March 1980 talk, Serial No. 00568

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Cassian Institute

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Last time we finished Cashin and we went on with something of the history of this notion of Achyuti, the evolution of him. And I won't review that just now, but after we finish with this other author, whose name is Farrelly, you know, the one with the book on the seven capital sins, the seven deadly sins today. He's got an interesting point of view on sloth, because he brings it right home to us, as I mentioned last time, brings it right back to California. And we'll see. So let's briefly skim through what he has to say. This is starting on page 113, goes to 130. And then at the end, we'll compare, look back along the line, historical track, and see what we can learn from that. First he talks about the more or less inoffensive kind of sloth or idleness, which can even be a good thing. You know, we talk of a contemplative kind of vakare deo, leisure for the sake of contemplation.

[01:06]

But the sin of sloth is a state of dejection that gives rise to torpor of mind and feeling and spirit, to a sluggishness, or as it has been put, a poisoning of the will, to despair, faint-heartedness, and even desirelessness, a lack of real desire for anything, even for what is good. Sloth is a deadly sin because it is an oppressive sorrow that so weighs upon a man's mind that he wants not to exercise any virtue. That's pretty good as far as the religious, the Christian significance of sloth is concerned. Really not just sorrow, but in that sense also of sadness. You get several ideas mixed in here. One idea is that of tristitia, or sorrow, and another is of inactivity, or a kind of paralysis. But it may be spiritual paralysis, or something that keeps you simply from doing work. And another idea is sort of distaste for spiritual things, and this is at the heart of the monastic

[02:12]

vice of the Chedi, of course, and all those things are combined in the scholastic notion. It can even sorrow in the divine good instead of rejoicing in it. In pathology, in psychology, sloth means a morbid inertia, and by transference it means the same spiritually. In all of these aspects, it is peculiarly an affliction of our time, and that's what he's talking about continually here, is our time. Much more prevalent than it seemed to the medieval theologian, I don't know, but anyway, he finds a particular species and a particular generality of it today. W.H. Auden called ours the age of anxiety. I don't know whether he coined that phrase or not. Anxiety in this sense is modern. One Protestant theologian has said that it is post-reformation, and it is not unrelated to sloth. Okay, we may want to look back at that later on. And the connections that you make there are, when you say post-reformation or modern, the idea of individualism versus a spirit of community, the loss of the notion of solidarity, not

[03:18]

only with other men, but also, say, with the earth, with the planet, with the universe, with external reality. So a person becomes isolated in himself, and his motivation is cut off at that point, because he has nothing, no goals outside of himself, no interests outside of himself. That's sort of the backbone of his idea of sloth, which he relates to our modern individualism, you see, the Protestant Reformation, which is a turning towards individualism as typified by the individual interpretation of the scriptures and so on, a breaking away from not only authority, but from the idea of the church itself, the idea of community predominating over the individual, or at least being somehow, the individual being inseparable from a kind of community that is there before he exists. So that's an important notion which we come back to time and time again. But he traces this modern business of sloth back to it, and he connects anxiety with sloth.

[04:20]

And we can see a kind of connection there, too. There can be a state of mind which has a vague stirring of anxiety, and yet is unable to move itself to do anything, unable to move itself to action, and the anxiety is somehow connected with the paralysis, the two are related. So that it's been said that one of the cures for depression, of course, is simply to get up and do something, is to act or react. Anyway, our popular speech is today full of phrases that suggest an indifference and apathy that amount to spiritual and emotional talk, or Vinny quotes something, hang loose, laid back. I've heard that one. Play it cool. Go with the flow. That's heavy. Don't get uptight. There is sloth in all of them. There is. There's something about it. In other words, don't let anything bother you, the idea is. Stay disconnected, stay unrelated to life so that it doesn't really get underneath your

[05:23]

skin. And the idea of playing it cool, of keeping your cool or your composure through no matter what happens. So you don't really let anything affect you. You don't let anything upset you, as if that was the ultimate good. But is it? Or is it a curious kind of stoicism, indifference? It's a funny development of individualism when it turns into that. Evidently it's not only American, redefine what else you want to do. I'm okay, you're okay. Nothing is worth getting very serious about except one's own wants at the moment in one's own immediate environment. I'm okay, you're okay. You know the book by Dr. Harris. So that's got its helpful side. At the same time, this is the risk. In the world it is called tolerance, but in hell it is called despair, says Dorothy Sayers. It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing

[06:26]

and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die. I don't know where she wrote this. She's got a book on the seven sins. She's very eloquent. And of course she translated the Divine Comedy of Dante and in the Purgatory he talks about these sins. Maybe that's where she got her stimulus. Now he gets down to our local stuff. Most of the recipes of the human potential movement for personal relationships and self-actualization are prescriptions for emotional and spiritual sloth. This might be contested. This is his theory. Life is reduced by them to merely passages from meaningless now to meaningless now, each to be negotiated with just enough precautionary effort to avoid all but the slightest difficulty and pain. Our lives are made into a succession of episodes in which any fulfillment or happiness will be largely an accident, at best a coincidence, and in either case will be of little account

[07:31]

to us or to anyone else. The idea is that you no longer have a history. Your life no longer has a meaning. Relationship is broken off with your own past and with your own future, in a sense. Life is the experience of the moment. And similarly, it's really unrelated to other people, except insofar as you experience them, except insofar as they contribute to your experience. Okay? A kind of atomization of human life, both on the time scale and on the personal scale. Is that really what the human potential movement is all about? Not entirely. In other words, it's slanted. He's a satirist, kind of, you know. But you'll find that there's a lot of that in it. There's an article, which he actually draws from. He didn't give a reference to it, but I happened to have seen it a couple of years ago, called The Consuming Self. It was in America, by Donald Heinz. I've got a copy of it here. I'll record a little bit from there. That again is slanted against it, because the human potential movement has something to contribute. But it also leads to this kind of attitude, in other words.

[08:35]

Especially the Esalen sort of thing. We've got to be careful not to close ourselves completely to what that movement has to say. Because it has to say, it has a valid, critical, and even prophetic message to Christianity and to monasticism. But it also has this very insidious kind of direction to it. So it's a question of choosing the good and rejecting the garbage. This kind of atomization of life is true. There's an idea of fulfillment, of a progressive evolution, progressive development, progressive fulfillment of your life. But somehow, there's also the danger of reducing it to episodes, to experiences, to pleasurable experiences usually, or some kind of release. There are different currents, and it's wrong to put them all in the same category. The idea of history and the idea of responsibility are connected though, you see. The idea of history, responsibility, and traditional morality.

[09:38]

Because if I have history, well, and if I have responsibility, then I have guilt, and then I'm related to something outside of myself. It's not just a question of being responsible to myself, you see. So in some sense, responsible to my future for actualizing my full potential, for becoming who I really am supposed to be. In fact, we can, let's see. There are to be no narratives to our lives, no intelligible threads running through them. This is important. There isn't a meaning of your life that's outside of yourself. It's only in the realization of yourself. Now, it's true and it's false at the same time, if you look at the potential. It's true that the meaning of your life is in yourself, but it's not only in yourself. It's in your context too. Your context meaning your world, meaning the people around you. Nobody lives for himself. And the risk is that you come to live just for yourself, in a very sophisticated and very

[10:44]

fully developed way. There are no intelligible threads running through them. At the same time, they are stripped of all but the most slender association with the narratives of our societies, since we are persuaded to live apart from them in the little oases of ourselves. Such are the human potential and self-actualization that are recommended. Lives that have no personal history, only a succession of masks fitted to ever-changing roles. Lived amid an environment that has been denuded of human history. When Esalen calls itself a pagan monastery, for instance, it's as if we're moving back beyond history. History is almost a Christian invention, in a sense, in that Christ brings the word of God, and then Christ brings meaning into the world, puts an intelligible thread into it that goes beyond any individual, and yet gives meaning, and yet the individual life threads onto it, and it gives meaning to the individual life as well as to history in general. But here you don't have that kind of, that's not the kind of picture.

[11:48]

It's a matter of self-actualization, and then there's a kind of a general philosophy of cosmic convergence, whereby we're all moving, you know, the Aquarian age and so on, the post-Aquarian age, we're all moving into an age of oneness, of enlightened, enlightened oneness, in which there are no longer any differences of creed or whatever. It's a very, it's a kind of de-theologized picture of a church, of an idea of a church, a utopia. The name for such a condition is sloth, and perhaps what is most dispiriting about our time is not merely that we are persuaded that this is how we should be, but that the voices raised against it are so weak and timid. Schoolteachers themselves have become slothful. They've abandoned the painful task of combating the natural idleness of their pupils and so on, and instead let their little victims play at what they will. And what they will is, of course, uploaded as their self-actualization. From cradle to grave, life is to be avoided by therapies, even when they are disguised

[12:51]

as something else. We should think hard why the phrase learning experience has been found necessary. By learning, we mean something is learned. When we say, I learned this today, there's a measure by which to test its accuracy and value. What has been learned? Something objective outside ourselves is what counts. But when we say, that was a great learning experience I had today, this is typical of sort of the human potential, that way of thinking. We mean only a rather vague and superficial response in ourselves in which what happened to us is more important than anything else. We're talking merely of a subjective feeling which makes us feel good, a form of self-indulgence and self-entertainment. We are turned in to delight in our own experiencing rather than out to the obstinate fact of something other. Okay, but is he entirely, right, is he entirely justified in what he's saying? Or is he talking from, is he only seeing one side of the question and knocking down the other side completely? Because the human potential movement is kind of the response to an over-alienation and

[13:51]

over-dualism that crept into Christianity ever since about 1500 or so, or maybe earlier. The idea that you own it, like the idea of Christian love, that it's a complete sacrifice of self for something outside of yourself. Or the idea somehow that God is outside of yourself and the way to God is either through an absolute obedience which crushes the self and leaves nothing, and then expecting some kind of mysterious resurrection. Or through some other form of total self-abnegation. Well, that kind of heroic ideal, preached in theory, tends to empty people and crush them. And so you get the reaction of something like the human potential movement eventually. A whole bunch of reactions. This is just one of the latest of them. From the over-dualizing and the shallowing of Christianity, of preaching that sort of heroism without giving you the substance, without giving you the bread of life with

[14:52]

which to live it. And over-idealizing, over-conceptualizing Christianity without the interior vitality to do it. And so Christianity turned into a kind of moralism. And this is the reaction to that moralism, you see. This is anti-moralism. This is amoralism, amorality, where you're just thrown back upon yourself and you become your own God and your own guide, your own teacher, and so on. It's a kind of a natural reaction to an exaggeration of Christianity in Western society. And, of course, both are exaggerations. What is needed is to find the integration. And it goes along with the whole immanentistic trend in the secular world, you know, to see God as being within oneself. That's true. And to deny any God that's out there. And that's wrong. Because God is both out there and within us.

[15:54]

And in the end, it's once again the loss of the reality of the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the loss of the reality of the Incarnation which was responsible for it. The fact that God is able to be both out there as a person and within us as our own life, our own being. And the fact that man has become divine as God became man. And when that gets lost, then you get these actions, these exaggerations, and these reactions such as the human potential. Anyway, I'm putting it into a totally theological context, but that's where it ultimately, that's where it is. That's where history finds its meaning. I agree. Yeah, I was just wondering, about the first thing you said, you said something about Protestants protesting against the community. Yes, yes. Wasn't it that they weren't really protesting against the community because they made their own religion? Right. They were protesting against the condition of it. Okay, they were.

[16:56]

But consider, and I get this from a sociologist, this fellow Starr who wrote a book on the sociology of religion. Consider the two different views of community or of, what's the other one? There are two words in German that he translated. One is community and the other is another kind of society. So, one is the Catholic or Orthodox view in which the community precedes the individual, like a mother, or like the earth out of which you grow. Okay? And then you're born into that, and somehow you're rooted in it, you remain rooted in it. The other one is the kind of community that you form when you decide to, like joining a club, joining a society of some kind freely. Now, that's more the Protestant notion, the notion of a contract, or entering into something freely and maturely and so on. But you, the individual, then pre-exists the community, okay? The individual pre-exists the society. So, I only belong if I want to belong.

[17:57]

Now, there's truth, there's value in that. But if you forget the other thing, that the community was there before you were, and in some way you grow out of it, just as you grow out of the human community and just as you grow out of the earth, then you've got this individualistic thing. Then you start once again with the individual, with the atom, and things just don't hold together. Because what's ultimately in question is the oneness of all being. You see, it's a metaphysical question too, it's a philosophical question. Is being one or is it many? What's prior? Is it the oneness of being or is it the manyness of being, the multiplicity of being, of the individual? And if you say that the individual comes before the oneness, that's the wrong tactic. You never get it back together again. Because the individual can always decide otherwise. So, therefore, he splits himself off from the common being again and again and again and again, and you get this fragmentation that we have, first of all, among the other

[19:00]

Christian churches, the non-Catholic churches, and secondly, or not ultimately, the Protestant churches. And secondly, you get this individualism where every man becomes his own arbiter and so on. And ultimately every man has his own little world. Now, all of this, it's not entirely just heretical and not entirely wrong. Because why? Because also the Catholic conception of the community or the church had been too limited, so it limited man's freedom too much, closed him in too much, closed him like in a bottle with a cap on it. So, at a certain point, the thing explodes and you get this rebellion, this fragmentation. Because human liberty and the human person has to express itself, you see? So, it's not as if all the wrong is on one side, but that's what happened. And so, in the modern time, you get a real vindication of human liberty in a way. But it's always incomplete and it's always leading to this kind of isolation. Then it tries to find other unities. It tries to find its way back to the unity of man and of the world.

[20:02]

But the only way, really, is in the way that God did it, you know? That is, through the church that he planted in the world. Did something like that happen in religious life? Did they invest in communities? Of course, individuals have been taken badly. Individuals, you know, discouraged. Like I heard someone say in an article, how did they stand out so much? Someone said, well, they just wasn't bottled up. Yeah, yeah. In fact, Merton is a good example of that. Because, see, this didn't happen fully in monasticism, the effects, say, of modern times. The modern spirit didn't enter fully into monasticism until the time of Merton, practically. So, you can see Merton as a kind of secular man, or modern man,

[21:03]

or Protestant man, in a sense. Exploding out of the enclosure of monasticism. That is, the strictly traditional, obedience-structured body of monasticism. And Merton is the one who punches the hole in it. Merton is the one who explodes it, or at least who escapes it himself. Now, how does he escape it? He doesn't escape it by leaving his monastery, but by discovering human liberty and the fullness of the human person, even while living the monastic life, you see. By beginning to open those doors in his writings. Typical is contemplation of the world of action, all those essays which were a criticism of the old Trappist monastic life, with its over-control, its absolute obedience, its disregard of the human person, all of that. And also, the difficulty of finding real community in a life like that, where the silence was an absolute, and therefore all communication had to be non-verbal.

[22:05]

You can have community, but it's somehow maybe not complete. But the human person tends to remain infantile. Anyway, that's kind of an exaggerated picture of the medieval church, a vestige of it in the old Trappist life. And by this, I don't want to condemn the old Trappist life, because it had its good side too, it had its saints, and it had its real heroism. But I'm speaking of Merton's position there, and what he represents. Merton is like the reformation that should have occurred within the Catholic church and within monasticism, occurring 400 years late, 450 years late. The whole period between the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council, in other words, was a period of continued compression, when monasticism remains pretty medieval, sometimes in a romantic way, or it just goes to pieces sometimes, or sometimes becomes kind of secular.

[23:09]

But without really getting those things together. So Vatican II is the turning point there, and Merton in monastic life is the expression or the counterpart, I think, of Vatican II. That's kind of crude, but nevertheless it's true. And it's too negative a criticism of monasticism during modern times, but there's a lot of truth in it. This whole business of the learning experience, though. Yeah, but he's insisting, you see, on the objectivity of learning, which is okay. I mean, in learning you've got to come to grips with something outside of yourself and get it into yourself. You've got to just memorize things, you know. But what's the risk of that point of view? That you never really experience it, that you only memorize it, that you learn it by rope, and that's what, for instance, that's the trouble with religious teaching so often, that it's not experience.

[24:12]

There isn't any learning experience, there isn't any real assimilation. There's only a kind of swallowing hole, a kind of rote learning. And that's why all the kids leave the church, because that's the way religion was taught to them. So it's not that there isn't any value in this notion of a learning experience. There certainly is, but it can become exaggerated when your learning just diminishes and becomes nothing but experience, or nothing but pleasure, or nothing but excitement, or nothing but breakthroughs, you know, always some kind of a breakthrough. Well, you can't have a breakthrough every day. You know, you go to a workshop or something in hopes of a breakthrough, a new life. Then he quotes a guy named Josiah Royce, I don't know anything about him, he's an American philosopher who saw this kind of problem developing about a hundred years ago. And that Americans were beginning to live inside of themselves. He was a Californian, too. This is Royce's version.

[25:18]

Since no man can find a plan of life, every man needs a plan of life in order to live. By merely looking within his own chaotic nature, he has to look outside to the world of conventions, deeds, and causes. Only a cause, then, an absorbing and fascinating social cause, which by his own will and consent comes to take possession of his life, only such a cause, dignified by the social unity that it gives to many individual lives, but rendered also vital for the loyal man by the personal affection which it awakens in his heart, only such a cause can unify his outer and inner world. Seek, then, serenity, but let it be the serenity, not of withdrawal, he's implying, but of the devotedly and socially active being. Otherwise, your spiritual peace is a mere feeling of repose, and as such, contents it at best, but one side of your nature is namely the more sensuous side. And there you catch something that really is true of so much of this movement that we're talking about. It contents the sensuous side of man's nature, not the strenuous side, not really, or not the responsible side, and especially not the side that really seeks meaning.

[26:21]

This business about finding a cause, well, we may feel that that's a little bit shallow because it takes more than a cause, and if we look at things theologically, what do we find again? It's not just a matter of finding something outside of yourself that engages your interests, something altruistic into which you can throw yourself. That can lead to mere activism, as so many Christian activists find too, and then they find themselves emptied, even though it'd be a very good cause. But what's neat is you've got to have a theological core for these things. What's neat is finding one's place in Christ, which transforms oneself as it brings one also to live for something beyond oneself. But you've got to get deeper than that level of just self and other, to the theological level where self and other are really one, which is true only in Christ, only in the Church, at least for us. And that kind of thing has been lost, and so you get individual as opposed to community.

[27:28]

See, the individual is opposed to the community, that's the problem, which is a false problem in the end. Because in the Church, and in the truth, and in the solidarity of mankind, the individual is not opposed to the common. Neither is the inside opposed to the outside. But the one and the many are supposed to be discovered as being one in that third, which is what? Which is the Holy Spirit, really, and that's the mystery of the Trinity. So it's only in this image of the Trinity, which is the Church, which is the sort of seed of the solidarity of mankind, that that dilemma is solved. Royce had not read the literature of human potential and self-actualization, but portents of it were in the air, and he had a strong inkling of what must come. And then he goes on. I do my thing and you do your thing. This is Fritz Perls. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.

[28:31]

This is the extent of the human potential we are to actualize. The depth of our awareness of ourselves and of the others whom by chance we find, it is both as a way of life. All that is to be explored, all that is to be guarded, is a mere fraction of oneself in contact with a mere fraction of others in a world limited to the narrowest concerns. One does not have to adopt Royce's idealistic philosophy in order to recognize that he was, in his own day, setting himself against a false concept of individualism that has continued to dominate our century, at least in our societies. The most monstrous of its falsehoods is the belief that the individual can find fulfillment and salvation in nothing but his or her own self, and the denial that we were members of one another, and that the solidarity of mankind links the crimes of each to the sorrows of all. This form of individualism rests ultimately on complacency. It is the complacency of the comfortable as they have grown in number, and we have only to look around us in our affluent societies

[29:34]

to see how deeply it has taken root. Complacency, affluence, in other words, you can afford to be this way in America, but you can't afford to be that way in many other parts of the world, where you find that poor people often are much more responsible to one another, much more, I don't know, much more feeling and concerned for one another, much more generous. But it's not right to go and say that poverty brings people together, or poverty is the enemy of sloth. I was reading a little bit of Gandhi a little while ago, and one of his biggest enemies among the very poor people of India that he was trying to help was sloth. They were so dirt poor that they just couldn't get up or they didn't do anything. They were so discouraged and dispirited by their misery that it was hard to get them even to construct an outhouse, you know, so that they wouldn't defecate on the ground around their house or something like that. It was their misery that does it to them. So affluence is not the only cause of sloth,

[30:36]

the only cause of inertia or inactivity. People like in China, they work together to fight that poverty in some way, so that they have a stable community. That's right. Then there's this article of Heinz, which I better not take time to read a whole lot of it to you, but it's a lot of fun to read. Once again, it's a one-sided article. He's discounting all of the contributions of these movements. For instance, Maslow and Rogers, you know, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers are two proponents. One is sort of the father of humanistic psychology, Maslow. He used to come down to us. He's the grandfather, I guess, of transpersonal psychology. And this humanistic psychology has got some very good things to say, and some real contributions to say, to make.

[31:38]

One of its contributions is the idea that psychology should not just be treating the ills of the human person. It should not just be pathology, so that if the only way that psychology can help you is to get out of a neurosis or something, it should help you to grow. Well, that's invaluable. It's a real improvement. And then all of the things that he has to say about the difference between different attitudes, like the defensive attitude and the growth attitude, and the different kinds of motivation, there's a lot of precious stuff in Maslow's face. There's a picture of the self-actualizing individual. It may sound very selfish, but at the same time, if you look at the way he describes the self-actualizing individual, you'll find that the saint has a lot of those same qualities, that those two images are not that far apart. But you have to be careful that none of these things becomes a philosophy. If it becomes your total framework, then you're in trouble. Just as happens so often with Jung. But many of the contributions of these people can be accepted. Rogers, I don't know so much about,

[32:40]

but he's got a very self-oriented thing. I'll read a few quotations later on. The idea here, though, in Heinz's article, is that the self has become the center, has become idolized, divinized, in this current movement of psychological culture. And that it's pernicious, it's negative, it's dangerous, it's fatal, he says. He says, we live in the time of the self. As hero or anti-hero, the modern self has come of age, a paradigm has shifted. There is another way to be human. Not the way of institutions, but of persons. Well, that sounds good, we could shoot for that. Not of community, but of individuals. Don't know about that. Not of family, but of self.

[33:42]

In the last two decades, we have learned to call one of these directions the human potential movement. This movement has taken as its mythical story a triumphant struggling to the surface of the individual self, the self that had been submerged, helpless, under the icy overlay of institutions, roles and relationships, and so on. This is kind of lush literature, the way he writes here. Everywhere selves are awakening to freedom, fresh air, openness, new life, the psychology of plenty. Two of those who came running with the good news, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, you have to see them in their sneakers jogging down the road, the good news, herald the possibilities and tasks of the new age. Abraham Maslow invites self-actualization. Catching sight only now of its potential identity, the self sets out on a journey towards growth within a context of taking responsibility for the self alone, living in the now and attending to personal process

[34:50]

instead of roles and fixed values. The ability to choose, the freedom to choose, the responsibility to choose, come like divine commissions. The horizons of experience are raised as new quests for intimacy and personal meaning are ventured, and so on. He's sarcastic about the whole business. As the ideal pilgrim for this new frontier dawning, Carl Rogers commissions the adapting self. Rogers writes, unheralded and unsung, explorations, experiments, new ways of relating, new kinds of partnerships are being tried out. People are learning from mistakes and profiting from successes. They are inventing alternatives, new futures for our most sharply failing institutions. Protean persons take shape as this giant of a person begins to emerge. And he goes on. No one will want to fail to participate in these celebrations. And he goes on with his sarcasm. Let me read a little bit of Rogers, which I haven't read that much of Rogers.

[35:52]

And this is a little unfair, because these are just headings from an article. It's in The Self by Mostaka's Explorations in Personal Love. It's typical. It's an anthology of articles in that direction, in humanistic psychology. And there's a lot of good stuff in there, a lot of not only exciting things, but valuable things. But if it becomes your philosophy, you're in trouble. What it means to become a person, by Carl Rogers. The process of becoming. And these are the various sort of guidelines or orientations or signs that he notices in progress towards becoming a person. First of all, getting behind the mask. That is, getting behind one's roles and so on. Secondly, the experiencing of feeling. You've probably heard a lot about that. Get in touch with your own feelings and find out who you are. That's the way you get to know yourself. I'd like to say something more about

[36:52]

this experiencing of feeling. It is truly the discovery of unknown elements of self. Now, if you read Powell, this Catholic psychologist, the Jesuit, you'll find that he makes a great deal of it. And it is important. But it too can be absolutized and used in a really unhealthy way. The discovery of self in experience. Now, here are the qualities of the person who are Rogers. First of all, openness to experience. Nothing wrong with that. This replaces defensiveness and rigidity. You'll find the same thing in Maslow. And corresponding to this,

[37:52]

you have this movement from institution or structure or whatever to something more fluid. So you become more aware of reality as it exists outside of yourself instead of perceiving it in a frequency of categories. A lot of truth in that. Why do you not absolutize that openness? Because there isn't. Fr. David, I'm afraid, sometimes absolutizes openness. As if the only virtue, the only quality of growth in a person were openness. That's not the only quality. There's at least one more. You call it fidelity, you call it whatever you want. Commitment. Trust in one's organism. Now, notice this. The second characteristic of the person who emerged from therapy is that the person increasingly discovers that his own organism is trustworthy, that it is a suitable instrument for discovering all satisfying behavior in each immediate situation.

[38:53]

The trust has been put back into yourself from a trust which was totally oriented towards another, oriented towards God, oriented towards authority, towards an institution, towards a church or whatever. Now it's put back into your own organism. There's truth in that. But look out if you absolutize that one, too. You have to be able to trust your own organism in a sense. It knows more than we do. Whether you're talking about your body or the whole of yourself. An internal locus of evaluation. Another trend which is evident in this process of becoming a person relates to the source or locus of choices and decisions of evaluative judgments. The individual increasingly comes to feel that this locus of evaluation lies within himself. Less and less does he look to others for approval or disapproval. For standards to live by. For decisions and choices. He recognizes that it rests within himself to choose. And that's right. I mean, that's becoming

[39:54]

adult. It's becoming a person. The only question that matters is, am I living in a way which is deeply satisfying to me and which truly expresses me? Ah, that's where it gets dangerous at that point. This, I think, is perhaps the most important question for the creative individual. The difference between making a decision yourself, making a personal decision rather than just being slavishly guided by something outside yourself, whether it be law or authority or other people's opinions or views of yourself or approval or whatever. The difference between that and saying that I, that my feeling good or feeling satisfied or feeling expressed is the only criterion for my decisions. That's a big leap. And that's where you get into trouble. See, it's become a philosophy. It's become absolutized. It's become the ultimate criterion as to whether this satisfies me. And there's a big ambiguity there. Willingness

[40:58]

to be a process. The individual seems to become more content to be a process rather than a product. In other words, not seeing yourself as a fixed state or letting your image of yourself fall to pieces or even your ideal image maybe fall to pieces in a way and being willing to consider yourself a process. Well, that's very valuable. But also you see the other side of it. I'm skipping a lot here and just giving you some of these more trenchant passages. There's another scenario besides the optimistic one of the Human Potential Movement, which I'm here calling the consuming self. Remember, our society

[42:00]

is the consumer society and this is the consuming self. And so he thinks of it as a greedy, egoistic thing in the end, this consuming self. Which is not really becoming a person. It's becoming an individual with a sort of a bottomless stomach inside. Its beginning is deceptively calm. Values begin to shift with the paradigm change, the change of pattern. Growth, openness, freedom, independence move to the top of the hierarchy while such other pointing values are pointing outside yourself. As faith, commitment, sacrifice, responsibility shift to the bottom. So that catches a lot of it, you see, the shift. Now, those first values had been given too little importance earlier on. But you can't absolutize it. You can't exclude the second column and once again you're in trouble. You just end up back inside yourself with no way out. There are no collective stories, no common work, no archetypally human tasks.

[43:02]

Nominalism has its ultimate triumph over realism. That's the philosophical controversy of the Middle Ages as to whether the universal was real, that is the common, the one was real, or whether only the concrete individual thing is real. And the common is only a word. Like whether man is only a word, or whether it's reality. One man, man is one. Or whether only each individual man is a reality. And mankind, or man as a generic word is only a word. A name, hence nominalism. So you see, nominalism replaced that ontological mentality which was earlier in the Middle Ages in St. Thomas and so on. So you get this breakdown and fragmentation. The only thing that really exists is the atom, is the fragment, is the individual person, the individual concrete thing. The oneness of reality is lost. Now today you have a movement

[44:04]

back towards the oneness once again. For instance, the movement towards Eastern religions. Nominalism has its ultimate triumph over realism. There is no humanum, no humanity in general, the human thing, the human one. Only the individual. I am I and you are you. There is no we. We practice our I statements. Newly labeled as self-pleasuring, masturbation epitomizes ultimate sexual self-expression. Orgasmic autonomy is pursued in the sexual world. In the consuming self we see late bourgeois individualism finally breaking the covenant with society, world, and the human condition. That was the most penetrating phrase for me. We see late bourgeois individualism, this individualism that begins, that you see popping out about 1500, with a renaissance also in the Reformation, which becomes bourgeois later on, which becomes a leisure, or let us say affluent thing, a middle class

[45:04]

thing, and hence arrives at a kind of mediocrity. Finally, breaking the covenant with society, world, and the human condition. Breaking the covenant. In other words, all things are one. Man is one with his fellow man, with society, with the world, with the cosmos, and with the human condition. But no, this bourgeois thing is to break off with the human condition, which means accepting your own poverty and therefore relating to the poor in the world, and you retire back into your comfortable self. You see how individualism reaches a sharper and sharper point, a smaller and smaller confinement, as it finds another kind of liberty, but at the same time is becoming more and more constrictive in the self, and existentialism is sort of the end point of this thing. Atheistic existentialism. And the same thing tends to happen with history.

[46:05]

It comes back into the now, or it becomes an evolution, an evolutionistic view, in which you see everything is sort of summed up. The whole past loses significance, and all of significance and meaning and value is put into this future convergence of oneness or of perfection, which is the accomplishment and fulfillment of the self. OK, there's a lot more in there, but that's a more specific account of what, detailed account of what Fairlie is talking about here, whether Fairlie or unfairly. It is the individualism of the bourgeois given the same rationalizations as before, but with a twist that was unpredictable. He's thinking of these bourgeois as the people who are well enough off so that

[47:07]

they can forget their neighbors and retire into the comfort of their own dwelling. Its first commandment is, now as before, that we should look at those who are already old beyond their years, who seem never to have known any springtime, whether in their own lives or around them each year, in whom the sap seems never to have risen. And he goes on. Somehow there's no life in them because they don't relate to anything beyond themselves, that's what he's saying. Then he talks about how this sloth disguises itself under activity sometimes, and he's quoting Dorothy Sayers again here. The recent popularity of outdoor sports on the tennis court or the golf course, carrying surfboards to the marathon running or even just jogging, and a score more than an out-pursuit with zealotry, is evidence of a society whose members imagine that they are being strenuous when they are only engaging in a whiffling activity of the

[48:09]

body. Webster doesn't help you. Whiffling. Webster doesn't help you very much with that word. I looked it up and what it means is an inconstant gust of wind. But what he means there, I think, and what she meant, that comes from Dorothy Sayers. Maybe it's defined in the Oxford Dictionary. In English, it's better. It is evidently just a kind of something that involves only the body and therefore a kind of what would you call it, a diversionary activity or a tickling activity or a shallow activation or something like that of the body. I don't know a good synonym for what I think it means. There's nothing against such activities in themselves. There's everything against the celebration of them as some kind of strenuous spirituality. When jogging becomes your religion. The positive addiction is what psychologists say. When runners or joggers say that they experience a high, a characteristic word of our time, they're talking precisely of a whiffling sensation.

[49:10]

I wish he'd define that word. He's been using it so much. A high. And in Ecclesiastes, the preacher in the chase of the It's something like that. It's vain, the idea of wind as a vanity that Hebrew word for wind. A high is whiffling by nature to be enjoyed as such, if that is one's taste, but hardly to be regarded as an encounter with truth. To improve one's tennis is to improve one's tennis. It is not to improve one's soul, even if one is called Zen to one's aid. Okay. So it's a matter of putting things in their place. That jogging is jogging, and it's not spirituality. Let's face it. I remember reading the Zen. The Zen of running. The guy has a period where he says, you can use a mantra or a prayer word or something like this for attention, awareness, so you have enlightenment while you're running. You know, it can

[50:14]

dispose you to something spiritual, I suppose. And the guy who is still on, he says about center to be centered, you know, before you start to run. So there is a whole relationship. And it's not completely to be to be left out because there's something there. Because we've lost the relation of the body to the spirit. So we have a hard time getting centered, actually. In effect, in half the person in my grave. The trouble is that the adaptation has to stop there. This fellow that wrote the book on positive addiction, the two great ways of positive addiction are meditation, and running, jogging. And what do they do? They get you into a psychophysical state, which is a kind of a circuit, which gives you a certain pleasure, a certain satisfaction. Now, if you think that that's mysticism, or that, you know, it's union with God, or contemplation or something like that, well, it's not. It's something else. And the risk is that

[51:15]

people think that they've arrived at some final fulfillment, you see. Whereas what they've arrived at is this internal circuit. Zen might have something more to do. More, you know... Sure, Zen can go further. I'm talking about this one activity. Now, if you begin to integrate your life with this thing, and therefore you begin to pull your life, you begin to experience a conversion, right? You begin to turn yourself in the direction of truth, and that's something else. But if this activity remains unrelated to your life, that's over. So we don't want to oversimplify when we're talking about these things, but we've got to put them in play. Positive addiction. Addiction because there's a pleasure in it. There's an actual physical and psychological pleasure that keeps the person in that particular practice, in that particular habit. You can call it spiritual if you want to, but it doesn't have anything to do with God. Not directly. A lot of it's just kind of...

[52:17]

Nowadays, you know, people are just kind of cooped up, and it's kind of a gratification of their being. Right. Exist. Sure. And it's fine, you know. It's good. The people... The reason why people put it in such a high place is because we're in such an unbalanced kind of life nowadays. So that to do anything normally, to enjoy a pizza, you know, it can be... It can be a vital breaks for you. Because modern life is just, as you say, so cooped up and so imbalanced and so on. It's so far from the center, you see. That anything that seems human and seems to get the whole of a person's organism moving once again, get the engine going, can immediately become mystical. Okay. Now here, this begins to get amusing. At this point we have arrived in California. The state of fulfillment, as it may be called.

[53:18]

The state of fulfillment, in quotation marks. Where the spoiled child of the western world has come to rest. And one means to rest. He must have enjoyed writing this, you know. He's got a pound of sarcasm. A pound of irony in every sentence. It is there that the human potential movement, as Cyril McFadden has nicely put it, takes the place of other light industries. There that being laid back and mellowing out are day-long preoccupations, accompanied by the chatter of self-congratulation and undisturbing concern of life's goals. There that body language is most generally assumed to be a superior alternative to verbal language. And there also is the greatest concentration of institutes and retreats for self-actualization. Whether by transactional analysis or transcendental meditation, bioenergetics or biofeedback, Scientology or sober mind control.

[54:19]

It goes on and on. There is sloth in the motives of all of them. An excessive interest in and love of oneself, and a deficient interest in and love of other people. But there is sloth also in the methods. In spite of the apparent emphasis in some of them on self-development disciplines, the self-examination and self-correction that are demanded are porphyry. He's saying that they don't really require a deep conversion. That the energies which are called upon are the more shallow energies of the person. And also there's the fact that they generally leave a person free to do what he wants the rest of his time. It's a question of conversion in religious terms. Which is not to say that all of these things are worthless. But the trouble is that people grab them as being salvation. These things mostly advertise themselves, ask themselves under the label of salvation. This is it. This is what you need. This is going to get you there. And they get people to a certain point and leave them there.

[55:20]

If you're driving along Route 1 the Pacific Coast Highway, in a convertible with a top-down, with the surf braking on the beaches to your left. Now you're going north. With the mountains spilling down to the road on your right. With a brilliant sun and a blue sky. With a woman by your side. With a dreamy voice on your car radio singing, you are the honeysuckle, I am the bee. What could be of much concern except one's own self-actualization? This is only the individualism of our age that has undergone a sea change under the palm trees. The sociologist James Q. Wilson, I never heard of him, who was brought up in Southern California has said of those who went there earlier in this century, the people had no identities except their personal identities. The absence of such group identities and of neighborhoods associated with those identities may be one reason for the enormous emphasis on personality. He's still quoting this book. Everybody was compared in terms of his or her personality. To be popular and sincere

[56:25]

was vital. Then he goes back to Josiah Lewis, who is a Californian himself and makes these comments on California. Okay. Then he quotes St. John of the Cross. As to spiritual sloth, many beginners shy away and flee from things of a spiritual nature because they do not appeal to their sensible taste. For as they have found much sweetness in spiritual things, they are wearied by things in which they find no source of sweetness. Since they want to have completely their own way in spiritual things and insist on following the inclination of their will, it is with a dejected spirit and with great repugnance that they enter upon the narrow way, which as Christ says is the way of life. So many of these things that he's talking about, these movements that he's talking about, he says just sort of stimulate

[57:26]

and draw forth our self-love, promise some either sensual satisfaction or ego satisfaction or something like that. He doesn't comment on that. I think the closest he comes to it is when he talks about affluence. Not so much from urban life but from the comfortable life. Just looking for excitement. And remember that the key always for him is this isolation, this individualism by which a person is only concerned with himself. Before I forget it, I'd like to read you something from his book Love and Will by Ronald Hay. He's talking about, he's written

[58:28]

a series of books trying to deal with the particular neuroses of our time and he wrote one called Man in Search of Himself where he starts out with the age of anxiety. I think fairly here is deriving from him. This was W.H. Auden published his Age of Anxiety in 1947. Camus was then writing about the century of fear and so on. But there's been a change since then. Anxiety he says is no longer the predominant affliction people come and bring with them to the psychiatrist. This was written in 1969. That's 11 years ago already. An over cut now. But what he found then was apathy. Which is very close to the slope. It's almost the same thing as the slope that he's talking about. Earlier I quoted Leslie Farber's assertions

[59:28]

on page 27. The title of the section is The Emergence of Apathy to Replace Anxiety as the number one deal of the time. I quoted Leslie Farber's assertion that our period should be called the age of disordered will. But what underlies this disordered will? I shall take my own leap in proposing an answer. I believe it is a state of feelinglessness. The despairing possibility that nothing matters. A condition very close to apathy. Quotes an English psychologist we may be approaching a state which the psychologists call affectlessness. That means no feeling for anything. A lot of these human potential things are trying to help you get in touch with your feelings, trying to revive feelings. Sometimes in a kind of isolated way. That's a medical approach. He quotes from his own book in 1952. It may sound

[60:30]

surprising when I say on the basis of my own clinical practice as well as that of my psychological and psychiatric colleagues that the chief problem of people in the middle decade of the 20th century is emptiness. That was in the 50s. One might laugh at the meaning of the boredom of people a decade or two ago. The emptiness has for many now moved from a state of boredom to a state of futility and despair which hold promise of dangers. The human being cannot live in a condition of emptiness for very long. If he's not growing toward something, he does not merely stagnate. The pent-up potentialities turn into morbidity and despair and eventually into destructive activities. And then he goes on. He talks about a couple of incidents that happened in the mid-60s. This was in the New York Times. For more than a half hour, 38 respectable law-abiding citizens in Queens in 1964 watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks

[61:31]

and threw blood. Nobody did anything. Nobody cared. They didn't want to get involved. In April of the same year, the Times said in an impassioned editorial about another event in which a crowd urged a deranged youth who was clinging to a hotel ledge to jump, calling him chicken and yellow. It's hard to imagine. In May of that year, a Times article was headed, Rape Victim Screams Draw 40 But No One Acts. And a number of people just stood there and didn't do anything. What shall we call the state reported by so many of our contemporaries? Estrangement, playing it cool, alienation, withdrawal of feeling, indifference, anomie, depersonalization. He prefers the term apathy. And he talks about our schizoid world. Schizoid means that you're cut off from your surroundings.

[62:33]

You're cut off from reality. Apathy is particularly important because of its close relation to love and will. Hate is not the opposite of love. Apathy is. The opposite of will is not indecision, which actually may represent the struggle of the effort to desire, but being uninvolved, detached, unrelated to the significant events. Apathy is the withdrawal of will and love, a statement that they don't matter, a suspension of commitment. It is necessary in times of stress and turmoil. In fact, there are some things in the world situation today that you have to be apathetic. It leads you to a kind of necessary defensive apathy because you can't get excited every time. You can't get terrified every time there's a war report or something like that. You have to build a kind of skin. Every time you made the news. Yeah, yeah.

[63:34]

Hard luck's towards you in some ways. Yeah. You can't react to all... There's just too many stimuli. Also, I think the media do this to people. Movies, which are supposed to excite the emotions and so on, after a while they get people to a state where they're not going to respond to it. It's dangerous too. Kids see violence all the time on television. They get numb to seeing someone being killed. Yeah, they get numb to certain things and they get excited to acts of violence at the same time, or acts of passion. But they're involved also. Yeah. It is necessary in times of stress and turmoil and the present great quantity of stimuli is a form of stress. All the stuff that is thrown at you, especially in the city. But apathy, now in contrast to the normal schizoid attitude, leads to emptiness and makes one less able to depend on oneself, less able to survive. So he's trying to find a way to revive love and will

[64:35]

in this situation. Okay. Anything else? I guess we'd better quit because we've been going for an hour. I want to finish fairly today. Was apathy the thing opposed to decision? It wasn't indecision. No, it wasn't indecision. Indecision, he says, may be the crisis in which you're working up the effort, the energy to decide. Yeah. But something was. Was it apathy? This is page 29 on the bottom. The opposite of will is not indecision, which actually may represent the struggle of the effort to decide, but being uninvolved, detached, unrelated to significant events. That's the opposite of will for him. Then the issue of

[65:37]

will can never arise. You unplug before it gets to a question of deciding. You're not concerned. He says, today what is not given its proper weight is reality. G.K. Chesterton said that St. Thomas Aquinas, when he was troubled by doubt, chose to believe in more reality and not in less. There are moments in all of our lives when it seems the hardest of prescriptions, and there are some eras more than others that seem to find it particularly hard. Yet, as we will see in the last of these essays, it's this attention to reality that we need to call us back from our sloth. Attention to reality because we become detached from reality in our own way. He really paints a bleak picture. One of the corrections of sloth, classically,

[66:43]

is fortitudo, the Latin word, which is perhaps best translated as the strength of courage. Now, that's interesting because it suggests that that sloth and cowardice are related, doesn't it? If courage is the remedy, the strength of courage is the remedy to sloth, then sloth and cowardice must be related. There's an interesting word in St. Benedict's Rule, right in the beginning of the Pollock, called decidio, which is usually translated sloth, when he says you've got to move from the sloth of disobedience to, forget what he calls it, of obedience. But that word means both sloth and cowardice, that Latin word, decidio. The two are very much related. The inactivity, which is also a fear of not being able to cope with a situation, or a fear of getting hurt, or a fear of whatever, of exposing oneself.

[67:44]

It's interesting because Gandhi, when he was talking about non-violence and the non-violence of the weak is passivity. Yes. He preferred people to act courageously in violence than people to withdraw in a kind of passivity. He gave the example of some villagers whose village was raided, and instead of staying to defend their property and their wives, they just ran away. He said, that was cowardly. It would have been better for you to have fought than to do that. But the best thing of all is to remain and to state the truth, you know, and non-violently defend. Even if it cost them. That is, that they would have to rob you of your dead body. But one has only to think about it, and one realizes that sloth is preeminently a sin of omission. You see, when we make our

[68:45]

confession, we don't reflect enough on our sins of omission. They're not so obvious. We look at the things we did, but really what's our sin is what we don't do, and if we don't do it for long enough, we don't even notice that we're not doing it. We unplug ourselves. We detach ourselves. To put it more positively, it is a sin of neglect. We neglect what we ought to do, and especially we neglect our neighbors. This neglect may even amount to callousness. We pass by on the other side, partly out of pride, of which there is a lot in sloth, but partly out of a mere indolence, a laziness of the spirit as well as of the flesh. We have made a religion of ourselves, and of all the sins we have come nearest to making a religion of sloth. It goes on and on. Mind one's own business. Do not get involved. Live and let live, as we said at the beginning. In this way we will not hurt and not be hurt.

[69:47]

Of course the hurt is deep both ways. You can't be bound to hurt. It separates us from the rest of humanity, and so from our own humanity, just as in theological terms it separates us from God. There is no room for concern or caring in it. But in separating us from everything that is other than us, it separates us from much of what essentially is us, leaving us feckless. Feckless, I looked it up. Feckless means weak or cowardly or worthless. We become more feckless in inaddiction. And what is most terrible about it is that even in our sloth we move across our landscape like a crowd of locusts devouring everything by doing nothing, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, telling nothing. Yet we develop, yet we consume. It's that consuming self that makes us talk. So here to live in that grim predicament we're in we better quit. That is where we are. That is where we are. That is where we are. That's where we are. That's where we are.

[70:45]