January 7th, 1982, Serial No. 00687

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Monastic Spirituality Set 5 of 12

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Okay, we want to continue with Dorotheus and I'll review briefly what we did already a long while ago, back in November, and then we'll pick up with a second discourse. Douglas, you have a book, don't you? Everybody's got one, I guess. First of all, we did some preliminaries, bibliography and so on, we've got a number of articles on the background, the setting, the great old man and so on, and the life of Dorotheus. And then we treated the first discourse, which is on renunciation, and which is kind of a basic treatise on the whole of his ascetical thing, the whole ascetical doctrine of Dorotheus is summed up in there. Actually he's much more of a deliberate stylist, what would you say, he's much more structured than you think he is. That is, there's a lot of structure concealed within what he writes. You find it in the second discourse on humility, too. It's not as if... it sounds very conversational, it sounds like he's just sort of talking,


you know, but underneath there's a lot of structure. Not as much as there is in Cassian, the bones don't come to the surface, the structure doesn't come to the surface as much as it does in Cassian, it's much more implicit, but it's there. And then, after that first discourse, we read the life of Dostoevsky, who is the first disciple of Dorotheus. He looks like he's a kind of archetypal figure, Dostoevsky, you know, of the ideal monk according to a certain view, and he seems to be the concrete exemplification of what Dorotheus is talking about in that first conference on renunciation. We're going to find out he's also... and especially the exemplification of the second subject, if you know it. Let's recall, just before we go into the second one, the themes that Dorotheus talked about in the first discourse. He inserts the whole thing into the history of salvation, you know, we're talking about the creation, the fall, the state of sin, and the incarnation, and how man is rescued


somehow through baptism in the commandments, baptism that gives him the spirit, the commandments which are the Word, and so he's supposed to come back to himself in some way. These are means against the sins and the passions. The conscience is a key from Dorotheus, that thing in us that wakes up and begins to prefer God's will to our own. The key passion is pride, the key remedy, therefore, is, as you know, we have fallen into the poverty of disobedience, the way back is the way of obedience. This is the same as Saint Benedict, the two are really describing the same road. Compunction is the key to the commandments, somehow the thing that turns our heart over and makes it possible, as Benedict would say, to run in the way of the commandments. He talks about the monk's crucifixion to the world, the gifts that he gives in addition to the commandments which are divinity and poverty. Obedience, the poverty of divinity and obedience, obedience is already built into this way back.


And the two renunciations, successive ones, cutting off of self-will, of desires, this is another face, as it were, of these two aspects, the aspect of mind, the way that you think of yourself, or the way that you don't think of yourself, and the aspect of the world. Cutting off one's self-will, somehow opening oneself to the world, and then finally, the state of tranquillity, the state of being without desire, which some would call apathy, or apathy. What he calls tranquillity, which Gashin would call purity of heart, which Dostoevsky, remember, somehow exemplifies too, although when I recall Dostoevsky, and actually I'm recalling Dorotheus here, it was he who said, the Fathers told me that all who follow the way of the Fathers in humility and obedience find this tranquillity. Remember, he was worried, because he didn't have any problems, at a certain point, he was worried because he was so peaceful, and he thought he must be loafing, that he must have missed the boat somewhere. They told him, no, this is what happens to all of those who give up their own world, in


humility and obedience. And that puts us clearly in front of the big problem, of course, of this way. Can it really be that simple? Can it really be that easy? And if one has found a way that's that easy, has he renounced something else that's really indispensable to him? This is the criticism that comes out, especially nowadays, this kind of thing. And we'll have to talk about it with the fact that we've repeated it in different moments. Because we know our tradition is valid, we know that what Dorotheus is saying is valid, and is somehow at the heart of the monastic life. The problem is, how do you carry it into another age, so to retain its core, okay, so to keep the value of it, and at the same time, to purify it of the sort of, what are those things that grow up around trees, suckers, I guess, the false counterfeits that tend to drain off its energy by imitating it, that tend to somehow, the parasite accretions that both falsify and drain the real thing.


Okay, I'd like to suggest a kind of method here, probably influenced by Panakrath's text, which I've just been reading. I'll get back to that later on. This is a manuscript, The Archetype of the Monk, in Blessed Synthetic. But that we read the text, and then try to distill from it, really, what he's talking about beneath the world, and then bring up a couple of contemporary points of view, or sometimes there'll be objections, sometimes there'll be other aspects that seem to be neglected, or additions of things. And then try, in some way, to get the two together, in other words, to point towards either a synthesis or a resolution in some way, rather than just staying with the text. Because our real problem with all of these sources is to read them in the light of their time and in the light of our time, okay? To put them into their time so that we are not just reading literature, because it's all right to read the poetry of another time without doing that.


It's all right to read the poetry of another time and to be carried off, you know, in a romantic way, to imagine ourselves in another time, to be carried into the imaginary world of the poet. That may be okay, that's what he's trying to be sometimes, but that's not legitimate with domestic literature, at least not for monks. We have to try to get back from the literature to the real life, and then make another line from the literature and the real life then, to the real life and the not real life. Because literature won't do us any good. We'll have to apply it, we'll have to have something that works. We find we don't have the same problem, but not as nearly an acute one, as with the scriptures, with the New Testament, for instance, as we do. There's a problem even there. The value somehow is, it's almost like the New Testament, the scriptures go right along beside you all the time, like they're ahead of you all the time, and you don't have to make the same adjustments, the same focus, exactly, when you're doing domestic literature


or any other spiritual literature. So, I suggest those three steps. Now, sometimes we'll spend more time on one than the other. Okay, let's take a look at the second discourse on humility. And you remember that we treated humility not very long ago, sort of in passing, but it was when we were reading Roberts on the vows, and do you remember that he considers humility of heart to be the central spiritual method? He had three levels, as I remember, right? One level was the spiritual, another was the level of the mind, another was the level of the body. And on the level of the spirit, it was humility of heart that for him was the key Benedictine Cistercian method. And he talks about it on page 140 in his book, in the following pages. And then we treated that, and we read something that seemed to contradict it, that was Berejev's article, remember, on salvation and creativity? A sharper kind of contrast, as you can find, and tried to arrive at some kind of resolution.


I won't repeat all of that, but afterwards we'll take a bit of a look back. Now, humility is of decisive importance for monasticism. Somehow, if you throw out the quest for humility, you throw out the value of humility, you may as well throw out monasticism. And why is that? There are quite a lot of ways of saying it. One way of saying it is that monasticism is interested in self-transcendence, okay? It's interested in getting beyond your ordinary ego to the real self. And the way to do that is humility. Humility is the word which covers that particular journey, whatever we may think of the word humility. Because all of these words from our tradition have been distorted and discolored at one time or another. It's hard for them to have for us their full value. And you'll find sometimes that humility covers the whole of the disposition part of the monk, just like sometimes compunction stands for the whole thing. It's not just one virtue, it's the whole thing for some people. And Roberts, when he talks about humility, he talks about it in such a way as it seems


to be the whole of the monastic life. Now, that's typical of a patristic literature, for instance, where you take one thing for the whole. And you don't worry too much about analysis and how things are side by side related to one another. You treat one thing as if it's the whole thing. You can do it with compunction, you can do it with humility, you can do it with prayer, you can do it with love and a lot more reasonably. But it's tricky in the monastic life because these monastic things in a way are negatives, and so humility in a way is a negative. And if you take it as being the monastic pursuit, you turn the monastic life into a negative one. And there we come up to the basic paradox of humility. Humility can't be your main aim in life, because your main aim in life has to be what? Has to be life, has to be living. Humility is something that comes along and modifies that life. In other words, it's a quality of your life, but it's not the life itself. This is a question of the presupposition that we were talking about. If you forget the presupposition and only focus on the practice or something like that


in monasticism, it can be a fatal error, because the practices often have a kind of a negative tendency. The fundamental thing is to live, is to be, and the other things come afterwards. The fundamental thing, the presupposition, is a big positive, it's a big yes. And everything else has to be in some way for the furthering of that yes. It can't even be a cutting down of that yes. It can't be a lessening of life, it has to be an increasing of life. And so humility itself, if I say that the fundamental thing is life, and humility is a modifier of that life, it can't be just the brakes that you put on your life, can it? It can't be just kind of a toning down or restraining of that life. In some way, it itself has to turn from a negative into a positive by being for the furthering of that life. And here, of course, we get to the key, which is this qualitative key. We talk about two levels of self, the ego level and the deep level, the false self, as Merton would say. But you've got to be careful about confusing the ego with the false self. They're not exactly the same thing.


It's as if the ego has to die and be reborn again. A better terminology is the old man, new man thing, or the atom self, the old self, and the Christ self, that kind of thing, or the death and rebirth. But the two look side by side. But the qualitative thing is there. You're moving from one level of existence to another. And that's where this apparent negativity comes in. But this humility thing is a real paradox, a real mystery. Also, the difference between the word and the reality. We talk about it all the time, and the Fathers say words can't even touch it. It's the experience, it's the reality. That comes through very convincingly in those stories that Dorotheus quotes us. Part of the beauty of Dorotheus is the fact that he gives you this concrete step right out of life, and you know it's true because it just has the ring of experience, the ring of reality. Okay. In Roberts, we were treating more the theory of humility, like I've been doing just now. And Dorotheus would get a little more into the mitigated practice of humility,


but not so much in this very conference. He's also dealing with theory. But we'll try to orient ourselves towards the more existential and more practical aspects of humility. Let's take a look at the discourse thing. We'll try different ways of reading these things, because obviously we don't want to read the whole thing together. Sometimes it may be better just for you to read it, and for me to read it, and for us to talk about it, without treating the text in class. But this time let's go kind of quickly through it, and try to hit the high spots. It starts on page 94. One of the fathers used to say, before anything else we need humility. Now, here's a literary man coming out in a sly way, because he bought before anything else, and he's starting this series of conferences. But being ready to listen whenever a word is spoken to us, and to say, I submit. So there he's saying what humility is. Humility is a readiness, it's got to do with listening, and it's got to do with obedience.


You remember that connection between listening and obedience that Brother David likes to point out? The linguistic thing. In Latin, audere and ob-audere. Ob-audere turns into obey for us. Audere means to listen. Ob-audere means to obey. To listen and to obey are incontinuity. And for the Hebrews, the Jews, they're just about the same thing, because of the compression of Semitic language. And in the Jewish language, everything seems to be... Each thing seems to be everything, so that listening is already somehow the whole thing, goes all the way through obedience. What's the force of this? Why did he say before anything else we need humility, and not self-control, and not the fear of God, and not almsgiving, and not faith? Now, there's something else concealed beneath this, because if we say humility is a kind of negative, these other things mostly are positives, okay? If the basis of the spiritual life, the basis of the Christian life is faith, well, what are you doing talking about humility? There's not much talking about humility in the Gospel, is there?


Not at all. Nor in the rest of the New Testament. It comes out in a couple of critical points where Jesus says, learn from me, because I make a number of law. Or where St. Paul says that he emptied himself being obedient, taking the form of a slave. Would you say that all the references to being of a child are in here? Okay, they relate to humility, but you can't say exactly that that's what they mean, okay? That's part of it. It's certainly connected with it. Whatever humility means, that is meant there, in addition with perhaps something else. So, faith or the love which is expressed in almsgiving, or the fear of God. See, these are things that are described as beginnings in the Scripture. Why not those? The holy man wants to show us that none of these can set us right without humility. And therefore, he says, before anything else we need humility. Note there's a secondary function to humility.


Humility is the thing that makes the... it's like the saw that keeps the rest of your life from corruption, from the corruption of pride or egoism or whatever. That's how it can be, in a sense, a kind of negative, a kind of astringent for the rest of the life, for the rest of the virtues. That doesn't quite save you. Through humility, every device of the enemy and every kind of obstacle is destroyed. Remember that story, Anton, that comes up later. Consider how great is the power of humility. Consider how great is the spiritual energy behind saying, pardon me. What does he mean by that energy? There's a paradox here, obviously, because humility seems like weakness on the outside. To say, pardon me, seems like weakness. It's giving away. And he's saying that there's, paradoxically, that there's a power, there's an energy in that. He seems to mean two things. One thing is that it's powerful against all the devices of the enemy, of the devil. That's what he says. He goes on to say that.


But there's something else which is more akin to Gandhi, if you think about it. Remember Gandhi's non-violence. Now, he talks about the non-violence of the weak, which is despicable, which is just cowardice, and he won't have anything to do with it. And the non-violence that he's espousing is the non-violence of the strong. Well, that's the humility that Dorotheus is talking about. How difficult it is to give way, not following your own inclination to cowardice or laziness, but against your own inclination to self-assertion. So, it has, in a way, to be the humility of the strong and not the humility of the weak. You've got to be careful how we say that. You'll see when... All these obstacles the devil puts in the way. To prayer, to alms. Note the kind of accuracy of Dorotheus in talking. He doesn't just throw those words out, but there's a meaning, there's a weight to most of the words that he uses. For instance, if somebody wants to pray, he puts obstacles in the way, through evil suspicions, shameful thoughts,


he means sexual fantasies probably, and spiritual torpor, stupidity. And that about says it, you know. So, his words are worth paying attention to, just about all of them. There's a lot of psychology just laced into everything that he says. That's why he's called the enemy. He puts all these things in the way. Why? By lowliness, all those attacks and divorces are worth nothing. And therefore, these virtues are made possible. But they're somehow made possible in a couple of ways. First of all, it gets the obstacles out of the way by overcoming the enemy. But secondly, it preserves the virtues from conceit. We've cut short our journey by humility. See my humility and my toil and take away all my sins. It's as if the toil has humility as its object in some way. The broken heart is what is accepted by God. Another expression which we have to be careful. For humility alone can bring us into the spiritual life, even if slowly.


And we've got to be very careful how we interpret that alone. That reference to Abbot John, by the way, is the old man. That's John of Gaza, because it comes out of the book of Bartholomew. Humility alone can bring us into the spiritual life. What does that mean? Does it mean that humility can bring us into the spiritual life without the other virtues? I don't think so. I think it means that even if you have all the other virtues, only humility can bring you into the spiritual life. It's only humility that is the real door of the spiritual life and the other virtues can stay outside, if they're allowed. But I doubt if you can have humility without the other virtues. Genuine. You know, I don't know if you can. In a genuine way, I doubt if you can, okay? Because humility deals with the ground of the other virtues in some way.


It deals with the ground and therefore the quality, the value of what you do. So, if you have a certain virtue, and if you have a virtue, let us say, of fasting or something like that, and no humility, it means that that virtue is vitiated through and through by pride. So, it's only an apparent virtue. Which is not to say... I don't know, we shouldn't be too absolutistic about that, because maybe it still has some kind of value. But... So, your point is well taken. But you know, in this road there's a kind of an irregular and lumpy progress, so that the person moves forward in one direction, maybe without moving forward in humility, and then he moves forward somewhere else, and then also his humility may grow and so on. It's not easy to schematize it. Humility doesn't always keep pace with the other virtues,


any more than they keep pace with one another. So, to say that without humility they have no value at all, might be an exaggeration. Even if we cannot endure much labor because we are weak, let us be set on humbleness. I remember in the Gospel, I'm too weak to dig in the machinery bag. That reminds us of Dostoevsky. Right at the end of Dostoevsky's life there, on page 44, he said, well, he never did much in the way of mortification, he had all kinds of special concessions with regard to food, but the thing that got him in was recognition of mother. It was his obedience in all things, his complete surrender of his own will, his simplicity under recruitment, his pure discernment in humility. See, it's as if the real goal of a lot of the other things is what they do to the heart,


is the fruit they produce in the heart. And humility, if not exactly that fruit, is kind of the sign of that fruit. It goes along with it. It's directly related to it. And the mercy of God, the little thing done with humility will enable us to be found there in the same place as the saints who have wavered much in their perseverance with God. So here, if you want to try to find something original in Dorotheus or where he departs from a lot of earlier monasticism, I think it's at this point. It's at the same point that St. Benedict departs from a lot of earlier monasticism. In moving the center of gravity of monasticism from either continual prayer or extreme asceticism, to humility and obedience. Even for Cassian, the center of gravity is not precisely in humility or obedience. It is more or less in a centripetal way, but later on in his conferences it goes elsewhere. Not nearly as much as it is for Dorotheus and for Benedict.


Then he gets into this business of anger. Humility does not grow angry and does not anger anyone. Where's that from? Oh, that's one of the fathers. It sounds like part of it comes from St. Paul. And St. Paul is talking about love, he's not talking about anger. Remember? Love is not irritable, love does not grow angry and so on. Actually, they're talking about the same thing from two different sides. Now, do you get his argument here? He says, this is a strange thing, he says a humble man doesn't get angry, because humility is only opposed to vainglory, it's the opposite of vainglory, not of anger. What's it got to do with anger? How come a humble man isn't angry? But there are other riches, and you see the three things here, vainglory and riches, and what's the other thing? The flesh, the idea of the pride of life, and the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, riches in the body, and vainglory.


He says that humility is only opposed to vainglory. What's it got to do with this business of anger, which relates to the other two passions, it relates either to something you have, or something in the body. And his answer is, humility relates to all of them, all of the passions. And just as before he said it related to all of the virtues, why? Because it makes room for grace, and grace is what pushes out all the passions, grace is what kills the passions, so humility has this general effect. So humility is something different from the other virtues, even to lump the other virtues, and what are we talking about when we talk about that? Because each one of them is different, but humility has an especially general effect, which is directly related to love, in some way. It's also directly related to faith. Even to talk about the virtues with one word is already opening ourselves to some kind of confusion, because there's no general category of virtues. They're so dissimilar because of the structure of man,


and of his life. And this business of anger is very important to humility, as a practical matter. One of the seniors says, it's completely foreign to a monk to grow angry, and once you grow angry, unless he's swiftly protected by humiliating himself in a short time, troubled as he is, and troubling others, he comes under the power of the devil. He used to say that there's something demonic about anger. Anger that flashes up, involuntary anger, the first movement of anger is one thing, and nourishing anger is something else. Nourishing. St. Benedict's got about a dozen of those instruments that refer to that kind of thing. Keeping grudges, and making a false peace, and letting the sun go down on your anger, for instance. Humility protects the soul from all the passions, and also from every temptation. And he's got that story of Anthony, Anthony and his vision, all the traps, the snares of the devil.


Now, the power of lowliness. Notice how, this literary thing here, how he comes back, he's got a method in this, this straying. This business of the power of lowliness, that paradox once again. When somebody has a painful experience, there are two ways you can respond, basically. Maybe there are more than two, but two ways are to get angry, and to curse. To curse what? Just curse. Curse life. Curse the one who did it. Curse God. It's whatever. Or, to overcome yourself. To overcome that fire of anger that's bound to rise up. And, to say, well, it's all right, I've had it coming. But it philosophizes it away in some way. Question from the audience


It's probably a Jewish question. I think what it means is, you know, you can give a spiritual interpretation, you can give an obvious interpretation. The obvious interpretation is, make peace with your brother while you have the opportunity. Don't go to bed without having made peace with your brother. Don't let the day end, let's put it that way, without being reconciled with your brother. Because you don't know whether you'll have another day. That kind of thing. So it's not really the day itself, but it's the fact that, don't let that get away from you. Take the opportunity right now, and be reconciled. The more spiritual interpretation is this, that I've heard somewhere. While you have the spiritual awareness to be reconciled, do it. Because at another moment, that may be taken away from you. While you have the light, be reconciled. The light is given to you,


the word is given to you for that purpose. While you have this consciousness, be reconciled, before you forget this thing, and the thing remains. . . . There's a way of nursing it though, there's a physical thing, and then we sort of, it's like there's this wild horse, and then we get on the horse, and we begin to ride it. There's something, there's something that we start, it's as if we start throwing logs on the fire after a while, it starts out physical, it's a natural reaction, and then there's a point at which we either


give ourselves to it, there's a point where the will comes in, there's a point of consent, at least, where there's a freedom to really let ourselves go. Unless we are sort of on the watch, unless we're prepared in some way, and unless we have previous experience of it, really we have to, we have to sin probably more than once, and repent of it, before we're prepared. Because the anger seems to have a logic all its own, it seems to be right, you know, it doesn't, you don't seem to be able to argue it away, or anything, it's right, it's got a... How about this, about this thing of just letting your anger out, letting it build up to a point that it feels like it has to come out in some way?


I think the thing is, there's a principle that a solution has to be found for the anger, right? We cannot... it has to find some issue, something has to be done with it. Okay, what are we going to do with it? We can express it, we can find some way for grace to dissolve it, or we can repress it, and let it smolder, and then we're going to have trouble later on. We're either going to get depressed, or we're going to carry a resentment, and a grudge, you know, and it's going to blaze out later, or something like that. So, it may be, some people are able to dissolve it in grace, and that is the best solution, okay? Where it's as if it goes into the ground, and the person is not troubled by it anymore, it's not repression, so it's not smoldering under there. It's, as it were, forgotten. Okay? The other person may have to let it out. Now, if he lets it out in the presence of the person who's offended him, something can really get started, you know? There's a lot of these therapy groups that have believed in that, that the only thing to do with these things


is to let them out. Absolutely. And sensitivity training too, I think. The idea was, you know, communicate it, and give it right to the person that caused it. But sometimes that just aggravates the thing, and one person, in one passion, eggs on another. There's no solution, you know? There's no resolution. It's like that thing about violence never ends the story, but violence just breeds more violence, and anger is violence. There's no doubt about it. An expression which brings it to your consciousness is necessary. It has to come that far. You can't just push it away without seeing what it is. It's got to be treated in a fully human, personal way. So it needs to be allowed to come into consciousness, and then you do with it the best thing you can do with it. Some people will be able to say, Okay, Lord, I know you can handle that. They just sort of let it go into grace, and it's gone, more or less of a struggle. Other people have to express it in some way.


Somebody ought to do it by revenge, and that's too bad, by really blowing up. If you can just do it in words, in a quiet way, it's the best way, whether to the other person or to somebody else. Sometimes it's just not right to do it to the other person, especially if he's keyed up or something like that. You have to wait the proper moments. But it's not only a question of us, but it's also a question of the relationship, the whole context, okay? Sometimes we think as if the whole story took place within me as an individual, but there's more to it than that. Do you want to speak about Maya? I was thinking about something I already said. She was talking about the case in which the minister was counseled by a marriage counselor that he should have a sexual and marital affair because he was the old psychological one that this energy has to be expressed, this energy to build. And she was teaching the line that anything that's offered to the people who already got the sacrifices already got, it's not going to make you look.


And it's an opportunity to stay inside when you turn it up and unbalance your psyche. And I think because David said about how anger was a physical thing, it made me think a lot of sexual temptations, too, how they are a physical thing. Like Augustine said, nothing you can do about it. You can't not have the reaction on a physical level that's a matter of adding your will to the thing. And I think that there's probably a connection there. If she's right that you can't be mocked by something that you sacrificed for who already got, and that must have blackened anger, too, that there's not going to be any internal damage by suppressing it, if you're doing it for the will of God. Okay, I think that that's valid in some way, and yet I think probably that it's not infallible right away, okay? That that principle doesn't absolutely and necessarily work for a person. We've got to ask ourselves, what do you mean to do it totally for the glory of God and so on, and to really sacrifice it? It's like saying, well, if you have faith you can move mountains.


You can't count on that absolute correspondence so that you can be sure that it will work. But I think it is a good answer. I think you have to know what it means to offer something. That's right. I don't... You see, that requires that the person is really free. To be able to offer something means you're already free, okay, in some way. You can do that. But most people can't do it. They're not in that shape. They're not that free to be able to offer that, because they can't offer themselves. Their heart isn't free. They're bound into resentments and fears and feeling threatened and all those things. Wounds. This thing... There's something important here, and that's the idea that we have in our heads. If we have a kind of belief that this anger is an energy which has to be let out, you know, it's like a hot cannonball. I mean, it has to go somewhere. It's like a... If we've got an ontological belief, if we have this kind of crypto-science, this very scientific presupposition that this stuff is an energy that has to come out, we're enslaved to that belief. We're enslaved to the belief that anger cannot be dissolved, okay,


that it has to be... Either somebody else has to get it, or I'm going to suffer from it. It has to go somewhere. But is that true? There's no reason for believing that that's true. There's no reason for believing that anger is a kind of objective thing within any of these energies. Like, sexual energy is an objective thing that has to be expressed in some way. It has to find a destination. It has to find an object. That's not necessarily true. You can think of that thing in all different ways. You can think of those energies being transmuted, one energy into another one. Sexual energy can turn into another kind of energy, you know, just like electricity can turn into heat, or heat can turn into chemical energy, and so on, you see. Those things are transmutable. Admittedly, it's not always easy to do that. It's not easy to transmute the energy of anger right away. But it can be done, even on a human level, let alone through faith. And ultimately, it can be done through faith and grace. But that's a long process, you know, of integration that enables us to do that.


There are a whole lot of things involved. If we feel threatened, if we're already wounded, if we've got something to lose, it's very hard to get rid of anger, you know. As long as we can lose something, it's very hard to overcome anger. I'm getting this intuition that maybe there's a sense of that in all of those sangha monks, about the goose in the vial, you know, when it's put in the vial, when it grows up, how are you going to get the goose out of the vial without breaking the vial and putting it in the goose? And, you know, that's a mistake. You can see where the goose would die. But it's like there never was any, there was never any trap there, except in his mind. There's another one, in fact, it's almost like what you said, something that's following a pattern of anger. It's what we believe, you know, it's what we think that counts. You know, have you noticed sometimes that you'll think you're right in being angry? I'm right to be angry, you know, he did me dirty. And then your mind begins to change and you decide, well, no, actually, I'm not necessarily in the right,


but that's just, or other people have suffered more, you know, or something like that. In other words, your mind turns a corner and the anger is dissipated. Dissipated by your understanding of the situation, okay? It doesn't always happen instantly, but I think that's one of the key things. It's how you think of yourself, okay? If you think of yourself as, nobody can offend me, right? Like the guy in the Old Testament, remember? Seven times seven, 70 times seven or whatever, or Lamech, vengeance. If we think of ourselves as, in that way, kind of divine beings, that nobody can offend us, that we simply cannot be insulted or hurt in any way, that's the ultimate of pride. It's kind of infantile pride, you know? And that means that we're going to be angry most of the time, unless we build a wall around ourselves. But if we think differently about ourselves,


and we begin to understand that suffering and being offended sometimes is part of the human life and so on, the understanding changes our reactions. And that's humility. But humility is underneath it in some way, okay? Humility is not the belief itself. It's underneath it. Whatever humility is. Okay, now the theological way of thinking of it would be, of course, that God responds, and maybe by his grace also changes his heart, okay? Something happens to the energy inside, but something also comes from outside. Something comes from within. That's right. The ultimate in anger, sort of,


is not to realize it is, sort of, anything outside of yourself, is to be filled with one's own explosive rage. I guess anger is a place where we can start first from the individual to the entire community. Evidently. Yeah, I think... See, one thing is the passion of anger, okay? One thing is that interior, personal, nasty and explosive passion of anger. And another thing is a certain demonstrative force. You know what I'm saying? You know? A certain energetic way of acting, which at a moment may require a kind of passion. It's required. That's worse than... Yeah, that's right. More...


Oh, sure. You can't make a law out of that at all, you know? But there is a righteous... It's difficult for us to... It's almost as difficult to handle that as it is to handle the question of the wrath of God, in some sense, okay? To justify a righteous anger on the part of man and to explain what's meant validly by that expression, wrath of God, in the Old Testament, or in the New Testament, it's not easy. Where the force of anger is really there. Because, I think, the reason is that because we don't know an anger which is really subordinated to a human person in such a way that it's only an instrument, okay? That it's only in its place. We don't know that kind of anger. Because when we have anger, usually it fills us, you know? It overwhelms everything else. If we knew the kind of anger that's under control, then we could know what Jesus was doing, okay? Any time. Yeah, it's very subtle.


It's hard to... What it means, for one thing, is a kind of inflexibility of will, okay? I mean, the spade is a spade. Light is light and darkness is darkness. And that kind of thing. There's a kind of wrath already implicit in... There's a kind of sword in wrath and anger, you can say, at a certain point, already implicit in the truth. A certain kind of truth, you know? And I think that's what's being talked about. Because at a certain point, there's a decisive contact between good and evil, between truth and falsehood, and that's where this wrath comes out, you know? But the reason why it seems like wrath is because it pursues... Because the same law of light and darkness and of truth and evil runs through everything. In other words, nothing can escape it, and that's why it seems vengeful in a sense. That's one way of looking at it. Nobody escapes this.


Like the vengeance that Isaiah talks about, you know, on his prophecies. He says they'll seek for caves and holes in the rocks to hide from the wrath of God. What does that mean? It means that the very law of truth and of good runs through the being itself, you know? Runs through everything. There's no escape from the power of God, the truth of God, the light of God. And if a person is wedded to darkness, then they're in trouble. But the vengeance that we know is something else. He said that the worst kind of anger or the worst kind of pride is to be so full of your own rage not to know that anybody else exists. There's another kind which is just as bad, in a way, and that's to pursue somebody else with the intention to hurt, okay? It's that interpersonal kind of anger which is vindictive and which really wants to do harm and to cause pain. That's kind of demonic, in a lot of different ways. Okay, great.


I think that's true, but I have to keep insisting that I don't think we know what anger is, in a sense, okay? I don't think we know what is the anger of truth or true anger, okay? Because true anger never misses its mark. I mean, the symbol of false anger is a nuclear bomb and something, okay? That hits one soldier, ten men, civilians, twenty women and thirty children. That's the image of false anger or of untrue anger in some way. That kind of explosive force. The anger of truth itself is the anger, the kind of ontological anger, of what is right and that pursues right to the core of being, in some way, okay? This doesn't cover it in a Semitic way, though. It's not adequate to the Jewish expressions of anger in the Old Testament. I don't know how to get to those, on a philosophical kind of way of looking at it.


We can talk about it later. Go ahead. Okay, yeah. Okay, I think that's true. Righteous anger is something like the surgeon, you know, who has to work with a terrible severity as he cuts into somebody, you know, in order to save the person's life. Two kinds of humility.


He ends up with, let's see, because there are two kinds of pride, and he talks about four kinds of pride, actually. The first kind of pride is despising your brother. The second is lifting oneself up again. A lot of this literature talks about things which are unconscious, prior to the distinction between conscious mind and unconscious mind, and nowadays we say they're unconscious, but they didn't think that way then. They were just in them, you know? And so they talk about them as if they were conscious things, like the pride and the humility itself. Neither of them is quite in the clear conscious mind. It's behind the conscious mind in some way. This business about despising your brother, that's unconscious for us, you know? It's never explicit. It's never out in front of the person, for instance. So he says, well, I despise my brother. But he doesn't understand that. He doesn't realize. He would never label the way that he thinks of his brother as being content, as being despising. It comes out in a way that he speaks to his brother, and speaks about his brother, you know? But it's implicit in that sense. Similarly, this business about lifting oneself up against God.


Is it possible, really, for a person to look at himself and say, I lift myself up against God, and I'm proud in that sense? No, it's implicit in the way that he lives. It would be the last thing, probably, that he would think of himself, except, you know, in the case of blasphemy, the obvious thing. But usually, it's precisely in the blindness that the pride consists, okay? And so, we don't know the pride, because the pride itself is darkness. Because the pride itself is blindness. And so, it's only as we move away from it that we begin to see it, somehow. And that's why reading a lot of these things doesn't make any sense to us, because we don't see those same things. The whole mystery of humility is connected with that. But even the ones who have it don't understand what it is, let alone the ones who don't have it. And they probably don't even realize that they have it. And he gives a good example of it, I think. You can probably find a lot of contemporary analogies.


From the beginning, if one of his brethren said anything to him, he used to say, who the devil is he? He's not just one of his. He's not one of the great ones. Then he began to cheapen them, to say there's no one of any importance but Macarius. Did you ever catch yourself thinking this way, looking around to find out, well, who is that? After all, who is there that says anything worthwhile? Who is there that I can respect? Who is there? Are there any in the Church anymore? Anybody I can believe? Is there anybody really that I can admire? Is there anybody that I can put myself behind? Is there anybody? Who is Macarius, anyway? There's nobody that's any good except Basil and Gregory. And then in a short while, he begins to debunk them, saying, who is Basil? Who is Gregory? There's no one who counts but Peter and Paul. And I say to him, really, brother, you're going to despise these soon. And believe me, after a short time, he began saying, who's Paul? Who's Peter? There's no one but the Holy Trinity. Because there are a whole bunch of theologians


who think exactly that way. And so at last, he lifted himself up against God, and there he gave up. He doesn't say what he just asked for. Where he ended up. I know he ended up teaching. Therefore, we ought, my brothers, to take unsurprisingly, that's the first kind of pride. Let's put it by literally falling into this absolute. It's something to think over. It's hard to extract the sense out of this, because it's invisible to each of us. Whatever it is, it's in us. It's our inability to respect others. Our inability to see the good in others. And it always gets put in vertical language, you know, so that you have to consider yourself the last of all, but you have to consider yourself nothing, and God everything. But that doesn't help communicate. It's something else. It's being able to see the value in others. We can start right there. The littlest scrap of respect for other people. Because we don't see one another. We don't see one another. That's right.


It's a question of understanding. Because it's difficult for our mentality, for where we're coming from right now. We've got such a delicate self-image as it were. We don't know how to handle the question of sin, and the question of our own sinfulness. We don't know how to be an activist. We don't know how to be an activist. It's a kind of competition, isn't it? It's in everybody. That's right. It's even in the animals. Yes. But especially in America, it's a whole competitive thing. And the other person is always the product of the other person. I mean, there's some strata of being and there's some strata of being as a family. That's right.


It should sort of pull us down to the point where we have to respect others. And we have to respect them in a practical way. First of all, because we have to listen to them, okay? And we have to listen to them also as they give us feedback about ourselves. And we gradually begin to understand that the other person is a part of us. This happens in so many ways with so many people. It's a kind of universal experience with the Church, in other words, that we understand that the other has as much or more than we have, perhaps in a different way. We don't allow the other thing to exist, in a sense. Because we filter it through our own competitive field. If he exists, if he is something, then I can't be anything. Because we've got that comparison thing, which is an on-off thing. If there's a value out there, then I must be nothing. But nothing, not in a way that I can be, but in a terrible way.


And so immediately I have to reject that, devalue that external thing, that external equation. And so on. And most of our contempt comes from that, and is the, what do you call it, the expression of what Merton would call a false self, because a false self is basically comparative, and is competitive. It amounts in finding yourself an identity by climbing on top of something or somebody else. I've got this big account here, you know. That's right, that's why you couldn't go in. It's conditional on how we behave. It's an inability to accept gratuity, okay? An inability to accept the reality of grace. And most of our life, you know,


most of life in the world goes in another direction. Not in the direction of the possibility of gratuity or gift, but in the direction of business and exchange, and therefore also competition. And everything is very clear, and in a sense money symbolizes it all, okay? Something quantitative, which you can possess. And we think of our identity in the same terms, as a quantity that one can possess, which is comparative with other people. That's the problem. Yeah, it goes along. The external thing doesn't go into it. I think perhaps we should quit there for today. We'll continue with this one and go on with the next one next time. The matter of conscience also is a very important one. So, I'll try to... Yes. It's a good idea to read through the whole book once, and then come back and go through each of these as we go on,


because it's not that long. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. May I say some words from the beginning. Peace be upon you, and God bless you, and the world without end. Amen.