September 3rd, 1982, Serial No. 00866

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Monastic Spirituality Set 8 of 12




This topic of nepsis, I want to say a little more about it this morning, because it helps us to locate Dorotheus among the other kinds of spirituality in Eastern monasticism, as we'll see.
You remember that he's talking about two things which turn out very much to be related.
The Greek words for them are skopos and nepsis.
And skopos is purpose.
And nepsis is watchfulness, vigilance.
And somehow the two are very much related.
You remember Hausser after that long treatment of nepsis, which... Long treatment, about ten pages long.
It's really good though.
He concludes this way.
We conclude that the term nepsis has two meanings.
In the narrower sense, it denotes that part of praxis of the active life, the practically ascetical life.
in vigilance over thoughts the moment they arise.
In a wider sense, nepsis is a synonym for praxis for the whole of the ascetical life.
If you read the Hesychasts, you tend to get the narrower sense of nepsis.
For instance, here's Hesychius of Sinai.
I read a piece of his
He gives four or five different kinds of nepsis.
The English word here, which is uniformly used for translation, is watchfulness.
I shall now tell you in plain straightforward language what I consider to be the types of watchfulness which gradually cleanse the intellect from impassioned thoughts.
Anus, the intellect.
Note that this focus on the intellect, which later turns into the heart, and later hesychasm.
But remember, when they say the intellect, remember what they mean.
What they mean is closer to Zen than it is to, what would you call it, rational theology.
It's closer to a kind of total open consciousness, or basic transcendent consciousness, which simply knows being, than it is to the thinking mind.
So it's not ratio.
Intellect has a sense which we've lost.
John of the Cross might use it in that sense, but also the scholastics of Aquinas.
In these times of spiritual warfare, one type of watchfulness consists in closely scrutinizing every mental image or provocation.
For only by means of a mental image can Satan fabricate an evil thought and insinuate this into the intellect in order to lead it astray.
Okay, this is the hesychast doctrine in the end.
Expel every image.
Make your mind completely empty, completely simple.
Of course, this has to be taken with care.
It has to be hedged around with a lot of caution, a lot of commentary.
But basically, this is the doctrine.
It's already there in Evagrius.
when he says your mind in the state of prayer should be completely free of images, completely free even of ideas, of representations.
First of all passionate ones, but then finally any image.
Now this is a whole different doctrine from Dorotheus.
You see, Dorotheus is a very practical man.
And he's rather more, you could almost say extroverted rather than introverted.
So he's not moving towards a kind of pure intellect, a kind of absolute consciousness.
Quite another direction.
But remember Romulo.
Actually what he says is very brief.
Sit in the cellars in paradise, cast all memory of the world behind you, cautiously watching your thoughts as a good fisher watches the fish.
Now, St.
Ronald is in the hesychast tradition, which typically moves into the hermetical life.
Dorotheus is in another tradition, which is cenobitical, more interpersonal, more extroverted, and it's always in a dynamic of
community in which there's this give and take on these sort of hard knocks and so on of living with the brothers.
And for instance, when he chooses an example later on, it's going to be an example of somebody having said a hard word to you and how you react.
It's typically a thing.
Rather than some image that arises out of the blue when you're alone in prayer.
A second type of watchfulness consists in freeing the heart from all thoughts, keeping it profoundly silent and still and in prayer.
Okay, there you have the center of the hesychast thing, this tradition.
A third type consists in continually and humbly calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ for help.
See, that's the Jesus prayer, even though he doesn't give the full form of it that evolves later.
A fourth type is always to have the thought of death in one's mind.
And then he's going to deal with a further type.
to fix one's gaze on heaven and to pay no attention to anything material.
It sounds like he's already said it.
So that's the hesychast way of it, and that's not what we find in Dorotheos.
They're not contrary to one another, they're just two different paths.
What does nepsis mean to Dorotheos?
First of all, it means attention to yourself, but not as continual, or maybe continual, but it's more likely to be intermittent.
Because you're acting, because you're not alone, life is going on, you're involved in it.
You're not just withdrawing.
You can't be as aware of your interior states, not in the same way.
It's not as contemplative an orientation.
No doubt about it.
It means seriousness, too.
In that way, it's identical with the scopos, with this purpose.
And it also means periodic self-examination.
Instead of a kind of continual self-surveillance or introspection, it's a periodic self-examination also.
This turns up later on.
It's somewhere in between the two.
It's a combination of both.
It's like knowing where you're at.
It's not nearly as intensive or in the same way as a casting.
This is a good place to recall where Dorotheus sits among these schools of spirituality.
This is a talk he gave in 1934.
It's a magnificent article tracing out the various schools of spirituality.
It's called The Great Currents of Eastern Spirituality.
Probably one or two of you have read it.
I'm just going to very carefully go through it in order to locate Dorothy, I guess.
First of all, he talks about primitive spirituality, which is like the Apostolic Fathers and Ignatius of Antioch is typical.
But it's also the kind of thing you find in the New Testament.
And he says the focus actually is on the virtuous life.
For all these ancient writers,
Man was above all of free will, capable of love and of sacrifice for love.
Therefore, all human perfection consisted for them in charity and in the abnegation which proves it.
And so, actually, martyrdom falls in this category.
Then you have the intellectualist spirituality that comes along with climate, with origin, especially with the vagaries of monastic tradition.
And for them, man is intellect.
But once again, I have to insist, not intellect in the sense of thinking, not at all, because what they're trying to do is get beyond thinking.
So it's a transcendent intellect.
And it's the same thing that you come up to with transpersonal psychology nowadays, with the Eastern spiritual traditions, and with, for instance, Eckhart in our own greater Western tradition.
One thing never changed, he says, in this tradition, and that was the conviction that perfection was identical with contemplation.
After a complete examination, we shall always find Hellenic intellectualism.
Man is intellect.
And then the third school was Dionysius, but he didn't talk much about it.
Dionysius is a kind of transcendent way
which is not simply the intellectualism we've been talking about here, since he doesn't say much about it.
The fourth way is the school of sentiment or supernatural consciousness.
Now, this supernatural consciousness might sound at first as if he means the same as the intellectualist thing, that just pure being, or being aware of God in a kind of formless way.
But there is something to perceive here that may be feeling.
spiritual feeling would be the best word for it.
And among the people in that tradition, especially as Macarius, and later on Simeon the New Theologian, whose experience of the Lord is so rich, and not just a kind of empty experience of humility.
And then finally we get to Dorotheus' category, and that's what he calls the martyrdom of obedience.
And the first one in that line that he cites is Saint Basil.
But there's a certain continuity here, obviously, with the primitive spirituality we were talking about first, remember, where it's the will that you're involved with.
It's not your feelings, and it's not your basic consciousness that is your intellect, the deepest core of your being in that sense.
But man is seen as being, once again, a free will.
But this free will is to be proven, not just by love and the sacrifice which expresses love, but now through obedience.
And we're in that.
We're in an institutionalized framework now.
It's a different framework.
Although, you know, in St.
Basil, I don't know that it's that institutional.
But there is a Sanhedrinical monastic center.
So it's Basil, and picked up by Dorotheus, and then Theodoros, too, later on.
And in the West, it's not hard to find.
It's in Saint Benedict, isn't it?
Even though in Saint Benedict, there's a greater insistence on something else.
If you compare Dorotheus with Benedict, I think you find that there's a more gospel-like quality for fraternal love in Benedict than there is in Dorotheus, in spite of the fact that Benedict is writing a rule and Dorotheus is not.
I don't think the Dorotheus talks that much about paternal love, does he?
Love of the Lord, certainly, but he's so practical that he doesn't talk much about the interior spirit of the Lord.
It sounds like when you concentrate solely on the achievement of kindness, that's not
Maybe he takes it for granted, in a sense.
I'm sure it's there, you know.
But you see the brothers much more as being the means by which you're tried, as being God's means of purifying them, than you do as human persons, whom it's possible to love, or with whom you're in communion.
This is a peculiar thing about monasticism.
The literature tends to come across that way.
Sometimes it's because so much is taken for granted.
But the love is there, the communion is there, but it's also there in the Church.
And it's not the specific thing, so it's not common.
Here's Hauser writing about Dorotheus.
Now, he starts this with Bartholomew, remember the great old man of Gaza.
Now, Dorotheus is his disciple.
It was in the 6th century that spirituality came to a decisive turning.
One name out of St.
Porcinupius should be inscribed at the crossroad.
This utter anti-originist was a great directorist.
Remember, Origen was a great intellectualist whose mind was spread out in all directions.
And Evagrius was the one who made a monastic system of spirituality out of Origen.
His letters, one of his disciples wanted to read of Agrius.
Mind you, do no such thing, answered the Aster Alec.
Eventually he gave in as regards the ascetical writing, while still firmly excluding the more mystical writings.
Now at Barcenufius' school, there was then a young monk, St.
Dorotheus, destined to become one of the most classical of Eastern spiritual writers.
During the following centuries there was no more highly reputed work than his instructions.
Those are the discourses that we're reading.
Especially after Saint Theodore the Studite had definitely adopted his ideas and upheld them even in his testament.
So you get this notion of two big streams of monastic tradition in the East, one of which is centrivitical and very strongly centered on obedience.
And that's the stream in which Basil and Dorotheus and Theodore of Astuta lie, okay?
And then you have the Hezekiah stream, which passes through Evagrius and then up through Gregory of Sinai and all those people in the Philokalee.
And Hauser notes later that in the Philokalee you do not find certain people.
You don't find St.
Basil, you don't find Dorotheus, you don't find Theodorus, do they?
In spite of the fact that they were very big names in Eastern monasticism.
So you see the distinction of the two traditions right there.
Now in the West, it happens a little differently, but there's the same kind of tendency to move into two branches.
The cenobitical basing itself on the rule of St.
Benedict, which becomes universal in the West,
And then a solitary tradition which disappears and then reappears and has a hard time existing.
And St.
Romulus really brings it in, relates it to the other and legitimizes it.
They're the same types really.
It's in danger of getting soaked up in his ordinary history.
It has a hard time existing in the Western Church as such.
But then it reappears in strange ways.
It reappears in
the Rhineland mystics and reappears in St.
John of the Cross, you see, and outside of the tradition that we call monasticism.
If the great Hegumenos of the greatest monastery of Constantinople, Pletsk Theodor, showed such a partiality for Dorotheus, it was because he found that his teaching agreed completely with that of St.
Basil, the Master of Masters.
Basil was the great authority in the Eastern Church on monasticism, in spite of the fact that the kind of monasticism that he was setting up doesn't seem to be monasticism as we know it, in the way that it was related to the world.
It's a strange thing.
And there he was right.
Holiness for St.
Dorotheus, as for Basil and Theodore the Studact, consisted above all in utter renunciation of self-will.
That is why the life of the little St.
Dosithius, remember
as, in more recent times, that of St.
John Berkman's, offer us the sight of high perfection acquired in a short time by guileless submission to superiors with no semblance of mystic or gift."
Now we're reminded of somebody else, aren't we, now and time?
Anybody come to mind?
Therese, you know, Carmelite, who doesn't have a lot of mystic or gifts.
Whose way is the way?
Not exactly the same as this one.
renunciation of the wrong will, and inside a tight framework of obedience to it.
That is why Theodore was always striving against his monk's obsession for solitary life.
Formerly martyrdom had been considered the highest perfection.
Nothing was changed except that henceforth martyrdom was to consist in obedience.
But in a way, boy, that's dangerous.
Because look at the function you can get the abbot into.
He becomes sort of a high executioner with his great big axe.
And this happens sometimes.
I think it happens in the Trappist tradition at a certain point.
Remember what Delon said, the rigid Trappist reform.
But really, it's punishment.
to live as hard a life as you can.
And so they live about 10 or 15 years.
At that point, something seems to be a bit out of whack.
You know, it gets negative out of whack.
So the obedience thing can be overrun, too.
In that there's another kind of obedience which can get frustrated in that very institutional obedience, okay?
But that very structured obedience can frustrate another kind of obedience.
which is sort of an obedience to conformity to God's will to life, which speaks in the Holy Spirit.
A fact worth noticing is that in this Assi, so alien to claims of special gifts or high states of prayer, we recognize more than any other the very accents of St.
Ignatius of Antioch at the prospect of the highest sacrifice.
This hero of asceticism, Ignatius of Antioch, is unconsciously lifted up by the love of Christ, enhanced by suffering, into those mystic regions which his humility considered a brother."
So this is, it's important to see this, I think, and then to think, to meditate deeply about it in the way that we look at the religious world.
But individually, also, as a community.
Then he's got one more school of spirituality, which is the hesychast school.
in which he says man is defined as a heart.
That is, the human person is basically seen not as intellect, and not just as sentiment, but as heart.
This happens with the Hezekiahs already, but not Athos, and then it passes on later to the Russians, who have a deeper identification with the earth.
So this notion of the heart becomes richer in its human dimension than it was with the Hezekiahs.
Briefly, we might say that this is very much connected with nepsis, because it's the hesychasts that identify with the neptic fathers.
Remember, here we're back in an introvert school of spirituality, if we can use that language.
An interior school of spirituality, which is interested in contemplation, is interested in the experience of God.
But now it's the experience of God seen as in the heart.
Above all, hesychasm was connected with the neptic fathers, as is shown by the very title of the Philokalia.
is the collection of the neptic fathers.
It's right in the title.
It is impossible to translate the word nepsis.
In any case, many more intelligible words are synonymous.
Attention, silence of the heart, and especially custody of the heart.
We read in an article which is like the manifesto for the hesychast school.
True recollection and prayer consist in this.
that in prayer the mind keeps the heart, turns again and again within the heart, and from the depth of that abyss sends up its prayers to the Lord.
It's a combination of attention and prayer.
Briefly, we might say that hesychasm had replaced intelligence by the heart.
But the heart here is not just sentiment, is it?
It's an interior experience of God in some way.
It had made of the heart the faculty of religion, of piety, and of mysticism.
In the Evagrian school, man was considered an intellect.
In the others, a psychological consciousness, fully aware.
Now, psychological consciousness, what does he mean by that?
He's distinguished from intellect.
Intellect, remember, is pure intellect, not rational.
Psychological consciousness, he means spiritual feeling, basically, I think, or other ways of experiencing God.
You can think of visions and locutions and just also all kinds of spiritual experience which are not
simply and purely intellectually, which are, however, experience.
It's like every other kind of experience, including imaginative visions.
In the Hezekiah school, man was considered as a heart.
All ascetic effort was made to consist in the custody of the heart.
The whole secret of contemplation is to bring the other faculties back to the heart.
For unless gathered in the heart, they became causes of distractions and illusions.
So you see, nepsis is going to mean a lot more and have a different sense for the hesychas and for that side of monasticism than it will for Dorotheus.
So for Dorotheus it tends to spread out and become more general, identify with the ascetical life to some extent, but mean a kind of attention to your reactions and to your actions and then self-examination.
It tends to merge into this basic seriousness.
of not forgetting.
The opposite to it is carelessness, as a matter of fact.
It comes out in the beginning of it.
Is it the opposite to nepsis or to scopos?
The scopos and nepsis are more genuine.
Carelessness, amalaya.
Okay, enough for that.
Let's look at the discourse finally.
To outline it a bit, it's kind of confusing if you try to figure out how he put it together.
In the first part he's talking about skopos, his purpose, his resolution.
That's about the first page here.
Then he gives this example of purpose, of resolution in himself when he was a boy and learning to lead.
Then he changes the subject and he starts talking about virtue in a kind of theoretical way.
He says virtue is the mean between excess and defect.
Then he talks about self-examination and watchfulness and how it's connected with this idea of virtue, keeping on the royal highway.
Then he talks about, he's got this allegory of the road and the city.
And finally he talks about three states of the soul.
that you could be on the road.
That's what he's getting to.
And all of this comes back together when he says, well, look at yourself and find out where you are.
Watch yourself and examine yourself from time to time.
Okay, right in the beginning I have a first page.
Let us look to ourselves and be sober brothers, nepsomen.
Who will give us back this present time if we waste it?
In these injunctions of the Father.
This is all about skopos, you see.
Not we don't even know what we want, but we don't even know what we wanted that's about to be thrown down.
We're in such a negligent environment, this continual
heavy rain of reproach, which you enjoy so.
I guess they all do.
We're in such a negligent and ruinous condition that we don't know why we've come.
We don't even know what we wanted.
We don't know what we wanted when we came.
Therefore we make no progress, but we're always distressed.
You know, Merton is in the same tone sometimes.
He likes to jump cut.
On those tapes, he's giving pep talk to them.
This comes about... Now, there's another mistake.
I didn't check the whole thing.
It would be too much work.
My Greek is not that good.
There's another mistake here.
This comes about... He says, because we have no set purpose in our hearts, there should be no attentiveness in our hearts.
No attentiveness.
And then he... The point changes.
If we resolve to fight a little... And he takes up this business about doing violence to yourself.
Theosomai is the Greek word.
And that's another classic thing in the Fathers.
They're always talking about that.
Because it comes from the Gospel, you know.
The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence.
It's the same Greek word there, I'm sure.
We have to decide what he means there.
What's the connection between the watchfulness and the purposefulness and the doing violence to ourselves?
Well, it's like the first thing is you have this resolution in your heart.
You come to the monastery and you really want to do something.
It's not as if you're vacillating about it.
Then you maintain that through this watchfulness.
And as you watch yourself, you get a little distance from yourself and you begin to struggle with yourself.
So it's like there are two of you there.
There's the one who's watching, and then there's the one who can get into trouble.
And so the struggle opens up inside of you.
And that's what this, the adsoma, I think, is, is doing violence.
There's another possible confusion.
Evidently we're not yet perfect, but at least we desire to be so.
Now that is not desire, it's will.
We will to be so.
So that's the resolution at the outset, you see, which the nexus is supposed to keep functioning and protect.
from this will, we shall come and God's coming to look into the combat itself.
So they all can turn to the will.
And then he's got this really heavy quote.
Give blood and receive spirit.
That makes a lot of sense in all kinds of ways.
I know a Jesuit who searched for a couple of years to find out where that came from.
He finally looked at it.
It's Longinus.
He's got the footnote here.
It's Longinus number 5.
If you look it up, there's a little more to it than that.
It's a little more mysterious than that.
I think it's on a page here.
Abba Longinus said to Abba Acacius, A woman knows she is conceived when she no longer loses any blood.
So it is with the soul.
She knows she is conceived the Holy Spirit when the passions stop coming out of her.
But as long as one is held back in the passions, how can one dare to believe one is sinless?
Now all that makes sense, OK?
But then the other line doesn't seem to hook into it.
Give blood and receive the Spirit.
How do you get the two parts of it together?
He seems to be saying two different things.
OK, that's what he means.
That's for sure, OK?
But why does he connect that?
the stopping of menstruation or the conception of a child, the stopping of the issue of blood with the giving of blood.
I don't know, but maybe it's like one has to almost lose that, what would you call it, that humor in one, which is the humor of the passion.
You know, in the old days they used to talk about the body in that way.
Their physiology is a physiology largely of humors.
And so they could talk about a humor, a passionate humor, which has to be dried up before one can receive the spirit.
Something like that.
I think probably that's the connection.
The idea is that that passionate flux has to be dried up, which means, really, which means a kind of modern humor, before one can receive the spirit.
It's a harsh thing.
It's a harsh thing.
The theological connection to that, of course, is that that's precisely what Jesus does, isn't it?
That is, he sheds his blood on the cross and then is, in the resurrection, so filled with the Spirit that he can transmit the Spirit to us.
It's really strong if you read the New Testament passages connected with it.
So blood also has a couple of meanings.
One thing is the passion and humor, but another thing is just life.
Okay, then he's got his story about himself.
I don't know if it's clear what he's talking about.
The beginning thing, the image of the wild animal and so on, the idea is that when he was learning to read, he so hated it that when he approached a book, he sort of had to stalk it.
He didn't even want to touch it.
But then after he began to do it, he became so fascinated that he couldn't tear himself away from it.
So the moral of the story seems to be that if you get over your first repugnance and really plunge into something, then a motivation will come in, which will take over and render it relatively easy and even delightful.
I think that's pretty simple.
About three quarters of the way down, he's got an, if for the sake of public speaking, and it should be, if for the sake of profane knowledge.
He wasn't setting to be a rhetorician, as far as I know.
If for the sake of profane knowledge, so much endurance and fervor is needed.
Now, you find a lot of the Fathers saying things like that.
That if people work so hard to be a philosopher,
to gain some ungodly knowledge and be godly to them?
How much more should we sweat, should we give ourselves in order to know God?
Unless a man drives himself and fights against his evil inclinations, he readily falls away and diverges from the path of virtue.
Okay, you're going to find that this ties in with the end of the thing when he's talking about those three categories of men, or the three places in which to stare.
There's a marvelous unity in Dorotheus' discourses, even though on the verbal level they seem to wander all over the place, they seem to stray all over.
There's an underlying unity that pulls them together.
Now he goes into this theory about virtues.
It probably doesn't sound like the most exciting thing in the world.
Virtue stands in the middle between excess and deflect.
And this is the king's highway.
Now this, this is in the book of Numbers, and that's picked up by a lot of the fathers.
If you look at the French edition here, Sources Chr├ętiennes, they've got a footnote with references, multiple references to the fathers who picked this idea up.
I think it comes, it comes originally from Aristotle, and I don't know if it exists before him.
The idea that virtue is the mean between too little and too much.
It's in Aristotle's Ethics.
Now, there are a couple of places in... Very much, okay?
In fact, that's a key if you want to get the connection with Cassian, okay?
Because where Cassian treats of this is when he's talking about discretion.
But notice the ambiguity of that word, discretion, because
For, say, Saint Benedict, it begins to mean that.
But discretion, for Cassian, also means discernment of spirits, OK?
So it wanders between two poles, the idea of discretion, between moderation, or the mean between too little and too much, and between a kind of God-given gift of discerning spirits, whether something comes from the devil, whether it comes from God, whether it comes from ourselves.
And in Cassian, it seems all mixed up, those two meanings.
He's got a couple of places where he talks about the King's Highway, the Middle Road, and so on.
I'll try to locate them for you.
Two of them are in Conference 2, page 308, just in case you're interested.
Now, see, this is a Greek psychology, or Greek ethics, which underlies the Fathers, and which one after the other of them will pick up.
and which later on will turn up in Thomas Aquinas and so on.
This is the conference on discretion, where he talks about the people who have gone off the beam because of too much or because of too little.
Actually, the ones he has to point out is where they do too much, by some excess of what seems like virtue, by doing too much of the right thing.
Old Abaharan had thrown himself down the well.
It's self-abnegation.
Abnegation, correct.
Nor can any other reason for their falling off be discovered except that as they were not sufficiently instructed by their elders, they didn't have discretion, they could not obtain judgment and discretion which passing by excess on either side
teaches a monk always to walk along the loyal road, and does not suffer him to be puffed up on the right hand of virtue, that is, from excess of zeal to transgress the bounds of due moderation and foolish presumption, nor allows him to be enamored of slackness and turn aside to the vices on the left hand, that is, under pretext of controlling the body to grow slack with the opposite spirit of lukewarmness.
This is discretion which is termed in the Gospel the eye and the light of the body,
That's the chief virtue for Keshav.
And then again in chapter 16.
We ought then with all our might to strive for the virtue of discretion by the power of humility, as it will keep us uninjured by either extreme.
For there's an old saying, extremes meet.
For excess of fasting and gluttony come to the same thing.
And an unlimited continuance of vigils is equally injurious to a monk as a talker of a deep sleep.
It's a pretty marvelous way to be able to say that.
Of course, maybe we have to kind of look at it critically afterwards.
For when a man is weakened by excessive abstinence, he's sure to return to that condition in which a man is kept through carelessness and negligence.
So that we have often seen those who could not be deceived by gluttony, destroyed by excessive fasting, and by reason of weakness, liable to that passion which they had before overcome.
I have never been in danger of some of these things, not because I have discretion, which is great.
Unreasonable vigils and nightly watchings have also been the ruin of some whom sleep could not get the better of.
Wherever the Apostle says, with the yarns of righteousness and enlightenment and love.
There's something marvelous there, and that is the kind of detachment which is able to say that all of these things
are only things, none of them are God.
And this comes up in the Book of Proverbs, where God is not on the right or on the left, but he's somehow between the two.
But he's not just between the two, he's kind of an average.
And the other place is in Conference 4, Chapter 12, on page 335.
This is a conference on the war between the spirit and the flesh.
He says that we're between the spirit and the flesh, and actually the flesh helps in some way.
He doesn't treat the flesh exactly the same Paul does.
But he says that it's good for us to have that pull from the flesh on one side to keep us from just going wild on the other side of getting too virtuous, of getting too spiritual.
It's a strange thing to say.
There's a wisdom in it, which is hard to express exactly.
Well, I can't find a good... Here we are.
A due equilibrium will result from this struggle and open to us a safe and secure path of virtue between the two and teach the soldier of Christ never to walk on the king's highway.
So, he says the warfare is good for us.
Now, here it's in a different context.
You see, it's in a context of struggle between the flesh and the spirit.
not demonizing the spirit here, he's not making, not absolutizing the spirit.
And he says, actually the flesh is just what we need is to be between us two.
It's kind of surprising in a way, that attachment.
So, he was such a spiritualist in so many ways.
Maybe it does come from, really from one of the desert fathers, you know.
How about Daniel?
We have to ask ourselves what this whole business about, is virtue really a mean between defect and excess?
It certainly is when you're talking about external things, right?
When you're talking about fasting, or vigils, or you're talking about talking, or silence, or things like that, it's possible to exaggerate on either side.
But can you always say that virtue is the mean between excess and defect?
Certainly not in certain virtues, not in the theological virtues can faith, hope, and love.
You can't have too much of those.
You can't have too much of those.
There's a kind of... This isn't subtle enough, this kind of axiom, so we have to look for something that explains better the differences between different kinds of virtues.
and how some of them are the basic line of growth, or the basic lifeline of the individual, and others of them are in a secondary position.
You know how they distinguish the theological virtues if they look them up in the cardinal virtues, the old standard Greek cardinal virtues, prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice.
They say if you have too much fortitude, that makes you a wretch.
If you have too little, that makes you a coward.
So that virtue is a mean in between to others, but I don't know if those others are even there.
So it's a kind of axiom that applies better to external acts than it does to the real interior realities of our life.
You see, the theological virtues come in with Christianity.
So, that whole new thing appears there, which perhaps was not in his perspective.
And I don't know how he talks about love, to tell you the truth.
I know he does that, doesn't he?
Because for him, I believe that God, the ultimate mover, the prime mover, is the one who is loved.
In other words, who draws everything and moves everything by being loved.
But that's Eros.
It's not an epic.
Then he's got this curious theory about how you generate worms in yourself.
So then, does the soul generate evil in itself?
Because evil doesn't have an existence.
So he's saying that evil is a parasite.
Evil is a parasite and the natural state of the soul is virtue.
Now that's good, that's marvelous.
And that has something to do with this business of the meme, okay?
Because if you've got another theory that the natural state of the soul is pretty miserable, that the natural state of the soul is vice, okay, if you believe that way, that our nature is really messed up in a sense, then you're going to be a lot more inclined to believe that it has to be basically transformed or gotten beyond.
And so you're much less likely to have that theory of virtue as a meme.
Virtue is something reasonable, because you're going to have an extreme vision of virtue, probably, in that sense, because you've got to do violence to nature.
You've got to get away from it, in a sense, in order to get to God, to get to where you want to be.
But he doesn't have that view.
And that, too, is kind of typically Aristotelian.
That nature is good, and the soul
And therefore it's to be treated with that kind of respect.
It's not that you have to force it to be something else.
Let it be itself.
That seems to be the theory.
You can say that on one side, and then you come along and there are ideas of telling you to do violence to yourself.
And he's not a philosopher, and so he doesn't think about all those things, you know, make a theory about all those things.
He's talking strictly from practice.
But he does bring in this theory.
So also wickedness is a sickness of the soul depriving it of its own natural health, which is a state of virtue.
So that's great.
Because we lose that sometimes, and then we get a kind of spirituality.
Therefore we say that virtue stands in the middle, and so courage stands in the middle between cowardice and foolhardiness.
Humility, in the middle between arrogance and obsequious.
Those things, if you think about them, you can have problems with them.
Because really, it's not too much courage that makes us foolhardy, is it?
Is it too much courage that makes somebody foolhardy?
Or is it too much humility that makes somebody obsequious?
I don't think so.
It's a lack of something else.
No, no.
And foolhardiness is not really courage.
It's a kind of animal.
It's kind of brute courage, perhaps, okay?
But it's not rational, somehow.
It's misdirected courage.
But the direction, the discretion, is not simply in making a middle between too much and too little.
It's in the appropriateness of the response to the situation, it seems to me.
So I don't think you can really have too much courage, nor too much humility either.
on an external level, on a kind of referential level.
And when we're talking about the movement of energy in us or something like that, or the movement of passion, the movement of motivation and emotion, we can say it.
But not if we make it, we discriminate.
So much for theory.
But unless a man is watchful and keeps a guard on himself, he easily deviates.
See, he brings us back.
He's like a tailor.
He comes back, and he puts the needle back, and he sews it back together, and he comes and threads it back together at a certain point.
Unless a man is watchful and keeps a guard on himself, he easily deviates from the road either to the left or to the right.
So there's your connection with nexus.
You see, you've got to keep watching yourself, or you'll fall off the road, you'll go off the road.
But it's beautiful that to be on the road,
is the state of health of the soul, and so your nexus in some way is going to be connected with preserving the natural state of your soul.
Now this is very much like Cashin.
Do you remember how Cashin talks first about purity of heart, which is the natural state of the soul, when it's healthy as it were, and then he talks about discretion immediately afterwards, which is the eye with which you see that the
heart, the soul is in that natural, healthy, pure, upright state.
So Dorotheus is doing the same thing.
So it's like you have a red light that comes on when your soul is out of its healthy state, out of its natural, peaceful state.
He talks about that natural state of rest where the arm of the soul is.
This is the royal road, of course, which we'll listen to.
Then the different states of the soul.
Then he gives this allegory where you're moving out of the world, you're going to the holy city, biblical image, and you're on a road meanwhile.
There's all these different ways that you can go.
You can stay in the world, you can go a little bit outside, come back, sit on the rubbish heap, go down the road some distance.
He doesn't mention any of it.
any movies or saloons or anything along the way.
And then he explains his allegory.
This is how it is with us.
There are some among us who have left the world and come to the monastery.
Some keep straight on a level compass.
That's an allegory because it's point by point.
Let each one of us take the trouble to find out where we are.
Whether we left our own city, the world, or remain outside its gates by the rubbish heap.
But whether we remain outside the holy city, to remain outside the world and by the rubbish heap is to be entangled in the passions, still to be weighed down by the flesh.
But to remain outside the holy city, there evidently isn't any rubbish heap outside, there's no garbage.
You remain outside of that by pride, by pride, like the elder brother remembering the parable of the brother of the sun.
That's beautiful, right?
You can go long ways along the road, but you can't get into the holy city.
Let each find out about his own condition, the state of his soul.
Okay, then he's really got three conditions of giving in to your passions, of just letting go, of restraining your passions so that you're in a struggle, or of rooting out your passions.
And he goes into this in great detail.
He uses the example of somebody who hears a rough word from his brother.
And he's got subcategories inside each of these stages.
And it's beautiful, too, because it's true.
So these are the three... He doesn't tie it in exactly with his allegory, does he?
But the person who is letting go of his passions and just letting them operate, either he never gets out of the world, or he's moving back towards it, he's going backwards.
The one who is rooting out his passions is moving headlong towards the Holy City.
and he'll get into the holy city.
And the other guy is sort of in a state of uncertainty.
The one who's checking his passions, actually, he really is.
He's moving along the road, but he's not moving at lightning speed.
He's really checking his passions.
He could have made the middle situation as the one who wins one battle and loses another.
I think he does, as a matter of fact, when he springs up.
This is why I'm always telling you to be careful to cut off your natural inclinations before they become habitual sins.
Back on page 88, you know, he talked about ten ways you can cut off your natural inclination before you get out the door, which makes you a little nervous.
Remember St.
Bernard and his degrees of pride and humility?
Well, it's very much like this, only he's got much more category, he's got more
a more mathematical classification, because he matches St.
Benedict's 12 degrees of humility, 12 degrees of pride.
But they run like this.
The one who just lets free with his passions.
We can do it with an angry word, we can do it with a sexual fantasy, we can do it in all kinds of ways.
Also, we can do it by allowing resentment to... entertaining resentment, sort of...
enjoying it, or feasting on his negative feelings.
The difference between whether there's really that inner watchfulness and that inner struggle going on in us, or whether there's only one person in there, and he's kind of animal, he just does what he wants, or whether that division has begun.
It's like you've got three states.
The first state in which there's just one person in there, and he's of the flesh.
Then the state in which there are two people in there,
one of the oppression of the spirit and the warfare is going on, and then finally the stage in which there's really one in your dominant, and that's the man of the spirit.
There'd be all different kinds of ways of describing these states of the soul.
The Fathers used to say that everything that the soul does not deliberately intend is of short duration.
If you look up this
footnote there, you'll find that's Coleman Numbers 93, page 151, in The Saints of the Desert Forest.
And it's a story of where somebody is concealing a passion.
He's ashamed to tell it to the abbot.
It's a passion of blasphemy, and it was so awful that he just couldn't bear to bring it up to his spiritual father.
He was afraid that he'd lose respect for him.
Each time you go away, unhappy keeping your thoughts to yourself.
Now tell me, child, what it's all about.
Out with it.
He said to him, the demon wars against me to make me blaspheme God.
I'm ashamed to say so.
I'm ashamed to tell you that.
So he told him all about it, and immediately he was relieved.
The old man said to him, do not be unhappy, my child, but every time this thought comes to you, say, it's no affair of mine.
May your blasphemy retain upon you, Satan, for my soul does not martyr.
Now, everything that the soul does not desire does not long remain.
And the brother went away here.
What does he mean?
There's a distinction between... Remember when Jesus says nothing that comes into you from outside can defile you?
It's only what comes out from the inside that defiles you.
It comes out of the heart.
So it's a question of who you really are and when you really give consent to something.
When you really buy it.
When you really adopt it.
And up to the time when you really buy it, when you really consent to it and make it your own, it's not yours, it's not you.
And so you don't have to be ashamed of it.
See, he somehow identified himself with those blasphemous thoughts to such an extent that he couldn't even tell Pullman about them.
But Pullman says, they're not yours.
If you don't want them, you don't have to identify them.
You don't have to consider them as being your own.
They belong to the devil.
And whatever you don't desire won't remain for long.
See, that sends us way down into the core of our own will, doesn't it?
To ask what we really do desire.
It sends us very deep into ourselves.
And unless we desire something, it's asking for a conversion of the heart, way deep down, so that we unhook from the things that we're not even aware that we desire.
And the evil, if we don't desire it in our heart, we won't still do this.
Seek God and for sure remember him.
Avoid the devil and not feel free from it.
Something like that.
Then there are the people who drive out one passion with another and that's not so good.
There's probably better than that.
And then the ones who uproot their passions.
Now at this point we begin to wonder, well, Dorotheus, when are you going to say something positive?
Isn't there anything in the world except passion?
Isn't there anything in life except sin?
Well, what does it mean to uproot your passions?
What does he say?
If a man rejoices when he is upbraided, because it will bring a reward.
And then again, another rejoices when he is upbraided.
There's another case where a man not only rejoices to be treated harshly, it's a matter of rejoicing.
So there's something very positive here.
Actually, this uprooting of the passions can be thought of in a whole other way, which somehow puts it in a positive vein.
To uproot your passions, and this is connected with what Fulman was saying, whatever you do not desire won't remain in your long.
To uproot your passions really means that there's a stronger positive dynamism in your heart which doesn't allow them to get rooted, or which somehow is just occupying the city.
It's occupying the citadel.
It's occupying your heart.
And so it just knocks them out when they come in.
So it's a question of having your heart full of God, having your heart full of love for the Holy Spirit.
Hence you can talk about rejoicing.
rejoicing when you're upgraded or when you get a harsh word or something like that.
So it's a question of a positive presence in your heart which is really moving at high speed towards the Holy City.
In fact, in some way, you're in the Holy City.
The Holy City is in your heart, in my case.
Reminds me of this contemporary charismatic fellow, Caruthers, who writes the books about praise, you remember?
Because that's what that's about, isn't it?
Nothing can really touch the heart if the heart has got this dynamism of the Holy Spirit, which is praise, which is acceptance, which is affirmation, which is love, whatever you want to call it, which is rejoicing.
You can see it.
Yeah, when you're persecuted and all of that.
It can be real hard to do.
And there are different ways of doing it.
Some are more genuine than others.
It works.
Because you can sort of shut your eyes and do it, and then it passes you by, and it doesn't change you.
But if it really moves through your heart, then it changes.
He said, so we have to examine ourselves and see where we're at.
And that's a very good way to examine ourselves.
Ask yourself, what's in my heart?
What do I really desire?
What do I want?
And to what extent is my behavior inconsistent with what I really want in my heart?
Do I really want God or do I really want this other thing?
And if I do really want God, why do I let my life be pulled to pieces?
Why do I let this other thing dwell in my life?
Why don't I get my act together?
Let everyone find out then where he is, how many milestones he's passed on the road.
That's a curious image to use there, because he's not talking about money.
We ought not only to examine ourselves every day, but also over the period of time, every month and every week.
Reminds us of the Jesuit examiner, doesn't it?
Now here he's not talking about custody, continual custody.
At this moment he's talking about periodic examination.
Reminds us of Saint Ignatius' examiner.
and which is standard practice for his order.
And also, I was thinking that this spirituality of the will is very prominent.
One of its, what do you call it, chief expressions in the West, I think, is the visual spirituality of Saint Ignatius.
It's kind of getting things at their core, getting the handle on things.
by finding a spot in us where we are free and where everything is determined.
But the Western way, usually, is to consider it in terms of will rather than heart.
The Eastern way is often to look at it as the heart as it is.
And he's got that final other parable of the man who had been shot at with the arrow.
If you give way to your passions, it's like sticking the arrow in your own heart.
You do the job for it.
Resisting is like to be lightly wounded and protected.
The man who is uprooting his passions is like a man who is shot at by an enemy who strikes the arrow and shatters it, turns it back on the enemy's head.
You wonder why the imagery of combat must have been so familiar to him, because somebody was always, I guess,
besieging the city and shooting arrows through the windows in those days.
It just came naturally to you.
For us, you would be inclined to look for kind of a positive thrust, which is very much here.
Okay, that's enough for this week.
Next week, let's go on to the next one, which as you can see is very close to this one.
It follows the same subject.
we're able to fall into this.