July 16th, 1981, Serial No. 00693

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Monastic Spirituality Set 4 of 12

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of the monastic life, and he starts out talking about anthropology. So I won't review what we were talking about last time. You'll have to forge ahead. But I'll give quite a bit of attention to each of these ideas as we go by. Roberts insists on the anthropological point of view and then a kind of holistic view of man, looking at the whole man. Because nowadays, when you look at man, there's a return to wholism right now, especially among a certain current of psychology, Donald Esselstyn, for instance. You hear a lot about holistic medicine, which means that it involves the body and the mind, or the body and the mind and the spirit, whatever, looking at the whole of man. But also, wholism, in the end, has to go beyond that, and that it has to go beyond the individual. And the problem with most of our psychology today is that it's individualistic. They call this the self-generation. And even if it operates in community, like many of


the group therapies that they have, the end is really for the sake of the individual. You're with the group for your own sake. You're with the group to get some experience out of it, to get some kind of fulfillment out of it. And of course, those things can do some good. But ultimately, there isn't any spirituality that leaves you as an individual, really. There isn't any therapy either that can really heal you if it leaves you alone, because your healing is impossible in isolation, in your individualism. So the basic thing we have to be healed of is our isolation, our fragmentation. To be split from one another, to be split from the whole means to be split within ourselves as well, because the shattering doesn't stop. Whenever you begin to shatter, you continue to shatter. Remember when Jesus says, whoever doesn't gather with me scatters, and so it is. This splintering continues. And this business of wholism, of getting things together, where does it culminate? Where does it terminate, actually? It terminates in the church and in the Eucharist in the end, because there is a center where the whole is somehow present. There's one center to which you


can attach yourself, and there's one whole. And it's the one that God makes. And every other one, sooner or later, is going to fall apart, is going to dissolve. And that one is going to last. The cosmos somehow, the universe, the world, and man himself somehow, are permanent to the extent that they find that center, that they attach themselves to that center, and therefore attach themselves to the real whole, and not what we think is the whole. So wholism goes all the way to that kind of cosmic Eucharist that we talk about. Roberts then talks about the importance of the Word of God, and we won't go into that more. We're talking about it over time, sort of. But it's as if this wholism is directly connected with the Word of God, because anywhere else you start, talk about anything else, any of our beginnings, any of our considerations about man or the spiritual life, and we end up in a corner somewhere. We've got to realize that the Word of God grabs us holistically. The Word of God grabs us totally. And when we talk about totality, we're talking about the Word of God, because it's the only thing that really gives us the whole. It's the only


thing that gives us the whole picture, the total picture, the global picture, and that everything happens inside that Word of God. This is very important. Often we talk about the Word of God as if it comes inside of us and starts moving the parts inside of us. Of course, you know, there's something to that. It does come inside of us. It comes inside of us, forms our center, and then at the same time introduces us into the whole. So as it enters into us, we enter into it. But it's important to get that notion of what God is doing, first of all the notion of the whole, and then that it's God's whole, and that what He is doing is what picks up everything else and carries it into Him. So He's the ultimate whole. He is the ultimate totality. And the Word of God is the totality of God coming, as it were, like a hand and picking all of creation up and bringing it back into itself, bringing it back into the Father. So ultimately we always have to sort of increase our focus or widen our focus until we are considering the whole Word of God as our context.


You know, we're talking about the Word of God as one thing, but the longer you read the Bible, the longer you stick with it, with the monastic life, the more sure you are that the Word of God is one thing, and that it is the whole. He doesn't talk much about the Spirit here, not at this point, but I think this is a Western point of view of the Word of God, and it's very useful. But in thinking about this Christian wholism also, we have to think about the Holy Spirit, because otherwise we inevitably get into trouble. The emphasis on the Word of God, remember, is something that has been disregarded by Catholicism for a long while, it was revived by Protestantism, eminently by Karl Barth, he's the real theologian of the world in contemporary Protestantism. But still there's something missing, and what is it? It's the Spirit. Because the Spirit is that which touches us wholly, holistically, which picks up body and mind into itself somehow. And until the Spirit touches us, our contact with the Word is not holistic, it's not total, it's only in our mind. It's the Spirit that


awakens the heart to the Word, and so finds our center, and grabs us by our center, as it were. It's through the Spirit, or by the Spirit, that the Word seizes us at our center, and therefore seizes us totally. So it's essential that we have the Spirit there. And then the Father, how do we bring the Father into the scene? The Father is the invisible wholism, but he's the whole which is beyond our comprehension, the totality of the mystery into which we move, and which we have to deal with. And so our wholism leads in these three dimensions of the Trinity. I don't think so. Well, let's see, some people do that. It has to be the word wholly, doesn't it? W-H-O-L-L-E? Yeah, and holos. Holos. H-O-L-O-S means totality, means holy in Greek, okay? But the word holy, I don't know where that comes from. It comes from Anglo-Saxon or something. It's not directly from the Greek, because the Greek for holy is either hagios or hosios, okay? It's not


directly related to that word. I'll have to look it up. Somebody can look it up in the dictionary and see where it comes from, the word holy. You see things written about holiness and holiness. There was a psychologist, what's his name? Jesuit, Goldbrunner, who wrote a book called Holiness and Wholeness, saying that holiness is wholeness. That's true, but you've got to be careful with it, because it doesn't mean that simply to be a very healthy human being is to be holy. And it also doesn't mean that to be holy means you don't have any hang-ups, you don't have any psychological problems. Neither one of those is true. And yet holiness is a kind of eminent wholeness. I don't think the two words come from the same place, but they sure hook up. But the word holistic, holistic, h-o-l-i-s-t-i-c, which is used for holistic medicine and so on. Holistic medicine, which has a lot of weird fringes to it, you know, it gets into


all kinds of things, especially in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's a different kind of unholy medicine. That comes from the Greek word holos, which means whole, a kind of total medicine of the person. But then it gets spelled w-h-o-l-i-s-t-i-c, and of course that's an abuse, but it renders the idea, you know, holistic. Anglicized. Okay, then he talks about divinization, then he talks about this trilogy of body, soul and spirit, and how this is reflected in the rule of St. Benedict. That's about where we got to last time. He quotes chapter 7. The ladder that's raised up is our life here below. This is a crude image, but it's effective. The ladder is our life here below, which the Lord raises up to heaven by humbling our hearts. It's a paradoxical ladder, which you go up by going down it. The sides of this ladder are our body and our soul.


Into these sides are divine calling, and so the different steps of humility and discipline are divine calling. That's a real, you know, it's a blunt, crude, homespun metaphor. That's effective enough. The ladder and the sides are your body and your soul. And somehow the heart is the key, though. The heart is, as it were, the key which relates body and soul, from which body and soul in some way emanate. He's going to get to this a little further now. And we can't help thinking about these things as three parts, you know, as three moving parts. And then we try to figure out the relation between them and how to work them, how to get the machine going. And of course it's not really that way. There's a sort of dimension of bafflement, which should always be here as we think about these things. Otherwise we get into this mechanistic wheel. Now we start talking about two or three parts. William of St. Thierry. Now, this is from the Golden Letter, that's to the Carthusians. Very worthwhile reading. We have a couple of editions of it.


The latest one is in the Cistercian Protestant series. Because he's become one spirit with God, that a person is spiritual. Okay, so the spirit unites with God and we become one spirit with God. But our spirit, small letter, small s, is somehow assumed, picked up by the spirit of God, which comes to inhabit in it. Hitherto solitary, he now becomes united, and his solitude of body is changed into unity of spirit. Now that united has two senses there. It means united with God, but also united within himself. That is his body, his soul and his spirit are now united. William doesn't stretch it out to say that, that's what it means. And then he quotes the Lord's Prayer, just like Cassian does, when he's the same... The Lord's Prayer, it's not the Lord's Prayer, it's Jesus' Prayer in John 17, just like Cassian does in the Conference on Prayer, the culmination of prayer, that realization of oneness in the spirit.


This unity of man with God, or likeness to God, so the spirit of God somehow confers this likeness, brings the soul which is inferior to the spirit into conformity with it to the degree in which the spirit draws near to God. The spirit draws near to God and meanwhile draws the spirit to itself. In the same way, the body which is inferior to the soul becomes like the latter. The resemblance of the spirit comes into the soul, the resemblance of the soul comes into the body, as the spirit comes to resemble God. It's very hierarchical here, but you do have that notion of unity at the same time. You've got two principles, one is a kind of a horizontal principle of unity, which he's saying pulls you together, you become one, but the other is this very vertical principle, which needs to be looked at carefully. Also, it's not as if the spirit doesn't relate immediately to the body, because I believe it does. This hierarchy is tricky, you have to be careful with it, not take it too seriously. Thus the spirit, the soul and the body are duly set in order and established in their proper place.


St. Bernard, he talks about two levels, two ways of talking in St. Bernard, a moral way and an ontological way. Ontological means ontos, ontology is the study of being, it means something really happens to you. Whereas morally, it means you have to do something, right? Moral law, no matter what you do. Now St. Bernard, he says, mixes the two, he combines the two orders. It's like the passive and the active, but looked at in a better way, it's the level of your being which transcends what you do, and even what you experience, and the level of what you do. Now the sacraments act first of all on that level of being, they do something to you, they put something in you, they change you, and then somehow you have to do something in order to realize what's given to you. Once again that business in St. Paul, where he tells a person in his letters what happens to you, what you've been given, what's been done to you, and then what you have to do to be in accordance with. He talks about these two kinds of freedoms, we've run into this often, and immediately when he talks about St. Bernard, in this life we think of Merton,


and he's going to get to Merton in just a minute. So this is important because it's probably the best, or clearest anyway, and most available anthropology of the spiritual life that we have right now. It's the one which comes through the Cistercians and is expressed by Merton. Freedom from constraint and freedom from sin. Now this is not quite the same as the two freedoms that we were talking about in Merton's article on asceticism and freedom in Cistercian studies, but they're related. It's a question of two levels of freedom. Freedom from constraint, and you can still abuse that, it can become self-will. Freedom from sin comes from the common will. It's a word we don't like very much, but what it means is that one has found the common being, he has let the seed fall into the ground, in a sense. You can talk about it in terms of will, or you can talk about it in terms of self.


And here's the likeness of God. It is at this point, that is through this interrelation of united wills, that purified love empties the soul of sin and of the illusory personality of self-will. Okay, that illusory personality seems to come then from Saint Bernard, and then Merton picks it up and refers to it as the false self, or the exterior self, or the social self. Bernard, following Saint Benedict, describes the role of humility in this liberation from an impulsive. Now, this is treated well by Jill Son in that book, The Mystical Theology of Saint Bernard, a really beautiful book, if you want to get deeply into the thought of Saint Bernard, and all of his Cistercians. And Merton then talks about these things, well, everywhere, but he talks about them particularly in The New Man. There's a section there where he takes the anthropology of Saint Bernard, First Saint Paul, Saint Augustine, and then Saint Bernard. Jill Son, The Mystical Theology of Saint Bernard.


It's a little book, but it's got footnotes, massive footnotes, and it's a very intensive study. Not only of Saint Bernard, but he goes on a lot of other things. We have a couple of copies of it. Then he talks about Saint John of the Cross, and he's talking about a dualism here. Now, what is that dualism? He seems to be talking about an upper level and a lower level. Not the surface level, but the level of your mind, your ordinary mind, and the level of his transcendent mind. Now, this is important too, because it's the difference between the level of, say, an ordinary self, an ordinary ego, an ordinary mind, your ordinary thoughts, and the level of that true self, deep self, transcendent self, the level of that core, or of the deep heart, the spiritual heart, or the transcendent intellect. Here's a good way of putting it. It's the difference between ratio and intellectus, all right? Intellectus in the deep sense, in which Aquinas and the Orthodox understand it.


Intellectus is the contemplative faculty, which is equivalent to the heart. It's the noose of the Greeks, all right? Noose, or pneuma. It's still in the human sense, in the man sense, before abstracting from the presence of the Spirit of God, the pneuma of God. Okay? And this is, then, according to the Greeks, the core of man's being, his deep level. But the mind that we ordinarily use, the ratio, the discursive reasoning mind, is not the core of our being. Often it's taken to be the core. We know darn well it isn't. But modern man often behaves as if that were the core of his being. And that's on the level of what we usually call the ego, of the ordinary self, the empirical self, as Merton calls it. Remember how Adityananda was insisting in his talks that you can't go without a self. You can't just sort of throw out your ego and then live from the transcendent self. Or you can't, much the more, throw out your ego and then move towards your transcendent self


without any center of yourself. You have to have an ego. So Merton is a little extreme on this. Often he talks as if the ego and the false self are the same thing, as if you could just flush the whole ego, the whole false self, and just disappear somehow into this true self, or disappear into the desert, sort of, in movement towards it, move into interiority in that way. But you can't do it. And Merton knows it very well. It's only that sometimes he was kind of careless in the way that he expressed it. It's dangerous to associate your ordinary self, to think of it too much in terms of falsity, just as it's dangerous to think of your ordinary self too much in terms of sin, because you get depressed. You start thinking about this wonderful true self, this shangri-la, this paradise of interior perfection and of contemplation, and you start reaching towards it and damning your ordinary self at every moment. You say, everything I do is sin, everything I understand, everything I know and everything I feel is illusion. And that's great for a little while, but then after a while you get to realize that,


well, I've got to live this life. When am I going to get there? When am I going to... Is that true self going to turn on? Am I going to start operating on it? When am I going to light up with that transcendence? And you go along for twenty years and it doesn't happen. And you begin to suspect that perhaps you'd better make peace with that shallow self, otherwise you're going to end up in a mental hospital. What I mean is you've got to live with it, because the superficial self or the empirical self or whatever you want to call it can't be just amputated. It's you. And it's more realistic to think of it as being gradually transfigured, somehow from a deeper center. But we're always going to need in some way that shallow center. It even relates to our body in some way. It's not as if we're not going to have a body later. We're not going to be purely interior beings in heaven. We're not going to be purely spiritual, purely transcendent. We're going to have a body and somehow a self that relates to it, just as we do now, that is limited with all its limitations,


and somehow may be ludicrous just as it is now. But that's part of the fun, I suppose. Is it just kind of, instead of trying to just amputate us, just trying to purify us? It's real, and you can't get rid of it with yourself. You try to purify it, exactly. Purify it by pruning its negativity, okay? By pruning its negativity. Like when Saint Benedict says, take your evil thoughts and reveal them to your spiritual body and smash them down against the rock which is Christ. That kind of thing. The rock which is Christ is very much like that deep self, on a deeper level, which eventually becomes luminous and you start to live from it. One thing is to purify the shallow self, and the other thing is to activate the deep self, that is to work from the deep self, allow it to express itself. Those are two things you need to do, okay? If you just do one, it tends to get depressive after a while. If you just prune yourself, you get terribly repressed after a while, you get handcuffed. You have to be living.


You have to have some kind of expansive and free life in you, and so you have to try to filter it and allow it to come through that which comes from the deep self. The Hezekiahs express this in another language, you know, they say, sift the thoughts, just like Saint Ronald does, and throw away the bad ones and keep the good ones. That's a Hezekiah's way of putting the same thing. The good thoughts are the ones that come from the heart, the ones that come from the deep self. If you look in the New Testament, it's not quite so ruthless about the false self. I mean, the body has to die, we have to die. There's a death to die, but there's a resurrection taking place at the same time. And sort of the empirical self, the ordinary self, just like our ordinary body, are on that one level of something that's dying, and yet from deeper, deeper down, already is coming through a new life. But it's not as if you can decide, well, I'm just going to stop living from that level and I'm just going to live in the light of the deeper self. So we have to, there's a kind of self-acceptance there,


which is important, even of that very fallible, fragile, messy, shallow self. We have to accept ourselves with a kind of sense of human, in order to get along. As God does, after all, that's what you find in the Gospel. In the Gospel, you don't find people, you don't find Jesus just sort of beheading people, going around and plucking the true self out of them. No, you find him very patient, but he's goading them all the time to activate that true self. He's continually pointing it out in them, and sort of eliciting it. But at the same time, he lets them be. Republicans and so on. His disciples. There's a tension between the two. Okay, that duality, that's what we were talking about. The two levels. Now, we're talking about the three-fold composition in man, but now we're talking about two levels, and we've sort of ignored the body for the moment. He talks about John on the cross here,


and how he talks about the substance of the soul. The substance of the soul is like that point virg that Merton talks about, remember? In that famous text that you've heard so often from. Conjectures of a Yogi bystander. The substance of the soul for John on the cross is deeper than the operational level, deeper than anything that we can do. It's a place in you which only God can touch. And the place where he talks about it most seems to be in the living flame of love. Here's a quote from John on the cross. It's the living flame of love, stanza one, number nine. It's the same place that he refers to. For this feast of the Holy Spirit takes place in the substance of the soul. Now the line of his poem, which he's quoting here, the phrase is, My soul in its deepest center. That tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest center. This feast of the Holy Spirit takes place in the substance of the soul, where neither the devil nor the world nor sense can enter. So it's close to everything from outside.


Remember that point virg that Merton talks about, which is inaccessible to the brutalities of our own will and the fantasies of our own imagination. That's the same point he's talking about. Nobody can get in there except God and that substance of the soul. Let's see if I can find Merton's text in here. Again that expression, Le point virg, the virgin point. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point of spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is, so to speak, his name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven. I could read that passage all day.


Therefore the more interior it is, the more it is secure, substantial and delectable. For the more interior it is, the purer is it and the more of purity there is in it, the more abundantly and frequently and widely does God communicate himself. Let me see, I want to find the... Here we are. Thus the delight and rejoicing of the soul and the spirit is the greater herein, because it is God that works all this and the soul of its own power does nothing therein. For the soul can do nothing by itself except through the bodily senses and by their help. So this is just the other end of your being. This is, as it were, the fine point of the cone where nothing from outside can affect it. Only God can touch it. And somehow it's you, though. It's you just the same. It's activated. Now it's your life. It's your freedom. Substance. It's interesting that he talks about it as a substance because we think of spirit as being at the other end of the spectrum from substance, right? We think about substance as being stones and stuff. Hard stuff.


Dense stuff. Heavy stuff. And we think about spirit as being immaterial. Now, our Greek thinking has tended to make us think that something is spiritual to the extent that it's not material, okay? But why does John of the Cross refer to it as substance? Substance. When it's the most spiritual part of our being. There's a real paradox there. That somehow the point of greatest density here... There's another kind of matter, almost, as it were. And the point of greatest density is the point of greatest spirituality. And somehow God is the absolute point of density. It's as if he contained all the density of everything that is within himself. And matter, somehow, is an image. It's a negative image. It's a funny inverted mirror image of God. Of the creator, of the father. The center of the soul is God.


And when the soul is attained to him according to the whole capacity of its being, it will have reached the last and deep center of the soul. So, somehow, the mind and the will seem to be able to act at that point, but only when they're turned on by God, it seems. Perhaps only towards him, I don't know. Anyway, that notion of the substance of the soul, which is the deeper level, which he's putting on the same level as the true self of Merton. Now he gets to Merton. In our own times, Thomas Merton and others have followed St. Bernard's doctrine of a false self, but have developed at greater length its positive counterpart. Now this is very important. Merton's essential contribution to monastic spirituality would probably be seen to have been the incorporation of the messages, and then he has three parts here, of existential personalism. People like Marcel, possibly Buber, that notion of the person deeper than the individual, okay? Deeper than the individual, but the thing which really matters is the person.


And somehow there's a kind of existence in which the person is alive and awake and acting, and there's another kind of existence in which the person is really asleep, and where only the individual acts. Two levels of existence, one which is real and one which is unreal. I think Heidegger talked about it in this way. You have inauthentic existence where just the individual is moving, where a person is sort of a billiard ball, or a cog in the machine, or he's at the behest of things outside himself. He's not really alive. The heart is not alive. And a level of authentic existence in which the person, the true self, is really acting. Okay, that's one stream here. The second stream is modern psychology. Now, it's not that Merton read a lot of modern psychology, but somehow he had the spirit of it. He didn't read a lot of psychological writers, at least you don't find reference to him in his works much. You find, there's that one article on monasticism and modern thought, I think it's in Contemplation of the World of Action, but he doesn't quote a lot of psychological jargon.


Towards the end of his life, he was interested in people like Freud, and also Marcuse, remember, and probably Erich Fromm and some others. Viktor Frankl, he refers to him in that article we read. But his language is not the language of psychology. Yeah, he was very proud of it, too. Yeah, he probably did. I've forgotten now. He was into that towards the end of his life. He was reading more psychological writers. And then he did go to a psychiatrist himself in Budapest. And the third one is non-Christian mysticism. Now, here, just about everything you can think of, including Sufism, but especially Buddhism. Buddhism, which paradoxically talks about there not being any self, and yet which is totally focused on the realization of this inner self, this transcendent self. Buddhism is apophatic. And it says by not saying, and it goes somewhere by pretending not to go anywhere. It talks about something it's pretending not to talk about, and so on.


I think it can, but there's a kind of absolute language for talking about those things. And then there's the discretion of the Zen Roshi, for instance, who knows when to stop, you know. Who knows when to stop. The trouble with Buddhism is that if you read its theory, it amputates not only the shallow self, but the deep one as well. It amputates everything, leaves you with no head. Because it's paradoxical, you know. In other words, it seems to go into pure nothingness. That's the language that it talks in. But when it does that, what's it trying to do? It's trying exactly to baffle the games of the superficial self. It's trying to outwit the superficial self, or break through the superficial self, by frustrating its attempts to grasp onto experience, to grasp onto something, to grasp onto itself. What it's really doing is it's talking all the time


about that transcendent self. Because the only thing it's interested in is that transcendent self. But like we've been reading, there's no way to touch that transcendent self. You can't grab it. So Buddhism is like the science of getting there without being able to grab it. The science of grasping something that's ungraspable. It's really the science of being grasped by that experience. But even without having a goal like the image of God to go towards. It's a complete paradox, in a sense. Pure Buddhism, I believe. And it's a very authentic thing when it aims head on into that. Because it's got a true... That basis is a true experience of that deeper self. Even though I'm not using the name of God. And of course there's a lot more we'd have to say about the difference between Christianity and Buddhism. What there is extra in Christianity and so on. We don't need to go into that now. Buddhism is a precise aiming at that deep self in all of its mysteriousness, in all of its invisibility and its ungraspability. It aims straight into the darkness.


Sometimes I feel that Buddhism and Christianity sometimes they end up doing the same thing. Sometimes they don't. Then the more enlightened and spiritual being in yourself kind of just takes up everything. And you get to the point where sometimes you say, oh, what is it? And then you just... They have a lot of faith for the same reason. Or the cherry blossom lemon, you know. Or it's just beautiful. It's not beautiful. No, that's the quality of enlightenment. When a person gets there, then everything is restored. It doesn't mean that they plunge back into the world necessarily. That's a whole other thing. But there's a resurrection of ordinary things. Of being. So it's not simply a withdrawal. And Zen is very concrete after all. Very insistent on the everyday reality. Buddhism is like that. But after all, any authentic spirituality is anything that ends up by vaporizing the world and simply taking you out of it into some transcendent things. It really has to be looked at with suspicion. And anything that cuts you off from everybody else


and just takes you into an inner transcendence has to be looked at with a great deal of suspicion. How so? Sure. It's easy. Solitude can be the evasion, the running of the flight of the superficial self which doesn't want to die. Which doesn't want to give itself. It can be a complete wrapping up in self. It can be. It's not true solitude. It's isolation. It has to eventuate in some kind of communion. Okay. These three currents then in Merton. Inserting these three into the mainstream of Western monastic life. There's a kind of a synthesis that emerges in Merton. The living integration is achieved through the common denominator of identity


or true self and the divine image. He refers to the new man. But you find this all over in Merton's central works like in New Seeds of Contemplation and so on. In a couple of his books, especially Zen and the Birds of Appetite, it's taken very much from the point of view of Zen and of the transcendent self and of the ineffable. Other places he treats it more from. And the new man is totally from a Christian point of view or a biblical point of view. And the standard spiritual or monastic anthropology in Christian tradition. One of the lines of influence on Merton is through this Dan Walsh who is the philosopher at Fordham who is not a Thomist, but he's a Scotist. And Don Scotus seems to have placed more importance on the person as the center of philosophy than did St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas Aquinas tends to put the keystone of philosophy in being, as in pure being, which is magnificent. Scotus, however, typically Franciscan,


thinks more in a human way and more with reference to love. I haven't studied Scotus enough to know for sure. But that's Dan Walsh's thing. He goes from there and he's the one who seems to have turned Merton on to the notion of the person. You don't hear the word person that often in Merton. He tends to use the word self and then true self, inner self, and so on. Now this is extremely important because and when he says, in our own times, Merton and others have talked more about the positive counterpart to the false self than about the false self. This is extremely important. That we don't spend all our time talking about the false self today. It's important to know it. But if we get fixed on that, it becomes much too negative. Much too negative. So it's essential that the positive counterpart emerge, which is the true self of the person. And the true self not just is something remote. It's something completely untouchable. It's something only transcendent and in the other world. It's something 100% contemplative. It's something that's already living in you


and that you begin to see also in the other person. Because Merton says to do that. That's why he's crazy. Yeah, that's the trouble. There's a strain of sarcasm and of criticism that's so acute in Merton that it can kill you. The example that always comes to me is New Seeds of Contemplation, which is a magnificent book. But there are several chapters about what contemplation is not. Remember? By the time you finish them you're convinced you're never going to experience contemplation. Because it's just too special. Hmm? Where it gets it all together. The universal dance and so on. But that... He tends to be so critical, so sharp, you see, that he doesn't leave you anything. There's not enough humanity there at certain times. Which is odd because Merton had a lot of humanity. There's something in his writing, something in his thinking. The way to become a god is to be like Christ.


And to love him. And it seems to me that my experience with people on Gnostic trips like the Buddhist ones, the Hindu ones, it does tend to... It becomes an individual quest type thing. There's a lot of talk about compassion. But you don't see it manifested very much. It's pretty much like everybody's in there and it's every man for himself. And I think that that seems to be a danger of getting too much into the Gnostic thing. Forgetting. I wonder sometimes if that was something that entered into Christianity to a greater extent than it existed in it. It did, definitely. And it's been a strain in Christianity ever since. A strain. I mean, it's been a current in Christianity which is precious and very precarious at the same time. Which is indispensable and yet very dangerous at the same time, okay? Because without that glow of the inner pearl or whatever it is, which is the Gnostic experience in Christianity, I mean, legitimately Gnostic too,


Christianity becomes dead and external and humdrum and repellent to anybody who's had a spiritual spark awakened in him. But when the thing gets exaggerated, it pulls away, becomes interior, becomes individualistic, becomes intellectualistic sometimes. Sometimes on a deeper contemplative level. But it splits itself off and the individual begins to exist for himself and to orbit around the spiritual center which is really his ego, you know, but with a kind of a skylight in it, if you know what I mean. With a transcendent glow of some kind. Now, I'm being sarcastic about it now, but it's only because it does turn... And Merton's got some of that in him, you see. When at the end of his life he writes this inner experience, this spiritual experience, this inner journey of his and puts the false self out here and the true self in here, inside, okay? And the whole of the spiritual life is a movement from the false self into the true self. That's going in that direction. It's moving away from the world in a way in which there's not


obviously any return, okay? But the Christian thing is not really that, is it? The Christian thing is not really a removal from the world into an interiority which is progressive and which never brings you back. Now, Merton himself in his own life was the opposite. At least at points in his life. Because he was so conscious of social issues, you know, and of war and of race problems and things like that. And he had a heart which is open to all the world. But yet, in his theory, in his thinking, he tends to go in that direction. And of course, it goes along with the development of his solitude in the last years. But he's a gospel man. That always comes to mind when I start seeing the Christian pursuit of knowledge getting into the form of increasing complexity and this verified atmosphere that he can't even attain to it. Well, complexity is another thing, okay? You get the theologians who write books and then the disciple comes along and writes a book on the book. And then his disciple comes along and writes a PhD thesis on the book on the book. And that's what's happening nowadays. That's what's happening in scholasticism too.


And every time you put one book on top of another you get further away from the basic Christian experience. And you make it harder. It's a bigger burden. And people have to carry those books around. And then someday the gospel touches and you throw the whole thing away. And you discover that it's all inside of you anyway. And you don't need any of that stuff. The complexity of thought is one thing. But this thing is not so much in the direction of complexity as in the direction of interior remoteness and that contemplative elitist transcendent thing, you know? The top of the mountain. The top of the pyramid. The top of the birthday cake. Way up there. And you never get there because it's only for... Anyway, it doesn't seem to be the center of gravity at all of Christianity. Where the basic experience is the common experience in a sense, even though people forget it. And the key is always in returning somehow into the source. Just like our key is always to return somehow into the scriptures and to rediscover the life that's in the scriptures. Which is not to say that we don't have a solitary life, that we don't have an interior life. But that's tricky.


It's a tricky thing. You can see that kind of bite, that frostiness in Merton at certain times, which makes it just too hard in the long run. It's exciting reading sometimes, you know, that kind of thing. Because you say, boy, this is wonderful. I want to set out for that. I'm going to give myself to that. But in the long run you're discouraged because you see that your experience simply doesn't pass the test that he sets out. You can't get through those hurdles. But those hurdles are imaginable. It seems to me. Perhaps a testament to his ability to deal with other people in a way that happened in college or in appointments. Yeah. And Merton himself at certain times just busts out of this. When he's talking to his novices, he just bursts out of all this himself, you know, and he's completely in the right beam. But in his thinking, in his life, there's a continual tendency onto that Gnostic truth, that purely interior truth. Now, people need to explore that for us. It's true. And he's been a precious explorer in that direction, but he never did get it


all together and make a synthesis which does justice to both sides. And his difficulties with his own community and everything too. It's only that one man's life is incomplete. Nobody can get it all together because nobody can stand right in the middle. Nobody has that perfectly balanced. But this thing of Merton's about the true self, I think it's the right focus because it's the focus on the person which is the thing that has to emerge in our time in monasticism, in Christian monasticism, if it's going to work, if it's going to come to life fully, and if it's going to be able to receive the vocations which God is creating in our time. The human person, but not the self in the sense of the self-psychologies, the Esalen psychologies. Not the self on that level. Not simply the interior self


in the way in which Merton sometimes is in danger of saying it, which becomes a kind of isolation. I mean, it's communal in a transcendent way, but its communal level is so far away from your ordinary life, it's so far away from where you are that it becomes almost an abstract, an abstract ideal, an untouchable thing. It has to be communal closer to home, closer to our real experience. Now this person becomes one at a certain point with the church and becomes one with the church in a way which somehow is able to be operative in your life, is able to be experienced and is able to be operative in your life. So this is where the individual and the community converge at this point of the person. The person is, when it's real, when it's a light, it's both collective, communal, and individual. Now somehow the emergence that has to happen in our time is the emergence of the person and the emergence of the church at the same time. Remember that this church is one person, that this church is Christ, the body of Christ.


And that seems to be the center that has to turn on, that has to rise up and emerge if Christianity, the church and the monastic life are to have the vitality they should in our time. Excuse me. It's interesting that you remember it's right because he has a sense of the church and then he has a sense of the church. I think what happened was it's similar to what happened with Beat Griffiths, I think, that what they encountered was a pre-Radican two-church, okay? The institutional church. So church, at a certain point, means the structure. It means your nasty old abbot. It means the order. And so Merton swallowed the whole thing when he entered the monastic life. He had a terrific impulse of vocation, of conversion when he entered the monastic life. He swallowed the whole trough of this thing and then he spat it out piece by piece. And the same a little bit with the church, okay? He swallowed it whole and then he found that he had indigestion afterwards and he didn't really use the word and he loved the church with clarity, with fullness because he was never


in contact, I think, somehow with an ecclesiology that could turn him on, that could make him love it. Okay? So the church was either a very idealized thing or a very repellent reality but somehow the two were never gotten together in the way that it needs to. It's a real lack in Merton and also in Beat Griffiths. And for that reason, I think, you get people going east because they haven't found what's in the church. I don't want to exaggerate that because the explorations of these people are precious, they're indispensable and yet if they only had that real sense of the church there wouldn't be such restlessness in their seeking, in their explanation. It would be better integrated. And now, what's his autobiography? It's a chapter about the Indian civil. Do you think this is going to increase to a chaplainship in the western world? He decided he had to make this decision. And when he went east,


this Bishop Conway in Chicago wrote him a letter which he included in a book. And he said, the difference between Buddhism and Christianity is that Buddhism is man preaching to God and Christianity is God preaching to man. And I think, for me, as I consider what church is in terms of person salvation, that's, it's so important to have that to have that belief that the spirit is working there. That it's God working out my salvation for me, but I'm just becoming part of the body. Instead of my having to climb up on my own power. Yeah. That's sort of the first line that appears to you, that religions reach towards God and then suddenly God acts. Bang. He comes into the world and he... ...faith and not a bunch of things that we do or not even our determination or anything like that. It's our faith which means that its center of gravity that it orbits around, its center is out there. It's in him. And then what it meets is not just God


or not just the transcendent, but what it meets is an act of God which is coming towards us. And what it does is insert us into that act of God which is coming towards us and the whole thing is there. Because in the end we have to sort of lose our effort, lose the sense of everything we're doing into that act of God so that we have the sense of the act of God the whole of it is there because the act of God is the Word and the Spirit. And this holism that we're talking about is that kind of holism. To be picked up and integrated by being picked up into the Spirit which simply everything that it picks up it unites. Everything it picks up it pulls together integrates and perfects in some way. I don't want to get too far aside. But this point of the person and its relation to the Church, the two emergent things which are really one emergent thing which has to come out somehow in our time in the middle of the spiritual life. It's as if we have to return to this again and again and again. And of course the key sacramentally the key is the Eucharist where person and community person and Church are one. I keep repeating the words but it's not a question


of the words it's a question of being sure that there's something there that we don't see there. It's a question of something that's emergent and that we need to rotate around to face towards until we see it there. But you'll find that it'll keep being the center. It continues to be a center it continues to attract you to look at it and to travel around it to return to it again and again even if you don't see its face even if you don't see what it is. There are things like that that are worth orbiting around. Teilhard is another one who had this sense and he makes a good sort of compliment to Mertens and the others some of the spiritual men and we'll get into it in just a little bit more. Okay, the monk is the person who is continually in search of God endeavors to an inner transformation that notion of transformation is important to attain to an ever deeper consciousness of his true self in the presence of the risen Christ. We don't want to use too many words there


we don't want to think about it in a sense too much because it's a simplifying thing. Consciousness of his true self. You realize though that the true self is a consciousness and you can't be conscious of it as an object. That's the thing about the true self. It's not an object. You can't get it out there and look at it. It's always deeper always behind. It's that in you which is it's like when they talk about who is it that thinks or who is the thinker behind the thought. Can it be that we are thought and there's something that thinks it's that kind of thing but we're talking about something which is not simply transcendent not simply God other than us but which is also our self. This business of the deeper self of course is not limited to Christianity and not limited even to the religious writers the spiritual people but also the psychologists write about it today. There's a kind of psychology called humanistic psychology which already aims in that direction and there's a kind of called transpersonal psychology which makes that its focus that transcendent self. And Jung of course


has the self with a capital S which for him is kind of the totality and the center of the personality at once. And some of his disciples have specialized even more in that like Esa Joey the fellow who wrote Psychosynthesis. He spends a lot of time talking about the deeper self. Purity of heart the objective of monasticism. So now he begins to talk about this as the heart this deeper center common will in the Cistercian tradition. Man's total surrender to God and to his brothers not only by an external form of obedience but also by a renunciation of false self-images. Now that's he hasn't said it but that's what he's talking about when he's talking about humility I think is renunciation of false self-images. This gives freedom because we act in according to according to the way that we think of ourselves. This is important not only for the individual but also for the church. Consider that the church is unfree


to the extent that it has a false self-image of itself. Okay? If the church is able to let go of its self-image and live from its inner reality it is completely free and completely viable like the seed that can be blown anywhere on the earth and grow out of the ground. Okay? If the church is able to let go of the images which it has constructed of itself in a defensive a fearful way it becomes completely free. It lives only from within. You see what that means? It doesn't mean that it doesn't have to have any external structure or any externals of religion but that it becomes really the Catholic church at that moment living from the presence of God within it. Living from the indispensable which is what? Baptism, Eucharist the Trinity dwelling within it. And all of the rest is somehow mutable. That may seem over-simple but I think it's true. That's why this book of Dulles Models of a Church


is so mind-opening is so useful because we used to be enslaved by one model of the church one self-image of the church had the church enslaved the institutional image of an external structure which holds everything together but suppose it's not the external structure that holds everything together suppose that were to disappear suppose what really holds the church together is the Holy Trinity inside of it and sort of the life of that Trinity the experience of that Trinity the presence of God in Christians through baptism and simply that and simply that and communion in that the community of that suppose that's what holds it together the reality itself rather than the superstructure rather than the organization the institution the externals do you see how that's a liberation and how it makes the church like capable of being a diaspora which can spring up anywhere how it makes it sort of independent of culture and able to be reborn in any culture now what's true for the church is also true for the individual we attain our freedom by getting beyond our self-images by learning that


we really don't have to build ourselves up we really don't have to construct a self we really don't have to make an identity for ourselves our identity comes from God comes from the Father and it's sort of flowing up into us from our center from this hidden center that he's talking about like a spring what's true of the individual is true of the church and somehow the church has to find this in our time because it's challenged to go beyond any cultural bounds okay, now he talks a little bit about each of these three dimensions body, soul and spirit and this is debatable how you want to where you want to draw the lines between the three how you want to split them up he talks about body not only as a physical body but also the emotions some people would put the emotions on the second level of mind or soul they call it soul


there's a lot of our emotional makeup that is physical it's got its roots in our physiological reactions and so on and we know we say feeling when we say feeling we mean both emotion and we mean sensation not only physical feeling and there's a continuum between the two the whole psychosomatic thing illustrates also unconscious elements soul or mind refers to the conscious activity intellect, will and memory ok, this is the rational mind this is what where thinking goes on and where all of your deliberate activities go on and related to this is the ego if you read this book called Psychic Energy by a lady Esther Harding as her name she's a Jungian she talks about three levels too she talks about the level of the self which is the ultimate level level of the spirit as she's talking about here then the ego level and then I think the other one she calls the autos but consider an infant who doesn't who hasn't got really an intellect or a reason or emotion in this other sense feeling in this other sense a will ok he's living on another level


isn't he? what do you call that level? is it just the body? oh no, it's a little more than the body she calls that the autos as I remember that's just a pronoun the self she puts that on a lower level you've heard of autistic people autistic children that's a body with a little just enough kind of a pilot level of soul or a feeling a consciousness to go with it but the consciousness the human consciousness when it's pretty well developed is the ego with intellect and will and then we have the spirit and it's difficult to know exactly what we mean by the spirit particularly since it's used in so many different ways and even in different languages it has different senses esprit in French means a couple of different things it doesn't mean just what it means mind, first of all doesn't mean just what we mean by spirit and so in our own language spirit is ambiguous word so he's making an option here


for choice beneath or underneath is discursive discursive means that rational activity moving from point to point thinking thinking or feelings like when we meditate from point to point mathematically beneath or underneath is discursive and intuitive powers intuitive is that because like an arrow goes suddenly swiftly to the immediate thinking there exists an intermediate place of truth and love being and action ontology and morality ok, if you read Rahner writing about the heart he calls this the heart he says it's the point where body and soul are tied together where intellect and will are tied together where feeling and decision all those things are tied together he calls it the heart so there are a bunch of different names for it and you'll notice a terrific fluctuation overlapping and uncertainty a disorder of terms in this area and that's because it's so hard to grasp it you can't draw any boundary lines clearly in this area for some reason yeah


especially soul and spirit they're all talking about the whole man but from one aspect it seems but does that mean the core? yeah it's the center of the whole man so that really the highest things in man happen at the heart and evident for the Jews it's not so much the feeling that happens there but it's decision and understanding when Solomon prays for greatness of heart when it says in the Bible that Solomon received greatness of heart what it means is wisdom what it means is understanding not compassion we would think compassion or love right? it's understanding there's a good article in the dictionary of biblical theology on heart I think the one on spirit is probably pretty good too


now soul I think soul is good because soul is the one which tells you the difference between the spirit and the soul but you can read and read about these things and you have to get really a clear idea because they're not clear first of all it's primarily a receptive capacity for transcendental life obediential potency so when we heard that point is where it's beyond the fantasies of our mind beyond the brutalities of our will we can't get there we can't affect it it's receptive but receptive to God obediential potency openness to be wounded and to give oneself totally both to God and to man the fundamental option of the absolute love so this is practically identical to the true self as he's talking about the average nun or monk probably experiences it at least the average monk or nun is permitted to have one


which sometimes we would doubt experiences it in indirect manner as an inner somewhat elusive I think he's got it spelled wrong elusive should be elusive e-l-u-s-i-v-e a deeply vital and satisfying relational center of silent recollection prayer and inspiration that fine point of the soul a place within a center within where you hear God if any of you have read that book Finding Grace at the Center the last article in there it's a good article by this Father Clark talks about the notion of the center itself and precisely about this point that we're talking about I won't read any of it now because it will take us further afield secondly it's an operative capacity so first of all it's receptive because God acts there and we can't really get there but secondly it gets turned on somehow and it is a place from where we operate from where we operate at the root of both body and soul which can orient and unite all human powers expresses itself


through frequently referred to as the heart as in Cassian also called consciencia conscience consciencia has a double meaning it means both conscience and consciousness a quote from Vatican II this inner nucleus of the personality is man's true self the spiritual center of gravity the central meeting ground of his being from which body and soul brings forth like sides of a ladder so Roberts really loves to hover around this point Cassian and St. Benedict call it the heart with the heart there's so much ambiguity in that expression it means everything from the highest or the deepest capacities of man to a lot of things that are pretty superficial the valentine statement heart means everything and so we have to be careful in the way that we use it remember that the Greeks would tend to call this the noose or the intellect since they think


in such intellectual terms Paul calls it both heart and spirit I can refer you to that article on the point in Merton it's in Social Studies 1971 number 2 by my sister M. Madeleine Abdel Noor Le Point Virge in Thomas Merton where she takes apart that text of Merton's from Conjectures of the Billy Bystander part of which I read before and tries to find all of the allusions in tradition to each one of those sections in the first section she talks about Le Point Virge the virgin point the center of our being and she gets together a bunch of of texts and expressions from tradition Sinteresis is one of them other mystics have employed terms such as the scintilla anime scintilla means spark


the spark of the soul Eckhart likes to talk about that apex mentis the fine point of the mind of the soul the ground of the soul the core the inmost center here is something from Eckhart there is in the soul something which is above the soul in the soul above the soul divine simple a pure nothing rather nameless than named rather unknown than known sometimes I have called it a power sometimes an uncreated light sometimes a divine spark yeah remember right in the front of his book Return to the Center he's got a quote from William Law on this point he talks about a tree and the point where before the roots of the branches separate you've got this one point where they're all together and he says we have a point like that in this remember that? and his old book


is concerned with that that center but then he relates that center to a kind of quite subtly it gets related to a kind of wisdom a kind of varied point in history which is way back there somewhere remember? the center becomes related to the past becomes related to history and the further you go back in history the deeper you go towards the center that's the basic the basic illusion in that book I think that to get towards the center you go backwards is that so? to get towards the core you go back until you find the original wisdom the original revelation which for him seems to be expressed more in Hinduism than anywhere else is that so? if you go back to the New Testament when you get back to the New Testament you're taken forward to the end which is the wisdom of Christ somehow in the heart read 2nd Corinthians 3rd and 4th that's what he's also in many of those chapters about Jesus and his glory


and his salvation that's what he's talking about but he's talking also in many of those chapters about going back to an original wisdom which has been lost then towards the end of the book he relates it to the resurrection to the Parousia but it's kind of a touch which is put on afterwards basically he seems to orient you towards that what would you call it prehistoric almost traditional wisdom the kind of text that Adityananda was reading the Vedic text oh yeah so he's I don't understand the timing because I don't know the timing yeah the person the person is a wonder you know I think he's the same but everybody's doctrine we have to look at very carefully we have to look at at the teaching even though we may venerate the person we have to do this in every case


and if you read for instance that article on the resurrection that was in the tabloid a couple of months ago you'll find that same thing that the historical movement the entrance of the center is something that's put into history by God that appears in the incarnation and the resurrection and so on it's there the center as somehow the church and as the new heart that historical dimension is essential of course there are ideas here like Eastern religion sometimes going backwards it's precisely the trouble if you put B Griffiths together with Teilhard de Chartin you've got something but B Griffiths alone takes you back there leaves you there it's an evolution of the person alright


of the person forward evolution of the person with all the miseries that are involved in that evolution including the miseries of technology and of the history of the west but all that is part of the drama you can't go backwards and skip any of it it all has to be somehow brought together in the final synthesis and the final synthesis is the synthesis around the center which is the goal which is the end the center is the risen Christ ok and that's in the future that's not in the past it's in the future it's timeless but as far as we're concerned it's future ok we're moving towards our future and we have to think of it that way in order to be able to I don't know grow into it the right way it's not that we can ever move backwards in history even trying to move backwards towards the New Testament you go back to the New Testament it tells you go ahead you go back to Saint Paul and you find yourself looking straight ahead towards the Perusian towards the risen Christ and it's after all with Christianity that history comes into history when God


acts in history and this sort of quantum of energy comes into history which becomes a dynamism in the history of the West that's why it sort of pushes the world it's because that Christian quantum is inside of it pushing it ahead ok I think we're very quick to go Gloria do you