January 21st, 1999, Serial No. 00144

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Rule of Benedict Novice Class # 2 - 1990s

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Let's take a look at Panikkar, at that adage of his. This was a symposium back east, I think around 1979, when Panikkar led the symposium, and then he did most of the writing for it, and then there were appendices in the back by other people, like Basil Plankton, I think, and it was largely a Cistercian thing, I think. Mother Miriam was the abbess of the Redwoods at that time. So Panikkar is taking a point of view which is different from the point of view of Considered Call, and yet it's contemplated by Considered Call, and it says that you could do this by looking at monasticism either as a universal phenomenon or as a Christian phenomenon within


the Church. So Panikkar is taking it from that universal point of view, but his universal point of view is pretty specific, after all, but he's looking at it as a universal phenomenon, and as corresponding to some kind of archetype in the individual, in the individual person. He's got a theory, which is a little bit subtle here, isn't it, the way he talks about perfection and the humanum, and human perfection, and how the monastic archetype fits into that. And particularly because Panikkar is a somewhat, what do you call it, a somewhat swift writer. He's a little elusive, and he's both allusive and elusive in the sense that he kind of moves around corners and is led sometimes by alliteration, by the sound of words, by the other words that he knows from a hundred other languages, and so on. So to pin down exactly what he's saying is sometimes a little bit of work. But here he's saying something very solid.


His idea of the center as the key to understanding monasticism is a real enlightenment for me. What had been leading to that before for me was the notion of the heart, and purity of heart was the goal of monasticism. A Benedictine monk, a young Benedictine monk, had put me onto a series of articles by a Benedictine nun called, Benedicta Roche was her name, R-A-A-S-C-H. She died young, and she wrote a series of articles on purity of heart in monastic tradition, trying to, what do you call it, nail down that axis, as it were, as a center of monastic tradition. And I think in monastic life, if you have a curious mind, you're likely to be looking for a handle for understanding, understanding the whole thing. Where's the center, the central concept? Well, for me, that was the central concept. First of all, purity of heart, then the heart, the biblical heart. For instance, looking through the theology of heart in the Old Testament and the New Testament,


and the way the New Testament is a breakthrough, particularly in the coming of the Holy Spirit into the heart to create a new heart. Now, all of this relates to monasticism because monasticism is about interiority, I think. Among the various traditions of Christianity, the one which is most related to interiority were to, let's say, the heart and coming from inside, living from the interior would be monasticism. That corresponds to what Pentecost says about monasticism as a search for the center. So, if Cassian defines, through Abba Moses, defines monasticism, the goal of monasticism is purity of heart, that resonates directly with what Pentecost is saying. But notice that it's from a biblical perspective. Purity of heart itself is a biblical term, isn't it? It comes from the Seminal, it comes from the Adjectives. Blessed are the pure in heart. For they shall see God, so it's connected to the vision of God. And the heart itself is really a central biblical term. Sometimes it's worth just finding the key places in the Old and New Testament where the word is used.


Especially in the Shema and Deuteronomy, and then much later in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Remember those two prophetic passages, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, about the new heart? The old covenant, the new covenant, the stony heart of stone, the heart of flesh. I'll put my spirit within you, okay, and give you a new heart. So the new heart is constituted by the gift of the spirit. So it's right at the core of monasticism, of Christianity. Think also of John's Gospel. Jesus on the cross, his side pierced, remember, by the spirit, blood and water coming out. And then his promise that, whoever believes in me, the Holy Spirit will become the spring of living water, leaping up for them, and that's in chapter 7, okay? And then again in chapter 4, the Samaritan woman. So the connection between the heart of Christ, as it were, pierced, it's a mollic connection, and the human heart opened, and the spirit poured into it. And then in Paul, where he says the spirit is poured out,


where the love of God is poured out into our hearts, and the spirit has been given to us. That makes up the word. And the heart is also the seat of wickedness as well. Yep, that's right. Jesus really, really clarifies that. Yep. From out of the heart. That's right. We see all these things. That's right. Then how do we, what do we do to direct, or as far as we can, to direct what comes out of the heart? How do we, and then in that section, I think, of the gospel, there's a lot of stress on the word of God. And how the word of God maybe can somehow put something into the heart that will make what comes out of the heart good. Yeah, that's, what exactly, one thing that goes into the heart is the spirit, of course, but that's the baptismal gift. Another thing is the word of God and the bread of life, as it were, which is Christ.


And then there's a potential in that. See, when Jesus says that out of the heart come evil thoughts and wickedness, he doesn't say a single positive thing at that point, does he? But out of the heart also must come all of the positive, which is implicit there, it seems to me. Somebody made a startling interpretation of that when they said that that's the point at which the whole of human history turns over. Because what is real is now coming out of the heart, coming out of the person rather than going into the person. The human person is no longer a pupil, a student, a mere suckling, as it were, at the breast of the cosmos or of the world, but rather is bringing forth something new into the world from within the creature, from within the heart. And I think that's true. So that point of interiorization and of something coming out of the heart, actually, there's a creative side to that, which you can connect to the new creation.


There's an interesting, since we just finished Revelation, you start applying those symbols to your interior life and seeing the temple within, which Paul also talks about in those letters, but also the rivers flowing out from the center. The altar and the lamp, it's all interior as well. It's like an interiorization of the exterior cosmos. Yes. And the symbols of the center there, like Jerusalem and the temple, pertain directly to the center that we're talking about, to the heart. The finality is, I see what you call struggles, because the finality is sort of the same thing, whether you go with the new Buddhist or Hindu tradition on the West, but the process is different. It seems to be in the Eastern, it's discovering the sacred self within, or to put it in modern theology, in Christian terms, it would be discovering your original goodness of creation or something like that.


But the Christian, at least in the first century, seemed to be emphasizing the exteriorization of the language, the spirit coming from without to within. And I don't really see a parallel to that. I think they're two different moments. Two different languages? Two different languages, but I think there's a logical connection between the two in this sense. It may sound very, what you call it, chauvinistic, but I think that when Christ comes, something new happens in the world. So that the really deep pre-Christian spiritualities are going back towards the beginning. They're going back towards the ontological beginning, that is the ground of being within you, which Panakarta calls the center. When Jesus comes, the Holy Spirit comes into the world, moving towards the end. It's turned over at that point. The pivot has happened in the Christ event, so that history now is tilted towards its end, and spirituality itself for the Christian is tilted toward the end, no longer back towards the beginning. So there's a different modality in Christian spirituality,


which does tend to move outward, so that for us, where we are now, the first movement is to rediscover our center, or the source, which is to go east. The second movement is to come out in the energy of that, and be part of a new creation. And that's the Western genius. But the two have to be brought together. See, the discovery of the east, and the discovery of what you call contemplation of non-dual reality, the language of which the reality has been there. That's the first movement. Did you see a little bit of John's Gospel? The Kingdom of God is within you, and rivers of water. That's the most Eastern of the Gospels. Yeah. So, I'm tending to think it's more of a linguistic thing, a cultural thing, and the process is very similar to the same. Well, people have built... Psychological processes. People have built the same way in East or West. We've got the same structure. I mean, just like a car, wherever it comes from, basically it's got the same elements if it's from Japan or if it's from Detroit.


And so are we, okay? In other words, our organism has to work in the same way. So spirituality, to that extent, has to be the same somewhere. Especially if we're moving towards the interior. However, I think this new dynamism has really come into the world, so that we are on a different stream. The stream is flowing in the same direction. Everybody is flowing in that direction. It can't help, but the spirituality may be looking backwards even while they're being carried forward. That's what happens in Asia. They're being carried forward by the stream of history, but meanwhile the spirituality keeps on facing backwards, not as in Buddhism, Hinduism, except for somebody like Aurobindo, who begins to see a forward progression in history. And theology has been so much dependent on language, at least in the West, in the analytical forms. It's so highly structured and tight that there's almost no room for the mystery. This has been breaking out of that, more of a sapiential idea. There's room there then to dialogue with the East.


Theology tightened up during the Reformation. Any kind of openness became almost impossible. Any kind of general or unitive view, universal or cosmic. We're just recovering from it. Let's see what Raimundo has to say here. So his idea of the monk, he starts out by saying, the monk is the renunciant according to him. That's classical in the history of the West. That's on page 10. I've got mine highlighted. He sacrifices everything else for the sake of the goal in life. The unspecified goal is at that point. There's something to that, the idea that exclusivity, and first of all, I guess marriage, first of all, the alternative way of life, which St. Paul relates to the world anyway, he says. But that binds you to the world in some way.


What binds you to the world? Marriage. He says if you're a single, you think about God. I think it's 1 Corinthians 7. If you have a wife, you have to please the wife, and therefore you in some way have to turn towards the world. I forget exactly how he puts it. I've got this question, does this radicality seem to apply to some kinds of monasticism more than others? I think it does, like in our tradition. It tends to be the solitary kind of life that expresses the exclusiveness more, whereas the community begins to resemble the church in some way, and the exclusiveness is sacrificed to other values. It's like you move from John the Baptist back into the wedding feast of Cana, or something like that. Well, look, I haven't spent enough time with the draftists


to know exactly what it's like on the interior of their life, but it seems like they're trying to manifest, as much as they can, this intensity of the single and unique goal, and at the same time, Christian love, Christian community. Yeah, that's right. In fact, up until the Vatican, too, the draftists' life for several centuries was, they thought of themselves as hermits together, almost. They were so focused on interiority, it seems. With that, I have to say something else, though. I mean, if you said that to Merton, he would have said, nonsense, the draftists are all exteriorized because they're making cheese, or they're into work, and so on, or exterior pants, and stuff like that. So it's not entirely true that there's a strong, the best of draftists' spirituality, a lot of it did have that interiority about it.


And the sense of being together, people are never talking. What a paradox, isn't it? Not having a room of your own, not having any space of your own, and never speaking. There's a terrific tension in that. There's a tension of trying to be hermits together. It's from the trapezoid form, the form of Thay-Lan Tsay, rather than the original Cistercian tradition. Do you think, on the sentence that the monk is radical exclusive in this quest, do you think Boyer had a little trouble with that? Well, I'm not sure he would. Boyer might buy that. He would say, yes, the monk is seeking God, and is radically exclusive in that, and that's what... I was speaking of it anyways, that Boyer would tend to say that everything in a monk is really just reflective of the average Christian. It's called in life, you know, called holiness, called a detachment. I was picking a lot of that up from him.


Yeah, maybe. It's hard to define a monk, at least with Boyer's language. Yeah. The thing I remember about Boyer is that he was seeking, a personal seeking for a personal God. Panakar would not use that language, except for him, maybe, because he was a Christian. The exclusiveness, I'm not sure. Good for you. Okay, his thesis up on 11. The monk is the expression of an archetype which is the constitutive dimension of human life. In simple language, that is, there's a monastic thing in everybody somewhere, and that it's essential to their humanity. That's an important insight. So notice how he kind of blows out the walls in the direction of universality in two ways. First of all, monasticism, not purely Christian, not purely Western, but is universal in developed cultures, I suppose you'd say. Secondly, it's universal in the sense of being


potential in every human being, because every human being has the essential organ of monasticism. That wants, needs, and shines institutionalization. Now, he's going to come back to that later. He's going to develop that now. He does a lot of eliminations here at that point, and it was rather difficult for me to follow those eliminations and see exactly what he's rejecting, exactly what he's proposing. When he says it's not this, it's not that. Not by a process of thinking about death, or desiring God in imperfection. An urge, the fruit of an experience. So, urge, aspiration, and experience are the words that he likes. Desire, or some kind of other terms he rejects. Or thought. And then up on the top of 12,


he says it no more clearly. The monk is compelled, as it were, by an experience that can only articulate itself in the praxis of one's life. The experience of the goal of life when one had its absence on the earth, like paradise in the desert at once. In fact, it's like the experience of the goal of life sends somebody out into the desert where its absence is more accented. Like John Baptiste. It's almost like his use of the idea of the urge there, rather than the same desire, certainly in our thought, it's almost as if he's extending the continuum that an urge is something that's both in us primordially, deep, deep, deep, deep down, and also so far ahead of us


that it's somehow trying to unite what's behind us and deep within us with what's ahead of us and what we're drawn to. In a way, a desire is... Even some passionate desires can have much less of a range, much more... If a desire at a certain point becomes unspeakable like an urge, then it might fade away if the object of the desire has gone for too long. But this kind of deep urge that he's talking about is much more than there, even when the visible sign most certainly not. It doesn't seem to be dependent on an object at all. In some way, it almost seems to be identical with its goal. But that's taking another theological step beyond what he says. Okay, an ontological aspiration is another expression for it.


Then what good is a constitutive dimension of human life? Okay, it seems like he's been saying the same thing in three or four different ways, and it's a difficult thing to grasp, so it's justified. And then he goes on in his elimination procedure. The monk represents the highest type in the human scale. Let me ring a bell with you from a considerable quality introduction where he talks about what is monasticism, simply being a perfect Christian. I'd like to use that expression a little later on. And then he develops his theory of human perfection, which I find, sometimes I understand it, and sometimes it slips away from me, that there are many ways of achieving human perfection. There's no such thing as a perfect human being in a universal sense, which would make everybody else secondary, because everybody has to achieve that in their own way.


So you have to achieve your perfection in a personal way, and your human personal perfection is something that will not be exactly the same as anybody else's. Now, this holds also for different ways of life. Let's say the artist, or the mother, might have human perfection in their own order, which is quite different but equal to the perfection of the monk, or something like that. The humanum is the core of humanity that can be realized in as many fashions as there are human beings. Each human being has to conquer the humanum in a personal and unique manner. And then religion is about showing people how to do this, giving them the means to achieve that perfection, that perfection of the humanum, fullness. Perfection is a word that is not too attractive to take usually, but fullness, or actualization, or realization, or whatever. Jesus' words on the rich young man


kind of goes along with his very first statement, the ultimate goal of renouncing all. Yep, exactly. It's all I can have and give you for it. That's the issue. That's right. But his idea of the perfect man, maybe that's what he's thinking. Yep. If you want to be perfect, there's another way. That's what Jesus says, isn't it? Choose. Yeah. If you want to be perfect, go, so you have the components that correspond to it. So Jesus makes a demand equivalent to the demand that Panikkar is attributing to Manassi, doesn't he? And yet the demand that he makes can't be totally equated with Manassi, because it's made to people who don't become monks. The disciples were not monks exactly, but it's very interesting that the two sound almost completely the same. The absoluteness of them is equivalent. Poet, the intellectual, the craftsman, the man of action,


all expressed it in facets of it. Presumably the woman. Then the ideal of the supernatural, or the higher level. The thing you have to get beyond nature in order to achieve this perfection of the humanum. That's the transcendent, isn't it? Characterizes the homo religiosus. Now here, I don't find his thinking easy to follow completely, especially where he says in the middle of page 14, the monk is neither the homo, that is the man, on his way to the humanum, nor the homo religiosus in his search for the superhumanum or supernatural. Well, he's neither simply or only or just that he's something else too. I think he's rejecting the idea of the supernatural actually. Because the supernatural I consider to be a dualistic idea.


And it's a tricky idea, the supernatural. Because we believe in Christianity, for instance, that God transforms nature, that perfection is a transformation of nature rather than a simple surpassing of nature. But a lot of our spiritual literature has sounded, our theology has sounded, as if it were simply built on top of nature, as a superior story, superior to nature rather than a transformation of nature. So there's a tricky borderline in there. The Christian idea of divinization would say that what happens is that, as in the Eucharist, your humanity is transformed without ceasing to be itself. So that nature itself is elevated rather than something being introduced above nature. You could speak of that elevated nature as the supernatural, but at that point the word seems a little artificial. But the word is useful. For instance, in the contemplative life, to speak of supernatural contemplation


or something like that has a meaning. And until you have a better word, it's useful. Or to speak of grace as being supernatural, that's certainly accurate. Grace is precisely the supernatural. I think a good theologian like Rahner will refine the term well enough so that it really works. The thing to avoid is a kind of putting down of nature and building of something over it, rather than the elevation of nature by grace. Monkhood Monkhood corresponds to one dimension of the Srimanamsa, every human being. Monkhood is a dimension that has to be integrated with other dimensions in order to fulfill the Amadam. There's a little bit of tension that appears in this thought, which is that monkhood is only one dimension and yet it relates to the center.


As soon as you use the word center, you've given a priority, haven't you? In some way, there's only one center. Whereas there are many other dimensions. You have the image of the wheel, the image of the circle, which has a center, but it's only got one center. So if you call the center one dimension of the plurality, it's certainly a unique dimension, it's the dimension in a certain sense. It takes a kind of divine priority by virtue of being centered. So there's a tension in there of some kind, isn't there? Which he doesn't completely resolve. Yes, it almost sounds like it's an unequal status then with, say, your social self or your psychological self, or your physical self, mostly. But his own metaphor has denied that. As soon as he said center, he denied the two. I don't know how to put the two together. And in the beginning, when he said the one goal of life, he related that to monasticism.


That's not just one dimension of life, is it? So there's a tension in the thought. Of course, that tension is in the actuality of monasticism, which is one way of life, and yet attaches itself to the essence of the core or the goal in a unique way. If you somehow isolate the center and say that's one of the many dimensions, that would be a way to do it. We think of dimensions as spokes moving out from the center or something like that, if you have the image of the circle. Okay, let's see. Then he talks about the monastic archetype of impulse and institution. And there's an interesting thought there that if you take something which is one dimension, even the primary dimension, and build an institution from it so that the totality of the institution and of life is organized towards that one function,


you're in danger of mutilating humanity or the humanum by suppressing other things that are essential to human life. I guess you see the equivalent in lots of ways of life. If somebody's a good violinist and he practices 23 hours a day and completely forgets relationship, completely forgets human personal growth or anything else like that, institutionalizes his life in function of his one gift. There's something very unsatisfactory about that, even if he becomes a marvelous violinist up to a certain point. You can do the same thing even with the best goal. Because we're filtering that through our head. When we make an institution, we make an organization, it's coming out of human design, isn't it? So it's not directly flowing like the new wineskin flowing out of a new wine. But it's a human structure, a human wineskin, a container constructed to further that thing from our understanding which tends to oversimplify things and therefore lose even essentials sometimes. So the danger of institutionalization is there.


Lack of integration, in a way. Yeah. The more integrated you are too, it's harder to find the dimensions. Yeah. Because dimensions like... I like that. Say you're doing your work, if your spirituality is very involved with it as a prayer, then it's very integrated. It's hard to find. This is only your social obligatory self. Because it's more holistic to be involved. In some way it goes back to the human person, that the human person has to be able to live and breathe and realize itself in whatever the institution may be. The church, in that way... See, people can find the church very unsatisfactory in a way because it's so, what do you say, imprecise. A monk might say, well, that's just a great big fish pool, you know. Everything's going on there. I want something that's specialized and devoted single-mindedly to my purpose in life.


But there's a wisdom in that, what you call spaciousness and diversity of the church, that all of humanity somehow can find its way in there to express itself and actualize itself. I don't pretend to understand this to be able to make it simple because there is a concentration on a goal, there is a single-mindedness, and that should be expressed in an institution. But there's a tension between the humanity, or let's say the feminine dimension of the institution of organism, Panagrava would prefer the word organism for a monastery later on, and the forward-driving functionality of the institution. For instance, you might see a Trappist Abbey, which is totally silent and totally observant and so on, which is directed toward its goal, but people aren't fully human, you have the feeling they're not quite real. You might have a Benedictine monastery where people seem to have forgotten where they're going, and yet they're wonderful people. So somehow in between those two,


there's some kind of brightness in between the two, but not at either of those two extremes. And of course the rightness is not on the same level as the two extremes. The rightness is on a deeper level, coming from a deeper place through the intuitive balance that comes from that deeper center. Okay, I guess we're there. The quid pro quo on 15, that is the trade-off, as we say, that something which belongs to the human nature as one of its constitutive dimensions loses a good part of its force and its universality once it becomes a particular form of organized life. Now that's certainly true. Once again, inside that is the tension and the problem that this is not just one dimension. Okay, now he's finally getting down to his point here, what this is.


What is this monastic dimension of the humanum? He talks about oneness. Notice, before he gets to the metaphor of the center, he talks about oneness. The most traditional metaphor in both East and West, the center. Monkhood represents the search for the center at the bottom of 15, so that's the keystone or cornerstone of his whole vision. Now what are the associations of that notion of center? Well, he's just said, talked about the one, non-duality, is a key association of this, and that's an Eastern notion, in the Buddhist, in his background, of course, in what he knew as Vedanta, in the Parishads and so on. Somehow Benedict's concept of obedience ties in with your concept of the heart being the center, and ties in with the center as sort of emptiness that he talks about.


All three things. Yeah. I think they really integrate. You could say that obedience is in function of an emptiness of will, or emptiness of self-determination, okay, which makes a space for God to come in, and the Holy Spirit to move in. It's interesting that, remember that the Christian notion of emptiness is in Philippians 2, where Jesus, though being in the form of God, emptied himself, remember? What's the word, kenosis? A kenosen, say or turn. He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, humbled himself, being obedient. Remember? It's close to what you're saying there. Being obedient even unto death. The emptiness and obedience are connected there. They had a Buddhist-Christian dialogue at the Parliament of Religions, I remember. The subject was, as I remember, Christian emptiness, or kenosis, I guess, and shunyata. Shunyata is the Buddhist notion of emptiness, and Christian kenosis.


The kenosis of Philippians 2, Paul, of Jesus on the cross. And the most effective presentation I saw was that of a sister who was an artist, a fairly mature Benedictine nun, who presented two pictures. I think she presented them once. No, she had handouts. The Buddha was one, and was it Christ on the cross? It was the other, something like that. And they're radically different pictures. So the emptiness in the two cases, we're talking about two different things, really, which communicate on the anthropological level in some way, in the emptying of the human person, the human heart, that there are resonances in the cross, in the crucifixion, which are just completely different from the other. All the implications of the crucifixion. It was very effective. I thought it was more effective in the papers than in the writings. Panikkar also didn't say much about love.


But I think it flows very closely to Paul's definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, as you read it. Probably Panikkar would say that love is that which flows naturally from the center, or something like that. You're right, he doesn't talk much about it. He's ahead of his time. He's an intellectual, and he's devoted to that point of non-duality in his thought. So love is not really central to his thought. I think it's more at the periphery. There's a primordial monastic dimension prior to the quality or qualification of being a Christian, Buddhist, and the like. What do you think of that? That's on the middle of page 16.


That was pretty... I haven't gotten to the bottom of it from his anthropological point of view, but certainly from a Christian point of view. Unless he's talking about a dialogue that's pre-existent, it's not there. Like one of the things I liked about Boyer, towards the end of his handout, he talked about the response to the call. It seems like Christian monasticism is essentially something like that. John the Baptist is called into the desert from his earliest days, and Jesus, he's both called and whacked, driven into the desert. And the desert fathers all go into the desert to respond to a call.


Antony, the word hits him in church. Everything is a call, a response to the word. Whereas this stuff here, that might be in some deep anthropological thing, but it seems like it's much more of a self-centered, navel-gazing type of thing, not using negative language, but it seems like it does not have that characteristic of responding to an individual call from God. I think what he's saying there is from a point of view of abstractionism, kind of philosophical point of view, you can say that, coming from that direction. But it's not actuality. It's not the order of human life. It's not the order of history. Nor is it the order of importance. It's more important to be a Christian than it is to be a monastic. It's more fundamental. In other words, that call, even if you're called, even if you had a call to monasticism, and it was from Christ,


and it was frustrating, yet the call itself, and your response to it in some way, that's the real finding. I haven't put that very well. No, I agree with you. It's not a satisfactory statement. The word prior just doesn't work for us in that sense. Because for us, the monastic vocation is a modality of the Christian call. Just as we say, in some ways, the monastic vocation is the living out of your baptism. It may sound a little artificial, but theologically it's true. So what he's saying, what do you call it, philosophically true and theologically false. It's true in an academic way. And there is, just thinking in almost crudely, not primordial terms, but in crudely


vibrant human terms, like sometimes people just want to be alone. Sometimes people just want to be by themselves, just want time to more actively cultivate their own integration. They're just drawn to time alone, in a healthy, introverted way. So there's something of that, that's kind of getting away from the primordial thing, that's kind of an afterthought, but it's a real afterthought in all human life. You just sometimes want your own space and privacy. There are people also who are drawn into solitude, even into monasteries by their personality type. They're extreme introverts. And sometimes they've been hurt by life. They see no other way in which they can exist. That can be interpreted as a vocation,


but it's kind of dangerous. Okay, now he's going to talk more about the center, and the eastern and western conceptions of the center. Now, in all of this, Benegar's got an eastern bias, and he's not a theologian, he's a philosopher, really. So we're going to continually have to recast his thinking, and yet his thinking is precious. The two centers, the eastern and the western, not geographical locations, anthropological categories. Each of us has an east and a west. Now it can be a lifetime occupation, a hobby, trying to figure out what that means. And it's important for us to do so, I believe. That this juncture in history, because east and west are encountering one another, and the two sides of ourselves are challenged both to emerge and to come to some kind of agreement with each other, the east and the west of ourselves. Now he talks, before he gets to that,


he talks about the center itself. And that long, key couple of paragraphs there is on page 17. It really tells you what he means, and it's in terms, really, of something like the bindu, the invisible, non-dual point at the center of reality. I believe that's a Vedantic term. Where's that at? Page 17, about the third big paragraph there. Finally, the center is in the center of our being. The image of the wheel and the spokes, so perfect for this description. Have you got 17? That's right. That paragraph that starts, firstly, the center is in the center of our being. Gotcha, gotcha. That idea of equidistance, you find something like that, of course, often in Christian literature. Gravitation is central stimuli.


See, this sounds like Christian definition of the heart, of the deep spiritual heart. He talks about that in his own East-West. For a long time, our Christian spirituality has been somewhat extroverted, but largely extroverted, and has sort of fled that center. It's been centripetal, okay? So, our encounter with the East, and somebody like Panica, recover that sense of interiority of the center, and then we have to find what it really means for us. For instance, the devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus, that's based in the New Testament. The trouble is, it exteriorizes the heart, so that the representation of the heart of Christ is not connected to your own heart sufficiently, because that image should then interiorize in some way, as it would in early Christian spirituality, so that what you see there somehow is immediately relating to and eliciting or actualizing what's in your own heart.


If it just remains out there, it's not nearly enough. Even though it be a powerful center of devotion, it's not faithful to the New Testament revelation. The center has no dimensions. Ultimately, it does not exist. It is void. Inasmuch as this is over, remaining over while the surface is over, it's absolute. You know, primarily in Christian language, sooner or later they'd say it's God. They'd say, what are you talking about? I'm talking about God. Remember they described God as a circle of circumferences nowhere in the center of the universe, especially inside the center of the human being. There's an interesting book called Finding Grace at the Center by Keating and a couple of others. It's a little book. It's been out for about 20 years. Some interesting articles about the center,


especially one by a Jesuit. From a pretty Christian point of view. Absolute. Absolute means unbound, untied. The center has no value in itself. It's a function of all the things for which it is a center. No thing. He's amazingly restrained in going on and on and on in that way about the center and not equating it with divinity, not equating it with God. He stays within the world of his metaphor and its various resonances. And then he says the Eastern center is preeminently imminent. Now, imminent means one. This is non-dualistic. It's unitive because you are one with the center or what is in the center is one with you. Imminence itself.


Now, there's an obvious sense of superiority when he's talking about the Eastern center in contrast to the Western center. And it's kind of quite blind spot. But... The imminent thing is really in the very core of that and he somehow identified with it without confusion. I think there are different ways of understanding it. The center for the Western world is transcendence. It's almost like he's... complaining about that division again between natural and supernatural or between creator and creation. That the monk is too otherworldly in some way. The Western monk, too much thinking about not imminence but that transcendent imminence. Or the kingdom of heaven may be up above in heaven or ahead in eschatology. But notice how he's opposing here


or here right now he's opposing dualism and non-dualism. Duality and non-duality. Because he practically equates that imminent center with non-duality. With unity. And that is the Eastern, the heart of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, I believe. He's equating the Western center with a duality which is expressed as ultimate difference. That's not true. He's losing the inner development of the Judeo-Christians in there. He's transcending the West in order to reach out to this beautiful East once again. It's not... It doesn't quite work. Would orthodox theology be both transcendent and... Orthodox theology, yeah. I think even Western theology is okay. But orthodox theology more because it keeps more of the sense of the center. The prayer of the heart, for instance, okay?


Read the counselor's words in the book... I think from a Christian perspective we have to go back to the New Testament and we have to go back to the New Testament and try to understand the... What would you call it? The interrelation of imminence and transcendence in the New Testament. And in Jesus himself and in the gift that he gives to us, okay? And it's like... See, Jesus himself has two relationships to God. One of them is identity. In John's Gospel he'll say, I am, okay? So he is divine. In the beginning it was a word and the word was with God and the word was God, okay? So one of his ways of being who he is and relating to God is simply by identity. The Father and I and the Father are one of them. The other way is like prayer and relationship is duality, okay? So Christianity is subtle in that sense that it contains both of those. What Panagar is doing is largely equating Christianity with the second one, cutting out the identity, the Johannine non-duality


and just talking about the dualistic relationship with prayer, which is also essential in Christianity. We've got it both. Yeah, almost. It's almost like that... I'm not sure about this, but it's almost as if you can see things like supernatural and natural as different in creator and creation, creator and creature as different, but then at moments or in some ways if you can also see them as non-dual, as unified, it's such a powerful way of then thinking about non-dualism being good because you're bringing to unity things that at one point felt just totally different. See, that's the drama of Christianity. That's why today our Christian tradition is alive and looks forward by virtue of that.


It's as if you start out with the duality and the whole drama, the whole spring in life of the thing is in the movement from duality to non-duality, about preserving the duality. It's like the relationship between man and woman, that the drama springs out of the achievement of union about an interaction of difference, of duality. That can't be overstated, I don't think. And therefore, see, there's an event in there. You move from duality, a postulate, a positive duality in the beginning of creator and creation of the law between them, saying, you don't come near divinity. The Old Testament. And then the drama, the spring of bringing the two together. It's like the wedding feast of Cain, where the wine is poured out and everybody's part of this wedding. The whole thing, the whole drama, the whole spring, the action, the dynamism, that's the movement of the Holy Spirit. And that's what gives Christianity its vibrancy. And that's why the Christ event is always alive,


as an event. So when the Church forgets that it's an event, then we're in trouble. And then we stay stuck in our duality, because, like institutionally, it intends to preserve duality. It has to. It has to have a structure in separation and difference and clarity. But continually from that, from that duality, it's arcing or flashing, this non-duality. Like the energy sparking between the two poles of the duality. And that's the vibrancy of Christianity. That's what you find in St. Paul. We're talking about the law is cast out and we're all one in Christ Jesus, and so on. He sets up those two poles, as the Old Testament does, and then the flash happens between them. And it's true in reality, too. It's not only in the Scriptures, but that's the way our life is. The non-duality is something that happens, something that's achieved, something that's given. That power in Paul's reign comes from it, as well as the power in the Gospel.


So, when you realize that, then the Vedanta and the non-duality of the Vedanta, which is timeless, seems flat and two-dimensional, or one-dimensional. It doesn't have body, and it doesn't have the pulsation. And it doesn't, for a Westerner, it just doesn't have the vibrancy of life. There's something missing there. So, we begin to discover what West means, in some way. That West has a profundity of its own, which is more subtle, and more difficult to grasp than the profundity of the East. Anyhow. So, he's continually kind of putting Eastern monasticism above Western monasticism, as he goes on here. And that's okay, in a way. I think we can absorb that blow. But also because monasticism is not the last word in the West. The last word is not the word of monasticism.


Monasticism can be anticipation of what the fullness is, but it's not itself the fullness. When he says, Christian monasticism is a way of life, in other words, you're on the road towards something ahead of you. Well, remember, consider your call, that first chapter where he says, Christian monasticism is fundamentally the celebration of something that's been given. So he's directly in contradiction with Panicard at that point, isn't he? Why? Panicard doesn't recognize the event that's happened in the world. Okay? He's not really aware here of the Christ event. He's flattening everything out on one plane. And if you flatten everything out onto one plane, then the East comes out as superior to the West. If you bring it back into its three dimensions with a historical event, then the meaning of the West and the power of the West comes out once again. Difficult as it may be to grasp, it's a lot easier to get a handle on the Eastern, non-duality than it is on the essence of the West. Whereas Hindu monasticism


is a way of life, in other words, life is already here, the fullness is already here and you're living it out. Well, that's exactly what consider your call says of Christian monasticism. He hasn't done enough theological homework here, really. There's just one of the sayings of the Desert Fathers where a guy shows up in the desert and it comes out that his main reason for being there is that he wants to wear a hood. He's attracted by the idea of having a hood. He says, get out of here. What happens after that, you don't know, but if he returns, it's with a deeper understanding. That could only be an attack at superficiality, but also, deeper levels down, it could be a recognition that the monastic way is not everything. It's a means to this union with Christ


and union with love, but it's not it. I think the monks themselves, just their openness to newness, that one of their stances of hospitality was constantly being ready to break the mold. Always hearing a new word would then change their life. It's not anything institutional for itself, but a way of completely getting rid of everything, getting oneself ready to be turned in whatever direction the spirit goes with the slightest course change or biggest. I think what we have to do in the end is find that, what would you call it, that wild horse that history is and that seems to be tearing monasticism apart. We have to find out what it is and find out if it's really Christ. That is, if the movement of history, which seems to move away from monasticism all the time,


is really the movement of the Holy Spirit at its core. And then, where is it going? And where is monasticism's permanent place in it? In other words, how does the monk participate in that forward movement that seems to be away from monasticism? I may seem to be moving a little bit away from the question, though. Because monasticism has a place in that forward movement. It's like you discover the East and you discover the West and you've got to go back and integrate the two by discovering what role the monk has in this new birth, this new creation, which is manifest largely in the West now. We're in the movement of history. See, that chapter we're going to deal with, Contemporary World, is almost exactly opposite to what Pentecost is talking about. Because it's all about change, isn't it? Now, the rest of his books, he sets up two things in his book, doesn't he? One is monasticism and the other is secularity. Simplicity and secularity, that's it, isn't it? Blessed simplicity and then secularity, which is the world with its complexity,


with its movement, particularly its centrifugal movement away from the center. So he, in a sense, is doing the same thing in his book, which you find in taking this and putting it alongside that first chapter you consider your call about the contemporary world and trying to mediate between the two or find our own place between the two. So on one side, you've got, see this, the associations of Panakore's notion of monasticism in the center are the perennial philosophy of P. Griffiths, which is centered in non-duality, okay? Centered in the Advaita or the non-dual, the one, or the Atman, which is the self at that non-dual level, one with Brahman, one with the Absolute. And everything


that goes with that, pure interiority, the return to the center, as Speed calls it in one of his books, a return to the beginning, the uncarved block, the sound of one hand clapping and all of that, and the original face before you were born, the whole movement back into the primordial one before any differentiation, okay? Now, that's only part of the story, and a lot of people believe, behave as if it were the whole of the story, but that's only the beginning. It's like going back to the father before the word is generated from the father, going back to the father, going back into the wilderness, into the desert, into the night before the dawn, before the sun comes up. But then after you get back there, is that the end or is that the beginning? I think it's only the beginning. And in a sense, the contemplative experience is only the beginning. The unitive experience is the beginning from which you come. That's what the New Testament says, because baptism is meant to be the fullness of that reality, the fullness of that gift or that experience.


And then you come from there and you live from there. So what Panikkar is saying is like point number one, but point number two is the movements of living out from there. And one relates especially to the East, and that's what he's very good at expressing. The other one is the movement of the West which doesn't understand itself and which always forgets the center when it moves away from it, loses its own East, loses its own Orient, and therefore its point of orientation. Oh, I get down here. John 21. Peter in John 21 for me represents the West, the Western Church. And the beloved disciple represents the East for me. It even resonates with what Panikkar is saying about the center. He's the one arrested on the bosom of Jesus, remember. John? Yeah, the beloved disciple in John's Gospel. Yeah, but Peter? Peter, when Jesus says follow me, okay, Peter has to move. So Peter's like the Western Church. Oh, I see. Because the East-West thing reproduces a thing with it,


itself within Christianity. Put away your sword, Peter. Put away your sword, Peter. Well, that's another... See, Peter's always really good. Beloved disciple wouldn't do that. He's still good. He's complaining. He's saying, he's still attacking on me. Yeah. He's got a lot of ears, though. Make a lot of people deaf. Yeah, the Eastern Christianity, see, is more on the Panikkar side and the side of the non-Christian East, whereas the Western Christianity inclines towards what he's calling the West. It polarizes within Christianity as well. And notice how the Eastern Christianity is much more monastic than Western. So we spent a whole time on this, but maybe it's worthwhile. Next time we can go on with that. First chapter, then the two and three. And we can sort of keep this in the back of our heads because for me it represents


what would you call it? An absolute point of comparison with Panikkar's thing at the center. I'm going to go into that in a minute, please. So we'll move into chapter two then next? Chapter one. We did the introduction, but we haven't done chapter one. Chapter one is a short one. I was surprised how short it is on a contemporary world. And maybe it won't take us a whole hour, so we might do that, use someone's question, and then go on to chapter two about the church. Okay. I'm really proud of you. Thank you for your gifts and asking for your continuing blessing. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.