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One point that I want to make on the slide on the board is, there is a difference in Buddhism between what we mentioned as Great Doubt and also what's known as Skeptical Doubt, or Bodhicitta, which is one of the classic five uses to meditation, and is quite a bad habit in the mind. How I would characterize Skeptical Doubt is, I sometimes call it Corrosive Doubt. It's doubt basically that involves a sneer or a dismissal, a cynical response to the presentation of truth or Dharma, such that on hearing Dharma, one goes, Nah, bullshit, nah, okay, nah. That is Skeptical Doubt, and that does hamper our ability to practice, very simply. As I say, it's a bad habit of mine, and it is something that can be turned away from.


The crucial step in that instance would be noticing that it's happening, and noticing how one tends to feed that by simply allowing one's energy to continue to flow in that direction. And the antidote would be to stop that sneer as quickly as it arises. So this requires something of a sensitivity to one's own internal process, as we hear about in the traditions of the Desert Fathers. I'll hope to come back to, well, I'm going to say it now. As far as Great Doubt is concerned, Great Doubt is nothing more than another training or spiritual tool. It's often presented in the context of, as I talked about this morning, Kama Zen, or Kama Chan, the investigation of Zen stories by marshalling all of one's energies and funneling them into concentration on a kwato, or capping phrase, or word, such as mu.


From Oolong, great master Oolong's introduction to the koan mu, many of you will know these words. Arouse your entire body with its 360 bones and joints and its 84,000 pores of the skin. Summon up a spirit of Great Doubt and concentrate on this one word, mu! Carry it continuously, day and night. It will be just as if you had swallowed a red-hot iron ball which you cannot spit out even if you try. This is a locus classicus, I think it's called, the summoning of the Great Doubt, such that it turns one's entire life energy into a question. Who is chanting Buddha's name? Who is sitting? What is this body and mind? What is mu? This is a very deliberate and powerful way of training. There is, as I mentioned this morning, also something else called Shikantaza, which is


actually not all that different, but tends to be presented quite differently. Right now I want to acknowledge and thank Brother David for introducing me to the work of James Fowler, whose book, Stages of Faith, was new to me as of a few hours ago. It's very, very interesting. What I've read so far, although I have not yet digested the whole book, is something that struck me as true right from the first time I saw it, namely, faith in its adult sense is not belief in the unseen. It is an existential, if you will, alignment of the body and mind towards you don't know what. Whatever is maximal in the human heart and experience, that's it. Call it God, call it what you like. To say, I point my life at that no matter what, this is adult faith. And in my experience, this is something like also the experience of Shikantaza, or just


sitting. Sitting in utter stillness, aligning one's body and mind with things as they are, with allowing the gradients of that to come forth and leave its mark on our own body and mind. This is quite a moving and powerful experience to anyone who knows of it. And it's in fact the centerpiece or center practice of Dogen Zenji, the 13th century Zen master I mentioned already. I also think that it is in the same spirit as Paul's exhortation that we pray without ceasing. It is the prayer of the heart, which is ongoing. It is in fact, I would submit, our very nature. Human nature is prayer. Human nature is Satsang, is just sitting, is the sum total of all our life energy and


all its sweetness and unpredictability. Now, how to approach that in view of the constant assault of, well, demons or thoughts or doubts or what have you. I looked, as much as my skill allows, into a Greek dictionary and found some interesting things about ahapeya, which is, I guess, most usefully translated in our context as dispassion. But it can also mean, apparently, something like insensibility to suffering. There are two other Greek words. It's heahapeis, which means without suffering, unwilling to suffer, impatient, not having suffered, unharmed. This goes back to hehepate, meaning anything that befalls one, suffering, misfortune. This is an interesting echo of Buddhism's goal of the end of suffering. In any case, there are at least two approaches to the application, I guess, of ahapeya in


the Sanskrit. I think a fairly good analog would be vayanagya, or dispassion, from viprasvaga. One can approach it by means of the, we could say, the summary execution of thoughts, that is, chop their heads off. One can try to control one's thoughts, like lassoing a charging horse. But there is another approach, and that could be, one could simply abandon them as they arise, as soon as they are noticed as such. One can turn away from them and deny them our energy. That is, one could not be involved with them, allowing them to arise, endure, and pass away. This kind of stance of neither approaching nor running away is at the very heart, insofar as we can speak of the concrete practice of just sitting. There are a couple of points which I would like to make.


Specifically, it was refreshing to hear Blessed Anthony referred to as the Roshi. I just wanted to say that, to me, it has a slightly disagreeable odor, that word, in the United States, because it has come to be a kind of rank for some people. And I don't know that that reflects its widespread use in the East, although it is sometimes used that way. I am more comfortable thinking of it as simply a way of referring respectfully to older practitioners. Also, the phrase, singleness of thought, came up somewhere, and that really struck me as reminiscent of the undivided heart, which I mentioned this morning. Complete simplicity, that is to say, there is no room in our hearts anymore for holding back on our commitment to God, if you will. Lastly, just let me mention a story that I particularly love, which has to do with the ancestors in the Tsaotung line, Totsui Ching and Furong Daokai, who were teacher


and student, respectively. And the occasion of Furong's awakening involved an interview between student and teacher. And Furong came to the teacher with, I think, quite a sharp dilemma for him, and he asked Totsui, you know, the sayings and doings of the ancient Buddhas just seem like everyday tea and rice. Was there anything else they did to help people? And Totsui answers him, well, do the emperor's commands in his own realm depend on the ancient kings? You tell me. Furong opened his mouth to speak and was struck by Totsui's eye whisk. Totsui said, before you ever left home, you deserve a beating. At this point, Furong wakes up from his long sleep.


And without a word, he gets up and he walks from the room. And Totsui goes, excuse me. And Furong doesn't even slow down. And as he's about to disappear, Totsui says, have you reached the realm of no doubt? Furong simply covers his ears. Now, that is the gesture of the fulfillment of just seeing. This is the birth and death, finally, of great doubt. And from our point of view, our Tsao Tung point of view, it's a slightly different application and way of approaching doubt in our practice. And as I said before, it's not in conflict with great doubt, but it has a rather different aesthetic to it and is nonetheless just as compelling to those of us who practice this


way. So, I think that's all I have to say. I have one minute to spare. Don't forget Bodhi Dharmas, I don't know, which was mentioned this morning, as he said before, and Virupa Vihana. Please don't forget that. And I think that's it. Thank you. Thank you very much for the talk. Thank you. Maybe you would like to respond for three minutes to that, or perhaps three minutes in any case. Oh, well, I really can't respond because, as Thomas said, it's going to take me a little bit of time to digest it. But thank you very, very much. Thank you very much. I was reminded of my own study at Tassajara with Suzuki Roshi, and I was surprised to


hear Suzuki Roshi talk about faith. And he talked about faith in the context of doubt. I never expected a Buddhist teacher to talk about faith. And he said, doubt is fine. Doubt is fine. As long as your faith is a nose's length ahead of time. We are ready now for discussion. Yes, I have one problem. Whenever I try to remember a name, even of someone whom I have known for many years, when I try to remember it, it goes out of sight. So I will just point to you. And you are alert when I point. I would like to remember the sequence. And the other thing is that I noticed that some of our best discussions came about when, more or less by chance, a thread was being followed. If you like that idea, then maybe we could say that after we have raised our hands, if


somebody wants to say something just for a moment, very, very briefly, that is promised, to that particular thread of thought, you could raise both hands. Is that all right? Great. Okay, let's start. May I talk? Edwin, you know, covered a lot of the ground in terms of outlining doubts. There's another, there's an even greater doubt that comes up at the point of what's called avadhartika, irreversibility, before you get to irreversibility. The Avatamsaka Sutra, as it outlines the ten stages of the Bodhisattva's progress, the ten rounds, the ten stages, says that that avadhartika state arises between the seventh and the eighth round. And the sutra outlines this very well. What happens is your meditation gets so subtle that you come face to face with a time when,


as they say, dharmas no longer arise. You've been watching your mind produce these dharmas consistently, including all of, all of everything, including your own sixth sense organ, your mind is created by the mind, by all things, and you can't compute. There's a corollary system of the three kinds of patience, and that's the patience when dharmas no longer arise, which is the solution to the doubt, but the doubt is so strong that the only option is that you don't exist, because all your concepts that you're still handing on to that exalted level, there's only three more levels above that before equal enlightenment, before actually proper enlightenment and Buddha. So the Bodhisattva, the sutra goes on to say at that point, many people don't make it through that doubt, because you have to let go of absolutely your entire process. You have to die, essentially, everything that is logical, reasonable, rational, like, you


know, night, day, heaven, earth, et cetera. And at that point, if one can come up with a requirement of patience, it says in the sutra that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Kunti, at that point, if you've got the basic stuff, and they say, good man, good woman, don't quit, keep on going, don't forget your basic vows, the only way you get to that level is because vows to rescue living beings in the past, and so Arhats, or people with lesser vows, don't get there. It's like, they will get there later. And so the Buddhas come and exhort you to rely on the power and momentum of your past vows. And it gives an analogy, it says it's like someone who has a terrible vision, and in that vision and dream, they see themselves drowning. And through some tremendous effort pulled up from the depths of who knows where, they


pull themselves out of the stream and wake up. So there's analogy and metaphor together. And that's how it's spoken. So all these conditions have to be there. You have to have patience, you have to have made those vows, you have to have the stuff, whatever the stuff is, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas come and pull you across. At that point, you're irreversible. And you never, the afflictions basically stop. You still have to go to the ninth and the tenth stages, and then equal alignment, proper alignment with Buddha. So that's, for that, I say that's the second most important point in a Bodhisattva's career. Rising the Bodhi, dissolves the first. That's the second one. So that's major, major birth and death vows. Is the vow itself called irreversible vow? No, it's not. It's called, they talk about it as, it's always presented in the terms of the third kind of patience. There's patience with birth, patience with darkness, and then patience when darkness


seemed to disappear, and you're in space. So it's irreversibility is what happens as you cross that, through that peak. Thank you. Kevin, I was wondering too, how, you know, Keshen's four renunciations, you know, that you renounce your thoughts, renounce your former way of life as the baptismal. You renounce your thoughts, you renounce your thought of God, and you renounce your thought of self. Is there doubt before each one of those shifts in renunciation? Yes, I would have to think that there is doubt before each one of those shifts, because I think that this is the point where you have to work or leap through your doubt, and the only way to do that is to live with the doubt. I was very much struck by the reference to patience.


Two things, the reference to patience and the reference to the power of the vows, because I can remember when I was making my first vows, one of the old monks in my community said, depend on the power of your vows to keep your vows. And somebody else said to me, quoted that, you know, by patience we participate in the passion of Christ that Saint Benedict has in this world. And so, I would think that when you're getting down to those points where you are going to give up these things that have been so important to you, and so much a part of your life, doubt whether the value of giving them up at least has to arise, because isn't this going to destroy it? How it does destroy it is a far saver, as we would say.


Thank you. Thank you very much. There's a passage in the Tenth Conference, which you know where Cassian describes in detail the sorts of thoughts, all the different sorts of thoughts that are going to arise in the mind during meditation, and he gives a simple process of letting go of each of those, regardless of what kind of thought they are. And the word he, or the scriptural word he uses to describe that is poverty of spirit. And I suppose if you say that the ultimate goal is the Kingdom of Heaven, fine, but he says we can't get anywhere if we just have that, rather abstract, we have to get down to some work. Then he says purity of heart is the immediate goal, but even that is a little vague, and so in the Tenth Conference he actually suggests that poverty of spirit is the method, and


the method is a continual renunciation. Not only, I mean I suppose within that list, or that description of thoughts there would be many doubts, but there could be attractions or aversions as well. It's a total letting go. It's that willingness to give up everything. You know, what Anthony saw in Go Sell What You Have and Give to the Poor and Come Follow Me is poverty of spirit. I thought it would take me a little bit out of the way that the conference was going for me to get into that aspect of it. But I think also the poverty of spirit I found very attractive because real poverty has to


exist the way that it is. It's not something that you can put on and put off. It's not putting on dirty old clothes to go down into the subway to beg, and then getting into your limousine and driving to your mansion out in the Hamptons. But it is simply the acceptance of who and what you are. And I think that with the doubts or with the thoughts, a great deal of what gives them the strength is one of two things. One is the false image that we have of ourselves, especially the image that I can overcome, I can do this, which is different from the courage to continue, or the beginning over and over and over again.


And then the second one... I have the second one in mind. The second part of that, again, is patience. And I think this is a great problem for us modern people, is simply to exist patiently in our own poverty that is brought up and confronting us each day as the thoughts continue on and [...] on, and simply to sit there and to see them rise. As Moiré mentioned, to see them arise and see them go and see them arise and see them go, and just not attach anything to them. Because you don't have anything to attach to them. The key word there, I think, is simply, and what's always interesting to me, is the comparison


of the Buddhist-Christian thoughts, is the very intricate analytical complexity, clear if you follow it, but very complex analysis of all the states of mind and stages. On the one hand, which hasn't really got a parallel, I don't think, in Christian spirituality in the same period anyway by any means. And yet there is, in the Zen and the Desert Fathers, there is the same emphasis upon simplicity of experience and perseverance. Picking up this key word of modern problems, what do we, what do contemporary Christians and what do contemporary Buddhist monks doubt? What is it that we doubt? Could you answer? Christianity, I think, has been going through a kind of collective doubt for 200 or 400 years, and I wonder to what extent it's connected with dualism.


You can only doubt that which is different from itself. That's why you can't doubt what you are. And I think it may be, if I can go to it, you can go into skeptical doubt, or even really great doubt, in which you've really wrestled your way through this. But I think we've been going through a period of differentiation, when your religion is actually something outside yourself that you can choose or not choose. Because before that we were in a kind of pre-choice era, it seems to me, where you're inside a system which was unshaken, and you could hardly doubt. You hardly doubt the system, you doubt yourself, which couldn't doubt the object of faith. We've been going through this period of dualism and differentiation, and if we make it a great doubt, then we wrestle ourselves through, once again, through a non-dual apprehension of what we are. But I think that one of the things that we've got to be aware of is that we don't return to that simplistic understanding of religion and comprehension of religion. Where, because society... We used to say that, you know, I'm Irish Catholic Democrat by God.


Of course, one follows automatically the other thing. But we are going through the process, I think, at this point in history, of perhaps we're reaching a different level. I'm not going to say up or down, but a different level of penetrating into the reality of what can be easily termed religion, but the reality of the transcendental and the absolute. But at the same time, I think that that, in many ways, is going to demand a poverty of the intellect, in certain ways. It's funny, I had a couple of thoughts as I was coming out here.


And one of my thoughts was, what is happening in society today seems to be, on the level of society, the replica of what the experience of the Buddha was before he left home. Now we have this glorification of the human body, of youth, of health, and all the rest of that. And perhaps, as a society, as the Buddha did it as an individual, perhaps as a society we are in the first steps of doing that. It just flashed on me this idea of adolescent doubt. I'm not sure where it fits in, but at some point in every person's life they have to cast off mommy and daddy's religion. And it looks like you cast the whole thing off, but that then leaves this open for perhaps the prime experience, for the first experience again. And I wonder also, just looking at the craziness that went on in the church in the 70s especially,


it was this, you know, whee! You know, everything else that went with the kind of 50s religion, in order that something new could be brought to birth. And maybe we're getting past that in the last stages now, and returning to our own sources and finding a new maturity. I hope so. We have two hands up here, and one back there. I'm struck by the lack of doubt that I see in people these days. And I think it comes from the fact that they haven't been challenging their parents' religion. That in fact, they keep it out like an old tight overcoat. It's not theirs, but by gosh, they're not going to take it off either. They don't want to see what it might be like without that, or try on something else. So, I'm really in favor of encouraging doubt in people these days, especially in some of the younger folks. I have an understanding of why they don't want to do that. I know the deep fear underneath that. And the fear has to be addressed too.


But I'd like to see more doubt. I'm responding to Brother David's challenge. If I heard it correctly, what would modern American monks do? Is that correct? Good. Okay, let me just start out. There's a laundry list. And there's a big washing machine. You don't have a laundry list. I would say probably not a new one, but a universal one would be, the truth there's nothing to attain. That is to say that you grow by subtraction. Progress is less and less. That's hard to accept, especially in a consumer-driven, you know, fact-finding society. Another one would be the idea that precepts lead to samadhi, which leads to wisdom. It's so seductive to want to get it quickly.


It was said the first day, we want to buy it. And it's not the right one. We train it and get another upgrade. But in fact, we haven't changed that much. That it's by returning the outflows, by transforming the energy we already have through precepts, that light begins gradually, gradually to build as the afflictions increase. So that's more or less the same. The idea of nothing to obtain, you subtract. But you subtract based on precepts that lead to samadhi, instead of samadhi boating in the weekend. Boating the bus. Related to it, another doubt, I think a classic one, is that virtue is within. You have to see it. You have to actually see it moderately before you can launch into the idea that being good is it. Instead of being smart. Or being quick. Virtue is round. And intelligence, as we heard from Kuri Nyo, is sharp and critical. And we want to...


Once you see it, you get it, if you have its potential. The last one, I think, is a major, major doubt that is particular to the Dharma coming to the West, which is the verticality of wisdom. The idea that we don't really believe that anyone could be above us in a team. We, Western democratic individuals, you know, one man, one vote. To, His Holiness shows up at Spirit Rock, and the most skeptical iconoclasts are on their knees or their palms to him. Because they saw it. And they want to love him. They're willing to hold him over their head. But Dalai Lama comes in an awful lot of disasters. The sages, you don't even notice. They're nearly, they're so plain, they're nearly invisible. And yet, there's a sense in your heart that something is there. And once again, if you don't see it, then prove to me you've got more wisdom than I do.


So that's a tough one. One of the strong points of the Dalai Lama is because that he says so often, I don't know, and continues, I don't know. And one sometimes wishes that some of our own have that wisdom. That's my boss. I'm thinking about this doubt in the modern condition. One thing that I feel is that people now have much more range of, much more open, because of psychology, much more open to the range of stuff that comes up. And in my experience, it seems as if you need something like meditation practice or its equivalent to create enough spaciousness inside oneself that you could feel free to allow all the multiplicity


of what can come up to come up without being afraid of it. Because I think there is, as you were just saying, a lot of fear that people have. I remember I was so struck in the Gethsemane encounter. There was a time when they asked the audience to say something. One woman said, but meditation is terrible because you sit there, you never know what would come up. How are you going to protect yourself against that? So as long as one feels that way, then it seems like you're in grave danger. You have to be able to open yourself to whatever would arise. And many times, half of what arises is doubt, so many possibilities. So how do you narrow it? So I think you have to have the ability to be open to that extent. But then, just like Miro was saying, that means to have the capacity to let everything go. Say yes to it, let it go. Say yes to it, let it go. And when you identify with it, then you're caught. So to not identify with it, let it come and go.


I was thinking, but I kept forgetting to look it up, the quote from John Henry Newman about doubt. What is it? 10,000 doubts don't make a loss of faith, or something like that. 10,000 questions. Intellectual difficulties don't make a single lack of faith. Yeah, yeah. We have two more hands up, and let's be proud to meet again. We have four minutes for both. Father William and then Father Thomas. I think sometimes that doubt is an absolute necessity, in the sense that a deep doubt, that which is so totally other, that it would never be possible for me to have some experiential awareness or grasp of that which is totally other and beyond. And I think that that's an antidote to this kind of, what I see so prevalent,


kind of chummy attitude about God or about faith. You know, it's comfortable, it's nice, comfortability, it seems sometimes. And I think the doubt that that other could be revealed or could be experienced by me is in some ways a necessity with which we enter into meditation. And that we allow ourselves to be surprised by that which is other and not just know all along what it's going to be. Yes, the Hasidic say, God is not an uncle, God is a nursery. I was just thinking, yes, I was thinking of, you know, you were speaking of doubt and then also of the thoughts, you know, watching the thoughts and so forth. And then, then, Maya Lahey spoke of the Buddhist counsel,


one of the ways of approaching doubts, if I understood correctly, is to cut off their heads. And the rule of Saint Benedict, of course, says, uses that terrible verse of Psalm 137, take the babies and bash their brains out, you know, and the first instant the thoughts arise, cast them against the rock and... Right, right, the rock is crushed. But my own personal doubt has been, I have never been able to obey that. I've never been able to... And I've always doubted that. I feel a little easier now because I notice that as I let the thoughts come and pass, I began to get bored of them. And the boredom is what is curing me, I guess. This is an example of doubt in high places in the Church. It's the story of Pope John XXIII,


coming back after he'd celebrated the funeral of his last remaining sister. And he was on the train with his secretary. And he just looked very sad and very quiet, looking out of the window. And he turned to his secretary and he said, wouldn't it be terrible if it were all untrue? And I thought that's the man who opened the windows of the Church. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I will give us this presentation in a minute. And from what I can tell you, it should be exciting enough to keep us awake. It's the most difficult hour of all days. And I'm particularly happy to introduce Fr. Kevin


because I feel very brotherly towards him. I entered monastic life in the same year. That was 1953. And Fr. Kevin entered as a lay brother in the Baptist community and lived his life simply as a monk. And he says, as an ordinary monk, with the rounds of chanting the Psalms and meditation, which is lecture divina, and manual labor. And in his manual labor, he built three monasteries. Two of them I have seen, and they are most beautiful. One is Spencer, Massachusetts, and the other one is, in my eyes, even more beautiful than Snowmass, Colorado. Very, very beautiful buildings. And then one in Argentina. That's great. And it's also so impressive to me that a simple monk became a pioneer for this East-West dialogue


simply by inviting a Roshi to the monastery. And he told me at noon that it was a little tickish to tell the abbot, next weekend a Roshi is coming. And that was way back in the 1970s, which was not exactly the time when Roshis went in and out of monasteries. But he brought it on, and eventually, from this grassroots, he became a board member of the Intermonastic Religious Dialogue, and is now very involved with the Korean Zen tradition. So it's beautiful for me to see that this East-West dialogue isn't something that was dreamed up by some experts, but it's really coming from the grassroots, and Fr. Kevin is practically a symbol of this. Thank you very much for this speech. Thank you. I doubt if you could get any grassier.


In fact, usually when I'm asked to speak like this, my first reaction is to say, I'm much better with a pick and shovel, or a manure spreader, than I am with writing and words. But when Joseph asked me to try to do a paper, I was in the process of working out in my own mind the problem of thinking and doubt, both in the Christian and the Buddhist traditions. And basically, the main reason I'm presenting this paper is that the Buddhist Zen tradition has a much more efficient and better way of utilizing the doubt that becomes part of all of us as we begin to get into our practice. This doubt that we all find,


what am I doing this for? How am I doing it? Why am I doing it? This is crazy. I could be doing much better things, a thousand things I can be, and the thoughts on sexuality, the thoughts of preoccupation, of success or failure, and all of these things. They hit us all. And they hit us all fairly frequently. All during our practice. Christianity has had this same experience over the centuries. But we have a problem in our modern times, I think, because the modern Western mind has a tendency to focus on the fact that it can know and comprehend all of reality. And because we Western monks


are part of the modern Western way of thinking, we have lost to a certain extent that teaching on how to handle doubt. How to handle doubt, especially when it is closed in the context of the problem of thoughts. The problem of thoughts has been something that has been part of the whole tradition of monasticism, of prayer and meditation, in both the Eastern and Western Jewish senses in the beginnings. And I'm going to go to the earliest writing of monasticism, and I'm using the term East and West in the context of Christianity, so that would mean Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. So I'm basically working from four sources.


The first source is the life of Anthony. Anthony was the first monk in the Christian tradition. And he lived... He was born, we think, about 250, and died about 350. So you can see from that that Christianity did not start off as a monastic tradition, as a monastic religion, as both Hinduism to a great extent and Buddhism certainly started off. But it had at least two and a half centuries where prayer and meditation existed without a monastic setting. So the first Christian monk, Anthony, served as the model for all those who would follow him. And his life by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria was written in the same context


that many of the panegyric writings of the first few centuries of the time of Christ were written with. The model is the hero. What he goes through in his life is the example of what you and I will experience. And his solutions are part of the solution that you and I have to embody. The second writer, author that I choose is Evagrius Ponticus. Now, Evagrius Ponticus was born shortly before Anthony died in a different part of the Roman Empire. And he became what might be called the first theorician of meditation in Christianity. There had been people who spoke about it beforehand, but nobody to the depth whose influence would be so perduring


as Evagrius Ponticus. And the funny thing about Evagrius Ponticus is that he got caught up in an early controversy in Christianity called the Origin Crisis. And as a result, most of his writings went underground and were known to us through many centuries under the name of other people like St. Nilus. They existed only as close as we can get to the original way that he wrote them in places like Ethiopia and Armenia, the fringes of what Christianity would be that day. The third thing that I'm bringing in is the sayings of the Desert Fathers because it's good to see how and concretely in the lives of very, very simple monks the problem of thoughts and doubt was handled.


We've heard some of the apothecary. I will be also using the apothecary, basically the alphabetic series. There are two series. One is called the alphabetic and the other is... I forget what it's called, but it's just under the names of the particular avas and amas. And finally, we will see how this teaching on the problems of thoughts and doubt was transferred to the Western tradition. And this is a man by the name of John Cashin who wrote basically two books. One is the Institutes and the other is the Conferences. I'll be concentrating on the Conferences today. The Institutes was just an outline of how monks lived. It would be somewhat comparable to the idea of the Vinaya in the Buddhist tradition. But the Conferences is where he's telling you


not just how they lived, but what they did with what they lived, if that does count. So the first of all is Anthony of Egypt. He's generally considered to be the father of monasticism. And his life was written, as I said, by Athanasius of Alexandria within several years of his death. And this life became a bestseller We know that it spread throughout the whole of the Roman Empire in very, very few years after Anthony died. In fact, probably Athanasius wrote it as a propaganda piece in the sense of propaganda, spreading the word. And it had the same effect on the people, the Christians living in the Roman Empire at that time.


About the only comparison that I could make would be when the Beatles went to India in the 1960s. And suddenly everybody was going to India, Thailand, Japan, and places like that. So, Anthony is the model. And Athanasius is careful to tell us right at the beginning that Anthony began to live as he did, simply to follow Christ. In the opening pages, he tells us that Anthony went to church one day and he heard the words, If you wish to follow me, go and sell what you have, give to the poor and come follow me. And he would have been probably lower middle class. His family had some property, so he went and sold it and began to live as an ascetic. Now, in those days, the ascetics lived around the villages. And Anthony was somewhat like the Buddha in that he went


to those who had been in ascetical practice before him and learned from them. Basically, what did he learn? He learned to live in poverty. He learned to live by the labor of his hands and to share what he had with the poor. And this idea is something that has been very constant in Christian monasticism, the idea of living by the labor of your hands. It's constant right up to my own age. He prayed constantly, following the words of Jesus and Paul. The command to pray always was, for early Christian monks, exactly that, a command. And it was not only a command, but it was an ideal that they could practically strive for. But we have to remember that it was not simply for the monks,


but this was an ideal for every Christian. Now, they would say, one of the two commandments, one of the commandments of Jesus, and they would say, you know, love one another as I have loved you, and pray always. Athanasius tells us that when Anthony first began his ascetical practice, and again referring to how he was like the Buddha, if he heard a zealous soul anywhere, like a wise bee, he left to search him out. Nor did he return home until he had seen him. And only when he had received from him, as it were, provision for his journey to virtue, did he go back home. In the life of Anthony, perhaps the most striking thing is his battles with the demons. Now, the demonology that's found in the life of Anthony, we just have to accept. It was part of the universal discourse


that existed in that day. So, Anthony is portrayed in a series of combats with the demons, with his thoughts, basically. This, of course, the combats of Anthony has inspired a tremendous amount of iconography over the years. And, you know, we've had the famous one where you've got, I think it's Ronald Walsh, where you've got the dancing girls running all over the place and things like that. But the most famous one is when he is in the fort and the demons come and torment him. And Anthony fights against them. And finally, when the demons leave him,


he has the great cry, where he cries out to Jesus, to the Lord, Where are you? Why did you not appear at the beginning to stop my pain? And a voice says to him, Anthony, I was right with you. Here we have doubt as expressed within the context of a concrete incident in somebody's life. Doubt. It's part of us. It's part of who we are and what we are. This doubt, for the Christian ascetic, is not so much an intellectual doubt, although it can have its intellectual component and frequently manifests itself in an intellectual way,


as it is existential and expressed in terms of the relationship to the absolute, here as seen in the person of Jesus. Anthony has this cosmic struggle with the demons, which goes through three places, each one isolating himself farther and farther from normal human existence. And this also is part of the paradigm that Athanasius is trying to present to us. Because the desert at that time was seen as a place of chaos, a place which had yet to be brought to order, which had yet to be made civilized. The desert is seen as a haunt of demons, and as Anthony progressively overwhelms the demons


in their own stronghold, he brings order and civilization. Finally, after 20 years of practicing in solitude by himself, Anthony is more or less dragged out of his hermitage by the people that used to bring him bread and stuff like that. And Athanasius describes him as saying, Anthony comes forth as out of a shrine. His body had kept its former appearance, neither released from want of exercise, nor emaciated from his fastings and struggles with the demons. Again, the state of his soul was pure. He was a man completely under control, a man guided by reason and stable in his character. Now this last sentence here, a man completely under control and a man guided by reason and stable in his character, makes Anthony the quintessence of the ancient idea,


Roman ideal, or Greco-Roman ideal, of what the true man should be. And this state, this ideal, was summed up in a single word by Vagrius later on as that of apatheia. It was also applied earlier to this ideal by the Stoics. The Stoic philosophers were the first ones to use this and so the ideal of a man of stable character whose mind is in control of his reason would be the man who had realized apatheia. It was first used in a Christian context by Clement of Alexandria who had lived a generation or so before Anthony was born. For Clement, apatheia was a term he used to indicate the way in which Jesus lived the love


he had for the Father and his fellow man, as also the way the apostles lived after the resurrection. And we will see later on that John's passion was to transmit this expression of apatheia as purity of heart. But he transmitted it to Western monasticism whenever he speaks of the term purity of heart. Anthony is thus seen as a Christian who has already achieved the level of love and knowledge of God which allows him to have certain knowledge of God in his present life which prefigures the total realization of love and knowledge which St. Paul tells us is the reward of those who love God. This we can see he gained only by going through and living in this dialogue.


But the life of Anthony is not the only place where we find Anthony and I'd like to give a couple of examples, or at least one example from the apothecary, which has many sayings about Anthony but one that I particularly love. This is one that shows Anthony as the teacher of other monks, the Roshi. In this little story the question of the interpretation of Christian scripture arises and that's a tradition in interpretation of scripture. We're seeing something like a dog combat. And the teacher of meditation would throw out a phrase from the Christian scripture and say, what do you think of it, what do you think of it, what do you think of it? And then give approval to the one. One day, and I quote now, One day some old men came to see Abba Anthony. In the midst of them was Abba Joseph.


One day he asked them, the old man or the Roshi Anthony, suggested a text from scripture and beginning with the youngest, so as not to allow deference for the opinion of the seniors to sway others, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able. But to each the old man said, you have not understood. Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, how would you explain this saying? And he replied, I don't know. Then Abba Anthony said, indeed, Abba Joseph has found a way, for he has said, I don't know. This I don't know manifests itself basically in two ways. First, I have mentioned, when I pointed out that it demonstrated that, it is often demonstrated when a monk admits that really he doesn't know how he stands in relationship


to God or the Absolute. This can be frequently said as, I don't know whether God loves me. Or it can convey one's admitting of one's total ignorance. On a level that is existential or a level of knowing that is beyond the conceptual. So we see from the life of Anthony that from the earliest reflection on the human experience of what the Christian called the life of prayer, that this is an experience which demands a willingness to give oneself with no security or knowledgeable reward. Traditionally in Christian circles it is spoken as a life of faith. Faith in this context does not necessarily mean concepts or truths. Rather it goes beyond the parody of concepts or reasoning to a conclusion.


It includes both concepts and reason and is used in a way, much the same that the term faith is used in a Buddhist context. Of any of these, Ponticus was the first monk, as I said, to develop a systematic of prayer and meditation. He has a very interesting history which I won't go into right here. But after having his ups and downs as a, pretty much what we would call a professional preacher, somewhat along the line that some of you teller evangelists might have. He had a crisis of conscience and decided to leave Constantinople where he was a very popular preacher and go off to Bethlehem, which had become a monastic center. And because he had problems there, he finally joined a group of monastics in Egypt in a place called Nicaea.


This small group of men was known as the four brothers, the four long brothers, and they were all disciples of the famous Abba Pambo, or Pambo, and known for their asceticism and learning. The group was also known as the congregation of Ammonias, or the community of Ammonias. But then it was later designated as the community of Ammonias and Evagrius. So very, very quickly, because he did not live that long in the desert. He died 14 or 15 years after he arrived there. But Evagrius saw himself as the disciple of the very famous early monk called Macarius, who we could probably give a couple of days talk to himself. So the whole teaching of Evagrius is aimed at one thing, the setting forth of a method for achieving purity of heart through the right ordering of the passions that are so much part of being a human being, or apathy.


Such an ordering of the passions is not an end in itself, but the royal path that leads to the love of God, or Agatha. Quote, The fear of God strengthens faith, my son, and incontinence in heart strengthens this fear. Patience and hope make this ladder virtue solid beyond all shaping, and give birth to apathy. Now this apathy has a child called Agatha, who keeps the door to deep knowledge of the created universe. Finding for this knowledge succeeds theology and supreme beatitude. As we saw, Anthony was described as the man who personified apathy. But this apathy, this purity of heart, is just for Evagrius, the first but a necessary step towards a greater realization. For the keeping of the commandments of apathy does not heal the soul completely.


This must be complemented by a contemplative activity, which is appropriate to those faculties, and this activity must penetrate the spirit. Evagrius thought of this whole process as it is traditionally considered in Christian writings, as prayer. Prayer does not mean necessarily the recitation of specific formulas. The term prayer takes in the whole thing, the chanting of the office, the recitation of mantras, all the rest of that. But above all, it takes in meditation. The word prayer assumes all the stages or steps which our human way of reflecting tends to impose itself on what is really undivided.


Evagrius tells us that the spirit the human person is seeing in its most positive way is made to pray. Contemplation is identification with Christ, and the command to follow me becomes a command to contemplate. It is identified with monitoring the perfect way to follow Christ for early Christians. Evagrius is the teacher of early Christian monasticism, and it is only in the framework of his teaching on apathy and prayer that many incidents of the sayings of the fathers of the desert become understandable. Evagrius does not deal with doubt as a tool in achieving enlightenment, nor do the monks of the Egyptian desert, but they certainly experienced it. Now the practice, the sayings of the desert fathers. Many of the stories that come down to us are simply questions about the different virtues,


like humility, fraternal charity, and stuff like that, and all the others. However, if you look at these stories and at others, you will see that they are less about what is being done than they are about thoughts, the thoughts that are the root of actions. The subjects of the thoughts are as much the fact that the thoughts exist. Because we have thoughts, they lead to certain actions. How do I avoid these actions? Go back to your thoughts, find out where the thoughts are, how do you handle them. There is a story of a monk who goes to the famous Arsenius, and says to him, my thoughts are troubling me. And so Arsenius runs through the category of what the traditional solutions are. And he said, fast, and the guy said, I can't fast. Work, I can't work. Well, at least go and visit the sick, that makes me sick. Be charitable, I don't know how to do that.


So finally the old man, seeing the way that the demons were tempting him, as the apothecary has finally said to him, go, eat, drink, and sleep. Do not work, only don't leave yourself. So he cut it right down to the quick, and he said, this is what you do, and this is the only way that you can handle it. We see that in the apothecary you get different answers on the same problem from different questions. This is the reason why the ability to see into the heart of the problem was so prized by the early Christian monastics. It's called the discernment of spirits. Although the term Abba, or Abba, is referred basically to elder or senior or something like that,


it was especially given to those who had both the insight and the experience in the life of meditation, and who could see to the root of one's problem. You can see that in the story about Arsenius, because Arsenius, in his answer, more or less set aside several of the sayings of Jesus. When I was in prison, you visited me? He said, don't bother going to prison. When I was sick, you helped me. Don't bother to do that. Just stay in your cell. So this ability to even take the sayings of the gospel and to set them aside where practically necessary to go down to the root of the problem was the great gift of the ancient spiritual teachers in the Christian church.


Again, there's a story that's told of Macarius. Macarius was looking down the road when he saw Satan in the likeness of a man, and he passed by his dwelling. Satan wore a garment filled with holes and a small flask hung at his. Some of these images are kind of hard to follow. Where are you going, the old man said. I'm going to stir up the memories of the brethren. When Satan returned up to Saul, the old man said, did you find any friends down there? Yes, I have one monk who is a friend. He at least obeys me. When he sees me, he changes like the wind. Who is he? Tiamatos. Out of Macarius got up and went to the desert below. When he went to the cell of Tiamatos, he was received with joy. How goes it, he said.


Oh, it's good. Do none of your thoughts war against you? Well, up to now it's all right. For he was afraid of admitting anything. So then the old man responded that he still suffered from the way that his thoughts warred against him. So Tiamatos then admits to his own troubling thoughts. Macarius advises him how to fight against thoughts. This type of fasting is encouraged. And so Satan is spoiled again. We can see that doubt here deals directly with thoughts. Frequently it really doesn't matter which thoughts, whether they're thoughts about this or they're thoughts about that, they're just thoughts. We've all experienced that in our own meditation,


how they come back and they come back and they come back. One of the great, great truths, at least in the practice of meditation, is learning how to deal with them. Sometimes we get contradictory pieces of advice in the sayings of the Desert Fathers. For example, one time a brother came to Adepona and said to him, Adepona, I have many thoughts and they put me in danger. And the old man let him outside and said, expand your chest and do not breathe. He said, I can't do that. Then the old man said to him, if you can't do that, no more can you prevent thoughts from arising. But you can resist them, or control them, or bring them into light. But there were some who said, yes, it was possible. But I think I'm told the general thing was that the thoughts, the very fact of thoughts,


how many doubts existed, was part of, you know, just considered to be part of what it means to be human. And I think that probably one of the things that strikes you the most when you read these sayings of the Desert Fathers is that they basically concern uneducated people. And yet they show us tremendous insight into psychology, into human psychology and ways of going. Finally, we have to go, I have to run over to John Cashion. Now John Cashion was one of those many pilgrims who went to the Holy Land to become a monk. And he goes off and he becomes very sincerely a monk, and then he gets permission to go over to Egypt for a while, because Egypt would be the, I don't know, I guess it would be the Korea for the Korean,


the monks of the Korean tradition in this country, or the Japan for the monks of the Japanese tradition. It was always seen in silver linings and golden rays of the sun and stuff like that. So actually the Conference is one of the longest releases that we have from that time. And it is the way in which Cashion transmits the wisdom of the desert tradition to the Western monks. He speaks, first of all, in his first conference, as was mentioned yesterday. He has a conference with Abba Moses, and Abba Moses is asked for a word, he has to give us a word. And Abba Moses begins to say, All the arts and disciplines have a certain scopos, or goal,


and a telos, which is the end proper to them. Our profession, as monastics, has a scopos proper to itself and its own end. The telos, or the end, is the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, and the goal of the scopos is purity of heart, without which it is impossible for anyone to reach that end. And so right from the beginning, Cashion throws this out. And it's only when he goes on to speak about prayer in itself that he brings up the tradition that the end of prayer is not knowing. And it's all right not to know. But that brings us, and I want to finish with this,


to our modern problem. And that is that here in the West for the last five centuries, knowing is everything. And as a result of that, be it in theology or science or psychology, mystery has disappeared. And the worst thing that you can have is doubt. And at least my experience within the Christian monastic tradition is that doubt is always seen as a lack of faith. Instead of being a door that opens up to greater faith. Because it's only through doubt that faith can increase. And this doubt also has brought with it a certain guilt.


I don't know whether God loves me. I don't know what this experience is. I don't know what this lack of experience is. What's happening? I don't know. I don't know. And because I don't know, that's got to be a failure on my part instead of a way in which we can learn to grow. The ancient monks had their way. They had their tradition. We can pick up some of it. But one of the reasons I've written this paper is that I know of the experience of great doubt, especially in the Zen Buddhist tradition. And I hope that by sharing this experience with us in our Christian tradition, we can really learn how to handle our thoughts and handle our doubts. Thank you.