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Cassian Institute

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The second conference of Abba Isaac is over. Abba Isaac has just told us this formula, which is the magic formula, God come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me, which is to be repeated on every occasion and ceaselessly. And now he begins to tell us why he recommends that formula. He says, this formula the mind should go on grasping, the translation is probably a little weak here, until it can cast away the wealth and multiplicity of other thoughts

[01:03]

and restrict itself to the poverty of this single verse. And this gets curious right now. He says, so you will attain with ease that gospel beatitude which holds first place among the other beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. What does he mean by this poverty? He's got a double meaning here. One meaning he brings up, he's sort of intertwined both of them. One meaning is the idea that you've only got one thought in your head. That's the kind of poverty. You simplify all your thoughts down to one thought. The other is that this prayer itself is a confession of poverty, isn't it? Because it's asking God for his help. It's a prayer of desperation kind of. And so this notion of poverty comes through in two ways. The way poverty in the sense of simplification of thought, poverty in the sense also of poverty of heart as we usually conceive it, of a consciousness of a need and a dependency at every instant.

[02:05]

What higher or holier poverty can there be than this, that man, knowing he is defenseless of his own, asks help for daily life from another generosity. So that's the poverty we usually mean when we read that beatitude. But it's a shame that he doesn't talk about the first kind of poverty more, that is the poverty of thought, which consists of having just one thought. This is something that has a long and important history in monastic tradition, this idea that what they call the prayer which is monologuistos, that means which is only prayer of one word. And so here we get to the technique of meditation, not in the mantra tradition, of repeating one word or remembering one concept, one notion, one image continually, so that you push out all of the other distracting thoughts, and so that you change the movement of thought, what they call the stream of consciousness, until it becomes a continuum,

[03:12]

until it becomes just one thing somehow. And in Christianity, of course, it has the special significance of using the word of God, using the name of Jesus in the Jesus prayer, so it has a particular depth and a particular orientation to it. Now Cashin, he doesn't talk about that though, he goes on, who does? I have some reference there. Oh yeah, it's Theophane, The Art of Prayer. He's talking about the Jesus prayer. This is an excellent book on the Jesus prayer, just on prayer of the heart, the art of prayer. It's mostly Theophane where it goes. This is on page 97. It's from Theophane, he's a 19th century Russian. He's talking about the Jesus prayer. This short prayer to Jesus has a higher purpose, to deepen your remembrance of God and your appealing towards him. These callings out of the soul to God are all too easily disrupted by the first incoming impression.

[04:15]

And besides, in spite of these callings, your prayers, thoughts continue to jostle in your head like mosquitoes. To stop this jostling, you must bind the mind with one thought or the thought of one only. One is capitalized. So bind your mind with the thought of God, a single thought of God. And that's the only thought, in a sense, which can really fill your mind, because it fills everything. So there shouldn't ultimately be any problem there. It's a question of bringing God into the mind by the thought of God. The thought of God is not God, but God can enter through the thought of God. The word of God is not exactly God, but God can enter the mind through the word of God. An aid to this is a short prayer, which helps the mind to become simpler and united. It develops feeling towards God and is engrafted with it. That's another dimension in this, is the feeling that arises when we're doing the prayer of the heart. So it's not just a question of simplifying the mind,

[05:17]

but of developing a dimension of love, a dimension of feeling, of emotion, which is not simply emotion in the shallow sense, but is a deep emotion of the heart, which is directly connected, really, to wisdom. An emotion which really flows like that living water, from the bottom, from the center. Not the shallow emotion, just a flow along the surface. When this feeling arises within us, the consciousness of the soul becomes established in God, and the soul begins to do everything according to his will. Now you see how this feeling is different from just the emotion that's stirred up for a few minutes by home music. Sentiment is different from this kind of deep feeling. I don't mean to say that music only affects you shallowly. It too can stir up this sort of thing. And this sort of feeling, usually, Cashin would call it a compunction. Remember, he talked about all the ways that compunction could be aroused.

[06:18]

Well, that's the feeling that comes from the heart, the deep heart, which is not just transitory, nor merely shallow in one dimension, but can become a kind of a permanent thing. Or at least it's kind of a water table with which one can get into contact repeatedly so it can become almost continuous. Together with a short prayer, you must keep your thought and attention in terms of what is God. So, that's the same thing, but poverty of mind, you see, which is tied to this poverty of heart, and poverty of spirit. And the two are not so far apart, because you've got a movement towards simplification of both departments. In fact, unless a person cultivates exterior poverty and a kind of abstemiousness, he's not going to be able to cultivate his mental poverty either, really, because we can't be, what would you call it, greedy on the physical level

[07:21]

and austere on the mental level. They don't think. So the poverty of mind has to be accompanied by poverty of heart. We were talking before about those two kinds of two kinds of distraction, two kinds of simplification, two kinds of purity. There's the one of the mind and there's the other of the heart. And the one of the mind is not worth very much unless it's accompanied by the purity of heart, which is really where we are. Otherwise, we can fool around in our mind, we can manipulate in our mind, we can do techniques in our mind, but if the heart is not pure, it doesn't come to much, because that's where we're really going to produce in the heart. And that's where the feeling is, that's where the passion is. So it's a matter of conversion of the feelings, really, which means letting go of the things that we're stuck on. Now, Cashin goes on with a scriptural commentary, which is kind of amusing. It's typical, kind of, of the perfect, sort of,

[08:23]

futuristic exegesis, but nevertheless has a lot to say. So, by God's light, he amounts to the manifold knowledge of God. So we're going from this simplicity, simplicity of one thought, to the manifold knowledge of God. So there's a branching out here. And the branching out is somehow tied up with the scriptures, because the scriptures contain manifold knowledge. And that's something that the Fathers complained about sometimes. Well, how can you keep recollecting when you're reading the Psalms, for instance, because they're so complicated? Your head has to be, mind has to be moving all the time. Well, he's talking about this manifold knowledge of God coming out of the simplicity. I think probably that phrase comes from something called multiform wisdom of God. And thereafter, to feed on mysteries loftier and more sacred. And then he quotes, he quotes the Psalm. This is where it gets curious. The high hills are a refuge for the stags and the rocks for the hedgehogs. And then he goes on to appropriate this, to interpret the stags and the hedgehogs.

[09:24]

A man who perseveres in this simplicity and innocence is aggressive to none and content to defend himself from being spoiled by his enemies. In other words, he doesn't take the offensive, just the defensive. He's seeking refuge from distractions, which are attributed to other devils. Like the hedgehog riding, hiding under a rock, he's protected by his continual recollection of the Lord's passion and meditation upon this verse of the Psalm that is a guide to all my assistance. I don't know what he means by a hedgehog. I don't know what a hedgehog is. You should see them. They're funny. Rock rabbit, that's one of the songs. Rock rabbit. I used to connect it with a porcupine. It's not a porcupine. He looks like a porcupine. He hasn't got a spine. Yeah, he does. He does? I mean, that. He's got a spine and his head's sort of like... comes out. He's very rodent-like. Yeah, he probably eats the living ants. That's not a porcupine. So how can you meditate on all this?

[10:27]

On a hedgehog? You know what he means here? The hedgehog is a defenseless animal, OK? So... So what? The hedgehog is a defenseless animal, and he's connecting him with the monk. Now the stag is this noble creature, the deer, who feeds upon the heights, OK? According to the sangha. So Kashin is saying that by his meditation, the monk is taking refuge in this prayer and in the remembrance of God. He's taking refuge in this one thought, OK? You'll see the Fathers like Ezekiel saying all the time, you take refuge in the name of Christ, take refuge in the name of Jesus, and that's your weapon, your defense against your enemies, OK? So in that, the monk is being a hedgehog. He's taking refuge in the Word, in the prayer. God, come to my assistance, whatever it takes to help me. He's just calling out for defense, OK? So he's a hedgehog.

[11:29]

Now, when he does that, he's also a stag because by that simplicity of mind and by that, what do you call it, defenselessness, and by taking refuge in that one thought, he is fed with the multiform high mysteries of God, OK? So that's the mountains, the high hills. That's typical of the way the Fathers pull around the Scriptures. And there's something in it, you see. But it's not what the Scriptures are trying to say, but it's these teachings. You mean like this interpretation? No, but a similar interpretation could come into your own head. Just, I mean, just a flash. And that's probably what happened to Cassian, he was singing the Psalms while he was there. Or recalling, not when he was writing this.

[12:29]

Nothing is feebler than a Christian, nothing is weaker than a monk, like a hedgehog, who has to hide in the rocks, you see. But the rock is the remembrance of God, and the rock is this prayer. And he got into all this by talking about that poverty of spirit. Poverty, you see, he associates with meekness, defenselessness, and this refuge in the prayer. And then, in turn, he associates through the Psalm with contemplation. The stag feeding upon the heights. The multiform high mysteries of God. And it's kind of beautiful. And he says, nothing is weaker than a monk, who can't take vengeance for anything he's done to him. Or even have feelings of anger or annoyance in his heart. And then he goes on further. The man who has this innocence, and yet wisdom, you see, because wisdom is the gift of the stag that's on the heights. Has Satan crushed like a poisonous viper

[13:31]

beneath his feet? Well, that's not explained right away, but the stags were the ones who killed the snakes. That's the old legend. The deers killed snakes. I guess they swallowed them, though they didn't just crush them. Then he'd have to go and find a stream of running water in which to quench the thirst caused by the poison of the serpent. He didn't say that. Do, do, do, do, do. I don't think so. No, that's a fable. But you'll find a lot of it. As a stag browsing upon high pastures, he feeds upon the lofty mysteries revealed by the prophets and apostles. That means he feeds on the mysteries of the scripture. So the scriptures are open to him by virtue of his poverty. So you're moving from a simplicity to a multiplicity here. So it's kind of complicated. But that's just patristic literature. That's how they had their fun. Then, with deep compunction,

[14:33]

he will make the thoughts of the psalms his own. Now this is good. He will sing them no longer as verses composed by a prophet, by somebody else, but as born of his own prayers. As if he was composing the psalms as he sings them. And this obviously comes from experience, it's not just from virtue. Not only were they fulfilled in the life of the prophet. Now, when he says prophet, what does he mean here? He means David really, because the psalms were attributed to David. But are being fulfilled in his daily life. So what happened in the life of David happens in our life too. What's the meaning of that? The psalms really, remember, were attributed to David. And David is a type of Christ, right? So the psalms are really the prayer of Jesus. The psalms are the prayer of Christ. St. Augustine says that sometimes in the psalms we pray to Christ. Sometimes we pray with Christ. Sometimes we pray as Christ. That's really with Christ.

[15:35]

Sometimes through Christ too, I guess. St. Augustine had a whole long commentary on the psalms. And that's his theology, the prayer of the psalms. So the center is in the life of Christ. One line reaches out to David, which is a kind of anticipation of the life of Christ. And David's sufferings and David's prayers are the anticipated sufferings and prayers of Christ. The other line reaches forward into our life, you see. So the experience is shared by us. Now, the place where you find this treated more is in Cassian's Conference 14 on spiritual knowledge. We talked about the different senses of Scripture. And the senses of Scripture, you know, they've got four different senses. They're not just connected in a metaphorical way or a literary way. As if one thing is a figure of, one word is a figure of another word. Like, you know, Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the city in the Old Testament.

[16:35]

That's one of the easiest examples. Jerusalem is the city in the Old Testament. Jerusalem on the second level, the allegorical level, is the church. Jerusalem on the third level is our heart. Jerusalem on the fourth level of interpretation, the final one, the anagogical level, is the heavenly Jerusalem. The final church, okay? Now, is that just a figure of speech? Or is there something deeper? Something deeper. We used to say the selling. You can say that in Jewish. Right. You can say that too. There's something deeper because the line of relation does not go through the words. The line goes through the realities. It goes through the things. See, God writes with things, not with words. God speaks with things, with history, not with words. So, the similarity in these things is not a literary thing, like you find in poetry often. But even there, I wouldn't want to undersell poetry because, remember that the, what would you call them?

[17:37]

The resemblances, the similarities, the flashes in poetry come from the things too. In poor poetry, you get something that's just in the words. Or in superficial poetry. But in real poetry, the poet is seeing the resemblances that are in things. Actually. Not just in his words. Not just verbal. And so it is here. The resemblances, the line of connection runs right through the things. The connection of the Jerusalem of the Old Testament to the church. That's an organic connection. The church is grafted onto the stump that was the old Israel's in Boston. And the heart is united with that church, organically. The heart is the place where we experience the whole church. Or what the whole church experiences. And similarly, what Christ experiences. Christ and the church are in the same way we interpret the church. And finally, what we experience in the heart is the anticipation of the final redemption. Of heaven. So, anyway.

[18:39]

That's why we can say that it's not just a literary thing or not just sentimentality to say that our experience is the experience of David or our experience is the experience of Christ because it's a real sharing. Which we can't understand. There's a cycle of repetition in sacred history. Just as Jesus says, whoever wants to be my servant better take up his cross and follow me. Well, to follow me means to have the same experience that I have. Because everybody's got to go through that death and resurrection tour. So, if we have the same attitudes of heart, we're in the psalmist's broader saying of Psalms, we'll become like the authors and be aware of the meaning before we've thought it out instead of after. In other words, you don't read the psalm and then think about what could he mean by that and finally come up with an interpretation and say, well, yes, I've experienced something like that. But already,

[19:40]

you have the thing in your heart before you read the psalm. And so the psalm sort of just rings that bell in your own experience. Or perhaps the psalm utters your own sentiment at that moment. Obviously, that can't always be true because there's just too much in the psalm. There are too many words, there are too many emotions uttered. For instance, in reading the four psalms per digit, you may run into ten or fifteen different strong emotions which can't possibly be really participated by you during that short time. Nevertheless, at one time or another, that may very well be your experience. And at that time, that is the experience of somebody in the church. But the psalms are a problem. It's not easy to play the psalm, to feel it when it's really interesting. More feelings than the meaning of the words. Yeah, but both. Because, I mean, for David, the words were very concrete. And for us they're symbolic.

[20:45]

In other words, Zion for him, the mountain of Zion, the temple, not the temple, whatever it was there, was very concrete for him and his enemies and the music of the temple. For us, it has a symbolic sense which, however, doesn't remain just kind of a poetic ornament. But gradually it becomes integrated and deepened so that through those same images we feel sort of the center of the mystery which is the presence of God. So after a while, the whole thing sort of fits together and fuses for us, I think, so that those same images, we don't feel them exactly with the vividness that David did, of course, who had seen those things and heard them there. But they are windows for us into the central mystery and they are sort of luminous for us in that they become rich and interesting and attractive for us. And as we study them, it's not just curiosity anymore but they continue to remind us of the deeper reality

[21:47]

inside. So it is a real testament. So much the more, things in the life of Christ, because there you had a real density of meaning in the Gospel, for instance, there's no end to it. Because there is the Word Himself who is living and speaking and acting and everything He does and everything He says has been a bottomless depth to it. But you have to wait until it comes to you sometimes because you can't just hammer your way into it to get the meaning. That's a kind of growth process for me. When we use the words we remember by a kind of meditative association, I don't know what the original is, our own circumstances and struggles, results of our negligence or earnestness. He's talking about your victories and your defeats in the monastic life. And so, we see their text reflected

[22:50]

in the clear glass of our own moral experience. He's got some weak phrases there for the translation, probably better than the original. And so the mind shall attain that purest of pure prayers to which our earlier conference led. That's the prayer of fire. The prayer which looks to see no visual image, uses no mind nor words. The prayer wherein like a spark leaping from a fire, the mind is wrapped up and destitute of the aid of the senses or of anything visible or material. For as forth it's prayer to God with groanings and sighs that cannot be uttered. That last comes from Romans, chapter 8, 829, something like that, where St. Paul says it's the Holy Spirit that prays in our hearts with unutterable groanings. It doesn't pray with words because there aren't any words for what it's trying to say. We don't know what it's saying. A prayer which is beyond understanding. Evagrius also talks about

[23:54]

pure prayer, of course, which is beyond understanding. And he suggests that that's the best prayer of all. And especially the prayer that's devoted on the images. And images, finally, you get to concepts too. And so what have you got? You don't know what to call it. It's just a movement towards God. So, notice where we've come now. We started using that one phrase, okay? And, therefore, simplifying the mind by using that one phrase. Then it expanded into the psalms. Now you get this contraction again, down to a kind of formless and empty and simplified, unified prayer once again. Which is now a thing that leaps up. Remember that the prayer before was something you did, right? God come to my assistance, forward my case to help. That's like turning a wheel by hand. And then something happened and the psalms began to light up. And that seems almost like a side road, almost like a digression. But then we come back and we see that

[24:55]

something has happened inside. And now the prayer is going by itself and it's shooting up like a volcano. But all the complexity of the meanings and the words of the psalms has disappeared. We're back into an empty movement. Which for him is the ultimate prayer. Percussion is the highest kind of prayer. Okay, so Germana says, well, that's great. But how can you do it? How can you keep this formula always in your mind? And he points out, this is in chapter 13, he says, Gashin and I, when we meditate on the psalms, on the scriptures, what happens is that we immediately pass, we're reminded of another passage

[25:55]

of scriptures, as if they knew the scriptures too well. They'd be reminded of something else and they'd leap sideways, as it were, instead of hanging on to that passage. So it's another way of operating. So tension is caught by another passage and it forgets all about the earlier matter of the meditation. So instead of going into depth, it goes along on the surface among the Jewish companions. And so it goes on hopping from text to text, from psalm to psalm, from gospel to epistle. He didn't have Leon Dufour's dictionary of biblical theology. He would have had a lot more fun with the Bible of Jerusalem with its notes. I don't know. Choosing nothing and grasping nothing on purpose, considering no text to its depth, the mind becomes a dilettante, the taster of spiritual meanings, not a creator or owner of them. What he's doing there actually doesn't sound so bad to us. You know, the person can get that immersed in the scriptures where it's not completely wasted time. But he's not satisfied. He wants more depth.

[26:55]

And indeed, that could be, you know, that could be a beginning already. You get interested enough in the scriptures so that you can't stop leaping from one passage to another, you know, so that you get fascinated with the theological lines of thought, connections in the scriptures. That's okay. But there's something deeper, and that's the unity of thought. The time of the office it totters about like a trumpet. During the prayers it's thinking about a psalm or a lesson. During the singing of the psalm it's thinking about something quite outside the text of the psalm. But that may be okay. Suppose you get a very good thought, a very deep thought while the reading is being heard. It distracts you during the next couple of psalms. Is that bad? Not necessarily. Should you force your mind out of that thought and try to keep your mind on the thoughts of the psalm? Or is it better to stick with that thought if it's making you have a deeper prayer? Maybe it's better to

[27:57]

stick with it. To defend it. Because it can also be a distraction. So that's Germanus' perennial problem is the instability of his mind. He said, well, we still don't know how to hang on to this. And Isaac says, well, that's enough. If I haven't solved your problem yet, it's not medicine. So he makes a summary. He says, three things make the wandering mind stop wandering. Watching, meditation, and prayer. And use purposefully and assiduously. Alagri has got something very similar. He says, this is in Praktikos, number 15. No doubt. Keshin got this from him. Reading, vigils, and prayer. These are the things that lend stability to the wandering mind. And then

[28:59]

Alagri goes on with the whole kind of praxis here, the whole monastic asceticism. Hunger, toil, and solitude are the means of extinguishing the flames of desire. Turbid anger is calmed by the singing of psalms, by patience and almsgiving. See, he's got a remedy for every problem. And the problems that he talks about here are based on his threefold notion of man as being desire and will of anger and intellect. Reading, vigils, and prayer. These are the things that lend stability to the wandering mind. Keshin's got vigiliae, meditatio, and voratio. What does he mean by watching? He means watching at night, vigils at night. Staying up at night and praying. And you find that very often, especially as you just hear it. There's nothing so valuable as vigils or bringing on

[30:00]

the experience of prayer. Now, you see how all of those things contribute to the stability of mind, because those are exercises of will. They're actually exercises of stabilizing the mind. Keeping your attention, keeping your awareness, your awakeness, when you're inclined to sleepiness during the night. That's an exercise in attention, therefore in stabilizing the mind. Meditation. It's an exercise in focusing the mind. The kind of meditation he's talking about, which I think is thinking deliberately about the scriptures. An exercise in focusing the mind. And prayer is an exercise, not so much in focusing the mind, but focusing the heart. Or simplifying the mind. But anyway, that's something that more or less he takes from his ideas and sticks in there, which means it is not immediately anything.

[31:01]

It doesn't grow out of what he's been saying before. But he says this is only possible if the anxieties and worries of this life are first put away. Through tirelessly engaging in work, undertaking not for monetary gain, but for the religious needs of the synovium. One of the Deborah Gray comments here that is surprising. Cashin, who's been talking about the hermetical life all this time, now returns to the synovium. Maybe he forgot himself for the moment. But the idea is that you've got to be without care if you want to practice this kind of prayer. You want to be able to simplify your mind. You want to be protected against distraction. You can't be worrying about the body all the time. So you've got to be without care. But the only way to legitimately do that is by working. But you've got to work not for your own key format, or for your own satisfaction, but work for the community. It becomes a little complex. This is the only way to obey St. Paul's command. Pray without ceasing. And then he's got another little motto or two here. Sort of a mixture

[32:05]

of advice here. He prays too little to only praise when he is on his knees. In other words, if you don't pray all the time, you're not praying enough. If you don't pray outside the times of prayer, when you're explicitly praying, then you're not praying enough. But he never prays while on his knees, he's going for a feel in his heart. So, if you're even distracted during your explicit times of prayer, then you don't pray enough. He's being kind of friendly. We're a little surprised to hear reverence of being on your knees here, because I think the Jews would pray standing up, or sometimes seated. You don't hear so often enough prayer on one's knees. If you're standing, sitting, frustrated. Therefore, and this is kind of a general principle, what we wish to be while praying, we ought to be before we begin to pray.

[33:07]

That's true. It goes back to the beginning and connects prayer with life once again. You can't expect to be something else in your prayer than you make yourself in your life. That comes right back into the gospel. You can't expect prayer to be kind of a refuge, a privilege moment, where you enjoy all the sweets of the immensity of God, if you don't really try to live with God in all of your life. It can't be an escape. And then I got a little footnote there, that Germanus and Cassian admired the teaching and wanted to follow it, because it sounded easy. It's so simple that it sounds easy, the way of the one formula, one phrase. But when we tried it, we found it harder to observe than our previous method of wandering haphazardly through the Bible and meditating on a variety of different texts. It sounds easy because it's simple, but just try it. Same as just trying to sit and empty

[34:08]

your mind and remain in the presence of God. Try it. Try to think of God. The simplest things are not always easy. However, it's certain that a man is not incapable of perfection or purity of heart because he cannot read. Notice that he goes back to purity of heart here at the end of the tenth conference, which is this series, block of conferences, and that's the point where we started at the beginning. So, prayer and purity of heart are being put in one breath here, as if perfect prayer were equivalent to purity of heart. That's about what he told us in the first conference. And he says, you won't be frustrated of that just because you can't read, just because you're not an educated man, a literary or even a literate man. Perfection and purity are available for anyone who uses one brief text. If he uses it with a purpose of heart, strong and unwavering towards God. Purpose of heart. I think that's intensio cortis. Simodum sanam in integramentis

[35:10]

intensionem, iugia deem versiculi reis meditationes reverend A whole, a total intention of the mind. It isn't mind and not heart here, but mind and heart are the same profession. Intention. Intentionality. We don't really have a good word to render that. Purpose. It's a movement. It's a movement of the mind. Movement of the heart towards God. And the whole purpose of the thing is to make the movement of the heart one towards God. Now, when we talk about purity of heart and when we talk about prayer, we're talking about the same thing from two different points of view. Talking about purity of heart means emptying the heart so that as it were, God can be in it, so that it can contain God, so that we can know God through a transparent heart as it were. When we talk about this intention, this movement, this dynamism of the heart towards God, that's the same thing in dynamic language instead of

[36:10]

static language. It's the same thing from another point of view. And those are two basic points of view that we have. So Cassian has come full circle in that. And remember that he talks about pure prayer. Purity of heart. And he talks about this kind of integral, solid prayer movement of the heart towards God. And he talks about pure prayer. Which means basically and ultimately prayer for the pure heart. Where however, the purity of the heart is manifested also in the quality of the prayer itself. So that it's one, it's completely one. And so that it brings, welds the whole person into one. And the oneness that it has is the very oneness of God who has come into that pure heart and into that place. Remember where he quoted John 17. That they may be one with the oneness that we have. That is the Father and Jesus. The oneness which is God himself. The oneness there is nothing else but God.

[37:13]

And that comes into the pure heart. And it comes into the pure heart not just in a way of infilling, a static way, but in a way which is also movement. A movement towards the Father. Which is none other than the Holy Spirit of course. Prayer ultimately, in Christian prayers, is a movement towards the Father in the Holy Spirit. And we say through Christ, but really we could as well say in Christ. We don't have enough prepositions to cover all these relationships. But we are Christ moving to the Father with all of ourselves through prayer in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the dynamism of the movement itself. Okay. Okay. So Cassian is such a literary, such an educated guest that we're comforted to find at the end that you don't have to be that way necessarily to get to the goal. And as a matter of fact what he's talking about there is the way of many of the Russians

[38:14]

as distinguished from the Greeks. This way of simplicity of mind. As you see in the Jesus book. People like Seraphim of Sarov and Silvanus of Narnacos. It was very simple. I think it was a late revelation. I'm not sure. But the way is not really through the mind. It's through having an integral heart. The unity of the being. Becoming one thing. Or wanting only one thing. It's simple. It's important to have knowledge of this world and so forth and so forth. You see the knowledge of God. Exactly. It's in 1 Corinthians the first chapter. It talks about the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of the cross, which is foolishness. Which comes from the Holy Spirit. I think that is good. I mean, hopefully for anyone who can read through the knowledge like a priest or a human being. You know, the purity of Christianity is largely in its simplicity.

[39:20]

In the fact that there isn't any ladder. We construct a lot of ladders. Different steps to get to God. But there isn't any. It's kind of like a leap of God down to man which gives man the ability to leap up to God in one motion. And leaping up to him not by climbing on top of somebody else but simply by the movement of desire that's in his heart. It's extremely simple. The whole thing comes down to simply wanting God. Something that anybody can do. And the fact of grace, you see, which just transcends all of these intermediate steps. Even progress in the spiritual world. At a certain point you can just throw the idea away because you're standing suspended hung in God's grace. And the only thing, the only hope that you have is that you've just been trusting yourself to that grace but not to what you've done or where you've got to or the progress you've made. Especially that which we trust in. Anything we trust in except God is going to be

[40:22]

burned away. A couple of other things. By the way, this book on the names of Christ, you've got a section in here on short prayers in the monastic way. Now, where he starts from is precisely this conference of Cassian and that chapter on the formula, God come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me. And his question is, how can Cassian recommend this expression so highly? And how can he say that this is the quintessential doctrine, you know, of the fathers and so on. Is it so? So what he does, he goes back and looks into the sayings of the fathers in their lives, the desert fathers, to try to find the example of short prayers there and to see if this formula turns up. And as a matter of fact, he doesn't find much of this formula. But he finds a good number of other ejaculatory prayers, very short prayers, which show that substantially what Cassian

[41:25]

is saying is true, only it's not just this formula, but they had a bunch of different ones. So he goes back and he looks at St. Anthony. Would the same man use different formulas, or would they be just different ones? Sometimes you don't know. Very often you don't know because you only have one or two incidents from the life of a man. And so maybe you find him using one phrase, but you don't know whether that was a continual habit of his or whether he only said it on that occasion. Sometimes you can tell. Other times you do know that somebody frequently or habitually used the same phrase that's true in a couple of cases. So, sometimes they vary. Arsenius. Lord, show me how to be saved. In Greek, these things are brief. How shall I be saved? So they would have short prayers like that. Lord, save me. Lord, help me. Lord, have mercy on me. Kyrie eleison. That was a very frequent one. Lord, help me.

[42:26]

That sort of thing. Why do they call them ejaculatory prayers? Ejaculatory, I guess it would have been in Latin, dark or spirit. It's a very good expression because these are prayers which are thrown like a dart. Instantaneous prayer, which is thrown with forces. And therefore it can only be instantaneous. And they say a short prayer pierces heaven for that reason. It's like a spear. You can only put yourself into a short prayer like that, with that kind of energy, that kind of desperation. Now, obviously, they didn't always pray. You don't pray for three or four hours with repeated acts of desperation. They exaggerate and say that all the time. You find the same thing when I'm in a crowd in a monument. And he talks about this word God or whatever. He says it should be like when a man's house is on fire. He yells out fire. That sort of spirit is prayer. You can't pray that kind of prayer

[43:31]

as a dilettante, you know, as somebody who's sort of cultivating a religious life as a nice hobby. I don't know. You've got to be desperate. You've got to be in need. And so the fundamental fact is that they're praying out of a kind of poverty, out of a kind of need. That's principle number one. Which distinguishes it from a lot of kinds of meditation, which are not that. Here, prayer really distinguishes itself from meditation quite clearly. Meditation has many senses. I mean meditation in the sense that it just descends into the ground. Here, you're crying from the ground miserable to one who stands above. But the ground is the ground of your own misery. Which at a certain point threatens to threatens to bury you. Lord save me. That's typical.

[44:31]

There are probably some others in the gospel. Help me. Macarius' prayer is beautiful. Lord as you will and as you know, have pity on me. As you will and as you know. In other words, you know how to help me. I don't know. And as you will, and I know that you will, because you love me. Because you're a messenger of God. Have pity on me. Be thy son. And so on. Son of God, help me. So this is his conclusion. These examples suffice to justify Cassius' He has not falsified the teaching of the fathers in attributing to them his own ideas on short and frequent prayers. Neither as far as their use is concerned.

[45:36]

Neither as far as their efficacy is concerned. Repeatedly invoking the name has a double effect. It makes our prayer more unified and at the same time more inward. It makes our prayer more unified and at the same time more inward. This gets us back to what we were talking about. Cassian didn't talk in those words about prayer of the heart. Of course, that's what he was driving at. That prayer of one's face and grace. Unification. As soon as we make a serious attempt to pray in spirit and in truth, at once we become acutely conscious of our inward disintegration, of our lack of unity in the whole. Remember the mosquitoes that fear things. Ramakrishnan talks about the leaping monkeys from branch to branch. The state of samsara. To contemplate means, first of all, to be present where one is, to be here and now.

[46:36]

Usually we can't be where we are here and now. Well, that repetition has the effect of bringing us there. The prayer, the word, whatever, becomes an anchor for a long process. Gradually, in a very slow and prolific process. It becomes an attractive center sort of like a magnet. Then he talks about two ways that the fathers talk about of combating thoughts. The first way is to repel the thoughts, is to oppose them directly. That's pretty strong. The second way is by turning our attention to something else. And that's the way it usually works. So that's what you're doing in the Jesus prayer, or also in the prayer of passion. You're giving your thoughts another object which eventually becomes more attractive, especially if it's got the name of Jesus on it.

[47:39]

The Jesus prayer, then, is a way of turning aside from the distracting thoughts and looking elsewhere. Thoughts and images inevitably occur to us during prayer. We cannot stop their flow by a simple exertion of our will. It's of little or no value to say to ourselves, stop thinking. We might as well say, stop breathing. The rational mind cannot rest idle for as long as a month. Remember Cashin talked about the mill? Your mind is like a millstone that keeps turning all the time. You can't stop it from turning, but you control what you put into it. But while we cannot make this chatter suddenly disappear, what we can do is to detach ourselves from it by binding our ever-active mind with one thought, or with the thought of one omen. We've heard that before. It's from from theophany. In the words of Saint Deodicus, when we have blocked all the outlets of the mind by means of the remembrance of God, then it requires

[48:41]

of us, at all costs, some task which will satisfy its need of activity. Let us give it then, as its sole activity, the invocation Lord Jesus. Let us give Jesus praise. There are a couple of things that come together there. He says, by the remembrance of God, you've blocked all the outlets of the mind. So the remembrance of God, there, not as a positive thing, but as a negative thing, as a wall which prevents the remembrance of anything else. You can talk about remembrance, or you can talk about awareness, or you can talk about attention. Remembrance and attention are the same thing. So you block off your attention to anything else by remembering God. Say, by the remembrance of the name of God. And then you need an activity. Otherwise, where's that energy going to go? You've blocked all the other outlets for the energy, what's going to happen? You've got to give it something to do, or you'll just explode. Or something. Or something else will come in. There's a pressure there. So, you've got to give it an activity. And the activity is the brick, is the repetitive brick.

[49:41]

And that's the way it works, actually. It becomes the dynamism, the activity of the mind. Because we can't help the thoughts from coming in. Okay. And the other element here is that we shouldn't have any visual images. We shouldn't try to imagine any images of Jesus or anything else while we're doing the prayer. This awareness of the eye of God looking at your inner being must not be accompanied by any visual concept, but must be confined to a simple conviction or feeling. That's from the art of prayer, brother. That's from theophany. The images will get in our way sooner or later. And then he talks about how the prayer goes inside. And the prayer really descends into the heart. And the mind descends into the heart with it. And so it's not just the prayer of the heart, but it's the prayer

[50:43]

of the mind in the heart, which means that your intelligence, your understanding is there. It hasn't been known, because you haven't shot an arrow into it. It hasn't been put to sleep. But it's there, but it's in your heart. So, first of all, it doesn't go wandering around doctoringly like the imagination of the mind does in reality. And secondly, you understand. You know. You don't just feel, but you know. But your knowing and your feeling are not distinct anymore. Your knowing somehow is full of a feeling, which is unitive, which keeps it all together. As if it were all sort of organized around a magnetic center, which is the name of Jesus, or which is God. And yet it's thought. But it's... What do you call it? It's no longer shapeless thought, but, as it were, circling thought. Thought which circles, but it's in an orbit now. It's in an orbit and the center of the orbit is God, as it is in the heart.

[51:44]

So. This union of the mind with the heart signifies the reintegration of man's fallen and fragmented nature, his restoration to original wholeness. Prayer of the heart is a return to paradise, a reversal of the fall, a recovery of the status ante percatum, a state before sin. This means that it is an eschatological reality, a pledge in anticipation of the age to come. Something which in this present age is never fully entirely realized. And yet we do get a sense of it. That's enough for this morning, I guess. Next time, I think we should spend a little more time on the subject of the prayer. So. We can talk a bit about the prayer of Jesus, the prayer of passion, centering prayer, mantra, thought of unknowing.

[52:54]

How about that? We didn't get to it this time. I was wondering about since the mind cannot settle down, right? It has to be always moving. The Buddhist, his mind would be active on mindfulness of what he's doing or his breath. That's one way. You've got all sorts of ways. This fellow, Goldman, wrote a book on varieties of meditative experience. He says that there are two basic ways of meditation. One is concentration, the other is mindfulness. That seems to stand up pretty well. In one of them, you concentrate on an object, okay? In other words, you use a focus. You focus your mind on something and that unifies you. Okay? In the other one, you have no object, but you put yourself in the now. In other words, the mind, in some way, contemplates itself.

[53:55]

But that's not a good way of putting it. It's better to say that the mind dwells in emptiness of some kind or is simply aware of that which is going through it, yet without becoming focused. Okay? The mind is held completely open, like the shutter of a camera that's held open, and yet without focusing on a particular object so that your object is the whole field of view, as it were. And yet you observe in doing that, you observe in another way. You observe in a kind of transcendent way, so that you're standing at a point of depth. As soon as you focus on an object, as you do it in the ordinary way, you get pulled out of the depth. And your center gets drawn to the surface, and you get somehow joined with that object at the surface. If you let your attention be, like keeping your eye open without letting your eye lift and blink without reducing it. If you do that, you're not able, somehow,

[54:58]

to focus, and therefore you can say almost that your center of consciousness recedes and goes to a deeper level. I don't know exactly how to put it, but that seems to be so in Zazen, for instance, when you just sit and let things go, like a movie on a screen, but you don't get focused, you don't get interested, you don't get pulled out of your depth by the passing images. That's what's happening. Now the other way is to take a center and focus on it. And that's what we have in Cassian's prayer, okay, or in the Jesus prayer. There you're deliberately taking a word, the name of Jesus, or Cassian's phrase, the word of scripture, and you're using that as an anchor. That's the opposite process, isn't it? But by the opposite process, you may get to the same end. There's a difference however, because we're talking about prayer when we're talking about the prayer of Jesus or Cassian's thing. And the other thing we're not talking about prayer, we're talking simply about meditation. There's a big difference between the two.

[55:59]

We've got another dimension in there when we talk about prayer. Isn't there a concentration on the breath? That's another thing. Okay, that's another focus thing, right, because you've got an object for your attention. But that's kind of a unique one, right, because you can't really have a concept of it. It's a kind of a physical location in you, and at the same time a process is taking place. But it is a focus, and so I call that, according to Goldman, I call that a concentrated technique instead of an insight or mindfulness technique. As long as you're thinking about that breath, your attention, your field of attention is focused and limited to that. So it's similar to the mantra or the prayer of Jesus who said the one word, the word of attention. So

[57:04]

the ways of meditation, as he says, are ways of arriving at attention, and you can do it in two ways. You can do it by focusing or you can do it by unfocusing. You can do it by taking an object and using it as an anchor, something to concentrate the whole of your mind and heart on concentrating your intentionality, the power of your mind. Or you can deliberately avoid every object and let your consciousness expand into the whole field of awareness, but remain in the moment. Okay? You've got to remain in the moment. You can't let yourself drift off into fantasy or you can't follow an object across the screen and then go after it. You've got to remain thoroughly in the moment. Now if that object is a very simple object, you're going to be doing a similar thing there, really,

[58:06]

because when you focus on that object, there's nothing in it, right? It's like take a mantra which has no meaning, it's only a sound, or take your breath, what have you got? There's no complexity there for your mind to deal with, right? So you're really emptying the field of consciousness when you do that too, but it's in a different way. Because we don't understand our insides really. Okay. Well, we'd like to finish up our discussion on prayer and meditation.

[59:07]

Last time we talked about centering prayer, we talked about mantras, you remember various aspects of the mantras. And in the end, from a Christian point of view, almost every aspect of the life of meditation, the life of asceticism, has changed when you put it in a Christian point of view. It's important for us to get a hold of and with respect to the mantra, the key notion, I think, is the notion of the word of God, the whole theology of the word of God, and of the name of God. So the Christian mantra prayer is one which will incorporate the word of God and the name of God and so the most traditional prayer of that kind, of course, is the prayer of Jesus. Cassian uses a versicle from the psalm which also is the word of God, but the prayer of Jesus has a longer life

[60:13]

and seems to have a deeper power because of the name that it contains and because of the whole theology it contains. Theology of the word of God can hardly be emphasized too much because it makes a difference in everything. For us, everything comes out of the word. It's important to realize when we say this we don't mean just the written word, of course. We don't mean everything. Because that could be a kind of an intellectualist, studious, pseudo-spirituality. That's not what we mean. Like St. John said, in the beginning was the word and the word was the God and the word was God. Then the word came into the world. And it's the word coming into the world which begins everything. Begins everything for the Christian. And that's a new event in history and so it changes everything. I think that's fundamental. And that word, of course, is Jesus. The word is Jesus Christ. And Christianity, in the end, is nothing but Christ. And so, everything somehow

[61:15]

has to be assimilated into this organism which is Christ. Which is Christ in the world. Which is the word becoming carnate. And then a word incarnate assuming all men into itself. Taking its place in the center of the world. Cognitive, cognitive. Teilhard is one who thought of this in a particular way. He expressed it very strongly. There's nothing new. Okay. Finally, I'd like to say a little bit about the different kinds of meditation. People try to classify meditation in several attempts. Now, the classical Christian ways of talking about prayer and meditation and breaking it up into types tends to put it also in a line of stages. You see? So, for instance, you've got this thing of lexio meditatio eratio contemplatio. Which is nice Latin. It's almost poetic

[62:17]

because they all have the same word for it. Of reading, spiritual reading. Of meditation, which means discursive meditation, which means thinking about what you've read, or chewing on what you've read, meditating on what you've read. Just like they used to use the word ruminare. This is a cow ruminates, you know, on what it's already put in one stomach and then puts it in the other stomach. So is the monk in the Word of God. And out of that is supposed to come prayer. Prayer is a movement, something beyond the reading and beyond the meditative thinking. And then, prayer is something active. And then finally comes contemplatio, contemplation, which is thought of as something passive. Now, you can say that these are types of activity. And they do, in a way, help us to see the whole field, the whole horizon of Christian prayer. But notice how they line up in terms of the series, the sequence. Starting off with reading.

[63:17]

And see how we're grounded in the Word here. It is continually, if we come back to this, sometimes it may turn us off. It may seem, well, we want to get into something deep. We want to get away from just using our mind. But theologically, it's important that we don't keep fiddling with words. We don't keep moving words around in our minds. But we move into the Word, we penetrate the Word, so that everything is inside the Word. The context is very important. You can seemingly do the same thing outside the Word and inside the Word, and it's the Spirit of the Word for everything you want to know. So, this lines up in a series also, so that you start with your reading, and then your reading itself may be meditation as a matter of fact. Because when you're reading, you're thinking. Your mind is moving. It doesn't mean that you take an idea and then you work with it necessarily, as in the later methods of meditation. But you just absorb the scripture, you absorb the Word, the nourished part, you digest it as you read it slowly. And then from that, more or less naturally,

[64:20]

comes the movement of prayer, because the heart rises to God and the heart expands and warms. And so one tends to turn to God, not to want to continue looking at the text, or even thinking about what it begins with, but to want to simplify and turn to God. And then finally, when one does that long enough and purely in the right way, one can expect some kind of experience of God, which is something no longer done, or arising purely from within, but something which is received. Received from above or below or from outside or inside or wherever you want to think about it. It transcends all the geometry or imagination. Now that's a great oversimplification, but anything simple has to be an oversimplification when we're talking about these very complex and involved matters. Okay, that's one scheme. Now here's another scheme. From meditation to the prayer of

[65:20]

let's see, affective prayer. So first discursive meditation, which means thinking. You're thinking about the Word of Scripture for instance, or just thinking about God, thinking about Christ. From that to affective prayer. Now notice first you've got the intellect or the imagination. Then you've got the affections. Then you've got the emotions. Then to a prayer of simplicity, which involves a simplification of your thinking, but also a simplification in that you don't make so many distinct acts, maybe just sort of a gaze at God. And then finally you've got the prayer of quiet. Now this is a later kind of scheme that comes along since the 16th century. And notice how once again these kinds of activity, of prayerful and meditative activities seem to line up in a series once again. So you've got a linear thing, a chain. You go from one to the other. But these chains are not

[66:21]

they're not laws. It doesn't have to work that way. And probably usually it won't work that way. That is maybe a person won't, very often maybe a person won't have to start with that discursive meditation. You've already sensed the presence of God. Very often a person will not go as far as a prayer of quiet. Very often a person will get somewhere and move up the ladder of the brain and have to come back down and start all over again. Happens time and time again. So it's only a very rustic thing. That for instance, that sort of thing you'll find in centuries in later western writings. The idea of affective prayer, prayer of quiet. The prayer of quiet will be seen as the first distinctly supernatural prayer or you can say the beginning of mystical prayer. The prayer of quiet the word itself is related to the Greek word hysakia to the eastern version of

[67:23]

hysakia which Cassian talks about more or less as tranquility. And there it mixes with imagination. So the Christian thing tends to look like that. And then we've got a lot of methods of meditation of course, of using the imagination and all those things. Those tend to grow up since the Renaissance, since the 16th century. And one example of course is the best known example is Saint Ignatius's methods of using the imagination and all of the senses and the intellect and also the affections in the spiritual exercise. That's only one method. There are books which will give you maybe a dozen different ways of using your various faculties, your imagination, your feelings and so on. Some people have a good visual imagination, it's useful for them to picture say gospel Christ in certain situations

[68:25]

and put themselves in the picture. And that helps them to open their heart. It doesn't work for other people so there have to be a lot of different methods. But nowadays we're going back to a greater simplicity as people who don't like the sort of meditation where you take a couple of points and then you think about them. And you think about them and you arrive at certain considerations which arouse your emotions and then you maybe have this affective prayer for a while maybe you're set into a very simple gaze of God and then finally you make certain resolutions or decisions on the basis of the commandment of God. It all sounds very holy and maybe too programmatic but that's only an outline which may be used. A lot of that's been done but it doesn't appeal to people

[69:28]

they want something sort of direct and simple. So something like Centering Prayer is much more practical and perhaps more useful. But with something like Centering Prayer you always need the other approach which gets you into the Scripture, gets you into the many words of Scripture, keeps you close to revelation. You've got the depth approach and you've got the mind approach the understanding approach and the dimension of the wording of the dimension of the Spirit. What does gaze in the garden mean? It's an experiential thing and it's very hard to, unless a person has done it, it's very hard to say what it means. It's not so much something you do, it's something that you experience. They talk a lot, for instance, the French talk a lot about the very simple regard. What is it? It's not regard in French, what is it? I don't remember the

[70:30]

French word. It's in Passat, for instance, very simple regard in which it's a simple awareness it's not as if God was in a place and you're looking at him. But there's a presence there and all you do is, it's as if there was a light on inside of you, and all you do is keep aware of that light or that presence. You don't do anything else, you don't make acts of any kind. You could, but that would be doing something else, you see. This is just an awareness of that presence. That's a good kind of poetry. I was kind of troubled by that thing lately, and I was wondering, well, you always have to be aware of the presence of the world outside of you, as if you were looking at that. And you don't. How can God look at God? Well, the fact is that God comes to us in a way

[71:31]

that he comes to us as a presence, which is, as it were outside of ourselves, at the same time that it's inside of ourselves. And that matter of our being distinct from God needs to be remembered, because there's a false path that leads away from that, into a simple, always non-dualistic relationship with God, which isn't Christian. We've got to be between dualism and non-dualism, as long as we're in the flesh, as long as we're in this world. So, there can be a kind of, rather than talking about looking at God, let's think of it another way, also on the line of the senses, is listening. Because when you listen, you don't listen in a direction, you just listen, you're just aware. So we're going to talk about the senses, I think ultimately we get deepest when we talk about a prayer of listening, rather than a prayer of regarding. Now, if you listen, all it means is to be interiorly awake, and aware

[72:32]

of something that may happen within you, or maybe nothing will happen, but still you're aware, your awareness is alive, the candle is lit. I found that somewhere in St. John of the Cross, too, where he talks a lot about these interior spiritual senses, and he talks about, also they talk about a kind of a dwelling, okay? He says, at a certain point, you may not even, it may be wrong for you even to preserve this interior attention to God, as if looking at God. Just to dwell, just to dwell, okay? Now that's a real prayer of quietness, just to dwell. You're not looking here, you're not looking there, you're not listening here or there, but you're listening in the sense that your spirit is also somehow aware of, I don't know, of that which is around, aware of a certain atmosphere, a certain climate. You're aware of more than yourself, and it's not only you're aware of God, perhaps within yourself, but God's not distinct there. It's very difficult

[73:34]

to say what, Merton, that good thing on love and solitude, he talks about a listening where there isn't any here or anywhere. That's going a little beyond this, I think. But maybe we're going in the same direction. In other words, you're sort of on the edge of non-dualism, where there's no subject and object anymore, where it would be wrong to say you're looking in a direction, or you're listening for something. No, you're just listening. You can say you're just looking, too, but that always implies direction. You can say you're just listening. What are you listening to? Maybe you're listening to yourself. But at that point, yourself is hardly distinct from God. So the distinction has vanished, and you're no longer able to say what you're attentive to. But what you're attentive to somehow contains God. Now, these things are fine experientially, but they're hard to put into words, and they're dangerous to put into words, because you risk veering off that edge of the non-distinction between God and man. That's why Christians have so much trouble with the concept of Advaitic non-dualism, because they tend to see things

[74:35]

black and white. Either you are, or you're not. Either you're separate, distinct from God, or you're one with God. We don't have any language for saying something in between, which is what there is. But we've got a sort of walk a type of between two deviations. One is the deviation of doing too much, of being too active. We're always thinking that we're not with God. He's not with us. Either we can do something, or we can feel something. Unless we can be saying something, or unless we feel some emotion in our hearts, unless there's movement inside, or unless we've got good thoughts in our head, we think we're not doing enough. Well, that's one mistake. Of course, at a certain point, we're supposed to be doing something. And so it's tricky. There's got to be a discernment of when to be active and when not. The other deviation is to do too little. In other words, just to rest in an interior silence,

[75:37]

believing that that's always God. Well, it's not always God. And so that's tricky. Merton writes about that in some places. The kind of interior paradise that you can get into, which unfortunately is not God's paradise. That can be an enormous illusion because it's so nicely that one wants to stay and one thinks that's it. And yet, he ends up sort of stranded on his way up on a plateau somewhere a couple of years later. So there are false places. You can tell by the rest of your life. A person can tell by how the rest of his life has developed. It's not easy. Usually, a person needs advice. Okay. We got a little off the track there, but that's good anyway. So there's a fellow named Daniel Goleman who tried to classify the message of meditation

[76:39]

basing himself on a Tibetan text, the Visuddhimagga. And he comes up with this, that basically there are two kinds of meditation. Now this I want to think about and maybe criticize a little bit. One kind is concentration on something outside of yourself. And he said meditation basically is attention. Let's set aside the word prayer here because we'll have to come back to that. We're not talking about prayer this time. Prayer is certainly more than attention. But the word prayer is as big as the word meditation is just as confusing. Sometimes when you say prayer we mean nothing but meditation. Sometimes we mean some kind of contemplative experience. The word prayer for Americans includes everything. And sometimes we mean prayer of petition or something like that. Anyway, he says that meditation is basically attention. Now what can you be attentive to? You can be attentive to some object outside yourself. You can focus on something

[77:39]

that's given to you that comes from outside. Now he calls that the way of concentration. Or you can be attentive to that which arises within yourself. In other words you can be attentive to the contents of your own mind and he calls that mindfulness. So he says those are the two basic types of meditation and then there's a third way which integrates the two but which doesn't add anything. And then he goes on to try to classify the various traditions in that way. What is this? Goldman? Goldman. G-O-L-L-E-M-A-N. What's Goldman? The varieties of the meditative experience. It's a fairly recent one. Now particularly he talks about most of the times of meditation that we're familiar with. But I think his viewpoint helps him too much.

[78:41]

For instance he says that the hesychasm, the prayer of the heart is concentrated. Now this is true because what are you concentrating on? You concentrate on the prayer of Jesus which is given to you. You have a focus which is given to you from outside and you concentrate on that. Whereas he's only got a couple of traditions of mindfulness in that way. One is Gurja and the other is Krishnamurti. All the others are either concentrated or integrated. For instance Tibetan Buddhism is integrated. There are places in Tibetan Buddhism where you just look at the contents of your own mind. Similarly Zen he's got is integrated. Sometimes the person will just be quiet and watch the contents going by. Watch what's passing the stream of consciousness in his own mind. So that's what he calls mindfulness. See one is outer directed in a sense because you're getting your object from outside even though it's in your mind. One is inner directed in that you're looking at what seems to come out of

[79:44]

your own mind. I don't find that completely satisfactory. It's not kind of exciting at first but the more I think about it the less adequate it seems to be. For one thing are the people who are being mindful are they really giving attention to the contents of their own mind in the same way as the people who are focusing on an object that's given to them? I don't think so. There's something else there that seems not to have occurred. Sometimes they're merely trying to get beyond any object. In other words they're trying to detach themselves from the stream of consciousness. They're trying to remain somewhere beyond or behind all of that that's going on in front of them. So to say that their attention is directed or focused on what's passing in their mind I think is something somewhat confusing.

[80:46]

It is useful to bring out the difference between those two ways of concentrating on an object because it's fundamentally a basic method. Some kind of focus of your attention, whether it be a word, whether it be a picture, whether it be an imaginative scene, an idea, a person, whatever. And the way of spontaneity where you just let go. But there's another fellow who's done it better I think and that's this Neuron Noble. One of you's got the book I have a little xerox of a couple of pages I wanted to use. The first chapter of the book, I guess it's the first chapter, ends on page yeah ends on page 18. Gives you a pretty good idea of what he's talking about. Now he finds three types of meditation. I haven't seen anybody that does better than this really. Talking about meditation and not about prayer right now. And he represents them by a triangle

[81:52]

you see. I like triangles. At the end of the base line is represented meditation upon externally given symbolic objects. Okay so the first way is the way of forms. The way of concentration. The way of absorption. Absorption in an object. The way of union with something outside of yourself. Or at least conceived as outside of yourself. It's outer directed. And looking at Greek tradition he says it's Apollonia. Apollos was the god of forms and so on. The second way is what he calls the expressive way. Now this is a way of letting go. You surrender to what is inside of you, to the interior movement. So he calls that the way of freedom of transparence. Now transparence no, you make your consciousness transparent as it were to what comes out of it. And so

[82:53]

here you see this is pretty much equivalent to Goldman's second way there of mindfulness. I think he's got it better though. The way he talks about it here. You're not focusing necessarily on in the same way that you focus on an object, you're not focusing on or giving your attention to that which is coming out. You're merely making yourself transparent to it so that you can come out. You're giving yourself to the spontaneity which is within. Now typical of the first way would be the traditional Christian way of either meditation upon the scriptures followed by prayer. That Lectio reading meditation prayer thing that we were talking about. Typical of the remember meditation means something else there. Meditation is thinking in that use of the mind in that Christian scheme. Because you're using a form there, you're using something that has content, something that has using the word. Or also the

[83:56]

prayer of Jesus where you've got this focus which is something given and which in a sense is outside of yourself. It doesn't spring up from within but it becomes spontaneous in a way after. Is focus and attention basically the same thing? Not necessarily. When you say focus you mean attention on a given object, right? Whereas you can have an attention which is merely general. Take in Zen or in some types of yoga. In Zen maybe that's the best example. You keep the field of attention alive and awake and alert as if you were keeping the light in the movie projector on the screen, okay? There's no image in front. You don't put any film in there. The film may come. The thoughts may come and so on. Now there you're being attentive but you're not being focused. You're deliberately not focusing on an object, you see? You maintain the light over the whole field or over the whole screen but you don't

[84:56]

narrow down the focus on an object. A tape recorder is a good example. Yes, a tape recorder catches everything. Whether there's anything there or not. Yes, that's right. It picks up everything. Or a photographic plate can do the same thing. Just expose whether there's a movie camera or a digital camera. A tape recorder would have done it. You said that the Jesus bear was focused? Yes, it's focused. It's more than that but basically it's focused because, see, you use that as you use a mantra. Remember that John Main said you use a mantra like a flower. It puts everything else out. Well, that's what the focus does. When you focus on one thing, you eliminate everything else. You eliminate the background. It's like the foreground-background thing. You've got an object in the foreground and the background is everything else. In Zen, this kind of Zen, you'd be looking at the background and with no foreground. Or not focusing on the foreground. But you've got the choice to focus on the foreground.

[85:59]

If you do that, then that's concentration. And then you forget the background and everything else behind. So the second way, the expressive way. Now, what would be... We're already bringing in the third way. These things almost always seem to be mixed in some way. They're never quite pure. The typical of the second way would be the Pentecostal text. Prayer in tongues or something like that. Where there may be no intelligible content. In other words, the person who's doing it doesn't understand anything. He's not using an external object. It's coming out of himself. And all he's doing is opening himself to that which is within. And it comes out with very spontaneity. Now, some people might quibble and say, well, you can't call that meditation. Well, perhaps not. It's an extreme case. Maybe it is off the edge of the sphere of meditation. Nevertheless, it very well illustrates what we're talking about. And if you read Cassian and you see his Prayer of Fire, you'll find it's the same order.

[87:00]

That is, there's no object anymore. It's just coming out of the person like a flame. And he goes at the Dionysian way. Because Dionysius, remember, was the patron of that kind of spontaneous and orgiastic, that wild expression. As contrasted with the Apollonian or Greek culture. I don't know too much about that. Now, the third way, this is where he goes beyond the other fellow. In contrast with these two orientations in the task of meditation, one outer-directed towards the object, the other inner-directed. Inner-directed in the sense that you not in the sense of focus, but in the sense of giving yourself to that which comes from within. And that's valid. Can you say that again? One's outer-directed because you're focusing on something that comes from outside. Even if you've got it in your memory,

[88:02]

like the Jesus Prayer, it comes from outside, it's given to you. One inner-directed in that you are directing or giving your attention or you're centering on what comes from inside, okay? But even though you do that, it's not inner-directed in the sense of focusing on what comes from inside, because you don't focus on it really, I think, in this method. You just let it come. The first is a way of focusing. The second is not a way of focusing. It's another kind of thing entirely. It's a way of spontaneity. And here the emphasis is on a movement rather than on an object. It's on a dynamism. You don't focus so much on dynamism, you give yourself to it. You let it be, you know that. ... It's a little like the particle wave in physics. The particle,

[89:03]

the object, the wave, the dynamism, the movement, which is diffused. You can't focus on it. Okay, in contrast to these two orientations, one outer-directed and the other inner-directed, the third point in our triangle stands for a purely negative approach. Not a reaching out or a reaching in, but a self-emptying. Now, you've got to look at it, because there's already a kind of self-emptying involved in the first two. If you want to focus on something, you've got to empty yourself of everything else, right? So the plow is pushing out all the other distractions. If you want to open yourself to the spontaneity from inside, that's going to push out everything else, so that you're conscious of nothing but that. See, it picks your consciousness up in it, just like a wave. And so that's going to be self-emptying too, but the dynamism does the emptying. Now, the third method aims more directly at the emptiness. In this approach, the effort is... ...

[89:59]