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Sophia/Wisdom discussion

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And then Ronak wrote a thesis on something like that, there is no dissertation, it's been kind of the basis of his thought ever since, which brings always together those two levels, brings together the level of punitive knowledge, of contemplative knowledge, or the knowledge of God, if you wish, and the level of what he calls the categorical, or historical, or everyday, or the level of this and that, you know, of what we do. It's the kind of kingpin that holds this whole vision together, right? Keeping those two levels in contact all the time, so that whenever he's talking about a particular thing, he's talking about everything at the same time. He's talking about it all. It's hard to conclude with those comments. I think we ought just to get out of the topic. There's just so much, it's so cosmic, it's difficult not to. That's what it means. But you did mention something about, I think it was something, that the trinity was divisive.


I don't want to, you know, let this lead to Rome or anything, but... Can you remember any more of the context? Well, it was at the beginning, when you were... I have to look at my notes. When you were... But what I'm trying to... My own reflection was, I think it is divisive, you know, and I don't mean it automatically, but in trying to grasp God. And I think, even historically, it's been divisive. It began through other cultures. Oh, I see. And even, to some extent, you know, looking at your own spiritual journey, I've found it confusing and divisive, and I've gone through various periods where I either forgot Jesus and talked about God the Father, or something like that, even in spiritual direction. In spiritual direction, you're not talking about Jesus so much, you're talking about God.


I think it was a period that I went through. But that step to reflection I had when you mentioned that, I kind of acquiesced to it. And even historically, I was wondering if you'd want to elaborate on that. I don't see what we can do with that, because the Trinity, of course, is... We can't renounce the Christian tradition somehow, and yet it really is, let's say, something that works for the mind. And that doesn't stop being something. It doesn't stop being a paradox and a difficulty. But Trinity also is a source of a thoroughly different Christianity. For instance, once again, my physical diagram. If you read St. Irenaeus, you'll find that he diagrammatically does it. He doesn't talk about God the Father, and his two arms, the Word and the Spirit. So the Word over here, and the Spirit over here. And down here is creation, earth, man.


And the earth, the mod of Genesis 2, is it? Which God picks up from the earth, and Jesus turns into it. So here we have four terms. We have the Father, we have the earth, or creation, or whatever. We have the Word and the Spirit. And God, the invisible God. This is, as it were, the non-dual basis of everything. The invisible God of all, the absolute of metaphysics. And also, this is the point of that non-dual consciousness which we have, which underlies everything within the knowledge of God. The Word, knowledge, coherence, structure, stability, expression. And the Spirit, which is the interior. The Spirit, which is the interior unity. And then the physical, the incarnate, the cosmic. Now, Trinity becomes paternity at this point because we include the creation. We include ourselves in the picture. But here we have the unity, the non-dual.


And then the non-dual, somehow from the non-dual, there are these manifestations, these emanations of God. As it were, reaching into the creation, embracing the creation. But the non-dual is there. The non-dual is there. But we're always between the non-dual and the dual in our lives sometimes. The mind doesn't seem to go much further. And we have to carry that mystery all of our lives, carry that paradox all of our lives, without ever getting full intellectual satisfaction out of it. But we know that somehow, at the depth, at the source, there is simply the non-dual being of God, in whom everything lives and moves as St. Paul says. And, for instance, you can talk about the religions of the world against the background of a pattern like that. Especially, we distinguish the religions of the world, which are Israel, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, from the religions, let us say, of the East, which have another kind of revelation,


which we can say the cosmic revelation, the revelation of pure impurity, or of the non-dual. It doesn't become any simpler, but we can see where Christianity contains both the non-dual absolute and the structure of pluralism, which emanates from it. And that gives us some satisfaction in this. Now, as a matter of prayer, I think we do go through different phases. In one phase, the image of Christ, and the humanity of Christ in that image will be extremely important. Teresa D'Avora has put a lot of emphasis on that. At another phase, your experience of Christ will be more unitive in some way. That is, you will experience yourself as in Christ, praying to the Father. Now, normally, prayer for early Christians is prayer to the Father. Prayer to Christ is something exceptional, something abnormal for them. And later on, of course, their spirituality has changed very much. But I think theologically, that's where we are. We are in Christ, praying to the Father with the invisible path. And so the images are of secondary importance here.


Of great importance, but secondary to that knowledge of God beyond images. And in the experience. This morning, listening to you, it couldn't help but relate most of what you were saying to what Ben talked about in passing over. Yes. And that whole idea of... And I had only been seeing that more from an active role. And today, when you presented it, it seemed like there was that contemporary dimension of a spiraling to the goal of character. And it seems like that's where it's spiraling, or a cyclic going toward. I just wondered how much of that thought was in your thought when you were looking. I've read some of that. I'm familiar with it, actually, in passing. I didn't consciously have that in mind when I was thinking that through.


It seems to me... There's another way of talking about this encounter. This encounter with the other culture, the other belief, the other religion, the other faith. And the way that as we do it and come back, we find that we've opened up a dimension of our own faith, of our own Christianity, which had somehow been sealed off to us, or forgotten, or in some way had a kind of callous opening to that point. Yes. The presence of a strong Buddhist dimension in Christianity. There's a whole string of Christian Buddhists, right from... Who's the first one? Somebody like Evagrius of Chronica, who talks about a knowledge in unknowing, and talks about God and prayer in a fiercely intellectual way, but an intellectuality which is always centered around nothingness, always centered around emptiness, okay? And then you've got people like Eckhart, and even John of the Cross. There was a Benedictine abbot who said of St. John of the Cross, he's like a sponge, and if you squeeze him all the Christianity will run out,


much like the Buddhists. That was kind of unfair, but... You can see it in Merton, another Christian Buddhist. Now, that's an exaggeration to speak that way, but it's also true because it's the apathetic dimension of Christianity which condones people to non-dual knowledge of emptiness, which is important to them. Yes. This seems like, in my own personal way, like everything that you were saying, they were all glimpses of things that I intuit, and that goes back to childhood even, that there's a world that we don't know that the real and that unity does exist, but then we function almost in a corruptive way on another level, even my role as a therapist and spiritual director, you know, always resourced by books,


and there's an intuition that goes outside those boundaries, but that intuition for that unity and that freedom that goes beyond anything that we could know is still bound. So, my question is, how does that corrupted knowledge that interferes with true knowledge get undone? And the other question I have is, when Art was saying that, you know, sometimes we cling to God, or sometimes we're more attracted to Him, is that, if all exists and is one, and is part of us at all times, and we are immunity, is it our blocks that prevent us from experiencing it,


or is it something that needs the direct intervention from God that pulls away that veil for a moment and then we have an experience, or, you know, which side does it rest on? Okay, well, those are two pretty full questions. Let me try to answer the second one first, and then try to remember the first one. Or at least talk about the second question. I think it's on both sides. I think even if we removed all of the blocks, we would still be living an incarnate existence, and therefore we should live between the absence and the presence of God in some way, in some measure. You have mystics who have broken through and arrived in what is called a spiritual marriage and so on. Yet, I imagine that with them also, there is an alternation in life, and not just an uninterrupted enjoyment of the fullness of God, the fullness of the experience of God. And besides, we have to think of it as a personal relationship


in such a way that there is a back and forth, an interplay, a kind of drama in it, a conversation of some kind, rather than a kind of ontological, an unbroken ontological continuity of the experience of God, something like that. I think our tradition lends us much more to the sense of interplay, and therefore also a kind of play of absence and presence, even at that stage, after all the blocks have been cleared away. Because we want to feel, as it were, the pulse of our personal God in some way. We want to feel the drama of love, which requires that alternation. But here we're speaking in an area of which we know so little, but it's really hard to talk about. The other question is related to this one, of course, and it's still a question between these two levels of what you expect is a corrupt knowledge and a united knowledge. Okay, let me say that I think on the level of particular knowledge, it's not entirely corrupt, part of it's our nature. We're always going to be walking. We're never going to be simply dwelling in a center again. We're made to walk. We've got two feet to walk with. We have a rational mind, a discursive mind,


which is always going to be proceeding, of course, on a path. And that's its joy also, because even music is like that, as it were, from one note to another note. And then there's the corrupt element unit, which really fragments everything and stands in the way of that unit of knowledge. And that is our egoism, and our desire to pull everything to ourselves and to establish another center rather than the real center of that unit of knowledge. Okay? The other center being ourselves, of course, and which means it atomizes the universe and cancels, vetoes the unity which could prevail in favor of a unity around ourselves, which is very limited. That's what St. Paul talks about, the works of the flesh, which are all divisive and self-centered. Okay, that's the corrupt element. But I think, in the end, our life is always going to be an interplay between those two modes of knowledge, the particular knowledge and the unit of knowledge. And there is a way in which they coexist. There is a way in which they collaborate


and hand-in-hand can move through life, I think. And for instance, in therapy, I should imagine, they do have experiences of that kind. Because not all of the external knowledge is false or corrupt. It's broken, it's fragmentary, it's exterior, but somehow it too reflects the unitive. Okay? And our being, our very being, is strung between the two, between the particular and the absolute, between the unitive and the partial, the discursive, the atomized and differentiated. And so our whole life is led between those two. But it can be a kind of marriage of the two, I believe, with continual intuitions of unity breaking through between the two of them. For instance, in therapy or in the creative work of any kind. Yes? If we saw a kind of unity in maybe the particular function a missionary would serve in a concert would be, then we'll never really get any unity


on the level of concept, or maybe a minimal one. But maybe on the level of experience, of contemplative experience, there we can reach the peak of, you want to call it, the nondualistic peak, the father. They express them in many ways, and that way we would have... But I think one of the things of mission, I said this yesterday again, that too few of us have ever really tried to live that kind of a life from the inside. From the outside, we've done all kinds of studies on it. We dip into it now, and it's kind of fun to do Zazen for a while or something else like that. But really getting into the experience of what it is to realize nondualism, as many Buddhists have, as very few of us Christians have ever tried to do it. But until we do have the guts to do that, I don't think we'll ever get any place in a kind of real dialogue with these people. Okay, several things can be said. One thing is that even though we don't have the full experience,


we're in touch with it, okay? Because, as I say, it is at the ground of our consciousness. And therefore, by various kinds of effort, we can become more and more in touch with it and familiar with it, by meditation, but also by thought, also by deliberately trying to bring it into our thinking, to bring it into our understanding of the Gospel, our understanding of people, our understanding of the Church, of humanity. The other thing is that in its fullness, I think it's much more, especially in our Christian context, it's much more a gift of God than it is a result of our own effort. That is, it's a unitive, as it were, as a paradox, the unitive intrusion of God. When God suddenly becomes present as a kind of Eucharist in a moment, which draws everything into one, so that somehow we have that sense, it's a kind of epiphany of that kind that happens. And everything that we can do, well, this is even true in Zen, I think, that all the effort in some way leads to an impasse, and then something breaks through the impasse, you know, which seems rather to come from outside


or from deep within than from our own effort. The effort is necessary, but it has to be of such a kind that in the end it will be sensitive to God's coming in. I think a kind of humility and an ability to get out of the way and just let it happen is extremely important there. Yes? Just on that unitive thing, you know, I can't remember what you said, but I get afraid when we see a human unity coming about. I mean, let's say the Catholic Church somehow or other was able to incorporate all the other religions, Christianity, that would frighten me. Look what we've done in the past with that, you know. So this whole question of a human unity, of a divine unity, that we can't, you know, make part of our ego, as it were, is something we should even be striving for. There's a good reason people are talking about networks today,


instead of structured networks, instead of organization. Now think of two centers of unity, okay? Think of the Catholic Church, which is centered at home and attempts to hold hundreds of millions of people all over the world together, juridically and theologically, dogmatically, in a disciplinary way, and so on and so forth, and with the observatory command. It has to hold it all together. In an external way, it can't. It's really facing an impossibility, okay? Structure can't do it. And in some way, structure has to learn that it's the servant of another center of unity, which is really within, okay? And which unites things far beyond the bounds of that physical Church. Now, that's going to remain with us. It's never going to be expressed perfectly in an external structure in this world, okay? And what we have to do is eliminate our expectation that it will be and try to do it, you know, because power is always coming in. And this is not a matter of power. It's a matter of love. It's a matter of united knowledge, which is love, okay? So it's a sort of fire in the river that moves within,


and is never going to find that external institutional realization. So we have to know that and structure our expectation of that and learn to work on that development beyond the bounds of our own Church, beyond the bounds of our own, any of our own, what do you call it, enclosures or communities. Yes? When I came here, as I said before, I came at this right time. It's problematic. And it was difficult for me to follow it, to kill it. But I'm reading a book yesterday and the man in the back said, well, he doesn't kind of put it well. It's not the answer. No, it's the question. But... What are you talking about? Maybe you can come back.


Okay. Anybody else? This is on a very practical level. We've experienced that. One of the things that you mentioned this morning was how language and communication really has divided us. So in experiencing a community, after we got away from the structure and allowed the freedom and we were communicating in some way and that pluralism exists, then something happens that the love still didn't find us. The unity and community is a tremendous issue all over the place. And why is it? Because the unity hasn't found us. So then there's another level of thinking where maybe it's not through talking that we'll become united. Maybe it's through contemplating together


and trying to touch into the deeper self and doing that in a community venture, experiencing, which sounds good. Now the experience still seems to be that we're still not loving one another. People, myself included, we can get up from our contemplation and the perception of the other has not changed. And it's not like that mindfulness or trying to see the glimpse of love in the other. So I don't know. What you're insinuating in terms of knowledge is that, yes, persevere more in the silent contemplation because it might eventually lead to a change of perception. Certainly that. But then I think somewhere,


in some way there's a block almost providentially put in our arriving at a full sense of community in our little community. Somehow it's got to go beyond that in some way. And in some way, that seems to be happening everywhere. No community is sufficient anymore. No community can kind of find within itself the church perfectly. It always has to reach outside of itself and move, tend, yearn towards a broader unity, the unity of all humanity. Maybe that's just the experience of our time, but I think it's certainly true. Also, certainly the silent meditation together is very helpful. And yet, often something as simple as just working together can, I think, get to the destination more quickly. Working together with another person can be a wonderful way, without focusing on the issue of unity, the issue of love, the issue of community, of communion, a wonderful way often of


becoming one with that person, of admitting that person sort of to our sense of unity. But that by itself doesn't do it either. It seems that a number of things are kind of rope-woven at various strands if necessary. A kind of continual reflection on myself. But also, one thing that's important, I think, is to be looking all the time for the little signs of God's action in my relationship with another person or with a community. I think we're continually getting little invitations and little offers of breakthrough in that way. Typical is two people who've had a little spat or a division, you know, and are wondering whether this is ever going to get put together. Should I go and approach that person? No, I'm really afraid to do that. Shall I wait? And so on. Well, God is going to give an opportunity. He's going to give an occasion when the gift is given of forgetfulness of the division that was there, of a new bonding. If we're alert, we're going to have to do something. But something will be given.


And so to begin to see this whole issue within that context, both the context of a larger communion in which we're all going to be unsatisfied. It's like a microcosm of the ecumenical problem, you know, divided churches and so on. And then this other context of the continual subtlety of grace that's being given to us. Yes. You mentioned about when they're grafted, and the spirit side, and so many things that aren't Buddhism, if you look close enough, you'll find a tradition of that within Christianity you mentioned about. Evagrius. Evagrius, yeah. They could name more, like, St. Gregory of Nyssa, people like that. Then I can know the rest of that. And St. John of the Cross, the apophatic way. Right. Then on the other side were the words, the images, all going on with the cataphatic. Correct. What, say, Ignatian meditations,


things like that. St. Jesus of Babylon, all the rest of that. Right. And maybe combinations, or whatever, you know. And the use of techniques like, for instance, from the East, like breath, all the rest of that. Yoga, asanas, all the rest of that kind of stuff. I was thinking whether for a person, maybe, when we are trying to find our own kind of way, or maybe when we're directing people, finally, to give them a kind of variety. Exactly. The different experiences. Because if you don't experience it, you don't really know what it is all about. And you don't know if it fits you. Or maybe when it fits you at this particular time. And if you open up these other areas for another person, they can maybe discover for themselves which is more true to their real inner selves, their intuition. That's right. But the thing, the problem with me is this. It's so vast, you know. There's so many. There's so many. There's so many books written. Yeah.


But one of the nicer handbooks on something like this is Father Damonte De Rolo's Sadhana, where he gives you so many varieties that you can try it out. Yeah. The same thing goes for the Eastern Christian edition, the Jesus Prayer and all those other kinds of things, you know. So I was wondering what your recommendation would be about how to, in a practical sense, go at that, and getting enough experience so that you can discern. Maybe it's possible to, on the basis of our own human structure, to oil these things down into at least a few dimensions and directions. Pardon me if I use this old diagram again. There's a fellow who wrote a book called The Psychology of Meditation that probably some of you have heard of. There were two collaborators, Ornstein and Naranda, who's, I think, a Chilean psychologist. Naranda wrote this book. And he was thinking three kinds of meditation. And so he's going to try it. On the one side, we have what we call the way of form. We call it the Apollonian way. So this would be meditation on, let us say,


the gospel, or a crucifix, or an icon, something like that, in form. Over here, he put what he called the Dionysian way, or, I call it the way of movement, not sense. I suppose superdome would be a good example of this. But what's the truest is the charismatic one, which is broad, that ways of movement go back into our own experience, particularly prayer and talk, which is like pure movement without sense. The glossolalia, which is like liberating this, whatever faculty of the soul it is, of the soul itself, which is movement in ourselves, without passing through the rational filter. Or dance, or something like that. Or simply vigorous prayer of the heart. What Cashen talks about is the prayer of fire, the prayer of emotion, when your feelings are really out, when you're really talking to God, even if you don't have the words for it. When St. Paul talks about the spirit praying in us with unutterable wellness, remember, in ways that we don't understand


the spirit is praying in us. That's over here. And others were getting a sanitarium pattern behind this again. And here he talks about it another way, which is the way of emptying. And then there's typically what is here. Now, here we have a kind of sanitarium pattern where a father, once again, who are absolutely invisible and uncomfortable without the word and the spirit, right? Now, pardon me if I put in a fourth way, which will be down here. And then in a fourth way, which is simply action, which is activity, which is, people say, my work is my prayer. Well, they're right and they're wrong, because if that's the only prayer they've got, then it's probably not that prayer then either. But activity is prayer. Activity which is done in the service of God. Activity which is done with a dedication to God, with a virtual intention of serving God. Activity which is done with grace within it. Activity which is a product


of the manifestation of grace is prayer, right? What is prayer, of course? It's just faith that's come alive, right? Prayer is faith which has become conscious and active. Faith which has, as it were, become deliberate. Prayer is faith which has become active, which has become a pure activity in which this may be manifested in any of these ways. And also, in the ways of activity in the world. And the next time I want to say this. So, I say we have these four dimensions of prayer. This corresponds to our incarnate being in the world. And that apophatic dimension corresponds to the word to be the product and the movement of God's spirit source. And then, prayer which is connected with images and with words, typically, we have a religion of the New Testament, of the scriptures, of the words. And the incarnate Christ who is a kind of image for us all the time, even when we're not thinking of him as an image of God. And then the way of movement. Now, we've been too much out of touch, I think, with the way of movement and the apophatic way. And so, the contact with the East and the charismatic movement bring those two back


into our into our horizons. Yeah, he well, he says here, and I'm saying this because you mentioned crisis. Yes. This is one of the churches. I kind of think, personally, that this is a crisis in America. I don't say that other societies are not suffering the same crisis. But I think it's it's it's very tense within America. He says, he says, an understanding of our God connection is shaping everything in human life to revolutionize our religiousness and adrenaline through the world. It would, for instance, illuminate the darkest, most problematic, the most emotional latent area in contemporary Christian mind. The connection between Christian faith and political involvement, because I would see this as a major problem in America that would be


divided by Maryknoll's political involvement. And what does, you know, this God connection, this unit of this have to say to us, you know, in attempt to at least get some healing of this, to me, enormous breach. Yes. Is it the breach between, let us say, people in the congregation who would wish to become fully involved politically and people who think that that's not part of Maryknoll's concern or not part of the mission of the religion? That would be one. For instance, the Pope wants priests to say out politics, okay? And yet it's all right for them to preach the political exigencies of the gospel, right? But they're not to become senators or ministers or anything like that, okay? So one division lies there. I think this unity thing will come up in two ways here. First of all, in the community. Anything that causes division within the community becomes suspect, doesn't it, in this issue particularly. On the other hand, what is this political action in the


interest of, according to the requirements of the gospel, in the interest of unity, in the interest of the unity of humanity? And the two, as it were, have to be balanced against one another. The larger scene and concern of unity and the more immediate scene and concern of unity, okay? Now, there are all kinds of, I would say, discretion and prudence and guidance of the Holy Spirit in kind of walking the road between those two concerns. But I would say that the concern of the gospel does reach fully into politics, okay? There's no denying, there's no turning our eyes away anymore from the political exigencies of the gospel. Especially if you look at a place like Central America, where Christianity has been able, in the South America, even though I don't know that much about it, but has been able for centuries to support the oppressive interests and to take their structures right within the church, so that the bishop would be arm-in-arm with the rich land of honor and both of them would sort of be walking over the bodies of the poor. And now that's broken, now that's changed, and the church comes alive. And what a


revolution that is. And Christianity finds itself and feels the spirit stirring within it once again. That's an exciting thing. But we've got our limitations, and the church does and the communities do, in how fast we can move along that line. And also the real question of how far can the religious really be involved in that scene? Can he carry a gun? Can he be a guerrilla? That's the furthest extreme. Can he be a political organizer or take a political office? I wouldn't venture to answer many of those questions. Some of them are a little obvious, the extreme ones maybe, but there's a spectrum there where it's very difficult to answer the particular ones. Within the total vision, though, if we know which way to face, you know, then we can kind of pray our way and work our way through it, through the questions. The important thing is to know which way to point ourselves in. In the daily life of a person in Michigan, or for anyone for that matter, what is it that you suggest that keeps that clarity and


vision? You know, is there something that must happen in the daily or something on the spiritual level? How does one keep the vision? Well, I can't speak from the experience of having been in exactly that position. And certainly there are things that are not new that help. And one of them is just having some time aside where we can get away from the surface level with all of its demand, you know. It's sort of at you all the time, I imagine, in many of those situations. And if you let yourself go entirely in response to the demands that are there, it will devour you. It won't leave the scrap. And so there's no time, no space for getting back to that point of depth once again by meditation, by reflection, and also by reading. Because, see, in a contemporary scene like ours, there's a lot of insight, there's a lot of light being given on these connections and on how to get these things into perspective by what people write, which could be very useful to us in bringing our own experience


in these encounters out there right into the context of ultimate guidance and clarity. Some of your liberation theologians, for instance, are very good. One of the problems, though, that I found in directing people is that some forms of prayer are a dialogue with our own ego. And reading can be a greedy seeking of information. My own inclination is that some form of quiet prayer is essential because I see that as the only way that, for me, because I know there are other ways for other people, that we can at least attempt to exercise the power of the ego and be open to something other.


Right. I agree with you that that's certainly necessary. As you pointed out before, though, you can meditate in quiet and then get up and find that your vision of your sister is unchanged and that the way that you see the world is unchanged. And I've seen people go along in quiet meditation for years and nothing happened to them because that can be a kind of, what do you call it, psychological refrigerator into which we put ourselves, our psyche, and it isolates us enough and gives us a kind of secure shrine there, but gradually it can even turn depressive in there because it isn't hooking up with the rest of our life. There's something which you see in certain personalities, you know, the prophetic type who comes along and suddenly everything has to stand up and question itself. There are certain people that I see, we had one for our retreat master a couple of weeks ago, who have a kind of conscience which is always turned on and which is always insisting on bringing all of life into clarity and coherence. Okay? Now, the ultimate recommendation there is not something that


we do but something that we become, something that we be, which is a being that is awake in that way, so that life doesn't get away from us, so that what we do is not detached from what we think and so on, okay? And the core of that reflection, of course, the core of that clarity is the light of the gospel itself. It is the light of the It is what Jesus says and what Jesus is in the gospel. If we keep going back to that, but that light is inside of us so it becomes an instinct which decides things very quickly if we allow it to be turned on. Yes? I'm sorry, did you have something? No, I was finished. I just want to grab ahold of that light of the gospel and I don't know where exactly this fits in and it's a question that comes to my mind. You know, what's happening in the church today is revolutionary and so forth. It's greatly due to what's happening in scripture and interpretation of scripture. I mean, in my own life, I'm sure. It's just been fantastic what's happened there, you know, I mean, exegesis and so


forth. I don't mean just scholarly. Yes. But the question that constantly comes to my mind when people say a scripture says this, a scripture says that, so you're looking for the truth in these scriptures. Well, it's not the truth. Jesus' words. It's not Jesus' words. I mean, all of that, and the problem that comes, what happened historically, culturally, you know, from when they were originally put together, the gospel, and our, you know, pre Fashion 2, and all the Protestants have been working on it before in the last century and so forth, to our interpretation previously of scripture, and we can get a life of Christ out of it. These are his words. He said this. Because we knew scripture so much, you know, back to scripture, back to scripture. And, you know, you can have people who know scripture by memory, and at least from my point of view, they seem to be way off from what Jesus was saying, what the scripture message is. So that scripture


business is very important to me. And I just wonder, you know, we even hear Augustine in the 5th, 6th century, and there was even the councils and everything, speaking like we spoke on scripture. So what happened from, you know, the original, metaphorical, the mythologization of scripture, that we seem to be getting back to and say, this is, you know, really the Christian communities and so forth. Where was that lost? They've got a whole bunch of stages in there, okay? And different things get lost at different points. Two things that I will mention that get lost. One is the unity of the word, okay? Because the Father's red scripture is one word. And that word was Christ. And so everything was read in the light of that central reality which found it altogether. They took John's prologue very literally. And so Jesus is the word made flesh. And that light would then come back and interpret everything else in the scripture, okay? Now that unity has been lost almost completely today. So the scripture becomes a kind of heap of parts, a fragment, most of which


are questionable. So instead of having a certainty with which to go, well, did he say this or didn't he say it? Is this true? Did the community put this in? Did Matthew put this in? Is this Paul's idea? And so on, okay? Because the unity has been lost and it's no longer possible, no matter how you feel the whole thing pulsing as one, to feel every part of it reverberating with a central light, a central truth. And of course, not everything in scripture has the same importance. Not everything in scripture is important. Some things are trivial. The other thing that gets lost, and is not the same as this first thing, is the integrity of interpretation of scripture on a human level. Realism, the realism of the gospel, which wipes away every kind of egoistic fantasy and so on, and all of the tricks, and all of the casuistry of the Pharisees and so on. Jesus cuts through it all like a knife, you know, and he says, well, you help that stranger. Simply do the good that's right in front of you, okay? That's the other thing that gets lost, this realism. One is the unity of the work, kind


of the transcendent center, which is the logos, and which contains in some way the whole scripture. And the other is this incarnate dimension, this historical dimension of the realism of Jesus, who cuts through all the nonsense. Another Saint Francis, or the Mother Teresa, okay? And for them, one word of the gospel, out of that one word comes a logic, which immediately decides for them, and tells them what to do. And sort of settles all the questions by bypassing them and doing, and doing. Those two things get forgotten. And one has been lost in all of our rationalism, and in stepping away and substituting theology for scripture. For instance, Thomas Aquinas, as great as he was, he just cast a great shadow on the Church because his theology replaced immediate contact with the scriptures for centuries in the Catholic Church. To find out what Catholicism was, you went back to Aquinas rather than going back to scripture, going back to the New Testament, okay? Consequently, we get off the center of the word, of the logos, and seeing the word all as one, and somehow we may well move back and forth


within its unity. Then the other thing gets lost as soon as we get rich, as soon as we get well off, okay? And as soon as the structures of the Church begin to over-mediate the immediate truth of the scripture, of the gospel, and as soon as it becomes much more prudent, much more comfortable for the Church to interpret the scripture in a way which reinforces its own structure, and so on, okay? And, therefore, the scripture begins to be interpreted just as a continual reinforcement of the static form of the Church, okay? And its immediate person-to-person dynamism is lost, and its cutting edge as far as poverty and as far as oppression, and those things are lost. So we've got to get them both back. Along the line, and also something you talked about, the psychological refrigeration, you said to certain people in prayer, I find that often


people, they come to prayer, they come to prayer as a kind of a cop-out for facing certain social implications, but we have, in modern times, I think, people like Dorothy Gay and Catherine Duhigg, and maybe Thomas Pearson, who got involved in later, who were insightful. They were both great mystics, and yet they were totally involved. That's right. And that's one of the gifts of our contemporary Western world, I think, is the ability to bring those two together consciously. To be both deeply contemplative, and at the same time, not to be running away, but really to find in one's experience of God the energy and the light to move forward into the practical scene, and to simply live the gospel. For some people, I think in the old days that wasn't such a problem, it was kind of instinctive, but it's as if we have to put it back together again. We've been so split in our tradition. Do you


have any ideas about the very old and big sore complementarity? No, I think the complementarity is in a way that we experience it. It becomes obvious for us when we talk about these things, the way in which two points of view reinforce one another. Especially, let us say, the attempt to live the monastic tradition, which goes back to the undivided church, and then all of these encounters that we're having today with the Far East and Central and South America, and the other ones of you Maryknoll people are so aware of, okay, that the bringing together of those two in some way brings us to the point at which the church takes on a new life, at which we really find something happening, at which the spirit is really acting in our time. Yes? It was just an impression we had from far before. It


wasn't like the profound religious society that we have And somehow they always seem to get around the structure, and they somehow change the structure before the Lord came. Do you know what I mean? Yes, I do. And it's not a few bits. And that's an impression I had when we were talking about fact that the church will never commit to equalization in the clerical society. Equalization of men and women, for instance? Yes. Or laity and clerics. Oh, I see, yeah. Never. Not always. Right. So we're going to have to break up a lot about cunning. We're going to create one thing that will hold for us. Yeah. I think, in a sense,


cunning is one of the traits of women in the Old Testament. It's one of the traits of society. Most of the Old Testament women are quite sneaky. They have to be cunning, because all the power is on the other side. Yeah. No, I think you're right. Yeah. I think you're right. There are charisms which anticipate the official moves of the Church, and they're right to do so. That's their gift. But they do it without ever abandoning those structures, or rejecting them, or defying them. Is there another word? Call it cunning. good. Maybe the best way to do would be if people have got questions that sort of they came with, or suggestions, or comments, whatever, then we begin to start with those. And then we simply allow the discussion to be free-flowing from there. And so


someone has to have nerve to start first. I said there was a book published recently, How to Live the Time After a Retreat, and it made the point that the retreat is this high, mountain-top experience, where you just go down, and you're back in the grunge, in the pits. And so it's trying to mediate that, and I think that's now the key, what happens now from now on, for all of us. And one of the Eastern questions I find helpful is, what are your practices? Very concretely, I think all of us share this common ground. We're aspiring to prayer, to a deeper prayer. And so the basic thing is, now, very concretely, how do we tend to so discipline that? And four practices I would suggest that might take all kinds of different names or


whatever, but it seems to me, they do obtain, and they are very necessary components, whether it's in Latin America or Japan or the South Bronx or whatever. And one is what in the West is often called exios, some kind of ongoing spiritual reading. You're not asking for this, it would be hours every day, but the thought of what we do need to nurture in an ongoing way through reading hopefully also some of the classics in contemplative prayer. And then the other would be liturgical prayer. That should really be a central contemplative mysterious moment, which for us is Eucharist and also office. I don't know exactly how that works when you're off in the jungle or something, but liturgy as a culminating moment, I think there we want to be loyal to that. And then the third is what's sometimes liturgical is practice in the presence of God, but in any moment, in any situation to be open


to the surprise of God's being there when they're brushing teeth or putting on their shoes or whatever. And there's all kinds of tools for that. And then the final is this intense direct moment when you go to the inner chamber and close the door and unplug the phone and at least allow some space of time every day to that. And I think that would be a real package that would enable something like this and then somehow encourage this hopefully here for all the brethren and perhaps for Mary and all the brethren, all the brothers and sisters as a way so that it's not just lovely categories but it's the experience and practice which is the heart of my being. Thank you. Excuse me, Robert. The last point, something like a space for quiet. That's what,


yeah. Would you say, I mean, given a matter in which, or just leave it there, a space for quiet, that everyone can find his way or something you might recommend. We're privileged here because in our cell there is a little chapel there. When I was in the Bronx, I studied pretty much just in the apartment, I tried to have at least a corner of my bedroom that was a sacred space and I think often the Latinos do this and the Indians etc. There's some area, we've got in our living quarters areas set aside for all kinds of things, eating and cleaning and why not an area that's just set aside for this. There might be your favorite icon in the candle or whatever it is. And it might be a particularly beloved place in the forest or in the park or something. But hopefully also when you dwell also there will be a corner that's set aside for this. Maybe I


shall make some of the things that I tried to formulate in answer to the questions that David raised. A lot of you raised them for us. Many of the things that I was going to answer were very similar to what Albert said so we can make it very brief. I took the first question, challenges relating action to reflection, I took that to be more personal, more personal questions, what should we do personally. And the second question, suggestions to where do we go from here, more institutional or more common. So for the first one, a challenge I would say maybe each of us should ask ourselves where do I set aside time every day. That seems necessary,


that just seems necessary very quickly. Where, how much time and when, very specifically because I think it would be much better to set aside three minutes before shaving or something like that or before I even get out of bed to set aside three minutes is better if you faithfully do it every day than to say I would like to do it an hour a day or two hours a day and not very specific when and where and how. Just something very specific and stick to it. But before you leave here I think it would be a good idea to set one something, a minimum for each of you. And the time and space, it would be good to say where. Remember I put so much emphasis on the defining monastic relationship to the space, to the monastery. Well, each one of us can set up that monastery for ourselves. That is


an icon, a candle, a corner, or a space outside often for us. This tree I would throw under the street or something like that. Or really in bed before I get up, a minute before I get up and I really take this day and put it in a place, and really a place in which things are conducive to that inner vision. And then in that place, adjust things at that time for your own needs. So, fix it, but fix it that one side and for my own needs, that's the other thing. That it is really conducive to my personal needs, that it nourishes my personal needs, spiritual needs, intricate needs, the latter this time. And


that includes the reading. Yes, Bible reading has a high place, but I have known more stretches in my life where Bible reading was not nourishing. And if it is nourishing, it is counterproductive. If something else is more nourishing, I have to have the honesty to say yes, I know that objective Bible reading is better, but right now, for me, it doesn't work. If it doesn't work, read something else, whatever is really nourishing. I don't mean the newspapers can be nourishing if you turn it in this way, that you reflect on putting this prayerfully now before God. There is this disaster, there is this problem, and so forth. But whatever nourishes your mind, that's in general. And then for a moment by moment, presence of God, gratefulness, and I have already indicated that it is something that


I think anybody can practice and that I would encourage attention. Moment by moment, if you gratefully hold myself to the moment, that can help. That's with regard to the first one. That was the most extensive. The second one can be very brief, suggestions for whether we go from here. I would suggest that somehow you consider the possibility in some official document, whether you now formulate it or whether it will anyway be formulated, you just sneak that in, but there should be somewhere a sentence, it's just a challenge, that brings it home to every mayor in order, that is not a question of can we fulfill our mission as efficiently as we want to if we also set aside time for


reflection, but rather bringing this word contemplative somewhere, we cannot do, if you're convinced of that, and I am, we cannot do, we cannot fulfill our mission as we should unless we make it contemplative, unless we understand that our life has to be in this full and traditional sense contemplative, and somehow you sneak that in in some official statement that is very important, and then with regard to raising questions we should be asking, I would like to raise, move with Grace's question, what would have happened to Mary Lloyd if at that early stage our founders had dialogue about contemplation and about action and vision and doing and so forth, and there comes a time, I think, in every institution and every


community, when one sort of runs out of steam and has to go back to the sources and re- take up something that at that time wasn't sufficient to develop, and it seems to me that Grace's question is pointed to that, to that question that we have to go back to. And then the last one suggested reading with you is, I mentioned already, one that Maslow, I think Maslow is a very important thing for us to read and it's an objective, and so I brought a book by Maslow here, and I put these books here on the table for you to look at. It is not, as you might expect, peak experiences and whatever the title of that book is, peak experiences in religion, but it is towards the psychology of being. And I have also some excerpts from other books here. And another book that seems important, other books


by Maslow, and another book that seems very important and I did not mention, is by James Fowler, Stages of Faith, because more and more it is necessary to understand our own faith development, just as Pierre Jay has outlined the intellectual development and the moral development, so now we have at least hints as to how to understand our religious development, our faith development, and that is very important in our time. And there's another book about that same subject, but different authors, faith development and Fowler, and I also put that out there. And then I have a list of books, because people always ask me, what are the ten most important books to give in their domain? And they are not for prayer nor is it not for humor and good company, but I thought it might be of interest to the general audience, so I put those out there. Then I lent


these books to David and Andy Dillard, and in one of them, this one, I recommend it very much in spiritual reading, but Teaching a Stone to Talk, there's the first chapter in the book living like people, and that fits so very, it's just a tradition and it fits so very well into what we've been discussing here, but I recommend you take a look at it. I came here with Hidden together, and what it was was to try to connect where do we need to do mission with the contemplative life. I had a start, so this is a kind of a book that I wrote. It's called


Spirituality and Justice by Donal Dorr, and all I want to do is briefly give you an idea of what he's talking about, and maybe try to make some connection as to what we've already talked about. He starts off with a very simple quotation from Mika. He says to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your daughter. And Donal Dorr says there's no spirituality without all three. And his critique would be that we were pretty good at two. Walking humbly with our God, and loving tenderly with our friends. We weren't so good at working for justice because


we assumed justice stopped with our friends and our family and our community. This is his critique, say, of our ecclesiology, of our political position. So what Merrill has been doing, I think has been working for justice, and I tried to find some analogy or some image that would help me and I really didn't get much of one except for a jug. You've got these three balls and it's pretty easy to juggle them, they're all the same size. There's something interesting about it. know, I've done Merrill juggling, but if they're the same size, it's not difficult, you can still weigh them. When one is smaller than the other, try to juggle them. It's really tough, you know. So I was impressed by this man, you know, in the sense of his holistic approach to spirituality, his lifestyle,


value. So how did this organize, you know, our life? So like Merrill, I come by the same means, you know. I've been more concerned with internal justice within Merrill in my life than I have external justice outside. Probably because being a brother, I suffer a bit from being a brother. And I recognize that I have not gone beyond that. And what I know is that when any one of us is impoverished, it impoverishes the other. So if we neglect social justice, I want to make a distinction. To love Tenderly for the spirit of grace helps a lot, you know. She loves Tenderly. You know, that's a gift. And I want to thank you for that. And that's wonderful when you can do that, you know. It


expands the friends and families and communities, but it's got to go beyond that. We have to look at the structures of society. That's what Meeker is talking about. That's what Donnell is talking about. Justice cannot stay at home. It has to look at structure. We create the structure. Only we can change it. So what I came to find out was that I was very weak in walking home with my daughter. And so therefore I recognized the real need to bring contemplation into my life. So I come here as a learner. At the same time, you can't have a relationship without mutuality. So what I try to give to the contemplative community, and I see it here already, you know, a concern for justice. And to


me that's very important. So we feed one another. And it's really the essence of friendship. You know, what I lack, you give me. And again, it's a matter of degrees, because the fault is sometimes in this kind of job. And so that we need growth in all three areas. And again, the analogy lives, but they all... You know, that's all I can do. I too came with a kind of hidden agenda. It's different from math, because it maybe comes out of different contexts. Mine was working in the Orient and in Japan, which is a very dynamic nation now. My agenda was how does contemplation act as a weapon for the world cultures, and I'm


speaking specifically as one who's been in the Oriental cultures and Oriental religions, and also the dynamic nation which Japan has become in the last about 40 years or so. And it's compounded insight. I've worked there 39 years, and as someone said, we've tried everything but skywriting in evangelization, and maybe somebody else tried it, I don't know. It goes from something like, it's my own kind of personal story from a missionary parish work for many years, and then afterwards a diocesan catechetical center, and then through kind of force of circumstance because of my illness, I was able to get into what you might call a kind of prayer house situation full time, and using it simply as a means of evangelization, contemplative prayer.


And I've watched this for the past five years, how this has grown, and how many people who have been stressed out, you might say, by the sacrifice that the Japanese, especially the Japanese male, has had to make for this economic miracle, what's happening, and how they need to get away from that, and to be, what do you call it, find themselves again. It's not only with the Japanese male, but the rest of it. So having seen this, it's something that matches. That is going along kind of nicely, I think, in the area. But to make them to transfer from that, where this person, who having then gone down to the deep, will then become prophetic, and then go out and do something about what I call the human structure of Japanese society, that's another bag. And I had hoped there might


be some kind of hints and things along that line that I would pick up here. And I think what I did pick up was that unless a person is true to one's own, if you can help a person to get in touch with a mystical life, which everyone has, and that was brought up by several speakers, it all starts with humanity, you can start there with that, and then you can help them find that and nourish that, then unless that mystical instinct, you want to call it, is expressed some way, do it. Not only in your environment, as Matt says, outside, it might be just relatively maybe immature, and maybe to some extent false. The other day Dave was mentioning the two


forms of contemporary life, monastic and apostolic. And I thought maybe the monastic was me, then you have vision and action. So the monastic I found may be more towards envisioning and the apostolic direction, but neither one is excluded. I think within Mary Earl what I've been struggling with, you know, responsibility is how to get us into a contemplative mode, that we reflect on the action, really reflect on it, and say, okay, now, because these new experiences will be part of us. We get locked in, as you said, we get locked into old ways and we need renewal. And what you said this morning, as I was mentioning, is a good way to keep in that contemplative mode, but we have to connect that up with the action that's impending, impacting on Mary Earl constantly, concrete action. And sometimes in the concrete we miss the perspective and that's where the


expression Mary Earl sometime passed with theological reflection. And that was, I thought, the attempt. It's not grounded into our lifestyle yet, but it's the passion, look at the action, the theological division, and then the reflection of the process the that's happening within the world. So I'm still looking for that within Mary Earl, that we really convince her like you said you're not going to do this unless you start to do this better. You must get into which is certainly a form of contemplation, and be a better servant of Christ in the world. So that's what I feel like has now is to convince, continue to convince me with this seed group here, to continue to convince me that they must get into this movement. Well, there's so much contentment, but I'm correctly using the word contentment here. And I tried, from a contemporary point of view and usage, to revitalize it,


and by the end of it, I showed how traditional that concept is, and much more traditional than our present notion of contemplation, which then you have to match with action. Well, the action is a way to think of contemplation. There's no need to mention action when you speak of contemplation. But the problem is that you have to slip against the grain of usage of the word. Well, in our last chapter doctrine, when we talked about... This is a statement of contemplation that Dave sent out, and it said, we wish to eliminate any lingering dichotomy between contemplation and the act of life. Because I think contemplation is seen, when John Moran brought it up at the chapter, he couldn't grab hold of it. It was like, well, you're going to go into a cloister. And we kind of rejected that. We're trying to bring it back together again. I wonder if it would be right, George, to respond to it, just to say something that is kind of connoisseur of what Dave and Robert said,


and what George is saying now, that somehow the way we use it is actually the time given to prepare for contemplation, especially in reading, one consciously tries to choose something that changes one's temper. It seems to be that all of us who are too busy at the moment, whether it's you or I, really have consciously changed temper enough to be able to see something at all, even when reading a book. So many modern books seem to be so unsuitable at this point, that we would have to read pages and pages, or again and again. But if you change your temper, this requires that there's got to be a very good thing to take, I agree entirely with Dave, it doesn't look like the scripture. Most people probably wouldn't have to do this. Anything which you take to a place in which you're not able to see anything, it doesn't matter what it is really. The human being properly sees it, apart from that point, I think. I was thinking while Robert was talking, what one needs is, in order to feel concerned about justice, which is adequate enough, you have to be able to empathise with this situation.


You can't get to that point unless you give yourself a certain new taste, so that you can actually look at it. There's a little trick to this change of taste, which some of you might find helpful, and it is to look at pictures. There are these marvellous picture books around nowadays, which no other generation in the world has had, these marvellous pictures, and we are so greedy anyway, that if we now start living with birds all day, we stay in the same temple. But if it was up to us to look at a picture, it doesn't work for everybody, but for some people it does wonders, you know. Some people actually have to eat, basically, looking at a picture. They have to eat. I know someone else who is very much a head person, and he has to get out of that, and for him it's some yogic form to get into the body, and this would also relate to any presence in the youth,


but to do a prayer, it might be a praying with a breathing, or it might be a praying with just some basic yogic positions, but that can also be a way of just getting out of constant shuffling. You know, the contemplation and action concept, how you bring it together, I feel like, you know, I don't think there is any difficulty in intellectually accepting that out of anybody. You know, in the active life, or the contemplative life, I mean, motherhood, you know, who's against that, and the need for it. In every book you read, it tells you the same thing, you've got it from Adam Smith in the first day. The difficulty comes from the practice of that, and how do you bring that into the daily life, I mean, for me, I think for most people, and bring it in, not in a mechanical way,


but somehow, there's a question of a desired habit in your own being after you've developed, whereby you not only do it because it's the thing to do, but you really desire it, you like to read spiritual reading books, certain types of just teaching. So, how do you get that habit developed in yourself, where, you know, this reflection on God's presence and love, the here and now action of what you're doing, where you are, who you are, things like that, so it becomes a, I need this, you know, I need this virtue, it has to become a desirable thing, not because it's necessary in order to get something done well. And one of the things that's helped me, it hasn't developed, but it seemed to me a lot, is the practical and sacramental presence in the daily life, somehow or other, seeing God and things that happen to you,


and what you're going through, at least for a moment, in a sacramental way, has been helpful in developing slowly, but, so I look forward to, it becomes a desired virtue, you know, in that practical mode of, oh, I have to think of God now because I want those two things together, or I want to think of God. It seems a lot like motherfulness and penitence, whether or not it's good. You're the best mother to hear it, because it isn't just motherfulness or penitence, it's the same love, it's the same reason. You can't get this right. If you add on some other reason, if you're doing it because you have to do it for the work, it won't be good enough, because you just want it for itself. It does live by itself. If you love someone, you love them. That's the beginning and the end. We must learn how to do that. A certain problem that I have when you talk about contemplation and how to use it for evangelization, one of my fears is, if there's any area that is really


for itself, or an end in itself, it is this. So, you know, then how to apply it, etc. We're very pragmatic, and we want to know the use of it, and I think we need to motivate ourselves. But I think there will be an ultimate dimension that hopefully we won't use, and hopefully it won't be applicable, and it won't be so practical. And then that might be the most practical of all, paradoxically. But I hope that a primary motive wouldn't be we get something out of it, or it's an effective means of skywriting a message or something. Because then, I think we're not there yet. It still needs us. Actually, because I think this is also what spoils the mission, because it seems to me that what everybody notices is that when things flow out, you don't have to talk about them. People take for granted it. If you're kind to people, they expect it every time. It's just something they take for granted. But slowly it changes, and if you talk to them about it, it doesn't work. Questioner 2 I just had a thought which might tie in some things together,


and it would have to do with our contemplation and so they were talking of belonging, or that sense of relationship, and it might become something that's still there too, in that there does have to be some kind of inner appeal that draws us on, and not just this categorical thing that we have expressed in the past. And I wanted to set up along the lines of what Bill was saying. If a lot of the things that you're looking for aren't already within the marital community, that the men have already, that the pre-fathers and sisters have already had deep experience within their lives and within the cultures as they've been, and they've formed relationships, and they have sensed their belonging.


So within their being, within their self, is this experience, and they want to talk about it, but usually the environment in which we find ourselves in community is one in which we are inhibited and intimidated oftentimes, or we don't feel we will be fully understood. And so the richness of the personnel is not being expressed as it actually is. And so I wondered to myself, if a lot of the key to this isn't that mode of listening to one another, which will bring out the maturity that Mary Null has arrived at. It's not expressed yet. We're starting to recognize our own maturity. And then the same thing that happened,


what I was saying the other day with the fathers, it's like we cut one another off. So as far as I can see, it's like a lot of the channels of this contemplative, of being attracted to the contemplative mode, are being cut off by our mode of listening, and it's too limited. So I think maybe we're in the water and we're thirsting to that. And just to find ways to tap through human relationship and openness to one another, to tap into a more contemplative mode and a more human mode. When George was talking about contemplation as not an end in itself, but as leading to something else, it struck me that if that is true of contemplation,


then it must also be true of our apostolic life, that there must be something that contemplation and the apostolic life are pointing to beyond themselves, and that is what we should try to identify. As Brother Robert says, contemplation is an end in itself. And one way I try to encourage people to get into contemplative prayer is to say, be content to waste the time. Twenty minutes, a half hour, a day. Just waste that time. Maybe what we also have to do, if that's true, we have to be willing to waste time in our apostolates. And I think maybe that's what we have not been able to do. When Jesus says, if they don't listen to you, it's not that they'll stop and go someplace else. We don't have to be successful. And maybe we can just learn to accept that, and then both the listening to the Word in contemplation and the expression of the Word in our doing justice


in love and truth, maybe they're both just wastes of time. I think one of the problems is that we do, we get our identity from our work. That's what I assume we can do. We are, if we are successful, we are doing what we're supposed to do, and we're marrying the Word, doing the work. And I think that's the word is doing. And I think there's a fear, and you were mentioning being uncomfortable with just the sitting, and let's say the spending quality time. And I think there's a fear, because some people may call it contemplative prayer, some people just put the wall up, we're not supposed to be doing that, and I think that goes hand in hand with PTR,


Pastoral Theological Reflection. People fear the term. I think we naturally do it, but I think there's a fear when it's mentioned. Contemplative, Pastoral Theological Reflection. And you might be not going to be careful of throwing on some of this, because I'm hearing you, but I would say that's just confusing. So I would not, maybe not use contemplative. It's almost impossible to get you to correct it. For me, it's just the first commandment, to challenge up Jesus, you know, to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, whatever that is, that's the first, so you're not doing that for something else. So one of the ways to motivate ourselves to do this, I kind of use the very lowest motivations, things like the Benson argument, well, it'll be better for my nervous system. But then I also use the I have to go to, because Jesus tells us, and so there's this happy obligation for without, but one of the ways, again, I find to get into this


is just this first obligation that Jesus lays on us, and then the second flows out of this, and these sum up all the laws and prophets, whereas I think we have all kinds of other laws we've laid on ourselves, and certainly the American Achievement Law and Success Law, and all that business. That problem of success and birth and domination and achievement and all that business, that can be talked about in two words that are not yet everything we've laid into questions. And the purpose and meaning, we've been so purpose-oriented, but we all know, to reflect on it for a moment, that purpose is not necessarily meaningful. We can extend ourselves more than purpose is, and then we wake up and say, well, what's the meaning of it all? And meaning is that which in which you can find the rest, which you cannot find the rest.


And so, if you speak about putting together purpose and meaning, allowing yourself to look for meaning, not only for purpose, then you have the whole idea of concentration there, and you're not talking about, you're not using the word concentration. To come back to some of the other things we started with when we were talking the other night, it's really allowing yourself time to live, isn't it? Right? Allowing yourself time to live. Yeah, it's really allowing yourself, regardless of generosity, just to be alive. And who wants to meet anybody if they're not alive? I was thinking, what I was going to talk to you about is the need to pray, you know, or practice contemplative prayer, my own subject, because it makes me happy. You know, that's why I do it. I feel more human, more whole. And it helps to change my perception. And I think any group will only be


what, collectively, what its individual members are. So, part of this that I see that's happening like, we're going to talk directly about the marital context, is what I see when we live this group and we pass our, I think a lot of us have gone through an identity crisis, we're coming out of that, we're reaching an adult stage of development. And I had, I think, Bruno could do this much better than I could, but it's just a thought that hasn't cleared up yet. Eric, in Stages of Development, talks about when you confront death, you have the things that have to be confronted are between despair and hope. Hope and despair. And then, out of that,


you know, contemplation emerges wisdom. But, I think that the death mystery is pertinent to what we're talking about, not just as individuals, or our own end time of death, but the dying to our ego, and the dying to the ego that is part of the adult stage of development that must happen to us beside it. All these illusions and the things that we're talking about today mean that in some way we're holding on to not what we're intuiting coming from that word spoken in us that is love, but in order to die to that. So that when we refuse to die,


and that's what we're saving from in Jesus, that's where the extermination comes. And that's where the lack of life comes. It's a death denial that continually goes on in our life or in the life of society. And I think until society and individuals really look hard at the places that we're protecting and holding on to, those who should be facing them and facing the death that that requires might mean the death of a good name, might mean the death of an image, then neither myself nor the group itself will be touched by that in itself, that deepest self that is contemplation. What we have to do to do it then like what do I have to do to die to myself? When I pray in the morning then and in the evening, that half hour of my kind of


then-type of mantra-like prayer is an exercise that I think is intrinsic to life because it is my way of turning completely to the divine other and desiring to hear a voice other than my own ego. And so what is it that we have to discern or present in a variety of ways that we have to present that will help us to do that and to get in touch with the deepest self so that the deepest self, the body that it is bearing on, emerges. And then we have to talk about how to do it and what to do with it because the vision you know and the perception, because the perception, I'd just like to make a point here we've got about ten minutes left just so that we know how much time we have and Bruno, I don't want to put you on the spot but you haven't spoken


so you can certainly pass it over if you want. I thought I'd very much say because so many things have been said on the practical level. What Grace and what I've mentioned both lead me in a certain direction which is I think that sometimes our problems are because we don't have the confidence in what we have we don't have the confidence in our own experience. Now this may be true as far as the experience of other cultures the experience of missionary life but I think it's also true as far as contemplation is concerned because a couple of things I think there's a lot of contemplation that if we, it's just it's like the inside of our life it's like the, what do you call it, the lining of our consciousness in a sense the lining of our experience and also the lining of our activity and if we only had the self-confidence to stop and accept it for what it is we would find the presence of God but also regular wisdom inside of ourselves inside of the things that we're doing inside of the steps forward in a sense I think


another part who said before the problem of having to have an exercise which I do and if I'm not being motivated not finding the love today in my heart what good is it if I have to do it like another another obligatory thing in my life the thing about contemplation, we can think of it as the discovery of our self it's like snapping back to ground after we have that license to do something else in other words it turns over it revolutionizes itself and you find that that's where the motivation is you can almost call a movement towards contemplation the search for your deepest brain of desire in a sense where they always have been saying love is its own justification so inside everything there is that and inside everything we discover ourselves as a new person not in an egocentric way but ourselves in the open sense so I think that turns over because then there isn't so much on the way we think of things we can have a vision which is against that stuff


a more competitive culture persuades us to do that very often to put ourselves in a disadvantaged position to put ourselves in a position of inferiority for somebody who doesn't have it and somebody else who's got it and we do, in all these words about contemplation but it's right there it's largely a matter of turning over our consciousness in the light of the gospel but also a certain conviction of the value of what has been given to us and what's already inside our experience inside our experience there's nothing to follow there but I don't have any more to say we Americans especially in the country where it's so challenging to consider that in some way we're villages and descendants of the real thing and we're always reaching for it even when we look at tradition because America started it so poorly by cutting the rope of tradition


but it's all inside our experience especially when we find ourselves lost culturally and theologically sort of cut loose in how to see the church in a way doesn't orient us anymore and so many familiar things have disappeared the ground has been shaken when our own western culture leaves us it's like the lacrosse of silence it's a great position for discovering the meaning of the gospel because in the faith that we with which we encounter poverty and all this life and all this contemplation something comes to mind you're saying this and I think throughout what you're saying Merton when he was talking about prayer in our days and a human cry and a human sad and a human sky and a human pride and