September 1984 talk, Serial No. 00672

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I'd like to present things as a dilemma, instead of giving a lot of answers and a lot of kind of a priori input for change. The question that I present, and with which I've been confronted, is how to bring meaning into our experience, or how to bring meaning and experience together. When I gave retreats before, a few years ago, there was always this picture of the monastic journey, for instance, you know, the spiritual journey, the kind of structure of life that we've inherited from the tradition, and I tend to go through that. And then, after you do that a few times, you begin to wonder why life isn't that way. And you're left sort of with this wonderful, big battleship of a map, you know, of how the spiritual life ought to be, and then you realize that your experience really isn't following that. The experience, in some way, somewhere it's deviated from that lovely track. And of course, the track, the path itself, has all kinds of dangerous areas marked on


it, you know, with its dragons, with its moths, with its goblins, but they're all on the map. But it doesn't seem to be so anymore. Even though a lot of very relevant, very important, very helpful things can be said in the course of that kind of trip, that somehow the map doesn't inspire confidence anymore, the chart and the structure of the spiritual life. Which is not to say that we have to abandon it forever, but I think we have to rediscover it, and we have to find its validity once again, because we can't count on its validity now, it seems to me. So, we find ourselves somewhat disoriented, and at the same time, we discover after a while that everybody is in the same boat. Or if we have stopped and been unable to follow that map any further, that there are an awful lot of other people in the same predicament. And that itself is a kind of new awareness. I mean, that says something. It's important. It helps us to interpret our experience. And we begin to interpret our experience in a historical way. We begin to find out that what's happening to me is happening to many other people.


Maybe it's happening to everybody. And it gives us a new kind of unlimited experience, it seems. This, probably, you're familiar with, but it's kind of important to follow it up with. For a women's retreat, what I'd like to do most of all, at first thought, is take the Gospel of John, you know, and then find out what the role of women is in that Gospel, and how we relate that to our lives. But if we do that, then we're not starting from experience. Then we're starting with a meaning. We're starting, in a sense, with that which is established. And we're not starting with where we are. There's the risk that we end up with merely poetry. Not that there's anything wrong with poetry. I think poetry is great, but if poetry is not life, then we'll be dissatisfied at the end. However, tomorrow I'd like to do something with that. And so I ask you, if you're interested, to take one of the episodes in the Gospel of John where Jesus has an encounter with a woman. And just think about it. And see whether it says something to you, first of all, about your own experience,


or secondly, about the place of women. Whether it be in salvation, or in the relationship between humanity and God. And the ones that I find there are, first of all, the Wedding Feast of Cana. That's in John 2. You can take one, or you can take two, or you can take all five. I've got five on here. The first one is John 2, the Wedding Feast of Cana, which has been greatly dwelt on, you know, by the fathers of the Church and a lot of spiritual writers. I'd like to see what you make of it. The second is the Samaritan Woman at the Well, in John chapter 4, which is an extremely rich thing. The more you look at it, the deeper it gets. All kinds of different angles and dimensions come into that. And then we have a long interval, and in John 11, remember there's the business of Lazarus. Lazarus, who is dead, and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, who go out to watch when Martha goes out. And Jesus is called, and he's coming, and the two sisters go out to meet him one at a time.


And then, in John 12, we have this episode of the dinner, remember, where Lazarus has been brought back from the dead, Jesus is there at the table, the two sisters are there, and Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus in the bed at night. You'll find that in the other Gospels, too, the various kind of nuances there. So the anointing, I think, is the critical scene there, the anointing of Jesus by Mary. The fourth scene is the scene at the cross, and the presence of the woman at the cross is very marked there. And peculiarly, they all seem to be named Mary at this point, the woman, not Jesus. And then the last one, number five, is the encounter of Jesus with Mary Magdalene in the garden after his resurrection. Remember, she's the first one to see Jesus, actually. The first contact with Jesus. It seems to me that in the Gospel of John, this kind of axis that runs through these episodes is a real key to the interpretation of John, and really gives you a hint as to what he's talking about. And perhaps there's no place in Scripture


where we find a deeper conception of the place of woman, the place of woman in the whole list of what's going on. So we can open that up tomorrow, and invite whatever contributions you have on that. In our community right now, I noticed one of our brothers came back from Berkeley a little while ago for the Victor, and I noticed that when he was back that there began to be two positions emerging in the community with regard to the way of looking at theology, the way of looking at monastic life, and so on. One of them, I call, is a kind of sapiential perspective. It's traditional. It's the kind of perspective that the Fathers have, who tend to interpret the Scriptures in terms of some inner unity in the Word itself. And so they'll talk about the history of salvation, they'll talk about the Song of Songs, especially they'll comment on that sort of thing, they'll comment on the Gospel of John in the way that I've been suggesting, that kind of thing. You can call it a sapiential perspective,


or a wisdom perspective, or what used to be called a contemplative view of Scripture, a contemplative use of Scripture, an interior application of it. The medieval mystical writers, like Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, would comment without end on the Scripture in that way, in terms of the union between the individual person, or the individual soul, and God. The Fathers of the Church weren't so individualistic about it. They talked about the Church and God, or the Church and Christ. Okay, here's one position, and that's one to which I've been particularly attached. The other position that emerges, I say is typified by liberation theology, or by social concern. And it finds fault with this first position as being too, how do you call it, too impractical, too unconnected with the real problems in the world, too easily narcissistic, in a sense of turning in upon oneself in terms of reading the Scripture as poetry which pleases me, which gives me some kind of satisfaction, but which really doesn't change the world,


and really doesn't have any bite in history. So it can become a kind of hobby, whereas the other would ally itself to the prophetic current within the Bible itself. It is a current which really strikes at the evil, the sin, the falsity of the sin society, and tries to change them. And of course, that tends to, tends to predominate pretty much today, where you find the more vitality in theology, that second current tends to predominate. The first current has usually been characteristic of monasticism, and when monasticism began to peter out towards the end of the Middle Ages, that kind of theology disappeared too. You find it reappearing in St. John of the Cross, you don't find it a whole lot after that, because scholastic theology pushed it out of the way. Scholastic theology, which had both a more satisfying intellectual consistency for most people in that generation, and also some more practical help,


able to deal with the problem in the place it came from, and its success. These two currents can easily pull apart, but actually, they should turn out to be two poles in one, I won't say one point of view, but in one world, because they're both valid. They're both valid. They're like the wisdom tradition and the prophetic tradition in the Old Testament, which then survived in the New Testament, in a way. What would be a representative of the prophetic tradition in the New Testament? I'd say St. Paul is both, because St. Paul has this kind of insight into the center of the Word, and he sees everything in this mystery that he's always talking about, this mystery of Christ, and that's the wisdom perspective. But at the same time, notice how he comes like a sword into history, especially when he's writing to the Romans and when he's writing to the Galatians. And he's very concerned with what's happening here and now, and very concerned with the working out of that history of salvation in this moment, and with what this particular group of people is going to do, whether or not it's fine.


So I'd say that he does represent the prophetic current as well as the other. Whereas John is much more on the side of it, and John's a wisdom tradition, I think. And you could say, maybe, Luke is also, both of them, both of them very strongly. There's a real resurgence of the prophetic tradition in our time. There was a resurgence of it also in the time of the Protestant Reformation, I believe, against the kind of static theology that was seen as being characteristic of the Catholic Church. Notice, when we talk about these two kinds of theology, notice the relationship of woman to both in our contemporary world. With respect to the prophetic theology, the connection you immediately notice is this. The position of woman as, or first, the position of woman as being kind of the one who needs to emerge, that is, the one who has this impetus


at this moment, this kind of prophetic self, in a way, to emerge, and who is part of the bearer of the, both the subject and the, what would you call it, the speaker of the prophetic word in our time. Especially the subject of it. A lot of the inequality of the present world involves woman in that way. On the other hand, what's the connection between woman and the wisdom tradition? You don't have to look far for that. Look in the Old Testament immediately. The word wisdom comes up in the computer, and the word woman comes up over here because the wisdom in the Old Testament is a feminine figure. In fact, if you look at the tradition, also in Christianity, of wisdom theology, it's a theology which puts woman in the center in some way. The relationship between God and man always involves the feminine. It involves woman in the figure, for instance, of Mary and other figures in history, but centrally Mary. But it involves also the feminine in each person. That is, humanity is feminine


with regard to God. That's kind of the thesis of the wisdom tradition. And this is something which, I don't know, isn't much, hasn't been much talked about in recent times, but I think it really needs to be revolved. And whatever happens to the feminine figure of Sophia and what does that mean? Is it just a kind of myth, or is there some kind of reality to it? I would suggest that there is a reality to it, and that it has to do with the Church. When we talk about the identity, the self-image of the Church, you know, there are these different models of the Church, and so on, and you talk about it. And Dulles spoke of it, you know, a great awful thing it was. But one model which was not much we knew about was the wisdom model. The wisdom model, which is a feminine model as well, and which connects. If you speak of the Church as a communion, a mystery of communion, you can also speak of it as a communion in truth, or a communion in wisdom, which is what the Church is. So, I would offer that model alongside the other ones. We'll come back to this perhaps tomorrow. I just wanted to mention that.


So, I think the woman is inextricably linked with the key problems of our time. And especially with that notion of the self-image of the Church, as far as we Catholics, Christians, are concerned, how we think of the Church is really critical, really, really important. And the time that we are in is characterized the pivot of the time that we're in of the Second Vatican Council. That's what makes it what it is, as far as we're concerned. At least that's the symbol and it's kind of the our text for reading our time, I think, is the Second Vatican Council. And what happens in the Church and to the Church at that point. And what is happening is a new conception of the Church, a new way of understanding itself. And as you know, it's largely from a kind of vertical, hierarchical, institutional model to a model which is much more subtle and which is really, in the end, a feminine model, as it is in biblical terms. And when we speak about wisdom and this new self-image of the Church, I bring


it to you. So, the pivot of our time, the kind of turning point that we're in right now, is very much connected with that. Okay, so that's my way of introduction. I'd like to talk about a couple of those stories that I passed out. Those I gave you so we'd have something concrete to play with. And the background of that is we have a little seminar going on here now and one of the books that we're reading is this book, The Song of the Birds. Next time, each of us is supposed to present a story that we think particularly meaningful. So, I started making my list and I found out that they fall into two groups. You've got five, basically five little chapters there, I think. The first two, for me, are related, and then three and four are related, and then the fifth is kind of a bonus, the one about the friendship. I just like so much the friendship at the end. But the first two, this experience of bewilderment, you know, of having everything taken away from us. We've seen so much of the experience of our time, perhaps we could talk about it a bit,


and I don't want to do all the talking, so... This is on page 70, and the following page. And notice how he keeps sandwiching things together here. This is his father, Jumelo, who is a Jesuit and you've probably seen some of his other things. It's a remarkable book. There's all kinds, all qualities of things in this book. And first of all, you've got this paragraph about a person who considers himself an atheist, because he's got so much skepticism now about the beliefs that he's been taught. He's got so much diffidence about the things that he's kind of inherited from the tradition. And there's plenty of writing of that kind, and there are books of Hans Glenn and so on about the afterlife, and so on. There's a whole big drift of thought in that direction. And then he follows with a whole story about the Buddha. And he asks, well, what's Christianity got to do with Buddhism at this point? There's some deep connection between Christianity and Buddhism. There are two poles, and they


come together at one point, even though they're opposites in another way. They're opposites because Christianity is religion of the word, and the ultimate religion of the word made flesh, and so on. Whereas Buddhism is a religion of silence, as it were. They complement each other precisely in that way, and they kind of join one another metaphysically in some way or the same. As we see, what is the Buddha? He replied, the mind is the Buddha. So he gives him an answer. But that's probably not the first answer, because that's a fairly subtle answer. The simplest answer would be the Buddha is that man who was enlightened 600 years B.C. or something like that, or a real crude historical answer. The mind is the Buddha. Another day he was asked the same question, and he replied, no mind, no Buddha. So he gives a non-dualistic answer, which is a koan, which is intended to vocalize it, to force the student onto another level of thinking, and then explain this stuff. That was to stop the baby crying. The baby needs to have something in his hand, something in his mouth, something to suck on in order to stop crying.


When the baby stops crying, I say no mind, no Buddha. We seem to find ourselves in a similar situation, not just the individual, but historically the way in Christianity. We seem to have emerged into a place where nearly everything you can look at in an external sense is just shaking a little bit, you know. It's just, either that or it's already collapsed, or they've taken it away in a truck, you know. But anyway, it's not what it was before. And individually, psychologically, we have the same kind of, we just have this kind of fallout from that historical phenomenon. And so we have to question ourselves as to what is happening. Can we bring meaning into that experience? Can we bring meaning into what seems to be the flight of meaning, into what seems to be precisely the abyss of meaninglessness? And I think that we can. I think that we can. He gives his own answer, of course, but it's a knowledge-driven suggestion. But maybe if we're going too far, I'd ask for kind of reactions to that, or if


there are any particular ways in which that resonates with your own experience. What are the kinds of things? It would be just kind of concrete, because it's still a story. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I think that's right. It's almost like we need a different way of thinking about ourselves now, because once you get ourselves more aware, we have to be able to include within the drama, within permissible


right, things that did not occur to us before. One of them being a kind of doubt, or a kind of skepticism, or a kind of rebellion, or all kinds of things that can happen in you, and still be contained within that, within our experience, within our awareness. I think one of the major results of the Vatican Council is this great thing that it forced so many of us to be examined, or have seen unchanging, absolute, and I think it had a lot of good results, because we somehow broke out of this, and we came back in fresh, looking at a different light, and it really became part of who we are. As long as it's like there's something that breaks, as long as we consider that the church is a structure which has X number of parts, and kind of that shape and that size, and that anything which


damages or takes away from that structure in some way is vitally contradicting the whole. It's negating the whole. We're in a very fragile position. It's like one crack in the egg and the whole thing goes bad. And then something happens, and you realize that's not true at all. The church is not like that. The church is not like that at all. The Christianity is something extremely simple. Now, how can you say that? How can that be stated? Because it seems as soon as you let go of something, the whole thing is going to slip out of your fingers. What are you left with? What's the essence of Christianity? Can a Catholic say that there is an essence of Christianity which is simple? As a Buddhist, evidently, I can't say that. A Buddhist can go right down and say, well, no mind, no nothing. You can't do that. You can't do it the same way. Obviously, there are certain things that are not negotiable, certain things. Like a Buddhist, Zeno, if you went to him, if he was a real tough one, he might say, forget about Christ. How many Christians can do that? People can try to do it. They can kid themselves. They can put Christ behind their back


for a while. But they can't really let go. Because there's another dynamic working that isn't working for the Buddhist. What is? Is there such a thing as a simple essence of Christianity? I think there is. It's as simple as Buddhism, you know. People are awake and they are sharing and I've been doing some research in nature this time and I was looking at the world and re-signing this is really like in the way that looking again at the symbol of the sign, the word my life and the meaning of my life. As I look at Christ, re-signing, looking at the meaning of Christ. Re-signifying. Yeah. The word re-signation is lower if you re-sign to somebody who are giving and looking and taking over.


It's very active being able for us to take a look and looking at the new meaning of what that means. Looking at the symbol. Looking at the new meaning. That's very good. Thank you. And that means that at that moment there's a certain way that you have to be apart for a while and coming into yourself and until it becomes really a part of you that there is a new meaning that you can come back. So that's what you were saying about the Buddha perspective, the wisdom and when you socialize, they are not antagonistic in that way because then you have the peace that is inside yourself and the new meaning of what it means when you come to bring peace. And the new peace, when you come, it's not just an action. It is there for everybody that it's something that's active or fine. So there is peace and there is peace that comes about when whoever comes in touch with you and you can make a program of peace


in that way and that happens. The program of peace is like the baby and it starts crying by the time it's no longer needed because it's something that's kind of good rather than negative. What is it that kind of thing with peace in the sense that you said that we take a good look at the Church and it's a critical question how we think of the Church and one of the things that I didn't even say about some of the Catholics particularly or me, I enjoy the fatherless package and it's scary for me to be honest and it's such a spirit of righteousness and that there's a little part of me that feels that if I can just be present to what is happening and not trying to interact with the people that they do have and just trust what is occurring because we are in the lineage and that thought goes along


with what you were just saying that our Christianity should be simple and it should be peaceful and if it is peaceful there is that kind of beauty that there is and when you look at people and they're righteous there is none of that even if you don't know what's happening so many of the rest of us Jewish brother and Jerry and all of you father if you have known nothing about the two men, my goodness but just the whole body reactions of the two and those groups of other Catholics in the front row, it was scary it was really scary because I think a lot of Catholics are in the front row so when we've been through the church has been this hierarchical structure has been very slowly moving and now I see where there are pockets of light emerging and there are some from the religious group who think particularly of the political people The strange thing about the Catholic Church is that the hierarchy seems like it will never move, it seems like one of the pyramids


and at a certain moment you realize it's moving and there are some people who are left behind who didn't move with it and it seems like the most stable object in the world but the thing about it is that you can move the way the Catholic Church moves it's different from Orthodoxy in a way a lot of trouble moving to confront the issues of a different point in history the issues of today which Catholicism is able to do so it disconcerts people they need to stand still and move as fast as they want to because it is the biggest theological problem that's the point of mobility it's not just a point of conservative view the thing about that is that some of them are left behind they will I don't know, have you ever seen anybody who's written a book on the psychology of politics to be able to deal with that because the psychology of politics is a psychology of religion and they're almost one in that respect it is from the fundamentalist thing which is the baby hanging on to something and very much against something else very much afraid of something else


and repressing the fear itself and so on to a kind of open attitude which is an attitude of wisdom, of inner security an attitude of integration of some kind between the different parts of the person and consequently of openness and of love because it's extremely important I don't know if anybody's done that job in terms of religion he talks a little later on about three different ages here that are atheist here when he started preaching his newfound atheism to others who weren't prepared for it he had to be cured there was a time when men adored the sun the pre-scientific age, you'd call it the age of myth or mythos then came the scientific age and men realized the sun was not a god it was not even a person, the age of logos, I suppose in the Greek sense and then I was puzzled by the third thing I couldn't understand it my way finally came the mystical age


and St. Francis of Assisi would call the sun his brother and talk to it and the mystical age there precedes the scientific age a little bit in the West and yet we see that it's not yet arrived but you see what I mean, it's articulated, it's true the mythic age the scientific age and that age of myth is often seen as a matriarchal age and then the patriarchal age the scientific age, the age of law for instance in Jewish religion and then our age of law is the age of science the law of of the with has become the law of reason, the law of rationalism of rationality even in our theology more than canon law and then we look forward to a third age we look forward to a still and what is it, how shall we call it to call it the mystical age will maybe be a little bit a little bit spiritual I think a little bit


a little bit optimistic it ought to be some kind of an age of integration hmm? yeah yeah yeah and there are a lot of people outside of Christianity who are kind of celebrating the arrival of a holistic age well that means we're Christian that's part of the problem because the people who talk about holism usually tend to go tend to go back, they don't consider Christianity they don't know how to get together with Christianity do we have precedence for kind of a holistic spirituality holistic theology in Christianity, where shall we look I think when he points to Francis of Assisi he's got a cue there because Francis of Assisi arrived at some kind of integration which is like the marriage of masculine and feminine within himself and which signified in some way the marriage of heaven and earth and the bringing into a kind of communion


of everything in the world so that everything he touched, everything he talked to in some way was a brother and a sister have any of you read that book by Eloy Leclerc on mechanical creatures which is magnificent from a kind of union point of view but he's talking about what happened from a psychological viewpoint in Francis of Assisi and he himself went through a real experience in the concentration camps at the end of the Second World War so he knows by experience how many they were talking about through multiple books I think it's called mechanical creatures I think so mechanical creatures Francis can help us This is in a university in Europe Yes


What do you say about the fact that the other side would have an even more extensive comprehension of nature and having even much more than Saint Francis and would join in silence with that it would mean possibly that the perfectation might be really cosmic in the north above the Galaxies He's got a more complete approach in a way because the intellect comes into it whereas Saint Francis deliberately sets the mind aside and deliberately sets aside any kind of speculation he follows that track of the heart as it were in the transformation his thing is larger in a way and in a way it's less because I think as far as the power of the individual person's transformation is concerned it's a lot clearer Teilhard is a different kind of man in his form of and he wrote kind of prolifically and so on, it's a little diffused


but the vision is like everything I wonder how much relation there is between the vision of Francis and the vision of Teilhard If we start to teach a word more than Francis of Antioch The thing about Teilhard is he's got some kind of optimistic loops in there and he jumps I think from the natural world to the supernatural in a violent way sometimes Theologically there's some problems I think the vision is magnificent but it doesn't all quite weld together His way of dealing with evil that's part of it, but it's not so much that You get the sense in Teilhard that you're on this causeway which is rising on a natural level and it's only a little hop to the supernatural world or that between this life and the future life it's pretty smooth going in some way, or the discontinuity between this world


and ultimate reality is kind of muffled The optimism about science the optimism about evolution and really we're all moving together towards this magnificent conclusion Well history It's not for the news No it isn't But his vision is very important, it was also important for Vatican too, it's a very important part of the cause, and if we talk about holism it's one of the key people With the new theory of science what do you think of the role of human beings in the cause? In the paradigm of science There are things that definitely need to be changed I mean it needs to be changed, you know what I mean? There are things that need to be corrected But the reality of it I mean we've got to be very careful but there are things The leap of imagination


for instance in Teilhard that's another side of him I didn't talk about but his leap of imagination is magnificent because he's partly poet and partly scientist and the courage and the optimism of that vision that's what it's part of The contrast between the two is enormous between Francis of Assisi and Teilhard Because Francis of Assisi is somebody who went through the fire, and who comes out of the fire and he didn't have to say anything, he just is Whereas Teilhard what he gives to us is largely the vision that he's put into words that he's communicated into words and then which sort of has to be verified because St. Francis is already he's already verified Both of these stories seem to give women rather short shrift in that she doesn't appear in pure harm She appears in the next one but in a kind of unfavorable light Let's look at the other stories and come back Man finds himself alone


and fortunately he's got a mother Good religion makes him fearless Bad religion increases his fear Is there a kind of conception of humanity behind the way these stories are framed and talked about in some way and then the story about the mother who scares her son so he doesn't want to marry her This is page 76 So he gave him a medal to wear and convinced him that as long as he wore this medal, he would stay on the path of harmony So now he ventures forth into the darkness in his heart Bad religion strengthens his faith in the medal, good religion gets him into eternal darkness Well the first question is, is that better than yours? Because it could be, you know Except here the mother is creative But are there powers beyond the There are more than a question but and then


that medal The medal would mean can anything stop the sacramental concrete and to what extent are we to simply walk fearlessly out into the dark without any sacramental point of contact for our relationship with God I think there's a pedagogy behind this It's like the story of the atheist It balances it to the time of being winged in the medal What can you comment on this? First it seems what the mother has done is create untruth in order to control him rather than treat the reality


as it is So right there she's created something false, so then once you've done that you have to follow up with more falsehood That's right We can ask the question because there's a truth in this story I'm sure of that And it goes along with a lot of other stories in the same book, where he tends to indicate that any mediation is rather unnecessary any concrete thing of the external are not really important You can go straight to the core The Buddhist story is like that Now that's a two-sided coin in a way because it's true and at the same time it's tricky That's what's implicit Yeah And if that's so, then there's a truth And at the same time At the same time


does the church completely misrepresent the situation in, for instance saying that there are these spiritual dangers in providing these sacramental means, the means of devotion and things to hang on to Yes Yeah Yeah Yeah Yes Yes Oh yeah


Yes What's the middle? What's the middle? For you Or for anybody I would say some of the church laws For instance Not eating meat on Friday Well the church changed its law What happens to all those people that supposedly die and die of mortal sin if they eat meat on Friday? Yeah Well I know someone who left the church for that very reason Yeah that's one of them So the middle is very much like the thing that the baby was born in the early period and that's when the baby started crying There you had a baby so it's kind of the problem of the baby and the mother's fault because she created this dysfunctional situation I believe, however, that when we go to a serious struggle in life


that we need our figure there and then I know that I need my prayer ring to be sure that it's not on my figure if it's what it's meant to be I need to be well prepared to keep that connection and I'm the least superstitious but I believe we need to at times it's something to hang on In the night of faith, for example it's a reminder you have a reason to be but to believe that if you say three or one Mary all the years of your life you're safe I think you're gone Okay I was wondering if anybody was going to say that because there's something about having a mother there's a use for something there's a use for something you hang on to physically or that you look at there's a use for something you grip and yet somehow we have to know how to use it and we can't make an idol out of it or we can't kind of make an insurance policy out of it that covers


all our sins and all our blindness I don't want to have all the meaning which is apparent here and for some people it's very useful but I don't know but some people use it to avoid Krishna and if you're taking away from Krishna it's very very wrong Remember one of the prophets God said to him, he said don't say this is the temple of the Lord, this is the temple of the Lord this is the temple of the Lord because you're not doing right you're sinning and just because it's a temple doesn't mean you think it's okay the Old Testament is full of that kind of thing that you consider the sacramental things of religion are protecting you you hang on them so those are the kind of things Krishna also means when you feel the need to do that would be much greater to let go of the compulsion the religious compulsion


which is trying to grab you into I've got to say these prayers because I've been saying them for an awful long time I let go of them and I don't know what's going on something like that It sounds like there's a question of freedom and there's a question of growth in the sense that if you can use this thing of freedom and knowledge then you can use it and there's a question of growing from one kind of use of grasping of another to another kind of use of another and so its role in our lives will change


If I could give a sentence so now he benches forth into the dark clutching his metal the feeling I've got with that this is now going to be used to grow he's still very much afraid the fear hasn't left him that hasn't been cleared up because he hasn't got the knowledge he doesn't know the time yes, it's not that he no longer believes in the ghost he probably still very much believes in him but somehow this magical little object or whatever it is, a law or a practice of custom if someone were to say the reason why I took it yesterday I think that was the question he's still really in the same position that's right there's still some kind of magical connection between the metal and his protection it's a magical connection in that there's nothing really that moves through his mind and through his freedom so it seems we have to back up in time clarify the very beginning when the mother began


giving the misconceptions and get those clarified in advance because you're looking at is he the final ghost? it's a simplification and clarification and he knows who he is he knows who he is he knows that he's free he's free see Martin Luther comes along and he says this is a metal that was what he said about 1530 or something and there was an awful lot of metals around at that time all of the things that the church had put people in a position of fear of scratching onto things and doing the indulgences and stuff like that so it became an enormous mass and it was ready for somebody to come and write a letter to him and we're still feeling the waves from that in a sense but after all this time it turns out that something very healthy is happening and somebody like Rahner can write the kind of theology he does which is a liberating theology which takes you right down to the bone of Christianity


and gives you a liberating sense of identity instead of an oppressive sense of identity an oppressive sense of the church let me read you just a line from one of his articles he's talking about the problems that people have between their own faith, the faith of their hearts and the doctrines of the church which may be very numerous which may seem very unattractive so he's trying to find some unity between the two consider that on a radical view of the church however detailed may be the system of doctrines in which its faith is expressed in reality it says very little the truth of Christianity is extremely simple what it tells us is that there is an impenetrable mystery of the most real kind in our lives, namely God not a mystery of this one, but a mystery which is in our lives, close to us and yet we can't grasp it and that this God is near to us, that the absolute self-communication of this God to us has been manifested in history, and this is loaded language because it's got all of this theology woven into it, in a manner


which is irreversible and valid and Jesus and his faith, and he says that's it that's the truth of the church and there ain't no more and he says well if you have a doubt there's one other thing this is something that's really quite simple in it we already have fundamentally speaking the whole of Christianity but only provided in addition to this we also reflect that there is and necessarily must be a community which confesses and lives by this truth for the church and this church has to be a sociology sociological reality for there to be an institution for there to be a community that's all can you does that seem possible see that's the faith which is of all of the messengers you can hook them up again the church can issue the message but commemorate the message but it doesn't need them it doesn't have to have them and it can be an extremely free and strong and wise which can relate immediately


to the experience of God the other thing I wanted to talk about was the experience of God what happened to it in our time because so where are we to look for the experience of God in our time that's another subject matter invite your own your own suggestions on that either now or perhaps tomorrow I'm depending a lot on your honour for this I don't know a better theologian if you want a point of view which is able to bring most of the oppositions together in a very satisfying method, these belong to you and especially for this question of the experience of God because we've managed to reinterpret the experience of God in a way in which it becomes a reinterpretation of our ordinary experience in which we can find it in our everyday life and especially in the most salient moments of our life the moments of our life which are more difficult or seem more significant


where is the experience of God in our time it's not entirely unrelated to our two stories because experience can also be a metal, you know, an experience of God can be a metal that we clutch to ourselves we can have one experience of God which is an unmistakable moment of contact with God and we can go through the rest of our lives clutching that in such a way that we become deaf and blind to every other way that God comes to us and we can become very isolated because of that experience of God everything has a shadow it seems in this world and even God's touches have that kind of shadow because of our own you know, our own problems we don't I think you would think that in the mantra in the use in the mantra yes yes right


that's right it's a good illustration of the two-sidedness of this thing the thing which is most helpful in your life has a shadow to it because it tends to become automatic because it tends to become quantitative rather than depth oriented and because we tend to exploit it in a way in which we turn it into something else, we turn it into money almost, we turn it into a kind of spiritual money and it's a most useful thing yes yes


yes I think a lot is coming out right now and people who can perceive it as that and can work through for themself we have a relationship with some kids in the school that there's no problem because as I have one parent and we're not directly in the school there are kids that I find difficult to advocate especially those who are in a group in Ohio State so there's really a great peace and understanding is what is happening the thing about the shadow is that our moment is more than the sky because at any rate the shadow of the church is very long very visible there are times when it hasn't been visible but now it is


and fortunately we begin to have a consciousness which is able to deal with we begin to be able to talk about shadows we begin to be able to see pluralism even pluralism is getting rid of it of good and sin within the church so we're in a good place to deal with it if we want to sometimes the shadow mind is entitled to the real identity of the church if it doesn't we can deal with it so you said shadows and you mentioned there's a light and a dark as you can see there's a light and a shadow that's right we always used to project the shadow of the church on others we projected on the atheists, on the communists we projected on the protestants and now we don't do it, now we can't do it now the shadow is falling back on us and we have to deal with it which is good but just a few years ago everything you talked to me about


the shadow of the church was not readable but now we are aware that things are changing we see that it's a human and perfect institution but I realized I don't know if I'm accountable but I would not die for the church anymore I would die for Christ I see that in my own life as a progressive community there's a lot of good in all of the institutions which were denied I think it's good this is life, I hope maybe they're all one some of the orthodox would say there's only one church anyway no matter how many denominations there are there can only be one church there can only be one body of Christ the only trouble is that after they say that they say we're it and you're out but how can there be in a sense anything but one church


on the deepest level there can't be more than one body of Christ no matter how many denominations there are we begin to understand the meaning of baptism and how our identity is rooted in a baptism and not in anything else other than a Christian I remember Fr. Hauser he used to shock people it's more important to be a Christian than to be a prophet it's more important to be a human being than it is to be a Christian I don't think that matter I think he's right because no matter where you go in the pyramid right down to the bottom it still belongs to Christ there's no getting away from it everything's created in Christ everything's got Christ in it the seed of Christ the ground the very ground of Christ there's no place else to go so you can't get away does anybody have any suggestions about that theme of the experience of God


if not I'll make a couple of suggestions before we put it over where do we find the experience of God today what happened, where did it go how is it different either way you know it where is it found where is the experience of God is it found as we classically have it in Mexico and Canada it's found in some other way and if so what is that where have we found it in our own lives it would seem to me that I've established a lot of interest in the Christian life in every aspect of it I'm still struggling with everything else is it the fact of the struggle is it the fact of how would you make it concrete our personal lives we experience them right now how we are living what our encounters are


what our experiences are everything the totality of our individual lives our experience of things like that and I really feel that gradually my life, my life experience is revealing me to myself and I think that is happening over and over and over that I'm finally finally I'm alive and open that again and again my life experience is revealing who I am and that means that I can live to God it's amazing how close you are to God in a very direct and intuitive way you're saying what he said that first of all the experience of God in our time is woven into our ordinary experience it's the ground and it's the texture the substance somehow of our ordinary experience and then as a theologian as a professional he has to find ways, he has to find a structure of thought


that supports that whole thing but then he says that the experience of the self is the same as the experience of the self that whenever you experience yourself really genuinely on the authentic level not just on the level kind of half awake that that is an experience of God and a history of our experience of ourselves is a history of our experience of God if we look back over our life and if we try to draw a graph of our waking up sort of to who we are of our becoming human beings that is the history of our experience of God it is two sides of the same coin there's no duality no that's what he said if we took our step on one day it's history too but if we look backwards we really feel that we have been walking with God the way we could go through a critical object of thinking and invisibility comes over you but he sure was invisible at the time where was he at the time it's terrible how absent he can be


you don't know he's absent but he's not absent we're meant by his absence he's absent but he's not absent no he's not it's pretty hard to believe that sometimes we know it at the time we know it at the time but we're too mad at him to confess it I can say that it's a great thing the revelation of the news about what it really is and what's happening today before I was a Catholic so I'm just going on and on now I'm much more aware of the responsibility that I have if we are feeling them it's a privilege if it's a Catholic dream it's a possibility we realize we will be building to the direct proportion that we were at this time in the order that we were and to the extent that you take responsibility absolutely to that extent, to that extent you're drawing from him


you're plunging yourself into him there's another article in which how we experience grace there are experiences when we're younger there are experiences when we're particularly younger but when do we really know that we've experienced grace when we have in some way drawn against our own inclination and taken responsibility maybe I can find some of this he asked a series of questions this is getting a little bit off the track you brought up the question of responsibility and that's what I want to say have we ever kept quiet even though we wanted to defend ourselves when we've been unfairly treated have we ever forgiven someone even though we've gotten our thanks for it and our silent forgiveness is fading have we ever obeyed, not because we had to because otherwise things would have become unpleasant but simply on account of that mysterious, silent and incomprehensible being we call God have we ever sacrificed something without receiving any thanks or recognition for it


now none of these things necessarily explicitly have anything to do with God these are life, these are just things that happen in your life or these are responses for life when you are most yourself when you are what you want to be and even though you get no feedback you're not sitting there looking at yourself you may be thankful have we ever been absolutely lonely that one was a surprise have we ever decided on some course of action purely by the innermost judgment of our conscience deep down where no one can longer tell or explain it to anyone to make a decision just by yourself without being able to lean on anything to have to work that out that's the receiving that's the deep experience of self, I mean have we ever tried to love God when we're no longer being borne on the crest of the wave of enthusiastic feeling when it's no longer possible to mistake our self and its vital urges for God how much of our love of God is actually physical in a way, it's physiological in some way, just like people who sit in meditations


maybe in the seventh heaven it's a spirit, but actually what they're doing is physiology, and of course there's a kind of physical cycle in meditation practices and so on of course we're in common being, it's always going to be that way but this is something else this is something that somehow goes through that have we ever tried to love God when we seem to be going out into emptiness and our cries seem to fall on deaf ears? have we ever fulfilled a duty when it seemed that it could be done only with a consuming sense of really betraying and obliterating oneself the word betraying, I don't know if that's a good translation when it could apparently be done only by doing something terribly stupid for which no one would thank us have we ever been good to someone who did not show the slightest sign of gratitude or comprehension, and when we also were not rewarded by the feeling of having done something essential to this in some way, I think, is not looking at yourself, not having a left


hand there, which can say hi, but the right hand is given, not being able, because what we often do, we think about being good and we want to be good because we want to watch ourselves being good, you know, that kind of thing Merton's got a wonderful take on that, when he's talking about the secret, the second stage but here, it's not possible to do that and if it's dark enough, if it's bad enough then you can't do that in fact, it feels like you're failing, it may feel like you're doing the wrong thing, you know, that you've really fallen short so how can you keep going ahead and you keep doing that and that's good so here, we're talking about a particular sector of that question of the experience of God, which is the experience of God as raised in our own response and then we can talk about it in a more general way Would you say that faith for you has contributed you in life and you see that's been established as a community I don't think so, because I think that you would say in a lot of these positions, a lot of these situations, you're


in such darkness, that your intuition is not functioning in any brightness at all, and so your response may seem like a dumb response it may seem like a very laborious response and not the kind of insight into the situation at all not necessarily, but often I think it would be that way in these situations in other words, it's moving ahead in the darkness and there's another quote, the metal isn't here, the metal is gone in these situations, there's nothing to put which is another way of saying you pull about the Christian But you do get the sense that there's something that hurts me here and that's so intuitive and I don't need to hear it but it only puts me at a slight or I'm having trouble with the vagueness and I want to stop to say more but perhaps there's something that I can put myself into that place so even though I'm here what is in my heart turns into something I think that would fit right in There's something added there


which is a creative intuition that I need to respond to because you're kind of looping into a situation I feel the way that you would with whatever you're calling it the way you would there's something there that's hard yeah, it's hard I get more and more scared in real time I have a great guidelines that people always tell me for years since I've been here there's something in this room there's something that's brought to your heart that you're in the wilderness in the wilderness and when you go there you witness the wilderness and I think that the presence of God there is so opportunity in your own life and so that operation that's what I can catch the nice way and the more you're into it


the more it becomes it may not become easier because I'm telling you the environment yes yes yes if you're really present then he's present to the extent that you're yourself that you're alive, that you're conscious that you're present and here he's talking about response so you're acting to the extent that you're present in that way he's present and you're experiencing him


without experiencing to experience him in action to experience him as you act that's a wonderful way of experiencing him which doesn't have anything to do with looking at ourselves there's so much of that in the terminal of the mouth in other words all those things where it's a matter of going ahead in one direction without getting anything back those things that sound so extremely important turning the other cheek I think we're getting into the loop now in regards to the loop a lot of those things it seems so terribly hard but they can be reduced to very simple things that come up fairly often in our lives to not only sterile attacks they are heroic in a way because they're doing it on their own will on their own desire love those who hate you and all of that and we do a little bit of that just to do a little bit of that makes that very significant yes I'm thinking again there's sort of a point from this which I think that it means so much that we need this precisely to be present on the second piece of the principle and on the second chapter we emphasize the need to correlate


with absolute reality not here on the carpet because everything is a matter religiously involved and therefore knowing that more and more with a deeper consciousness there is a possibility to develop compassion and even in the deep darkness compassion can be manifested with the Spanish habit that's required and I think it's a great test for the coming of the Lord to love one another to give the other a kiss and this is where we need a universal experience yes that somehow is what got lost in Christianity somewhere I think it seems a lot of that attitude of what would you call it loving positivity or whatever it would be both eastern and feminine in some way in Christianity it often got pushed aside we have been fighting devotions and we ignore the person that's been doing it too yes I think there is something wrong there it's changing it would be focused


and not present focused at one point very intensely straight ahead but not present where we are and therefore not present to our environment that's a book by a Vietnamese, right? the Vietnamese peacemaker the friend of Thomas Merkin how do you pronounce his name? well, I forgot that's not that's a very good book what are David's words by that book? oh, yes yes which today oh, yes yes


yes yes yes yes yes yes yes oh, yes yes That's an appearance of that in the time in our Western history when you wouldn't expect it. And I think in his time he was pretty much disapproved, you know, very suspect, because he was a Jesuit, wasn't he? And I think he had a lot of problems, because that attitude of research, that almost feminine attitude of attention, and yes, he'd be suspected of being a quiety. In fact, all mysticism, all contemporary prayer was suspect at a certain point, which is incredible.


So we've been in some strange places in our Western history, way out of balance, and now we're beginning to see this. Yes. Yes. It makes a place for it, but then it padlocks it and turns it into a jail, as in other ways. It creates a kind of habitation for contemplatives, which then becomes a juridical fact, and into which they're kind of locked up. And if they're in those pigeon holes, then they're fine, but what goes on inside? That's something else.


Yes. [...] It's a very interesting, I think, question, because I think it's a very good question, I just want to say that I wouldn't have thought it was a religious question. But I've lived over a hundred years of Christianism, but I've never been in such trouble. I've just grown, by my, you know, Christian life.


I'm glad that you're brought to Ariane. No coincidence, but did you ever see this magazine, a person with the periodic artifacts, a Christian periodic published in San Francisco? He just published a whole issue on marriage. And in that issue there's a dialogue between a handful of people about Mary in the Protestant tradition, in the Catholic tradition and in the Orthodox tradition, so it's pretty interesting. And they get into precisely those questions. I can get you the address if you, or I can show you the magazine, I'll get that for you. And if you talk about these other issues you've been talking about, you talk about quiet, you talk about receptivity, you talk about femininity, and you compare them to these three traditions, some pretty sharp structure shows up there in history. Like here's Orthodoxy and here's Protestantism, like on the two extremes. And the Catholicism is moving somewhere in between. Orthodoxy is retaining a real place for the feminine, and a real place for the sacramental


and for the interior, at least in its theology, whatever happens in the life of individual churches. Protestantism, throwing out a lot of the sacramental, together with the metal, a lot of the concrete physical forms in which, or through which, God was manifested and related to by the Christians. And also throwing out the mystical very often, rejecting the idea of mystical prayer. And somehow the two seem to go out together, and both of them have a relation to the feminine in some way. And then Catholicism, in the middle, going through a kind of a zigzag path that seems very often, you know, way over on one side and then recovering. And the time of Atticum II is a time when everything is back on the stage, everything is back within view, but it's a question of how it's going to fall together. It's going to fall together in a pluralistic way, in the different currents that's happening, and that's fortunate, the metal thing. Yes, there's a different vision of that nowadays, that the people who remain within their churches


and try to bring about the wholeness in themselves and around themselves will bring the churches together, you know, rather than by moving from one to another. So you're right. That's right. That's right. That's right. When you mention Mary, that brings us back to the subject of wisdom, in a way, because I think that's one way of looking at it. And if for some reason she pulls together all the truths of Christianity, it's because she is wisdom in some way, which is a different kind of consciousness than we are used to in the West. We don't know that kind of consciousness. We don't know what it is. And what is it that characterizes that kind of consciousness? I think you find it in the Gospel of John. For instance, it's strange, but the way it always pops into my mind is chapter 6 of John's Gospel, he's talking about the bread of life. Now that is that wisdom consciousness in which the bread of life is not just the Eucharist, and it's not just faith, and it's not just this, and it's not just that, but somehow


it's Jesus, it's the Word, which then flows into everything, which is somehow able to bind everything together in itself, and which somehow is able to flow into everything. So it's this life of God, which is the knowledge of God, which is the presence of God, and which flows, which is liquid in some way, comes into the world and flows into everything and gives it life. That's this wisdom that we're talking about, which is symbolized by that feminine figure in the Old Testament. And then somehow he's present in Jesus, even though he's a masculine figure. And the mystery in the Gospel of John, it seems to me, in some way, is how through that masculine figure, gradually, the two sides appear. And so there's a resurrection of Jesus, and now there's a bursting out of also this feminine energy, or wisdom, whatever you want to call it, into the world. But we'll see something about that tomorrow, we'll see what comes up when we read that. Any other suggestions or questions? Thank you very much.