January 13th, 1982, Serial No. 00686

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Monastic Spirituality Set 5 of 12




And I don't imagine that they were any more conscious for those people back in the 4th century than they are for us in the 5th century. I remember a news item from a psychologist in Manhattan, it was just a matter of a few years ago, that people in Old Testament times saw apparitions and things of God. And we take for granted being religious and thinking about God in that case. He said that there were people in that time on a level where their subconscious was present to them as if it were reality. And so they actually, they experienced it as reality, it was their subconscious projecting out. Okay, you can turn that around and you can say that nowadays we have made subconscious things that are actually existing. In the sense that we've created a subconscious and put a ceiling on it and closed it up and put down into that realm of unreality.


A lot of things which really are really around us, spiritual things for instance, we can claim that. But it seems that primitive man was much more like that. It's almost like his unconscious and his external world, there's very little between the two to filter, you know, and so they were much more one. As it is, it seems, with a child. Before his ego establishes itself in between and starts to filter things out. Question from the audience. So that means that with respect to these people, if you had a particular vice back in the 5th century, like contempt for your brothers, it would be much more visible than


it is nowadays. But we've got something that we've erected in between. It's part of our ego, it seems, and it corresponds to an external civilization which conceals the unpleasant, or conceals that which we don't want to be seen. And we've got an internal thing that corresponds to that, that keeps away from our consciousness and away from the consciousness of other people seeing, the objectionable parts of our being, I think. Question from the audience. It's better in that way. We don't instantaneously fly into a rage. We're more likely to even not allow ourselves to believe that we're angry and just be aggressive and get sick of it. That's what many people kill. Question from the audience. You break down communication entirely. Because if primitive man, if earlier man, ancient man, was able to express immediately


his passion, his anger, his contempt or pride or whatever it was, at the same time, his love was able to communicate itself. And at the same time, we didn't have these walls of repressed fashion keeping people apart, okay? Because those things solidify. And we have to build a wall to keep us in union. A wall is almost made of our own community. And that's what separates us. We can't be spontaneous with one another and we can't have spontaneous communion if we've got a lot of repressed stuff. And fear has to do with a lot of things. So that naturalness made it easier for man to be one with his brothers and brothers. And see, psychiatry comes up when repression comes up, really. What Freud started working on when he invented psychoanalysis was repression, was the fact that people were pushing things down and hiding them. And it was at the time of a particularly repressed society, which was the Victorian society, the 19th century, or early 20th century, before all the eruptions we've had since then, including the sexual eruptions.


But that was when they said this kind of thing was at a maximum because people were trying to believe in a certain kind of world, that the world was really a certain way, and all these other things just weren't allowed to come into the picture. And it's the complete contrary of what you have in the picture of a more primitive man. But we have to remember that there were also some pretty rigid society controls in those days, too. Even as you find in African tribes and things, they have some extremely rigid constrictions of one kind or another. They seem to have another way of getting things out, naturally. It's important a bit to bring this up because it's throughout what we're talking about here. And it makes it seem a little unreal to us sometimes because it's so frank and so spontaneous. And we're not like that. We don't see ourselves in the same way. But it makes, you know, there's a kind of a law there that the early things are more


visible. There's a kind of a law in history that the early things are more visible. The typical example is that there's a stylite stone that's been on a 30-foot pole in order to make a point. Not to make a point, but because there's always been a monument to give that witness at that time, for that time, that high visibility witness for that time and for succeeding generations. We wouldn't do it in the same way, but we may have the same, be trying to witness the same thing in a different way, but it won't be as visible. There seems to be a kind of a dichotomy. It's different now. It's on a social level, it's horizontal to different things. Right. Religious causes, but it's changed. It's not vertical, rather than vertical. And vertical is what gives you a high profile in the sense that I'm talking about. The singular saints. Today, it tends to be somewhat more massive, to be more horizontal direction towards other people, towards social injustices, rather than just pointing towards sin.


Okay, well that's a high visibility witness. That's a high visibility witness. Very high visibility, just like these two Buddhists that walked up the hill. And for them, it was their discipline. That's not theistic. It's not vertical. It's for mankind. It's true, there is a visibility, but not in the same vertical direction. Okay, our kinds of pride. So the third and fourth kinds of pride are what he calls the pride of this world and the pride of the monastic life, even though they're both obviously in the monastic life. But really, one is the pride of possessions, of having, and the other is the pride of doing. You can say that the monastic part is the pride of having virtue, but he's talking about it as doing something, as your practice, being proud about your monastic practice. Whereas the first one, the pride of the world, even though a monk has it, it's pride in things that are externally visible, and so on, and things that he can possess.


They're not so interior to him, apparently, as is his monastic practice. It's not his own doing. A monastic pride is about what you do. I'm different because I'm a better monk, because I do these things. Like the Pharisee, proud of the Gospel, because I fast and give tithes. Now he talks about the two kinds of humility. There's another thing underneath this. Besides the humility with respect to your brother and the humility with respect to God, often you find the distinction between kind of natural or acquired humility and supernatural, spiritual, infused, or mystical humility. We talked about that before when we were reading the Proverbs, and so I won't go into it. But that's important. If you read Silvanus, for instance, he said, well, you can do all you want to to acquire humility, but it's a whole different thing from when God gives you humility, supernatural, spiritual, and directed. That's just a whole new vision that's given to you.


Whereas our attempts at humility only change us. It's like bending a branch instead of breaking it. They only change us a little bit. And we're the expense of a lot of people. One. Yeah, one is the way towards the other. It's a kind of... As long as we don't get over-stuck on even our practice of humility, or don't fall into other pitfalls, one is the way to the other. It's the indication that we want it, and somehow it disposes us for it. I think the desire for the thing, even if the way to beseech it may not be that efficient, but the desire for the thing is something that attracts it. Attracts the grace of it. Also, the fact that we desire something means that we've got the seed of it somehow within us, very probably. Because it's the grace that makes us desire the grace. It's very hard to desire something, a virtue, or something supernatural, or something which is a grace, unless we haven't heard that grace already. But we shouldn't be too careless about talking like that, because we can desire the image


of something, but not the idea of something. Okay, the first kind of humility is to hold my brother to be wiser than myself, and in all things to raise him higher than myself, and simply, as that holy man said, to put oneself before others. And that's not easy. Now, this first notice I gave, when I talked about that other division between acquired humility and supernatural humility, this first one is already supernatural humility, or spiritual or infused humility. Because you can't get to that point by your own efforts. Why? Because, look, it's beyond reason, in some way. It's beyond... You can think all you want, but you can't get to that point. When you get finished thinking, you'll say, well, yes, so-and-so is better than me, in this way, but I'm better than him in four other ways, besides. And then I'm better than all these other guys, too. So, with your mind unassisted, you can't get further than that. So this already comes through grace.


And the second one is to attribute to God all virtuous actions. Now, these things are too literally put, in a sense. Here we get into that point again where he's putting things out very clearly in words. Because they're much more mysterious and elusive, I think, in our minds, these dimensions of God. And also, I think, they tend to be very much related. So if a person has that sense of being lower than all, he's also got a sense of the virtuity of God, and that nothing, no good comes from himself. About the critique of all this, we don't need to go into it now, because we'll come back to it a little bit later. So, of course, we can have all kinds of questions that we ask about this. Then he gives that beautiful image of the tree. And notice that his emphasis is on a commandment. The second kind is to attribute to God all virtue. This is the perfect humility of the saints that's generated naturally in the soul by the performance of the commandment. Just like a tree bearing much fruit.


And this image of the tree is a beautiful one because it fits right into the scriptural picture, in a way. We hear about the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus talks about the tree that needs to be cultivated and fertilized, and so on. He often uses that image, it seems to me. In fact, it's a very frequent scriptural image. In some way, the tree corresponds to the nature of that, in some way. We are a tree. We are to bear fruit. And this business of the commandments. Remember, the commandments are not the Ten Commandments, and not the Old Testament. The commandments are the commandments of the Lord. Basically, the two commandments of love. But really, the whole Gospel. In other words, he's talking about the teaching of Jesus. He's talking about the Word. By doing the Word, the tree bears fruit. Not really. That's a, what would you call it, a continual word that's used by the spiritual writers. And what they mean is all the commandments of the Lord.


But the real emphasis, if you read them, when they get down to talking about what they mean, the real emphasis is on the commandments of Jesus. The teachings of the Gospel. I don't remember. I'd have to see a particular practitioner. Can you tell me a particular practitioner? Yes, please. No, St. Paul's talking about the Ten Commandments at a certain point. Remember where he says all the commandments are summed up in this. Don't do any harm to your brethren, love your brethren as yourself. He's talking about the Ten Commandments, and he's doing precisely this transposition from the multiplicity of the Old Commandments to the simplicity of the New Commandments. He's doing exactly that. He's passing, taking that step at that point. But then later writers will talk about the commandments of the commandments. More often the commandments, when you read the Eastern monks, in the sense of the commandments of the Gospel. Already having made that step, it's been closed.


That's right. In other words, it's all been simplified and boiled down. Just like a tree bearing much fruit. It's the fruit that bends the branches and lowers them down. And when there's no fruit, the branches point upwards and grow straight. Now this is an interesting thing, because it goes backwards and forwards. It's the fruit that bends the branches down. But then he says, well, there are some trees that grow straight up. But when they grow straight up, they don't bear any fruit. So you bend the branches down to make them bear fruit. So somehow the process is reversible. If stones are hung on the branches to bend them down, they begin to bear fruit. So it is with the soul. But when it's humbled, it begins to bear fruit. And the more fruit it bears, the lower it becomes. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. And maybe you write like that stones are hung. There's a negativity in that too, which might bother some people. Notice that image of the tree with the branches that shoot straight up.


The branches that go straight up. And then think of the ego. Think of the way that we tend to grow unless something else comes in and changes our direction. We tend to go straight up. We tend to self-exaltation. It's like the ego shooting its suckers, its branches, up right into that heaven. That's the way we tend to go. Something has to bend those branches down. Okay, then he starts telling stories. And what he's illustrating with these stories is a principle that the closer you get to God, the more you'll see for yourself as a sinner. There are a lot of them in the sayings of the fathers to that effect. And not only the father, but this is throughout spirituality. Partly it's because the biographers like to collect them. So they'll be sure to get that, you know, and put it in the biography.


Because it becomes so traditional. You have a little trouble with St. Anthony or somebody when he says, I don't fear God anymore, I love him. That's why I'm better than you. He said that to, who was it he said? He said it to another one, who may be misquoted, I don't know. But he had evidently reached that super stratosphere. You know, you're so humble that you don't even have to be humble anymore. I forget who it was he said that to. It was another very virtuous father. These were the two great ones, and they met one another. Uh-oh, here we go. So he tells the story of... The stories often have this thing of the person who can't understand how the saint can be calling himself a saint. He did the same thing with his opus. But here it's the Great Light of Gaza.


The Great Light of Gaza is not a monk. He's a businessman. An honored man in the city. And so it's a comparative matter there. In the sight of God and the dust. Matta was, in the sayings of the fathers, a couple of beautiful sayings. One, you've read his reports. One is that when I was young I thought I was going to do something good, but now that I'm older I see that I'm never doing anything good. It's marvelous that they were able to say that. Because he was, I mean, he was a good monk. He was one of the best. But somehow that kind of perception, that saying, liberates us from a whole way of operating, from a whole kind of false expectation. Because we're continually interior, trying to climb on top of something so as to be able to get to the point where we say, I've done something, I've done something, I've done something. That saying sort of cuts right through that


to the perfect point of detachment from any sense of achieving in the future. In other words, if it's like saying, I'm never going to have the satisfaction of believing that I've done something, so why don't I forget it right now? Which is liberating. And at the same time, the point is, at the same time you go ahead, at the same time, the person puts all those efforts. But he does it with that lack of gravitation of having cut off from his own living, from his own striving. I think they'd say, fine, if you can do it. But they would say that you can't do that and still grow, and still go ahead, because you've got to keep your ego full of gasoline in order to move. In other words, you have to look forward to the satisfaction of achieving. So you can only do that when you have a certain grace. Yes. Oh sure, you can't be competing in a competitive world


and arrive at that point, right? You can't, because it trains you on another direction. You have to pull out of competition. Sure, sure. It's the basis of their lives. Yeah, that's right. Or this year I'm worse than last year. Okay. Do you see the humility of the saints and how their hearts were set on it? Now here he gets to another point. He's subtle because he moves from one point to another without letting you know. This fact that the saints would spurn honor and things like that, now that has become so much of a trope. It's become so banal because we've heard it so many times that we're tired of it. Nonetheless, if you find it quickened, if you find it living, and find the nerve of this contempt for honor,


get behind the platitude, it's worth it. There was Abba Pambo, remember, who said, don't glorify me in this life, I'm showing my descent. Physically. They take flight from human glory, lest they be stained by it. Jesus says, you who receive the glory of heaven, from one another, how can you receive the glory that comes from God? It's as if you have to have an appetite for glory in life. It's sort of an obscene thought. But really it's a question of what direction you're looking. If you look in one direction, you can't be looking in the other. Those who desire that kind of glory are like the naked man who always wishes to find a few rags, anything at all to cover his shame. There's a thing here. What's wrong with covering yourself with a few rags? Most people dress in order to cover themselves. There must be a point then when one doesn't need to cover oneself, to conceal oneself. It must be that there's a point at which there's a kind of honor


which in some way belongs to us, so we don't have to superimpose an honor that doesn't belong to us. Instead of this time of falsity, when we have to cover ourselves to hide our shame, there must be a time of truth in which we can simply be what we are or be what is given to us without striving after an extra layer and still be honorable. So it's a matter of moving from falsehood to truth, moving from a kind of self-created or self-sought glory to the glory that comes from God, the glory that comes from the Father, the glory that comes from my beloved Son, that's all the glory that we can ask for. It doesn't come from us. And what's more, we don't sort of... It's a whole different dynamic looking in that direction from looking towards the other people. Why? Because it's a matter of faith in something. Who do I believe in? What glory do I believe in? Do I believe in the stuff in the world, or do I believe in what comes from God? That seems to be a critical choice.


What kind of glory, what kind of fulfillment am I hoping for? That which only comes from God, which is on His level, or that which comes from the world? That's a very good point. To see it so that it's kind of a walk on the edge there. Truly, I'm afraid it is. Very good. Yeah. ...


Okay. Yes. ... Okay. That's true. ... Although he could. ... Why? ... And still... What did you say? Finally. And still...


... Yes. ... That's right. Which is what Jesus did. ... And then sometimes you grow up like this. ... That's what gets it out of the category of any other form of human acquisition or power. Because human power comes up and stays up as long as it can. The only thing that brings it down is death. And this is death. There's death which has been gone through early in anticipation. Death itself. Somehow the person has already died. He's already accepted death.


And so he's able to live without that gravity. Not without the gravity itself, but ego. ... Yes. I was going to say something about that. I don't know for sure. Because on one level Jesus had powers that he could have done. On another level, he only did what he knew was the Father's will at every particular moment. He wouldn't step outside of the Father's will. Take the situation in the desert. For instance, when he was tempted in the desert, he was tempted to use his powers in some way. Now, did those powers really exist? Could he have cast himself from the pinnacle of the temple of hell and been picked up without harm as a demonstration?


I don't know. It was outside the Father's will, that's for sure. And regarding the saints too. Sometimes there are those powers, and powers of healing probably, that they have and they deliberately don't exert them. And that bothers us a little bit, because why do you heal? On the other hand, sometimes I think they see it's outside the Lord's will. To use powers, except when somehow they're sure that God wants it. When they're sure that it's the impulse of the Holy Spirit. These powers... I don't know to what extent those powers are consistent, for one thing, in a sense. How they can do a miracle whenever they want to. Or is it sometimes just that they see God wants that miracle to be done through them. This comes up in healing. I'm not sure. It's in the non-interstitialism of how effective the body is on healing. In other words, it's religiously detached.


That's right. That's exactly detachment. In other words, it's not their thing. Sure. Yes. That's right. You can go either way. There's a choice there, because there's always a... What would you call it? There's a realm in which you can use something for your own gratification. You seem to don't. The people who ought to be, they do. That's what the road forks at that point. Because you get the people who are... The people who are performing miracles and are going to be excluded from the kingdom. You know, the Gospels, it is that kind of thing. And there have been people who have performed miracles who have been on the wrong road.


And maybe God wanted the miracles performed. Anyway, we're getting into the complexities of bringing it back to God. In other words, it says he couldn't perform any miracles there because he didn't have much faith. It's logical. It's logical. Yes. Yes. One of the final steps before you kind of get over that big hurdle. I just think of some of these leaders now that people are going after, you know.


Right. All these people that... I mean, they have this... There's no doubt about it. They have some kind of power that they require. They're using it. And people are really open to that. They're real susceptible to it. They can hold it to that kind of fact. As David talks, the issue of spirituality. You know, the materiality. I'm just wondering how a person who's both bad and... If it's just from grace that he shuts away from that. I'm just wondering if you have a follow through to that. Unknown powers. Is the person's own willpower trying to deal with that sometimes? Or is he enjoying it? I can only talk about Christianity. In this tradition, it seems to me, the Holy Spirit really gives people an instinct to shy away from self-centered views of anything.


And you'll notice that the miracles that are done are almost all healing. They're things that have some very human... They're all part of salvation. No stunts. Hardly any. If there's a stunt, it's to verify the faith. Like Anthony of Padua, he'd do a stunt once in a while. But that would be because he was... Well, things come through the mail. There's this little booklet about Anthony of Padua. He had to prove the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. There was this rich, unbelieving merchant in the town. He said, all right, let's have a showdown. I'll starve my mule for a couple of days. And I'll hold a basket of wheat out there. We're going to do this in public squares where everybody can see it. You hold up the Blessed Sacrament. Let's see where it goes. Well, there's a stunt for you. So the mule walks up to St. Anthony holding a bunch of something. So there are things like that.


They turn to the glory of the individual. It's hard to make a rule. But there's a different quality, it seems to me, largely. That somehow the mercy of God or the truth of God and the glory of God leaps through these things in a way that it doesn't through those other stunts. Which somehow create an aura of glory around the individual. Which sometimes the individual just swallows up. Sometimes he just revels in it. And you just don't find that in the authentic sense of it. But sort of enjoying the aura of the marvels and sort of lavishing this stuff on you, you don't find it unless... You may find that like seraphim. Seraphim and Metophel up there, you know, when he sort of surrounds him with this aura of the Holy Spirit. But he does that through prayer, and then he attributes it immediately to God and casts it all out to the glory of God. There's a different quality. We've got to digress.


We're bound to finish this chapter. So he's talking now about the ineffable quality of this humility. First of all, how the saints just spurn him and glory. And then the fact that you can't understand this humility from the outside. You know it if you have it. And then he gives this good story of Zosim, I think, that was arguing with a sophist. And the sophist said, well, look here, you know. You're pretty good. You're an exemplary fellow. He said, oh, don't confuse me, I tell you. That's exactly how I feel. How can you call yourself a saint? I just know it, you see. And then Dorotheus goes on. Once again, he's got this kind of seal for reality that comes out, as it did in the story of the image of the seal. He's got this seal for the thing, which is kind of beautiful.


I said to him, if you tried to explain it, because the old man couldn't explain how he was, why he felt that way. So there he's talking about father decimal, like a specimen man, you know, before him. He said, father isn't like this, like philosophy or medicine. When a man is studying carefully and practicing a little by little and doing the work, he acquires a state of mind. Now, this seems obvious, but then there's a feel underneath it. It's the feel of it, you know. Probably to a sophist or a doctrinian, he's unable to say and does not know how to explain how little by little he was learning to that state of mind. The soul is already imperceptible. The same sort of thing is found in his original work. The work of fulfilling the commandments generates a state of ignorance. The process can't be explained in words. So, it's not about that thing at all. Contrary to what you would think, even from reading Dorotheus, when he says, well, he explains, you know, he articulates pride, you know, like this. And contrary to what you would believe, reading writers who say, well,


they give you the reasons why you should consider yourself lowly. The reasons of meditation, the reasons of knowing. Here he says, no, it's by doing. It's by the work. The word work is important because he brings it up later in the physical. It's the work of doing the commandments that leads us to ignorance. Now, here again we get the idea that something that pulls us all together, body and soul, is good. And also something that somehow is bigger than us. So, it's not a question of getting ourselves around something to do with our mind, but letting something get around us. We're dealing with something larger than us. So, it's a matter of entering into it as a whole, including the body. A matter of commitment, forward motion. It's this Semitic thing, once again, rather than the Greek thing of understanding, welcoming. When he heard this, Esmeralda described an embracement. He said, you've found the answer. That's what he said. That's selfless. That's what he said. But he also used to say that by doing certain things we


intend to cultivate ignorance. When a state of true ignorance is generated, no one can find an adequate description of it. But notice he says, by the work of fulfilling the commandments. So, it's not simply by doing humble things. It's doing the Lord's will. It's doing the word. It's doing the word that we receive as Spirit. It's not by focusing straight after humility. That's one of the problems. When we try to do something humble, it's usually kind of ridiculous, or at least very common. Now, the other thought. There's this beautiful thing up at the top of 101. Now he's getting to talking about how you get to humility. This is his final subject, his final aspect to reading. How do you acquire humility? What is it? The elderly find humility is a great and divine work. The road to humility is labor, bodily labor. While seeking to know oneself and put oneself below everyone else, and praying to God about everything. This is the road to humility.


But humility itself is something else. I forget who it is that writes about the sayings of the fathers. It says very often you either get two things or you get three things when you ask a question from one of the fathers. Sometimes you just get one. Sometimes you say, go home and sit in your cell. Sometimes he says two. If he says two, one's going to be for the body, and one's going to be for the soul. What is it? Evagrates used to say that a lean diet and lots of prayer will get you to heaven, or something like that. Well, here we've got three. There's one for the body, one for the mind, and one for the spirit. For the body, the whole organism participates in this quest for humility. The body is labor, bodily labor. For the mind, it's seeking to know oneself and put oneself above everybody else. And then to pray to God about everything for the spirit. And Dorotheus goes on to explain how prayer is a way to humility. All of these things are not only ways, but they're general. Especially because it's not only a way, but it's an expression.


Prayer is the expression of humility. It's the act of humility, in a sense. And precisely that humility that attributes whatever we have, not to ourselves, but to God. And here, of course, we come to one of those points where we can find the lack of humility that ordinarily we don't see. Ask ourselves to what extent we pray for what we need. But to what extent we pray, you know? Our life is suspended from prayer. To what extent we feel the need to ask God. Therefore, to what extent we look to Him for what we have, for what comes to us. Or to what extent we simply let the routine provide it, you know? What's expected is a matter of course, or know how to get it for ourselves, or whatever. And that's all a question of humility. Some people say, you know, well, petitionary prayer doesn't really have any meaning. There are all kinds of reasons for people saying that.


But one reason is that they're out of touch with this quality we're talking about. The humility which, on the other side of it, is a quality of faith. Yeah. And that's, you know, that's a tolerable attitude. If it's that way, if it's really that way. But the important thing is, if the person has a close contact with that, if there's a real living bond between him and God, then he doesn't have to ask for everything. But very often, it can be the other way. A person can be kind of indifferent about God, and not really thinking that God exists in the future. This is the state of much modern thinking now, isn't it? Miracles are a possibility for you, because you can be touched by God. So God doesn't intervene in the world. He lets it run by itself. He doesn't interrupt that beautiful integrity of the world by hustling in and messing up something to get God to think like that. He keeps it at a distance, because it operates for good and for bad.


I don't know about you, but I think it's the opposite. Yeah. It's de-escalation. It's like he winds it up like a clock, and it goes off. And you argue that, well, you really can't touch God. Certainly Jesus wasn't that one who touched God. Right. There are two poles there, sort of. There's the man who trusts in God, and therefore asks with desperation. And there's the child who feels very close to God, and therefore doesn't... And when Jesus said, well, don't worry about what you do with what you're going to make, your father knows even before you ask him. So he takes that as a solution. You move between those two. That's right. But he went out and prayed. So I don't know how to answer that one. Part of it is...


We've got two parties here. Part of it is the... Part of it is the way in which you look at the relationship between material things and spiritual things. If you say, well, I only want God, so all I want to do is pray to Him, and everything else will come to me. Because God is the kingdom of heaven. If I get close enough to Him, I have everything else. All right? That's a valid way to think, if it's in harmony with your content, with your surroundings. If it works, I would say, in a sense. Not just in practical sense, but in a spiritual sense. In other words, if you can go spiritually that way, well, OK. For some people it's wrong to get too concerned about asking for things all the time, simply because it makes them very nervous, and tense, and... I don't know. It makes their life a turbulent life. Well, you might ask for a practical thing, and if you didn't need it, you could say, God's a little person, and then you could pray for freedom from all darkness.


And that's asking God, but that's the relationship with God. The more we pray, it seems to me, the more the prayer tends to simplify, and somehow everything is implicit in prayer without its being articulated, OK? You see what I mean? So that the prayer itself is like a total open mouth towards God. It's like a big basket. It's empty. And holding itself before God for everything, you know? And within that everything, there's all the things that we need for our daily life. Yes. What I wasn't asking is that you should not ask for material things, but you could ask for anything. Yes, yes, I think so.


But I think that you have to allow for a lot of difference between different people in this regard. For some people, it's all going to be very, very simple. And they'll pray a lot, but everything is implicit in their prayer. They just open their mouth towards God, as it were. Other people, like St. Arnold says, like a child that doesn't know what it needs, other people are going to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to ask for things in particular, OK? And to, as it were, at each step, to ask the next step from the Lord, and that kind of thing. So people are led in different ways, I believe. And I think both ways are valid. The important thing is the intensity of the prayer. Is that the relationship with God be kept taught by that dependence, rather than kind of a confident, self-reliant independence that wears off. Yeah. And the prayer is really thought of as a lifeblood, or as life-breathing, you know? And then the way it's articulated is not so essential.


That's right. And of course, we have occasion to do that in our liturgy, in our common prayer. It should be also in our hearts. But there is this principle that the more prayer there is... Well, some people, like Dorothy Day, she probably prays for a hundred people every day, you know, in all her life, until the age of eighty, something like that. Ordinarily, or very often in a contemplative life, maybe the contemplative life is part of it, depends on how your life is made up to, how much it's simple, or how much it's complexified in the world. And you get involved with other single situations and single people. But for the contemplative person, I think, or a person in a contemplative setting, the more the prayer tends, the more there is, the more it tends to simplify, to become one thing. Sure, and that's good, but those intentions become implicit after a while. You can think of the prayer as being inside you somewhere, and you try to get close to God, and you're breaking your intention close to God. Now, he returns to the question,


why physical labor induces it. It's funny, it's just as if it were transcribed from a talk. You put that little thing about physical labor, and he forgets it, and his argument comes back. This would take a moment. Dorothy has tape. Why physical labor does it. And you know, just like the thing he said before about the commandments, you can't really say, it just happens. But here he tries to, he theorizes about it a bit. Because the soul, having fallen away from the commandments into disobedience, as he fell into the Word, was delivered, as St. Gregory says, that's, there he has the answer, to love of pleasure and to the independence that fosters earth. So he comes to love the satisfaction of the body. So it's moved from the spirit towards the flesh. It's as if the soul is standing between the Word and the flesh. And as it turns away from the Word, through disobedience, it turns towards the flesh. The same thing you find that's important,


from the spirit to the flesh. Now the flesh is not just the body. You find this in Genesis. As soon as man sins, remember the curse involves labor. Labor, labor. And it's bodily labor in both cases. Bodily labor for the woman who has to bring forth children. The word is interesting. Labor for the birth pains. And bodily labor for the man who has to get his brick from the ground. The scattered weeds and herbs on the ground. So labor is the way back from sin. And the thing that works is the body, actually. The spirit doesn't feel fatigued, I don't think. The soul feels fatigued because of its connection with the body, probably. So, work in the body. And so we become less fleshly, less carnal. We don't become less bodily, but we become less carnal. That is, less enslaved to the flesh by bodily labor. We get free from the body by bodily labor.


Now what do I mean by free by the body? We don't become detached souls, in the Platonic sense. We don't split the soul from the body, but we change the order, right? Because in our unfortunate state often, the body is king. The body rules the soul. We know that by that experience. The body rules the soul and the spirit. It confines the spirit. So the problem is to get the order turned around. So that the soul, the spirit, is able to master its own health. Now bodily work. They've already done 20 or 30 years of bodily work. That's... The real hermits, some of them do. Not very many. Those are the most peculiar hermits of all. It's different in different traditions. Some of the Eastern hermits would do prostrations. For instance, Paisios was a hermit and his thumbs were octagonal from his prostration.


He was going down toward God. Like an old principal, he was going to prostrations. But there are other traditions in which there isn't much work at all of that kind. Our fathers, St. Peter Janian and the others of Fontavillano, were black themselves. With sticks and things like that. They didn't do a whole lot of manual labor in the sense of productive work. They did a lot of physical penance. Things that really surprised and disconcerned everyone. No, I mean, things that cost effort and discipline. They had to do it for a long time. You mean in their solitary life? Yeah, they did, sure. Sure. You've got to remember also that the hermits are very fast in their tradition. And therefore, the more they fast, the less they can do their heavy bodily work. Bodily labor was done very often in the Orthodox tradition, in the Eastern tradition, in prostrations, dead in reflections, and similar things.


Like, even fasting is taken as a bodily labor, okay? Because it afflicts the body. You see what I mean? Labor for us, work for us, is exertion, you know, it's muscle stuff. But for them, it's anything that humbles the body, that wears the body. In the Christian tradition, it was done the wrong way. Well, in the synodium, that's the way it is, right? The cenobitical practices have been very, often, very heavy on work. I remember it in our outfit. But it depends on the community. It depends on if you have a small group of monks and a big monastery, it's probably going to come out better. And I'm not sure that that's always the way, in theory, it is. They say that it is, but it's not put down very clearly. In the synodium, the portion was plenty of it. I think it was. And sometimes the theory that was in the practice, I think it was in the synodium. There's one thing I want to read you from. Deuteronomy, Chapter 8. This is the way of the Israelites in the desert. Remember, Deuteronomy is after the Jews had just finished their 40 years in the desert.


And you shall remember all the way, and Moses is talking to them. This is the way it's set up. You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these 40 years of the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart. Now, this whole thing, this whole trip to the desert was bodily work, in a sense. Even though they weren't making anything, but bodily affliction. And this is what the fathers are talking about. Whether you would keep his commandments or not. Once again, the commandments, it's the same story. Remember, the desert in the monastic center. He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna which you did not know. Nor did your fathers know that he might make you know that man does not live by blood alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. This idea of humbling the soul by humbling the body, humbling the heart by humbling the body, humbling the body by affliction, by the affliction of not being able to walk through the desert for a long time.


But also by hunger. All these things are the bodily work. And the effect of the body on the soul. The disposition to the healthy person, and one thing, another, the sickly person, another, the hungry person. Notice what he's saying there, because it's not explicit. What is he trying to get to? He says the state of your body conditions the state of your soul. Where you are in a physical way, or what you're doing, or how you dress, affects the attitude of your heart. Let work humble the body, and when the body is humbled, the soul will be humbled with it. So there is truth, so there is bodily work. And he tells the story of the raggage. I've never heard that word, raggage, before. It sounds like a carriage. No, this is another instrument. For another reason.


Okay, next time maybe we can ask a few questions about this subject, and try to arrive at a few objections to it, because a lot of these are going to be unconscious, and we'll try to arrive at a more or less satisfactory view of it before we pass on to the next discourse. About conscience. And meanwhile you can read that one. If you have some questions about this subject, it might be a good idea to note them down, and try to cover them next time. Perhaps we won't spend as long reviewing each conference as we do with this one, but this is a basic subject, and it's kind of a question of the validity of the whole of the monastic approach in which I can invoke. Okay.