning of real worship, isn't it? That's the beginning of real praise. That's the beginning of awe. God is no longer tamed and contained in our tents and our boxes. And this is a point that I'm quite fond of. As a Christian, I might even be able to admit equally suddenly that yes, the fullness of divinity dwells in Jesus bodily, and yes, there may be nothing to be added to the revelation of God in Christ. No, we have not fully understood what either one of those things actually mean yet. You follow what I'm saying? So yes, I believe that yes, there may be nothing to be added


to the revelation of the Gospels, but I don't know what either one of those things actually mean yet, the fullness of what that revelation is. That perhaps, this is a great big thing, perhaps through the eyes of another tradition, a fuller understanding of the revelation is rich. Some aspect of my own tradition had remained so far kind of inchoate to me. And I found one teaching on this that I especially, especially love. I'll give you my silly example. When I was growing up, the little boy, the Landando, Scooter Landando, how's that for a name? Sounds like a third basement, doesn't he? And I was in the bathroom and looking out the window of the bathroom and seeing my own house


and suddenly realizing, oh, I never realized that there was an evergreen outside of my bedroom window and that green gable. Seeing my own house in a whole new way. And I quite often think of that when I'm at Tassajara, a Buddhist monastery. Suddenly I realize when you take aerial photographs, you know, take of the from a plane, suddenly you realize there's something about your own home that you hadn't seen before from a whole different perspective. That's my silly example. Here's one that's a little more erudite which comes from Ramundo Padilla. I love this teaching specifically about the Trinity. You couldn't get a more orthodox and traditional teaching from Christianity than Ramundo Padilla. Another one of these $25 titles, Toward an Ecumenical


Spirituality. So what he's describing is three aspects of divinity and three forms of spirituality that correspond to those three aspects. I think you have some of it listed there on your page. Yeah, there we go. So three aspects of divinity and three spiritualities corresponding to the three aspects of divinity, corresponding then to the three persons of the Trinity. The first person, who we normally call a father. I love this phrase. Avery Dulles. I was blessed to hear him speak once. I don't think he was a cardinal yet at the time. I asked him, he says,


isn't father only a metaphor? And he said, yes, it's only a metaphor, but it's an inspired metaphor. So we'll stay with the father right now. Father as relating not just to maleness, but somehow this first person of the Trinity as the silent, apophatic dimension. The son as relating to the personalist dimension. Dimension of God. So these three dimensions, these three aspects of God that correspond to the three persons of the Trinity. The silent, apophatic, the personalist, and the imminent. Can you get a grip of where those three go? So, this first one we would even call there's a tradition in the church of the silence of the father. That that silent,


apophatic dimension which he relates to the first person of the Trinity or to the father. Since the father expresses through the son and of himself has no word or expression. Now, what Panikkar is suggesting is this apophatic spirituality of the silence of the Godhead is similar to the Buddhist experience of Nirvana. Also the silence of the Taoist. Of the Upanishads. Not this, not this. Of the Upanishads. And Panikkar says specifically Buddhism could be considered the religion of the father. And in Buddhism and in Buddhist silence listen to this. And in Buddhist silence can get a glimpse of the reflection of the depths of the father since the Buddhist moves to the experience of apophatic silence


by negating the way of the word or the thought of the logos. And the Buddhist goes immediately to this apophatic depth of God. Do not pass, go, do not collect $200. Can teach us something about this apophatic depth. As he says, the via negativa of the doubt. Or, or specifically Upanishadic meditation to the neti neti of the Vitaranyaka Upanishad. Secondly, the second person of the Trinity, the personalist dimension which Panikkar relates to the son. A little side note here. For me, my operative model has been the second person of the Trinity but specifically is related to the word. And my understanding of the word is the logos, the logos of Greek, even Greek philosophy. The intelligent principle. My own teaching,


the way I was taught, wherever we're seeing beauty, truth, or goodness, we are seeing the word. The principle of of the word at work. So if I see a beautiful work of art, that's the word. If I see a scientific discovery, that's the word. If I see goodness reflected in charity in some way, that's the word being manifested. All of that somehow is brought to its fulfillment in Jesus. So when I see any beauty, truth, or goodness anywhere, not just in religion but in culture in general, I recognize the manifestation of the divine. So, there's also that. ...for me to keep to keep me going. ...relates the the second person of the Trinity to this personalist dimension since the Son is the personal mediator between God and humanity. You could say the high priest as we read the letter to the Hebrews,


through whom creation, redemption, and glorification flow. Now this personalist dimension of God is especially helpful in our dialogue with Judaism and Islam even though they're not going to necessarily recognize it in the person of Jesus. But there is a devotional and personal dimension there. The Jew and the Muslim ...the Jew and the Muslim ...the Jew ...expressed in the word of God and the Christian in the person of Christ who is the personal word of the Father. The word of God then is personal and intensifies personality, since it differentiates at the same time it unites. This is not just an aid to our relationship with Judaism and Islam, though, to all the personalist dimensions of other popular religions as well, and again I want to point to Father Bede's book on the Bhagavad Gita, so there's a personalist dimension, a devotional dimension in Hinduism. There really is a strain of devotionalism in Buddhism and in Taoism, too.


Most Taoists there are not the philosophical Taoists that we know in the West, most of them are really doing more of a deity worship, but this is a dimension of God. That's an aspect of the divinity that is being manifest in other traditions, and what do they have to teach us about this personalist dimension of God? I have found a great love for the Sufi mystics over the past couple of years, and one of the poems we read today, these marvelous poems about the Beloved, a tremendous personalist approach to God, also from a lot of the Hindu bhakti tradition, you know, these beautiful poems about Shambhivanam and Shambhivanam shifted over, instead of Om Namah Shivaya it's Om Namah Krishnaya, learning a whole new way to approach God through another tradition. So then, third of all, the Trinity, the third person of the Trinity, the immanent dimension,


the within dimension, that Panikar relates to the spirit, since the spirit is the union of the five, and of course that also has its resonance in the Hindu doctrine of Advaita non-duality that we talked about earlier today, of the individual and the absolute. This is a quote from Panikar, the Advaitic Hindu seeks un-duality with the absolute. She reflects the spirituality of the spirit, since the spirit's work is primarily that of union. So it's union through this immanence, this indwelling presence of God, that somehow already is our union with God. And I want to point to that phrase from St. Paul again in the Romans, the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the spirit living in us. I went through Paul's letters, every time I found the word in, in relation to God, it's a lot of times, the immanent, the immanent God, and of course that's Paul's whole theology


of prayer, that we pray as we ought to, but the spirit prays in us and sighs too deep for words. And then in Galatians he changes that, it's not just sighs too deep for words, there's actually one word the spirit's praying, and the word the spirit is praying in us is Abba, which is Jesus' own prayer you might say. So the spirit is actually praying inside of us, that's how immanent it is, and our prayer life becomes what? Becomes dropping into the prayer that's already there, participating in the liturgy, and what liturgy is going on? It's the Son singing this love song to the Father in the Holy Spirit, that's what's in us, that's who the spirit is and that's what the spirit does in us. It's a profound tradition, especially in the contemplative tradition of Christianity, about the immanence of the spirit. I also want to add, forgive me for boldly adding on the things that a great scholar like Ravindra Panikkar, this sense of immanence also, what do we have to learn from the tribal


traditions and the primal peoples, as union, but spirit as power, quite often the spirit is associated with this Greek word dynamism, dynamism power. So again, the tribal traditions, also what's the relation between this movement of the spirit inside of us and teaching the uncreated energies, and Kundalini spiritual energy, which we really, this is an untapped area yet, William Johnson touches on it a little bit when he talks about the uncreated energies, this teaching of the uncreated energies that comes out of the Orthodox tradition in the 13th century with Gregory Palamas, Teilhard talks about it a little bit when he's talking about the within energy, he calls radial energies, this is also immanence, the spirit in us, not static, power. So what do we have to learn about our own tradition from other traditions, this silence


of a father from these apophatic traditions, from the Upanishads, from Buddhism, from Taoism? What do we have to learn about beauty, truth, and goodness everywhere? Another kind of pedestrian example, back in the day when I was really involved in music and all this, contemporary Christian music came up, because you'd go into a Christian music store, and there was every kind of Christian music possible, there was Christian rap, and Christian heavy metal, and Christian punk, and Christian polka, and I wanted to go up to the counter and say, where is Mozart, where is Beethoven's late string quartets, where is Olivier Messiaen, why is that music sacred, just because you stamped a fish on a wallet doesn't make it a Christian wallet. How much could I be learning about beauty, how much could I be learning about beauty


in the word from Van Gogh, how much would I be learning about by reading the great transpersonal psychologist or the philosophy of Wittgenstein, what is not at that point sacred, what could we learn about the personalist dimension, what could we learn about our devotion to the personalist traditions. Again, I want to mention how much I really feel like I've learned both from Sufism and especially from India, we used to read these beautiful poems at Shantivanam from, I can't remember the name of that poet now, Ramalinga Swami, we'd read him, he was just talking about God as the beloved, and of course I'm thinking of Jesus, but I had never heard these words expressed before, I'd never talked to Jesus in that way before, just loved it. And then there was this one chant I learned in India, it's to the guru, it goes, you are


my mother, you are my father, you are my sister, you are my friend, you are my riches, you are my wisdom, you are my all, my God, my God. This is a song you sing to the guru, well I don't sing this to my guru, living guru, I don't sing it to a human being, this beautiful image of Jesus that I have over my altar, those words had I not experienced this personal dimension, this bhakti dimension in India. What would we learn about the eminence of God, that we usually refer to as the spirit, if we were to study these traditions that speak so much about the indwelling, what would we learn about this power of God, the power of the spirit, if we were to really study some of the tribal and primitive cultures as well. So the trinity, this image of the trinity, has a two-faceted spirituality to it, which


enables us to see the great spiritual traditions in some ways as dimensions of each other. First of all, the trinity, in talking about these three aspects of the divinity, are actually reflecting three aspects of the religious experience, a kind of universal, the universality, these three universal aspects of the religious experiences. And so the trinity can be seen as a pattern that actually abides throughout the world's religions and philosophies of this apathy, the eminent dimensions of God. And following on that, the Christian notion of the trinity can actually provide a kind of an overarching pattern, attitudes that are fundamental to all humankind, as they've been identified in the other major traditions of the world in relationship to each other, which we see operating together in the trinity. As they operate together in the trinity, how could they operate together in the world?


Just as they operate together in the Godhead, how could they operate together in our world? As I brought up already earlier, it could be that we don't even know or understand the depths of the mystery of the trinity until we've opened ourselves up to and responded in depth to these trinities and these other traditions. I really never understood the apophatic depths of Christianity until I encountered Buddhism and Taoism specifically. And my bridge to that actually was through the Upanishads. I had no vocabulary for that. Nothing in Christianity prepared me for that experience. Now, obviously, it could be had without that, but it was a marvelous opportunity to discover this apophatic depth in Christianity, is to see it through the eyes of Buddhism, Taoism, and the Upanishads. It could be that we Christians may not even know or fully understand the depths of the mystery of the trinity until we've opened ourselves up to and responded in depth to the


trinities and these other traditions. I want to add in there also this idea of the dynamism of spirit. I'm understanding that more and more, especially these days I've been doing a lot of study of tantric yoga and the Kundalini, and just wishing we had more language ourselves in Christianity for the power of the spirit, for spirit as actually transforming the power inside of us. Taoism and Buddhism teach us about who and what we call father. What can Islam and Judaism, let alone the devotional bhakti elements of other traditions such as Hinduism, teach us about devotion to Jesus? Teach us about the power of the Holy Spirit. Here's a quote from Edward Cousins in this marvelous book, Christ of the 21st Century. Often the partners discover in another tradition values which are submerged or only inchoate


in their own. I love that word, inchoate, the things that haven't quite been uncovered yet in our own. The partners in another tradition help us discover values that are submerged and inchoate in our own. This is also why William Johnson in his book, Arise, My Love, which was quite a seminal text for me. If you haven't read that, I would recommend that you read. Arise, My Love. He talks about this need that Western Christianity has for Asian mysticism. There was an interesting event that happened at our Sangha in Santa Cruz, and I was quoting William Johnson about this, about the need for Asian mysticism. And this woman was saying, oh no, no, Christianity, Christians don't have to be Hindus. It's already in Christianity. I said, that's not what he's saying. He's saying, Western Christianity needs Asian mysticism.


She said, no, [...] no. Everything's already there in Christianity. And I had to point out to her. I'm saying, no, no, I'm not saying that Christians have to be Hindus and Buddhists. What I'm saying is Asian mysticism, just in general. Specifically, the Asian approach has something very different from Western Christianity that has not had that dimension. So that's not to say specifically Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism, but Asian mysticism in general. This is why there's been some little tiny wars in theology and in Roman Catholicism specifically, as theologians from Sri Lanka or Thailand or Japan are trying to re-articulate Christianity using Eastern philosophy. Even more, thought that perhaps the Vedantic philosophy was actually


to describe Christianity than Greek philosophy. That perhaps the Vedantic philosophy might better express the karigma of the gospel than Greek philosophy did. Now, our present Pope would not abide with that at all. In fact, that's one point he actually made in that Regensburg address as well. He thinks that Greek philosophy has a certain, almost a level of revelation. But who would agree with that? John Paul II. His letter called Thetis et Ratio, Faith and Reason, very clearly did a specific of this just because Christianity first encountered Greek philosophy and that's the only way that it can be expressed. And then he says, my thoughts go first of all to India. So this is part of our same thing. How can we weave together the karigma, as far as we can understand this original experience, in other terms. So, William Johnson insists, for example, on the need that Western Christianity has for Asia


as I would say, to uncover the rest of the gospel, to unfold the inner meaning of the gospel in a way that we may not have found words for yet. One more... And Western Christianity has its gift to offer Asia as well. You know, I think the whole notion of engaged Buddhism influenced from the social engagement of Western Christianity. Certainly the organizational aspects of monasticism in the last 200 years were influenced by the organization of Western monasticism. And when there are disasters and famines and floods and poor people all over the world we are quite pleased to see that it's usually Western Christians who are right there in the middle of doing that. So we also have our gifts to offer. That's why Fr. Beetz, the title of his book, Marriage of East and West, is important. It's not like we have to shuck off Western Christianity and all become Asians.


The complementarity, hopefully, that's going on right now is we're becoming wholer. We're becoming wholer of what Asia has to offer us and what we have to offer Asia. That's all I have to say about that. I didn't even have my clock. I don't know how... Very good. Anybody have any questions or comments? Rebuttals? Negotiations? Agreements? Question. Yeah. A series of talks he gave in Singapore, actually. I was getting some of this off of recordings that he did. Yeah. I don't know if he's written about... Yeah. Through the World Community for Christian Meditation. He did two different series in Singapore.


I believe this was the first one he did. So it's probably... Yeah. I mean, he's 82, 83 years old. He can say anything he wants at this point. I'm kind of saying, as Fr. Thomas Keating says, not that I necessarily... Please. ...about what folks are thinking that Vedantic philosophy could actually be a sort of really great partner for Christianity as Greek philosophy has been for centuries. I mean, I guess just why are people thinking... I'm just curious. It's really interesting to me. Maybe I'll take a stab at it. For one thing, there's a different anthropology at work. You know, ...crippled pretty easily from Greek dualism immediately


in this idea that the soul is somehow trapped in the body. It's very... So, you know, Plato says sema soma, the body is a tomb for the soul. And so the whole goal of the spiritual life seems to be to kill the body and to release the soul. You can get hints of that also in India, but it doesn't have that sharp of a dualism. So that's actually a negative side on the Greek side. Vedantic philosophy addresses specifically the interior journey in a very specific way that actually could be more accessible than the kind of academic approach and the intellectual approach that quite often Greek philosophy has. Those are the two things I'm thinking right off the bat. I'm not saying it's necessarily better, but personally I would say it's actually another way, though, to describe this.


And third, I mean, this idea of the immanence which is very clear in this notion of the atman and the relation of the para-atman, the great self to the jivatman, to the individual self. We actually don't even talk about that very much. We get close to it when we start talking about the image of God, but we don't talk very much about this idea of being one spirit with one mystic saint or, for instance, being one spirit with God. We're getting pretty close to that, though, when we're in Vedanta philosophy. And, you know, following that, I would say even more than Vedanta itself, we start getting up into the yogic philosophies, especially the later Hatha yogic philosophy, because yoga itself has a bit of dualism to it, you know, where purusha


and prakriti are not supposed to meet. Spirit and matter is an unfortunate marriage. You're supposed to separate them. Later on, after tantra and Hatha yoga and, like, the writings of Sri Aurobindo, for instance, you start to get this idea that the whole person is actually involved in the transformative process of the spiritual life. And, you know, Bede says Aurobindo at some point stumbles right into Christianity because he's finding a philosophical justification for the transfiguration, resurrection, ascension to the holy spirit that we don't necessarily find in Greek philosophy. Not very well baked. I'm finding a lot right now in Hatha yoga and especially in the writings of Sri Aurobindo which were very influential. And that's a whole other topic that I have a harangue about, I'll save for another retreat. Anybody else? Have I lost you completely? Anything else


you want to bring up? I just, I really I really a little light came on when you said that about the truth in Jesus and the gospels that there may be no other truth than that, or in addition don't have a clue. And that this revelation keeps going on. People try to describe something, but when a human limitations it, there's really no description for it. And that's what I'm trying to communicate to regular contemplatives just don't really get it. Another one of my favorite examples is the translation of the Bible into Chinese. The beginning of the gospel of John is, in the beginning was the Tao with God and the Tao was God. So we don't understand why that's a whole new concept of word


and logo. Now it suddenly does open up a whole new dimension of word and logos. That's just mind blowing to me. Chad, you were going to ask something? The deeper your contemplation the nearer you are to God the more open you are to the world. The deeper your contemplation the nearer you are to God the nearer you are to God the more open you are to the world. I'll try to remember to bring that John of Christ quote that I've got in my Bible there tomorrow too. Anything else? You're so patient and attentive. Thank you very much. Let's have just a brief meditation and get you out of bed. Thank you.


The why of meditation is always for me to figure out the why. I got this teaching about the four elements of meditation from Muktananda, I shifted it around a little bit. So the practical things are the posture, always begin with this why, it's kind of fascinating. And I think that quote from Father Bede is a pretty good one right there, because the deeper, the nearer we are to God, the nearer we are to God, the more open we are to the world. It's when we have this deep experience of God, this is our gift to the world, and to be able to point our brothers and sisters as well to the spiritual, to the divine presence. And even, is it too much to say, even to be the divine presence in the world, our very being somehow points others to the divine presence, to give them some hope for that. Let's ask our bodies to be good servants and friends to us right now for a couple of minutes.


If you could find a good posture, you didn't know you were going to have six periods of meditation today, did you? It's ready to go to sleep, but we're going to try to keep it alert. It's one of the best images I heard about the body in meditation. The body is like a cat in front of a mouse hole, and it's perfectly alert and perfectly relaxed at the same time. Totally in repose and ready to pounce. So that's how we are in our bodies at this point. I'm remembering too, when I was a kid, the teacher used to tell us, standing up we're thinking too fast, if you're laying down you're thinking too slow, but sitting up, and it keeps us alert. But we need to focus that activity in the alertness of the mind somehow. The first thing we do is through the breath.


That breath brings us home. You know, especially in the Japanese Zen tradition, some people would go their whole meditative practice for years and years and just counting the breaths. And somehow this focus of the mind disappears just from that. Count from one up until ten, and then if you go up to thirteen or thirty-six or fifty-four, you know you're not paying attention anymore. One to ten. So you could do that. The mantra. Word sometimes is told it means a tool for the mind. Manas, the mind, and tra is a tool. So the mantra is a tool for the mind, to somehow keep the mind focused. And there's no better mantra ever than some name of God, I think. At least I find that for myself. So I take a deep breath and listen to this beautiful reading from the sacred writings


of the Sikhs. Where my span of life to extend to a million years, air alone, never assailed by sleep in a dark cave, the sun or the light of the moon could pierce down to distract me. Even so, my God, I could not know your price, nor say how great is your name. True is the formless one and self-existent. On hearing the word, one utters the word. If the Lord wills, then one has longing for the Lord. To shreds and ground into pulp, wasted by fires and reduced to ashes. Even so, my God, I could not know your price, nor say how great is your name. Were I to hover like a bird, soaring through the skies innumerable and vanish beyond the range of mortal vision, self-sustained, not needing food or drink,


even so, my God, I could not know your price, nor say how great is your name. Had I studied in unmeasured loads of books and become the master scholar of their lore, and had I appended to the speed of the wind a pen filled with inexhaustible ink, my God, I could not know your price, nor say how great is your name. Sound of the bell. Sound of the bell. Sound of the bell.


Sound of the bell. [...]


Sound of the bell. [...]


Sound of the bell. [...]


Sound of the bell. [...]


Sound of the bell. [...]


Sound of the bell. [...] Good night.


We'll meet at nine o'clock. We'll meet at nine o'clock. We'll meet at nine o'clock.