Wisdom and History

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.




Wisdom and History




Remember I said at the beginning there are two lessons. The first lesson is the divinity of Jesus, which we then participate in, so that it becomes our own divine identity, if one can imagine saying that. And the second lesson is the other side of our identification with Jesus, that is having to walk the same path that he walked. So if the first lesson is this vertical line that breaks through into time and confers a divine identity upon us, the second lesson is this walk in mystery. And the first lesson seems to disappear into the second lesson. And it's very important to get the two of them. If you just get one, for instance a lot of times Christianity has been taught as the second lesson, the way of the cross, without the identity of God, the divine identity. If you have that, it crushes. So we've got a lot of very heavy Christianity, both I think in Catholicism and also in Protestant faith. On the other hand, if you just get this, you kind of fly off the ground.


A lot of people go east, okay, who go east and go into Hinduism or Buddhism and in some way become disincarnate, in some way become detached from earthly life. Now that's not the core, that's not the message of Buddhism or Hinduism. A lot of Westerners go in that direction because they're seeking spirit. They're seeking spirit. So they move from the right-hand column into the left-hand column and they stay there. But unless they come back and integrate with the right-hand column in historical life, they're not fully human. And so there's always something missing there. Yes? It rings so true because I came from Vedanta and it was this vertical and Christianity gives the completeness. I can't tell you how your words resonate. Oh, that's good. Because a lot of people have made that double journey of going east precisely because they've found that the spirit was missing in their own religious tradition.


A lot of Catholics are that way. A lot of people wake up in the West and there's something beyond all this. And this religion that I've been taught ever since the cradle somehow just doesn't go deep enough. The transmission is there in the core of it, but it doesn't come across. It doesn't get communicated. The institution gets in the way. All the words get in the way. Sometimes individual persons get in the way. Authority gets in the way. So it doesn't come through. So they instinctively, spontaneously move east, whether they do it geographically or whether they just do it internally. So they start reading Buddhist and Hindu scriptures and then they're entranced. And so they may migrate to India or to Burma to live in an ashram or find a teacher. And then after a while they begin to feel a pull back. They begin to feel that something is missing. They begin to become attracted to something over here in the West, something in the Christian tradition. Very likely it will be Jesus himself. Sometimes it's the Eucharist. Sometimes it's Saint Francis or something else.


At any rate, they start this journey back. You can see it in the life of B. Griffiths. You can see it in a number of biographies. B. went east with this terrific pull inside towards the realization of his self. But he was disappointed towards the end of his life because that was not what he got. That was not what he experienced. He felt it most deeply as an attraction to the realization it didn't happen. Instead, he found himself slowly back towards some Western things, especially what he called the new science. The sciences, the new paradigm science of Richard Koppel and the writings of Ken Wilber and David Goldman as well. And then, brethren, other things in the West. He never completed the journey. And his criticism of Abhishek Bananda was that Abhishek Bananda took the first leg of the journey but never conceived of the second leg. In other words, he went east, he went inward, he went upward.


But he didn't recognize the incarnation of the second leg of the journey. So he didn't come back. And sometimes it looked like Abhishek Bananda brought the deep end. On that side, on the side of spirit, which is possible. How about Merton? How about Merton towards Merton? Merton went to the east of the end. Yeah, east towards the end. And it's a little different, because I think you find that you can distinguish two movements in Merton. Two trips, as it were. One trip, because he couldn't get out of his monastery in his early life. So you're going to go to the east. If he could have, he might have. Also, that was before Vatican II. There was a time when the east wasn't really on the menu. It was an educator. And as soon as he saw it, he jumped for it. He was still in the monastery. So you have this journey of Merton, like in the seeds of contemplation, where it's strictly


contemplative. And you get the idea it's a steep, contemplative mountain. And sometimes you leave it right. There are a few people that are living in solitude. And the world exists because of them. And they are the salvation of the world. Think about that. It's awful, you know. I actually wrote that. He must have wanted to destroy it. But then you get this experience at Fourth of July, remember, in Louisville, where he wakes up. And suddenly, he sees the divine in everybody around him. Such a crowd of wonderful people. He sees the divine in everybody walking by. He said, I suddenly woke up from this delusion of a separate, holy existence. And that's the symbolic turning point of his life. But at the end of his life, he could go east, or he didn't go east. But meanwhile, this incarnational thing is working in him. So since there are two, I think, two plays, sort of, that take the two journeys, it's a little confusing, it seems that way. Because he died in the east, after all. He died in the east.


But you know what his last talk was about? Marxism. It was. The day he died. He gave a talk on Marxism and Anastasism. So you can see how tied up he was in the history of the West, in some way, in that historical dynamism that he had. And he was hearing this talk from a bunch of people who were in the east, and interested in the East. They were, you know, religious. People like that over there, in Bangkok. Okay. Our two lessons. Now, there are really four points which are interrelated. I seem to be maybe emphasizing this too much, but it's important. The first is the divinity of Jesus, which gradually dawned on the disciples, I think, in the course of the New Testament, and the course of the Gospel. There's this messianic secret, you know, in Marx's Gospel, where somebody would say, go to Christ, and he'd say, shut up. And then again and again, it's suppressed. The demons will know who he is, and come out with him. And he says, be silent. Go out. And so they do.


So it's concealed on the surface. And the way that it's revealed, actually, I believe it's through the baptismal experience, because I believe that Marx's Gospel was written as a preparation for baptism in the Eastern Vigil. So that's the natural focus of the Gospel. And as we'll see, it concludes with the tome of Jesus, the empty tome, which is really the baptismal part. So if the identity of Jesus is concealed during the Gospel, it explodes at the end of the baptismal in the New Candidate. And it explodes not as a fact, not as an objective recognition just of the divinity of Jesus, but the eruption of that same divinity in yourself, the baptismal experience. So the messianic secret, I believe, in Marx is in virtue of a function of drama, of a dramatic accentuation of the sacramental experience itself in the world. So the Gospels are really about that. Jesus is teaching all kinds of things. But where the Gospels end up is pouring into you.


What is in Jesus pouring into you so that what he is, you are. And then you've got both sides of these things. You've got the light of it and the dark of it. You've got the divinity and the humanity. And humanity there means this walk of mortality. A historical walk which includes a death, at least in this way. There's a double lesson of divinity then and a double lesson of humanity. And I'm calling it humanity because it's so neat, you know, divinity and humanity of incarnation. There's a text in Philippians 2, with which we're very familiar, where you see how this is all an incarnational trajectory. Now, Paul is lecturing the Philippian Christians and he's saying, well, if there's any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, full accord, one mind. Do nothing but selfishness and conceit, but count others better than yourself and so on. He says, have this mind among you, which is yours in Christ Jesus.


So he's giving a lesson to them the way they're supposed to be. But what he's lecturing and what he's telling them to do is impossible unless in some way they have received this gift of divinity. Because what follows is this. Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself. Now, what could that mean to somebody who hasn't received that same gift? In other words, the preaching of Paul, the lesson of Paul there, is only possible because of the gift, you might say, of equality of God or being in the form of God, whatever you want to call it. Because of the gift of divinity, because of the baptismal gift, therefore he can urge that same line of behavior on them that was followed by Jesus, who emptied himself. You can't empty yourself unless you're full, can you? And the fullness comes with initiation. So this is consequential upon the baptismal gift, presupposing that gift of divinity. Only then can you take this step of descent that Jesus does. And it's an incarnational movement, but there are two steps to it.


The first for Jesus is the incarnation itself, and the second is the cross, remember? That's a reading that you read over and over again, especially for Easter time. Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. Step one. He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man, and being found in human form, he humbled himself. Step two. And became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. It's as if to be human involves a walk towards death. So there's two steps for Jesus. One, becoming human. We don't have to do that, we're made that way. And then the second step, the way of the cross. So the way of the cross is impossible without that baptismal gift. And the early martyrs are the proof that the baptismal gift brings a kind of urgency of breaking through into the kingdom, and lead a person even to a voluntary martyrdom.


Another way of looking at that is as a journey from baptism to Eucharist. I'll have more to say about that later. Baptism as receiving a gift of divinity so that that becomes your ultimate identity. Eucharist as giving that gift of divinity which has become embodied now, which has become bread, which has become your flesh, your life, your behavior, and everything else. Now the New Testament, I want to go back to the beginning now. In the New Testament we start in the wilderness, don't we? The first gospel to be written is the Gospel of Mark. And there we start in the desert with John the Baptist. So the beginning of the Gospel of Mark is about baptism from the start. Because we're with the Baptist. And his role is to initiate Jesus. So Jesus goes out into the desert and is baptized by John. Now, at that point, we start off with a little history, and then bang. The baptism of Jesus is that descent of the vertical.


It's one of the very strong points of that descent. The very strong points of the intersection. Where history is invaded, as it were, by it. And that's marked by, there's always a vertical axis that's indicated somehow at those points. And what it is here in Mark is the opening of the heavens. And the voice that comes from heaven. Just as we found with Jacob's ladder, remember? I'll read the little passage here. In those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee. So he comes, it's a horizontal walk, geographically. And was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens open, and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove. Very strong vertical accent. Heavens are open, the Spirit is descending. And in the Greek, he's ascending from the water, and the Spirit is descending from heaven. You see, the water's broken where he's coming through. The heaven's broken, open. This is ascending and descending. But it's the descending that predominates.


It's the Spirit coming down upon Jesus. It's not a moment of exaltation. At least physically. And a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son, for you I am well pleased. Now immediately after the baptism, there's an anticipation of the second part. And that's where he's led out into the desert to be tempted by Satan, remember? And in Mark, the temptations are very brief. There's no detailed narrative the way there is in Matthew. But that is an anticipation of the passion of Jesus. In Luke's Gospel, Luke will say, he gives you the account of the temptations, and he says, another devil went away until the appropriate time. Until an opportune time. That opportune time is the passion. When Jesus is given over, as it were, to the power of evil. A way to understand that. Here it is. The Spirit immediately brought him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness 40 days.


Tempted by Satan, and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. There too, you have this sense of the vertical. The human, the subhuman, and the superhuman. So, the supernatural, this kind of fullness is there, all the time at the beginning. Now the baptism of Jesus is concerned with this awakening, and as it were, his divine birth. He is already divine. But there is a symbolic moment there in his baptism. Why? For us. Because we get baptized. And baptism is the way that we receive that divine infusion, as it were. And so Jesus goes through it, and leaves that there, for us to understand as the beginning of the Gospel. As if it were our own initiation. Now baptism was illumination for early Christians. So it's as if we need that light to be turned on in order to read the Gospel at all. It's often said, by biblical people, that the New Testament was written in the light of the Resurrection. And for that reason, people kind of relativize a lot of the things that you find in it,


and say, well this wasn't really said by Jesus, or this didn't really happen. They put this in there, in the light of the Resurrection. But what it really is, is not the light of the Resurrection only, but the light of the Resurrection plus the Holy Spirit, which means the light of baptism. In other words, the New Testament was written in the light of that baptismal illumination, which may bend some of the actual historical facts sometimes, but bends them in virtue of the fullness that's really there. Bends them in virtue of the divinity that's come into that scene. And you see that, of course, extremely, most strongly in John's Gospel. Where we can often question the way that things have been placed, whether it's historical, or whether it conforms to something else. It conforms to that advantage of the divinity that's come into it. The structure of Mark's Gospel, some of you have heard this before, but it's important. The beginning matches the end. Okay, so it folds like a hat.


You've got a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning is the baptism of Jesus, the end is the empty tomb in John 16. John 16, verses 1 to 8. That's the original ending of Mark. And there the women come to the tomb, looking for the body of Jesus. What they find is an empty tomb with a young man sitting in it, dressed in white. Which is a kind of obvious tip-off that that's the baptismal scene. For early Christians, the tomb of Jesus and the baptismal pot were identical, theologically. So they saw themselves as if they were being dipped into that tomb of Jesus and descending into death with him and rising to new life with him. In Romans chapter 6, that's literal, Paul really says it. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in nearness of life. Literally, you were buried with him by baptism into death,


you went down into the tomb, as it were, and you came out into new life, into risen life, like Jesus did. Now, that's the way that Mark's Gospel connects the baptism of Jesus with our baptism, by symmetry, the beginning and the end of the Gospel. And in the middle of the Gospel, you have the Transfiguration, which brings those two points together in a way. All three points are about baptism. The beginning, the baptism of Jesus, the Transfiguration, and the empty tomb. Beginning, middle, end. Remember the Transfiguration? It's surrounded by Jesus' predictions of his passion, of his death, and that's how it relates to the end. And the words that are heard from heaven, this is my beloved son, listen to him, are the same words heard at the baptism, except in the last phrase, right? So, it's deliberately connected to the baptism. And then Jesus is dressed in white, remember, in his white garment, it's brilliantly shining,


which connects with that Amen in the tomb. We're talking about Mark's Gospel, at the end of the Gospel. So the whole thing is deliberately connected. You have a descent, the words of baptism, an ascent to the mountain, which is almost the precise middle of the Gospel, and then another descent. It's the kind of trajectory that we're talking about here in these two lessons, okay? We have an ascent, we have a crest, and then we have a descent. I had to make this kind of wide. And that's the pattern, I think, that's not only for the life of Jesus, but for the life of the disciple, and in some way for history as well, the history of the Church, and even more generally, history of the world. But that gets to be a big story. But that's even the diagram of human life, or of the life of any creature, isn't it? To be born, to rise to a kind of peak of growth and expansion,


and then to decline. It's as simple as that. And that becomes the incarnation of divinity in Jesus. So God himself takes on that pattern, takes on that trajectory, and then it has a new meaning for us. Let's see. Well, monasticism, this is the eastern pole of Christianity, as it was a baptismal pole, here, where the sun rises, okay? That's the eastern pole, and the sun goes across the sky and sets in the west, doesn't it? This is the pure white light of the sunrise up here. And it's as if at this point, this is the still point. And at this point, there's no movement. There's only a realization of fullness. There's a beginning, as if you were in touch with the source, where everything is in the fullness and not yet emerged. The uncarved clock


in the language of Taoism, okay? Or your original face before you were born, in the language of Buddhism. Or the atma, the non-dual, un-differentiated self or the atma. This is the point, the eastern point, which is also the point of the Asian traditions, okay? The left-hand column that we were looking at. And it's almost as if nothing happens here. There's only being. There's only this stillness. There's no movement. But then, as you move up, you seem to kind of accelerate. And as you move west, the light becomes fire, and the stillness and the fullness becomes movement and energy, and it becomes history. So in the west you have history, and the west pulls the rest of the world behind it with this historical energy that it has, okay? And this is also the moment from the baptismal point to the Eucharistic point. And in Jesus' life, it's the sunrise of Jesus' life at baptism to the sunset of Jesus' life.


Which you can picture in the Upper Room, okay, when he institutes the Eucharist. The Last Supper. The sunset of his life. And then, of course, on the cross, when he actually dies. Remember that scene in Emmaus, on the road to Emmaus, where the sun is going down, Jesus is with him, he's unrecognized yet. And this stranger, this mysterious stranger, started to talk to him, to question him. They say, stay with us because the sun is setting today, it's getting late. And then they go in and he breaks the bread and they recognize him. That's that sunset moment too, as recalled by the disciples. So our life too follows that trajectory, I think. The first lesson is this, and then it's expansion as it were, as if to the point of transfiguration. Or as if Jesus' Galilean ministry, where he's expanding, when he's doing these marvels, and when it culminates in the multiplication of seven fishes twice, remember. And everybody acclaims him


and everybody is following him. And then he takes the disciples to the top of the mountain and tells them the bad news. And we'll get to that, this afternoon. So monasticism belongs to that eastern point. Monasticism belongs to the still point, as it were. Now, like everything else, monasticism opens up to include the whole thing. Like all the religions, now we talk about the Asian religions being over here, but every one of those religions, if it's a couple thousand years old, will develop all the different possible varieties. So you'll have compassion and love, as well as consciousness and illumination and non-duality in Buddhism. And you'll have a socially active Buddhism now. And you'll have a Hinduism, which is also socially active, and which becomes, you have a devotional Hinduism and a Hinduism of service, karma, yoga, and so on. So each one of them pulls out the whole spectrum. Nevertheless, each one essentially


has a certain orientation, as we're talking about, contrasting the Asian traditions with the Christian tradition and the Jewish tradition, too. So monasticism belongs to this eastern pole, essentially, and the sunrise, the baptismal pole, of Christian life, particularly. And for the Asian tradition, especially for Buddhism, you can say that monasticism is simply what it's about. In other words, Buddhism itself is monastic. It's got one center, so it's a circle, in that sense. And Christianity is not only monasticism. Monasticism is not only Christianity, either. So monasticism in Christianity is always an ellipse rather than a circle. It's got at least two centers. One center is the same one, is non-duality, is the unitive source, the point of, what do you call it, the point of origin of everything, where everything is still undifferentiated. Or you could call it the non-dual absolute. But the other center will be Christ, or the Christ event,


something that happened in history, or it will be the community, or it will be the gospel, or it will be your neighbor, something like that. It's never just one point, it's always two points, which means that there's a lot of tension in understanding what you're about, in a sense. You've got all these different possibilities, because the two points generate a lot of different possibilities. It's not a one-point thing. Part of it is, solitude is largely one-point, but even that, the contemplative light, I think, turns into a kind of fire that demands some kind of expression. The contemplative light, you can say, corresponds to this first lesson of realizing what's in baptism in terms of illumination, realizing the fullness of the gift of union with God, and simply that. The ascetical life corresponds to the second part, not the vertical, not the contemplative union with God,


but the walk following in the footsteps of Jesus. As Rahner would say, anticipating death. According to Rahner, asceticism is an anticipation of death, you know, to pay off the mortgage as you go, anticipating death in the hope of anticipating also the resurrection. Jesus' teaching on the new birth, you find this most clearly in John, of course, and most clearly, I think, when Jesus talks to Nicodemus, remember, in John chapter 3, and then at the Last Supper. Here's Jesus saying to Nicodemus, Nicodemus says, Master, it comes to my mind, Master, we know your future has come from God. And it's as if he wants to get a little wisdom, wants to get some fungus, as it were, to deepen his spirituality talking to Jesus. But Jesus sounds rather confrontative, he says,


well, unless you're born again, you can't see the kingdom of God. Wow. But Nicodemus had expected another book, you know, I think he'd expected another chapter of the teaching, expected some fine-tuning to polish up perhaps what he already knew, or an extension of the wisdom that he already had. But Jesus says, no, unless you're born again, you can't see the kingdom of God. So there's a radical discontinuity, to really get you started. And then he goes on. Nicodemus says, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born? Jesus answered, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Now, that's a deliberate reference to baptism, water and the Spirit, for he who comes


has to be baptized with the Spirit. And of course, we have both. We have a ritual baptism of water through which the Spirit is meant to be communicated. And then later, at the supper discourse, for instance, in John 14, John 16, he speaks of sending the Spirit. The place where you have the new birth most explicit is in Paul, and I think the first letter of John, again, I think I was born of water. I think the recognition seems, in the Gospel, very important in this respect of the first lesson. I said this yesterday, the recognition of the divinity of Jesus is at the same time an awakening of the new self. It's a marvelous thing that the person who really recognizes Jesus has been born in some way. The person who knows is baptized ultimately. But before that happens,


before that initiation, that plenary gift to the Spirit, as it were, that transmission, there's an inner awakening, inner recognition itself. And that's why faith is so important. It's odd that we don't seem to have a good grip on what faith is. But if we talk about non-dual consciousness, if we talk about fullness of illumination, I think that faith is living non-dual consciousness in the body. And that's got to do with the second lesson, so I'll get to that in a second. The first lesson is the awakening to this non-dual consciousness. To the unitive life. The second lesson is letting go of it as it disappears into your bodily life. Allowing it to be incarnate. So the pivotal thing in the New Testament is believing in Jesus, isn't it? And that belief in Jesus is kind of an absolute. You don't believe that he's


the best teacher around, you don't believe that he's the greatest of the prophets. You believe that he is. He's it, he's the center. Somehow, he is the presence of God. Now that's to recognize the absolute. Recognize, go against the non-dual reality in his bodily person. So the challenge is to penetrate through the physicality of Jesus, okay? And to discern the divinity that's within him. To do that somehow is to recognize the divinity directly and in some way to begin to live it yourself. As if the first step in living that divinity yourself was to recognize it in another. In his bodily reality, recognize also through the density of your own bodily reality and then beginning to live it out from there. But in the middle is necessary this transmission, of initiation, of baptism. At least traditionally so. There were exceptions. Remember Cornelius and Peter


went to preach to him, I think it was Peter. So he said, well hurry up and baptize him. As if the spirit is free and the spirit can descend and can illumine and can give rebirth where the spirit wants to. But in the tradition you need some kind of external ecclesial equivalent to that which is our ritual baptism. It's the same with Peter which I want to focus on because that one's got both lessons in there. I'll get to the other side of what he said. But Jesus is asking who do people say that I am? We're getting close to this point at the center of the gospel. This is in Matthew 16. It's Mark chapter 8. And it's even clearer and sharper in Mark. Things are happening fast. Who do people say that I am? Well Elijah, one of the prophets, John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit


and God. It's the most, the biggest affirmation in Matthew's gospel. And Jesus says, blessed are you son of the glory God where the flesh and blood hasn't revealed to you that my father was in heaven. That revelation however is the beginning of a beginning I think. He says you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church. It has no name. It's just a slight implicit indication of a new birth of Peter through the recognition of Jesus. This moment of the recognition of Jesus and the confessing of that, the speaking of that somehow is the beginning of a new life for Peter as a man. But then as we'll see something right after that happens which reverses everything when Peter is not able to accept the gospel. By failing time after time


to get it. And that makes the message clear for us. It also doesn't make us feel so good when we fail to get it. But it's that combination of teaching and misunderstanding time after time after time. Peter is a central part of it. Which is significant also for the lesson in humility for the leaders in the church. That the most valuable of all the disciples seems to be Peter at his age to stand. This is from the first letter of John chapter 4. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God and God abides in him and he in God. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God God abides in that one and that one abides in God. So if you confess that Jesus is the child of God you are born as the child of God. Now of course there it sounds very simple


but it's a process. But that's how the divinity is communicated. It's through faith. And then the divinity that's communicated is hidden within faith after the initial elimination. Because baptismal elimination of course is faith. It's clouded over as an eclipse. And that's because you need to be able to live from faith rather than continually being filled with divine experience. If we always had the contemplative experience if we always had the experience of fullness we wouldn't have to grow at all. We'd be babies born along on a cloud of fulfillment. So we're let down. We descend as it were from the mountain of transfiguration and live in the darkness of faith because that way we grow. And that's the mentality that I was talking about. Otherwise we don't produce any proof. Yes. In the gospel though it says that Jesus looked pleased when Peter says that which seems like a certain amount


of projection but it seems that the only person that Jesus actually said I'm the Messiah and volunteered that information was the Samaritan woman. And from my understanding the Messiah was the teacher not the one who was going to come and change everything for them the way that the Judeans thought. So it just seems like that idea that the Messiah is the teacher was something that he was willing to confirm and I don't know whether Peter really did get it right. Well the Messiah is more than the teacher in actuality. He's more than a teacher and he's more than a political saviour more than any kind of a saviour short of communicating the divinity itself. So what's really in there in that idea of Messiah is beyond words


is beyond any expectation. So I don't think the teacher expectation is any better than the other one. One of the advantages of the Messiah expectation is that it's more than one. Now what's the anointing? What's the anointing? Anointing is the Holy Spirit which confers divinity. Now that's all latent and symbolic in the Jewish expectation. It only becomes explicit in pastor recognition of what's happened in Jesus. So the event of fact is much greater than the expectations in medieval tradition. But that goes back to that high Christology the fact that the Christ event comes from above rather than coming from below. That's right. Absolutely. You've got to have a high Christology. You can have a low Christology too. In fact we absolutely have to have one. But you can't let go of the high Christology if you want to be connected with the Christian tradition. Truly. That's the New Testament revelation. A lot of people want to


sacrifice one or the other. A lot of people would throw away the high Christology if you can. But that's the New Testament revelation as interpreted by the Roman Empire where Peter is the one who gives them the authority over Christianity. That's posterity. I don't see that as being part of the issue. We're talking about the New Testament itself and I don't think Roman cultural ideas are getting into the New Testament. You can say there are Greek ideas in there. They become part of the mix of the incarnation and embodiment of the fact that I don't see the Roman cultures influencing it. Then we have a lot of texts in the New Testament about the experience of the baptismal event. There are probably countless. I think when Paul is writing to Christians he usually keeps supposing the baptismal fact. So he'll say how did you receive


the Spirit? Was it through doing things or was it through faith? How did you receive the Spirit? What does that mean? It means faith and baptism. Faith there means both faith and baptism. So he's presuming this gift of the Spirit. He's telling them not to forget that and then he's giving them sort of an owner's manual, an instruction guide for living according to that Spirit that they've received. That passage that we read from Philippians is typical of that. It's one of the most explicit examples of the instructions of how to live what you have received. Jesus being equal with God in the form of God did not will not to that but descended. Descended. Descended. And that's the lesson. And the descent is an embodiment. It's an incarnation. So if you have an original descent in this high gospelology in the incarnation of God and Jesus you have a continual pattern of incarnation in his life as what he is


becomes embodied in practice in those around him and finally in the whole of humanity. And then you have a continuing embodiment also of history. So that history doesn't go up as we might hope but history often goes down. And there's a purpose, a divine purpose in that descending kind of poster against all of our kind of hopes and ideals of progress of a continual lasting great ministry. Some call these texts on elimination It is the God who said that light shined out of darkness who was shown in our hearts to give the light and the knowledge of the glory of God and the face of Christ. Now that's relating the baptismal experience which is implicit there. It doesn't say to the first creation when God said let there be light. And that was the first creature of God wasn't it? Let there be light. The first thing that God spoke in his life. So that's the beginning of a new creation.


The light of baptism and of elimination. But the experience of elimination is not the whole thing. The experience is what rises into consciousness from that which has been received beneath the level of consciousness which is a new identity. It's not just in our consciousness. And there's a physicality about the thing which always eludes our grasp in our conscious mind. Baptism and Eucharist are both physical sacraments. All the sacraments are physical. So there's something going on at a level beneath what we can experience or can think about or understand. This is from Hebrews chapter 6. It's impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened who have not been necessarily except that doesn't matter who have tasted the heavenly gift and become partakers of the Holy Spirit. So that's talking about an event in which the Holy Spirit


has been received and the heavenly gift has been tasted. That's the baptismal thing once again. So there are a lot of these places in the New Testament where you can you suddenly notice this bump in the text which represents the receiving of something represents a transcendent experience which is presupposed everywhere. It's presupposed everywhere by Paul. That's what on the basis of that he can tell them what to do and he can tell them how to live. He can tell them what to be careful of. But recall the former days in Hebrews 10 when after you were enlightened you endured a hard struggle to suffer. That's the typical pattern okay. The enlightenment and then the hard struggle. If you look at the early Christians and the martyrdoms and so on in early Christianity just the the difficulties that they were under you can see that everywhere can't you? Especially Christians like in Rome. But already the Christians in Palestine persecuted by the Pope by the synagogue


by the Jewish leaders and so on and then by the Romans. So it's as if their presence is resented somehow but it plays into this this pattern of incarnation. That you don't sit there on top of the mountain on top of the mountain if you're here but somehow you're pulled down pulled down into humanity and it may be through martyrdom. As I say Eucharist the early martyrs were conceived understood Eucharistically which is like the context like just the way that martyrdom was thought about. There's a wonderful homily at St. Augustine it's in the graveyard where he says he quotes from one of the wisdom books if you have been invited to a meal with one of the princes keep in mind you will have to offer the same kind of meal yourself and then he talks about that in terms of Jesus and the Eucharist. If you sit down to the Eucharist bear in mind that you're going to have to offer the same kind of meal yourself. What could that mean?


Well he interprets it first of all obviously in terms of martyrdom that somehow you are to become food as Jesus has become food for you. It's a very simple thing which passes down as it were through history. And Christians in receiving this gift are to embody and then be broken as bread for the others until the whole of humanity is fed. What is that bread? Well bread is truth and bread is ultimately life. God has put his seal upon us and given us his spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. In 2nd Corinthians 3 Paul is talking about the scriptures and remember the veil of Moses Moses had a veil over his face when he came out to attend a meeting and he put it over his face so that Israelites wouldn't be dazzled by the light


that was coming from his face after he faced the face of God. And Paul says well to this day when the Jewish people read their own scriptures a veil remains over the face of Moses. A veil remains over the scriptures but once someone turns to Christ the veil is removed and they see through the scriptures to what is at the core of the scriptures. Now for him what is at the core of the scriptures is Christ is the Christ who left the mysteries. But once someone turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom and we all with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord of being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the spirit. The veil is removed. You see through the scriptures into the core of the scriptures but at that same time the surface of yourself


is broken and you awaken to something deeper within yourself. I think the same identity that you perceive the identity of Christ the divine identity of Christ that is here the divinity within the scriptural word begins to awaken within yourself to awaken to a new and deeper consciousness within yourself. The two things are the same. Notice how we're meeting the east in its non-duality once again. We move over continually from that right hand column to the left hand column and we're talking about this baptismal experience talking about this first lesson of Jesus. Then when we talk about the second lesson we move back over into the right hand column but we do it with this divinity buried within ourselves with this infinite light somehow buried inside concealed inside our bodies. I like the passages from Galatians especially with where Paul is rolling out his Galatians for forgetting what they've received and for going back to the Lord. Let me ask you only this did you receive the Spirit by works of the Lord or by hearing of faith? Notice he's presupposing


to give to the Spirit. He's presupposing they've had this tremendous experience and they're beginning to forget it and just slip back into a compulsion. The compulsion of exterior religion with all its meticulous imperatives. Are you so foolish having begun with the Spirit are you now ending with the flesh? Having begun with the Spirit having begun with the Spirit having begun with divinity having begun with the divine identity somehow communicated to you are you going to return to your old condition? Having begun with the first lesson are you going to forget it? Because going back to what would you call it? A disciplined life is a different thing after that first lesson than it was before that first lesson. It was an external law. There's a revolution there by which you now have a principle of life inside you instead of conforming to a principle of life outside you which was the law. Now Paul makes it very simple and dramatized with the contrast between the Old and the New.


There's a plenary presence of the Spirit also in the Jewish tradition and especially the religion of the prophets is a religion of the heart. So it's not quite that short but there is a quantum change at that point. God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, Abba, Father. So through God you are no longer a slave but a child of God. If a child and an heir what does it mean to be an heir of God? What do you inherit? Well, you inherit God, don't you? God doesn't really have anything else to give but God. So to be an heir of God is to be steeped in it. I'd better not stretch this any further at this point but I wanted to bring in that lesson 1.5 Let me say something


about John 21. In John 21 you remember you've got the great catch of fish. Jesus on the shore. They haul the boat. They haul the fish to shore. Peter comes in the water to shout. They have breakfast at the fire on the shore made by the Messiah. Things seem to have turned over there because before he didn't bother with preparing breakfast and now Jesus is making a meal for them. And then after that he questions Peter and then after that he says to Peter, follow me. And they start walking off along the shore. So Peter follows him and then he turns around and sees the beloved disciple behind him. He says, well what about him? Jesus says, as much as to say it's none of your business. If he is to remain here until I come what is that to you? So there we have the two ways. The way of Peter and the way of John. The way of Peter is the way of following Jesus walking along the earth, walking along the path,


which becomes actually the way of the Western Church and the way of the West. As if the West had met in history. Of course it didn't. But history emerges and progresses and multiplies in the West like it multiplied nowhere else. That's the way of Peter. The way of the beloved disciple, the way of John, remain here until I come. Notice time and space. Remain here, don't move. Until I come. There's a vertical running right through time. And it's only one point on the face of the earth that remains here. Where is that here? That here is the East. That here is the place of the rising sun. This is the morning, isn't it? The scene in John 21. The end of John's Gospel. That East is the unmoving point of the beginning. And that's what John's Gospel is about actually, is that point. John's Gospel is the East of the New Testament. And much of the rest, of course, especially like Matthew and the Acts of the Apostles, is the West, is the movement. But John's Gospel


is about a still point. Which brings us to our reading. Just one clarification, before we start, on the German pronunciation. Erhebo, I think. Erhebo. Yes. At the still point of the turning world, neither flesh nor fleshless, neither from nor towards. At the still point, there the dance is, but neither a rest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, where past and future are gathered, neither movement from nor towards, neither ascent nor decline,


except for the point, the still point. There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. I can only say, there we have been, but I cannot say where, and I cannot say how long, for that is to place it in time. The inner freedom from the practical desire, the release from action and suffering, release from the inner and the outer compulsion, yet surrounded by a grace of sense, a white light still and moving, erhebon without motion, concentration without elimination, both a new world


and the old made explicit, understood in the completion of its partial ecstasy, the resolution of its partial horror, yet the enchainment of past and future, woven in the weakness of the changing body, protects mankind from heaven and damnation, which flesh cannot endure. Time past and time future, allow but a little consciousness. To be conscious is not to be in time, but only in time can the moment in the rose garden, the moment in the arbor where the rain beat, the moment in the draughty church at smoke fall, be remembered,


involved with past and future, only through time, time is conquered. It's the beginning, it's the undifferentiated beginning into which we've been carried, as we're back beyond and before our normal life, our ordinary consciousness. So it's the east that we've been talking about. That's like the eastern pole of Keo's idea. Whereas when he talks about time and progression and kind of the walk along, that's the western one. So just one more word about that, Lesson 1.5, that revolution, we mustn't forget.


There's a point of inversion, of turning around, which we'll move from ascending to descending. And you can see it when Jesus lectures the disciples about not finding on top of one another anymore. Now they say, well, who's the greatest among us? And they say, forget it. You give a little child and say, this is the greatest among us. Whoever doesn't become like a child can't have any pain. So there's a real reversal there from ascending to descending, from being top man to being the person on the bottom, who is least of all, and somehow being least of all is the greatest of all, because that's what Jesus makes himself, as the foundation stone. And then when he washes the feet of his disciples, it's the Last Supper in John, remember? That's what he's doing. Peter refuses again. He says, you'll never wash my feet. But Jesus insists. That's the way. That's the pattern. Peter is the one who always resists that revolution from ascending to descending. As if he knew he was going to be Pope afterwards. And then the other way of looking at it


is from moving inward towards the east to moving outward once again towards the west. Moving inward towards the fullness of enlightenment and divine union. The typical monastic path, OK? And you can say the path of Christian spirituality for the first 10 or 12 centuries. And the movement outward, which is a return to the ordinary world in which an incarnation is taking place. And which, as it were, you almost put on everything you took off before, but now it's different. What do the Buddhists say? First, the mountains are mountains, the rivers are rivers, and the mountains are not mountains, the rivers are not rivers. Then once again, after that enlightenment, there's a return to the marketplace, and the mountains are mountains once again, the rivers are rivers once again. Everything's changed. Everything is the same as it was before we were changed. Because God is inside you, becoming embodied, OK? It's an evolving. So this afternoon we get to the second lesson, which is the descending trajectory, OK?


We're on this picture. It's this part of me, this part of me. Hi, any questions at this point? Bruno? Yes. What you just described seems to be the Merton experience. American experience? On the corner, when he recognized... Oh, Merton experience, yeah. No, that's right. And that's the moment at which he renounces the absolutizing of this, OK? Because for a long while, if you read scenes of contemplation, it's only this. In fact, it's setting up like this, and you've got these few marvelous people on a mountaintop, OK? And everything else is sort of inferior and down below them. It's something that's hopeless. But at 4th and Walnut, he realizes all of a sudden, at least he writes about it that way afterwards, OK? Because we don't know what the experience was really like. This is in Conjectures of Ability by Stanford.


It's that wonderful chapter where he has this illumination. He's writing about the quant beers, the expression, Islamic expression of Massimero. The virgin point at the center, OK? And that's what flashes. But that virgin point is not the North Pole anymore. It's not an isolated point of spirit, but it's embodied within these people who are walking around. So he says, I see them all walking around, blazing like the sun. And then he says something a little snooty. He says, well, if they knew this, it would be wonderful. But only he knows. But it's a wonderful passage. But that's his symbology. That's his point of turn. And he says, oh, how long have I cultivated this ideal of an isolated holy experience? As if you could take the gift and you could bottle yourself up with it and wrap yourself up with it and tuck yourself away and never have to worry about anybody. And be superior to who, OK?


Whereas you can remain a little kid that way, just bottled by God. And it's not the little kid that Jesus is talking about either. So yeah, Merton realized that. And B. Griffiths, in his own way, was on the way towards that, but he never fully expressed it in that way. B. Griffiths was much more romantic than Merton. Both of them are romantic in their own way. Merton was much more in the 20th century. And something more of a realist, at least part of the time. And also, Merton was more, I think, he had absorbed much more of the West, much more of the modern West. He was a smart New York intellectual. A lot of him still was. He had migrated to another century. Migrated to another century and another century. Any other questions or issues? Or short speeches is one of them. OK, thank you.


Thank you. Don't forget to register if you haven't already.