January 25th, 1995, Serial No. 00108

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Archival Photo, Lecture #2 Questions cont; Lecture #3; Lecture #3 Discussion

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Yeah, I think for some of the traditional teachings of spirituality, we are encouraged
to supplement or redirect our desires, because desires are not only neutral, but I mean positive.
It's a kind of energy, like a motor in a car, without the engine, the car doesn't move.
But the question is the direction we have to give to it.
That's right.
And then, I think, supervision means redirection, redirecting.
For example, in tradition, we are forced to direct our affection, our desire, our love,
first of all, to God, through prayer, life, and so on.
And then, perhaps, at the same time, it would be important also to have a meaning of life,
something we want to achieve, a goal, a commitment, which we would like to dedicate, commit ourselves,
by lifelong efforts.
So that gives us support, strength in times of difficulty, this ideal of life.
And I think another way for sublimation or redirection is good relationship with people.
So, the desire, passion, affection, all can be integrated into a good relationship,
normal relationship with people around us.
So, do you think this would be some...
I mean, basically, it's a part of the traditional teaching.
Yeah, it's on target.
The only thing I would say is that it's not just a simple matter of choosing to sublimate.
Remember that these defensive processes are more or less unconscious.
And what I think it requires, the ability to get to the point of using that sort of a defense,
which is a mature defense, and we all have needs for these at different times,
means going back and working on and resolving whatever issues from any of these four areas
are causing us to need to use defenses in the first place.
What's the problem?
If it has to do with sexuality, is there a way in which we're too cut off from this?
And why are we too cut off?
And what makes it hard for understanding our sexual selves?
And as we have a better understanding and ownership of that, both in ideas and in feelings,
then there will be less need to use those lower-level defenses,
and we will find ourselves moving into the higher-level defenses like sublimation.
So, it's kind of working.
These are not things that have to be done in psychotherapy, necessarily.
Can be, but that's certainly not the only way.
Part of good, authentic living and relating with other people
involves these growth and transformation processes.
This is a little related to a couple of the other questions.
I'm wondering if the ego there is in kind of, what would you say, a kind of embattled position,
even in the sense of a world of conflict there between these competing forces.
I'm wondering if it's possible to conceive of the whole system as having a kind of center of stability
in which we gradually find it's connected with Robert's question about the self.
Because it's as if gravity here is always pulling us back to the raw sexual level.
Can it be that the self is a center, really, which is more powerful once we find it,
that is not simply on the level, but that the energy can gather itself around a center
which is, what we call, less on the level of conflict, but a deeper stability.
Yes, I think so.
And in fact, that's the direction that some of the psychoanalytic writers are moving.
There's a movement away from the belief that it's just sex and aggression that drive us.
And in fact, my orientation had much more to do with this notion of people here,
this notion of object relations, that the primary driving force for people
is, in fact, primary relatedness. It's connection with other people.
That includes desire and other sorts of things. There's that component to it as well.
But this is the primary driving force for people.
And a self, to get back to what the two of you were asking about,
I think you get this sense of balance when there is an acceptance of the
and ownership of the parts in us that we may have split off at some point.
Because the more things are split off and outside of awareness,
they can exert undue energy and inefficiency within us
and interfere with our own sense of balance.
And so the more that we can accept the split off parts of ourselves
and acknowledge that other people are both good and bad simultaneously,
have good qualities and bad qualities,
that our self can be in a better balance then.
And young people, if I understand Bruno,
could there be this deepest yearning for the ultimate, for the absolute, for God?
I think Joe May is now claiming, as a psychiatrist,
he sees this as the fundamental thing of which maybe sex is just a kind of a parable,
almost an evasion sometimes.
People are so terrified by this, standing before the ultimate,
and it's easier to get involved in a particular intensity.
Sex can function as a mass distraction.
You know, it really can.
But Gerald May wouldn't be the first one.
I think Basil Hume in his book of conferences,
what's the name of that book?
Searching for God.
Yeah, he talks in there about a basic religious instinct.
And I think those of us who kind of think in this realm of how psychoanalysis
and religion come together would posit that the religious instinct is at the base,
and things spring out of that.
So the potential, and that fits in with the spiritual self I talked about
with those other cultures that are more in touch with that.
They all believe that it's there and possible.
So I think it's there.
So I would agree that there's something much deeper.
And when you can get, I don't want to say get beyond this,
but when you can get through this and own this and have this be a part of you,
think of what the relationship with God and others would be like.
And this is where I think of that quotation from Teilhard de Chardin.
When we really discover what love is, then we will have discovered fire for the second time.
That's a close approximation to the quotation,
and all the multiple meanings of that statement, I think.
That's a pretty rich statement.
I remember years ago I was giving a preaching retreat at a convent,
and in all of the public forums,
whether it was a question and answer after my talk or interventions even,
there was this one old nun who would just come out and say,
you have to slay the self, you have to annihilate,
you know, violent language about the self,
and how to become a paragon of religious life, or whatever.
And it was very troubling that other nuns would just don't give a fuck.
She's a little crazy.
Well, she came to me in private towards the end of her retreat,
and she started weeping,
and she just said, I've lived 60 years without missing a day
of multiple sexual autoerotic episodes.
She's just consumed with herself.
And I didn't know what to do.
We weren't in a confession form.
She's just sharing this.
And so I just hugged her, and I tried to convince her
to get some professional help on that.
But every time I hear people use violent language about the self,
I have alarms that go off.
Not necessarily that there's multiple sexual activity going on,
but that there's something awry in very basic areas of that person.
Well, right, and that's a defensive way of handling
kind of desire and reality for them,
is that it's not at all uncommon for people who have,
let's say, grave sexual difficulties,
you know, parts of themselves that they just can't own,
they get up on the pulpit,
and they're the ones who preach abstinence
and come down on any form of sexual expression the strongest.
It's not uncommon.
It happens time and time again.
What if there's ways that we don't speak to ourselves even that violently,
although we never say it in words,
but we treat ourselves that way in different compartments of ourselves,
that we're struggling just as extremely?
We can.
The rule of self-hatred in preventing both psychological and spiritual growth
I think is not considered enough.
It needs to be looked for.
People, I think, are kind of out of touch with that sometimes,
and it needs to be explored.
That's where having kind of an ongoing relationship with someone
allows for the ability to work on that.
You can't just kind of drop in on someone and say,
okay, I'm going to do a self-hatred evaluation today on you,
and we'll be done in 20 minutes.
It takes time to have a relationship so that you can work on that.
But we're flawed human beings,
and there are so many aspects to ourselves,
and some of it has nothing to do with sex,
that we just can't own and accept,
and that we really can hate ourselves for.
It really limits us.
It limits us from experiencing that peace and that sense of balance
that you talked about.
At the same time, there is such a thing,
from what you said,
there is such a thing as healthy abstinence
that can be promoted just like healthy suppression.
There is that fine line.
Redirection was used both in suppression and sublimation.
Is there a difference between the two?
Sublimation is much less of a conscious process.
It just kind of happens.
People who are very creative and have a lot of energy
and involved in many things and they do them well,
whatever it happens to be,
there's a great deal of energy and vitality to them
that gets spread out all over the place.
That's an example of how sublimation would be working.
Those kind of inner energies are being channeled in other areas.
Suppression is just kind of saying,
not now, enough of this.
I'm going to move on to something else.
Then there can be conscious redirection.
I'm going to do a lot of jogging.
I remember the story of one of our monks generations ago.
He started drinking heavily
and went into a kind of a therapy situation
and it was discovered that because he was gay,
he hated himself and was trying to kill himself through drinking.
They brought him out of that.
He stopped the drinking, got involved in a very fruitful ministry
to people with alcoholic problems and gay people
and he had a flourishing life.
But here you went from that self-hatred
and almost went to suicide
because he hated himself as priest and monk
who was worth nothing because he was against the whole
to saying yes to this whole
darker, wounded, etc. side
and alternative side.
And so he was living a very fruitful life.
People thought of him then as a saint and all this.
So very important that working in acknowledgement
and avoiding those self-destructive...
And to see what could really happen from that,
by confronting some of these
and owning and accepting oneself.
Priests want to do all sorts of marvelous things.
Things that are not chores.
They're not.
Well, probably need to...
Alright, we'll continue with this process of development
but one of the things that I didn't say enough of
that I want to just touch on from last time
was the notion of vandalized love maps
when things kind of really go awry
in big ways with individuals sexually.
Again, we don't have a clear idea
exactly how that happens.
There are some indications, as I indicated last time,
that some early experiences
are such that the normal childhood sexual play
that's a part of everyone's development
is not allowed to take place
or the child is extraordinarily punished for that
over a long period of time
which leads to a breakdown
between what is erotic and what is love.
That seems to be the best consensus we have these days.
Another piece of this usually...
I mean, often includes a sense of being abused
as a child, sexually abused.
Let me read to you a quote from Simone Veil.
When a man's life is destroyed or damaged
by some wound or privation of soul or body
which is due to other men's actions or negligence
it is not only his sensibility that suffers
but also his aspiration towards the goal.
Therefore there has been sacrilege
towards that which is sacred in him.
I like that because I think that describes two things.
It describes both the victim and the abuser.
The perpetuation that takes place
with individuals who have been victimized as children
and then become adults and then do that again
I think at a very deep level
is a destruction of the sacred in them
and those who follow them.
And as long as that pattern continues
it's a continuing problem.
Another phrase that some people use to talk about that
is the notion of soul murder.
The way in which these kind of early experiences
can have really profound and sometimes very difficult
to change impacts on people's lives.
Now, that is just kind of one aspect.
That's when things really go awry.
What I want to talk about more is a more healthy
less deformed, less vandalized sense of sexuality.
Here's a way to continue to think about development.
It's the continuous interplay of the self
or aspects of the self with others.
That's in keeping with the notion that I'm talking about
that we're forever going back and forth
between being and loving.
Having a sense of separateness versus a sense of inclusion.
That all aspects of our life I think can be related to this.
And Father Robert asked a good question
for one that I still don't have an adequate answer
and haven't had for a while
and that is to give an accurate description
of what I mean by a sense of self.
I'm still not sure.
I'm still trying to find words to describe
what I mean by that
because it's certainly more than the ego
that Freud talks about.
It's much more encompassing than that.
It has to do with the sense of I-ness
but not the I-ness that's opposed to the we-ness
that I talked about when I discussed
various forms of the self.
It has to do with what constitutes me
and I think the way in which
it helps me to think about it more clearly
is the self is that constellation of us
that contributes to our ongoing creation
of meaning in our lives.
And we have multiple facets or aspects of our self
and I've just listed a few of these here.
Psychological, emotional, intellectual,
sexual, spiritual, familial, social.
The list really could go on and in fact does.
All of them are important
and they all contribute and interact with each other.
Another thing I wanted to comment on
was this notion of levels of self.
We have this as well.
The first level is the public level of self.
This is like our personal publicist.
This is the PR aspect of ourselves.
It's what we present to others,
what we would like others to see about us,
what we think they want to see.
This is the material that we present to most people
much of the time.
We have, however, a larger private sense of self
that's known to us and less known to other people,
though is shared more completely
with those with whom we're intimate.
This includes not only the good things
but some of the troubling things about ourselves,
some things that we recognize but don't like about ourselves.
And finally, there is an unconscious sense of self,
that level,
and these are things that are split off
that we are not aware of.
But do you imagine that some of our intimate friends
might be aware of these parts of ourselves?
Yes, they are.
And when we talk a little about friendship,
I'll talk about the role that I think friends have
in helping to decrease that area.
Are any of you familiar with the concept
of something called the Johari window?
Did you ever hear of that?
This is very similar to that.
The notion that they talked about in their social self theory
was that the goal is to bring as much of the stuff
that's hidden from self and others into the open.
So most things are known at least by yourself
and then also by a number of others.
So there's less hidden material
and that way there's less ways of tripping yourself up.
I had the boiler, steam boiler, on the board there yesterday.
That clearly is not a complete description of Freudian theory.
In fact, it's really a caricature of it.
However, because we're much more than the results
of our sexual drives.
However, it can feel like that sometimes to all of us
at different times in our life.
And that's why I think that can be a particularly useful model.
We're going back and forth always
between this sense of being and loving,
our focus on self versus our focus on others.
And the question is, is this always a state of conflict
or can there be some sort of balance
that takes place in there?
I think it's an ever-changing fluid process.
I think from my perspective, my theoretical viewpoint
is that it is always in some state of movement or flux.
But I think the sense of balance can take place
and I would say that what contributes to that
is an ongoing sense of mindfulness.
It's the empathic attunement within oneself
and all aspects of oneself
and also within the world and the people in our world.
Is that a tall order? Yeah, it is a tall order.
But the moments when we really find ourselves
kind of keeping that balance, being aware of the shifts
that are taking place in ourselves and others
and making the adjustments as we need to,
we can experience a sense of balance.
Will some of us find that we're less mindful at times
and then get kind of blindsided a little bit
by different parts of ourselves
or the world or the people around us?
Yes, I think.
That, again, would be part of the human experience
from my perspective.
All right, intimacy, friendship, and celibacy.
First, let me say a little bit about family and friends.
That's a big line these days, I guess, on MCI commercials.
They're all wanting everyone to be in touch
with family and friends.
And so my question to all of you is,
are you aware that your mother and father
and brothers and sisters,
that all of them are here with you right now in this room,
that we're not here alone, but that they're here with us?
In fact, they are.
The impact of our early life with our parents
and our brothers and sisters
is something that shapes us significantly.
It's something that we can't ever run away from
if we would like to, and sometimes we would like to.
We always bring the impact of them with us.
They have deposited themselves in our psychological life,
whether we like it or not.
Some people spend large portions of their life
trying to exercise aspects of their family.
And indeed, perhaps that should be done,
because the way in which these family images
have been kind of planted or forced into one's mind
tend to be rather unhealthy.
I want to start with them,
because this is the earliest ground for our relatedness.
You remember I talked about the early stages
of psychological development
and the role of mother in particular,
and then also father.
What tends to get neglected is the role of siblings
in our ongoing development and relationship.
How many of you have at least one brother or sister?
Are there any onlys in here?
Two onlys, okay.
What's that?
I said that must be dreadful.
Onlys have a different experience.
Individuals can replicate the sense of being an only child
if there is a period of five or six or more years
between them and then the next child.
Some families that tend to have large families
where there's a gap between them for whatever reason
have the experience then of a different kind of family constellations.
The patterns are so intricate and complicated
that they're very hard to put into words.
Most people I know have complicated
—that's a nice word—
complicated relationships with their siblings.
Very much as I described in the past,
can't live with them and can't live without them.
That's why these expressions like
visits like fish go bad in three days.
That's not quite right,
but there are numerous stories and anecdotes like that.
We come out at the end result of the interactions with our siblings
with possibilities of ways of relating to others.
We can, if everything goes good enough,
not perfectly, but good enough,
we can have vital ways of relating.
That is, have mutually enriching experiences with our siblings
and then with others around us.
We can be generous and cooperative
and experience that from others.
We can be stimulated and liberated by our experiences with them
and we can enjoy the differences.
That's when things really go well.
Now, when things don't go well,
two other extremes can happen.
One is the tendency to be more clinging,
to have clinging relationships
both with siblings and with other people in our lives.
This is characterized by excessive dependence,
a real neediness,
and is related to the movement towards
the excessive loving and connectedness with others
at the expense of the self.
Uniformity is critical
for people involved in clinging relationships.
People need to be the same.
That's because there is such a lack of a sense of self
that everyone has to be the same
so everyone else can feel the same.
That's how they define a sense of self.
You can notice that in some religious communities
where a great deal of emphasis,
in fact an over-emphasis,
is placed on uniformity.
Uniformity in dress,
uniformity in thought.
The superiors are sometimes considered thought police.
Or another extreme is being excessively distant.
That's when there were, for whatever reasons in early childhood,
and there are many,
no close bonds that developed.
So a way of taking care of oneself,
since one can't have the experience of loving and being loved,
is to move towards excessive independence.
And here, it's a very limited participation in the group.
And this is a result of fear.
Not because it feels good to be alone and separate,
but deep down it's a result of fear.
Disappointments, resentments, and deep hurts.
Now it shouldn't surprise you that those kind of experiences
will replay themselves throughout life.
Those of you who are very new to this community,
whether or not this is your first effort at religious life or not,
whether you're even making a transfer from another community,
will, I think, experience a replay
of some of these sibling issues from your life.
When you first come here,
whether you're aware of it or not,
you're going to start seeing your brothers and sisters around here,
the ones you liked and got along well with,
and the ones that you couldn't stand.
Whether you advert to that consciously or not,
the process itself will play out.
And it also depends on your role in the family.
If you were well accepted and everyone looked up to you,
you may come into a group and expect that
that's how everyone else is going to relate to you.
Hi, here I am. Love me. Accept me. Praise me.
And find, perhaps, that you don't quite get that.
That can be quite disconcerting when that happens.
Perhaps you've never experienced that,
but then again, maybe you have.
The norms for relationships with our siblings
and with our conference also become more complicated.
In a committed religious life,
just like with our brothers and sisters,
we can't get rid of them. We can't turn them in.
Though very young children, in fact, want to do that, don't they?
And you may remember yourself going to your mother
and saying, when you were five or six,
and another child was born,
Mom, would you take her back, please?
I really don't want to have her around here anymore.
Children can say those things and mean it.
We can experience those things and not say it, but mean it.
So we have those same kinds of issues.
The complexity of the emotional bonds
makes it sometimes hard to communicate,
because the feelings that we have towards brothers and sisters
and then towards more intimate fraternal relationships
are very complicated.
We don't just like someone or just dislike someone.
We might love them a little.
We might be envious of them a little.
We might be satisfied with them a little.
We might be hurt with them a little, all at the same time.
And it can be very difficult to get those emotions out on the table
and talk about them, one, because we're men,
and two, because we're men.
And I'll get back to, I think, a way of thinking about that
and a way of thinking about making some shifts along those lines as well.
In fact, I'll do that now.
Ronald May has this nice line.
For human beings, the more powerful need is not for sex per se,
but for relationships, intimacy, acceptance, and affirmation.
Relationships, intimacy, acceptance, and affirmation.
I think, as monastic men,
the areas of intimacy and friendships and celibacy
all come together in one piece.
It's hard to tease them out,
and it's hard to think accurately and thoroughly
about one separate from the other.
So I'm going to try and weave these sorts of things
back and forth a little bit.
And I want to do that by presenting first to you
my central thesis about why men seem to have
the difficulties that they have in relationships.
It's not my idea.
A man named Immanuel Kant,
that may not be the right name,
because that's the philosopher, isn't it?
Yeah, this is not that Kant. It's a different one.
I have to get his first name.
You're all familiar with Freud's Oedipus Theory.
Is that right?
The basic concept is young boy grows up,
young boy wants mom,
fears dad and loss of penis,
forsakes mom, bonds with dad,
finds mom and other women.
That's in a nutshell Freud's conceptualization.
Interestingly enough, there are some folks who are saying,
well, that's probably not the only way in which we can think about that.
And in fact, that may be an example of failed development
rather than the normal, appropriate,
best course development for men.
Instead, if the child in this pre-Oedipal period,
the boy in particular, let's talk about men here,
experiences the father as affectionate, loving,
non-competitive and facilitating.
Has those kind of experiences with dad
just before the Oedipal period.
So knows that and that men can be like that.
Then goes through this Oedipal cycle,
which is by its very nature
involved with heroic combat themes
single-handed adventure,
a man against everything else,
kind of a stoic sense.
And handles that as well.
The end result for the young boy at that stage
and then for the man as he continues to grow
is that he can then experience as masculine
both this heroic solitary quest
and a way of being related
and facilitating with other people.
To have, in fact, the best of both worlds.
If, in many cases, there is not this chance
to experience the father in this kind of calm,
non-competitive way,
then there's only this heroic form of life.
And what gets diminished is the tenderness
and feelings and emotional life
that can be part of one's existence
but tends to be diminished and suppressed.
And men then struggle with the belief that,
well, if I'm going to have this,
that means that somehow these kind of tender feelings,
that my manhood will somehow be diminished.
This may not be conscious thought,
but this is the process that takes place.
And this leads to some of the false dichotomies
that have existed and are perpetuated.
If you think of the moral reasoning of Kohlberg
versus Gilligan's reassessment of it,
Kohlberg's morality of individual rights,
which tends to be kind of a guy thing,
or Gilligan's sense of an ethic of care
or a web of relationships,
that tends to be, from her perspective,
kind of a more feminine gal thing.
In fact, it doesn't have to be that way,
and that's what current writers are thinking,
and that's my experience as well.
It's not that it has to be one or the other
or the men only do it this way and women only do it this way.
Both avenues are open to both men and women.
There are multiple levels of intimacy
that people can engage in,
intellectual, emotional, physical, and sexual,
and plus others as well, spiritual.
Notice that I'm putting the sexual one lower on the list
because too often, and again,
this is kind of a concern that men have,
is that there's this confusion
between genital sexuality and intimacy,
almost as though that they have to be one in the same thing
when in fact that they do not.
When some men have done some work on this
and have grown to understand themselves
and get more in touch with their affective life,
they want to share the good news with others,
and that's an important thing to do.
However, there has to be a careful process in doing that.
Forced intimacy is, I think in some ways,
destructive towards relationships.
In fact, it can be characterized as a one-night stand.
Forced intimacy that takes place between individuals
where there hasn't been time to really develop a relationship,
to build a level of trust,
can seem very much like a one-night stand,
a lowering of barriers,
some sort of quick sharing that feels good,
but there's nothing left afterward
except distance, separation, and alienation.
So careful work needs to be used
as one works towards developing these sorts of relationships.
How does that fit with sexuality and celibacy?
Well, being intimate means, I believe,
having a sense, knowledge, as clear as possible about oneself,
and that includes understanding one's sexual self.
An example of this is paying attention to your own sexual cycles.
Women, because of their menstrual cycle,
are much more carefully attuned to their bodily changes
and their response cycles.
Men tend to be attuned to women's cycles, too,
usually in a pejorative, negative sense.
What do you always hear men talking about?
I have a patient right now
who has a great deal of impulse control difficulties,
and that's only at the surface.
His sense of himself is very fragile underneath.
But whenever he gets into an argument with his wife,
why is that?
Because he's marked the calendar.
It's her fault, right?
What is she suffering from?
PMS, premenstrual syndrome.
He's just convinced that's what it is,
and we're just starting to suggest to him
that maybe it's got something to do with him and not her,
and he's having a hard time accepting that.
Men, we have our own sexual cycles as well.
There are ways in which we'll notice
that our kind of erotic response tendencies
tend to be more heightened, more sharp,
more easily brought to the focus, more on our mind,
and at other times there's more of a period of quiescence.
It's not just like biorhythms, per se,
but there is something to that,
and it's helpful for men to be in touch with that,
to be aware of what their rhythms are,
because the whole process here in development
and in bringing together intimacy, friendship, and celibacy
is that we're trying to make meaning out of our experiences.
So instead of being our impulses,
kind of being sexual
in the sense of being controlled by those,
we move towards having sexual feelings.
And this is what happens, I think, in many stages of our life,
or can happen,
is that we move from a sense of just totally experiencing it
and having a sense of it controlling us
to affecting a different meaning about that experience
and having it become a part of us,
something over which we have some control.
To hear people talk,
it almost reduces men to animals,
and not even very good animals, for that matter.
You'll hear some folks say that,
well, I've just got these impulses and I have to act on them
and that's all there is to it,
as though the impulses control and run our lives.
That's not even true for most animals.
But if we don't stop and think about that,
some men tend to operate under that sort of mistaken assumption.
And a greater awareness of oneself
and the ability to moderate and understand
the various meanings associated with our desires,
as we talked about yesterday, is important.
Because the sexual feelings, as I said,
can be a sign of depression or happiness or sadness
or love or loneliness
or any other number of things.
And it's important for men to be able to differentiate that
in their own lives,
to help them understand what these various feelings mean for them.
Let me just add a couple of comments here about celibacy,
especially as this relates to this.
If we're talking about a process of ongoing development,
celibate living itself also has to be
a process of ongoing development as well.
It's probably a mistake to make connections between,
from my perspective at least,
the celibate life and being the bride of Christ
or married to the Church.
The sense of too much of a connection
between marriage and celibacy, I think,
negates the richness of the celibate experience.
It is separate from, needs to be understood,
not just in opposition to being married.
And also, celibacy is not just being sexually abstinent.
That's not the same thing either.
That's only one small aspect of celibacy.
In order for it to be effective,
from what people who have kind of lived it
and have written about it,
or psychologists, spiritual directors
who write and talk about this,
believe that it needs to be relationship-based
and also occurs within the context
of some sort of a community
where there is shared meaning.
And it's very much related to our ongoing
developing sense of ourself.
Our capacity to be celibate and to grow in that
depends on our earliest experiences
and our capacity for relatedness
because celibacy is a form of relatedness.
One writer made an interesting connection,
one that I hadn't thought about before.
She said, there's probably some connection
between psychotherapeutic work and a celibate lifestyle.
I do both, so I was interested in her writing about that.
She said, there has to be a deep level of sharing
between two people in the psychotherapeutic process
with which there are strict limits
to other aspects of the relationship.
And that makes some sense to me.
She points out that a truly celibate relationship
as compared to a non-genital relationship
is one where there is rich, deep, and intimate sharing
of various aspects of the self, various parts of the self,
without a genital expression of it.
So our earliest relationships and how those went
and the kind of work that we've done
to make our current relationships healthier
go a long way towards increasing our capacity
for celibate living.
Whatever kind of education or formation such as it is
or has been in celibate living contributes to it.
And from people I talk to, I'll say to them,
what was your experience in training in celibate lifestyle?
And they kind of go, huh?
There hasn't been much, and there needs to be more.
Experiences of ministry and service
actually experiencing, not just being told,
oh, you'll get some good benefits out of this lifestyle.
You're supposed to do this, and it'll be good.
But actually experiencing that, not just being told that,
contributes to growth in the celibate process.
And this notion of this relatedness that begins so early in our lives,
one of the fruits, it seems to me,
as I read and talk with others and look in my own life,
is the growing sense of interrelatedness
and the awareness of our interrelatedness with others
that comes out as part of the process of celibate growth.
People usually expect individuals to have trouble
when they enter religious life, dealing with poverty,
having to turn in receipts and getting used to giving things up,
and grow into poverty.
Obedience, superiors have to believe that people grow into it
given the fact that the difficulties they have with individuals over time.
So there's always hope that they'll grow into that.
But there's often the mistaken assumption
that somehow people come to religious life
with a full sense of celibacy
rather than that that itself has to be grown into as well.
So just as the whole process of our human development
takes place over life,
so does our understanding and living out of the celibate lifestyle.
It usually involves some early experiences of loss,
whether people are aware of that or not,
and they, in hindsight, can sometimes talk about that,
loss of the creative potential, the procreative potential,
because the generative potential still remains.
People often go through a period
of trying to make sense of what does it mean to be celibate,
who else is like me with this versus others who are not,
because this is the process folks go through
in trying to internalize a sense of what it means to be celibate.
It also differentiates...
The experience of celibacy can lead to a greater sense of aloneness,
which is different from a sense of loneliness.
And finally, when the process gets more and more complete in our lives,
we achieve some sort of balance or integration of the celibate lifestyle.
Let me stop at that point
and just use that as a spring round for some discussion
and some questions on these topics.
One thing I haven't talked about today, but I will tomorrow,
is the whole notion of how solitude fits into this process.
I haven't forgotten that. I will get to that.
All right, comments or questions or reactions?
This is a kind of mystical talk of union and marriage with Christ.
On the other hand, isn't the case that we simply
don't want anything to do with that analogy?
Maybe we deprive the celibate experience of something there.
That is, it does open up or challenge us to a real intimacy with God.
And the marriage or the spousal analogy is there,
and in some ways it seems to work.
So there you go, the mystics down through the ages
have wanted to go to the chemical and don't see that as what's happening.
But notice how sexual the chemical is.
John of the Cross writings are extraordinarily sexual.
Most of the mystics, their writings tend to vary.
Their relationship with God, from my reading,
tends to be extraordinarily embodied.
So I think, yes, we want to keep the prayerful connection,
but the celibate experience for us has to be an embodied experience,
since we're embodied individuals.
And when people write about that and pray about it,
they bring their sexual selves into the prayer.
One of them has a line of wine to be ravished by God.
It's not an uncommon.
So I would say, yes, we don't want to lose that connection.
There's the balance between the...
I guess what I would say where it becomes problematic
is when it becomes a bodiless, almost soulless,
thin connection to some idea of what God is
that really serves more of a purpose of denying oneself
rather than a rich affectivity
that we bring to our relationships to God and to others.
Does that make some sense?
Some of the things can be more like a fear of love
rather than anything else.
If people could run to that lifestyle, yes, for fear of love.
Fear that this would be somehow a relief.
A fear of connectedness.
One could say that also of sexuality.
One can rush into sexuality or into marriage out of a fear of love
in the sense that just some of the films play with this.
So it seems to me that there's that challenge in any path we pick.
It can certainly be there in a solitary path.
I heard a man and wife talking at a conference,
and he said the first ten years of his marriage
was not based on love, it was just based on lust.
He didn't love his wife, and there were reasons why,
but he said that's what it was.
It was very difficult for his wife because she loved him,
and he just lusted after her.
All he was interested in was some kind of a sexual experience with her,
and that was very troublesome for them.
I was in the seminary in the late 60s and early 70s,
and still then there was the whole fear
that was in the air about particular friendships.
And I think it still can be in the air in religions like today.
And what you're saying is a lot of it,
but perhaps that's not a correct teaching,
especially for today and the way we think today.
And that we need to develop good, healthy friendships.
As you said, healthy,
I think you said healthy,
being behind relationships.
Can you say something about that in terms of love?
What kind of teaching would that be given today?
I think it kind of helps to define the terms
and what people really mean when they talk about particular friendships.
It can mean any number of things.
It often means fear of homosexual genital involvement.
It also actually can mean a fear that
someone else is going to have a nice friendship and I don't,
and I'm not capable of it,
so it really shouldn't be in religious life,
and so nobody should have it.
When you have some kind of deformed formation people,
not purposely, but this can happen sometimes,
that can be another part of it.
What is part of a particular friendship
can be thought of as an infatuation process,
which in and of itself is not a bad thing at all.
It's a way in which we discover more about ourselves
and other people.
It's the process of kind of falling in love
with some aspects of other people.
Sometimes these sorts of infatuations kind of run their course.
People resolve these issues,
and the negative or less growth-producing aspect of it
tends to diminish over time.
Sometimes the particular friendships or the too close bonding,
if it works against the community,
if the pairing that takes place over time
looks to be destructive to the community,
then some interventions need to take place within that.
On the other hand, sometimes these particular friendships,
these kind of efforts into experiments
with an increased level of intimacy and relatedness,
are just what you might hope for in people
and would like to see and encourage.
As long as it's not kept kind of secret,
as long as it's talked about by other people,
this can be a very enriching experience.
And sometimes, not always,
but sometimes the people who are most opposed
to intimate friendships within a community
are those who are, for whatever reason,
either afraid of or incapable of doing it themselves.
So that's why they don't want to see other people have that.
So that's the long-winded answer to say
you have to understand what exactly is happening
and what people mean by that,
and are there some really positive things
that can come out of that?
I think so. I think so.
When I talk about community life in general tomorrow,
I'll indicate that there are no promises
that you're ever going to have
intimate friendships within a community.
You just can't promise that.
If it happens, boy, that's a grace and a blessing.
But you can't come in and expect to have that necessarily.
But if it does happen, it's great.
I know on the union side,
you often talk about the contraspectual element
of all within yourself, integration involving all.
Most of the spiritual initiations
are being very much connected with relating to that.
But may I just say about the online?
Confronting that other side.
Often the Jungians will also talk about
the shadow sides of oneself.
The way you can apply that to how I've discussed it,
when I talk about the unacknowledged
or split-off aspects of oneself,
that would be the same thing as the shadow side,
those things that kind of break through
that don't quite seem like us.
I would argue that most men have difficulty
in accepting the more feminine side,
perhaps because of this model that I presented
about the young boy's early development.
That remains to be tested and seen.
The task that Jung talked about at midlife
was the need to confront and bring an integration
between these two areas.
I think we want to work towards that over time,
and that's an important part of the wholeness
that we're seeking.
And I think that the friendships
and intimate relationships help us
get more in touch with that component,
with the onomous side of ourselves,
the things that tend to be more split off.
Friends see things in us that we can't
or won't see in ourselves,
and friendships help make us whole.
Gregory the Great's definition of friendship
is the guardian of one's soul.
That's a very nice expression.
I like it, because it talks about
a sense of responsibility that we have
for each other,
it talks about a sense of mutuality,
knowledge that we need to know,
and it includes, specifically in his definition,
by the use of the word soul,
I think that it specifically brings into
the spiritual dimension as well.
And if we think of that familial self
that I talked about and the need for
we self-regard, I think that brings to the fore
the responsibility that we really have
for each other to develop
at least fraternal relationships,
fraternal love relationships with each other.
That's an obligation, I think,
that we have in community.
Whether that necessarily becomes an intimate one,
that's in some ways up to God too,
not just us, I think.
That is what I was always taught,
that entering into a community
actually is because it's human being.
The other's commitment to see every other brother
or whoever is different,
as brother in the whole kind of adjustment.
But that gift of friendship is a mysterious thing.
I think we should be open to it,
to treasure it, and then to work at it
when it's there, but not to require it of everyone.
But to rejoice when it's there.
Also rejoice vicariously if others are living.
See, that's the real richness,
to be able to do that,
to have achieved that good balance
between being and loving
allows us to rejoice when other people
are having a good relationship,
when their life is being enriched by someone else.
We're better able to do that
when we've not either on purpose
or inadvertently cut ourselves off
from the possibility of relatedness with others as well.
One last appeal.
Personally, but I think for any other superior,
I don't think that superiors
should be intentionally isolated
from the possibility of friendship.
It gets very awkward if superiors have their favorites
and play with that unjustly.
But the kind of idea that
we want the superior isolated,
and so that anyone who seems to be
entering into a more fraternal and friendly relation,
people come down on him and give him a rough time
as he's kissing up or something.
I think that's not healthy,
because at least in our own tradition,
it's very important that the superior
have an effective support, as anyone else.
And if it's the case that
no one can have friendships with everyone,
that's also the case with the superior.
But if it would seem that there are, then,
instances of friendship,
again, the attack shouldn't be launched on those people.
It's somehow the enemy.
Yeah, those sorts of attacks can spring from many issues.
Envy, often being one of them,
it can bring up unacknowledged early experiences
in one's life of always being second.
Those of you kind of like middle children
sometimes will have suffered from that.
Why is it that... I'm an oldest,
so there was some conflict with me and my brother
around those sorts of issues.
Why could I do this and he couldn't?
I could easily turn the table and say,
I had to wait until I was so-and-so before I could do this,
and you got to do it so-and-so.
Anyway, this works all those different ways.
But competition and sibling rivalry issues
get played out with that.
I think superiors absolutely need to have
affective relationships with other people,
because I think the greater distance
that they have in separating themselves
from the community affectively
makes them less effective in understanding
the needs of the community and able to work with it.
On the other hand, I think superiors have to be able
to listen objectively if someone does come to them
and say, I think you're being too...
you're showing favoritism.
And at least say, I'll think about that,
and I'll look at that, to at least be open.
Then the person who brings that concern
at least knows that he's being heard.
Maybe right, but at least being heard.
It gets more complicated the more that we encourage
interrelatedness, but I don't...
for a healthy, kind of full lifestyle,
I don't see a way of it not being complicated.
What can you do to make particular friendships
more inclusive?
I mean, I...
with Francis, because I became very close
with one other person there,
and he became quite exclusive,
and eventually he was quite unhappy.
But since then we became friends,
and I see that relationship as a pattern for others.
The question is how to actually maximize that,
how to expand the friendship, as it were.
Well, I think I would say two things.
One is, what can you use to understand
about yourself more clearly from that experience?
And that will then allow you to develop
richer relationships with other people.
So that's one thing that can come from that.
The second thing is to really work towards
and just literally involving other people
in the things you do with that one person.
Not all the time, because there will be some times
when you just want to be the two of you together.
And when there is time for the two of you together
and time for the two of you in connection with other people,
that increases a sense of balance.
It calls for a greater growth,
because part of this,
especially in the early stages of friendships,
is we don't want to share the person with someone else.
If we're honest, we really don't.
This is really something special between us,
and we don't want to do it.
So kind of dying a little bit
and taking the risk,
because the fear is, if someone comes in,
I'm going to lose something,
either in the relationship
or I'm going to lose this person in my life.
That can be the fear.
To let someone in, to take the risk,
and see that perhaps something gets enriched by the process
is a helpful one.
So you're literally working on bringing other people in
who can help.
Could you give me a reference for it?
A reference for it?
I'll try and track it down.
I'll look for it.
It's been around a long time.
I mean, the basic principle of it,
it's a box.
Self and others,
known and not known.
And that there are things that
you and everyone else knows about you,
things that you know that they don't,
things that they know but you don't,
and things that nobody knows.
I mean, that's the essence of the Jahari window.
And the idea is to shrink this,
to make this one smaller.
Now that you want to share everything about yourself
with everybody else,
I mean, that's that false intimacy.
You know, relationships, friendships, intimacy
take time to develop.
But the larger this is,
these unknown blocks,
the less you really have to share it with people,
because it's not known to you,
especially if it's not known to you
or owned by yourself.
There's a union here, as I understand it,
if I experience myself a real
fascination with another,
also with Eros components, etc.,
or an obsession, etc.
One of the theories is,
part of that is that there's something in me
that I see in that person that I repress,
that I can't deal with in me,
so I'm able finally to acknowledge that,
not in myself, but in the other.
It's a safer way to acknowledge it.
So the theory is,
also with the Anima and the Animas, etc.,
if I can acknowledge that in myself,
the relationship will be healthier
and the more authentic,
because I'll be more and more able to relate
to that person as that person.
It's kind of fascinating, because it relates,
again, the therapeutic with the
celibate, also the monastic,
as we want to become more and more aware
of who we are, so we can give ourselves
more to God and to others, etc.,
and those areas we're repressing, etc.
So this whole word,
I think it's all bound up,
it's all internally moving.
It is.
The initial responses we have to people
to the first time we see them
are not based in reality.
They just simply are not.
They're based in either
some kind of a lustful response,
if our feelings tend to be sexual towards them.
It has to do with the unacknowledged parts
of ourselves that we see in them
that you talked about.
It also has to do with this notion of transference.
When we take an immediate like or dislike
to someone and we don't even know them,
it's because we're seeing people from our past,
or aspects of people in our past in them.
What is required for us
is to move beyond those initial
views, and they're actually judgments of people,
to move beyond that, to really get to know
and understand someone.
So if you meet someone for the first time
and you don't really like them,
you've got really nothing to base that on.
You may think you do.
Time and time again I have people say,
I'm an excellent judge of character.
I just look at people once
and I know what's going on with them.
I just kind of roll my eyes,
because that's hard to work with them
when they have those sorts of beliefs.
These interactions are always telling us
sometimes more than we want to know
about ourselves and others, I think.
But part of it needs to be that openness
to understanding ourselves.
Can you comment on how the groups
are called sick?
The what?
The terms of a sick.
Click is usually used in a kind of pejorative sense
to describe a subgroup that have
shared interests.
So far that's not bad, right?
That sounds good.
Nothing wrong with that.
There might be a group of people
who like to watch football
or are interested in other things.
That would be perhaps a click.
But when it becomes exclusive
and exclusionary,
so that other people are not allowed
to join it if they would wish,
or other people or other groups
are devalued or downplayed,
that's when it becomes, I think,
destructive to community life.
I think to allow people
with shared similarity,
shared interests,
to be together and do things together
is a good thing,
as long as it doesn't become
a complete sub-community
within the community,
so that these people eat together,
they pray together,
they go for walks together,
they read together,
they shop together,
they do everything together
with no one else.
That's a little troublesome, I think.
One last point.
That fascination with the other
is projection.
Also, someone really infuriates me
and I can't stand them.
I remember one chap
in this other monastery,
I just see him and I get furious.
Then I had this dream
and he was there yearning
for this friendship
and I was like,
this is a part of myself.
And after that,
I sort of entirely didn't like that.
The Buddhas say
my worst enemy in my community
is my best friend
because he's going to challenge me
to work on stuff in myself.
They say,
but I acknowledge him.
I think being a real friend
is hard work.
It's hard work.
It's not always easy.
But you're right,
those kind of negative reactions
are often responses to
split off or unacknowledged
shadow parts of ourselves.
Again, I'm open to meeting
folks individually.
If there are other topics
or questions you want to be sure
that I say something on
in my Thursday and Friday talks,
just let me know
and I'll be sure to
try and say something about it.
I will be talking about
the notion of solitude
and how that fits into this.
And I will be also discussing
more about community life,
the joys and pains of such.
I'm going to orient it from that way,
kind of give some psychological
underpinnings to that.