Unknown Date, Serial 00227

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John Borrelli, who has become a friend,
really probably needs no more introduction.
But he has given us a little bit of insight
into his personal life with this short introduction.
Marianne and John Borrelli were married in January of 71,
less than 30 days after he returned to Vietnam.
They entered their second semester of graduate school
four days later and lived on three scholarships.
Stephen was born in 1974.
John finished his PhD in 76.
Claire came along in 78, and Eleanor in 1980.
Marianne, his wife, finished her PhD in 1981.
Stephen is now a sportscaster or sports writer
with usatoday.com, and the daughters are still in college.
Marianne has taught psychiatric mental health nursing
for several years at CUNY Catholic University
in Georgetown.
She is now finishing two years co-directing
the Wellness Center of N Street Village,
a center for homeless women in Washington, D.C.
After Eleanor went off to college,
Marianne and John thought that they could begin
talking about marriage, and now are a lead couple
for marriage prep in their parish.
They also serve as community ministers and lecturers.
In a typical year, John staffs three dialogues with Muslims,
one dialogue with Hindus, two meetings of the Anglican
Roman Catholic dialogue, and attends and participates
in one dialogue with Buddhists,
and four to five multi-religious meetings.
In addition, he is a camp follower of monastic
inter-religious dialogue, and attends the annual workshop
on Christianity, and the annual meeting of the Faiths
in the World Committee, which supports Catholic diocesan
staff in their inter-religious work.
Let's welcome again John.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
I do manage to publish a few things each year,
although I don't carry my name.
Maybe I'll carry somebody else's name.
And I try to do one thing a year that takes me out
of the usual routine.
When Joseph asked me in September, last September,
if I could come to this, I said, this will be it.
This will be the thing that will really get me out
of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.
And it's not let me down, so thank you.
Thank you.
This morning, Steve Tingert was saying, yes,
you have the texts of a tradition, but that's not enough.
You've got to see how the tradition is lived.
And I think if we were to allow Professor Chung
just to be here as a Confucian for several days,
we would begin to pick up what the meaning
of these texts are.
It's not just enough to read the Analects
and the Manus and the others.
One has to see them live.
And the great thing is how those who have been
outside of China are bringing Confucianism
back out of the heart of the Chinese people,
where it has survived outside of China
in university centers in Taiwan and in Korea.
With the opening up of things,
Confucianism is flowering again.
For centuries on end, students picked up the Analects
and read the first selection.
The master said, to learn and at times to recite
what one has learned, is that not after all pleasure?
To have friends who come from afar,
is that not after all joy?
To be one who is unknown but not resentful for it,
is that not after all what it means
to be the virtuous person?
Now, that's not really the most important passage
that would become verse number one.
But it's the first one people read.
And it really set a tone for what one would find
in this text.
Of course, and you have recited it
and then said that parts were added on.
One of the more famous ones is when Master Kong,
Confucius said, at 15, I resolved to learn.
At 30, I stood on my own feet.
At 40, I was not confused.
At 50, I knew the Tian Ming, the mandate of heaven,
the decree of heaven.
The Ming, and you put Tian in front of it, right?
It's one of those powerful terms that comes again and again.
That he knew at 50, as you said,
but they must have added on.
At 60, my ears were receptive.
At 70, I followed my heart's desire
without overstepping the boundaries,
without overstepping the way things are.
So that wonderful biography.
Now, for you monks, and this is this word that you had,
tzu, meaning meditation.
He also said, I once tried not to eat for a day
and not to sleep for a night in order to meditate,
reflect, meditate, but there was no benefit.
It is better to learn.
That's the word for study, to learn.
It's better to look at things.
But he also said, to learn and not meditate or reflect,
you know, is foolish.
To reflect and not to learn is dangerous.
Now, does he use this term, Juan?
Is this in the Analects?
Yes, usually for talking about observing things,
people, how people, you know, they think.
I hear your words, I'll observe your behavior.
I'll hear your words, I'll contemplate your behavior.
And also you contemplate the water, the flicking water.
He said, how flicking, how quick, how fast it goes.
That's his interpretation.
It's a very fundamental reference to reality.
I wanted to get the difference in how these were used.
And of course, we're translating these terms and everything.
And for generations, students picked up Mencius.
And I picked these two because what Professor Chung has done
is he's taken a paper, his original paper anyway,
and he took these two basic classics as major sources
and the other two, but we'll mention those.
So students would pick up Mencius.
Now, these are part of the curriculum.
If you wanted to be a civil official,
you had to memorize these practically, right?
You knew what they said.
And they'd pick it up, and the first selection in Mencius
was Mencius talking to King Hui of Liana,
who asked him, you've come from afar,
how can you profit the state?
And he said, profit? Don't talk about profit.
That's your problem.
Let's talk about benevolence, or goodness, or co-humanity.
Or righteousness.
And righteousness, yes.
So one of the most famous passages in the Mencius,
in Mencius, is humanity is ren,
and it's the same pronunciation, ren is ren.
To be human is to be benevolent, or to be co-human, or humane.
So, we learn as we read in the second book of Mencius,
the one who is devoid of a heart of compassion is not human.
One who is devoid of a heart of shame is not human.
One who is devoid of a heart of courtesy and modesty is not human.
One who is devoid of a heart of right and wrong is not human.
And you turn these around,
the heart of compassion is the seed of benevolence.
That word.
And then there are three other virtues.
The heart of courtesy and modesty is propriety.
The heart of right and wrong is wisdom.
The heart of shame is righteousness or dutifulness.
These are the virtues.
Professor Chung has shown in the paper that he prepared
how these two classics, the Analects of Mencius,
and the other two classics that constituted the four books
in the Sona, I guess, right?
They constituted the curriculum, the four books,
the basic curriculum, the great learning and the doctrinal meaning.
That in these there was an implicit theory of the human self
and self-cultivation.
His observations are based, as he says,
purely on philosophical principles inherent in these texts.
Much like some of our ancestors read Aristotle
and developed a view of the existence of what we would call
the natural soul and the principles of the ethical life.
So there's something very parallel in that.
And with a philosophical razor similar to Occam's,
he presents us with a common notion of human self and mind
in minimal terms.
He takes us through the active self and the self-underlying
consistent self-awareness.
He talks about the reflective self,
which need not be above that which it observes,
nor need it be above time.
Nevertheless, it transcends the active self
because the active self is its object.
But its transcendence does not have to be reified
as an independent entity,
nor is it necessary to pause in eternity
in order to conceive of temporality.
So he takes us through these, the self and its two sides,
the temporal engaged self, the transcendent and reflective self.
And both are integral to each other in human experience.
And he talks about the controversy with Matteo Ricci then
and free will, and he develops the notions of free will
and so forth, the basis of virtue.
The mind is open, creative, and receptive,
and thus fulfills its nature, which is the way things are.
Now, Confucius once said that
if I could add several more years to my life,
I would add 50, so I could study more,
so that I would be free from great error.
But it's this word study, again, that's here.
The Book of Changes.
The Book of Changes, yes.
So now, this morning, the coffee was very warm
and the air was very thick and chilly,
and as you can tell, I've had a cold
sort of welled up in me during these days.
But I came along, and Fr. Bruno brought me back to the center
with his opening words today on the Sacred Heart
and made me think more about purity of heart.
And where exactly is that reflected in these texts?
And I think you have shown, and by your presentation,
that purity of heart in the sense of purity of intention,
we could find that in Confucianism.
This idea of all of these, meditation and contemplation,
is all about purity of intention.
The Master completely avoided four things.
He had no set opinions, he had no unnecessary feelings,
he was not obstinate, and he was not egotistic.
So in that sense, the purity of intention.
But did Confucius believe that there was a place
within the self where one could have purity of thought?
We could understand purity of heart
in the sense of purity of intention.
That's there, I have just proved that.
But is there purity of heart as we were talking about
that place, La Pointe Vierge?
Is there something there that we would, in Confucianism?
It seems that this wasn't developed.
I don't know, I ask you that question.
Do you gentlemen think that there is something secret with me?
Or that I am keeping something concealed from you?
Confucius once said to his students,
there is nothing that I conceal.
I take no actions but what I take with you.
Now, Arthur Whaley tries to explain what this means,
and as best he can come up with it,
Confucius is saying there is no esoteric doctrine
in Confucius' mind.
There is also a passage in the 18th chapter of the Analects,
which is probably apocryphal,
but Zulu is taking Confucius along this road,
and they have to ford a river,
and there are two fellows out in the field
plowing and actually planting.
And one is Zhang Ju, and one is Jie Ni.
And supposedly these are Zhuangzi and Lianzi, right?
Hermits, two hermits, all right?
So here, I like these passages for you.
I pulled these out for you, but that's just it.
So Zulu goes over and says,
where do we ford the river?
And the first one, Zhang Ju says,
who's that you're driving?
Well, that's Confucius.
Well, that's Confucius.
He doesn't have to be told where the ford is.
And he starts laughing, you know, and goes on.
And so he goes to the other fellow, Jie Ni,
and he says, where do you ford the river?
And he says, who are you?
And Jie Ni says, well, I'm Zulu.
Aren't you a disciple of this Confucius?
Yes, I am.
Well, everything swept along in the flood.
You avoid some people.
Avoid the world.
Avoid the world.
Join us.
And so Zulu goes back, and he says to Confucius,
these two crazy guys, what they said.
He said, one cannot flock with birds
and herd with beasts.
If everyone followed the Tao,
if everything under heaven, all under heaven
followed the Tao, then I would not need
to try to change things.
So you've got this kind of standoff of positions.
But I love that.
If you flock with birds and herd with animals,
you're not going to get it.
Well, we could go on.
I'm running out of time here.
We could go on with Mengzi on this, too,
and show that Mengzi himself, he has some references
to introspection.
But he says things, if people do not respond
to your ren, your benevolence, then examine it.
Then look into your own benevolence.
Then we're all born with these natural feelings,
but they get suffocated, or they die.
They don't develop into the virtues.
But it's really this kind of introspection
of look at your own actions and see what they reveal.
Purity of heart might be original goodness,
as you said in Mencius.
Purity of heart might be original goodness.
But you get a sense that it's always in the acting
that this is seen.
So again, I ask the question, can we find
in these early Confucian texts, because you read it
from the point of view of Neo-Confucianism
that you can develop this view.
But in the early texts, is there a place
where we could find the purity of heart
where one rests in contemplation?
Thank you.
Thank you.
I said I was hoping you could answer this
as we answer other questions.
Is that correct?
Yeah, you can answer this question.
Is that OK?
All right.
Very briefly, I think the start with Confucius
to talk about the implicit goodness of human nature.
He said, men were born and human beings are born straightforward.
It is because of the substances and habits that make people different or even perverted.
So, he didn't immediately say that human nature is good,
but yet he seemed to believe that there is a foundation for human goodness,
which would be a foundation for morality.
Of course, his basic point is that you introspect yourself, you will find your feelings,
and your feelings can be identified as good or bad,
because you know you don't want people to do harm to you, to hurt you,
so you don't want to hurt other people.
So, this self-introspective action is very important.
Your intuition will come out and you have to make a decision.
Of course, people can still become bad or perverted,
because they did not follow what they had found.
Or, for many people, he called them small people, small persons.
Small persons are people who focus on profits, on satisfaction of immediate desires.
They have no introspection, they have no reflection, they have no meditation,
not to say contemplation, they just live their lives like birds and beasts.
So, he is trying to say, yes, if you look back, you will find something deeper there,
which enables you to make a distinction between right and wrong.
So, this is important.
Now, it comes to merchants who want to stress the fact that we do have good nature,
which is original, because these are the things which everybody can come to see.
To give that famous example, he said, no matter how bad you are,
you cannot but feel an urge to help a child who is about to fall into a well.
This is a famous story about a child who is about to fall into a well.
You may hate the father of the child, but know that the immediacy of your response is to help.
That is to say, our heart will jump to a certain stage of sympathy, empathy,
and that is to give the evidence of good nature.
And also, of course, he said we couldn't lose our good nature,
but we have to take an effort, again, in reflection meditation, to recover it, to retrieve it.
So, he advocates daily and continuously a process of reflection, explanation, cultivation.
We have seven minutes left, so if we have any questions, Professor will entertain them.
Well, first of all, I want to make an observation,
and that is, in the Kirsten tradition, this idea of purity of heart,
in the monastic tradition, its fulfillment is found in the theme of the return to the Garden of Eden.
It develops later on in the monasteries referred to as the Cloister of Paradise.
Now, the Garden of Eden, of course, is a myth in which the human person, as human person, is originally good.
So, both Confucianism and the Judeo-Christian tradition
sees the human being as fundamentally good, and only later destroyed.
One of the things that I've been wondering about is,
in the Confucian meditation, in reflection, does it ever confront mystery?
That is, heaven, or the transcendent, or the absolute, whatever word you want to use it,
as being incomprehensible, but still experienced by the human person.
Yes, I think you probably can say that if you talk about this idea of the experience of illumination.
The illumination of our bright virtue.
What is the illumination?
What is that particular inspiration of resting in supreme goodness?
But, of course, there is a tendency in the Confucian tradition to always find reasons for all the experiences.
You need experience, but you need to also make your experience socially understandable.
And this is the reasonableness of Confucianism.
But in Neo-Confucianism, you do find that, for example, in Cheng Hao, he said,
I come to the experience of heaven and earth principle, and I just feel so joyful, I just jump around.
He described his experience of finding the Tianyi, the heaven reason.
He just feels all of a sudden this inspiration.
And also, in Cheng Yi, he talked about the profundity of heaven in quietness.
But the profound quietness is also the profound creativity.
But he doesn't want to go this one way.
He wants to balance with something creative, something manifest.
So the manifest is the most secretive.
The most secretive is the most manifest.
So this is the Confucian principle of balance.
But the sense of profundity is always there.
I'm sorry, Paul.
I just immediately thought of Wang Yanming when you talk about mystery or something that can't be pinned down.
I seem to recall him saying something like,
people who come after me shouldn't be just trying to quote my exact words,
but that I respond according to, I guess, heaven's mandate within to particular circumstances.
There's no fixed, prescriptive recipe for dealing with all situations.
The sage hasn't followed the way of the sage,
which is not something that can be written down, something that has to come out.
Yes, he's teaching about the innate goodness of the heart, mind.
He's very creative, but also profound.
He doesn't want to fix on any principle.
But again, the moment-to-moment cultivation of oneself,
so that one is continually reacting to what happens,
so that one is able to form, according to his words,
form one body with 10,000 things.
Always form one body, the sense of oneness with all things,
so that you can respond sympathetically and creatively to things.
And your life becomes enriched always by interacting with all things.
So that's the sense which, in fact, that's the sense which you also got from,
you know, the poetry, which has been also cited by,
one of the times by Leo Capuchin's manga.
You know, seeing the fish jumping in the abyss,
and the bird flying over the peaks.
That is the life, that's the mandate of heaven.
You see, that kind of profound, you may call it mystery,
but it's a profoundity, which is also manifest.
Tom, you have both hands up.
About mysteries, what about wuji?
Is that experiential?
Wuji, if I remember correctly, means without limit?
What is wuji?
Yes, you know, ji is the ultimate.
Ji is the being, the central being.
The being is written by this word, ji.
Now, this ji, this has been very clearly explained by Zhu Xi,
comes from the wood side.
So when you build a house, you have a central being.
So it is because of the central being, you have a house, you see.
So, we have the being, the central being, right?
Being, being, being.
The central being.
So the central being, made like a house.
So to build a house, the tai chi is the great ultimate.
So it's a great being, by which you can have a world.
But if you don't have the central being,
then you're open to space.
You are free.
But yet, so that principle,
Chengdu Zhonglin talked about,
where it comes from, or maybe inspired by the Taoistic view,
when Lao Tzu talked about the voidness produces being, right?
So he said, then he comes to wuji, tai chi,
because in the commentaries of the Book of Change,
it is said that the tai chi, the great ultimate, the central being,
produced the two forms, yin and yang,
which give rise to the four seasons,
and the eight forms of the fa hua.
So that is, but he said, we can go a further step,
beyond the central being.
What's beyond this structure?
And that is the void.
And what was the syntax of the human school?
Thank you very much, Dr. Chengdu.
One of the difficulties is we don't get here on time,
so if you can make sure we're here at...
It was suggested to me, since I'm not very good at cutting speakers off,
that I should put this bell.
Sister Donald Coren is a native of Minnesota.
That's good.
She entered the Benedictines in St. Paul in 1959.
Her doctorate is in theology from Florida University
in the history of religions.
From 1976 to 1979, she taught at St. Louis University,
where she directed the MA in spirituality
and was coordinator of the Institute of Religious Formation.
In 1979, she co-founded Transfiguration Monastery
in upstate New York,
which is affiliated with the Commodity Benedictine nuns
of San Antonio Abate in Rome.
Her interests are monastic studies,
East-West dialogue, Jungian psychology,
and cultural criticism.
Welcome, Sister.
Thank you.
I have a friend that lives in San Francisco,
and when I told her the topic of my paper,
she said, well, I think there is or used to be
a bank in Chinatown called Sincerity Bank,
which sounds like a coincidence of opposites.
At our monastery in upstate New York,
I have a hermitage,
and my hermitage is named St. Paul Kill,
which is Gaelic for St. Columba,
but it also has a Daoist name.
It's called Hermitage of the Valley Spirit.
I told Father Joseph that I am a Daoist
by nature and inclination,
but a Confucian by necessity.
My interest in Confucianism started back in 1969
in a course from Thomas Berry of Fordham.
I felt an immediate resonance with Confucianism
as a Benedictine,
and Father Nicholas just told me that
many Benedictines have the same feeling.
So I'm somewhat an amateur in Confucian studies,
I don't speak Chinese,
and so that's a handicap,
and just talking with Marty last night,
it became apparent to me how rich the language is
and the nuances,
and even trying to unpack the meaning of sincerity.
I'm sure Marty and Professor Cheng and others
will have much to say to uncover
the manifold meanings of sincerity.
I believe that there's a deep problematic
about humility in Western spirituality,
and since it's a key in the rule of Benedict,
I think we have a challenge to recover
and find a deeper sense of humility.
It's not at all attractive or easy to understand
for various reasons which I can't go into,
with some spirituality over the last few centuries
stemming from Chancellorism and so forth,
and so we're very suspicious of any notion of humility
that would have to do with any destructive notion
of destroying the person or self-deprecation and so forth.
Bernard Herring has a recent book on virtues
published about three years ago,
in which he refers to humility as a moth-eaten virtue.
So we need to rehabilitate it,
we need to re-understand it,
and I believe that Confucian optic can be extremely helpful.
I think that the Western contemporary notion of humility
is individualistic and voluntaristic.
At worst, it's an assumed pose of unworthiness.
Remember the character Uriah Heep in our novel by Dickens.
It's not attractive at all.
Certainly the deepest sense of humility
is Christological for a Christian,
that we enter into the pastoral mystery with Christ,
and it brings us that deeper self-emptying.
But I think it brings us, through that emptiness,
to a tremendous fullness, as we've talked about this morning.
Confucian sincerity would be a very helpful notion
to understand a deeper sense of humility,
not just one virtue among others,
but as kind of a meta-virtue, or basic to all virtues,
a way to open us to them all.
So sincerity, for me, is not just a concept.
It's a whole disposition of the Chinese heart.
And I believe it has a rich possibility
of bringing us to a deeper sense of benedictive humility.
I'm an amateur, as I said,
and I'm, in this paper, just beginning to sketch
some beginnings of transferring insight
from sincerity to benedictive humility.
And I look to the Chinese benedictives of the future
to really unpack this in a much deeper way.
I think that Confucianism has been
a somewhat neglected partner in East-West dialogue,
and so I'm very happy that Confucianism
was included in this conference.
So let me just begin by saying that
there are really basically four parts to my paper.
The first is to sort of lay out the problematic a little bit
and say why humility has become a kind of problem
for contemporary Benedictines.
And the second part is some general comparisons
between Benedictinism and Confucianism,
which I may say a little bit about.
And then third, I get into the heart of the matter,
is laying out the Confucian notion of jade sincerity.
And then fourth and finally,
I end with kind of a poetic medication or elaboration
on Benedict's cosmic vision as a way of understanding
sincerity as a return to that deepest center
which opens us up to all centers.
Just to say briefly something about the history
of the notion of humility in Benedict.
He, of course, was very much influenced by John Cashin,
and Cashin had taken from, as this was pointed out
the other day, the notion of apatheia,
and had not used apatheia but had used
the more biblical notion of purity of heart,
which is more positive.
And Benedict, interestingly, even though John Cashin
says that that's the primary purpose,
the immediate goal of monastic life,
he does not use the term purity of heart,
and most scholars now agree that what he uses
in its place is humility.
So we can understand the heritage of Benedict's notion
of humility by going back both to Cashin
and to Evagrius, which I'll do in the conclusion.
Confucianism is not monastic,
as John Morelli pointed out before.
For Confucius, you might say that the world
is the monastery, the whole polis,
whereas you could say that Benedict is a sage
for whom a specific humility is his polis,
and his ability to be a great legislator
and wise legislator, I think, is in itself
a kind of Confucian attribute.
The wisdom of governance.
The Taoist hermits in China, of course,
are obviously quite monastic,
and many monks of the West tend to be inclined
for that reason more towards Taoism than Confucianism.
So there's no cadre of spiritual elite
on the side of society for the Confucians.
The realized person is the public servant,
as Professor Chung pointed out very, very well
in his previous talk.
The five great classics of Confucianism
were used to train and form the state bureaucracy
right down to the early 20th century.
For Confucianism, the secular is sacred,
and as Professor Chung says, the sacred is also secular.
There's no kind of division of the problem.
I said to Stephen this morning,
in Confucianism, you don't have pillow sitters
that are on the side of the babysitters.
More on that side of the household.
Yet Confucianism does teach a way
of moral and spiritual cultivation,
which was very well pointed out
and elaborated in our previous talk.
And the societal impact of Chinese Confucianism
certainly developed a tremendous tradition of civility,
just as Benedictine values led to a great impact
on the Western development of civility.
It's interesting that Robert Bellah,
in one of his recent books, The Great Society,
in which he talks about the disintegration
of Western social institutions,
professions and education, the churches and so forth.
As an empirical scientist, a sociologist,
he's not supposed to go out on a limb
and say what he would recommend about this,
but he uses the term self-cultivation.
And his early work as a sociologist was in East Asia.
And so he's recommending self-cultivation
and that very Confucian term of spirituality
as a source of societal renovation in our society.
Likewise, the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre,
when he talks about moral disintegration
of Western society, says perhaps in our day
we need a new and perhaps quite different Saint Benedict.
So you can see that Confucian self-cultivation
and the wisdom of Saint Benedict
have this perennial impact of leading
towards societal revitalization and so forth.
Confucianism is far more than an ethical humanism,
and yet there may not be no personal god
in the Western sense, yet it is both ascetical
and contemplative in a very deep way.
And I wish I had time to talk about more
of the connections and correspondences
between Benedictinism and Confucianism,
but I simply can't get into that.
Saint Benedict's humanity, moderation, and discretion
are qualities of a spiritual balance
that the classic Chinese would also share.
All the virtues are displayed in a wise governance
and an ability to work with human nature
in all its dimensions.
Saint Benedict is unquestionably
a kind of Western sage personality
and one of the principal archetypal
wisdom figures of the West.
Even in the Christian East,
eight centuries after the division
of the Christian East and West,
Gregory Polymas would point to Saint Benedict
as the great model of the hesychast.
Now the hesychast is a particular tradition
of continuous prayer and the saying of Jesus,
which is more than just the saying of Jesus,
it's a whole way of life and spirituality.
But that hesychia, that rest,
means tranquility, quiesce,
the opening of the single eye of the heart,
and then the vision, the illumination, and so on.
It seems to be Benedict's vision of an auric light
which in Polymas' mind links Benedict
to the hesychast tradition,
a point not unrelated to the event
in the tradition of Promethea
and John Passion's purity of heart.
Though neither Evagrius nor John Passion
taught what later became the formal practice
of hesychastic prayer,
and neither did Benedict,
the tradition of incessant prayer
is clearly found in John Passion.
Therefore, in a way, we can speak
of a Western or Latin hesychasm.
Benedict's spirituality is a way
of the ordinary and everydayness
as in the Confucian tradition.
The genuine Confucian strived
to cultivate mind-heart.
The notion, Chinese notion of mind-heart
is somewhat parallel to the Greek nous
and the Hebrew leb.
Tranquility and non-attachment
are as much in the name of the cultivation
of heart-mind as is the goal
of apatheia or purity of heart.
But the cultivation is also directly related
to service in society, to everydayness.
Contrast this with Plotinus' sense
of the ascent of the alone to the alone,
and one sees a fundamental dispositional difference
between the Greek sense of contemplation
and the Confucian sense.
Confucian contemplation or enlightenment
was never a question of private bliss
or an escape from the reality of social life.
The document called Great Learning,
a major Confucian classic,
teaches what is called Mingming De,
illustrious virtue in the world,
shown in loving the people
and resting in the supreme goodness.
Some discussion last night,
the idiograms imply that the person
is so transformed that there's just
a kind of natural, the French would say,
rayonnement, a radiance that overflows,
reflecting a kind of light.
The practice of sincerity, shown,
is the basic means to such realization.
Sincerity will lead to ren,
a real and practical love.
William Theodore de Berry calls ren
a sense of an affinity and organic unity
among all things.
I'll later point out how we see this
in the cosmic vision of St. Benedict.
The Confucian sense of ren,
love or human heartedness,
is so significant that Hans Kuhn,
a major Western theologian,
proposes that it be considered
as a foundational concept
for world ecumenicity.
Everybody can be a Confucian.
Just as John Cashin would equate
purity of heart with charity,
the Confucian tradition knew
that sincerity, shown, was immediately
ren or deep human heartedness,
or the wide heart, the expansive heart,
or the Maha Atma in Sanskrit.
For both the Confucian and Benedictine
traditions, the right relationship
with persons, places, and things
stems from a rectification of the heart,
from a humility or centeredness
rooted in profound reverence.
Now I think that both in Confucianism
and in Benedictinism, that profound
reverence, which is a whole stance
towards life, is partly at least
formed in cult, you know,
in the practice of me and liturgical
worship and so forth.
Benedict's ladder of humility
begins with a strong sense of
fear of the Lord, the biblical sense
of reverence, an awesome sense
of the reality and exigencies
of the sacred.
This is something a Confucian
would understand, even without
a sense of a personal God.
For a Confucian contact with
the sacred principle,
rectification of the heart and mind
transforms all dimensions of life.
The foundational and essential
virtue of Confucianism is
Sincerity is the key to
sage work.
Its classic formulation is the
profound classic known as the
Doctrine of the Mean, also simply
referred to as the Mean.
The Mean is a superb spiritual
classic, and unfortunately
little known in the West.
I myself feel that the Doctrine
of the Mean and the Tao Te Ching
are two perfect commentaries
on the chapter on humility,
Benedict's chapter on humility.
It ought to be required
for reading, study, and
internalization in every
monastic tradition.
In China, it served as a bridge
between the Confucian tradition
and the other two principle
traditions, the Taoist and the
Buddhist. Both the Mean
and the Taoist classic
Tao Te Ching are two excellent
commentaries on the virtue of humility.
The Confucian virtue
of Ching is a kind of
meta-virtue, and is the presupposition
of all listings of the
Confucian virtues.
The Doctrine of the Mean calls
the ontological ultimate
Chun. The Chinese
title of the Mean is therefore
Chun Yun.
Chun is translated by the great
Confucian scholar Du Wei Ming
as centrality, and that's
really key for the
insights that I'm elaborating.
You see, the Mean as centrality,
which is kind
of perhaps reification, because
again, I think it's a matter
of the apprehension of that
centrality, which is a centering process
which becomes all of life.
It is the access of
all truth, the center of all spiritual
reality, the center which
is everywhere.
Rodney King calls
the Mean, quote, a vivid image
of the centering process.
So you see, we put centering
as sort of one
little distinct discipline, but it should
lead to a whole orientation
towards life, and a suggestion
of a subtle point of the Confucian
religious dimension.
This center, Chun,
is the sacred for the
Confucian. It is not an absolute
out there, apart from all
being. Thus, the Mean
counsels to follow our
nature is called the Way.
Now, cultivating the Way
is called education.
Education involves
a spiritual reordering.
It is to realign
oneself with nature, reality.
It is cosmic harmony.
This spiritual
realignment is impossible without
sincerity, just as Saint
Benedict's ascent to spiritual realization
presupposes a ladder
of humility.
Benedict's ladder, paradoxically,
ascends by descending.
Again, in the image
of loneliness,
humility of heart.
Realization is founded on
loneliness, a very Confucian
and Taoist perception also.
Thus, the Mean says,
and this is perhaps the key
text, sincerity
is the way to heaven.
To think how to be sincere
is the way of man.
He who is sincere is one
who hits upon what is right without
effort and apprehends without
thinking. He is naturally
and easily in harmony
with the Way.
Such a person is a sage.
He who tries to be sincere
is one who chooses the good
and holds fast to it.
Study it, the way
to be sincere,
extensively. Inquire into
it accurately.
Think it over carefully,
sift it clearly, and practice
it earnestly. That's the whole
process of reflection, meditation,
It is not possible to live in harmony
with truth, with ultimate reality,
unless one has
sincerity. Sincerity
is the center by which one relates
to the center which is everywhere.
If the Chung
of the Mean can be rendered
centrality as Du Wei Ming
suggests, we might suggest
that Cheng sincerity
can be understood as
centering, a continuous return
to a point of truth
and integration.
This continuous return
is by contemplative apprehension,
by sacred study,
and contemplative harmony and
living. The goal
is also the means.
Chung has the sense of a noun,
a substantive. Cheng
has a more active sense,
I believe, indicating a process
and perhaps those who speak Chinese
could elaborate on that.
The Chinese character
of Cheng also means
completion, actualization,
perfection, honesty,
genuineness, truth.
The frequent translation of Cheng
into the English sincerity
is not entirely satisfactory.
in common English may be seen as
a quality of character, ethical
and moral perhaps, but often
unhinged from a broader
and we would maintain spiritual viewpoint.
one must be cautious of the translation
of Cheng as sincerity
since it can easily
miss the religious and even mystical
aspects of the term unless
it is understood in terms of the whole
Confucian spiritual universe.
One contemporary
commentator, Hong Chun He,
argues that sincerity
is a thoroughly inadequate
equivalence. This is the problem
of language, trying to find
equivalence. He attempts to
amplify the sense of Cheng
by describing it as, quote,
creating and accomplishing
oneself and all things of the
world, which, while perhaps
a more adequate rendering, is
far too unwieldy for continuous
use. The translation
of Cheng as sincerity
has become standard
whatever its inadequacies.
Suffice it to say that
the common English notion of sincerity
or authenticity needs
to be qualified when used in the
Confucian context.
It is not merely psychological,
a goal of good character,
it is ontological and deeply
Du Wenming cites Mencius
to substantiate the spiritual
ramifications of sincerity.
in the following passage in
Mencius, is translated
as true, while
also translated as to be centered.
The desirable
is called good. To have
it in oneself is called true.
To possess it fully in
oneself is called beautiful.
But to shine forth with its full
possession is called great.
To be great and to be transformed
by this greatness is called
sage. To be sage
and to transcend the understanding
is called divine.
This is an
important point for our purposes.
The classic and most profound
Chinese sense of sincerity
is profoundly spiritual
and even mystical.
Modern Western notions of humility
are often not immediately spiritual.
The psychologist
Antoine Mergod, for example,
has suggested authenticity
as a contemporary psychological
norm of self-realization
and therefore as a possible way
to appreciate Benedictine humility.
The inadequacy
of this suggestion was rather firmly
stated by Benedictine monk
Benedict Levin.
Confucian sincerity has
a considerably different connotation
from Mergod's Western
contemporary and highly psychological
sense of authenticity.
Thus the Chinese
sense of sincerity takes on
a deeper and deeper significance
as one studies it in the whole
Confucian worldview and its
sense of spiritual attainment.
The Evagrian notion
of apatheia implies
a spiritual reordering of the self
which is an opening
of the heart, leading to
theoria physicae and
theoria theologica,
a vision of
a created reality and a vision
of the mysteries of God.
The ordinary modern
Benedictine understanding of humility
has no such stature at all
and it is in this regard that the
insights of the Confucian tradition
may help Benedictines to deepen
and re-appreciate humility.
Sincerity is a characteristic
of the enlightened person, but it
is also a dynamic way of progress.
Sincerity is the
sine qua non of all spiritual
cultivation. It is the
key to integration, right order,
clarity, and truth.
In a similar way, the mind
of Christ, participation in
the canonical history, opens
the door to reality for the Christian.
The doctrine of the mean says
of sincerity, only
those who are absolutely sincere
can fully develop their nature.
If they can fully develop
their nature, they can develop
the nature of others.
Reminds me of a quotation
from Saint Seraphim of Sarov,
Establish yourself in God and then you will
be helpful to others.
If they can fully develop the nature of others,
then they can develop
the nature of things.
If they can fully develop the nature of things,
they can assist in the transforming
and nourishing process
of heaven and earth.
If they can assist in the transforming
and nourishing process
of heaven and earth, they can
form a trinity of heaven
and earth, heaven, earth,
and human in between.
It is important to remember
Du Wei Ming's emphasis on
chance as centrality,
a point which is also an axis
of connection, a way to
harmony and integration.
Forming the sacred third
is a Confucian way of understanding
spiritual completion.
The wise person lives in harmony,
creating a sacred bond
with heaven, earth, and the human.
The inner rectification
of the heart, both for
the early Christian monastic tradition
and for Confucianism,
requires a kind of watchfulness.
The Christian monastic tradition
called this nexus.
Both the Ming and its companion
classic, The Great Learning,
assert that the noble person is
watchful over himself
when alone. Gregory
the Great, when describing Benedict's
early monastic life at Sympiaco,
says that Benedict
lived with himself,
avatare sacrum.
Humility, sincerity,
is necessarily linked to true self-knowledge,
vigilance over one's
thoughts and emotions.
As the 14th century English mystic
Walter Hilton put it,
beyond the initial conversion of life
called reformation of faith,
which is more on the ego level,
there is also a reformation of feeling,
in which even the roots of
one's feeling life are transformed.
This seems to me
to fit with the whole discussion we have about
the Samskaras and the Kleshas.
Early and classic Confucianism
did not teach specific
techniques. After the
12th century, Neo-Confucianism
would be more specifically
concerned to lay out a systematic
learning of mind-heart,
a true system of interiority with
a concrete practice.
The practical, the social,
and the political linked together,
the so-called things at hand,
and thus avoided a dichotomy between
action and contemplation,
and was not touched by the dangers
of anti-intellectualism
and quietism found in some Buddhist
and Daoist authors.
are as crucial for
the Confucian ideal as they
are for Benedict.
In chapter 72 of The Rule of Benedict,
probably its original ending
before chapter 73 was added,
Benedict defines the role of
monastic life as precisely
the living out of the Christian life
in terms of a web of relationships.
a fundamental attitude shaping
one's way of relating,
is evidence in the Benedictine monastic
attitude towards God,
other persons, and all things.
Humility is the relativization
of the ego and not
its destruction.
Commenting on Confucius' saying
the noble person is ever reverent,
William Theodore de Berry
explains that this conveys the sense
that one should deal with all persons
as if they had a high dignity
and all things
as if they had an infinite value.
profound and expansive reverence
is the spirit which suffuses
the whole of Benedict's rule.
For Benedict, even the tools of the monastery
are to be treated as if
they were the vessels of the altar.
His exquisite care
for the sick, his delicacy in dealing
with the alien world,
his sensitivity for the multiplicity of
personality types and the variety
of personal gifts,
his recognition of special needs
of the old and the young, for example,
witness to the reverence
which become innate
in the Benedictine disposition.
It is not without significance
that all these traits are listed
in regard to the duties of the
cellarer, the monastery manager,
the person who is certainly concerned
with the things at hand,
and that the qualities of the cellarer
are a summary of the essentials
of humility.
and Confucianism both
emphasize a spiritual way
that is concrete and daily,
a way of the ordinary.
The Confucian sense of cultivating
my heart is seen to be
directly related to service
in society, everydayness,
by ordinary remaining
in the human community.
It is not a question
of recharging one's spiritual batteries
on the side of life,
then returning to the phrase,
so to speak.
I think that Saint Benedict would instinctively
appreciate Confucian virtues
and qualities of reverence,
reciprocal respect, loyalty,
and good faith.
Sincerity is expressed in personal
modesty, self-restraint,
courtesy, polite manners.
Confucian ching,
or jing, or reverence,
reverent seriousness
is expressed in being sedately gracious
and wonderful.
These qualities are not just a stilted manner,
a Hollywood caricature
of Confucian mandarin.
Confucianism would never see
becoming a profound person
as private or individualistic.
Spiritual wisdom is necessarily
related to ongoing service
to the wider community.
But the living out of the ideal
is hardly a mere realization
of an ethical ideal.
Confucianism has been described
as a moral metaphysic.
It teaches that restoration of human nature
realigns oneself
necessarily with heaven and earth
and the human.
Inner work is the way
to all truth. Harmony
and integration are both the means
and the end.
Okay, I'm going to move on again
a little bit more.
The way of sincerity,
it brings a sense of connectedness
with all things.
Again, this is certainly akin to the experience
of Saint Benedict.
He had an experience he had from the end of his life
when he went into a tower of prayer,
went deeply within himself
to the center of all centers
and had a cosmic vision.
Whether this is historical or
I think it doesn't matter.
I think the teaching there is very important.
A connectedness with all things
and Saint Gregory the Great
says about that experience
that it was not that the world was small
but that his heart was enlarged.
So that going to the center,
the deepest subjective, deepest part of oneself
actually opens oneself
up to
the most objective.
Again, this is certainly akin
to the experience of Benedict described
by Gregory the Great.
Nowhere is this more poetically described
in the Confucian tradition
than in the so-called Western
description of Chang Tsai.
Heaven is my
and earth is my mother
and even such a small creature as I
find an intimate place in their midst.
that which directs the universe I consider
as nature.
While people are my brothers and sisters
and all things are my companions.
Let's say now where we go
of 12th century Cistercian
wrote a letter to his sister who was a recluse
and he said,
in your deepest prayer gather the whole
world together in your arms.
Okay, I'm going to move on to the conclusion.
Benedict is not alone among
early Christian monastic writers
in emphasizing the excellence of humility.
The Eastern fathers,
Greek and Syriac, have always
viewed humility as the mother of all
virtues. Benedictine humility
has more doubtedly
Christological and eschatological
formulation, obviously lacking
in Confucian treatment of sincerity.
Yet there are clear parallels.
Humility might be called
the door to true Christian gnosis,
to a vision of all things
consummated in Christ the center.
Through humility
one attains a felt unity with all
of creation, all of reality,
symbolized by Gregory the Great's
account of Benedict's cosmic vision.
The humble and
purified heart is in harmony
with all of creation.
Humility is the way to a true
unitive vision, an aligning
of the heart with reality
that opens one to greater and greater
The event known as Benedict's
cosmic vision is reported by Gregory
the Great in his dialogues.
Historians warn of pious
elaboration in such hagiography,
but perhaps the lesson of this event
exists on another level
than the literal history.
Ruth Peter described
Benedict shortly before he died
went into a tower to pray.
He saw the whole cosmos gathered
before him as if in the laying of
sun. Gregory comments
it was not that the world was
small, but that his heart was enlarged.
This event
might appear from the outside as too
apparently ecstatic to relate
to the ordinariness of a Confucian
spiritual way, and in
some sense perhaps allegorical
and archetypal. Benedict's
experience in the tower is in
some way paradigmatic both for the
Confucian profound person
and Benedict's ideal of the monk.
The Confucian tradition's
deepest spiritual conviction
is the teaching of the me
that rectification of the heart will
bring one to centrality, the
sacred center uniting three basic
realms of heaven, earth,
and human. This
journey of integration begins with the
discovery of the sacred point within our
heart. Benedict's turn
inward in the tower as he prayed
was a return to his own
deepest center, but also that center
which is the center of all centers
which has no succumbance.
That's why it's a vision of totality.
The monastic
journey is about enlarging the heart
or as medieval writers called it
the dilatantio portus as
we run the way of God's commandment
as Benedict says in the Prologue to the Law
our hearts expand, warming up
the heart. The me
of the doctrine of the
me is a point of integration
and an access uniting
the three basic chronological realms
heaven, earth, and human.
The poet Ezra
Pound translated the me
as the unwavering heaven.
He also translated
it as standing fast in the middle.
Standing fast
in the middle, but you know
as martial arts
teach, it's that
center, but it's a center out of which
spontaneous movement can move.
Aidan Kavanaugh
interestingly attempts to explain
a vagrant apotheia by calling
a kind of dynamic equilibrium.
notion again. In this regard
John Cashin also sees purity
of heart, which he simply says
is charity as a kind of inner
pivot, ultimate compass
the center which immovably
fits is also the ultimate measure
of all thoughts.
Here's what Cashin says about
thoughts. So also our mind
unless by working around the
love of the Lord alone as an
immovably fixed center
through all the circumstances of our works
and contrivances either
fits or rejects the character of
all our thoughts by the excellent compasses
if I may say so of
love, which love will ever
by excellent skill
build up the structure of that
spiritual atlas.
The noble person,
the sage, the truly humble one
is concentric.
Truth, sincerity, authenticity
puts one on center
not in a kind of frozen stability
but in a creative and
true opening.
The person who has found the inner truth
in the depths of their own being
has an immediate link with heaven and earth.
The sacred center is not
confining but opens to
universality. Thus
when medieval Christian writers spoke
of God as that reality
whose center is everywhere and whose
circumference is nowhere, a phrase
taken up from record-rolling
paganism, they are asserting
not only that there is
nowhere that God is not but also that
the center, which is everywhere
opens to totality
or total inclusion.
The symbol of the center may be one
of the greatest symbols of the sacred
just as the symbol of the spiral
is keenly appropriate in the spiritual
journey of spiritual progress.
The spiral moves to and from
a center and also
extends itself on the axis
as the dialectic of inner and
outer play on each other.
The dynamic of the spiral
is inward, outward,
forward, or progressive.
The heightening of the dialectic
creates an ever-widening jar
in the words of Irish poet
William Buckman Yeats.
Marty pointed out to me last night
that I kind of sort of
robbed that
phrase from Yeats out of the context
because Yeats talks about when the center
is not whole, things fall apart
and the ever-widening
jar is from the disintegration.
Well, as we move from
a point of centrality
and drift away from it, it can be
disintegration, but it also,
the more we touch that center, the more
we're drawn back towards it
and then enrich and flow outward.
Noted Chinese
scholar Du Weiming comments
self-cultivation is
not a ceasing process,
a gradual inclusion.
So that ever-widening reach
can improve.
Father Bruno
has been striving to articulate
a true sense of gnosis in a
greater and deeper vision.
To see it only as a rare or passing
moment of ecstasy is not
to see its link to the whole of Benedict
and monastic concises.
Now the Old
Apostle in a brilliant essay
on St. Benedict as the classic
pneumatic pose clearly links
the injunction in the prologue to the rule
we must open our eyes to the
deifying light, to the cosmic
vision reported by Gregory.
The cosmic vision is
why Gregory's poemist in the 14th
century points to Benedict
as the true model of the Hesychast.
A number
of years ago, one of my students,
a Korean Benedictine monk, commented
on a Chinese character on
an invitation card on my desk,
an invitation to the installation
of the Zen Master. He explained
ah, it is our vocation.
And I said, what do you mean?
He said, in Chinese,
this character means two things,
purity of heart, and
to see the 10,000 things clearly.
St. Benedict saw the 10,000 things
clearly. Would a vagabond
not recognize in this experience
of Benedict a living out of
the theoria physicae and
theoria theologica, which
a life of apatheia and purity
of heart lead to?
This is the contemplative vision Father
Bruno calls unitive knowledge,
implying integration and
I'll quickly try to finish this.
An appreciation of
classic Confucian wisdom would
help Western monastics to reappropriate
a sense that purity of heart
and humility mean a reverent
openness. It is
St. Benedict's phrase to incline
the ear of the heart. It demands
that we stand honestly and reverently
in reference to a
transcending ultimate as the foundational
and pervasive spirit
of our life. Such a
stance is the first of St. Benedict's
steps on his ladder of humility.
Evagrius Ponicus,
when describing purity of heart,
uses the image of the
vessel. Remember,
Wayne Shue talked about the
ideogram of the vessel before the
altar, which is worship.
In his odd monikos,
Evagrius writes that the vessel
of election is
a pure soul. Evagrius
here is pointing to purity of heart
as foundational to spiritual
enlightenment and to early Christianity,
especially monasticism.
It is a fundamental
receptivity of our heart,
just as the way of sincerity
for a Confucian leads to
ren, human heartedness, love,
compassion. For Evagrius,
the work on the heart is
an opening to love.
Evagrius writes, in front of love,
passionless apatheia
marches in front of knowledge,
John Cashin, the leading influence
on Evagrius, when he points
to purity of heart,
which he says is self-security,
would not involve, I think,
calling it the opening of the heart,
creating a vessel of the heart,
and never widening
capacity for the spirit.
We have mentioned before that
philatopsia fortis is a great monastic
theme. Benedict in the
Prologue to the Rule thus comments,
as we run the way of God's commandments,
our hearts expand.
This process is also
referred to in the Prologue's
phrase, which enjoins his followers
to open our eyes to the
deifying light.
This purity of heart leads directly
to illumination, to a cumulative
Far from a privatized
experience, the widening of the heart
to the spirit is universalizing,
grounding compassion for what
the Chinese would call the myriad
10,000 things.
Just about finished.
Benedict's cosmic vision thus understood
is paradigmatic of the whole
Christian spiritual journey.
The opening of the heart through
humility, apotheia, or
takia, brings an illumination
and harmony with all of creation.
Genuine spiritual illumination
is universalizing,
non-private, and is progressively
inclusive, grounds one
in the concrete, the human particular.
The Chinese historically
had a great instinct for the spirit
in the marketplace, the common
and familiar political
earthly reality.
illumination necessarily results
in greater and greater wisdom,
a whole way of living, and particularities
of one's actual
existence. Being progressively
filled with the spirit,
to be a pneumatic hose,
is to become a fountain of
light, love, wisdom, healing,
Kevin was talking about
the symbol,
understanding purity of heart as returning
to paradise, and that the medieval
cloister was the
But at the center of that
was the fountain.
If anyone
thirsts, let that person come to me,
and from that person's center
will flow a fountain of living
water. The human journey
is a matter of becoming a soulful
vessel, empty and lowly,
in order to be a spirit-filled fountain.
Confucius in the Analects
tells a story of Sun Tzu
who asked, what would you say
about me as a person? The master
said, you are a utensil.
What sort of utensil?
A sacrificial
vase of jade.
How Benedictine. The descending
ascent of Benedict's ladder
refines the vessel of the heart.
It is the liturgy of one's life that
becomes a cosmic liturgy.
It is a life of centering
that is empowered at the center
to progressively return
to an ever-widening circumference
of inclusiveness.
Thank you very much, and also thank you for being
timely. It would have been difficult for me to ask you
to stop speaking after being educated
by sisters for the first 18 years
of my life.
Actually, I
asked Martin
Verhoeven, perhaps, why don't you tell us
something that wasn't said about yourself
yesterday? Because apparently
you heard the introduction already, and I will just
be reading the same introduction, but
maybe there's one piece of interesting
information you could share with us.
This is what the nuns used to do to me.
I had them too, they'd put me on the spot.
It was a little spontaneous act.
We're not doing it in our free time.
It's a little spontaneity