October 15th, 1982, Serial No. 00862

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Monastic Spirituality Set 8 of 12




Today we wanted to do this Discourse No.
14, which, although it's not the last in our book, it's the last in this section.
And rather than going through the others one by one, I'd suggest that you read the remainder of the book, which you've probably done by yourselves, and then we'll go through it, touching the points that seem important to us as we do, but not focusing much on each of the remaining conferences.
You'll see that he puts that in a separate part, and we sort of completed one track of Zarathustra, and we'll treat the rest as kind of an appendix.
Now, this discourse makes an excellent conclusion for this series of talks, for the fourteen of them.
It's a kind of masterpiece.
I don't know whether it struck you that way.
simplicity in talking about this building of the virtues, which is really just like a child's game.
And it is a game.
It can put you off as far as the real depth of what he's writing about, but it's astonishing in this discourse.
The practical grip that he's got sort of on the pulse or the heart of monastic life, of what it's about.
When he starts to talk about this knowledge that he's talking about here, it comes out.
And he gets a lot of these terms, like from the Greek thought that's gone before, you know, the philosophical stuff.
But in Evagrius, the philosophical stuff has all been put into a grinder and it comes out as experience.
It doesn't come out as philosophy.
Similarly, with this picture of the house of the virtues, it's frustrating because he's talking in a kind of complicated way about things that seem very simple to us.
If you have a speculative mind, it would be very frustrating to read Dorotheus in that way.
A person with a philosophical mind would first of all say,
Well, look, why talk about it in that way?
Why make it so complicated, as if all these things are parts of some kind of composite whole, when really the virtues are all one thing.
And in doing, as it were, one thing, we do them all, you know.
And really the soul, you would say, is one thing.
So let's focus on the center of it, and not treat it as if we had an electric circuit, as if we were putting together a kind of building, a child's toy.
But that's besides the point, in a way, because Dorotheus is a strictly practical man.
You remember how there's different schools of Eastern spirituality.
He's in the very practical school, not a mystical school at all.
Now, when I say school, it really is a school.
He's very much like Saint Benedict.
He's simply interested in doing.
He's interested in getting the work done.
He's not interested in how it looks very much.
He's not interested in deep speculative insights.
He's not much interested in mysticism, but you wonder how much he was acquainted with it.
He did have some experiences of that kind himself.
He's interested in doing the work.
He's interested in getting something.
The way he writes about it is just beautiful.
References for this, there's nothing really new that we haven't, that I haven't mentioned before.
For instance, all these places where you find ladders of the virtues,
and genealogies of virtues and vices.
I'll touch on a couple of those, just very briefly.
For instance, there's Cassian, remember, and this ends up in the Rose, I don't know, but Cassian in his Institutes, Book 4, Chapters 39 and 43.
You've heard this a couple of times, you were plenty of it sometime.
Here then in a few words how you can mount up to the heights of perfection without any effort or difficulty.
The beginning of our salvation and of wisdom is according to scripture the fear of the Lord.
You get the notion of the ladder here.
And Taratheus talks about the ladder too.
After he gets finished with his building, he talks about the ladder.
The reason for that is, he says, you don't have to jump all the way up to the top.
You do one run at a time.
You start with what you have.
Start with what you can do.
And then you move along.
It sounds simple, but if we examine our own thinking, we find very often we expect to be at the top right away.
If we find all those virtues on one page, if we're going to zero in on the top one, the really select one, why not?
The others are uninteresting.
That's the way I mind it.
The others are uninteresting.
You've got them all on the same page.
Well, why fool around with the inferior ones?
The only trouble is that it's a road, and it's a ladder, and if you don't step on that one, you won't get to the other one.
So, Cassian and Dorotheus are very practical in that way.
The beginning of our salvation and of wisdom is according to scripture the fear of the Lord.
From the fear of the Lord, now you'll find that Dorotheus talks about faith coming first, but faith and the fear of the Lord are practically the same thing in the Father's, in the monastic Father's.
From the fear of the Lord arises salutary compunction, from compunction of hearts springs renunciation, that is, nakedness and contempt of all possessions.
From nakedness has begotten humility, from humility the mortification of desires.
Through mortification of desires, all faults are extirpated and decayed.
By driving out faults, virtues shoot up and increase.
Now here he's talking about virtues.
Remember, the fear of the Lord is already a virtue.
Passion's been talking about virtues from the start.
By the budding of virtues, purity of heart is gained.
By purity of heart, the perfection of apostolic love is acquired.
His focus is on purity of heart, which in Evagrius is apatheia, but Evagrius ends up with contemplation, with knowledge instead of love as the top of his ladder.
And this fellow that wrote about Maximus the Confessor, his enormous book that he wrote on Maximus, it's a treasure for reading about the psychology of the monastic
Because he studies the earlier ones in order to prepare the way for Maximus, in order to understand him.
Here's how he writes about these ladders, the Vagrius and Maximus.
These are hierarchies of virtues.
Now, in another place he's talked about the genealogy of vices, how that one begets another, creates evil thoughts and so on.
The Vagrius hierarchy consists of the following virtues.
Faith, fear of God.
And Cassian, remember, comes from a Vagrius.
You have to start with faith for biblical reasons.
There's nothing really that contests the place of faith as the first of the virtues, as the start.
Faith, fear of God, self-mastery, patience and hope, detachment, love, natural knowledge, et cetera.
Theory of physica, natural contemplation.
Theology, which is a contemplation of the Holy Trinity and blessedness.
Maximus' hierarchy contains the following elements.
Maximus Christianizes, or theologizes, or Catholicizes the values of philosophy.
Here's Maximus.
Faith, fear of God, self-mastery, patience and long-suffering, hope in God, detachment and love.
You find three great stages there.
The first is faith and fear of God.
The second is things concerned with hope, long-suffering, patience.
In other words, the endurance of the journey and the strength required for that.
And the third, the top of the thing, is love and contemplation.
And between two and three is this detachment, which marks the sort of accomplishment of the road.
And that makes the way for love.
There's positive things of love.
And there's a detachment in empathy and passionlessness.
That's the end of the road.
And just the, that's the wall of the city is of love.
And then in the city there's love at the top, and love and contemplation, knowledge of that.
I didn't look in Aquinas to see how he fits together the virtues.
That would be another point of comparison.
It's in the second part of the Summa.
Remember, St.
Paul uses the image of a building himself.
It's in Ephesians, mostly.
Ephesians 2 and again in Ephesians 3.
Okay, he starts out with a midwife.
We had the midwives with Fr.
Thomas in the first class, didn't we?
Midwives in Exodus.
And it's a funny way that he does this.
that he does this scripture exegesis, as you'll notice.
It's a strange passage to start with.
He could have done it so many other ways.
He could have started with St.
Paul and Jesus.
I can't imagine why he didn't.
But he starts with the midwives at the beginning of Exodus.
Remember the Jewish midwives that Pharaoh told them that to kill the
male children of the Jews as soon as they were born, the females came back.
And they didn't do it.
And they lied to Pharaoh.
And they said, well, the Hebrew women are so vigorous that they bury their children before we get to it.
And so, it's not that they're out of our hands.
And so, it says in the Bible, because they feared God, God dealt well with the midwives and the people.
Because the midwives feared God, he gave them
a house or houses.
In the RSV, however, it's families, which is obviously what it means.
Because the midwives brought forth the children according to the law of nature and the will of God, God gave them children.
He rendered them fertile.
It's a kind of poetic justice thing.
He takes house literally and then talks about it and says, does it mean any visible houses?
And how can it be that they acquired houses through the fear of God, and we're supposed to give up our houses and lands and all that through the fear of God?
Evidently it doesn't mean visible houses, but the house of the soul.
Each one builds up for himself by keeping God's commandments, and so it is.
Very good.
Very good.
It's true, you know, because he could have killed him.
He could have thrown that in the river.
So, for that reason, the application is not that wild.
But the biblical sense of the word, of course, means that he gave them, he increased their house, he gave them offspring, in a literal sense.
The other sense, the moral sense, the spiritual sense of the word, is a legitimate thing.
So he says, let us build a house so we'll have children in the wintertime.
The image that Jesus uses is a house that's built on rock.
It's not the wintertime, but it's the flood.
And he says, how are we going to build this house?
A man who wants to build a house must see that it's solid and thoroughly safe, and he raises it to four square.
That number four is actually in the original.
It's a question of, I forget what the word is exactly, but that idea of quaternity, of squareness, very often comes up when people talk about the soul and the virtues, the moral life,
Just the way that the human being, the man is constructed.
He comes back to it later on.
Reminds you of Jung, reminds you of a bunch of things.
Reminds you also of the four cardinal virtues.
Prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice.
It's a four-square thing.
And then on top of that you go to three theological virtues in life.
So it's almost like a picture that way.
Only he puts one of them at the bottom.
He doesn't concentrate on one part only.
And he has that comic image later on of the man who builds up one wall and raises it up as high as he can.
And we do that, strangely.
It's an absurdity.
Because we can't see inside.
We can't see what we're doing.
But, anyway, I'll get back to that.
I wanted to read John's work.
It's John number 34.
Because he doesn't quote the whole thing.
Abba John said, I think it's best that a man should have a little bit of all the virtues.
Therefore, get up early every day and acquire the beginning of every virtue and every commandment of God.
Use great patience with fear and long-suffering in the love of God, with all the fervor of your soul and body.
Exercise great humility.
Bear with interior distress.
Be vigilant and pray often with reverence and groaning, with purity of speech and control of your eyes.
When you're despised, do not get angry.
Be at peace and do not render evil for evil.
Do not pay attention to the faults of others, and do not try to compare yourself with others, knowing you are less than what we created think.
Renounce everything material and that which is of the flesh.
Live by the cross, in warfare, in poverty of spirit, in voluntary spiritual asceticism, in fasting penitence and tears, in discernment and purity of soul, taking hold of that which is good.
He begins to sound like St.
Paul, and some of this comes from Paul.
Do your work in peace.
Persevere in keeping vigil in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness and suffering.
Shut yourself in a tomb as though you were already dead, so that at all times you will think death is near.
The thing about one virtue or the whole thing.
Some of the fathers you'll find saying, I pick one thing and I do that now.
For instance, I won't talk for a year.
One of the fathers I'll make a vow not to talk for that.
Somebody asks them a question, another year they'll eat only a handful of beans a day, or something like that, or only three times a week, and so they go on, alternating from one to another.
The point is, though, there are a couple of points here.
One is that the whole thing is one oedipus, and one virtue really isn't anything.
unless it's the whole thing, because you're simple at your source, you're simple in your heart, you're only one thing.
And it's like painting one side of yourself, putting on a facade.
You could have talked about building up just the front of the house, you know, and then just having cardboard in the back or something like that.
Only the front is what we see, too.
And what we do when we work on just one thing is to, we find our good thing, we find our strength, and then we operate with our strength.
Do you notice how that's what makes the world go round in a sense?
It's people finding what their special gift is.
We were talking about something that sounded different last time.
People finding what their special gift is, what their strongest point is, and then making the most of that.
It's almost like a game.
That's where the competitiveness comes in, in the world.
You find your special thing that you're strongest at, and you use that power in order to acquire as much as you can for yourself.
And meanwhile, you leave behind everything else and you probably cover it up too.
In other words, you cover up your weak side and play with your strong side.
Move forward with your strong side.
Compete with that.
That's the kingdom of power.
That's the way it works.
And he's saying you can't do that in the monastic life.
Now, there's another thing in there which is we can't see the whole thing of ourselves, okay?
It's like the eye trying to look at itself.
We cannot see
the whole of our soul, but we can see a particular outward accomplishment, we can see a particular virtue building up.
And so, we build a facade for ourselves, or we put a high profile out there for ourselves, and we build this thing up so that we can look at it and admire ourselves.
And then we rate ourselves according to that external thing that we've been able to do in one line.
There are a hundred of those things, and I'm saying to the Fathers about the guy who's good at fasting, or good at one thing or another, but as soon as you test another part of the structure, you find that there's nothing there.
He's good at one thing, but he doesn't have humility, or he doesn't have discernment, or this or that.
The point is that we grow as a whole, kind of 360 degrees around, and those two tricks, the power trick of using our strong side and ignoring a basic human condition, or the commonness
that belongs to all of us, right?
We stress what is uncommon in ourselves, this whole business of self-image and needing to be original.
We stress that which is uncommon in ourselves because we're afraid of our common humanity.
We're afraid of just being a human being, like everybody else.
And at the same time, we use that strong side
to get something for ourselves, power, wealth, or appreciation, or something like that.
So it's both inside and outside, this phoniness about it, or this shallowness about it.
And who we really are, and what we really are, we can't see.
And it seems that the further we go along growing in God, the less we see of it.
In other words, the more invisible it becomes, he brings that out afterwards.
You can see one high wall, but if all four walls of your building are rising, you won't see them.
Because they're inside.
That's what really your father's so important to the people.
So it's temporary, maybe you're exaggerating on your strength, and maybe bring up some of these other signs to make more balance for the individual.
Right, right.
In society, you're on your own.
Even a spiritual father may have a hard time at it sometimes.
Because look the way we're made.
We've got eyes in the front of our head.
We don't see much of ourselves.
We don't see three quarters of ourselves.
We only see a head.
And our vision is where we're focused.
Our vision is where we're going, like a locomotive in a sense.
And there's so much that we don't know about ourselves, but that other people can see.
Other people can see that facade.
They can see behind the facade.
Sometimes, however, the spiritual director sometimes only sees the facade, because if somebody goes to him once a month... I'm talking more about the outside, not here, because we meet one another in various ways here.
But outside, if somebody's living a life, and then they go to a spiritual director once a month, and they give him this whole bill of goods.
But all he sees is the facade that they've prepared for him.
I mean, he doesn't know about the rest of it.
He doesn't know how they really are.
So it's very easy for them to play a game with him, unless he's possessed.
Notice when we talk about strength, we're talking about strength on two levels, okay?
When we talk about using our strong side, capitalizing on our strong side, getting power or wealth or getting something special, building up a self-image with our strong side, that's strength on one level, isn't it?
That's not the deeper strength that we're talking about, because this whole thing is about acquiring strength, isn't it?
This thing about acquiring virtue.
So instead of talking about four walls instead of one wall, you could talk about deep strength instead of surface strength.
or the gift, instead of a particular gift.
The gift, the basic strength, is the strength to move in your weakness.
It's to move even in the direction of your weakness.
And therefore, it's sort of commensurate with God's grace, with God's help.
It's the strength on the deeper level of your true self, where God moves along with you all the time, and where you just have to rely on him continually.
for which can become a very real and constant strength, as it was in St.
Paul, as it is in the Saints.
But it's not so much for this or that.
Now, it's not that those other strengths have to be destroyed or something like that.
They're not bad.
In fact, they're good.
In fact, they're very important to us in various ways.
We were talking about that last time.
You've got to use that gift, perhaps.
If it's your charism, if it's your vocation, you've got to use it.
Even if it's something on the outside, a healing gift, a daily merchandise.
What we're talking about is a way that the ego grabs at those gifts.
In other words, exploits them for its own ends, rather than for the ends of God, rather than for the will of God, the purpose of God.
So it's the way, remember how Joe Bro in that book of his, he likes to talk about the bad side of a good gift.
You can interpret that in a couple of ways.
One way is that every strong point has a weak point behind it.
Every light has some shadow behind it or something like that.
In the sense that if you're real strong, in one direction there's some things you're going to miss just by virtue of moving so strongly in one direction.
But it means something else too.
And it's not so much the bad side of a good gift, the specific bad side, it's the bad side of any gift, which is not in the gift at all, it's in us.
It's our tendency to appropriate, to exploit, and to center around ourself, to use for our own benefit whatever gifts we have.
And that's what we're really fighting here.
And community is what puts you in a state of weakness where you can't do that.
You can't fool people with just your strong points.
The only way to do it is to be mean enough so they'll stay away from you, something like that, and you can play your little power game, and you sort of push everybody far enough away so you can do your thing.
But get there close to you.
If you're really open to them, you can't do that, because your weakness has to be showing, too.
And you have to relate to them with your weakness as well as with your strength.
The people are just shunning, they can do that.
Lots of people will be fooled by that.
I'll have to watch for that.
I'm scrutinizing everything.
First he must lay the foundation, which is faith.
This is one of those simple things, you know, that we've heard a thousand times.
I found a very good article by Lonner in which he talks about, he didn't talk about faith as a foundation, but faith as the connection, the sort of root in ourself between emotion and reason, which I'll probably use at some time.
It's the point where everything hooks together anyway.
In other words, somehow faith is able to get to the root of yourself.
We talked about that center, about the core, about the point point and so on.
Now somehow, faith does something to that point so that your life is related to that in a way that it wasn't related to it before.
And he talks about faith as being the point, the intersection of emotion and reason.
But what he really means is freedom and intellect
freedom and intellect, or freedom and structure, or knowledge and freedom.
Those two lines come together at that point.
And faith, somehow, is the thing that liberates knowledge by hooking it into mystery.
You see?
It opens up reason, which seems to be a kind of infallible rule, you know, until faith brings it down until it touches mystery.
And then mystery somehow blows it open so that it changes, so that it becomes liberated.
And at the same time, it brings freedom down to the point of truth.
You know, you'll know the truth and it will make you free.
So that's that magic point at which the two are one.
That law of liberty, which is law and which is liberty at the same time.
Which is truth and which is perfect freedom at the same time.
So he relates faith in that way to his core that he's always talking from and talking about.
Which is like saying, using another image, like saying it's the foundation.
Now, Dorotheus doesn't talk much about liberty, does he?
Because he's in that tradition in which liberty is not something else.
It's not put on a flag.
But there's a liberty here that he's talking about, obviously.
The freedom of being able to love.
The freedom of compassion.
It's only the dignity of being able to love.
Okay, so the foundation of space, and then you put on these various stones.
Is there occasion for obedience?
The stone must be there for obedience.
The stone of patience and so on, self-control.
So all of the traditional lists of the virtues are here in stones.
Great attention must be paid to perseverance and courage.
These are the cornerstones of the building.
And we start with faith.
And these really, by many of the fathers, are equated with hope.
Hope is translated into perseverance and patience.
If you read St.
Paul, for instance, in Romans 5,
See, we're annoyed by the complexity of this building that he's making.
But we say, it must be simpler.
Well, how do they fit together?
It's funny, because he's not interested.
Somebody else is speculating on that.
But Dorothy is just plain isn't interested in how these are one and how they fit together.
He's interested in how you do it and how you understand the movements in your own heart so that you can grow.
It's simple.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith,
We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through him we will obtain access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope.
Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
You see his building there?
It starts out with faith in this grace that is given to you.
And all of these other things,
these sort of struggle virtues which relate to hope.
And then the hope doesn't disappoint you because the end is already there inside of you.
In other words, the perfection, the kingdom, is already in you because of God's love which has been poured out into you.
And you don't know whether it's God's love for you or it's the love that God gives you to love him, to love others with.
And it's in some hearts, both of them, you know.
Dorotheus is interested more in the individual stones.
And he likes this image of the building.
Similarly, the patroller must set his stones in mortar.
Now this image is really annoying.
Why does he use mortar for humility?
In St.
Paul the classic image there is love, right?
Love is the bond that binds everyone together.
But he says humility.
You can think of it as the mortar that you lay the bricks into rather than putting it between them.
Think of setting each stone in humility.
The martyr is humility which is composed from the earth and lies under the feet of all.
Any virtue existing without humility is no virtue at all, as it says in the Sins of the Earth.
As it's impossible to construct a ship without nails, so there's no hope of being saved without humility.
Once again, humility is something that connects.
You don't usually think of it that way.
But he's thinking of humility.
When he talks about knowledge later on, it's going to be the same, basically.
It's going to be almost the same as humility.
The knowledge which validates everything and holds it all together
And knowledge is kind of, its real virtue is distinguished from apparent virtue.
And humility is the same thing.
Because the person who is reaching for apparent virtue, what's he doing?
He's doing a vainglory thing, isn't he?
He's on a trip of some kind, you see?
Now, he's cultivating that thing for itself.
He's not cultivating it for the sake of it building.
But he's cultivating it for himself building.
The point I'm trying to make is the connection between the humility and the knowledge of the true virtue.
The true virtue is accompanied by humility, it's got the motor of humility.
The false virtue is a reaching for ego-fulfillment in some way, which means a vainglorious move, which means it's precisely the opposite of humility.
Not in every single case, because sometimes it's not vainglory but it's something else.
But if it's being cultivated as a virtue, for the sake of virtue, and without knowledge, it's got that vainglory.
Besides all this, the house needs what are called tie beams or braces.
The word in French is chainage.
Did you ever see that?
What is it?
The house?
There must be something that binds, OK?
You can think of it.
There's maybe a chain around the structure or something.
The only metal-type things I can think of are those things you see in movies.
There's some kind of a binding here.
A binding which is around.
Discretion, which presides, adding much to its appearance.
In some way, it's all around it.
It beautifies it.
It draws the whole building together.
What word does he use for discretion?
I have to look that up.
I forgot to look that up.
And it's very connected to this knowledge that he was interested in.
The roof is charity.
He's like Saint Benedict in kind of the clumsiness with which he puts these images together.
Because the roof being charity doesn't really make you very happy because the whole building ought to be charity.
That's what holds it all together.
In fact, a lot of times, if you look,
Carefully you'll find that there's a New Testament quote underneath where he's saying, the words you choose.
Sometimes that's the reason for the choice of a particular image of Jesus.
After the roof comes the crowning of the dwelling place.
Why does he actually, in the French it's balustrade, and in the Greek it's something like, it's got that word, stefan, peristephaeios, or something like that.
Step up means crown.
It's a balustrade, it's a railing around the thing.
Build a railing around the roof, lest your children fall from the roof.
Once again, humility.
He doesn't mind mixing metaphors.
The perfection of the riches is humility.
Who are the children?
They're your thoughts.
If you build your house and there's a flat roof,
And without humility the children will fall off the roof.
Now he asks the question, is there anything left out?
Here's where it gets very interesting.
It gets right down to the core of things, actually.
Notice the continuity in the rest of what he's talking about, and notice the feel that he has for it, as he swings into talking about this knowledge.
It's a typically Greek expression or something, but it's in St.
Is there anything left out?
Yes, something remains to be said.
What is that?
What about the builder of the house?
It's not that there's no craftsman there.
What it says in the original is, let the builder be a craftsman.
If the builder is not a craftsman, but he's only a hack, if he's only an amateur, then the building will fall apart.
He has to be a technetes.
He has to know what he's doing.
The craftsman is one who acts with knowledge.
And the word here that he uses continually is Gnosis, G-N-O-S-I-S.
That's the knowledge that he's talking about.
Now, this knowledge, even though the word knowledge is a Greek word, a Greek notion, this knowledge is really experience.
It turns out to be the discernment between apparent virtue, a true structure, and a false one.
Real virtue and phony virtue.
And he brings it out in three or four different dimensions as he goes on.
Because somebody can work at the virtues, and because he acts without knowledge, he may destroy his own work, or it may be insecure, so he can't find how to complete it.
Lays one brick, only to have to take it up again.
Another may lay one and take up two.
For instance, somebody says a nasty word to you, and you don't say anything to him, but then you go and cuss him out with somebody else.
There you have it.
You've laid one brick and taken up two.
It's beautiful.
Because you said something bad about him, and then you boast about your own virtue.
You said, I bowed to him and didn't say anything.
And you know, we don't do it quite like that.
That Blighter so-and-so is not here.
I didn't know Blighter was an adjective.
There's nothing in the Greek for that.
It's just a certain someone, you know, so he expanded a little bit.
We do it in a much more subtle way, in a sense.
And we'll be talking with somebody else and we'll bring this up and sort of give a little stab to the third person, the person who's not there.
And we'll point out in a very subtle manner how virtuous we were.
And it just puts us in a very nice light and puts the other person in a negative light.
But we do it very quietly and sweetly.
Not like this.
We don't call him a buddy.
Okay, and then someone bows.
for the wrong reason.
Humility with a touch of inglory, that's to put one down and take one up.
He who humbles himself with knowledge convinces himself that he's failed.
Knowledge here is the feeling of the thing itself.
So when he said before, he was talking before about humility, the knowledge that he's talking about here is the same thing.
It always turns out to center in somehow to humility and to have the real feeling of what you're doing.
You're doing it for the right reason,
And therefore, it doesn't have any of this vainglory about it.
Whereas the false thing, the phony thing, always has some vainglory or some self-interest about it, some selfishness.
And later on it gets to the case of worse.
It's another kind of self-interest.
Usually it can grow.
One practice is silence, but not with knowledge.
The man who keeps silence with knowledge is the man who is convinced that he's unworthy to speak.
But who does that?
I mean, who can do that?
Who has that?
Without an inferiority complex.
So often this knowledge is something at the end of the road, it's not the beginning.
It's a goal rather than something you can start with.
If you waited to do the thing, until you could do it with knowledge, you'd never do it, right?
Because it's in the doing of it that the knowledge comes about.
But what he's pointing out is that as you move on the road, you're supposed to be moving in this direction, and the only way that you're going to move is to move in this direction, is to move from the external thing, done sort of willy-nilly, whatever intention, whatever you have in your heart, to the real thing, which is, what do you call it,
uniform from the heart out, where the outside and the inside conform.
For Jesus it would be hypocrisy, it would be the opposite.
Knowledge versus hypocrisy.
The key quote in St.
Paul is from Romans 10, 2 I think.
But actually this expression, knowledge.
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them, that is for the Jews who
who are persecuting the Christians and persecuting Paul, that they may be saved.
I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not with knowledge.
They have a zeal for God, but it is not with knowledge.
For being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified.
Do you see the continuity between that
Do you see the appropriateness of Jarakias' use of that?
Because he's talking about the cult of the law, especially the scribes and the Pharisees.
The Pharisee thing is difficult because he was a Pharisee himself.
Remember where he said in Philippians 3, he said, I had all of that stuff.
I was a big wheel in Judaism, and I obeyed the law from my crib and all of this.
And now I've thrown all of that away for the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember where he says that?
OK, there's the key to that knowledge.
because of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.
And here he talks about the Jews having zeal, but zeal without knowledge.
Now what does he mean?
The knowledge of Christ that he's talking about is a personal knowledge of Jesus in its preciousness.
But it's also the knowledge of the salvation that is in Jesus, in the sense of the knowledge of what is real and substantial.
Salvation through faith in grace, rather than salvation through something that I do.
Do you see the continuity between that and what Dorotheus is talking about?
When you build this structure of virtues, trusting in your own work, trusting in what you're doing, rather than trusting in faith, in God's grace, that is, without humility and without that knowledge, then you're doing the same thing and following the same user.
You're building an exterior structure, but the interior, the heart, is somewhere else.
The faith and the grace, and therefore Christ, are not really in it.
So his application of it is very appropriate.
To esteem one's own curricular knowledge to be convinced that one is nothing and unworthy to be counted among men.
As Abba Moses said of himself, dirty, ashy, not a man.
Why do you come among men?
In serving the sick, you can serve the sick with knowledge or without knowledge.
In other words, for the right reason or for the wrong reason.
A man who ministers with knowledge ministers because he's moved to sympathy, by sympathy, because his heart is moved with pity.
The word pity, maybe, we might find fault with that.
I didn't look at the original.
You know what it means, compassion.
If it's without knowledge, anything that happens externally that troubles him, or if the sick man is cantankerous with him, a man who aims at expressing his pity will bear it.
If something painful happens to him, he quickly cuts himself off from his good work and does not anticipate completing it, since he's not acting with knowledge.
It really means he's not acting with his heart.
He's not acting deeply enough and strongly enough.
And hence he's doing it in a kind of hesitant way.
He doesn't find the end in the means somehow.
Remember Gandhi and his thing about the truth of the act, the truth of what you do should be the reason why you do it, not some motive beyond it.
It's in the thing itself.
Does that mean that you make an end of serving the sick, or you make an end of silence?
No, you make an end of love.
And that's the thing that's inside, and that's the thing that this knowledge connects with.
He knows that the sick man is doing him more good than he the sick man.
But that's not why he does it.
Then he talks about how ministering to the sick heals many sins.
And the sins that he's talking about seem to be
especially sins of the flesh, evil desires.
My brother was fighting hard against persistent evil desires, and because he ministered the knowledge to a man suffering from dysentery, which freed him from that battle, there's nothing like works of mercy for extinguishing these evil impulses.
Now what it suggests, of course, is sexual impulses, isn't it?
And there's a kind of doctrine, there's a theory that what has to happen is that
The sexual energy was changed into the energy of love, of compassion, as I think.
And this is what's supposed to happen, I think, as people mature.
That the energy which was only focused at first on certain objects of desire, gradually becomes, you can say subliminally, finally becomes transformed, gradually becomes transformed until it's no longer only available for certain desirable objects, but rather that energy is a sensitivity and an availability
And that's that flip-over from the flesh to the spirit, and from self-centered, carnal love to the love of compassion, the evangelical love that you find in the New Testament, that Jesus is preaching all the time.
And it seems like the heart is coming away.
And another example, somebody practices mortification from vainglory.
The word that he uses there is encrateia, mortification.
restraint or abstinence or disabstinence.
He who practices enkriteya, continence, let's call it that, with knowledge does not think that he is being marvelously virtuous nor does he desire to be praised as an ascetic.
But he maintains that through his enkriteya he acquires moral vigor.
That's soprasune.
It's kind of like sobriety.
Maybe temperance, temperance is the best word for it.
And through that, he comes to humility.
As the Fathers say, the road to humility, the road of humility, rather, is labor, bodily labor with knowledge.
Notice, the person is thinking in a kind of scientific way, right?
He knows this works.
It may seem to be kind of contrary to faith.
It may not seem to be the same thing as what he said about when you minister to the sick, you should do it out of compassion, not because you think you're sort of building your own thing, not because you're perfecting yourself.
Somehow both things are there.
The one knowledge is inside the thing.
One doesn't cancel out the other, but the focus should be on the compassion.
One does it because of the goodness of the deed, without the reflection, sort of after the act.
But this science of the virtues, in which you simply know that doing one thing leads to something else, leads to where you want to go.
In short, in the case of every virtue, a man must work to acquire it, not to practice it automatically, but to make a habit of it.
He is then a good and skilled craftsman, capable of building his house and church.
Remember Cassian of a Moses conference one, says whenever you set out to do something, you've got to plan carefully so that you know that you're doing it in the right way.
It sounds so elementary, it sounds stupid, but you really have a choice of whether to
The spiritual life is a kind of blind will, you close your eyes and then you just go ahead.
Or whether really to think about it, or to try to use one's intelligence as well, to try to understand what one is doing, the planet and so on.
And that's where this notion of discretion and discernment comes in, it's catching second-hand.
And which is almost the same as this knowledge.
It's almost the same as this knowledge.
The discernment of the real from the false.
Then he turns to another phase.
So don't say that it's too much for you.
Whatever virtues you desire you have only to practice and you'll see that you have in yourself the power to succeed, literally.
It is in us to realize them.
It's in us to achieve them, if we will.
It sounds Pelagian, but later he says you'll find out what God, what help that is going
It says, begin, make a little effort.
And he has this example of the two ladders.
And once again, this is very, very apt, I think.
Because this is what we do, especially when we come into the monastery, as I said, because we have all these beautiful books.
And what they ought to do in bookstores is to put the ones like John of the Cross on the top shelf, and not let you go up there until they've been at it for 15 or 20 years.
And have others down here with them.
But we read all of those.
Those loftiest things occur, and we need to in order to motivate ourselves.
And then we're going to practice number one.
We're not going to start at the bottom.
So two ladders.
How can I fly from the earth and be once and for all on the top of the ladder?
There's only one good jump.
This is impossible.
God doesn't ask you for it.
He does ask you for it.
Meanwhile, keep on going downwards.
It's very simple.
Don't try to do everything at once.
Don't ride off in all directions.
Just take one step.
Because sometimes, you know, we can dream all day of the most beautiful concepts and images and notions and not do a darn thing about it.
It's like, sometimes it's like two different roads, you know.
You take the road of dreaming and you take the road of acting.
And the road of dreaming postpones perennially, permanently the need to act.
So we go off one run at a time.
He asked her, meanwhile, keep from going downwards, don't harm our neighbor, but offend them at least, you know, don't sin.
Donald Nicholson said, well, what's the way to perfection?
Stop sinning.
He tells that story to the lady, remember who it was after?
She was a mystic, you know, so somebody came and wanted to be a mystic.
He said to her, what shall I do to be filled with God?
She said, stop complaining.
So we go up one rung at a time, until finally we pass what we used to talk about.
For through this repeated coming to your neighbor's rescue, you come to long for what is advantageous for you.
Now this is good.
Because we think, how am I going to love my neighbor as myself?
I don't even like him.
Remember the father who said, the other monk comes to his mantel, his mantel is as marvelous.
And I'll read it.
But by doing a little thing, gradually your heart changes so that you really do love your brothers and sisters.
As you find out that you can, that it's safe, sort of.
It's safe to do something for them.
It's safe to sacrifice you.
Because you don't die, you're still here afterwards.
You find out gradually that, by gosh, he is the same as me.
It must be that way.
By gosh, I can do that.
I think I could.
But why?
I was sitting there desiring that virtue for myself.
Instead, so I was sort of looking and dreaming in exactly the opposite direction from the direction of my brother who was approached by doing this and doing that.
I go towards my brother by doing something, or by suffering something, or by not being angry with him or something like that.
But it's an act, it's not so much a thought.
Ask, seek and knock.
To ask is to pray, to seek is to think about it.
That's the key statement here, I think.
To seek is to try to figure out in daily life what I can really do to move in that direction.
So very concretely to say, well, what can I do?
How can I do it?
Not just in the abstract.
It's a concrete imagination, concrete enough.
Imagine that the thing that sets us on the road towards doing it.
We're doing it as a knocker.
And he's good there because he says, to knock is to carry out the commandments, to do it.
Everyone knocks at the door with his hands.
Our hands are given to us that we may do something.
And a lot of the imagery in the scripture really seems to be like that, you know.
The hands, they represent that.
Whatever we've been doing, they've been impacted.
It's even a hand of God in the Old Testament.
Acting and receiving.
Perfectly prepared.
Now that comes from 2 Timothy 3.17 which is another worthwhile quote because it points us to the context of Dorotheus.
All Scripture is inspired by God.
He's talking about the Sacred Writings, how Timothy should keep in the Sacred Writings, keep teaching from them.
All Scripture is inspired by God in the Gospel for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be completely equipped for every good work.
So what he's talking about is having your mind equipped for every good work.
What does perfectly prepared mean?
You want to build a ship, you have to get it in good.
You set up a room, you have to prepare perfectly before you move in.
Let us make all our preparations to do the work of this knowledge.
He keeps coming back to that, and that goes right to the end of the discourse.
I think we'll quit there for today.
We'll finish this up next time.
I remind you to write a little something about Dorotheus.
Make an effort if you can to, for instance, to pull together his thought.
Try to find the core of it.
And you can do that with Dorotheus because he doesn't do it himself sometimes.
You can sort of boil him down or something like that.
What's he really saying in just a few words?
Or to take an aspect which is particularly important to you.
something that you need to do or something that needs help in your own life, or maybe that type of thing.
Okay, that's all.