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I think that came from a great sage. Well, maybe it did, but her name was Gracie Allen. The George Burns' great wife. I'm going to limit myself as best I can to around 35 minutes so we have more time for discussion. So in order to facilitate that, I'm going to give you about five sentences about what I think I'm going to try and talk about so you have a sense of that. Because it probably won't flow all that well in the need to compress things. So here they are. Desire is inherently good. From a Christian perspective, it's God in us and God as desire, the desire from which all other desires are aspects. The thing that we might call our true self is that part of us that yearns for the co-creation connection with God. Desire is almost always, in the human condition, distorted by fear. And we usually only know, without some real work,

[01:02]

our distorted desires. And I want to spend some time talking especially about our sexual desires and how they both hinder and help us. Then I want to outline a process of the recreation of desire, which is basically a process of uncovering and brings us to what I'll call participative communion. So in the next 35 minutes, I'll try to cover some of those points. When I first started thinking about what I was going to talk about, I said, I'll look at this Buddhist concept of desire and see if I can say something about that. So I did some reading, talked to people, including Doug Powers from Berkeley. And I left there knowing that anything that I would want to say about that would be simplistic at best and arrogant at worst. So I said, let me start with what I do know. And that's the Christian perspective of desire, particularly in the context of monastic life and purity of heart. It's a tradition that I live in and that I

[02:05]

have some passion for. And so there, I think I can say something. Sebastian Moore wrote a book, The Crucified Jesus is No Stranger. And he had this interesting quotation in there, saying that people, in paraphrasing the Buddhist understanding of desire, is that if we eliminate desire, we come to peace. And he says, that's not quite the case. He says, the cause of our unpeace and unfreedom isn't desire, but desire mixed with fear. He relates desire as a horse and fear as a rider on the horse. And he says this, the horse is a good horse. And liberated from this dark rider, it will bound for the sun. Well, I think his understanding of Buddhist concept of desire is pretty simplistic. But I've always been attracted, since I read that years ago, to the interconnection of desire and fear. And so that's what I'd like to talk about today.

[03:08]

Don Benedetto Collanti, the prior general of the Khmel police congregation for many years, used to say that first were human beings, then were Christians, and then were monks. So I'm a human being. So I experience those struggles and joys associated with being human. At times, I look deeply into myself. And at other times, I avoid looking at all costs. I have some awareness of who I am. But I'm desperately fearful that that little bit of awareness might not be true at all. I'm coming to know my desires. I still know that many of them are ridden by fear. And I hope that that's changing. I find myself scattered and compartmentalized, but deeply in union. In other words, I'm like most human beings. And that's something that I must never forget. I've had mentors and therapists who've helped me to explore this. And that's been very useful to me. Also, in this human realm, if you will, I'm a clinical psychologist. And my theory that I operate from is

[04:11]

known as the British School of Object Relations. Briefly put, we can imagine this as paying attention to the continuous inner theater of the mind. And that really is what human life is from this perspective, in which each of us from childhood on carry on an intense private dialogue with real and imagined, and in all cases, constructive characters, whether they're real or imagined. What we see out in front of us and what's inside of us is all constructive. And another piece of this is that the human person is born with a primary and irreducible need for confirmation and affirmation of relationship. So those are the key principles from which I operate. I work with lots of folks who have been in great turmoil as they work to understand themselves. Traditional psychoanalytic approach, we look at what? Sex and aggression, right? We look at defensive posturing and the inability to make oneself adapt to the demands of the world.

[05:13]

I'm much more keenly interested in their relational world, what's real, what's imagined, and the, whenever you give a psychoanalytic talk, you have to use this word, vicissitudes. So I've got it out of my head. I've got it out of my head. The vicissitudes of the human nature. That is, to the changing, to how things change. But it's a required word. You never get published if you don't have that word. As I said, I work with a lot of religious professionals, many of which have had boundary violations. That is, doing something wrong with someone who they had some responsibility for. It's often a boundary violation of the sexual nature. And as we work through that, in almost every case, we could trace it to distorted desire. And so that was pretty telling. So that takes care of the human condition. Now, Claudia talks about the Christian condition. So I'm a cradle Catholic, born and early formed in the pre-Vatican II, and still continuing

[06:16]

in the reverberations of Vatican II to this day. I have experienced Jesus, the crucified and risen one. And I have known God working in me and through me, present deeply within me, and very powerfully present to me through others. And then as a Commodities Benedictine monk, I'm seeking God in that rich tradition, first from St. Benedict's Abbey, and now here at New Commodity. I've had a number of directors and guides over the years who've assisted me in following my own heart's desire, and that is seeking God. Not an easy task, as I'm sure they would tell you. Father Bruno would tell you. Later, as I became more involved in the monastic way, began involved in formation and spiritual direction, and my own continuing exploration, I saw how common it was that we would all work simultaneously to attain and subvert our deepest desires. What does desire mean? Well, if you look it up in a Christian theological dictionary

[07:20]

they'll tell you it's hard to come by a good definition. Don't look in the index of most books because they don't talk about desire as desire. And that's true. But let's start with some of the basic terms associated with it. To crave, to wish, to long for, to want. Something that impels us to attain or possess something. Deep imperative yearning wishes. It's also an inner energy for life. It also has a strong sexual connotation to it, often spoken in the context of sexual desire. Now, sexual desire is clearly part of the landscape of desire, but it's not the only flower in the field. In addition, when we talk about it, we often talk about it as though it's outside of our control. Like, this just came over me. You know, this desire just took me as though it was something out there and not a part of us. So there's often an unsettled alien quality to it. Etymologically, it seems to come from the Latin word sedus, which means star.

[08:22]

In the ancient times, gods were projected onto the stars. It was a place where one looked for one's fate and one's destiny. These days, we talk about celebrities as being stars, something larger than us. We hitch our wagons to stars. And if I had a better singing voice, I would sing the first part of When You Wish Upon a Star, Dreams Come True. Anyway, these all illustrate the enduring myth associated with stars and makes this implicit connection between the mysterious and the transcendent nature of desire that's been present throughout the ages and how that connects with our day-to-day desires as well. We're attempting to define something that really is not very definable. We come close at times, but we fail to capture the meaning. I'm gonna offer the meaning of that. Our truest desire is the relationship that we have to God and desire from God is the allure of God, God calling to us. Desire is very paradoxical.

[09:25]

It's associated with fulfillment and unfulfillment. When we're unfulfilled, we desire something, but when we have complete fulfillment, then we have our heart's desire. So how does this come to be? How, in the midst of our unfulfillment, are we somehow fulfilled? What's being fulfilled? Interesting questions, I think. Desire, as I said, is often misunderstood. Really, what we're most in touch with is our distorted desires. And this distortion comes about primarily as a result of fear. So what's fear? An unpleasant emotional state. Well, that's an understatement of the year, isn't it? It's anticipation of pain or great distress. Agitated foreboding, I like that one. And this is a great one. A condition somewhere between anxiety and terror. Put yourself wherever you may wanna be on that one. It's either well-grounded or unreasoned and blind. We have a very visceral reaction to it. In addition, fear also means awe and reverence.

[10:28]

More about that later. What happens with this first definition of fear? It can have a pervasive, overt, and subtle impact on us, causing us to question our own worth, goodness, motivation, and desirability. It undermines our basic sense of who we are, deforms our desires, and leaves us with a sense that what we want isn't right or good, and that we're not deserving of it anyway. It fosters shame and guilt and dappens our life force and creativity. Over time, we become inured to this and figure that this is just the way life is, and we don't realize that, in fact, it's a distortion of life. This fear impinges us on many levels. It limits our creativity, our potency. It also limits our capacity to be, to rest, to surrender. This paralysis of our potency, as well as a ruination of our receptivity, can really be a hindrance to any sort of change in our lives.

[11:29]

Now, the early Christians had a different take on this. Fear of the Lord is the first stage of wisdom. They write time and time again on the fact that fear leads to love and love casts out all fear. There's a distinction between the slavish fear associated with punishment and the fear associated with being a child of God, the fear of somehow damaging or offending love itself. So this fear of a child of God is really a sign of the beginning of a right relationship with God, this awe and reverence for God, and it leads us to a contemplative rest in the Lord. So their use of fear is very positive. I would say that these days, we're pretty much operating with distorted fear as well because we don't usually look at it as positive. We often feel less awe and more of an awesome power that we attribute to others to judge and punish us. And we need a clear understanding and growth in the inherent beauty of true fear in this ancient Christian sense. And perhaps this newly released fear will make a good rider for the horse of desire.

[12:32]

As I said, we're really quite separated from our desires. And we have to engage ourselves in this process of uncovering them. And this is no small or unimportant task for monastics because an essential aspect of attaining purity of heart is this uncovering process. And what I'm talking about is a process of the recreation of desire. And I'm choosing this phrase purposely. I'm not talking about restoring desire as though we had lost it or put it aside and we're gonna pick it up again. It's not even a process of returning to a state of early undistorted desire as though we could or even should go back and change aspects of our lives. It's not some pure, unselfish, pristine experience or even gift that we can somehow regain. Rather, in a human condition through the eyes of Christian belief, the movement that I'm calling the recreation of desire is our participation in the divine, transcendent, creative energies through which we all live and move and have our being

[13:34]

and participate in making all things new. So this desire is ultimately a good horse, an essential aspect of the divine that we can call God desire, not in the way of limiting God to that, but to express the divine quality of it, this allure of God that reaches out to us, desires us to be with God and to be in God. Now, Christians and other writers posit an essential sense of this good desire in all people. Sebastian Moore talks about it as being a concrete universal, that's his term for it. This deep seeking, this search for fulfillment, this longing seems to be present. And I would add that just as there is this desire present, the distorted desire is also present as well. In the Christian tradition, baptism is a key element. Building on this natural desire, the fullness of desire, the spirit of God, God as desire is given to us.

[14:35]

The fullness, yes, the expression of it, no. At this point, it's still waiting to be actualized. We draw closer to this process of actualization as we cooperate in this recreation of this desire, as we move to a deeper union and connection with God. And this is done as we develop an understanding of who we are in relationship with God. We have a continuous interplay of our desire for God and God as desire deep within us. Now, this desire in one is always true, changing to meet our own needs, to be ever responsive to us, and can follow a developmental course. And so let me explain that briefly from an object relations perspective. Human beings are considered to be seeking relationship from birth. That's the most critical thing. Now, good development is necessary. Perfect development is not necessary. Thank goodness, there is no such thing as perfect development.

[15:37]

All we need is to have a good enough development. Winnicott has the expression, we just need a good enough mother, a good enough parent. We need a good enough experience in growing up. That's all. As a matter of course, we come up against limits, failures, wrongs. In the Catholic Church, we talk about sins of omission and sins of commission. All of these things lead to what is referred to psychologically as the false self. Now, that's really a misnomer. It's really layer upon layer of false aspects of who we are. These many shortcomings in us, in the world, and in those who inhabit it lead to this development because we're trying to protect what we realize or have some hope might be our best self that seems to be under attack. We do this in order to enhance our capacity to live safely in the world. Now, when this happens, we're very young and we don't have a large repertoire of behaviors that we can change.

[16:38]

So if we can't change our behaviors, we just change ourselves. It's kind of a reverse of what we do as we get older. We get older, we don't wanna change ourselves. Maybe we'll try and change behaviors instead. But when we're younger, it's much different. The thing is, we never go back to re-evaluate that. We've made some accommodation to life and it works. No matter how much pain or discomfort it causes us, it works, so we hold on to that. And really, it takes significant events to break through to help us make some deep changes within ourselves, to help us see ourselves more clearly. From this perspective, this object relations perspective, the world around us isn't the so-called real world. Every one of you that I'm looking at, I'm looking at through the lens of this internal world, this dramatic stage inside of me that's peopled by these representations of others. So when I look at you, I'm colored by that. So if we're gonna use the word real world, the real world is the one that's inside

[17:39]

that really colors the way in which we're relating to other people here, and that's the one that needs the attention. And inherent in this false self-development is the development of distorted desires. Now, this notion of desire is integral to our identity and to who we are at our deepest level. John of the Cross, when asked what's the most important thing that you learned about yourself in the spiritual quest, his answer was, my desires. So if he says that, I think we can maybe say he's got something to say. We can at least listen to him a little bit. The mistake that we make is that we identify what we assume to be our true self with our true desires, and we're wrong in both cases. We usually don't have a very good grasp of our deepest self. We could use a sort of way of looking at it. And the desires we have that we assume to be true are almost always distorted. So we have a lot of work to do in order to clarify this for ourselves. The benefit is there is this thread of desire, with a capital D, this allure of God

[18:40]

always calling out to us. No matter what happens to us, no matter how far we might find ourself removed from that God, and this has been my experience with folks who've transgressed boundaries and have felt just so distant, never completely removed. Distant, yes, but we can't remove ourselves from the lure of God. We can never have that happen. Now, I wanted to mention a little bit about the role of sexual desire here. It provides a unique lens on which we can view aspects of ourselves. In my own experience, in my work, in talking with others, it really seems that our introduction as children to sexuality and the ongoing experiences we have of that more often than not, led to some critical false aspects of ourselves. So if we're gonna understand ourselves, we have to look at this falseness around the area of sexuality. So I was coming over here, I said to Cyprian, I said, what's a quick and simple definition I could use for sexuality? And he says, well, just tell him it's primordial, pre-linguistic, infra-linguistic,

[19:42]

para-linguistic, and super-linguistic. So I said I would do that. And then, Reneiro happened to come by, I said, now, anything you wanna add to that, Reneiro? He says, yes, tell him that sex mobilizes language, but it crosses, it jostles, sublimates, stupefies it, pulverizes it into a murmur and invocation. Sexuality demediates language, he said. And I said I would tell him that too. That's what I said. In reality, those two quotes come, the first one is from a psychoanalyst, the second one is from Paul Recour. Now, if you think you'll understand sex from talking about that, you're a better person than I am. But this speaks, again, to the mystery associated with that. It's very hard to put this into words. So we won't. I think sexuality, not from the viewpoint as being primarily a drive that needs to be discharged,

[20:44]

the classical Freudian perspective, but really, sexuality is first and foremost relational. It's one of a number of ways in which we seek relationships and our sexuality is a sustaining force in our lives. They're powerful indeed. And our sexuality, whether it's genital or not, influences all of our relationships, including our relationship with the transcendent or God. Why are these so important? Well, because they have such strong and powerful feelings associated with them, I think. It's very embodied, our reactions to our sexual selves. So understanding this is important. So these are the questions that we need to know something about for ourselves. What is arousing to us? Under what conditions, with whom, and at what times? John Money talks about the concept of a love map. And it's the individual's first and foremost very specific template for his or her idealized lover, the romantic, erotic relationship with this lover,

[21:47]

including preferred sexual scenarios with this lover. These things develop early in life and tend to solidify in mid-20s at the latest. He talks about an optimal love map when we know who we're relating to and can relate to them as whole persons and that love and eroticism are compatible. Vandalized love maps, on the other hand, are where the worlds of love and lust are different. So you have saintly love and defiling lust, or as it's often talked about, the Madonna Whore syndrome. So people in his days in the 60s, he was talking, not all, but a lot of his research was done with men, and so he was comparing those two categories and he used that as a description. It was something that he got from one of his patients. We need to reflect and get some assistance in understanding what our own love maps are. Because that can tell us a great deal about ourselves. I hear a lot these days the need for the development of what people call a sex-positive attitude. So I think that's true.

[22:48]

Reflecting on our sexuality doesn't just help us in engaging in sexual behavior. It's much greater than that. Genital sexual desire is multiply determined. It's always more than it seems to be. In our seeking of others and our thinking about others and our fantasizing about sexuality, what do we fear, what do we avoid? What other purposes does it serve? Why do we choose whom we choose? Why are we attracted? These and other questions help flesh out the larger picture. Now, these things can be very disconcerting to us. Genital sexual feelings are often beyond us, beyond our control. At least they seem that way to us. Fear of these feelings develop, then we try to repress them. Whenever we work to kind of keep those repressed, instead of working with them, everything else gets repressed too. And this really starts to distance us from the essential element of our life force. People used to say that the teenage years really represented a time of freshness with sexuality.

[23:50]

I don't think that's true anymore. I think with an increasing genital sexual behavior starting with kids, by the time they're teenagers, I think they're experiencing a lot of pain and morbidity, something that used to be just the filth for us who had resolved our sexual issues. So I think they're missing out on some key important issues in their own development. The power of sexuality isn't determined so much by our drive, but primarily by relational issues. How does embodiment fit into this? Why is this such an important concept, especially from a Christian perspective? Well, because in important ways, Christianity is an incarnational religion. Jesus Christ became flesh, became one of us. There's a physicality, an energy associated with this presence. Moore said earlier, as you recall, that desire will bond for the heart of the sun. This calls up the images of God as light, fire, intense burning, but not necessarily all-consuming love,

[24:52]

in the image of the burning bush comes to mind there. Christianity has often had a love-hate relationship with desire and very mixed views on the place of embodiment and desire. We've had a lot of struggles with that. Let me outline for you now some of the elements in this process of the recreation of desire. Basically, I'm thinking in terms of about five steps. We have to experience crisis moments. We have to awaken to the awareness that these moments offer us. We have to surrender to the risk of uncovering. We have to abide in the disorganization and embrace this changed part of ourselves. These sorts of crises that can come our way come about just by being a human being, just by growing up and facing life changes and by the things that happen to us in the world and the things we do to ourselves. They are completely unavoidable. Things like falling in love, experiencing that someone loves us,

[25:53]

losses of any sort, hitting bottom, as they talk about in the 12-step program, experiences that result from prayer, from spiritual direction, from a whole host of activities that can draw us deeper into our hearts. What is common to all of these is that they give us a potential to see ourselves in a new light, to get a glimpse of what's truly good within us. But we have to have a certain awareness. Most of the time, we simply don't. We say to ourselves, well, this isn't us. It's really someone else's problem. This isn't so bad, and it will all blow over. You know what? That's true. All of those are true. It often is someone else. It often will blow over. It's not that important. But if we don't attend to these things, we miss great opportunities to reflect on what's really happening within us. And if God is good, every once in a while, it's not gonna be someone else's fault, and it won't blow over, and we'll have to face that.

[26:54]

We don't want to. It's very fearful. What helps us do that? Two things. The presence of the desiring one within us, and the part of one that desires to be desired by the one we desire, as Sebastian Moore talks about it. So having that sense of the presence of God in our own goodness, even if it's just an inkling, is enough to help us in many times, and leads us to the next stage, which is that of uncovering. This has multiple nuances. If you look at some of the words related to uncovering, it includes to become naked, nude, or undressed. When I gave a homily recently, I was talking about naturalists, and I meant park ranger types. Michael Fischertz's headband told me later that in South Africa, naturalists are nudists. Nudists and others will tell you a certain sense of freedom that goes along with being unclothed at times. The freedom we're talking about is, of course, much deeper than that.

[27:59]

There are other words, too. Undisguised, unadorned, undecorated, stark, simple, and empty. These are critical words that describe this uncovering process. As Christians, the paradox for us is that experiencing our emptiness is the only way to know fullness. Thinking relationally, when we're usually full, it's often a false fullness. We're full of ourselves. We have to become empty for, in this case, desire for God, and then this allows us to be filled with the presence of God. This uncovering process isn't a one-time thing. It doesn't happen when you're 40 and you're done with it. This really is a way of life, and it's a disorganizing process, and I find myself reflecting on John's Gospel and Jesus' words about the need to abide. We abide in this disorganization because we can abide in the presence of God that sustains us through that period of change,

[29:00]

and then we embrace ourselves in this new, united way, and that's one of the hallmarks of this is that there is a greater sense of unity, lessening of this artificial distinction between our bodies and our minds and our spirits, between God and us. There's a greater unity. We abide in that unity. In a curious way, I've been involved in interreligious dialogue for 20 years. As Cyprian mentioned Tuesday, echoing the thoughts of many others, psychology has often been considered the religion of the West, and it's that religion that I've been in dialogue with all this time. In recent years, there's a greater attention given to that. Originally, writers took a very generic approach, but this generic approach was implicitly stereotyped and influenced by a bias towards a Judeo-Christian approach. These days, a whole host of traditions are trying to write about that, and I wanna just mention a little bit

[30:02]

about a few Buddhist psychologists who are writing about that. Mark Epstein has an interesting book called Thoughts Without a Thinker, Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective. He talks that if, again, they wouldn't use the concept of true self and false self, that their underlying approaches would avoid that completely. He even quotes Winnicott in saying, there's no need to talk about the true self except, no, I better just read the quote. There's no need to answer it. There's but little point in formulating a true self idea except for the purposes of understanding the false self. Well, and then he goes on to say that the experience that people want when they come to treatment is achievable most directly through appreciation of what Buddhists would call emptiness of self. I would agree with him that people bring a lot of falseness to therapy and really to all other situations that offer the possibility of change. But I think because of the distortion of desire,

[31:02]

they're not so aware of what that is, and they don't know that they shed one false layer of themselves for another. Winnicott is right. The true self is best known by what it's not. But what I like best about the thinking of the object relations theorist is that they think and try and incorporate into their work the notion of mystery. Christopher Bouldas has a great phrase called the unthought known. He's trying to put into words here the mystery of the human experience. Let me talk just briefly about another one of these object relation writers that I think captures a sense of mystery of the human condition and can be useful for us. He's a psychoanalyst, but loves to tear it apart. So he's not well-liked, except by those who are in favor of change, not a hallmark of psychoanalysis. When psychoanalysts spend too much time with each other, they start believing in psychoanalysis.

[32:03]

They begin to talk about the effects of psychoanalysis unknowingly, like members of a religious cult. They forget, in other words, that they're just telling stories about stories. When psychoanalysis makes too much sense, or makes sense of too much, it turns exactly into the symptom it's trying to cure, defensive knowingness. We shouldn't be worrying about the future of psychoanalysis, but rather for finding languages for what matters to us, for what we suffer from or for, for how we take our pleasures. There's something unmanageable about being a person. We're too much for ourselves. We're terrorized by an excess of feeling, by an impossibility of desire. Who is that? That's Christopher Bolus. The book is, that's from, no, that's Adam Phillips from Terrorism Experts. Psychology often will use its considerable skills to look at religion, Christianity, and make some analysis of it.

[33:04]

This will always fall short. What Christians can do and have been trying to do is to take some of the skills from psychology and apply it, but not keep themselves limited to the inherent limitation of psychology, but take it further. Maybe the biggest comparison we can make, or a more accurate one, is between Christian psychologists and Buddhist psychologists. Well, I'm very familiar with the Christian psychology literature, and frankly, if I have to put myself in that camp, I'd say, as a whole, we are not up to the task. It seems to me that the little I do know indicates that Buddhist psychology is flowing from its very roots, but in the Western Christian world, that's not the case. It always seems to have been tacked on in some way or another. A Western psychoanalyst who looked at the concept of self in the Eastern world, now, let's leave aside the fact whether he should even do that or not, he just did it. He came up with what he talked about as four levels,

[34:07]

and the one I just want to mention for now, we can talk more about these later if you want during the discussion, is this sense of a spiritual self. That's this inner spirituality that is within everyone, but experienced by very few people. Much more common in the East, and this is his quote now about the West. The individualized self is the dominant note in the West, with background chords of the familial self, only the most muted measures of the spiritual self have traditionally been sounded in Western culture, except from certain religious groups, and he mentions monastics. The fact that he describes as being endemic in the Eastern tradition of spiritual self and not in the West, I think, is rather telling, and it says something about our understanding of psychology as well as Christians. These days, I find myself seeing myself less and less as a psychologist,

[35:09]

more just as a human being, a Christian, and a monk, working to use what I know about this broad area of psychology to further my understanding of Christian growth and development, and this scrolls into the limitless desire of which is God. I find myself drawn to the concept of desire, freedom, relationship, embodiment, emptiness, growth, and the paradox that is associated with each of these. This process of recreation of desire brings us to desire which is God. This radical uncovering, this removing of the falseness of ourselves is a purifying process, and it brings us to the truest part of ourselves, where empty, our hearts overflow with the inexpressible delights of love, where most ourselves, when we are one with God, our most unique self, when encompassed by desire, we are two when we are one. Let me close with the last two stanzas of Sebastian Moore's sonnet, De Sideribus, or Out of the Stars. Desire is to relax into what is,

[36:10]

the unknown knowing one, the dance in three. Part of the universe, an open kiss, opens our private worlds, so we are we. Desire, indeed, is the desire to know, for we are known and into this we grow. Thank you. I'll say she, but I'll say it. I love her, too. Brother Peter, I'm dying of gratitude for being ahead of time actually. For today's question. Brother David is telling me we're going to get almost to as anyother, because he doesn't carry a bio around with him, so that's why I didn't say it. He studied in Vienna, Austria, where he was born. Art, Anthropology and Psychology. He received his doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1952. He came with his family to the States at that time.

[37:12]

And in 1953 he joined the Venedica Monastery of God's Saviour in Constantinople, Europe. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Cornell after that. And then 12 years after entering the monastery, he started participating in Buddhist-Christian dialogue, which he's very well known. He had four Zen teachers. At least two of them are very well known. Yasutani Roshi and Shunryo Suzuki Roshi, who was our neighbour. That is the San Francisco Zen Centre Tassajara Roshi, the founder of those places. He was active in the House of Prayer movement at the same time as Thomas Merton. For decades, Brother David has divided his time between a hermit's life and extensive lecture tourism from five continents around the world. He moved many people by simply making them aware of the spiritual realities and speaking from his own heart.

[38:14]

He has contributed to many books and periodicals all over the range, from the New Catholic Encyclopedia to the New Age Journal. And some, a couple, even further. His books, Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer, and The Listening Heart, have become something of a classic. I apologize. Also, he and Pritchard Capra and Thomas Malthus collaborated on A Belonging to the Universe, a dialogue between science and Christianity, following the idea of physics, a dialogue between science and the East. His most recent book is The Music of Silence with Charlotte Mabelle. Well, let me just conclude. Brother David's audio and videotapes are very widely known. After 30 years as writer, retreat master, and lecturer, he has currently, since 1996, been living a life of seclusion in Upper New York near the monastery. And Brother David.

[39:15]

Thank you very much. I can't tell you how greatly honored I am to have been so warmly invited by this community to this symposium, and also greatly honored to be responding to Father Pete. I feel very deeply what he said, and as a fellow psychologist, I agree with him that while Buddhist psychology seems to spring from its very roots, our Christian psychology is not yet there. But I am very grateful that we have people like you, Pete, because I think we need to get there, and you make strides in getting us there. In the interest of our discussion, I want to limit this response to three brief points. One about the connection between contemplation and desire in the context of our theme here,

[40:30]

and the other one to uncovering, the aspect of uncovering, particularly with regard to sexuality and desire. He would permit me to be a little autobiographical in this respect, because we have such an autobiographical antecedent here this morning. And then finally, about seeing, which seems so important in this context. With regard to contemplation and desire, I think our entrance to this topic is myth, mythology. The notion of contemplation comes from templum. Templum is the first word. And the temple, the templum, was originally with the Romans. The concept goes far further back than the Romans. It goes to primordial religion.

[41:33]

But with the Romans, the templum was not originally a building with columns like you think, but it was a marked out area in the sky. And that marked, this templum in the sky was observed and projected onto the ground, and phenomena like Stonehenge are original tempers, projections of the tempering of the sky onto the ground. And the contemplatio consisted in looking, in connecting. The con is the verb, con, con, connects the temple above with the temple below. And that was the original notion of contemplation. And when you think, when you remember that the sky, the templum in the sky, is the sidera, as we told it, the desiderio is exactly the desire.

[42:38]

Desiderio is exactly the same as contemplatio. It is the connection between the sidera and us below. And it is the effort to live up to the standards which the above sets for the below. And that comes from it. Now, in myth, all this is very beautifully expressed in the creation myths. But the creation myths still, they are basically, all the creation myths are an answer to the question, who am I? Not what happened long ago, but who am I? And we could develop that further, but I just want to remind you of your own questioning when we were children, we had this question, who am I? And we created our own creation myths. There's one, when the children ask, at the time when they ask so many questions,

[43:43]

always expect that what they ask is really a question of who am I? There's a wonderful story that needs to be told, even in this brief time, about a boy who raised his hand during a mathematics class, a six-year-old boy, and the teacher thought he was speaking about mathematics. He says, where do precious stones come from? This is precisely one of those questions, who am I? And the teacher said, I'll tell you later. Now we'll go back to the presentation. The next day, the boy comes to school and says, you know, I figured it all out. And he reads this poem. And the poem says, of course, in the first person, he is this precious stone. I lie deep down in the deep abyss, and I shed my light on everything. The good sun, sunshine, that calls me, calls me a precious stone.

[44:45]

The snakes are crawling all around me. The earth presses down on me. But I shine like the sunshine. I'm a precious sunshine stone. This is a creation that encapsulates the thing that is almost nothing. Mud in the Christian, in the Jewish creation, nothing. The pebble that lies deep in the ground. The sun is everything. And the relationship between the two. One makes the other one. It is, again, Desiderio Conte Bracio Zorina. And most of you, as children, probably do this picture. Because our children, at some stage or other, are likely to do it. It's a little flower. And above it is the sun. Now, the sun looks exactly like the little flower. Often, they both have little faces. And this is the perfect creation.

[45:50]

I am nothing but a little flower that looks like the sun, is brought out by the sun, becomes the sun, because it looks like the sun. And there, again, you have Conte Bracio and Desiderio all in one, and it is deep within ourselves. What really is in there is the emptiness. We speak of a desire as being fulfilled. Very interesting linguistic term. The desire needs to be fulfilled, because ultimately, that desire upon which we spoke, that great desire, the true and unwarped desire, is simply emptiness, is simply what we heard about in terms of the Poivre this morning. It's emptiness that's waiting to be filled. And we are already, we have already the heart's desire,

[46:56]

is what Merton said this morning, I'm not sure. He said it, or Meg said it, but anyway, we have already our heart's desire. And Dorothy Donnelly, the poet, says, you are God's, God says. This is here, you are God's, God says. We know this in our innermost heart. But a cloud is on the star. And no mirror in the world can show how beautiful you are. And so the effort that is connected with Platonism is the moving of this cloud that is on the star. And there we come to uncovering. The uncovering is simply the moving of the cloud that is on the star, and hides how beautiful we really are. So let me say a few things about uncovering in the context of sexuality. Because I think of sexuality as that point

[48:01]

where our spirituality is rooted in the body. In the body. Spirituality is in the body. Now, very early in my career, in the 60s, I was asked to give a talk at NYU. I was this innocent little monk coming out of the monastery and speaking about symbolism of the church. The church is woman, and the church is God, and the church is house and so on. At the end of this rather academic little presentation, this is now the 60s, the first questioner raises his hand. Hiya. What's the sex scene like in a monastery? I honestly can't remember what the answer is. But I do remember that it made me question.

[49:02]

We never talked about sex in the monastery. We were celibates. We were supposed to be educated to be celibates, and nobody ever told us anything about sex or how to handle our sex or what to do with our sex. Nothing. Just absolutely nothing. Now, I very much hope that this has changed since then. For myself, I was bereaved enough, but not to the monastery, to discover white tantra. That's the way how I handle my own sexuality. I know that Milton writes about it in his Asian journal that he was particularly interested in that. But I very much hope that this kind of uncovering will go on, particularly in monastic context and in monastic education and training. And I believe that this walk state of our desires happens particularly with regard to sexuality very early on in life, as Pete says. But I attribute it to the society.

[50:05]

I think it is not our own fault. It is the society's fault. It is what society tells us about sexuality. And therefore, the effort should go not so much in what we do with individuals, just patching up, but it should go in changing society, and in our case, monastic society, that should help people develop more straightforward. I spent two years as a teacher and resident at Esalen, and that is a place where sexuality is very much out in the open. And I must say that this being out in the open and being uncovered is extremely healthy, and I have seen a lot more healthy sexuality in Esalen than anywhere else where I have gone. And it leads to this freedom, this external freedom of Congress, leads to an inner integrity and respect, and more than respect, reverence. And one time I was in Esalen,

[51:07]

I just came out of the lab, but there was a workshop, and a woman had her little boy with her, so about three years old, and in the course of a few hours sitting discussing, she took the little boy into a corner and changed his diapers. And there this little guy was standing there, and he turns around to us and he says over his shoulder, Do you want to see something? It's private. This is society. Where did he go? This was society bending his desire. Where it is rooted in the body. And I believe that this uncovering leads to discovery and to reverence. While there is another way like this, Do you want to see it? Which is a kind of striptease, and leads to purience, which means scratching yourself and sticking yourself and scratching

[52:07]

and turning all into yourself, and then remorse, which is literally biting again where you have scratched, and it turns us into a warp, into the warp inside. One final thing, again, autobiographically, I used to go swimming with a black man. We would work together and then we'd go swimming. And after two or three times going swimming, I noticed that in the locker room, we were sort of exchanging furtive glances. And since this was not just once or twice, but it was going to be for a longer time, I thought I'd better leave this in the book. And so after two times or so, I said, I notice your furtive glances and mine, so why don't we just take a good look? And I took my collar off, and we took a good look, and we had a very good laugh, and the whole thing was completely,

[53:09]

no problem whatsoever. That's seeing. And the seeing is what we most are about. There's a passage in Tales of the Shahan, and maybe I'll close with that. It says, it's at the very beginning of the phenomenon of man. Seeing, we might say that the whole of life lies in that word. To see or to perish is the very condition laid upon everything that makes up the universe. We want to see. And we see most clearly in our peak moments, and one of these peak moments is the Eucharist. And I was very struck, the Eucharist where we have communion with all, all, all, and I was very struck

[54:12]

when I remembered in this context that in the Vulgate translation of the Bible, which the church used for 1,500 years, before Jesus institutes the Eucharist, he says, desiderio, desideratam, to die, or pascam, or viscum, with great desire and desire to eat this meal with him. So that is an experiential thing. I'm very happy that here we can explore this experientially, because that's what it's all about. Thank you. Dean, where would you like to use this for your next question? We're open for questions. We're open for questions.

[55:15]

This translation, especially going south here, used as their basic model of the relationship of the human soul to God, or the reaction of the human soul. They called it the pandas, which means the way. And they said that there is this natural inclination for the human being to seek the absolute. And I've always been kind of surprised that that was not, you know, that that more or less disappeared with the beginning of the Renaissance, well, especially with the development of the Aristotelian method of psychology, which are now rational psychology. And I've often wondered or imagined what it could have been if we had taken this idea of the fact

[56:19]

that there is a natural inclination towards the absolute and used that as our model rather than the rational model which seemed to separate the absolute and the relative. Sister Donna. Aber pandus est is from St. Augustine. Of course, the Cistercians were very Augustinian. And just one little quote from a winning by St. Terry in the Golden Epistle. He says, the Holy Spirit is the anxious quest of the person who truly seeks. And so the eminence of the Spirit is that yeast, that energy. Thank you. Next. John. Yeah. With regard to Kevin and also Sister Donna's comments, I think that's a very important comment

[57:22]

about the understanding of this is, as a policy, a rational approach. And to complement this with a more the aspect of desire, the pandus, the natural desire of God. And I think in our century, there's a great movement, there's a subtle movement towards this direction. That's the so-called transcendental Thomism started by the British Jesuit, Marshall, the Belgian Jesuit, followed by other German, French theologians. And among this group is also the famous Karl Rahn and Ronegan in America are following this trend. They call it transcendental Thomism because they think in Thomas, there's not only the rational approach to God. There is a statement very important in St. Thomas

[58:23]

that is in humans, there is a natural desire, an inborn innate desire for God, for seeing God. Marshall took that as the starting point of the whole system, philosophical system, the starting point, the basis of his whole philosophical system. Humans are created with this inborn, innate desire for God, for the vision of God. And so that's the transcendental Thomism, very much useful to balance the traditional Thomism, even though this transcendental Thomism is somehow seen by the traditional Thomism as somewhat unorthodox. But I think it's a good balance, a good confidence for the traditional, classical Thomism. Thomas? Yes. It's continuing this line of recovering desire in its positive sense,

[59:24]

which I believe it did have rather consistently in the early Christian writers and medievals. Often, however, using the distinction between the appetites and the passions, between appetite as something that is pure and coming from the very depths of our nature, and concupiscence is often used as a term to distinguish two kinds of desire. But even the contrapissible appetite, that is the desire to possess, is not in itself in any way evil, because it's necessary in order to live, just as the irascible appetite is not wrath, it's not an evil anger. But I was wondering if perhaps today we need to correct something that is very early in Christianity, and especially in Platonic Christianity, Augustine, for instance, and that is this primary attention to concupiscence, to desire as concupiscence, which means greed, which means lust, and hence sexuality. Whether today perhaps we could recover

[60:26]

another aspect, both of the Greek and of the Indian wisdom, and that is seeing ignorance, delusion, to use the usual English translation of the Buddhist term, as the root passion, that which distorts all of the appetites. I'm not too familiar with Jayavarman, but I seem to recall that he was positing fear as the source, primary trigger for neurosis, and for psychosis even. So I wonder if you could address that perhaps. When we say ignorance, in other words, the other face of ignorance is fear. We fear that which we do not know. And so perhaps this... I think we're deluded... Words fail us. There is no such thing as a true self. There is no such thing as a false self. But we try and use these concepts to convey something that's pretty mysterious.

[61:27]

But we're deluded much of the time in thinking that who we really are, that we know who we really are and we don't, that it's this falseness about ourselves. That's a key delusion for us, that we have to get beyond somehow. And I just see it as rooted in fear. Oh. I was really looking forward to your words on recreating desire, and I don't think... Did you get there? I didn't seem to read it. Did you say something? Yeah, it was that... I link it to those five steps that I talked about. I was rushing at the end, so let me say a little bit more about that. This process of recreation includes those five steps of having an opportunity for encounter, awareness of what happens at that encounter, surrendering, abiding, and then embracing. But what happens after we do that?

[62:30]

What's the recreating process like? I think that as we continue to engage in that process and we come to a clearer sense of ourself in relationship to God, that's the deepest desire, which all these others are aspects of, there's a way, as I think about it, that we become... We participate in creation with God at that point, that there's a way in which our joining with God, God in this individual, personal, unique, loving, encompassing relationship, it's, as Robert said this morning, it's a union that differentiates. It's only through this complete union that we come to know ourselves truly separate, but still completely one with God. And my language here is that at that point we start moving in some sort of dance of new creation with God, and that we move in a unique way with God, and that this overflows in our relationships with others,

[63:33]

whether we want it to or not. We don't have to work at that. We simply can't... We can't not have this overflowing heart that we talked about in the Benedictine sense happen. Professor Chang. Well, I want to comment on this sexuality. Now, apparently, we should say a little more. Sexuality is spiritual. Just as spirituality is sexual. That's right. Right? Now, that's in our nature. Yes. I just point out by, you know, referring to the Chinese word, xin, nature, human nature, contains this original goodness derived from heaven, but also it has its manifestation in our desire for food and sex. So the question is, how do you transform sexuality into spirituality, and back to your physical form? So I think that your creation of desire

[64:35]

may imply certain dialectics, which I hope to be made more explicit. Namely, your sexuality is a desire for physical, but also for spiritual. The question is how you use the spiritual to overcome your physical, in order to gain a new physical form. Okay. I wouldn't think so much in needing to overcome things. I would think more in terms of befriending. It seems to me that more than we think that we have somehow to control our sexualities is that we're putting it somehow to other and too much of an antagonism with us. If there's a way in which we can embrace that and understand the fullness, I think this notion of abiding here and I think this notion of pausing makes sense, too. This symbol here, I was going to use it in the context of the term of the expanding self, if we got to that,

[65:36]

but I read in a book called The Quest for Silence that in Japan, this is called Ma, and it's only 100 years old, apparently, and it only came about because apparently in Japan, Japanese, they had to name something they were in fear of losing. These pauses, these intervals, this space just to experience something without having to act on it right away. So when it comes to our sexuality, I think too often physical responses, physiological responses or fantasies, we feel like quickly we've got to do something about it, like stop it, dash it against the rocks, as Saint Benedict says. Well, I'd say eventually, but stay with that a while. See what really comes of that. Don't take it at face value. Remember that all of these things are multiply determined. Well, why now all of a sudden am I feeling this way? What's going on? When I talk about men and their emotional states,

[66:38]

I often make the case that men have two emotional states, on and off, that they're either aroused or they're not. They're either emotionally or physically aroused or they're not. And it's not that men aren't capable of other sorts of differentiation of that. They don't stop and think about it. They've been socialized so that the only chance for tenderness, connection and intimacy is through sex. No, not just through sex. I want to rephrase that, through genital sex. And we've got a long way to go to make some shifts societally to bring that about. The point I'm trying to bring up is, I think something you might have in mind, is that when you have sexuality, you are confronting a gap between the spiritual and the physical. So how do you overcome the sexual, in terms of finding a new means of expression? You can overcome your sexuality in the sense that you can experience, for example, nature as a form of beauty.

[67:40]

You can enjoy your physical existence in a larger context. You can imagine a metaphor, like being the bride of Jesus Christ. Or you can do many other things. Well, you can embrace and know sexual feelings and to know that as an energy and to work towards moving that energy into one's person, into one's life, rather than trying to not connect it, but to make this connection. It's fascinating to me. I think about the hermitage here. We're a group of around 25 celibate men. We're all sexual, and we have a great deal of energy here. And there's a great deal of energy in this place. And people talk about that when they come here. But they don't say, there's a lot of sexual energy here. But they could, and they'd be right. There is a lot of sexual energy here. But there's a way in which it gets, even though we don't talk about it as much as we perhaps need to, it gets channeled, it gets worked with, and it gets directed. And so we...

[68:42]

Speaking for me, I try not to see those as being too much in opposition, but I'm always working on ways of integrating that, saying, whatever's happening to me sexually, where is God in this? No matter what it is, where is God in this? So I'm actively working on always making that connection. That would be your recreational design. That's a big part of it. We've got a lot of questions. Why don't we have two hands? I just wanted to type up from the Buddhist side that all of this that you're saying sounds very familiar and very much the same in our practice. In Mahayana Buddhism, the earlier idea of desire being the cause of suffering is transposed to ignorance being the cause of suffering, not understanding the actual nature of reality as it is, which then gives rise to desires, which are confusions, just like you say, distortions. And then in the practice itself, just on a very practical level, the idea that with meditation practice creating enough spaciousness within a person's life so that you can see a third alternative

[69:44]

to repression and acting on desires, or rather, holding a desire honestly and fully in awareness, seeing, just like you're saying, like you just said, where is God in this? Staying with it, seeing where it comes from, watching how it comes and how it goes. Because it does come and it does go. And so the idea that with that kind of spaciousness, I often say to people, if you really look carefully over a period of time, you'll see that all desires that arise include within themselves their own fulfillment in the very desire. And that it's just life. Life comes up and includes its own fulfillment in it. And the idea that we have to rush around and do something about it, either by smashing it or acting on it, is only perpetuating the difficult. Like in all these cases that you mentioned, I feel really grateful and happy when you said that you yourself were personally involved

[70:45]

in a lot of cases of abuse and so on in the Church because I felt, oh, this is good. Someone who's wise is really tending to these situations. I think those situations must come from distorted desire that is not worked with, is not opened up, the light of awareness is not coming to bear on those desires and the distortions increase even more with the feeling that one must get rid of them, that they're sinful and one must get rid of them. They only create terrible pain and suffering and distortions. And there's no spaciousness. These folks in almost every case were working like dogs. And they were alienated from anyone who was close to them, usually their spouse. They had no place to go except to act on it. I mean, that's how I understand it. So anyway, just to say, very similar kinds of ways of working. Robert? To cover a bit this positive approach, in the West there's our own St. Gregory the Great

[71:45]

who's called the Doctor of Desire, and doesn't really explore that. In the East, as I understand it, Pope Origen, Gregory of Niceau, their love of the canticle is kind of this culminating moment of the Word of God, of Revelation, and exploring this as what it's all about between the soul and God and between the Christian community and God, is stamoso. And as I understand it, they tend to use the language of love, and it's not the Greek agathe, but eros. Yes, eros. Eros. On the other hand, as I understand it, there's this counterweight also of the historical and the later time, of we need to arrive at passionlessness, we need to arrive at holy detachment, indifference, so that the higher mind will commune with the mind with a capital A. So unfortunate, isn't it? I think that that perpetuates this sort of split

[72:48]

that I think that we have to work against. I don't know, we have this body, and I think this body relates to God in very important ways. God reveals God's self to us through our bodies. So if I'm feeling very aroused, and I stop in some spacious, what is this about? Maybe it's loneliness. Who am I lonely for? When's the last time that I was praying instead of being busy working on a paper or something? I mean, spend just a few moments tracing some of these things back, and for me at least, I can have some understanding of these things, to use that as a real connection. So I'm less concerned about higher faculties than I'm concerned about this somehow being some mysterious hole that energizes us. And the other paradox I like about this is that there's this tremendous energy going on, and I think about this co-creation, this recreation of desire as being somehow atomic, bomb-like, explosive,

[73:50]

the smashing of particles together, but since this is taking place inside God, the rules are different. So it's simultaneously this great power and absolute stillness at the same moment. Absolute stillness. Like the eye of the storm. This planet is moving, I don't know how fast. We don't know what it's doing, but that energy is there. And that's a weak comparison, but that's the best I can do. This side of heaven. I don't even know if I get on the other side of heaven. You'll explain it a little better. I think that interreligious dialogue will help us a lot as Christian monastics in the form of celibacy, if we restrict ourselves to that for a moment. We are told to be celibate, we even take a vow of celibacy, but no one really tells us how to do it. It's kind of like throwing a kid into a pool and say, swim, but you don't teach him how to swim. So the reason why there are so many problems in this area is because we haven't learned the skills of channeling our sexual energy into things that are beautiful or appropriate.

[74:53]

And so in our dialogue with Taoism, with inner alchemy, and also with yoga, with the chakras, I think that they have a lot to teach us in terms of the skillful means of channeling that energy into higher levels of practice. The other thing is that I don't think our Christian psychology is going to get anywhere. I think the both of you were saying that you and Brother David, that the Buddhist psychology seems to be a step or several steps ahead of ours. Would that be... It's extraordinarily rooted in what it is. Yeah. And I just want to say that the Christian psychology would be further along than it is, but it's not for the lack of trying. We have had various moral theologians who have tried to dynamite us out of an extinct biblical anthropology, and every time they try to do that, the Vatican silences them. And so we're dwarfed in this area. We've been able to move beyond as a church to move beyond a biblical cosmology.

[75:56]

In other words, none of us would accept a three-tier cosmology. We have a Vatican observatory. We baptize Copernicus and say, he's great, right? We need the same thing. We need a Copernican revolution in our biblical anthropology in the same way, in terms of getting beyond the biblical morality, which is wonderful if you're living in an agrarian culture, but there's a severe disconnect there, and a lot of Christian morality, sexual morality, is trying to impose a biblical morality, sexual morality, on a contemporary culture which doesn't support it. So, no wonder we're all whacked out. Don't use those technical terms. I know. So we need a new Copernicus in sexual morality.

[76:59]

We are done. I really wanted to point out that I'm so grateful for the topic chosen by me, an explicit treatment of desire. I think that's so timely for our symposium, Creative Heart and Contemplation. The desire, I think, is, if not, the heart of what matters. At least, it's the key element of the whole topic. For a period of heart, it's a question of reintegration of the distorted desires, and especially with contemplation, because coming from this platonic tradition, we think about contemplation as a kind of peaceful, cool, clear-minded seeing. And that's all. Most people about contemplation

[78:03]

just be quiet, be peaceful, and then see. We forget the other aspect of contemplation. And I'm grateful that David pointed out the etymology of contemplation, the connecting with heaven and earth, and then the siddhus, the siddhala and the siddhariyam. I don't know whether it's maybe a little bit applied in the tradition, but anyway, it's a good point to point out the connection between siddhala and siddhariyam, the desire. I think desire really should be at the heart of contemplation. And that's so clear from the great fathers, from the great, great, great, and from the Cloud of Unknowing. If you take the book of Cloud of Unknowing, it's a treatise, a book on contemplative practice. The Cloud of Unknowing, the author intends it as a manual

[79:05]

for contemplative practice. And if you want to limit down to one or two words, what is it about the whole book? It's about what he talked about, the blind stirring of the heart, the yearning, longing. These three words may cover the whole book, and these three words can come down to one word, desire. At the very end of the book, he ends by saying, Saint Augustine explains what I mean by holy desire when he says that the entire life of a good Christian is nothing less than holy desire.

[79:38]