July 24th, 1981, Serial No. 00694

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Monastic Spirituality Set 4 of 12

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The theological basis for the monastic life is kind of important. The things that we're talking about now, whatever spiritual writer we read, we'll find the same questions returning, because we're always trying to get back from what we do, to why we're doing it, to what's the situation, what's the truth. It's always got to be based on truth somehow. So it's very important that we orient ourselves in that direction, so that we're not just doing something, either because it feels good to do it, or because it feels bad to do it. You can do it either way. You do something because it makes you feel good, or you can do something because it makes you feel bad, and that's the way you feel you ought to feel. But it's a question of truth. It's a question of truth, what brings us to the truth. And so we have to keep returning to that, although not always, you know, just in a theoretical way. But because the truth is more than truth. The truth is reality, ultimately. It's like that seed of the word that Jesus talks about in the Gospel, the power of the sword. The truth is more than just truth. The truth is actually its reality, its spirit, and somehow its totality.


The truth blossoms and expands until it includes the whole of you. It starts out inside you, and it ends up including everything inside of itself, that mysterious seed. We're talking about that threefold structure of man, and I told you there was a Jungian lady who had written a book on psychic energy, her name is Esther Harding, and she wrote this book on psychology, about the transformation of energy from lower levels to higher levels. She talks about the whole psychological journey in those terms, the journey of individuation as Jung talks about it. But it's the same journey that you do in the spiritual life, in the monastic life, as we know it. Listen to the way that she talks about these three centres.


Now she talks about different instincts that we have, the instinct of hunger, the instinct of self-preservation, the sexual instinct, and the will to power, these as being the basic instincts. And then she says that they're transformed, that these are a matter of energy, and that they're transformed as you go on, as you grow. It will be realized that the gradual transformation of the instinct of hunger takes place in three stages. These correspond to the three phases of development of the human being that I've elsewhere called the naïve stage of consciousness, number one, the ego stage, number two, and the stage of consciousness of the self, with a capital S. That's the self, the way Jung talks about the self, but actually the same thing is talked about in most serious spiritual traditions, religious traditions, including the Christian, where we talk about it, what, as the spirit, as the Christ self, and so on. The same steps can be traced in the evolution of the other basic instincts, the urge to self-preservation, sexuality, its concomitant parental motive, that's motherhood in turn,


and the will to power. In each of these realms, the biological needs and the instinctive impulses associated with them dominate the field of consciousness in the first stage, in which the focal centre, the eye, is completely dominated by auto-erotic desires, by what we would call just naïve self-love. We have called this centre the autos, autos is a Latin, it's Greek, it's a Greek pronoun, it simply means self. She did that in order to distinguish it from the ego. Ego is the, ego is the Latin pronoun for I, which Freud chose to represent, what she calls the second stage. In the second stage, the ego becomes the centre of consciousness, and the instinctive drives are modified through their relation to the newfound ego-consciousness, which in its turn says I, in its turn says I. In the third stage, the ego is displaced from its central position, becoming relative in importance to the new centre of consciousness, the self, whose categorical imperative takes over ultimate control.


So you see how your centre passes from one to the other of these. Some people seem never to get above the first centre, and some get to the second and they never conceive of the third. And then some arrive at the third and it really becomes the centre of their life. And when we have a religious conversion, of course, what is it? It's the third centre that's awakening inside of us, that's lighting up inside of us, and beginning to show us that where we were living before is just in the twilight, in the darkness, is something way beyond it. Something which is also our centre, it's not just above, outside and beyond us. Part of the good of the Jungian thing is that it gets this process back into our centre, you know, that we're moving towards our own centre rather than just moving outside of ourselves. The danger of the Jungian thing is that it gets it all into your centre, including God, and puts everything inside of yourself, because it's a basically introverted, immanentistic scheme. Okay, I'm not going to read much of this, but then she... This is an interesting parallel.


It's interesting to observe that the Buddhists of the Mahayana sect also distinguish three stages of human consciousness, which correspond to a surprising degree to the stages we've differentiated here. The naive stage, ruled over by the autos, in which the individual is completely dominated by his bodily needs and desires, marks what they call the man of little intellect. The consciousness of such a man is exceedingly narrow, being bounded by the limits of his own biological desirousness. For him, the Buddhists say, the best thing is to have faith in the law of cause and effect. He's admonished to observe the outcome of his preoccupation with his autobiotic desires. In other words, that he's going to get it if he keeps on doing that work. The man in the ego stage... That's the carnal man, according to St. Paul, that would be the man of the flesh. But also the ego-centred man can be the man of the flesh for St. Paul. It's tricky, the distinction in these different traditions. The man in the ego state of development is called by the Buddhists the man of ordinary intellect.


His attention is wholly directed to controlling his environment for his personal satisfaction and advantage. So the whole control thing, the whole, what do you call it, power thing, you know, the domination thing that becomes operative, and hence our will and our mind, our reasoning, working on that level, the whole political thing, in a sense, how is it we have a political field around us, that's on the second level, and it's equally self-centred with the first one, even though it has a wider range and it can begin to become much more cooperative with other people. He has gained some control over his instinctive drives, and for him the ego is now king. He classifies everything in terms of his own wishes, taking the good and rejecting the evil, not realizing that what he discards falls into the unconscious and does not cease to exist. In this stage, the Buddhists say, the best thing is to recognize both within and without oneself the workings of the law of opposites, sort of the Tao, the fact that you've got to pay for that evil that you're rejecting somewhere, that you can't separate life and


reality out into the good and the evil and throw away the peels, ultimately you've got to consume them too. It's the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you see, which he's still eating. I didn't get to the fruit of the tree of life here. The state of the individual whom the Buddhists call the man of superior intellect corresponds to the third stage of our psychological classification. In him the identification of the ego with a supreme value has been dissolved. He doesn't identify his ego with his highest goal, his best self, and with the goal of life. In consequence, he experiences the inner dynamic factor as something other than the conscious ego, but definitely within the psyche, within the mind somehow, spiritually within his reach, or at least within his reach. For his state, according to the Buddhists, the best thing is to have a thorough comprehension of the inseparableness of the knower, the object of knowledge and the act of knowing. And here it's going beyond dualism into a kind of Trinitarian unification, a Trinitarian unification. The inseparableness of the knower, the object of knowledge and the act of knowing.


It reminds us of some of Adityananda's things, you know, his Vedic texts about the sacrifice, or the sacrifice and the sacrificer, and the one to whom the sacrifice is all the same. It's that kind of consciousness. Okay. So that's very powerless. It's the same thing we're talking about, because man is made the same no matter where you find him. And no matter whether he talks about it in psychological terms or in spiritual terms or in specifically Christian terms, biblical terms, it turns out to be the same journey. Oh, yes, the whole book is about that. It's that thick. That's only the introduction. Okay? So the rest of the book is about how it happens. She doesn't follow so much the methods, that part of it's that, but the inner dynamics, you know, the experience of it she's talking about, from patience, I think.


There's a practical example. The first thing I understood, you know, I didn't know about all this stuff, you know. That's right. Now, she doesn't discuss that as much, but she does discuss it. You'd have to look at the book. It's very interesting what she hits on there, because it's a point of convergence where all the traditions flow into that same journey. And, of course, that's where Roberts is here. He's continually finding that threefold pattern. Okay. We got to about page 133, I think. First, he talks about this threefold, these three different aspects of man. You can't call them parts. You know, you can't call them levels, really. They're levels, but they're aspects. It's always the same one person we're talking about, and then we can look at him from these three ways, which he describes as being body, soul, mind, and spirit.


And then he starts talking about each one of them individually, and he gets to the spirit, which is the most fascinating one of them, the most interesting one, and which in some way is not just beyond body and soul, but in some way unites body and soul. It's as if each of these were a circle, which includes a greater amplitude, and which includes the other. And the spirit includes the other two. It goes beyond them and unites them with what? With the spiritual world of God. But the fact is that each of the circles reaches out and communicates in its own way. The body reaches out. We communicate through the body. You know, we communicate with one another, and we communicate with the world through this body which we share with the material world, okay? Somebody says that the body is a bridge. The body is a bridge with which we relate to other people and relate to this world of ours, and it's true. And the soul, the mind, is a bridge because we understand one another through words, through concepts, through things that we form in our mind and send out to one another. And then, of course, the spirit really unites us.


So each of these unites, but it's the spirit which ties it all together somehow. It's like bigger circles, bigger spheres. Here's a quote from William Law, which some of you have run into, I'm sure. It's a beautiful thing, which is in the beginning of B. Griffith's book, Return to the Center, and it's very much like the quote that Rahner makes from a certain philosopher about the heart, about the heart. For though God be everywhere present, yet he is only present to thee in the deepest and most central part of thy soul. And this is the spirit that he's talking about, that we're talking about, he uses other terms. Thy natural senses cannot possess God or unite thee to him. Nay, thy inward faculties of understanding, will, and memory can only reach after God but cannot be the place of his habitation in thee. Now, that's surprising. This is what John of the Cross calls the substance of the soul, in Robert's quotes, John of the Cross, that kernel in there where we can't reach.


But God can dwell there, act there, move there, and from there he can move all of our other faculties of memory, understanding, will, and so on. But there is a root or depth in thee from whence all these faculties come forth, as lines from a center or as branches from the body of the tree. This depth is called the center or fund, fund, we say fundamentum, that's where foundation comes from, the Latin word fundamentum, or bottom of the soul. This depth is the unity, the eternity, I had almost said the infinity of thy soul, for it is so infinite that nothing can satisfy it or give it any rest but the infinity of God. It's a point, in a way, and yet it's a point of infinite, infinite capacity. It's like this point of the urge that Martin talks about and that grain of gold, that kernel in the article on asceticism, freedom. It's Martin's focus all the time. I was trying to zero in on that. And his precious contribution is to do that exactly, to refocus us towards that point.


So, what I'm saying is that we can't reach it? We can't touch it, but we can open ourselves to it, okay? Do you remember that article on asceticism and freedom where Martin says, you can't touch this, you can't reach in there. But what you can do is live in such a way that you are allowing that center to express itself and so that you remain in contact with it, okay? It's more like a listening and a corresponding and an obeying than it is like a touching. It touches you, it lives through you, it enlightens you, it loves through you, but you can't reach out and touch it. All you can do is listen and live so that you remain in contact with it, okay? Because you have a sense when you're in contact with it, and you have a sense when you've clouded it and you've got out of contact with it, and you've put a wall between you and that when you've turned away from it. And it's the same as the sense of turning away from God and separating ourselves from God, okay? So, it's sin that really separates us. It's a decision not to live according to it. But we can also neglect it, you know, we can turn away in that way. You talk about venial sin and mortal sin, well, actually those are pretty significant


notions, ultimately. They sound kind of shallow the way we throw them around, but they refer to things like that, the degree of our turning away and our separation from this inner center. That article is in Cistercian Studies. I've got a copy of that, one page of it here somewhere. Let's see if I can find it. Here we are. We can't reach it by any amount or any kind of analysis or digging. Not even the devil can reach it, only God can reach it, and this is the real us. You can't have freedom to choose this, this is where all the freedom comes from. You'll hunt for it and never find it because you have, so to speak, to let it be. If you leave it be, it will be, and this is where choice comes in. You have to school yourself in everything you do to choose in relation to what lets this be, this point, this center, this true self. This is what the life of prayer is, learning never to make choices that throw a lot of


static into the reception that comes from that center. It doesn't matter how busy you are or how many things are happening to you or how rough everything is getting or how bad everything is getting. If you choose to handle things in a certain way, you will keep constantly in contact with this center of freedom. Choosing is not just a question of I am able to choose this or I am able to choose that. I choose with a view to something which I don't choose. I choose in relation to what is. Hence the capacity to respond to what is really real, and this is the real freedom. Another name for this little grain, this little grain of gold that he's turning, is your being, it is your own reality which is God's gift to you, what God has willed you to have. Now in a certain sense we don't choose that, but we choose the things that indicate that. And we choose the things that express that. That's why I was thinking before about we're impatient a bit with spiritual methods which seem to separate us from the goal. And why? Because we know that the goal is right inside of ourselves. We know that we're already in contact with the goal and yet we have a journey to make


to get there. It's as if you could look at spiritual ways in two ways. You can look at them in a linear pattern, linear means in a line, in a straight line, in which you have a ladder where you climb up the steps of this ladder until you get to the goal which is at the top. Now you can see it from a distance but you're separated from it by all the rungs on that ladder. And maybe there's somebody standing on the ladder that's helping you up there, but the goal is behind him in that case. His shadow blots out the goal from you, okay? And then there's another pattern which is like a spiral where the goal is in the center of you. It's not away from you, but it's in your center somehow. It's in the center of all reality. And you move towards it in a circle which gradually gets smaller and smaller. But you're always in sight of the goal. You're always looking at it as you move towards it. There's nothing in between you and the goal except that distance. And you're always turning. You're always turning into a smaller circle. You're always being converted, as it were, with conversions. The turning of the heart, the turning of the will. And so your circle gets smaller and smaller until you enter right into that center. Now, we're impatient with the methods which leave something between us and the goal,


between us and that center, because we know that we're there already in a sense, and yet we have a long way to go. So it's a combination of the two things. So we have to find a method which will enable us to move towards the goal while we always keep our eyes on the goal. Remember Cassian's first conference on purity of heart, Abba Moses. The goal is something somehow that you can detect within you. In fact, your chief method is to keep that goal in your consciousness, to keep that center somehow in your mind. Not as a point out there, but as an experience inside of you. In other words, to keep in contact with that experience. Now, that's what Cassian calls purity of heart, which means what? It means tranquility. It means a certain peace. It means a certain recollectedness. And it's also a kind of state of prayer. So that's what centeredness means for us. It's like being aware of the Trinity drawing within you. Being aware of something like quiet, and that light, and peace, and that very general joy and love, which means that God is there and you're in touch with him. And that's the guide to everything else. See?


Everything else just helps us somehow to move deeper into it. It doesn't mean that we take refuge in it, that we leave everything else, no. But anyway. How would you say the vow is to... Okay, that's a question which might seem a very distracting question because the vow seems somewhere else. But think of it this way. This occurred to me before. Basically, the vows are a vow of stability to be rooted in that center. You see what I mean by that? A vow is... All of the vows, in a way, are vows of stability. But they're not vows of stability in place. They're vows of stability in chastity, stability in obedience, stability in poverty. Okay? All of which are vows to be stable as you are rooted in this ground, in this center, in this core. Okay? So, rooted in that, you're going to orbit around it because you don't have any other centers, right? You don't have any other centers in your life which to orbit around. Property, or wife, or kids, or other purposes, you know, which could be your center. So you're going to orbit around this one.


And your stability is in orbiting around that center. And because of its gravitation, because of its power, it'll draw you into it, if you let it. And that's the purpose of the vows. To free you from other possible centers of gravitation. Okay? You look at it that way. Is the vow in the end of the world a deep sort of communication with God that you know is going to be helpful? If the vow is genuine, then it is. You see, the vow then becomes not what you do, but what God does. God's grasp behind you, okay? And so you can work through that. The vow seems to be an external thing. But insofar as we really mean it and it's genuine, it signifies that, what do you call it, that ontological stability in God, that rooting in God. Just like baptism does, you know. It's putting us in a smaller circle than baptism does, because we commit ourselves more to focusing on and penetrating into and being rooted in that core, in that center. But basically it's the same commitment. But think of it as stability in that center, in that place.


And then you want to have a climate that permits you to cultivate that movement towards the center, okay? And that's this divine milieu that Robert starts to talk about here in a couple of pages. That's the monastic context, the monastic life. It's supposed to get things out of the way and give you the climate, almost like a laboratory, in which you can move towards that center without a lot of distraction, without being drawn away towards the other center. These images are useful, like this planetary image of something orbiting around something else, in this particular case. We have to talk in terms of geometry. We've got to talk in terms of things we can see. That's the only language we have. If we just talk in philosophical concepts, we go to sleep after a while. We lose touch with what we're talking about. I don't know.


I'm trapped in here. I don't know what I'm talking about. I just don't know what I'm talking about. And, uh, the thought that comes to me when I say that this thought of the life of the universe or something that originates in the cosmos and the structure of life is concentrated in itself whereas perhaps it could be a lot closer to what it really is like living in a natural setting where the strength of the universe and the nature of the universe and the structure of life is introduced. Why do you think life is introduced? How do you know? It's easy to think that the universe is a place where life can occur. Why do you think it's a place where life can occur


in the direction of spiritual life? this concentration of the universe has the ability and the strength to bring something to life. That's good. In other words, there's a focus that's possible within the universe to deal with with the realm of the universe. The focusing is a sharpening. It's like sharpening a point or something or a spear in order to break through. And when you say concentrated, you know that word concentrated comes from the word centric. Concentrated means concentrated around a center, towards a center, so it's exactly that. Okay, towards a goal which is strangely already with us, already inside of us. But that's a great liberation to realize.


It's not something you reach after, but it's something you descend into as you become complete. You have to reach after our own center. Okay, he talks about the spirit and the heart here and then we get over on to page 134. And he talks about stages and aspects or dimensions and then these activities, these monastic activities. Now those are three different ways of looking at this thing. You've got three dimensions of man, the body, the soul and the spirit. You've got these stages and very often the spiritual life is broken down into three stages. The classical pattern in the West, of course, was purgative, illuminative and unitive stages, but there are many others. Rahner's got a good article on that, I mentioned it before. And then you've got three methods here in Roberts. Now this Trinitarian pattern occurs always, he never talks much about where it comes from or why, and they sort of implicitly.


And his three methods are first of all the monastic observances on the bodily level, Lectio Divina on the intellectual level, humility of heart on the inner level. Now this we have to look at carefully and maybe criticize. In fact I've got some problems with it because I'm not sure that the priorities are quite right here. Then he's got a diagram over on page 135 which expresses this as a map of the monastic life. And of course we always have a kind of difference, a kind of scepticism when we look at these things because there are things that you can't organize really in that matter. Roberts is making a brave try really to set up a structure of something that really can't be structured in that way. But it's worth looking at what he's got there. Especially since all of these things overlap.


I mean poverty has got its spiritual dimensions and so on. Just as the body and the soul and the spirit overlap, influence one another. The biggest problems I have with this scheme is that he's got Lectio and prayer on the intellectual level rather than on the inner level. And he's got humility in the top place. Now this seems to go against Hausser's great principle of the presupposition where Hausser says that the monastic observances are not the point. That nothing that you do in the monastic life is the point. And as a matter of fact, humility is not the point either. The point is presupposed by humility. And this is extremely important. If you make humility the goal of the spiritual life you've got a kind of an invisible negative goal there. In other words, you've got something which is basically a negative made as a goal of the spiritual life. And that's what tends to happen


if you're not careful with the Benedictine set up, you see, because humility is right in the center of the rule. So if you think that the rule is the whole of the Christian life you can get into a pattern into a kind of monastic philosophy which will diminish you instead of enabling you to grow. And that happens. It happens in the Church in general where you feel that the means of the Church the organization of the Church the structure of the Church and obedience, say, is the total thing. Obedience is extremely important. It's of primary importance. But it's not the point. The point is love. The point is faith and hope and love. The point is the positive thing. And these means are very often negative. And humility itself is a negative. Remember, it's a zero. It's the other side of love. It's the other side of perfection. It's not perfection itself. So we've got to be very careful of that basic thing. And the other difficulty here is that he's got Lectio and hence prayer on the intellectual level as if they were not the innermost activity. But suppose that the innermost thing in your spiritual life read Luke, teaches to pray


suppose that the innermost thing in your spiritual life is not really humility, but is the action of the Holy Spirit which is a kind of divinization of your eros of your own capacity for love of your own heart and which is a positive movement towards God. Suppose that the innermost thing in your spiritual life is really this dynamism of the Spirit, really this transcendence which is moving out towards God and moving out, as it were, towards being. Okay? Now, if we don't make that readjustment, we've got a risk of making the monastic life one of these things, you know, one of these things that simply compresses you and knocks you down. There's an article by Berdya on humility later on I'll read to you, it's a devastating thing I'll read you part of it and when he talks about humility, he expresses it very well. You absolutely have to somehow focus on that positive aspect in spite of the fact that all of the things that you use as means in the monastic life may seem to be negative. Now, prayer is a positive movement, you see.


Prayer is the God movement. It's somehow the dynamism of the Spirit in you. And that really should be put in first place if you want to avoid this problem. Excuse me, did you say that humility and obedience are apophatic? I did it another time, yeah. I didn't say it now, but I could because they are. I don't have a sense of that. Humility, neither humility nor obedience don't seem to... Okay, let me try to explain that. This is bringing in something else, but it's relative. Apophatic means that you do something, you say something by not saying it, okay? You say something, as it were, by saying something different or saying something opposite. It's like saying, this is not God, okay? You wouldn't say humility is not God. No, but humility is saying that I am not God, okay? That's true. See, that's the point. Humility is a continual emphasis that I am not it. What John the Baptist said, I must decrease, but he must increase, okay?


That's humility, okay? Now, that's apophatic because what you're saying is, well, I'm not going to tell you who he is, but he's greater than I am, okay? It's that kind of thing. Rather than saying he is it, it's saying I'm not it. Okay, or rather than saying I am not he, but I'm like him, okay? Remember, St. Paul is the opposite. Take John the Baptist and St. Paul and compare the two. John the Baptist says, I must decrease, but he must increase. He says, I'm not worthy to untie his sandal strap, remember? And then St. Paul says, be imitators of me as I am an imitator of Christ, okay? He says, look at me and you will have the pattern of Christ. Now, that's a different thing, isn't it? And notice what's happened in between John the Baptist and St. Paul. There's an explosion that's happened. There's this gift of the Holy Spirit, so that St. Paul is able to boast in the Lord, whereas John the Baptist is like concave. He bends and gets himself out of the way so that the glory of Jesus may be manifested. He gets out of the way so that the Holy Spirit may come, and St. Paul is full of the Holy Spirit. So is John the Baptist, but in a different way, because remember, he's filled with the Spirit


from his mother's womb, it says in St. Luke. So... Oh, right. He says, we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus. But there's this boasting thing in St. Paul and this, what would you call it, convexity, you know, this outward flowing thing in St. Paul. Right, right. That's his interior life often, sort of, you know, and when I am weak, I am strong, and so on. So that's there, it has to be there. But he's very different from John the Baptist, where you only have that aspect. Okay, humility is truth, but it's not the whole of the truth, because it's the apathetic part of the truth. Humility is to say, I am not. That is, I am not God, I am not the Absolute, okay? But is there a positive aspect to it?


How would you express it? Yeah, but I think when she says it, I think it means that it's only the negative part of the truth. In other words, humility is the truth about ourselves, which I wouldn't call humility. In other words, when she says humility is truth, it's this trickiness of the word yes when she thinks. I don't think you can say that humility is the whole truth. Okay? Remember the rabbi, the hasid, who says, we have two pockets. In one pocket we put this truth, that I am the Son of God, and for me the heavens and the earth were made. In the other pocket we put this truth, that I am dust. I am a worm, a gnome. Okay? So humility is the truth in the left-hand pocket, but the truth in the right-hand pocket is that you're the image of God, and destined for glory. But humility doesn't say that. It doesn't say it at all. It may imply it, but it doesn't say it. It takes that complementary truth to say it. But that complementary truth is extremely important, because that's the point.


If we reach for it right away, we're just like Adam taking a foot off a tree, and then we fall. So that humility has to come in. Is it a negative thought, or a negative truth, that Christ says, I am meek and humble? No, I think that's something else. I don't think we should talk so much about... It's the virtue of humility, but there's something else there. Their humility is a negative with a positive shining right through it, because he's saying, nobody knows the Son except the Father. Nobody knows the Father except the Son, to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. And this revelation of the Father, somehow, is this humility that he's talking about, which is immediately inside. The humility is the apophatic expression of what he's talking about, which is the Trinity, which is the knowledge of the Father, actually, lived in life, which is the yoke which is easy and the burden which is light. And the humility is the apophatic expression, it's a negative expression, as it were, of the


positive totality that he's giving, and that he's offering right at that point, which is this wisdom, this knowledge of the Father. The term that he uses is apophatic, meek and humble apart, but it's still apophatic. We don't like that word negative, negative in a sense for the positive thing that he's giving, the knowledge of the Trinity. The humility that we were talking about is a monastic life, it's more like a prior stage, like the John of Acts stage, needing to decrease. Whereas when Christ says, I'm humble apart, that's, he's already in the positive state of his God, he's in the divine state, and yet that's just the property of his divinity. So it's almost like it's two different kinds of humility we're talking about. You can say it's a property of his divinity in certain ways, in the way in which people will say that God is humble, incredible as that may seem. We have to be very careful though, because we don't know exactly how to do it. But it's partly because of his state, it's his state of kenosis, you see, that makes him able


to say that. St. Paul says he emptied himself and took the form of a man. So he shows himself to us as meek and humble as man, really. He's still God, and even the humility is appropriate to God. It's an expression of God with no distortion, but it's an inverse or apophatic expression of God, an apophatic expression of Trinity somehow. In this emptiness, in this very ability to go into something else and be completely yourself at the same time, that's an expression of the Trinity. And that's what Jesus is able to do there. And he offers that to us for imitation and yet that is only a half expression, as it were, of who he is. And that's the expression that he wears almost continuously while he's working around on earth, because the glory is not to come until later, and that's the other thing. He simply picks the whole humility aspect up inside of itself and blossoms and transforms it. And part of it, perhaps, too, that I see I'm reminded of that reading that Victor gave you where he was talking about how


one of the properties of God is that he doesn't make a big deal about doing or being. In other words, the humility might be in the sense of on our level of being to it, we feel this need to express ourselves, a need to do and to be, whereas he doesn't have the need, God just is, and there's no effort involved. I'm thinking in terms of like the Zen and the art of archery type thing where in order to hit the target you have to kind of not be there. There's no effort, so there's no exaltation of self necessary in order to be. There's no return on self. Like when Jesus says, love, no matter if they don't love you, that whole thing. When you go to pray, don't sound a trumpet or whatever. When you give alms, in other words, your father in secret sees you, that thing. And your father is the same way, you see, because he doesn't look back at himself, he doesn't have to. So he just is. And his is a doing, and he's speaking and everything, but it's as if he doesn't look back, it's that kind of thing. I guess we better move on, because there is.


Excuse me, for a Hasidim story, for us neither the right hand pocket nor the left hand pocket is truth, but together they form the truth. Together they're the truth. And with man it's always this two-fold truth, and either half of the truth without the other is going to lead you off the beam. The truth of humility without the truth of our exaltation of our being, the image of God and the sons of God can murder you, you know, because we misinterpret it, inevitably. Similarly, the truth of our exaltation of our dignity, if you take it without that other one, as is very popular nowadays, it just inflates you into a kind of absurdity, which is no longer Christianity. We've become enemies of the cross in a recent process. But God and his fullness could radiate truth from either pocket of one? Well, not entirely, because somehow humility itself is, when it's true, when it's Spirit-inspired humility, is already an expression of an inner realization of the glory.


Okay? Maybe unspeakable. When St. Benedict talks about it as the sixth or seventh degree of humility, that you feel that you're the lowest of all and so on, yes you do and you don't, because you know darn well that there's this luminosity of the image of God shining in your heart and yet that on one level, on the level of your deeds of your acts, of your life and so on that you are a sinner because of the distance between those two levels, but that inner level is you, that's yours, it's a gift. And the person knows that, really. The saints know that. And it's the gap that they're expressing in their words of humility. The gap between the two. It's them, but it's not theirs. So, this is the difficulty when you try to make a theology out from the inside of a rule or something like that, okay? You take the best of monastic rules and try to make a theology


out of it, and it will be incomplete because it's still one removed from the word of God, one removed from the absolute of God's revelation. So you end up making humility or something like that the central pillar, the key, the center. And it's risky. And this is a risk particularly of monks who make a certain choice, you see, and then theologize about their monastic life as if it were revelation itself. There's a risk always when you theologize from your own life, from one part of the picture and not from the word of God. Excuse me, would you say that humility is a central thing in the rule? Yes. Well, it's always risky to try to say something like that. From a certain point of view, from the ascetical point of view, there's no doubt about it that humility is a central thing in the life, okay? Humility and obedience which teaches it and expresses it, okay? That's the central pillar.


From another point of view, the central thing in life is purely charity, okay? And it would be wrong for us perhaps to say that humility outweighs charity simply because it's talked about more or something like that. As a matter of fact, I don't know which is talked about more, if you take all of them. And actually, it's not the quantitative thing that matters. We've got to approach it theologically in the sense that the humility is a facet of charity, you know? It's an aspect of love and can never be done the other way. But insofar as it's a rule. Now, rule already means limitation, right? It means constriction. It means like the commandments. You shall not, okay? Now, those commandments, you shall not, are all negatives in a way. And they don't really express the fundamental positive commandment. You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, right? The Shema. And your neighbour is yourself. So, a rule or commandments are always going to give you a somewhat slanted picture of the total reality. They're not going to give you


a theological balance of the total reality, okay? Because they have to focus on negative, on inhibition or prohibition. But St. Paul says that for the Spirit, there isn't any law. Okay? So, the fruits of the Holy Spirit and that whole dynamism and positive dynamism of the life of the Spirit in us isn't expressed with the right balance or the right proportion in the rule because it can't be in the rule, really. Okay? And the quantity of the number of times that St. Benedict uses the words and so on isn't a reliable indicator. Since he's talking about that structural obedience and humility, that's the way he has to put it. But remember that in his instruments of good works, the first ones, you shall love the Lord your God, you shall love your brother as yourself. So, he's really got the centre in his mind and in his heart. But in the rule, it may seem otherwise. And it's very easy to interpret the rule that way because of our monkishness, you know, our desire to have something special and to have a structure which guarantees success as a monk. And there's a humility in the rule that the method to reach the goal is not the goal itself.


No, it's not the goal itself. And yet, St. Benedict makes it according to the letter of the rule, he makes it the sign of the goal. And yet, it's one side of the sign of the goal because remember at the end of, I don't have the rule with me, but remember at the end of chapter 7, then, the monk having ascended all these degrees of humility, remember, will have this joy of the Holy Spirit in which everything which was at once painful and disagreeable is now going to be enjoyable to him, OK? This largeness of heart can be brought. So, really, fortunately, he pops out of that at the end and puts things right you see, by making the positivity of the Holy Spirit at freedom. Because humility can't be construed as the end, it's not. If we make humility the end, it's a truncated, amputated beheaded kind of Christianity we've got. And it ends up in him being very pitiful because we diminish ourselves rather than growing. You can't live on humility. Humility is not nourishment. The Word and love and the Spirit are nourishment. And those are positive.


Yes? Excuse me, just to generalize how it would be, it seems to know that the conversatio of the Guru is humility the conversio of the Guru is charity the work of the Guru is humility, the spirit of the Guru is love. Okay, there, you're talking about external and internal continually, aren't you? And the external turns out to be the external turns out to be humility and the internal turns out to be love. Which is in contrast with Robert's here who's got humility at the core, hasn't he? He's got humility as being a thing of spirit there. So he puts it in the center and then puts observance, of course, on the outside it's a different scheme. I think there's a lot of truth in what you say there. It's very difficult to make these distinctions stand up hard and clear as we go down the column, as you've told me. It's quite subtle. Greg? It just seems like to me that the Guru is a man who is coming for love and pain.


Good, good. Maybe to the point where you are and I don't think I have a lot of doubts regarding that. People say that. And there's a way in which, that's almost poetry when you say that, OK? Even OK, but if he is in Jesus how can he not be in himself? Is there something in Jesus which is untrue? Does Jesus be untrue? Is he untrue to his being in God when he becomes like us? That's the question. Because there's a legitimate way to talk about that. Just like God in the spirit works invisibly like the water, you know, which is everywhere and which brings the grass up and everything. Now the spirit of God works in that way. And you can call that humility, and some people do. I think it's legitimate in that way, which is half poetic but, you know, theology can sometimes only be expressed properly in poetry and not in hard and fast philosophical terms. Yeah, I can see it. I'm writing it down, but it doesn't seem like it's just


There's something more to it. There's something more to it. There's something more to it. Don't let go of it at that point because there's more to it than that. OK, but maybe humility is one side of love, actually. It's like humility is a side of love even in God in some way. It's the perfect gratuitous of God in which he gives himself in some way like the sun that shines, you know? The sun that shines on the mud puddle, and the sun that shines on the flowers and so on. There's something there, which it's hard to get into words, which is in God. OK? God sends his sunshine and his rain upon the Justin Andrus, remember that? This freedom, this gratuity of God in which he doesn't sort of separate himself even from the unworthy, that whole thing there. There's something in there which is very much like humility. Humility is our word, it's a human word, you know, so it doesn't quite fit. But somehow there's an archetype of humility in God which is even more so. Even more so. And it has to do with his gratuity and the way he pours his


mercy out. Which is not something that he goes out and does only, but it's something that he is, right? That's the Father's heart, in a sense. He doesn't just go out and do it as if it were an exception to the way he is, but that's the way he is. I don't know how to put it into words. In the context of this conversation, I would almost say it seems to me that God is humbled simply by the fact of making himself known to us. That demonstrates his humility. Already, in some way, that he's not proud. Because if he were, he wouldn't even look at us. He wouldn't even write us a letter, you know. Also, if you really need the Holy Spirit in order to get to the point, maybe that's why he's got the ability in the center here. In a way, it's like the left hand not being able to look at what the right hand is doing. When we're talking about the schema of their approach to God, we're talking about the doing stage. It's like this is a path, whereas humility wouldn't be in the center when you arrive


at the end of the path, the goal. That's why he's got it in the center. You've got to be very careful to get it into the right perspective. Now, what you said there, there are two kinds of humility. One is the kind of humility that we do, that we mimic, that we imitate. You know, we try. And then the other kind is the humility of the Spirit who comes into us and then humility somehow is what we are and we just feel it that way and so we act that way according to our being because the Spirit is in us. Now, if this humility comes from the Spirit and is somehow a perception and a reflection of God and if we're more truly the image of God then when we're doing that, then the Spirit must be humble in some way, okay? Then the Spirit must be humble. God must be humble if we become more humble when we become more like God instead of becoming more distant from Him. But at the same time it expresses the truth of our creatureliness, that we are not like God and we admit what we are but at the same time it's in God in some way. The other thing is that God communicates Himself to us, okay? Now, God's got to be humble in a certain sense to communicate Himself to us and as it were to wash our feet and to dwell in us


the way Jesus does at the Last Supper in St. John. Washing the feet of His disciples is a kind of a gesture also of the way that He comes into us. The way that He comes into us right at the bottom, as it were, you know. Washes us in some way with Himself, you know, and He's not so proud that He removes Himself even from our filthiness. That kind of thing. And then He dwells in us in that way. It's hard to get it into words but it's there, you know. But isn't that the only kind of context, the way they understand it, because we're not humble because we don't know Him. That's why we don't understand Him as we know Him. Well, maybe that's why we use the word but we'd have to have another word for it and humility is a good word. It's in a way an exaggeration because they say it comes, I don't know if it's true, they say it comes from humus, earth, ok? So humility is to be like the earth in some way. Not just low but the truth of the earth. And there's that in God in some way. Ok.


So we'll look back at this more with other critical comments later on after we get to the chapter. He talks about the divine milieu here. Now that's a phrase that he borrows from Teilhard de Chardin. The divine milieu for him here is a benedictine monastery. But what is it for Teilhard? It's all of creation. The divine milieu for Teilhard is God himself as immanent in the creation, immanent in the world and somehow transforming the world into himself. This whole eucharistic note that that has in Teilhard. I want to read a little bit to you from his divine milieu. He begins to look at other threefold expressions of Christian life here. This wholism is very important


in seeing the whole. He's talking about the whole man, but now he's not just talking about the whole man, but the whole of reality in some way. The different methods offered by benedictine spirituality are based not only on a vision of the whole man, but even more on the monk's living insertion into the reality of Christ. It is the whole Christ. And the whole Christ is always the whole of reality in the end. They seem to reflect other threefold expressions of Christian life. Now, he talks about the threefold activity of the savior of Christ as king, prophet, and priest. If you read the documents of the church on sort of missions of offices in the church, offices of bishops and priests and people in the pulpit, you'll find those three continually repeated. King, prophet, and priest. King usually means government, prophet means preaching of the word, and priest means the sacraments. All right? Worship. And I'm not sure that it's completely appropriate to bring it in here, but you find it, for instance, in Lumen Gentium in Vatican II. You find it for a long while before then.


Probably it was asserted first very strongly in the Council of Trent 400 years ago. And then he goes on. I'm not going to go into this in much detail. And finds an archetype in Mary. And in Mary also he finds a three-fold pattern. The body, the soul, and the spirit. And the bodily participation is very evident in Mary because she gives birth to Jesus in the flesh. And then finds a three-fold reflection in her virginity, fecundity, and humility. Here he is borrowing from one of his own Cistercians from St. Bernard. And that's one of those applications, one of those interpretations which doesn't necessarily have ultimate theological basis as a three-fold. It's one of those musical things that the Fathers do. So as a structure, we don't have to take it away. We can appreciate its beauty.


The monastic calling implies creating an atmosphere which expresses and promotes a similar openness to the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. It is meant to be a divine milieu to God's expression. Both exterior to us through monastic observances and interior through Lectio and especially humility. Okay. Then he points out once again the difference between the Benedict and the Western approach and the Eastern approaches which stress more distinct spiritual methods and techniques either in orthodoxy where you have something like the Jesus prayer, the hesychast method, which is a very specific method involving the body as well. And also outside of Christianity because we know, for instance, in Zen and Hindu monasticism and all the traditions, you have methods usually more sharply, specifically characterized and laid out. You have programs, ways of learning and of transformation which we look for in vain in our Benedictine way, in our Western spiritual way. There are all kinds of reasons for that. We talked about some of them


before. But one positive reason is this one. Benedictine Cistercian spirituality contrary to most Eastern monastic traditions puts emphasis more on general lifestyle than on detailed bodily or mental disciplines. This is true to the importance of a deeply personal response to the Word. Okay. That almost sounds Protestant. In fact, it is the other side. You've got the East over here, the non-Christian East over here. Then you've got the Orthodox East here. Then you've got Roman Catholicism in between. And over here, you've got Protestantism. Okay. But it's emphasis on the Word. Over here, you're going to have emphasis on all kinds of spiritual techniques. In Orthodoxy, they become sacramental and theological techniques like the Jesus Prayer. In Roman Catholicism, the techniques tend to disappear and you have more of a kind of generalized response to the Word, but in a deep way. For instance, read the Mystics where they talk about this betrothal with the Word and the spiritual marriage with the Word. The whole mystical dimension. Sacramental too.


And in Protestantism, the thing shallows out and narrows out until it's a conscious response to the Word of God. So the Word element has won out over the dimensions of sacrament, body, very often also the dimension of spirit. All of that comes back in Pentecostalism. So there's a whole spectrum there. And even though we may be on consider ourselves in the middle of the spectrum somehow, we've got to get in all those dimensions. So we're short on methods. We need methods, but they always have to be kept relative to that deeply personal response to the Word, because that's what it's about. That's what it's about. Nevertheless, when it's a question of transforming a whole man, everything hangs together. Many talks about excesses and Benedictine equilibrium. Benedictine equilibrium, we can be a little cynical about that sometimes, because sometimes it can turn into a kind of total indifference to the spiritual journey. Equilibrium can be a


very comfortable thing. So we have to look out for that. Along with the equilibrium, the balance, the openness, you've got to have a focus and you have to have a drive towards the goal. This determination, this sort of sharpness of concentration that David was talking about before. Before we get off this, in spite of going over time a little bit, I'm going to read a little bit from Teilhard's Divine Milieu. Now this is the way he conceives it, not the way Robert does. The essential marvel of the Divine Milieu is the ease, this is the third part of his book, The Divine Milieu, which is specifically on the Milieu after he talks about our positivities and negativities and passivities and activities. That's a good book for another view of asceticism in the monastic life. Divine Milieu by Teilhard. It's the only one that he's got directly on spirituality, directly on Christian life. It's a beautiful thing to read. It's a work of genius, even though we may consider it not totally balanced, not totally


worked out. The essential marvel of the Divine Milieu is the ease with which it assembles and harmonizes within itself qualities which appear to us to be contradictory. As vast as the world and much more formidable than the most immense energies of the universe in this boy, it nevertheless possesses in a supreme degree that precise concentrated particularity which make up so much of the warm charm of human person. Okay, now if we try to discover the source of so many astonishingly he's got more adjectives here that you get tired of. He's superlatively easy. If we try to discover the source of so many astonishingly coupled perfections, we shall find they all spring from the same fontal properties. Fontal property means a source property, a root, like that root that William Law was talking about, which we can express thus. God reveals himself everywhere beneath our groping efforts as a universal milieu. What's a milieu? Milieu is a context, it's a world, it's an atmosphere, it's a climate. It's everything. It's that in which you are.


St. Paul says we are in Christ or in the Spirit. He's talking about Christ or the Spirit as a milieu. We don't have a word in English. The context is too dead. It's too dry, academic. Milieu is better. We'd say medium, but that doesn't cover it. I don't know of an English word. That's why they didn't reject it. That's why they didn't translate it when they translated the book, they just left it milieu. It's just like medium is middle for us. Medium doesn't say it, doesn't express what he's trying to say. God reveals himself everywhere beneath our groping efforts as a universal milieu, only because he is the ultimate point upon which all realities converge. This is really beautiful. He's the point, he's the center, but he's the totality at the same time. Remember that notion of God as the circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. How can you have a circle whose circumference is nowhere, and yet we say he's a circle?


That's because a circle is sphere, is perfection. Center and the fullness at the same time. No, that comes from somebody else. There's a book, you know that thing, Finding Grace at the Center? Read the last article in there by Father Clark, he's a Jesuit, and he talks about that. There's a book by a Frenchman, I forget his name, which we don't have, which explores that extensively. I wish we had it. But that comes from Christian tradition, maybe somewhere in the 14th century. No object can influence us by its essence without our being touched by the radiance of the focus of the universe. That's center. However vast the divine may be, it is in reality a center. It therefore has the properties of a center and above all the absolute and final power to unite all beings within its breast. Now you see, the virtue of Teilhard


is that he connects, relates the center to the whole, you see, because our difficulty usually is that we give up one or the other. Either we face, focus towards the center, as is the ritual and monastic tradition, and forget the world, forget life, forget everything outside of the center, including our own mind, will, and so on, and our relationship with our communities and the Church. Or we focus on the world and we forget the center. Teilhard is brilliant on the way that we do that. And the modern world has lost the center and focused on the periphery, so the problem is to get the two together and Teilhard does it with his insight, even if he doesn't point the way, you know. It's as if... Okay. It's as if... It's as if...


Well, practically speaking, we do have to turn away from the outside in order to focus on the inside, as we do in meditation, you know, closing our eyes or sitting still, as we do by having a cloister wall around us or something like that. But what he's saying is exactly that. That when you're headed for the real center, you're going to rediscover that everything is inside of it, actually, you know. And that when you're relating to things on the outside, when you're relating especially to one another, you're still in that center. You're inside the center. And you're relating to the center exactly as you relate to another person. Okay? And as you relate to the things around you, you're still relating to the center through that. This is another, this kind of discovery of Jewishness, outside of the Jewish tradition. Exactly. And later on, of course, he brings in the Eucharist, because the whole thing here is Eucharistic for him. I'd better let you go now. Thank you so much. 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, a world without end. Amen. So, tomorrow at 10. I'd better have it put in order.