October 28th, 1982, Serial No. 00861

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Monastic Spirituality Set 8 of 12

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Yes, I think that the postulants and novices should also come to the one, the history one, the one of monastic theology, because we have to be kind of economical, because we just don't have enough classes, we don't have enough people to teach for such a long time. It would be preferable to have two different cycles, probably. Okay, we were in discourse number fourteen of Dorotheus, let me briefly review what that's about and then I'll go and finish it. It's really divided into three parts, it seems to me, can be. The first is that structure of the virtues, that house of the virtues, built on faith and with charity as the root, and courage and patience as the corner post, and so on. And then he talks about this knowledge, this gnosis, which is what the builder is supposed


to have, keeping up that metaphor, but then that gnosis turns out to be a very, not complex exactly, but a very full thing, in fact, it's more than just knowledge in a way, it's almost the same, it's almost the interior unity of that same assembly of virtues, that the image of the house represents the exterior, okay? The knowledge that he's talking about is almost the interior of the exterior, which is the house, it's almost that, it's not quite. I found a place where, this is the introduction to Soska Tien, she's a predictive mind, the Soska Tien edition of Dorotheus, and by this part of my note, it's really good, he's really an expert, he's written some beautiful things also on the Vesuvius brothers, only one of which we have in English translation. This is what he makes of this gnosis, of this knowledge that Dorotheus is talking about in Discourse 14. The builder should be able, should be a competent craftsman and act avec science, with knowledge,


with science, en gnosi or metagnosios, what does he mean by that? Dorotheus is careful to explain at length what he means by it, with the aid of examples, the ones that we've been going through. The expression is probably borrowed by him from Amonas or the Abba Isaiah, and I didn't look up the references which he gives in here, I'm not sure that we have the material. It doesn't mean only the intellectual conditions required for virtue, the theoretical knowledge of its demands, it demands a virtue in the plain awareness of that which one is doing, but that's involved, but also a pure intention, and even in a comprehensive way, all that is required that the virtuous act be truly perfect, both from the point of view, the supernatural point of view and the natural point of view. So actually it's the whole thing, but it's the interiority rather than just the enumeration of it, it's the consciousness, it's the conscious doing of the virtue, which means


that you're really doing it and not something that looks like it. So it's discernment, but it's in continuity with the act itself. Now this is pretty deep, and you'll see where it turns up again, we've got as far as page 207. So that we may be ready for every good work, let us make our preparation, and these things are often a scripture course, but you don't notice it unless he happens to give you a footnote, let us make all our preparations to do the will of God with knowledge, gnosis, what he desires and in a way that pleases him. Now here you get another idea of what he means by this in the Holy Book. What is it the apostle means by saying the will of God is good and well-pleasing and perfect, we've got three different adjectives. Everything that happens, happens with God's permission or approval, as it says in the prophet, and then he quotes these disconcerting sayings from the Old Testament, I the Lord make the light and create darkness, there's no evil in the city which the Lord did not make, that's what makes you want to close the Old Testament, go east.


He speaks of evil here in the sense of the consequences of evil, from the troubles that are brought upon us for our correction because of the evil we do, all this happens to us not according to God's pleasure, but by his permission, with his permission they come upon us for our profit, now this is difficult, because you can say, well why does God even permit it, remember Ivan's problem, why does God permit children to suffer so horribly, what do you mean it's not his good pleasure, he isn't God's, this doesn't solve all the problems, God does not therefore want us to desire them or to approve of them, these evils, for example, it is God's will and that he allows it that the city be ruined, since it is God's will that it be ruined, does he want us to set fire to it and burn it or take a pickaxe and smash it down, or you can say, well if he wants me to be sick, I'll make myself sick, there are a number of ways of becoming sick that are more fun,


anyway, or I'll do myself in, if he wants me to die, I'll do it quick, I'll drink this bottle of snooping poison, no, God does not want this, he doesn't want us, the translation is a little bit weird, he wants us to desire that which happens according to his good pleasure and not that which simply is permitted by him, now this gets kind of subtle, as we said, all that is done according to the commandments, that's his good pleasure, not just his will, so his good pleasure has to do with human beings, with what they do and what's in their heart, so we've got these two different levels, forget about the three levels, they're perfect, he doesn't come back to that very well, but what's according to God's, what's good and what's according to his good pleasure, what's permitted and what is really his preferred will, what he desires, that is the good that God wills, to love one another, bear one another's burdens, but what is well-pleasing? If someone does some... Okay, now this is the same line, he's repeating the same thing, he's clarifying more,


the thing that's good, that God wills, is the same thing as what's well-pleasing, so the translation doesn't indicate that. If someone does something good, it is always good, but sometimes it is not well-pleasing, and then he gives the example, a good example, of somebody who finds an orphan who is pleasing to that person, the orphan girl is beautiful, and so the person will take her home and raise her, and they think that they're doing a wonderful deed, and they're only satisfying themselves, which is not to say that they're not doing a good deed, it's only that the motivation is not pure, it's not a supernatural motive, it's not compassion, but it's pleasure, you know, it's something that's like having a pet, it can be like having a puppy. The thing is well-pleasing to God, not when a man acts mercifully on account of some human consideration, human consideration, what that means is a human motive, it doesn't... because compassion is a human consideration, isn't it? If you feel compassion for somebody, that's human too, but that's not what it means by human. But because of the good itself, the cancellation,


but because of the good itself, and because he acts sincerely out of compassion, because of the good itself... Now, remember that knowledge. See, that knowledge, that gnosis, means that you are... your consciousness is coming right out of the thing that you're doing, or you know what it is, you know what it is, and because you know what it is, your consciousness is in continuity with the act that you're doing. So it's a pretty deep thing. You know what it is, you know what the good is, and the good is right in the act. It always reminds me of Gandhi when you get to this point, with his truth power and so on, and the idea of just doing the thing and being detached from the fruits, being detached from the fruits, which is your own pleasure, or whatever you might get out of it. I think he got that out of the Bhagavad Gita, didn't he? That principle. But then he finds it in front of everyone the same way in Srimad-Bhagavatam. You know, when you give alms with the right hand, that's your left hand, that's your right hand, you're doing all those things, and love without asking in return to be perfect,


because you don't want your father to be perfect, and when you're struck on one cheek, turn the other, and he has to go one mile, go two, and give without expecting to receive back, all those things. It's that one principle of a movement which goes out and doesn't come back, of a movement which goes one way. And this is the knowledge, it's the knowledge between that truth, which is goodness, which is in some way God himself, that's God's movement. The knowledge of the difference between God's movement and our natural movement. And the knowledge only comes from the experience of the thing, only comes from the experience of the thing. One thing is the knowledge we get from being at peace, and from reflection, but real knowledge comes from the experience of the thing, and the knowledge sort of converges, the consciousness converges, so you know what you're doing. It's a conscious act, you can almost put it that way, but the act itself is consciousness. That is truly well-pleasing to God. Then he goes into alms. Now, this is the third part of the discourse, where he pursues this knowledge thing into the specific case of alms-giving,


which is a good case. Why? Because it's giving, isn't it? And giving is love, but you've got giving and you've got taking. There's a giving outside which is really a taking inside, you know, and he's been talking about that. For instance, the giving to this pretty orphan girl, well, that's giving on the outside and taking on the inside, right, because you're taking your own satisfaction. Then there's a giving which is giving on the inside, too, and that's the giving with knowledge, or giving with, what would you call it, coherence, linearity, that's really what it says it is. And then he goes on, this is the virtue which emulates God in a special way, it's characteristic of him. And then you see that if this is with knowledge, and if it's the virtue of God, then in some way in doing this you know God, in some way you're sharing in his consciousness when you do this. So this gnosis that he's talking about goes beyond just a moral knowledge, just a knowledge of virtue, you know, it's a knowledge


of God, it's a sharing of his consciousness, it begins to be a naturality of your consciousness, of your mind and heart with God. St. Paul talks about the mind of Christ. And then he talks about the people who give for all these different reasons. In doing good we have to pass through three different states. Now, he said this before, it's in Discourse 4, page 110. Whether we do good because we're afraid of punishment, this is a state of servility, slavery, or to earn a reward in hirelings, or for the sake of the good itself only in a state of sonship. Remember, Cassian has the same thing, basically, moving from fear to love, and he talks about faith, hope and love, in a kind of audacious, kind of bold system. Faith, the fear of God, hope, in the hope of getting some reward, love, and we do it just for the beauty of the thing itself, the good of the thing itself, and for the love of God. When we say the beauty of the thing itself, we have to be careful there, because it's too easy for that to be standing back from ourselves,


aside from ourselves looking at ourselves doing this thing, and that's not it at all. Okay. No one can say, I am poor, and hence I have no means of giving alms. Here's where Dorothea's symphony... Behind this motif that we've got, kind of important, remember when we were starting out the two ladders? He said, nobody can say, I can't do it. You can always do it. There's always a rung that's within reach. And here he's saying there's always a way of giving which is within reach. You can't insist that... It's just like these people in the sense of the positive come and say, well, I can't give alms, I don't have anything. I can't do anything. What can I do? I haven't got anything. So that's what he's saying, you can always give something. And in this case also, somehow the knowledge of the truth of the thing enables you to find out how to do it under any circumstance. If you really know what it is, you find out that you don't have to have a special opportunity to do it, because you know it in its interiority, and if you know its interiority, you can do it any place and any time. Any time you need somebody, you can do it,


if you know what it really is. If you don't know what it really is, then you have to find special opportunities, special acts, big things too, as you can see, big signal acts, a virtue. But that thing, you don't know it, you only know the word for it, you know the image of it, you know what it looks like. It's a big case, a demonstration. And then it goes on, it goes down the scale here. So you don't have even any money, you still have the power to give alms, you can take pity on the sick and give alms by ministering to them. And if you can't do even this, you can comfort your brother by your words. And if you can't even help him by words, you can still bear with him in the time of his spirit. This is beautiful, this is... He's got a marvellous sense of what he's talking about. He's not writing ideas out of his head, he's writing out of his heart, out of his feelings, and just pours out out of the beauty of his own heart. See, he's writing out of this knowledge that he's talking about, and so it's in continuity, it's not A, B, C, D. He's just going right down to him, through his feeling of it, that's why it comes out that way. Bear with him in the time of his


feeling. There's this thing in Anthony, this delightful appetant. The brethren came to Abba Anthony and said to him, speak a word, how are we to be saved? And the old man said to them, you heard the scriptures, that should teach you how. But they said, we want to hear from you too, father. Then the old man said to them, the gospel says, if anyone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. They said, we can't do that. The old man said, if you can't offer the other cheek, at least allow one cheek to be struck. They said, we can't do that either. So he said, if you're not able to do that, do not return evil for evil. And they said, we can't do that either. Then the old man said to his disciple, prepare a little brew of corn for these infants. If you can't do this or that, what can I do for you? What you need is prayers. You're sick. They couldn't even not return evil for evil. So what he gets to at the end, from giving he gets to forgiving. The one kind of giving that you can always do is forgiving.


Now that forgiving, you have to wait until somebody steps on your foot, it would seem like, before you can forgive. But really, I think it's more general than that. Because, why? Because we're all somehow under a dispensation of, what would you call it, we're all in a kind of fallen thing. And we have an opportunity, a possibility of bringing forgiveness into the fallenness of our state, by treating somebody as a forgiven being. So it isn't even that he has to offend you. If you treat him as if he's forgiven, if you treat him as a child of God, you're bringing this forgiveness into the world. In other words, you're giving God. In some way, you're giving God's gift, you're giving God's grace, you're transmitting it. If you remember in John 20, we've seen this before, where Jesus, on the day of resurrection, he breathes upon the apostles and he says, receive the Holy Spirit. Whoever sins, you forgive, they are forgiven. It's like that's the basic gift at that point. It's the only place you find it exactly like in the Gospels. It's like the basic gift of Christianity, which is the gift of the Holy


Spirit, is for the sake of forgiveness. Now, what does that mean? Does it mean that the Holy Spirit is only concerned with sin, that it's only on that boundary line now between sin and being okay? No. It means that that is how people are introduced somehow into the kingdom, and that what they have to do is transmit that Holy Spirit into the world, which not only wipes away sin, but then it fills them. But before they can be filled, they have to have their sin changed, and that happens by forgiveness in some way. Now, John is doing it in a very symbolic way. He says, give from what is within, and that's very mysterious. I've been puzzled by that time again. It was really there, and you don't know exactly what it means. He says, give from what is within, and all is clean for you. In other words, he says you're filthy inside, you're white in sepulchre, you're full of rot, and because you're just doing these things on the outside,


but if you give from what is within, the very giving purifies everything that's in you. And that statement matches the one where he says it's the evil, it's what comes out of the heart that defiles a man, but it's also what comes out of the heart that purifies a man, right? The giving that comes out of the heart is what purifies you. That's what he's saying to the Pharisees there. And then he says elsewhere that from the good treasure of his good heart, the good man brings good things, and from the evil treasure... So, the gift from within, from the heart, purifies. He's saying our combination and our designation comes from the same source. From what happens in our heart, from what goes on there, the same place in us. And what it means is the interior, not the exterior, but the intention. So, that's why the monastic tradition is so important. Yeah, the whole monastic tradition is. This is another place where Christianity stays on the boundary line between body and spirit,


notice. We're talking about the heart, we're also talking very often about things that concern the body, like the person always has the opportunity to flip over to the flesh in his heart, because we're body and spirit. It's not a center in us which is, in some very spiritual realm, which is out of the flesh, as it were, that we're talking about. Christianity is right on that boundary line. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't rise way out of captivity to the flesh and have a contemplative fullness of the spirit, that there isn't unitive experience. That's there. But nevertheless, you're always on that boundary line, you're always body, you're always body. That's right. See, the war between the spirit and the flesh doesn't split the spirit from the body, but it brings the body with it. You've got to take it with you, that's the thing. Which makes Christianity so hard to see in a certain sense, because it doesn't have a big profile, spiritually speaking, about taking the body away from the body.


That's a good way of putting it. Like some of the Eastern things, too. It seems so spiritual because they put you away from the body, they put you away from normal human life. There's a parable in Saint Luke, at least, I don't know if it's in the other Gospels, which also, I think it has this meaning, a little parallel to Dorotheus, he doesn't really care. It's in chapter 16. Jesus also said to the disciples, there was a rich man who had a steward and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods, remember? And he calls him and he says, what is this I hear? You're finished. Get your affairs in order, because you can't be my steward anymore. So the steward calls the debtors of the rich man, and he says, how much do you owe my master? Cut it in half, right? Sit down and write 50. If you owe 50, then write 20, or something like that. And this is the moral at the end. The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence, for the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation than the sons of life. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means


of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails, I may receive you into the eternal habitation. What does unrighteous mammon mean? On the first level, it means money. Make friends for yourselves, make a place for yourself in heaven by giving away what you have. But I think it extends in the same way that the paratheist extends, from giving to forgiving. Because the other sense of unrighteous mammon is the mammon of sin itself. Forgive it, and you're buying yourself a place in heaven. Which is if by releasing others, you yourself can go into the kingdom. The mammon, the wealth of unrighteousness, the wealth of sin, give it away. This is kind of concealed humor in the gospel, especially in the parables. The mammon of unrighteousness. You know, the basic power, the basic Christian power is the power of forgiveness, and not just of the sin that's committed against me. The forgiveness of sin, the ability to bring light into darkness is the basic Christian power.


So you see, no one can say he does not have the power to do works of mercy. Only what you do, you have to do with knowledge. For as we say that a man acting with knowledge is capable of building his house safely, and about this the gospel says a wise man builds his house on rock. That's from the end of the Sermon on the Mount, and so he concludes with the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. Remember, Saint Benedict concludes a piece of his prologue in the same way. And he goes on afterwards. Nothing can overturn. So this knowledge thing is very interesting. There's a place in Philippians which, also which is important, I don't think I quoted it last time, only unfortunately he doesn't quite use the word gnosis, he uses the word epignosis. It's Philippians 1, verse 9 and 10. It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the preach of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and


praise of God. And I think he means exactly the same thing here, I feel so. It's the knowledge of true love, okay, that your love abound with this knowledge, so that it's right on, it's not phony love, it's just exterior knowledge. Epignosis and esthesis. He's got a letter later on, another discourse here where he talks about, remember, insensitivity, that's anesthesis. Anesthesis, you know, anesthetic means you can't feel, right? It's insensitivity, an end of insensitivity, an overtone. And esthesis, in this case, is the feeling of what you're doing, the feel for the right kind of love. And it's the same thing as epignosis. Okay, that's the end of that. Are there any questions on that? We'll go through the rest of the book pretty swiftly, I think, okay,


as we've had a good sampling of all these things. And some of the other things are interesting to read, but we don't need to spend a lot of attention on it. The second part of the book he calls the Paschal Mystery. And in the original edition here, these are also contained, these discourses. You see, we don't have very much of Dorotheus, most of his writings evidently have been lost. And we've got in our English translation here about all that there exists of Dorotheus now. It's all in here, there's very little more in here, we've got practically all of it here. He's got this treatise on the Lenten fast, that's number 15, which the first part is very like Cassian, when Cassian talks about how Lent came about, it's in the same direction. If you're interested in that, I can give you some reference. It's also in places he gets close to the Trinity. God gave us these holy days so that by diligence and abstinence a man may be cleansed


of the sins of the whole year, and the soul is healed of it in the name of the Spirit. And eating the distinction between need and pleasure, which is hard, it's hard to get to that, because our own sense of it tends to be disturbed. Well, there are a couple of things there. One thing is that they didn't very much. In other words, they didn't have a sacramental private confession for centuries in the early history of the Church. This astonishes us. They'd have maybe the sacrament of penance once in your life or something like that. I was amazed when I heard that. And so people would postpone it, and they had other means. It was only for very serious sins. There were usually three capital sins, murder, apostasy, adultery or something like that. And other sins had to be forgiven in another way. So they were forgiven by works of penance and by the Eucharist, and by good works.


That's a big surprise to see the practice of confession was changed so much. They say that private individual confession began with the monks, as a matter of fact. And then it merged with the sacramental confession to finally arrive at the frequent confession that we have now, frequent private sacramental confession. For a long time, the only thing you had, evidently, was public penance, where you put yourself in an order of penitence. It's a ritual thing. Then you'd appear in church, you'd be excluded from the Eucharist, appear in church, and you do your penance. There were certain works of penance assigned, and then you're consigned to the church. But maybe that was only once in your life. And one of the ways to do it, one of the works of penance, would be to go to a monastery and to stay there. So it was a very good thing. So they had all these other ways of penance. We don't have much evidence of it. At least, I haven't done a lot of research on this. I don't


know of texts where they speak about that. I'm sure that they do. In the early beginning of the monks, they used to confess their spiritual father, but most of the time it wasn't professionally. That's right. On the other hand, they confessed him daily. It's another practice, as a matter of fact, because they didn't think of it so much as confession of sin, as opening of their thoughts, it seems. Manifestation of the thoughts of their heart, even the will of St. Benedict, although now it changes, he says, your sins. But that wasn't sacramental confession for him, for St. Benedict either, opening the evil thoughts in your heart to your spiritual father. It starts out from the idea of guidance, rather than a sacrament of reconciliation. And it probably rather quickly becomes the same thing in a monastery. They confessed everything. Yeah, I don't know. I don't know the history of it.


Okay, but even, they insisted, even when you had that public penitence, there was a private particular confession, in the sense that you had to confess your sins privately to the bishop, or whoever, and then he would put you in the order of penitence, something like that. I don't know if they publicly ever proclaimed the actual sins of the person. Sometimes there were public sinners, okay, and everybody knew what they had done, and so no problem there. But sometimes I think their sins were secret and were privately told, and then they'd be in the order of penitence, but maybe nobody would know exactly why. That's what the theologians insist on in the history of it. I'm not absolutely sure. That's not always so good for the church either, you know. They didn't have movies in those days. Yeah, if they were very detailed, my goodness.


So, private confession seems to have come from the monasteries. But you can see the problem where you have public penance, and then only for these very great sins, and then once in your life, something like that. You can see the gap. And the confession was made very often, as Patrick said, to monks who were not priests, and gradually that became large. So, even in the Eastern Church, many of them became priests of confession, but for a long time. Well, chapter of faults in our time has been only for external faults, and also not serious things, because serious things, you just don't tell serious things publicly in a big community. In a small community, maybe you can do it, but it's very history. I think you can have a child, perhaps, who is pure of heart, but he doesn't have that


knowledge. The knowledge depends on a kind of development, it depends on maturing. It's a matter of intelligence. You can have purity of heart without a lot of consciousness. Some of the saints, some of the child saints, I think they have that knowledge in its core. They know right from wrong, but without experience. So, they have the sensitivity, but without informing it by experience, it's not complete. What you have, I think, is like a seed of that knowledge, okay? And then only by experience do you find the applications, and do you know, and sort of feel it out, and suspect. I think of Mary, for instance, who, when she was a child, if you believe in the conceptions, she was preserved, cured from sin. I'm sure that the instinct was there, but the experience could only develop gradually. She'd do one thing after another,


just like that, you know? I don't know if you could say that right at the outset, when she was a child, if she had that gnosis or not, except in a seminal way, in a radical way. I think the knowledge comes with the purity of mind, and the seed of the knowledge is there with the grace of purity of mind. They're not like two separate things, they're one thing. It's like the transparency of the soul, considered in two ways. It's transparent like a diamond or like a lightened glass, clean glass, both with respect to unstained and with respect to consciousness, okay? But then there's a growth that has to take place, both with respect to purity and with respect to consciousness. And the two are very similar, consciousness and purity, because the Fathers would tell you purity of heart is what is required for understanding or contemplation, okay? So consciousness and purity, two aspects of the same thing. But in the consciousness, the development is needed, because it deals with all the practical


things of life. I'm talking about the practice of the nature of human being. Okay, so going quickly through these, and then I'll stop on a couple of the later discourses a little more. Looks like we'll maybe finish with this next time. Number 16 is an Easter hymn by Saint Gregory Nazaranza, and the English renditions of these hymns can never be very good, of course. You're always through with poetry. The Greek originals are in this volume of Cisco 10. Gregory of Nazaranza, you know, is known as the theologian, and that's strange for us, because we don't know anything about him. We don't know Gregory of Nazaranza, and we don't have much of his works. And he was a great poet, a theological poet in the contemplative era, and only he and Saint John the Evangelist and Simeon the Theologian have given that title, and that's astonishing, in the architecture. It's a different thing from the western culture.


We have a different understanding of the word theologian. See, these hymns are often liturgical hymns, and this one, I imagine, is used in the liturgy, and so it's neater than everything. It's got all of the smoothness of a poem and of a liturgical composition, but that doesn't come through at all in the translation. I was trying to find it. It's in a footnote in here. As is the one on the martyrs. There's another hymn there. I'm going to try to find it just to read a couple of lines of it, so you get the sound of it. Here it is. Anastasios Emeritus. You get the rhythm of it. Anastasios Emeritus. It's much more compact and neater than the Amish hymn.


Also, the meaning of that hymn is beautiful. The way that it catches the mystery, it catches the mystery like a pearl, the Christian mystery, and just lets it shine. Let us offer God its first fruits, which is ourselves. What he's saying is, somehow, let us... Let us render to the image its quality of image, the image of God which we are. Let us return it to its quality of image. And in the last part, let us come to understand the power of the mystery wherein Christ died.


In the French, he translates it sense. So, power in the dunamis in Greek can mean either power or sense, meaning. So, let us come to understand the meaning of the mystery. And what Christ died for is not where in Christ died. So, it's hard. It's a beautiful thing. And it's got a luminosity about it. You see, the quality of Greek theology is luminosity. Kind of a crystalline quality. So, he catches the mystery, the Christian mystery, the whole thing as kind of a pearl, and this light beams out of it. And what he's telling you, really, there is shine. We've got that hymn which we've seen, hasn't we? Let us beam the radiance. I don't like that word beam. It's like those little pumpkin faces they make with their mouth like that. That's what it means. Beam isn't really... You don't deliberately beam, do you? Do you ever want to beam at anybody? You don't beam on purpose if you beam. You're going to be seen beaming if you don't set your mind to beam.


Anyway, there's light coming out of this thing. Let us beam. What kind of music is that? Is it music? Oh yeah, sure, sure. He wrote it, and then they set it to music afterwards, probably. This might very well be an Easter liturgy. It might be on record. Because he was one of their favorite hymnographers, one of their favorite hymnographers. And some of the best theology is that way, because it's full, it's complete. When it's got that aesthetic quality to it, it's not only theology, it's flat words. It fits together as one thing, and then it shines. And that's what I thought you were going to ask me to talk about. I don't know why that doesn't exist now. We've lost the unity of the mystery, in a sense.


When people write music nowadays, they don't catch that. They don't catch the whole thing together. Maybe it will happen again. Because you have to have a pretty coherent, integral culture, I think, so that it can happen. And of course, this represents centuries of maturing of the Greek Christian culture. And also, remember, the Greek is a language of the New Testament, so that gives them a good jump. And then there's another hymn of Gregory, and the original is also in the Sanskrit hymn book, On the Martyrs. And this one, the reference to the psalm is out there. It's Psalm 22, 23. The Lord is my shepherd. He talks here, on page 229, about the three-part division of the soul. Remember, we've done it before. And he uses this rather far-fetched, allegorical treatment that fathers often enjoy, which is of the various organs of the body.


And, you know, there's truth in it. What are we going to do with those things in the Old Testament? With those animals? Remember, John the Cross does a wonderful treatment of that fish that Tobias pulls out of the ocean. And he burns the lip. And it ties it in. Now, there's a place where it's really got some kind of an obvious... When we try to pin them down to given terms, when you try to equate those terms with Greek psychological terms, you're going to run into trouble, obviously. There's two different circles. The fathers play with that. And if there's three of anything,


it'll be faith, hope, and charity. With the Holocaust, and so on. Here's another sense of knowledge. Is this Gnosis here? Yes, it is. It's Gnosis, James. Through the commandments they come close to Him, they know Him as God by experience and are known by Him. The more a man turns away, the greater distance he puts between himself and God, unless he is said to know of Him, and unless he is known to Him. Whereas, if he comes close to God, he is said to know Him and be known by Him. Accordingly, God has said not to know sinners because they keep them at a distance. Now, I think that's true to the Old Testament. It's true to the Old Testament. Remember in Psalm 1, God knows the ways of the righteous, but the way of the evil man or God. It's as if God doesn't know it. And similarly, the knowledge of God


is not just something in your consciousness, it's how you live. The knowledge of God, to know God is to be righteous. To know God is to be a good man. Now, that may seem shallow, it may seem like one of those crazy, primitive, Old Testament things, but think about that a little bit. The knowledge of God, which is not only in consciousness, but which goes right into the whole of your person and into your actions. That enables you to talk about the knowledge of God, which is basic and deeper than your consciousness, which reflects itself in consciousness at times, in contemplation, in your emotions, but reflects itself also all the time in what you do. So that you can be, as it were, a contemplative in your doing because the doing comes out of that consciousness, even when the consciousness is beyond your consciousness. It's kind of complicated. Here's Dorotheus, if I'm wrong or something, I'm trying to get now, so I think the more we turn away from God, the more we turn away from ourselves. That's right. He doesn't tend to talk in that language,


but Saint Augustine would, right? Augustine and the whole tradition right up through Martin. Martin brings it out again strongly. He talks about the true self, which is God is right there in the true self, which is the Christ self. Augustine's got this thing about turning away from God, turning to yourself, and then turning away from yourself outward so you get spilled out into things. And then we have to come back into ourselves and then we move out of ourselves beyond God, above ourselves. And some people don't make three stages, but just two. You come into yourself and you find God and you go out of yourself and you go away from him and you go away from yourself at the same time. Then, that's the second part. The third part is... He calls them dialogues and replies. Actually, they're letters. These are the letters of Dorotheus. And there's one that I'd like to spend some little time on, and that's number 18. The Relations Between the President and His Disciples in the Monastery. President, perhaps, is not the best choice of the word. What he's talking about, of course, is the superiority.


And he calls it apistita. That's somewhat an interesting word, apistita. Somebody calls Jesus that. It means weird, something like that. Because usually they say aguminos in Greek for the superiority of the monastery. That's the abbot. It's the one who has the job. It's not necessarily the charismatic leader. President sounds kind of... Well, the translator is... If you're put in charge of the... Where? It would be a great opening line. He would care then to be strict in thought and merciful in action. Yeah. It's a little different in the original. It says severity of heart and bowels of mercy. Viscera of mercy. Severity of...


So it's two internal organs in the Greek, in the original. Severity of heart, which surprises us. We would expect him to say severity of mind. And bowels of mercy. So it's like mind and heart. It's like severity of mind and mercy of heart. Yeah. I don't know why he puts it that way. But the action thing isn't there. A lot of this translation is really approximate. Towards the end, his last discourse is kind of... It's worthwhile. I hope that will be a motivation. It's a sort of peace of soul. This letter is beautiful. It's another masterpiece of Dorotheus because it's coming out of this unitive feeling that he's got in him. He's got an archetype of gnosis, of knowledge. And so when he writes about these things they all come out, and they're all in continuity even when he's talking about different things.


There are people who are like that, writers who are like that. No matter what they say, it's coming from the same place. And so immediately you see the connection between one thing and another, which can seem dull at one moment and then at another moment you see, my gosh, where's it coming from, what's he saying? He really knows what he's saying because even when he forgets it, it comes from the same place. That's the way it is with him. This state of soul that he's talking about. There's one beautiful thing, a couple of beautiful things. The first part of this is to the superior and the other part is to the monks. The first part starts on 237 and it goes down to 239 and about the middle of 239 he says, if you're in a state of obedience to another that's the second part where he's talking to the monks. If you've got somebody who has a problem,


somebody who's doing bad, there's a way of turning this to good. If you want to. Or you can make it worse by hammering it or something like that. That's right. That's right. Rather than getting all excited about the evil and coming down hard on it and making it worse. Saint Benedict is very similar. Saint Benedict, this could have been taken right out of the book. He's got two chapters where he talks to the abbot in chapter 2 and chapter 64. He talks more to the abbot than he does to the monks. This could be right out of the book. And it's the interior part too. This is the wisdom part. Not the external stuff. Rubrics. Where he talks to the superior. If you're strong in body, mold them. Give them an example by bodily works. If you're weak in body, by the good state of soul. Now this is a key thing that comes up again and again. What John just brought up was that same good state of soul. Get there before you do anything. And he says,


if the superior is strong, if he can be a model monk, if he can be a model ascetic, then do that. That's great. If you can't do that, what you have to show them is that good state of soul, which means the good heart, which means peace really. And the fruits of the spirit which are connected from it. So this is what he's talking about continually in this conference. And he's talking from it. He's talking with knowledge. With gnosis of this state. And that's why what he says is so much in line. So we have to get beneath the apparent monotony of it. The apparent banality of it sometimes. To taste what he's talking about. So then he recites the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5. Love, patience, joy, peace. And this whole thing about gentleness and dealing with thoughts. He started out with a severe heart. And he's spending a lot of time on this. A severe heart is a good translation of love. No, it isn't. The trouble is it's in the Greek. I was surprised. That doesn't communicate.


Strictness of, what would you say, strictness of principle really. Even strictness of mind. ... [...] The heart doesn't work at all for us. The heart aligns with mercy. Yeah, but not with the other thing. The problem is that it's in the text. And he may have gotten it from one of the fathers. ... [...] What he's really doing is dividing the heart into two pieces. What he's got in the French is curse sever. ...


... [...] That's right. It surprises me very much to see heart in other words sever, even in the Greek, even in their culture. I think the best translation for us would be mind or discernment or severe principle. ... ... ... They don't have any variant... ... [...] you're angry you're only fulfilling your own evil inclinations. Another question of gnosis of knowledge. No wise man would destroy his own house to build up another's. Now here


the translation is, if the disturbance lasts, not while the disturbance lasts, if the disturbance lasts, do violence to your heart and pray in this manner. That's remarkable. He says, and he prays to God, Lord don't let both of us perish, my brother and myself with my anger, but heal us. Putting an end to the rage in our hearts. Because our laps are going to burn out for want of oil. He's got a heart there too, hasn't he? The rage in our hearts. Okay, that's possible. Okay, one way to look at it would be this. Be strict with your heart.


Restrain your heart, constrain your heart so that it doesn't flow into rage or something like that. That's a surprise if that's what it means. Strict heart would mean a regulated heart, in that case. So it would apply to him, you're right, it would apply to him, his own heart. That's a possibility. That's the one that makes the most sense so far. Okay, then he gets to the disciples. And a lot of what he says to the disciples, the monk, comes out again in his maxims later on, at the end. In fact, some of those I think are just pieces taken out of discourses, this one especially. And this is frequent, I mean, this is familiar Don't determine your way of life by your own judgment, don't examine other's words. Do your self-violence in all things. Then down towards the bottom he's got something very interesting.


Hold fast to indifference in knowledge. You say, well, what the heck does that mean? Actually, it means something pretty interesting. In the Greek, it's krate to apsephiston, endoknosi. Hold on to the apsephiston. Now, the apsephiston is a word that Hausherr pouched on somewhere in one of his books. There's a footnote in the... Hausherr is the great master who moves over these waters, the hawk who comes down. Anyway, he got this one, and it means voteless, it's without a vote. That doesn't mean you don't have a vote, it means that you don't get a vote. And Hausherr says that this thing somehow sums up the whole spirituality, this notion of the apsephiston. It comes from, where does it come from? One of the fathers, one of the desert fathers. Maybe it's Isaiah. He calls it this untranslatable term which contains treasures of analysis and of experience. And the Latin translations are funny because they didn't get it either.


They got all these... When they put the petrology and they published it, they had a Latin translation of it. They didn't compare the Latin translation to the Greek. The Latin translations are just sawdust. They didn't catch the meaning of it. It means suffrage, or vote. Total detachment which shows itself by the habit or instinct of the mind or at least a resolution not to desire, nor to give to oneself, nor to expect from another a suffrage or approval or commendation for any superiority at all. It means you don't expect to get any votes. You don't give yourself any votes. Remember where we talked before about putting down one brick and taking away one brick? When they voted in the old days they had beans, didn't they? Or little balls or something like that. Pseppos would be a pebble or something like that. Before, he was talking about building a house and he was talking about putting down one and taking one up. So you put one down, you give yourself a vote, and so you take it up at the same time. You put down a good deal and you pat yourself on the back


and so you give yourself a vote. It's the same as picking up the brick that you just put down. It's that kind of thing. So you don't take anything. See, it's a matter of taking again. But it's a matter of taking flattery, of taking approval, of taking affirmation. You don't give it to yourself in that hidden way that we always do. We do it all the time. And you don't take it from anybody. Now, who can do that? Who has got an ego that is so, what do you call it, mortified or restrained or matured that it doesn't have to prove anything at all? Who among us can do that? But that's typical. The kind of inner austerity of the fathers, the inner asceticism of the fathers. It's a marvelous thing. I thought at first that it meant that you don't have a vote. You don't have the will. But how does that translate to this? You don't expect any vote. You don't give yourself a vote and you don't expect a vote or accept a vote. You receive a vote from anybody else. Sometimes we extort them. We extort affirmation from other people by waiting to talk. It doesn't make any sense. So it goes pretty deep. In knowledge, huh? And you can also pray earnestly for those


who, as true healers, abuse you. The people who are abusing you are healing you. But the people who do something that they don't deserve are giving you just what you need, a husband. That's the attitude of a father. And that's a strong soul. That's a strong soul. Now, we can try to do that. We can do it gritting our teeth and winking our brows and weeping. But if you get so you can do it without that in mind, then that's enough. Then you are in yourself. Then you possess yourself. Then you are. The true self recognizes that as someone healing you, whereas the false self thinks it's someone abusing you. That's right. The false self throws it back at him immediately. It says, well, that's not just. Or it says, I'm not going to take that, either one. Either righteousness or just anger. The false self rebounds immediately. It is. Sure. See, he's talking about a strength here. If you don't have that strength and you do it,


it's like Gandhi's violence of the weak, or non-violence of the weak. The non-violence of the weak is not there. Because you get crushed, and because the other does evil, and you let him do evil. It's indiscriminate. The non-violence of the strong is what he's talking about. Those who, as true healers, abuse you. And, you know, the saints, also in the New Testament. And when Jesus says, turn that cheek, that's what you do. Once again, it's Gandhi that says that. I want to be here for a minute. It would be affirming to me. That's right. That's right. See, what they're talking about here, usually, everything they're talking about is geared to the personal growth of the monk, and his regardlessness of the situation around him. It's very often exactly like that. So they don't think about what effect it's going to have around them. It's like you're in a game, or you're in a machine, which is totally geared towards your own development. And so, what happens elsewhere in the machine doesn't bother you. You're the product, and the only thing that's important is the product. That's the way it is.


Sometimes they talk otherwise. But obviously, you have to discern that way. Sometimes it's wrong to let somebody abuse you. You can't let somebody acquire a bad habit of running over other people. Sooner or later, you'll have to set him straight. Because then, in a way, you're hurting that person. That's right. That's right. That's right. Because Jesus... But there are a lot of these things. Also, Jesus, of course, is not just one of us. He's got a message to bring. He's got to carry the word from the Father. So, it's not just using that example, but also saying that word. It's kind of like a prophecy. You can't say those things without having heard it. You leave them alone. Well, it's always the way. It's always incomplete. Always incomplete. So, you've got to take it, and when you think about it, then you say, ah, it's true over here on this side, and this side is totally wrong. You respect it. So, that's just it. Let's call it a day. We'll come back and finish next time. Let's do letters and so on.


That will end where I see us. Except for you. Thank you. No. I've got a Christmas present for you.