Wisdom and History

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Wisdom and History

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This all looks very complicated on the end, but I assure you it's totally simple. Maybe we could have our helium reading to start with. Men's curiosity searches past and future and clings to that dimension. But to apprehend the point of intersection of the timeless with time is an occupation for the saint. No occupation either, but something given and taken in a lifetime's death in love. Ardor and selflessness and self-surrender. For most of us, there is only the unattended moment. The moment in and out of time. The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight. The wild time unseen, or the winter lightning, or the waterfall. Or music, heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, that you are the music while the music lasts.


These are only hints and guesses. Hints followed by guesses. And the rest is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action. The hint half-guessed, the hint half-understood is incarnation. Here the impossibility of spheres of existence is actual. Here the past and the future are conquered and reconciled. Where action were otherwise movement of that which is only moved, and has in it no source of movement. Driven by demonic, chitonic powers. And where action is freedom from past and future also. For most of us, this is the aim never here to be realized. Who are only undefeated because we have gone on trying. We, content at the last, if our temporal reversion nourished, not too far from the yew tree, the life of significant soul.


Thank you. One reason for reading that is because, notice how he talks about to apprehend the point of intersection of the timeless with time. The point of intersection of the timeless with time. There's a Canadian literary critic, Nothrop Frye, who says that the structure of the four-part text is actually a cross of this form. Where the horizontal represents time, the horizontal represents the global equals plot time, the chronological time, chronos. And the vertical represents the timeless, or timeless. Or when the divine presence comes down like a lightning bolt and moves right into our existence. So we're going to be talking around those two axes all the time. Very complicated to get your hand out of the two columns, aren't it? Those two columns represent the two axes actually, the vertical and the horizontal.


I've labeled them the Asian traditions and the Judaic traditions. And what I'm proposing ultimately is that Christianity is an intersection with a fusion between those two axes. So that in Christ you have the supreme moment when into time, into history, into the biblical history, the history of God's people, the history of Israel, comes this lightning bolt of divinity, actually, of divinity. You can call it non-duality if you wish, you can call it the absolute, you can call it whatever, but it's divinity and it's coming into time at that moment. And creating a new history in which divinity and history somehow become one in a new way. In which God is immanent within history. So there's a lot of energy between those two axes, there's a lot of energy between these two columns. So I propose that the coming of Jesus is a new kind of history generating. And we still don't understand it. We haven't really made it up, so that history scares us. I think we have a tendency to think that history somehow is, well, for one thing that it's devoured wisdom,


but it's carried away the depth of our tradition in some way. But it's not really the depth of our tradition that's been left behind or devoured. I think we've let ourselves be left behind in a way. So our problem is to find the fusion of wisdom and history, one might say, as it is now. I'd like to take a look at a few of those terms in those two columns. Just so you get kind of a hang of what it's about. Are there any more of those, Father? Oh yeah. I want to make sure I have one of each. Is that the other one? Okay, sure. I didn't put some water in. Unexpected, isn't it? Somebody else want to do two?


So I'm going to close the door. I'm going to close the door. Let's take a look at these two columns. And now picture in your mind the intersection of these two columns, that I'm contending are the one and the two and the three. And the three is the fusion or intersection or convergence of the first two. Of what I'm calling the Asian traditions here. But when you get to the Christ event, it's not a matter of the Asian traditions and the Jewish traditions drawing together. It's what the Asian traditions represent. Now, it's interesting, they represent the divinity, the absolute God, in a very different way than the Jewish tradition does. The Jewish tradition largely represents God in history. On your horizontal here, guiding the people through history. Saving the people, rescuing the people, punishing the people, castigating the people and then saving them again in history.


Whereas the Asian traditions somehow mirror the absolute unity of God, or the absolute simplicity of God, or the center of all reality. It's a matter of metaphysics. Metaphysics versus history. Or you could say perennial philosophy and sacred history. Sacred history defines perfectly the Jewish revelation, the biblical revelation. It's a history which is also somehow connected with God in some way that it can't be separated from God. It depends on its relationship with God. So sacred history and perennial philosophy. Notice how that sacred history is very particular. It's a particular people that's been chosen somehow, or anointed to be guided by God through this history. Whereas a perennial philosophy, and also it's time related, because the history is always time related, isn't it? I mean the events change, it flows, it moves, it's like a river. But it's related to time continuum, it's changing. Whereas a perennial philosophy is obviously, by the word perennial, the same always, isn't it? And it's also universal.


It's like two different worlds have come together at this point. Two worlds which we have a lot of trouble reconciling right now. In other words, Christians are challenged to realize the universality of their own faith even beyond their own beliefs in some way. The universality of Christianity in Christ, even beyond the church. And so it goes. We're always working, as it were, between those two lines, between those two axes. And as Eliot says, to apprehend the intersection of the timeless with time, ultimately is incarnation. As we're saying, this point of intersection is incarnation, but the incarnation continues and becomes a historical reality, a moving reality within the world. And we're in that stream. Row number two here, metaphysics and history. Metaphysics is involved with boring through the surface of things. Boring through physics, you might say, to get to what transcends it, to get to what's underneath it. Boring from the surface to the center. I'm not saying that metaphysics has to be boring, but that's what it's doing.


It's a penetration of reality. It's a vertical operation. Philosophy in the Bible. Perennial philosophy in sacred history. Divine identity in the Word of God. What I mean by divine identity there is your own identity in a double sense. In other words, in the ancient traditions largely, but especially in Hindu Vedanta, you go through, you penetrate your surface identity until you get to an identity which is one of the absolute, which is called the Atman. The realization of non-duality, which is the realization of your own self, your own inner deepest self, your ultimate self, and the divinity of the absolute, the absolute source at the same time. Now, the Jewish tradition is very different from that, isn't it? The Jewish tradition is all about relationship. It's all about encounter. It's all about two instead of one. It's not about ultimately or essentially, most often about interiority, about going inside. You're always meeting something. A new event might be a new encounter with God,


whoever it is, your neighbor. You're always meeting something, and what happens, happens between the two of you in some way. And so the interior dimension remains largely implicit, except that you've got what? You have a spirituality of the heart in the Old Testament, haven't you? Which gradually deepens in the Prophets until it terminates in this new spirit, in this new heart, that's, you know, in Jeremiah in particular. And that's the area of the Testament. The word of God is something that comes to encounter. Something you hear is a word from outside, even though it's also inside. But you hear it, you have to hear it. Paul said, even as a Christian, who's going to believe unless they hear it, unless the word is preached to them. So it's true in Christianity too. You've got both of these in Christianity, and it's a very interesting experiment to try to work out how that intersection, how that fusion works on each of these levels. Immediacy and mediation. Mediation means what? It means institution, it means priests,


it means all these things, sacraments and things like that, that are somehow in between you and God, and supposed to unite you with God. They may stand in the middle and block you from God, but they're supposed in some way to mediate God through you. But the secret of hunger without it is not mediation, it's immediacy, isn't it? Going to the center, going to the core of yourself, to your own legal support. No mediation at all. There's a mediation of the scriptures for a while, but that gets out of the way when you have the experience. The scriptures are just a kind of expression of that experience, which is fundamental, of the source and the goal. Identity and encounter. That's just saying the same thing over again. Interiority and relationality, the same thing again. Epiphatic and cataphatic. This one's far from an absolute, but epiphatic means the way of unknowing, and cataphatic is the way of knowing. So, you've got a tradition of unknowing. The cloud of unknowing, for instance. Or Saint John of the Cross,


or somebody like a Bacchus, or pseudo-Dionysius, as they're called. But a tradition of God being beyond every concept, beyond every image, beyond every feeling and experience, or every word, so that you only know God in a kind of total darkness, or a total unknowing. Maybe light or maybe dark. But you don't know anything in particular. You only know this totality. That's the apophatic way, the dark way. Negative theology, they call it. The cataphatic way is through images, and that's, of course, typically the Jewish way, and also the Christian way, where we have incarnations, and therefore we have sacraments, therefore we have icons. Remember those big tablets they had over there in the Eastern Church? And we have all kinds of representations. Those are mediations too, but of a particular kind. The mediation of, say, the Scriptures in the New Testament, the mediation of the figure of Jesus in the Gospel. Those are all things somehow that are representing God for us. That's the cataphatic way.


Particularly important for Christianity, why? Because God has come into creative reality, and therefore is represented by creative reality in a new way. The back of God and the front of God, that sounds terrible. The back of God is in the Old Testament. Remember where God says to Moses, you can see my back if you can't see my face. But I mean something different here. What I mean is the Asian, this is fascinating, the Asian tradition, in a way of unknowing, is as if seeing God in the darkness, where no features are seen. There's no representation, and there's no personal action of God, and there's no words spoken to you. So it's God from the back. What's God from the front? That's the God who says something, the God who has, as it were, a face for you, because of positive personal presence and expression. The God of the Old Testament is very different from the absolute of the Asian tradition, even though later on you have Krishna and Shiva,


and also there are personal representations. They have nothing of that single, united, personal presentation and power of the God of the Old Testament. That's the front of God. And notice that the front of God is movement. That is, God moves, and history moves, and the Jewish people move in history. It's speaking, there's a word, it's breath, there's a spirit. All of this is the front of God. The word of God is spoken from the mouth of God. It's very anthropomorphic. And the breath of God is breathed, as it were, from the mouth of God. And the eyes of God are upon you. And it's as if you have a face-to-face relationship with God, and God moves towards you when it comes to you. And God's hands operate in the front, just like our hands operate in the front. So God is active in history. So it's a whole different world from that back of God, as it were, of mystical Asian traditions. Now, we have an acrobatic tradition of our own tradition, don't we?


I mentioned John of Cross, and so on. So there's an overlap between these traditions. Nevertheless, the principle holds by and large. They're two different approaches to the Absolute. Well, you could speak of the God that Eckhart does, or that God who is only known in unknowing, only known in the emptiness of the darkness. Being and happening. Being is the absolute abstraction, as it were. It can also be a work for God, if we capitalize it. But being is that which it is, and it doesn't change. Happening is events. Happening is something that takes place. So if we're comparing, for instance, the Asian traditions with... There's a reading from the Dalai Lama. If you compare that with the other readings, the Christian readings from the New Testament, the difference is that one is giving you a principle of philosophy of non-reality, you might say, of absolute unity. The situation which is and always is,


and always was. Perennial philosophy, you might say. Representing that which is. The other readings are speaking of that which has happened. So there's a principle of non-reality, or a metaphysics of non-reality, and there's an event of non-reality, where the things that were divided before are brought into one, even physically. And that's what happens in Christ. That's the event of the mystery of Christ. So that's a very important contrast. Consciousness and love. That's not an absolute either. There's plenty of love and compassion. Hinduism and Buddhism are special. Nevertheless, Peter, as late in his life, was asked, what's distinctive about Christianity? He says, I think it's because Christianity is a religion of love. And Buddhism, for instance, is about the transformation of consciousness. Its primary principle is not love. The primary principle of love, Christianity, becomes love.


And the faith that somehow is the beginning, is the root of love. So faith over love, I'm pretending I really don't know. And not the same as consciousness. There's something else going on there. We'll get back to that later. I'd better not carry on too long with this, but I think you get the general idea. In each of those cases, it's the difference between a single principle, a single absolute, which you arrive at, and which is the center of everything, the ground of everything, and somehow encompasses everything. It's a circle. It's 1.0. What you have in the Jewish tradition is a straight line. But it's a straight line of history, which is broken from time to time by this vertical intrusion, by this descent, you might say, of divine presence. Think of a couple of moments. The obvious one is Jacob, and the ladder of heaven. When the heavens are open, a ladder appears between heaven and earth, and God is up there speaking to Jacob, because he's down here. So that's a moment when the heavens are broken open,


and this kind of axis mundi that they talk about suddenly appears, like a tree of life or something. There's a ladder. And the two spheres are joined, and you're in the presence of God. Now think of Moses at the burning bush. That's in Exodus chapter 3. Moses sees this bush on fire, and he hears a voice calling him, and it's God's voice, and then he asks what God's name is, and God says, I am. I am. That's this vertical shift of life, just like a lightning bolt. It's very interesting, because as the conversation goes on, and it's quite a long conversation between God and Moses, God says, you shall tell them that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has sent you to them. That's God described horizontally, isn't it? By that chain of genealogies, that chain of descent, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That's the historical name of God. But I am is the vertical, metaphysical name of God, which was even taken up by Thomas Aquinas


as a kind of verification of metaphysics. It's a wonderfully powerful thing. And that's still before Christ. So what you've got in the New Testament is this becoming somehow permanently present, and present in a human being, in a human being who is flesh and blood as we are. And then permanent in humanity, in the history of humanity, in the way in which we have to go into. I don't want to keep you too long tonight. Any questions about that? I have Asian traditions here. I've got a note here. That's a kind of distillation of individualism and the value of kin. Is it possible that the Christ event was brought about by the Judaic mystical tradition? Because if it was instigated from above, then God, up until that point, had withheld his love. And that's problematic, because love that's withheld isn't really love. That maybe Mary became the only door through which God could enter,


because she had that mystical acceptance, which could be called the obedience? Well, I think there's a script. There's a divine plan, okay? And it has these different moments, and things that seem qualitatively different. And it can seem like somebody's left out at one point. But in the end, the divine plan brings everybody in. It does it retroactively, in a way that we can't understand. So I couldn't say that the Jewish mystical tradition brought about, let's say, the Incarnation, or the Divine descent. But it's an anticipation of it, just like many other things in the Old Testament are an anticipation of that event. That is, David himself, whether we like him or not, he's a kind of anticipation of the Incarnation. There's a peculiar fusion of divine anointing and humanity in David. And it's true of the prophets. Some of them seem very close to Jesus, as well as foretelling in some way, anticipating the Christ. They also personally somehow anticipate the Christ in their own lives


and their own personalities. So I think it's another anticipation of Jewish mystical tradition. I'm not clear on how it was before our era, the Jewish mystical tradition, because most of what we know developed much later. The Kabbalah and all of that. Any other questions? Okay. Yes. According to Fr. Romneywald, all of what we get from Scripture, both from the New and the Old Testament, comes through the Greek mind, through translation into the Greek. And there's a world of difference between the Near Eastern mindset and that of the analytical Greek. The Near Eastern mindset is a world of difference but it's relational. So that that statement, I am, is an abstract statement, is perfect Greek, but it's not at all Hebrew. According to, and this comes through the Gahud, it's the one who really discovered this when he started working with the translation


of the Psalms for the anchor Bible. What it really means is that I am here for you and will continue to be forever. Let me say something about that. I think you have two different interpretations of that name. The biblical scholars will take the horizontal way, which I am for you and I will be here for you, and so on. That's an interpersonal relationship, which was also the way that the Jews understood it, I think, largely. But there's a metaphysical implication there which comes out in the Septuagint, the Greek translation in AGO-AD. And then it's picked up, for instance, by John's Gospel. So what you've got in the New Testament actually is this interpretation of the name of God, as you have in subsequent Christian theology. Yes? According to this, even in the New Testament, Jesus spoke, and the Apostles, they spoke Aramaic, which is very, very close to the Hebrew. And so it's the same relational aspect


of the language. And this all got put into the first version of the New Testament which was all in Greek. And three of the letters of the New Testament were Apostles spoke Aramaic. Luke was a different story. His Greek reads very different from that of the others. There's a providential reason, I think, for that, because what we've got in the New Testament is the intersection not of a Judaic or the Asian tradition, but the Judaic or the Greek mind, okay? And the Greek mind in some way reflects this vertical axis. So Plato, for instance, especially Plotinus a little later, are giving you this in the Western tradition, okay? Way before we have any known contact with the Asian tradition. Let's look at those texts here. I've got four texts on two pages here. That's the second one.


I hope everybody's got it. The first one is from Indada King. It's a beautiful text and a beautiful picture. But notice something about it. It's timeless. It's speaking of a principle of being, the source is everything that exists now. Which is about time and about history. So what you have is that which was before anything existed, and then the things that exist now. Now, in the two texts of Plato, the one from the Prologue of John's Gospel and the Letter to the Colossians, you're talking about an event of unity. And in the Prologue of John you're talking about a principle people have compared closely to the Tao. A principle of unity, the source of


all things. Without him, nothing was made that was made. But, it's very different there because the word became fleshed because there's an event. There's an event in which things are brought back together to things that were once in the source. And similarly in the text from the Colossians, notice that it's an action of God. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness, transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. And then there's about what Jesus is, and then a little later. Once again there's the event at the end. He is the head of the body of Christ. He is the beginning. For in Him all the fullness of God is pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to himself all things. That's the event, the event of the cross of Christ. And typically you have in Paul, once again this image, okay, of Jesus on the cross who is uniting


himself, heaven and earth, God and humanity, Jews and Gentiles. The Jews who represent the history before his coming, and the Gentiles who are gathered in afterwards. So you'll find that Paul particularly expresses this dimension, the historical dimension which is the gathering of the Gentiles into the Jews. And for him that's the mystery of Christ. And finally we have a longer text here on Pete Griffith's return to the center. A fairly early book of these. In which he kind of visibly one-sided it. In other words the return to the center means moving away from your contemporary consciousness and your contemporary world, and rediscovering perennial philosophy, the universal wisdom, which according to Pete was lost about 500 years ago. So here you have a couple of things. I put him in here in the first place because he's a contemporary satirical writer. He's somebody who's writing wisdom literature, wisdom theology in our own time. There's a big gap between these readings


because we've gone from an Asian text from maybe 400-500 B.C. to a Christian text from the first century and then we've creeped all the way to Pete Griffith. So in the middle there should be a bunch of other texts from the fathers of the church, from medieval monastic writers, and the sapiential tradition tends to cut off pretty much there, or diminishes very much until our own time. So Pete is talking about, first of all, this perennial philosophy, which here is the discovery and the realization of the true self. And he's coming from the Hindu Vedanta. He's coming from the Upanishads, principally. He changed direction somewhat later in his life. And then he's talking about a kind of universal perennial philosophy because he believes that there is this kind of universal wisdom that can all of the highly developed traditions, up until about 500 years ago, at the time of Renaissance. And then at the west


it was replaced by, ultimately, a scientific rationalism, which just wiped it out and harbored up some traces, except around the edges and on the fringes. Esoteric tradition, occult tradition, and so on. And then this sapiential tradition, then the Christian one, became a matter for scholars but it ceased to be created. In other words, it was something that people would study but they wouldn't try to react to it. They wouldn't try to realize it, to experience it themselves. But I believe in our own time it's happening once again. Notice that he compares that fall from wisdom with that eclipse of wisdom to the original fall of Adam and Eve in Paradise. The expulsion from the Garden. There's a kind of romanticism there which is characteristic of him. And also a tendency to ignore the positive aspect of the West, at least for the past 500 years. We may say more about that later. Obviously


in that time you need to read these readings. So the problem I want to present is the problem of history versus wisdom. But history seems to develop and it seems to develop to put it very crudely, very grossly. The Christian wisdom tradition went into eclipse about the 13th century and that's when scholasticism is coming strong. It's the time of Aquinas. Aquinas is something of a bridge because it still keeps a good deal of the wisdom tradition. St. Bonaventure at the same time as Aquinas keeps more of it. There you really see the wisdom tradition and scholasticism side by side interacting in a single mind. St. Bonaventure. Aquinas, however, has swung largely over to the new way of thinking. The new, much more rational either rationalistic, you could say, way of thinking. Analytical. Or much more Greek way of thinking. And Maestro Eckhart brings the sacramental tradition to a kind of peak because he breaks through to the absolute.


He breaks through to the non-duality of the East. He breaks through completely to this left-hand column. Within the Christian tradition it is very unusual to have explicit non-duality within the Christian tradition because it's always been combined with something else or masked by something else. It's as if people were afraid to express it in its pure form because what would we call pantheism? What would we call about three or four other kinds of heresy? Because it implies the divinity of the human person. Non-dual consciousness. And that's the heart of Christianity but it's usually too strong for Christians. Especially too strong for institutional people who have to in some way to mediate. So immediacy is a big danger itself. And of course immediacy can also become a kind of wildfire which can take people off the track if they're not careful. If you let go of your theology. If you let go of your


Christian faith. I was just talking about the tension between immediacy and this theology which he never resolved in his life. I would suppose that if wisdom seemed to be swallowed by history I think that the time is here for wisdom to take its revenge in a sense. It doesn't put anything else grossly. I think that the Christian sapiential tradition can be redeveloped in such a way that it embraces history and makes history transparent. That may seem like a bold claim. Think about the sapiential tradition. The fathers and the monks and the middle ages spent a lot of time commenting on the Old Testament and rendering the Old Testament transparent through Christ, through the New Testament, through the revelation, the single revelation of the New Testament. I remember there was a book by I believe it or not, Ronert and


Ratzinger together at one time where it was Cardinal Ratzinger, he wasn't Cardinal, he was even Bishop then, said that the Old Testament is scripture, the New Testament is spirit. Wow. The Old Testament is scripture, the New Testament is spirit. Now that was true for the fathers of the church. It was like the New Testament was often a single light through which they read the Old Testament and which the New Testament became transparent, opened up to its meaning within itself. That's what it was. Old Testament is scripture, the New Testament is spirit. Scripture and spirit. Scripture like this in a sense. Scripture is a continuing narrative. There's a whole bunch of books, a whole bunch of pages, a couple of million words. And so you go through it in a straight line. Spirit is that which penetrates immediately. And it penetrates that history, it penetrates that narrative and reveals


within it something which is at once one and many. Reveals within it the relationship between the one and the many. And that's what we'll talk about as the Christ event, or the mystery of Christ as we go on. I promise not to keep you too long tonight. But what's exciting about this whole thing is the potential that the recovery of the sapiential tradition can bring Christian vision actually to a new phase. By giving us an understanding of history, for one thing, as well as of our own existence within history, in the light of that single happening which is the event of Christ. Notice how our spirituality for centuries has been separated from history. And the church was separated from history. Before Vatican II, the church saw itself as a kind of impeccable rock, a city built on a rock. And history was like a tide that washed against it and tried to wash it away. Or a river that flowed around it and went on its way. But it was all negative.


It was a kind of Augustinian vision of history, in which the history of Rome is modest. It really ends in hell. I exaggerated a little bit. That's an unfavorable quote from St. Augustine, nevertheless. But with Vatican II, the church begins to take a positive view of history. Influenced somewhat, I think, by K.R. Gershwin. But suppose that the church discovers that the center of history is Christ. That the deep motivational power of history is the Holy Spirit. And the surface conflicts and tunnels and disasters underneath those walls is a positive movement. And I think if you step back far enough, you can see that. You can see that positive movement of history. We get a kind of earthquake experience of it in the Second Vatican Council. Which was a miracle. Which was impossible. Just as impossible as an earthquake that suddenly lifted the ground for about 30 feet. So, that was all that pressure that was built up behind that. But that's the positive energy of history which finally finds expression within the church itself. But suppose the secret of history,


the core of history, the engine of history is concealed within the church. And I'm proposing that this kind of Christian consciousness, this sacrilegious kind of mind is able to penetrate that and see the meaning of it. So, it's a big crack. And of course, we can't move it. We can offer it or work for it. Let me explain what we're doing in these four sessions. First one, we've done it, so I don't have to explain it. Second one, we're talking about Jesus' first lesson. I'm proposing that Jesus teaches basically two things in the Gospel. The first I call divinity. It's the divinity of Jesus and then the discovery of our own divinity in Jesus. Okay? So, we'll talk about Peter and Jesus in Matthew 16 tomorrow, but when Peter says to Jesus, You are the Christ and Son of the living God. Remember Jesus asked him, who do you say that I am? Who do you say that I am? And Jesus said, You are Peter. Well, the reason why it's so important


that Jesus is divine is because implicitly inside that is the knowledge of the person who believes in Jesus, that that divinity is theirs as well. Read Leo the Great talking about the transfiguration. He says, Well, the disciples were given a sample in the transfiguration of Jesus of what was to belong to them, of what was theirs. So, that one lesson is played out in Jesus and in their testimony, in their Gospel accounts. But implicitly, every part of it is about us. So the first lesson is that discovery that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is divine, He is the Son of God, He is the only one, He is the center as it were. And that implies our own, which happens after Pentecost. The second lesson, this is a joke here, the second lesson is that we are also identified with Jesus in His path, in His walk. And His walk is the walk towards Jerusalem, isn't it? It's the walk towards the cross.


And I call that humanity because it's a common model here. Because that walking, the horizontal walk and the limitations of our flesh and blood and all the aches and pains and all the stuff that goes with it, all of that, that whole burden belongs to humanity as a whole. And Jesus took that on and so we have to take it on too. If this busts us out of our individuality vertically, this busts us out of our individuality horizontally. So, if this is an ascent, this is a descent. Now this is a rather sudden ascent because it happens in baptism. It may take us a lifetime to understand what we receive, but it happens in baptism. This is a more gradual descent because it's the rest of your life. The other way of looking at it is that Jesus takes you to the center. This is more in keeping with the Asian tradition, the up-hand column. That Jesus takes us to the center that is the divine center of your being, your own deepest identity, your own true self.


Just as the Asian traditions do. But in a different way, in a different modality. And particularly because of that second lesson, which is not nearly so clear in the Asian traditions. But ultimately, from the center, the rest of your life is moving outwards, in a sense. Presuming that you're staying there, presuming that you're really rooted there, and that you're deepening that or living in somehow by inhaling at the center. Prayer, meditation, all of that. But the rest of your life is about expressing that, about really incarnating that, embodying that, in yourself, in your own life, and then in the world around you. Your job is to embody the divinity in the world around you, as it were. And thus, in some way, transform the world. But you transform it not from above with magic waves coming out of things. You transform it by sinking into it. The way Jesus did, the descent. So you're not a magician of some kind, standing above it all with magic powers. The magic powers all disappear, and you disappear, too. Ultimately, until you're out of it.


Now, what Lesson 1.5 means, and obviously I have to explain it here, but there's a point of inflection here. In other words, if we talk about an ascent, there's a point between the ascent and the descent where you have to turn around. And we see that very clearly in the Gospels. We see it very clearly in Paul. So I'll talk about that tomorrow. Between the two lessons, there's a revolution. The revolution, for one thing, is moving from ascent into descent. Because the disciples always want to ascent. You know, John and James. You don't want to sit on your right hand or your left hand. He says, can you drink your drink? I'm not going to talk. So, he converts you from that ascent which is strictly the ego graph of the male to a graph of descent. And converts you from just moving towards the center, as it were, even in the spiritual life, to a giving in which you give from yourself. And from a way of taking, particularly, to a way of giving.


There's an inversion that happens in the New Testament in Jesus' teaching where we're dependent on what we get from outside of ourselves at first time. What we get from that world. We're dependent on ego-life. We're dependent on who. We're dependent on the acceptance of other people. And that is what we're called false self. It may be deeper than that. But what he brings, what he gives, and what he teaches is a reversal by which you are able to give without taking. Now, for a while we just take. When we're children we just take and try to be sure. We need everything. Even our own being. As we grow up, we learn to exchange it. We receive. We receive approval and we give. And we receive something in return and we give. But you notice there's a point in the Gospels where the receiving seems to stop and the giving has to continue. Love the one who hates you, remember. Give and lend and don't expect return. So there's a point of turning around where the taking entirely


seems to disappear and it's only giving. And that seems impossible, except you're receiving from a deeper place. Because with the teaching comes the gift. The gift of the Holy Spirit. So the word there that I like is spontaneity. You discover a fountain within yourself which comes from beyond yourself. You reach into it. You root yourself into it through faith you might say. You stand in it through hope. But then you give from it in love. Because it's faithful to know what one wants. It's a single movement like the life of a tree. Or the movement of life through a tree you might say. So, this is the point of turning around. From ascending to descending. From going inside to realize that beautiful contemplative self of yourself. To turning outside. Which doesn't mean you leave this point. You're still there. That's your identity. It's not your experience. Your identity remains where it was. You remain the body of Christ. You remain Christ himself. But you don't experience that


often. There can be an increase in darkness. The lives of a lot of the saints were that way. We think of them as ascending to the throne or some kind of contemplative consciousness and staying there. But by and large that's not the case. Mother Teresa's memories of her late years, or Teresa's of the bazookas. There's a lot of darkness and suffering she lived through. And that's somehow the pattern of incarnation and in some way becoming Eucharist. And one's also, if you like, breaks open there's no longer one's own. It belongs to God and it belongs to everybody else. There's a lot of darkness involved. So, we'll talk about that tomorrow. And finally, the idea is this the fourth one Wisdom in the Future is the opening up of Christian consciousness to this consciousness which is at once unitive and historical. So that the two columns which have come together in Christ remain together, or re-emerge together. And also


with all of that which has happened in between, integrated. See, a lot of our history is a kind of migration. I mean, this tragedy that D. Griffiths talks about when we exchange wisdom for science is a migration. In order to develop science you have to leave wisdom out. Now, maybe true to a certain extent you can't do both at the same time. You can't be writing the spiritual canticle and doing nuclear physics at the same moment. But they're not really contrary to one another. They're two levels of your own being. There's a way to integrate rather than emigrate. The first moment always seems to be emigration. Once you're through another, then you reject what's behind you. Just like you might reject the teaching or the religion of your parents. The second step is that of integration. We're at a place now where we can do that. So. Okay, I'm sorry for keeping you so long. Any questions? Yeah. We talked about Jesus bringing us to within, in the inward


notion, to the deepest sense of ourselves. And it raises a question for me that I'd love to hear you comment on. Which is that in the Hindu tradition that deepest self that shades off into the divine, it's of the nature of who you are. It's a metaphysical reality. Sometimes when we talk about it for us as Christians, that going within to the intimate encounter between our deepest self and God, sometimes we talk about it as if that is purely a gift. Bestowed in grace, in baptism, by faith, and yet when the scripture talks about us being made in the image of God in all things, being made in a sense through the word, then we seem to shade a little bit over towards


sort of a Vedanta kind of view. And I'd love to hear you comment on that. That's a wonderful question. And I don't think it's got a single simple answer. I think it's one of those questions that you can only answer by approaching it from two sides. And then your two approaches to an answer just stay there facing one another. A lot of people would say that the only thing Jesus does is to reveal what you already are. That's too far on one side for me. Other people would say that you are nothing until you've been touched, received the Holy Spirit from Jesus. And received somehow that's too far on the other side. So we're somewhere in between those two places. I believe that he really does reveal your inmost being, but something happens at the same time. It's like in our two columns we've got revelation or disclosure here and we've got the eventual gift


here. And there's something of both. There's something of both and I don't know how to define the difference between the two. You almost said it with your question. I can't get much further than that. It's only that they're both there. And the better you can understand both of them, the better you can understand what's in between without being able to express it. It's a two-sided show. There's a revelation of your innermost being as if at the same time that innermost being has to be the being of the Word of Jesus. But at the same time that's probably a gift also because something happens with the resurrection, something happens with your baptism. And then there's the gift of the Holy Spirit which is very distinct in the New Testament. So one of these is almost non-historical and the other one is distinctly historical. So we're back to the two columns once again. And that's the place where the fusion is very mysterious. The fusion of the two. As long as we hang on to the fact that they're both true, I think we'll arrive at peace. Any other questions?


That's a question I'll come back to later. Don't you think that Paul addressed that to some extent in Romans 5? You know, the descent from Adam. There's an image of God but there's also a death. But then in Christ, it's like there's this potentiality that Christ brought to the actual own. A sort of false self, true self. Yeah, I have to think about that a little bit because there you've got a third, you've got something else happening. You've got this self which somehow becomes distorted, becomes contaminated. You've lost the image which has been obscured. I used to write about that a lot in the Middle Ages. We lost the likeness to get the image. You've got to get the likeness back in order to have the real full person. Paul does talk about it. I don't think he doesn't go into it completely. He doesn't dot all the I's and so on.


So there's thought that's still needed there between the two sides. And there Paul is talking in an extremely historical vein there isn't he? Other places, especially in Colossians and Ephesians, we'll see him talk in a more unitive way. Or some expression like I live not I but Christ lives in me. Where his I and his self seems to have disappeared since I went to the Christ house. And yet, listening to Paul, we know it's still very much there. Okay, thank you very much. Thank you. So it's 9.30 tomorrow.