July 1st, 1981, Serial No. 00691

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Monastic Spirituality Set 4 of 12




Let's review a little bit first, in order to get the framework, the context. He was talking first about spiritual methods. We discussed that also on Sunday morning last week, that whole bind that we seem to be in. Feeling a need for spiritual methods and not having distinct ones, feeling a kind of poverty in that respect. And at the same time, feeling a kind of resistance to, or complete subjection to, any method. Then we found this term halateia and conversatio that results from that. Let me give you the reference to Haussler's book, The Name of Jesus, where he has a good treatment of halateia. Haussler is the master on these things. He's the one who has studied best the Greek sources of monasticism and has done the whole vocabulary thing and everything. He understands the terms, he writes about them. The trouble is, most of his stuff is not in English, most of it is in French. But he's got the best theological understandings for them now, and the best interior sympathy


for these things, and everybody will know. His section on halateia in this book starts on 165 and goes to 172, if you're interested. Halateia means way of life, but you'll find out what it means when I quote him. He really writes with a monastic spirit when he writes about these things. He's a Jesuit. The only scope for personal initiative within the universally necessary practice of the virtues in keeping the commandments... Now, those are the things that everybody had to do anyway, so if you went into the desert, you'd naturally have to keep the Ten Commandments. You'd try to keep the commandments of the gospel. Those are the first things we find in St. Benedict's chapter 4, right? The instruments of the works. The Ten Commandments, and then the... At least the ones that refer to the brother. And then the Two Great Commandments. In fact, they come first. You shall love the Lord your God, you shall love your brother. The only scope for personal initiative within this practice lies in the individual's free


choice of what is called a halateia, in the restricted sense of a rule of life or a special resolution. Now, he's talking about the desert. He's talking about the freedom of the desert father near you before the organizational thing sets in. So this is basically a semi-hermetical form of life. Because once you have a synovium, then you probably have a kind of distinct rule which everybody follows, and which fills a lot of the space that he's talking about. For example, Abbot Dioscorus of Nemezias began every year with a particular resolution. The word is halateia. In particular, the word used for resolution is halateia. One year proposing not to go and visit anyone, then another year not to speak, then to eat only fruit, then not to waste vegetables. If you want to start, I suggest the last one. Rather than not speaking to anybody for a year, things like that. Those are for the graduate course. Each ascetic was permitted to follow a program of his own, which he could keep all his life


or else change if he discovered something better. It must have been interesting. Each one doing something different. One living in a tree, and the other one eating just vegetables, and the other one not talking at all. Presumably somebody else would be talking to everybody. What? I said what is it? What is it? That's the Syrian scene. Because everybody had something different in Syria. You live in a cave, or you eat on the grass. Is that what you're talking about? No, this is in general. He's not just talking about Syria. He's got this in general. In fact, it doesn't relate only to the Desert Fathers, but to the whole scene. There's a couple of centuries. The first couple of centuries of the monasticism. Each ascetic was permitted to follow a program of his own, which he could keep all his life or else change if he discovered something better. Then he gives that story about St. Hilarion and Epiphanius. Hilarion didn't eat meat, and Epiphanius didn't get married. So Hilarion's response was, your palataia is better than mine.


And so on. Now that word has a long history in Greek literature, you see. Because evidently that's the title of the Republic. Plato's Republic. I didn't realize that. Palataia. Because it comes from polis, the Greek word for city. And you know how the Greeks were obsessed with the notion of the city? How they thought in terms of the city. And thought, in a sense, in political terms. That is, the perfection of man was somehow in his life, at least in an active sense. The perfection of a man, in another sense, was contemplation. But that's more select. The perfection of man is seen in political terms, I believe. How one relates with his fellow man. And hence the importance of the city, state, and so on. So this carries down in the way that ancient man, in the Greek tradition, tends to think of morality, and hence of spirituality. And it passes right into the Christian thing. But you can see that the monks change it a good deal. And that this palataia is not a way of relating to your brothers,


your fellow citizens in the community, necessarily. It's just your way of life. It's your lifestyle. But here it's an individual lifestyle. Now, the centripetical tradition, since this time, has greatly discouraged that kind of thing, right? In Saint Benedict, you find, don't do anything that isn't sanctioned by the tradition of the fathers. But that's already in Cassian. It's already in Cassian in the Institutes, if you remember. Very quickly, it seems to get modified into something else. I don't know if it was ever really as wild as Hausser paints it here. But it's a suggestion that you do find in the Desert Fathers, at least. There must be a great variation here, even between the Desert Fathers, some of them, who allow this kind of liberty, which takes a great deal of discernment. Because if you're going to let people do all kinds of different external things, that means you really must have a handle on what's going on interiorly. You must be able to make an interior discernment which tells whether they're making progress or not. Because the only way you can judge those different palataia is by the fruits, right? It's by whether they're working or not.


So that means you really must have to understand the spiritual world. Otherwise, you can go by the rule, right? Which is what is generally done. You go by an external rule. Everybody does the same thing. And then, whether or not the fruits appear, you feel that it's okay. Unfortunately, that's not so satisfying. That's what happens in the absence of that discernment, in the absence of that charism, when the institution simply takes over. Monasticism. Using the same title, Aristotle wrote a book, No Longer Extant, which described 150 different political constitutions. So it could be a political constitution. It could also be related to a monastic rule. But here he's talking about it in terms of a particular individual lifestyle. And it's used sometimes in the New Testament. Monasticism was born in a search for the optimum palataia. See, when the monk would go to a spiritual father and say, Well, give me a word. How shall I live? What shall I do?


What he wanted was a palataia. He felt this charism in him to give himself 100% to the Lord. And now he was looking for a concrete, external way in which to do it. An external way, but also an interior discipline, of course, the one with it. But he wants to know what to do. And that's still a fact. And when people go to a monastery and want a method, that's what they're looking for. And we don't feel satisfied unless the thing somehow integrates our whole life into it. The body as well as the mind, the feelings, the heart, the spirit. Somehow it's supposed to pull us all together. And if the body isn't incorporated into it, we feel discontent. We're not happy. We haven't got enough. From that source springs the prodigious vitality of the monastic movement and the inexhaustible relevance of the texts which bear witness to it. The Vitae Patrum, the Lives of the Fathers, the Epitegma to the Life of St. Anthony, the Life of St. Pocomius, and so on.


Nothing captivates a man's attention more than the spectacle of someone like himself whose life is a quest for the one thing which is of supreme concern to all men, salvation. And that is salvation. Or in other words, the quest for a way of growing in goodness and happiness, a way of finding complete happiness by finding God. All this is implied and understood in the question which the monks were continually asking one another, give me a word to teach me how I can be saved. These special practices or lifestyles, Palateia, included everything except salvation itself and the commandments obligatory for all. They referred especially to the evangelical councils, poverty tested the obedience itself, and the means of observing them perfectly. In short, they embraced all the instruments of good works, in the terms of St. Benedict, from the most obvious to the most subtle, from a spectacular flight from the world to the desert solitude, to the little ejaculatory prayer unnoticed by anyone. And then he goes on to the kind of work that the monks preferred was the hidden work, finally. That was what the fathers approved of most,


was the practice, the method, which nobody knows about except yourself, the interior practice, visible only to yourself and to God. And that's what Jesus is talking about in Matthew chapter 5 or 6, where he says, when you pray, when you fast, when you give alms, do it so that only your Father who sees in secret can see you. So he talks about the hidden work, Crypte Malete. But we don't need to go into that now. The name of Jesus. What it's about, actually, is continual prayer. It's about, eventually, about the prayer of Jesus. And what he's done is a historical search of how the name of Jesus and the name of the Lord is used. But while he does it, he roams all around. I'm talking about this palatia, how this looks a little like a subject. But he ties it in by pointing out that the central palatia, or practice of the monk would be prayer, a prayer of the heart, a continual prayer. Which would be a hidden prayer, also, an interior practice, and that's how he relates to this. But it's a book about prayer. A beautiful book.


You said it's shorter than this mimeograph. Remember that? Is that Hesychasm? Oh yeah, that's right. Hesychasm. That one's kind of more technical. But it's good, too. That's good. A lot of good texts in it, too. That's mimeographed, and it's got one of the spiral binders on it. Those are the only two books of us that have an English. How about this book? What's that? How about this book that has names in Greek? That's right. If you borrow a sentence from somebody, there's a verse in Greek, but you don't translate it. He's stingy, though. So when you send it, he says, so you can see. Oh yes, that's obvious. Somebody needs to go through and translate those Greek sentences. Okay. Palatia. So actually, it's a question of how do we express this grace that we have, this vocation that we feel, this charism, this presence of the Holy Spirit, this gift. The gift which is given to us


and which asks for us, the gift comes into us and asks us to go along with it in the sense of giving ourselves. And how do we find a way of doing that 100%? The question, in other terms, of heroism, as some people would call it now, the question of finding the meaning of your life, of sort of, well, call it spending yourself or using yourself, that's what we want, really. We don't know what it means, and so we tend to bring it back to ourselves and to be self-loving. But what it really asks for is some way of spreading ourselves, of using ourselves, 100%. And this palatia, this question is the seeking for that. But actually, we don't find one way that satisfies us for our whole life. But if we do, it's something very simple like love, or faith and hope and love. Because there isn't any one exterior practice that does it all. And in the beginning we think, well, maybe there is. There is a practice and there is something we have to do, like a rule, for instance, which takes us outside of ourself. And that's the essential thing, because the essential lesson is to go outside of yourself. The essential lesson is to go outside of yourself.


You go outside of yourself in faith and you go outside of yourself in love. You go outside of yourself towards the Father, towards Jesus, you go outside of yourself towards your brother in the Holy Spirit, towards the world. You go back, you go forward. In both cases you go outside of yourself. And somehow the whole lesson is there. And it's a question of this 100% thing, of wanting to be used, as it were, 100%, which means wanting to die to ourself and rise again 100%, which means wanting to be filled with God 100%, wanting to be transformed, as it were. And in the beginning we think there is one external thing that will do it. And we have to put our nose to the grindstone in that way. And then, finally, it turns out that it's our whole life around us in some way. And that there is a way of living 100% into God and into your situation, which may not be just one thing, or even a list of things, but some kind of responsiveness at every moment to the demands of the Spirit and the demands of simply the life around us


where God has put us. But that doesn't mean that we don't have a particular way of life. Obviously we do. We're rooted into it. And then the situation grows out of that. So it's a continuing quest for the person who is spiritually awake, asking ourselves, well, what does he want? What does God want of me? First of all, what does God want as a way of life? What does God want as a particular practice? Where does God want me to focus myself? And then, what does God want me to do at this moment? How to respond to this situation? ... [...] There's your practice. ... ... It's a symbol. It's a symbol of your politea, of your way of life that you take up.


Just like for us, we hand a monk a psalter. In the Western tradition, very often a monk would be given a psalter. We still do that, don't we? He's given a psalter when he makes his profession, indicating that this is your practice. It's a symbol, even though his whole life may not be in that. Actually, it's more concentrated in a way, in the Jesus prayer thing, because obviously that's something you're going to do for his psalter. It's not as clear that way. Okay, he talks then about a triple way. A triple way which involves monastic observance on the outside, Lectio Divina sort of in the middle zone. The bodily thing, the mental thing, and then the spiritual thing, as it were. And we saw, really, that we have to criticize that a bit, but that's okay, because you've got to have a framework, and then every framework, in the end, breaks down. It's a kind of scaffolding, and you have to take it away. Before the total and invisible mystery


of the thing we're talking about, which is, however, a Trinitarian mystery, and all of these ways, these threefold schemes that people have in the spiritual realm. There are a hundred of them, threefold schemes, especially in Christianity, you see, and they're all kind of structures that appear and then disappear within this great invisible Trinitarian mystery that we're living. Each of them, an attempt to express the unspeakable threefoldness of the thing. We don't know how to say it, but it's there. And so this is one way of saying, well, we can take it and leave it. We can take it, use it, and throw it away. And we'll find another one that will serve for a little while. Rahner has this marvelous article on the gradual ascent to Christian perfection. It's in Theological Investigations, volume three, where he asks, well, are there stages in the spiritual realm? And then he goes through some of those threefold ways. And I've never seen anybody do a better job of talking about that issue. Because there is a progress, and there are stages, and yet there's something that's constant and that never changes


and that's there at the beginning and there throughout and there at the end. And he describes the stages in terms of overcoming concupiscence. In other words, he describes the stages in terms of increasing freedom, increasing freedom, or to put it in his words, increasing depth of existential act. It's difficult to write in our language. The existential depth of an act. In other words, we act on the surface with a little bit of freedom, but largely determined by external factors. We act a little deeper. We have a little more control. We get a little more control of ourselves through discipline or whatever, in God's grace. And we act somehow with a totality of ourselves. We move all in one. We roll like a ball. We're round on all sides. Wherever God's Spirit moves us. Now that's to be free. And that somehow is to have arrived in a certain sense in perfection, because those things have been broken down. Those corners have been rubbed off, which limited our movement,


which limited our freedom. So we act from the center. That's what he calls the existential depth of an act. But then there's also a series of situations that are going to come to us in life. Those situations can be artificial ones, in a sense, in the monastic life. We're in our job. But they can in a controlled environment. They can also be simply, as it were, accidents. The things of life that God sends to us. But too often, in the monastic life, when people write about these things, they forget about the external situation. They just talk about this interior thing, as if it were isolated. So as Rana puts out, you have to consider both this succession, a series of external events that are going to come to you, and also your interior progress, this increasing depth of your existential life, which is increasing freedom, which is increasing ability to love, simply. He puts it in this existentialist language, to make it closer to our experience. Anyway, I've shifted the subject a little bit, because actually he's not talking about three phases


of the monastic life. He's talking about three aspects of the monastic life, right? Three dimensions. But you'll find that this tends to become, tends to turn into three phases, and vice versa. You get people talking about three phases of the monastic life, like the purgative, the famous three phases. The purgative life, the period of purification. The illuminative life, that's the period of enlightenment. And then the unitive life, which is the period of union with God, or divinization, or absorption in God, or transfiguration, or transformation, whatever you want to call it. Those three phases. But actually, it turns out that those three phases are not just one, two, three, but they coexist in some way, so that there's a purgation, a purification that occurs throughout. And the purification is coming from an illumination. There's an illumination that's there from the beginning. And there's even a union that's there from the beginning. And this is very important, because you've got to realize that everything is in the seed of your baptism anyway, but the whole thing, the whole divinization is already there in the beginning. It's the way that


the Christian thing is. It's the beauty of it, in a sense. That's the zen-ness of Christianity, which is Christianity itself carried to the Anthropology. The fact that it's all there from the beginning. It's all in this pearl of baptism. We'll go a little more into those three stages as he goes along. Now he gets into Anthropology, and we could spend a year on this. Ephraim is doing a little study of monastic anthropology. He's got a course in that. It's not monastic, it's simply patristic. He's got a course in that I would urge you to use. But this is central for us, because the reason why most of our regular academic theology doesn't help us in our monastic life is because it doesn't have this anthropological focus. In other words, it's not


focusing on what goes on inside of us as we become transformed through the Christian grace. It's focused on the head level. It doesn't really touch it. Now, there's been a breakthrough in our time, of course. Psychology, on one side, which challenges Christianity and says, psychology is like the compensation for the lack of Christian theology to deal with the human being. There's more than one side to this. Because as man moves away from the faith, he gets sort of warped because he doesn't any longer have his transcendent thing. His whole dynamism doesn't move, doesn't find its ground in God, and its end in God. So he gets warped, and something starts to happen inside of him. He gets these strains in himself. He's like a building that's pushed off center. And so he has to invent psychology in order to compensate for that. I'm exaggerating a little bit, but a lot of this is true. Because in the old days, psychology was built right into theology, you see. But when you don't believe in God anymore, or basically he's not the ground of your existence,


then you've got to start finding another ground. And if you don't have a ground for your existence, look out, because your whole structure begins to become very shaky, and develop all kinds of stresses. And these stresses are what they talk about in terms of anxiety, that kind of thing. So psychology comes to fill this space that hadn't been filled by Christianity, just because of that rupture between, say, church, and theology, and world, or the secular world. And you can't say the blame is purely on one side or purely on the other. You can't say, well, those people are atheists, and therefore they've got all these problems because they don't believe in God. You can't say, it's just that the church hasn't known how to deal with man. It's a split which sort of spreads the blame on both sides, just as the evil results. The poverty is on both sides, both within theology and within psychology. A psychology which only goes, you know, the fender-mending thing, which only goes skin deep, in a sense, or ego-deep, let us say. It doesn't go to the spirit. And a theology which doesn't know how anymore to


heal man and to relate to his experience. So the problem is how to get the two together. They were together in patristic times and in the Middle Ages, and yet there, of course, there were shortcomings there, too. It wasn't that the thing was perfect, because man could be also kept a child by theology and sort of dominating it. So this escape into the secular, this liberation from theology for a while is necessary, so that theology itself can follow and pick up the slack and finally be able to deal with the whole of man once again. Our problem now is to get it back into the... get the wine back into the wineskin, in a sense. ... He also said that almost all


the people who came to him in the second half of life, that is, after the deeper dimensions of life began to open up, their problem was a religious problem, basically a religious problem. So Jung was somebody who understood that. Whatever we think of his philosophy in the end, that's something that he realized. And therefore he opened the psychological world to the spiritual, because he knew that the real answers were there. The risk is that afterwards he soaks up, absorbs the spiritual world into the psychological world, but that's another problem. At least he opens it up, whereas Freud doesn't. You see, Freud simply dissolves spirituality and theology and God into practically into the body, in a sense, into instinct, which is intuitive. ... ... ...


He knew so much that he couldn't anchor his faith outside his own knowledge. It's almost like that. He was a massive mind, for depth as well as ... Okay, I want to say something about this whole business of, now that we're ditching Andis, it's a useful time to bring this into focus. The lack of a monastic theology, that is an anthropological contemplative theology, and this is what Roberts is talking about in the bottom of 129 there, where he says that in the West we've been in a bad pickle with regards to our understanding, doctrinal understanding of monasticism. The lack of a monastic theology, this has to be remedied today. We have to have a theology that is anthropological and contemplative, okay? A theology that refers to man and what goes on inside man. So a theology that brings in a kind of psychology, because the early monastic theology was a psychology. If you look at Evagrius,


look at Cassian, look at the Cistercians of the Middle Ages, you find out that they were writing a theological psychology or a psychological theology. They were dealing with what goes on inside of your heart, what you experience, in other words. A theology of experience, but also a theology, a contemplative theology in the sense that it takes you beyond your experience. It gives you a road by which your experience transcends itself and moves towards God. If you just stay on the level of psychology, okay, do psychology. If it's going to be a theology, it has to take your experience itself through a death and resurrection into the experience of God, into the knowledge of God. And so there's going to be a path of transformation, gradual transformation of experience, but always dealing with experience. Even when we're talking about faith, we're talking about the experience of faith. Theology is not something just out there. The truth isn't out there, but the truth is working and acting in us. And it's a question for me, it's a question of getting these three areas back together again. The area of


external life and experience, the interior area of, as it were, contact with God, or prayer, or the Spirit, and thought moving in between, the work of the mind in between those two, breathing into each other. Which is related to what he's talking about here, but it's just slicing the pie a little bit different. But it's as if it were a pie, it's as if the human being is a pie with three slices or maybe three concentric circles. The innermost spirit center point, where he touches God and where everything in himself is rooted in the elements, where it's all one. And secondly, I'm talking about the outside, the sort of exterior level of the body where he relates, where he experiences with his senses, where he knows other people, even though that knowledge goes much deeper than the body. And where he acts, you know, he acts especially, because act commits the body. And so in committing the body, it commits the soul. We only commit our soul, our heart, when we commit our body.


Both the sexual thing and the passion, death thing of Christ tied to that. And in the middle, the work of the mind. In the middle, our mind is working so much, it's working all the time. And what it should be doing when it's working, is to weave together these two dimensions, weave together our experience of God with our experience of the world, weave together the inside with the outside, weave together the spirit with act, weave together prayer with life, that weaving activity of meditation with the mind. And that's what theology is about. So theology should be a meditated theology, which somehow brings us together. Not just a head, but it has a function. A function of relating, not a function of going off by itself and building a beautiful Gnostic world, a beautiful theological structure. The structure isn't really the point. The point is the connections that it makes. The point is the integrity, the oneness of life that it makes. Now there's another thing here about defending the use of the mind in the spiritual life. It's as if you've got the spirit and


the intellect, okay? And they liberate one another. If you just go on spirit, your spirit's going to narrow down to experience sooner or later. Then it's going to be your own experience. And pretty soon, you're not going to be able to get out of your own experience. You'll be captured by your own experience, and that can turn into a hundred kinds of idolatry. From the idolatry of the guru to idolatry of some inner experience of your own, or some emotion, or some other kind of interpersonal love. On the other hand, you could easily get imprisoned by the intellect, by the mind, by reason, and the only thing that gets you out of that box is the spirit. So the two liberate one another. And unless you have both of those operating, both cylinders that were functioning, you're going to get caught into one thing or another. You're going to narrow down in one way or another. In monastic life, you probably either narrow down into the ascetical devotional trip, or you narrow down into the rational trip, the intellectual trip, or the cultural trip. So they have to liberate one another. They have to confront one another and work back and forth between the two. Theology without experience is empty and dead


and rigid. But experience without theology pretty soon begins to orbit around itself again, and become a self-certain thing in some way. And can become very hard, too, and amazingly narrow after a while. And what begins in the spirit ends up being just a narrow, stiff, empty nutshell. There's a kind of rigidity that comes in in either one of those if they close around themselves. And behind the two, of course, is what? Behind the two is the great mystery which embraces both the Father, the unity, the support, as Aditya Nagi says, in our Trinitarian traditions, the Father. The unknown, however, from whom is emanating continually everything and flowing into us. Do you mean that do you mean our perception of how we are and make how we act? That's part of it.


Our understanding the way that we think is going to determine how we act. And it even helps to determine what we experience. Because immediately when we experience something, we interpret it. We have to interpret it. We don't have any other way. We can't just leave the experience here, so we interpret it. And that determines how we relate to that experience. Similarly, how we think about ourselves determines how we behave. If I think of myself in a negative way, I'm going to behave in a cowardly way, in a non-existent way, in a, what do you call it, contractive way, you know, a loser's way. If I think well of myself and well of life and of the universe, then I'll act in that way. So the thought in the middle is what determines. And that's where the revelation comes through the light, comes through the word, comes through Jesus. You see, he's the middle term, the word, the sun, the light, who comes into the world and illuminates the world and enables it to get itself together in a sense. And through him we receive that spirit, which then comes out from the fountain within us, from the center and transforms the whole thing.


The fountain of living waters, which begins to fill the earth, fill our earth, our body. But the light plays a central role. And so the gospel and this chewing on the gospel and this weaving together with the gospel of the interior and the exterior. Well, is it like the development of the religion has to develop the religion and how it can be kind of breaking into the past and so on? It doesn't need to be. And it won't be totally new either. That is, it's got to grow out of the tradition. It has to be in continuity with the tradition. But to be adequate to today, the point is, in some way it includes all of the tradition within itself. What is the basis for the beginning of the New Testament? The New Testament. Because ultimately the framework has to be in the New Testament. Take St. Paul for instance. He provides a framework for monastic theology. Both on the ascetical side and on the contemplative side. David?


David? There's an if there. There's an if there. There's an if there. Okay, first of all, that idea of being saved, that's been interpreted variously within within


different Catholic, different Christian traditions. Catholicism has tended to put a lot of motivation in there with saying you're saved, yes, but you've got to work at it. St. Paul says, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, okay? The Protestant tradition sometimes has tended to say, if you've been baptized in the Spirit then you're saved, okay? And that's it. There's no further progress to be looked for. But Catholicism has always said you're saved, now begin to become what you are, okay? You're saved and now you have a big long road to go really to be saved. You're saved and yet you've only begun, you've only been planted. You're saved and yet you're only a seed, okay? And you have to grow into this big tree. It's like that in a Catholic tradition. Which is a mystery, it's a paradox, that you're saved and it's not just a question of holding on to it, it's a question of growing into it. It's given to you as a seed, okay? The seed of salvation is within you. But you have this whole life to confront, for instance, with all kinds of... For some people, okay, it wouldn't be a matter of entering a monastery


and finding some way of maturing. It would be a question just of coping with life. For instance, those first Christians, okay, under persecution. It was a question simply of coping with life and holding on to what they had. If you read St. John or St. Paul, writings of those Christians under persecution, that's the way it is. And also the letter of the Hebrews. Hold on to what you have. Live that gift you've been given. And that gift was very alive, you can tell. In other words, they knew what it was to be saved. They knew what that sanctity was. Hold on to that and when all these things come at you, when this persecution comes, when death comes to you, hold on to that and that's all you have to do. But for us, it's something else. Because we don't start with that persecution, okay? So it's almost as if we need a greenhouse in order to help that fruit to mature. If we were like over in Russia, we wouldn't need a monastery in order to have that fruit mature. Because the world itself, and its adversity, and its negativity towards Christ, towards the truth, would be enough. ...


Even to live that vocation takes a great, a lot of effort in the world, right? ... Well, one person, okay, a lot of people would put it in these terms. They want to experience that salvation which they've been given, or they want somehow to secure it, or to grasp onto it, because they know they've got it and they haven't got it. And we know it from our own mind, from what goes on inside of us, because it's like St. Paul in Romans chapter 7, he says, there's a law in my mind which I love. Now, the law of God in my mind, but in my body I do something else. And we could just as well say that in our hearts we do something else. When we know that we've got that seed of salvation in us, that our life may be 99% just somewhere else, just on a different level.


So the reason a person enters a monastery is to get it all together. Somehow grasp that thing completely. Not because he wants to, not because he just chooses to, but because he knows God is asking him to do it. He knows somehow that the old word perfection, which we don't like very well, we know somehow that God is inviting him to grab that thing totally, which he's been given as a seed, to grow completely into that thing which has been planted in him. It's an invitation that he knows he's received. Like when Jesus says to somebody, well, come follow me. That's what he's saying. Like when he says to the rich young man there, he says, you lack one thing. Sell everything you have, and if you want to be perfect, go, sell everything you have, then come and follow me. If you want to be perfect, there's something more than just that obedience to the commandments and so on, okay, that's salvation. And yet it's the same salvation. It's a paradox, it's a mystery. There's no way in words, it's got those two sides to it. It's completely here, and yet it's not yet at all. It's like enlightenment, you know.


Especially in Soto Zen, the idea that somehow you're already enlightened, but boy, keep at it. You're just sitting, you're already enlightened, but keep at it if you want to be enlightened. You can't stop. You've got somewhere to go. The motivation is there. Somehow there's something total ahead of you. The already and the not yet. But the monks are the ones, historically, who really grasp that thing that, yeah, we've got it, but we really haven't got it. But sometimes Christians in the world think, well, this is the kingdom of heaven, we just live our good life, and that's it. But the monk knows that he's got somewhere to go. This whole business of seeking God in St. Benedict's School, it's not that we've already found him. He's found us, but some way we haven't found him yet. We're invited to travel this path to find him in some way. When Jesus said, come follow me, we know that there's more to it than what we've found. ...


It seems to relate to scandal and the little ones. If you scandalize one of these little ones, remember? I think it ties in. What I was thinking is that maybe that's not necessarily something that's injected out of context, because I was thinking what he might have meant by your foot and your eye, why he chose your hand and your foot and your eye. Maybe I'm being too gnostic about this myself, but I was thinking that kind of your hand or your foot could be works or directions, things that you're pursuing as you go the way you walk. And the eye could be wisdom in your own insight. Yeah, that's good, I never thought of that. No, if it affects your own insight, if it's causing you to sin, gouge out your eye. In other words, don't pursue that wisdom that you're pursuing, perhaps. That's good, sure. Now, when we talk about experience, when we talk about enlightenment, we talk about perfection, we talk about... I wasn't talking about knowledge then, but we could be talking about knowledge. If we're talking about experience, we're talking about some kind of gnosis, therefore we're talking about knowledge, contemplative knowledge or whatever.


And it isn't the point either, you know. But somehow it's the mark, it's the track of the path along which we're invited to follow. In other words, it's a thing which draws some people to become monks, is the quest of contemplation, the quest of the knowledge of God. But the fact is that the knowledge of God tricks you, because it changes on you. At first it's going to be a gnosis, it's going to be this beautiful unified insight of the cosmos and everything, and then it just disappears, then it just goes away. And it turns out that the knowledge of God actually is living according to God and not seeing anything, and not knowing anything, and being a little child in a sense. But a little child who somehow knows his father well enough to be as his father in this world. So that's the knowledge of God that you're supposed to acquire. In letting go even of the other knowledge, letting go of God for God's sake, that kind of thing, which is a wisdom beyond wisdom. A knowledge beyond knowledge. So it gets very paradoxical after a while. And even the


knowledge has to die in order to resurrect into something greater. So this kingdom of heaven is a very paradoxical thing, because you get it and you see it and now you don't. You're given it and then you lose it. But when you lose it, you know you've got something more. There's always something more there so that you can give it up. And that more is already given to you, in a sense, but it's transcendent, less visible, less palpable, less in your experience, and therefore demanding that you go beyond yourself. And it's always faith, hope, and love. It's the only thing that's worth it. I was just thinking of these Baltimore Catechists in the West in 1883. Why did that make you want to go up and serve them? Because this knowledge of love seems to be so intertwined in the Christian experience. It's like you can't really separate knowledge from love. Knowledge and love are wisdom, you know. And the monks, the contemplatives can stress the knowledge aspect. Okay, but they better not forget the love aspect. And also the love that calls them outside themselves


and may call them to give up the knowledge. Okay? So it's a weaving activity once again now. Now knowledge predominates and now love. But somehow the central track remains, stays straight. Okay. But then, you know, it's undeniable that there are different dimensions to this. And you can say love is the knowledge of God and then you can say the knowledge of God and the love of God are two different things. They're the same thing and they're two different things. Because they're different dimensions of the same thing, okay? Because the emphasis on the love, the aspect of love is different from the aspect of knowledge. Once again, this is a kind of Trinitarian reality, okay? Like word and spirit and so on. The emphasis, when you emphasize love it's different from when you're emphasizing knowledge, okay? They grow from the same root. They terminate in the same place. They're bound into the same


unity. But they're two different emphasis, two different dimensions. Because we know that it's different to study than to love. If you loved to study, you'd feel different about it. You have to let go of the knowledge for the sake of the love. But if you let go of the knowledge for the sake of the love, it means that you're knowing on a level beyond your knowledge, you see? Because you couldn't do that unless you knew to do it, right? So knowledge always contains love. Or rather, love always contains knowledge. And the knowledge of God somehow always contains love, too. But one can be submerged in the other on the surface, and then it turns over and the other one's on the surface and the other one's submerged, you see? So it's that way. It's very much that way in the monastic life. Where you may not seem to have any knowledge in the inside for a long while. A real desert. And you may go ahead on a love that you don't even feel because it's just doing, you know? It's just your will that seems to be operating. And yet somehow it's all there inside. And in its time, the love, the joy, and the knowledge


will emerge. This passage in St. Paul's that you may come to love although Christ is dead and you may not know the Lord. Now that's a couple of passages there. One is Philippians, but the other one is Ephesians where he says that you may come to know the love of God which surpasses all knowledge. Sure. The knowledge and the learning is vital. It's not the knowledge, it's the learning. Think of light. It's better to think of light. Because thinking about knowledge and love, if you don't have any light, you can't love. If you don't see the light and the love they're never the same thing. But now we emphasize, now we're in one, now we're in the other, and then we're in a mixture. But one is always inside the other. They interpenetrate, you know?


The circumcision thing. Just like faith and love interpenetrate. And faith is the light and the knowledge that we're talking about, basically. It may be dark or it may be light, but it's knowledge. It's impossible to sort this thing out, but you can see how it's all one, and how it holds together. But the truth is really in it. It's a question of faith, hope, and love, a question of knowledge and love. Okay, what I'm trying to do is make it a little bit clear that we do need the knowledge thing. One thing I was trying to put together is remember when John Chenzo gave us that Gregory of Nysa ascent? Set up the purification. His claim was that all Christians had to make this ascent. Now he did it here. Okay, I think I missed some of those


drugs. That was Gregory of Nysa's position. Ascent had to be made at an hour later. But then how do you put that together with the parable of the laborers who received the same reward and without doing the same amount of work in the holy community? I can't put it together. In fact, I don't know if I can. How do you put it together? What happens to the babies who died a day after baptism? I don't know how to get those things together to tell you the truth. These questions of justice and injustice and how are they going to make them come out even without reincarnation? I don't know. What about Gregory of Nysa? What about Gregory of Nysa's ladder? That's what a Christian doesn't believe in. Are you saying... Okay, you'll have to answer again. No, I don't know


how to get that together. Gregory says you go on forever and never grow. That's true. And that's true, you see. That's true, because God isn't... When he hits again, there's a little scheme in which we go up and ask to go up there. But the only thing that will help you to get up to the other side is the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, even if you have no reincarnation, you will go up there and... What if you don't go up there? What if you don't climb the mountain? What if you don't climb the mountain? Does the Holy Spirit come down and get you? That happens to me. Fortunately, I wasn't there, so I don't have to account for all of this. I was thinking about after the multiplication


of the bread, and people came and asked Jesus what must we do to do the work of the Father? The work of the Father. The work of God. So, you could take that as an implication that that's really the only thing. It's like the end of Mark, too, where he says those who believe will be saved, those who don't will be damned. Now, one thing is that holding on, that basic minimum, which is salvation, and the other thing is the whole question of purification and purgatory. Whether you have to make up for something unpurified in you, and so on. And that's a hard one. Because we just don't have the information for it. There is some... But who is to say that God can't wipe everything out with grace? I'm sure he can. Just like he can give a total grace of purity as he did for a lady in the beginning. So, with his grace he can wipe out whatever needs to be purified, too. But what he actually does, that's another question and we don't know the answer. It could be that one person's type of salvation


is that, like, last-minute payoff, like he dies in peace, can you pay that off? And somehow that works in conjunction with somebody else who works all day long, and the two of them kind of serve each other's salvation in some mysterious way. I hope they can be friends after we... Up in heaven, at least. I worked those 11 hours for you, you bum. We're not supposed to know. But one thing is that we know that God's grace, his mercy is going to surprise us. In other words, we know that the final lesson is grace which is going to submerge all of our measurements in some way. And I think the lesson, the parable of the workers is that. Somehow we can't get it together, and God is going to bury all of our calculations in the afterlife's mercy. Grace was a little kid, she asked her older sister about how could some people get in a higher mansion in heaven, and somebody else gets in and it's such a big deal.


And she got a single glass of water and she filled it open and she asked her to tell her which one was more full. Oh, that's a good answer. I don't know if it's the right one, but it's a good one. I love you. I know the rich man who loves Jesus. In saying the right words, the powerful words Jesus says, I'll give you a further call. That's a further call. And you have these counsels, as they're called, and that's the meaning of them, it has to work in some way, is to feel that further call, which in some way means to be closer to Jesus right now, to know him better. So to follow him in some way means to know the Father closer. And we know that there is a, just an invitation to a deeper realization in this life. Just as people, some people are supposed to be mirrors or channels of light for other people in this world, right? Not everybody has the same function, the body that's in closest. Some people are supposed to be closer to the light and in some way perform a function in that way for the other people. But who's to say, you know, where they wind up? We don't know. That's a functional thing.


And so monks are called to do that. And we're called especially to just sort of be filled with that light in some way, to lose ourselves into that light so that it may be in the body of Christ, so that it may be in the church. And that may be experience on our part. Or like Saint Therese, now she didn't have much mystical experience, her experience was largely the experience of darkness and not of light, so that the person himself may be reflecting light all over the church, and himself be in what seems to be total darkness. There's that paradox. You spoke of the need for the monk to get all of his theology and his experience together. Very often it's just getting the theology and getting the experience, but to get somewhere is not. I can see that getting the theology without having this becomes very distracting, it would be kind of a lazy process. Yes. What happens if you can wrap up the experience? Okay. If you read that book, Enthusiasm, by Ronald


Knox, you'll have a lot of good examples. Because he starts out with a charismatic people right from the beginning of the church, like the Montanists, and so on. The fellow who claimed he was the Holy Spirit. And what you throw out... Have you ever just followed spiritual impulse? Or followed an enthusiasm? Have you ever fallen in love? That kind of thing, right? The whole structure of reality is out of view, okay? And all you have is your feeling. All you have is that interior experience, and you can do any crazy thing. And you can lead other people astray very easily. Now what happens in the monastic life? A person begins to think that he has a straight line to the Holy Spirit, to God. His experience is a sure guide without the discernment of anybody outside, spiritual father. At that point, he begins to close, to build a wall around himself. And they become autonomous, okay? He begins to become arrogant. He begins to become proud


instead of humble, finally disobedient instead of obedient, and the whole thing. And after a while, he's isolated in his little castle of spiritual experience. That's one thing that happens. Another thing that happens simply is that people narrow in the sense of not making room for a different experience. If you absolutize your own experience, you're really in trouble, because you're going to cut off everybody else in the world. And a lot of people do this. Sure. It's because our theology isn't open enough, because we haven't carried out the implications of Christianity. We haven't carried out the implications of the New Testament. See, you don't find any of that in St. Paul. He's used his mind and integrated it with his experience so that his openness, his freedom is a cosmic freedom. It reaches right to the ends of the earth. So, reading Carl Rawlings, does people need theology? Yes. Now, here I have a set of twelve books, which... No, I'm not selling


his books. But Rahner is... Rahner is a good example. He's a man who has the experience and also has a kind of intellectual openness, which takes it right out to the end, which opens the thing up completely. There are other theologians who stop at a certain point and build a wall because they're afraid to go any further. But he doesn't because they're all awake. Just like this bringing in the notion of mystery, you see, as the key to theology, that opens it up completely and enables the mind to go right as far as it can go. And then the mind can follow the spirit and free the spirit, free the experience. And similarly, the spirit frees the mind from just stopping at rationalism, from just making that structure and then being imprisoned in it, which is happening all the time. It seems like the knowledge that Rahner was talking about, he said love is knowledge. That's like... It's not knowledge. Knowledge seems to have a development where it almost becomes something else.


It's almost like it's in a chrysalis form when it's on the level of discursive knowledge. But when it becomes love, it's knowledge beyond what we consider to be knowledge. Okay, let's talk about a couple different levels of things, okay, because on one level we have spirit and intellect. Now, intellect here is not reason. It's not discursive reason. It's not mathematical reason. It's intuitive mind, intuitive intellect. And we have spirit. Now, those things converge. Those things somehow are at one point here. You can have a spiritual experience, which is up in that area, which is both knowledge and love at the same time. Then you come down to another level and you have discursive mind, mathematical, logical, reasoning mind, which goes from point to point, and which builds a system, and which tends to be separatist, balancing one thing against another, dialectical as it is Janani said, okay, and excluding rather than including, okay? And that's limited. And that can really tie you up. It can imprison you if it's not connected with this higher or deeper intellect. Similarly, over here


we have experience, which is no longer spirit, okay? So it can absolutize itself on another level. Because it doesn't go as far as the core, as far as intellect, and therefore it too can become separate and become a prison, like what I was talking about before. The fundamentalist type of experience, which is not opened up by theology, okay? So somebody has a big experience of God, a big conversion experience, a baptism in the Holy Spirit, which liberates him and opens him up completely. And then he begins to absolutize in some way his experience and build some kind of a structure around it. And pretty soon he's excluding any different experience. There's only that experience. Everybody has to go through that. And that's the be-it, all in the end-all. It's the beginning and the end. It's not the end, it's just the beginning. That kind of thing, okay? When we possess our experience, absolutize it, and cut it off from its roots, and therefore from its real absoluteness in spirit and in intellect, then we're in a prison again.


I think what they fail to see through is that there's only knowledge in the midst of the experience. Afterward, thinking about the experience is not the same thing as the experience itself. That's something that we're doing. What's in the middle of the experience is received from God. You see, that's light that comes straight from God. What we do afterwards is something else, and that can be very limited and very imprisoning. That's why we can't talk about an enlightened experience in religion, too. They associate it. Not bad, not bad. As soon as you try to express it, you put it into a word that's already what you're doing, not what God did, okay? Because his experience was the interior grace. Now, there are other things that happen in spiritual experience, like there are locutions and so on, there are visions, but that's something else. We're talking about the main line. So this thing of freedom is very important, in the way that somehow the confirmation of the truth of these things is a real freedom, an ultimate freedom. Because the only place to go in ultimate freedom is into God. You haven't got any place else to go. So you don't have to be afraid of it, because it only goes in one place, just as it only starts from one place,


because the only person who is really free is God. So... Okay, okay. The important thing is that it opens up to the outside, okay? Because a person can have a good experience and can start reasoning things out himself and build a sort of self-sufficient system or self-sufficient world with his mind. He has to be open with his mind to accept the light from outside. That's very important, okay? And that's what I mean by theology. He's got to be able to listen to the tradition so as to get the theology on its right foundation. Otherwise he'll make one of his own, which, once again, will be a limited world. If you get the real theology, the genuine theology, which is rooted in the Trinity, it's open right to the ends of the earth. It doesn't have any limits. But whenever we make our own,


it's smaller. It stops somewhere, and eventually it isolates itself. It's in 1 Corinthians, I think it's chapter 2. He's talking about, remember, the wisdom of the cross, the wisdom of the Spirit. That's this knowledge of the Spirit that we're talking about, which is simultaneously love and knowledge. It's wisdom. It's Sophia. She started off as a basic experience, and then as the Church went along, she added symbols, which grew out of experience


to help her to be the creator. I think baptism holds for that too. Those two sacraments, the experience of baptism and the experience of the Eucharist, are somehow the key to everything else. And if you go back to those as they were in the initial experience, which goes all the way from the inner experience to the outer, sacramental, real, physical reality of the thing, somehow the totality is all there. Both in baptism and the Eucharist, somehow between the two, the whole thing is there. And they are what interprets theology. They interpret the Scriptures, they interpret theology, and then theology interprets that and draws out the implications. But the experience is in that. We may know what the original Christians experienced in baptism, but I don't know if we know what they experienced in the Eucharist. We may have had that experience of baptism, that experience of liberation, but have we really experienced what they experienced in the Eucharist? We were talking about this before. I agree with you on that initial primitive experience. Because those sacramental things, how could they take them as seriously as they do?


We just don't understand what they're talking about when they're writing about it, because they emphasize them so much. Baptism and the Eucharist. It's because it was experience. And it went all the way, you see. Inner experience, the understanding, the light, and the external physical thing. It involves the body, both of them do. That's what makes them so central to the Church. Not just because they fit us into the Church's external structure, as a discipline. It should involve all of those levels. You see. The spirit, interior spirit. The spirit is most innermost, but it's outermost too, because it's the context into which you're open. And then, the word. You have communion in the word already, on that intermediate level, in the liturgy of the word. And then finally the physical level in the communion of the Eucharist, of the body.


And between those two experiences there's a progress which is very mysterious and is related to what we've been talking about. To this growth, this maturity, this movement from the initial wholeness to the final wholeness. What is it that's between those two? For one thing, it's from a kind of isolation, because in baptism we emerge as individuals, but in the Eucharist we're one, it's the final totality. There's a oneness of baptism which is discovering yourself liberated, okay? Liberated into communion, somehow discovering yourself as gift, as given to yourself. And then there's a wholeness in the Eucharist, which is what? Where you kind of disappear into that one wholeness, into the ultimate wholeness, which is God, which is Trinity, which is world, which is church. And which is yourself, but yourself sort of forgotten into it. So there's the little oneness and there's the big oneness. And of course the risk of monks is to realize the baptismal oneness, the oneness of themselves, that wholeness in themselves, without realizing the Eucharistic oneness, because of their solitude, because of the particular cross they could take.


It's one of those statements which we don't have any interpretation of, you know, so we can only guess at it. I think it implies that, but I think it says something else too, you know. It certainly implies that, but you don't have to take it just from that line, because there's plenty else in the Bible that guarantees individual resurrection. Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. Well that's enough for today. We didn't get very far. I'm Robert Silverblom. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Among the treatments of this anthropology thing, or spiritual theology thing, there's a good historical review in Boullier's Introduction to Spirituality. The reference is in the bibliography here, in Roberts, on page 151. But it's page


144 to 156. It's a nice treatment of the development from biblical through Greek, and then finally up to Aquinas and Ptolemy. 144 to 156. Yes.