Wisdom and History

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Wisdom and History

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Well, this morning we want to wind up and talk about wisdom in the future, or the future wisdom. First, let's have our poetic reading. This is the conclusion of the Four Quartets, the last part of the beginning. What we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from, and every phrase and sentence that is right, where every word is at home, taking its place to support the others, the word neither diffident nor ostentatious, an easy commerce of the old and the new, the common word exact without vulgarity, the formal word precise but not pedantic, the complete consort dancing together. Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning, every poem an epitaph, and


any action is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat, or to an illegible stone, and that is where we start. We die with the dying, see they depart and we go with them, we are born with the dead, see they return and bring us with them. The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew tree are of equal duration. A people without history is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern of timeless moments. So while the light fails on a winter's afternoon in a secluded chapel, history is now, and England with the drawing of this love and the voice of this calling. We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place


for the first time. Through the unknown remembered gate, when the last of earth left to discover is that which was the beginning. The source of the longest river, the voice of the hidden waterfall, and the children near the apple tree, not known, because not looked for, but heard, half heard, in the stillness between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always, a condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well, when the tones of flame are enfolded into the crowned nod of fire, and the fire and the rose are one. I think we diverge a little from Elliot and the path that we're taking, especially this


morning when we're talking about the wisdom of the future and a meaning in history which is a forward-moving meaning, a meaning which is discovered progressively, and the confidence that history is going somewhere. I find that, I don't want to paint a mustache on Elliot's poem, but when the fire and the rose are enfolded, sort of, and you go back to the beginning, the meaning of history tends to be obscure, it tends to be drowned in a kind of circular movement. But I believe that because of the Christ event, history is moving forward in a significant way, in which it gathers everyone into the original blessing, gathers everyone, the whole of humanity, and somehow the whole universe according to St. Paul, into the original gift. So the original gift keeps expanding, and the universe as it were, or humanity at least, keeps tuning in on it, and humanity is being gathered together visibly in our own time. So, I'd like to go back to our original problem, that is the eclipse of wisdom


in the West. The wisdom disappeared in the West. That kind of consciousness and that spirituality which went for interiority and for divine union, and for an experience of the unity of all things, that has given way to something else in the West, which is the ordinary modern mind. On the other hand, it's science. Science is the royal epistemology, the royal consciousness in our time. And if you want to know the truth any fonder, you go to the scientist, you go to the expert, you ask him. And he doesn't know it, but he may tell you. In other words, science tends to be consulted and tends to pronounce all things far beyond its own area of expertise, its area of command. The West is surrounded by wisdom cultures at the same time. We recognize that especially in our contact with the East, with the Asian tradition, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, but also with primal cultures, which remain a kind of wisdom culture in some way. And


in California and in the West here we have a kind of soup also of all kinds of different living conditions for a new wisdom. Wisdoms of transpersonal psychology, of every sort, pouring into the same kind of ocean, of which it's very hard to find a shape or a direction for a meaning in this phenomenon itself. There's an ordinaryness about Christianity, which has two sides to it. One side is that Christianity is incarnation, and therefore the extraordinary disappears into the ordinary. The extraordinary disappears into the ordinary and the divine disappears into the human. And we're left living a human life with divinity somehow within us, trying to express itself, trying once again to incarnate itself in this human life, as if incarnation was the one motif or the one movement or the one direction which


dominates everything, theology, personal life, and also history. And the contemplative life or the monastic life, I think, is to attempt to swim upstream, to go back to the source, and to discover that unitive light at the beginning, and then today to illuminate the whole path all the way down the river, all the way down the river of incarnation, the river of history, to illuminate that whole trajectory so that we know where we are, we know where it's going, we know where to face. So that would be maybe the scope of a new wisdom. But Christianity is ordinary. The Catholic Church can often seem so humdrum. Everything about it, except the mysticism of it, which is hidden somewhere inside, but everything about it seems so down-to-earth, and so in a way it can seem very boring, until somehow it opens up for us and we realize that inside it is that light, inside it is that divine light, and it's become so completely embodied that we can't see it anymore.


There's another aspect to this, of course. The West is affluent, and the West has taken control of nature in a way which humanity never has done before. So it's taken charge of nature, as it were, and then begun to rearrange or reconstruct the world according to its own desires, its own comfort, and its own rationality. Never really happened before, but not on that scale. Maybe you have to some extent an empire to build it. So that means that after you domesticate nature, and after you sort of dominate the world, it's all very boring. Because the real human situation has been taken away from you. You've exchanged reality for power. You've exchanged humanity and human life for some kind of domination, some kind of control, some kind of very self-centered, what would you call it, success, in a way. So part of the ordinariness and part of the boringness of the West, I think, comes from that. There's also this fact that Christianity and incarnation beget prosperity. That is,


the gift of God that comes in Christ is incarnate, not only in humanity, but also, you might say, at the subhuman level. In other words, it leads to material flourishing. So why is the West richer than the rest of the world? Why are Christians, by and large, better off than other people in the world? Well, I think it's because of what happened 2,000 years ago, basically. But because of that history of God coming into humanity, and coming into humanity particularly through the incarnation in Jesus, and that's through the Christian tradition. And all of that cascades down in some way. In other words, there's a kind of continuing incarnation which goes down to the human level, and then goes in some way below the human level. A kind of secular incarnation, for one thing. I think the secular world in the West is a product of incarnation. The secular world is a further product of Christianity beyond Christianity itself. And because of that gift of freedom, a fundamental gift of freedom, which comes from Christ, humanity is able to establish a world independent


of Christ, and independent of God. Until the sun rises once again, and every man is realized of where it's all coming from. This business of Christianity somehow being prosperous, Christianity somehow containing within it also the material good that comes from this, we call it entrance of God into the world. That's just another form of the word. It leaves you with two options. One option is domination. If you are better off than the rest of the world, you turn that into power, and you turn around and you dominate the rest of the world and you exploit it. That's one option. You might call that the demonic option, in a way. And it's very present to us today, I think, in the States. The other option is to follow the dynamism of the gift that's been given, to follow the dynamism, the direction of incarnation, and to give as you are received, and to let


it all flow through you, and in other words, bear fruit for the rest of the world. That's the other option. That's the Christian option. There's a lot that calls itself Christianity, which is really that first option, the option of power. The real Christianity is somehow to let the goods which have come into your world, your smaller world, let's say your European, North American world, through that another incarnation, let it incarnate further, trickle down and pass out, let it go down and let it go out until it belongs to all humanity. That's an option that's very hard for us to take, and we're challenged by it, especially at this moment when we're on this kind of global threshold. In other words, it seems to give way to a universality, to a world civilization, and a world Christianity, which Karl Roemers called the world church, which begins with Vatican II. That's kind of the rest of this that I'd like to say about wisdom.


Do you think that the East is in danger of being subverted by Western values? I look at China and India and they're very much into science and technology, they're very much into materialism and entrepreneurship. So what's going to happen there as they become more dominant? Well, I think that in a sense that has to happen. And it's interesting, this is another angle, but B. Griffiths thought that the future of the world lay in the coming together of the religions through rediscovering the perennial philosophy, universal wisdom. And that somehow that was the secret of bringing the peoples and the nations together, if that universal wisdom, which he believed was everywhere, let's say before 1500 in the West, if that could be rediscovered, the universality of that and the depth of that and the unity of that would bring the world together. But as a matter of fact, the world is being brought together in a different way, isn't


it? How? Through business, commerce, globalization on the economic level, but underneath that through science and technology. And these things come from the West. So the West is bringing the world together on a physical level, you might say, an embodied level in some way. Whereas we would prefer, say, Christians would have dreamed of the conversion of the world at some earlier time. We don't dare to think about that any longer, do we? Not in the same way, anyway. It has to be more of a convergence than a conversion, perhaps, both at the same time. Christians have to be converted just as much as other people have to be converted, but maybe in a somewhat different direction. So what's happening now? I think it's an intermediate phase, OK? And if they're very unlucky that capitalism and the whole business that you're talking about will upset them and make them let go of their heritage and not recover it, then they'll be floating in a sea of modern confusion, OK? If, on the other hand, they can keep some rooting


in their traditional wisdom and somehow integrate it. Now, the same people won't be able to do it, so there's a tension in the society between the people that have the tradition and the people that go flying off with the new stuff, OK? If they can find what's deep in the Western tradition and relate it to what's deep in their own tradition, then that's the best solution, OK? But I have no prediction, no prophetic vision of what's not happening. Only the general movement, the general movement of unification of humanity and science as a kind of intermediate state, almost science between two wisdoms. I think of that in terms of the Christian perspective, but also maybe in terms of other traditions, that they have to go through this phase of purgation, which is scientific rationality, before discovering a second unitive vision. But the second unitive vision will be global, as well as contemplative. Now, in terms of incarnation, I'm kind of late into the end of the story. In terms of


incarnation, what does that mean? It means that you start out with a wisdom which is, you might say non-duality in Asian terms, that's how I left-hand column are, OK? The wisdom of the unity of all things, that unitive principle which is the source, and which for us is God, which for the East is the absolute, under one name or another. You start out with that, and you end up with one humanity which is the incarnation of God, which is the incarnation of that unitive reality which is the source, which is coming into the world and embodying itself in humanity. And as it does so, it draws humanity together, OK? So in that process you can see the incarnation taking place as well. And that's the biggest picture of all, OK? From an initial wisdom to a final embodiment in all of humanity. Now that would seem like a pipe dream, except that we can see something like that happening right in front of us today. As humanity becomes somehow one, even the worst things have happened.


Just before the Iraq war, I remember it was that Robert Mueller, the old UN man, saying this is the greatest thing that ever happened. He hated war, he was completely against that war. But he said the whole world, the whole of humanity is expressing itself against this war. The whole world is waging peace together for the first time. So in spite of all the violence, in spite of all of the outrageous stuff that's perpetrated by the West and by our own country, and seems to divide the world directly, the world is being drawn together anyway. I remember who was it? Teilhard, I think. No, it was Teilhard that said the two world wars in the 20th century looked like they were tearing humanity apart. But actually they were pulling humanity together. After those two world wars, it was a different world. World war. Does the world have to be united by war? Does humanity have to realize itself as a single humanity through a war? Well, I think it was happening. You know, the League of Nations, the First World War, and the United Nations, those are only signs,


those are only external manifestations of that which was happening. But the world is becoming one world, and humanity is becoming one humanity. And Christianity rediscovers itself somehow inside that, inside that crystallization. And that's going to take a thousand years. A thousand years for us to achieve one humanity. There's a German philosopher named Rosenstock who's here, I'm always preaching to him, but he has this idea of three epochs. Three millennia. It's very simple. He says that if history is to be understood, it has to be so simple as a schoolboy can repeat it in one sentence. So he says salvation comes through unification. And he was writing, you must have read this book, Christian Future, about 1920 or 1930, something like that. So his first millennia is moving, it's all about unity. Salvation is about unity. The first millennium is from many gods to one god. And so the church is very much involved in the history that we know. The second millennium


is from many worlds and many peoples, or many different visions of the world to a single world, a single nature. And he says that happens in two ways. It happens through exploration and discovery and creating context between people through transportation, communication and all that. And it happens through science and making it a single intellectual system of the world, of nature. So that nature is unified in the human mind and human understanding through science, and actually in the human world somehow through the contact of people, because people begin to travel the whole world. He says that's already happened. There aren't any more Chinese schools. There aren't any more absolute separations. There aren't any more water-type boundaries, impermeable boundaries between peoples. Everything intercommunicates. The internet is a typical expression of that up until this time. He says the first millennium then is from many gods to one god, and that happens particularly in the Christian tradition.


But you can also see it in that axial time, OK, in the first millennium before Jesus, where the unity principle is breaking through in all these different places in the world. Second millennium, the unity of the world and of nature both being one thing. Third millennium, the test here, is the unity of humanity from many peoples to a single humanity. So I think he was right on. I think that's the picture, the chalice of Christ the fourth. But it's interesting that first there's this unity of spirituality, divinity, secondly the unity of nature, and then in the middle, finally, the unity of humanity, in which incarnation really happens because it happens in a human way, the way it happens in people. It's just something to think about. Something to think about, something to have hope about and to work towards? Indeed, yes. I think so.


Another angle on that is Karl Rahner saying that Vatican II is the beginning of a world church. Just another vision, another aspect of the same reality, the same happening. That we are becoming, humanity is becoming one, and somewhere we have to evolve into a global consciousness. And for the church, that means a new way of thinking of itself. No longer a European church, a Eurocentric church, but a world church, which is embodied, incarnated, enculturated in a hundred different ways, in a different way than each of the peoples of the world. And as I say, when Christianity gets confused like that, and gets dispersed, then it's really in good shape. When it's bankrupt, it's messed up. It could be reborn purely from the beginning. And so, in that utter pluralism, that plurality of many peoples, Christianity discovers its simplicity once again. The utter simplicity of the Holy Spirit, in which Christ can be translated into any language, into any culture,


and is as multiple as the human beings walking around on the face of the earth. Yes? Well, if you take the horizontal path of history, and people like Dr. Martin Luther King, who talked about, who sees that we either have non-violence or non-existence. So, we're on this path to where there's this great unity and oneness, just like as you recorded about this Nobel Peace Prize, that the nuclear will all come together as one people, and sharing what we have, or annihilation. So, that's the western path. Is there something in the eastern path that kind of guarantees that we'll have unity rather than annihilation? Well, I suppose Pete Griffiths would say that the eastern way is the way of wisdom, which is natural unity. So, if people can acquire that consciousness, then that will do it. That will be the way to get through it. But maybe that's a little too optimistic, because not a whole lot of people are going to think that way. So, I don't think there's any formula. We know the way that we have to face and the way that we have to go.


We know the right direction of something. I'm tired of this short-dance formulation. People believe that it will all come together. Yeah. According to Teilhard, evolution itself takes a turn with the human, with the coming of the human person, the evolution of the human person, and then with the coming of Christ. So, if you see evolution going vertically, the ascending of creatures from matter to molecules and all the way up, at a certain point arises a human being, and then the human being evolves to a certain extent. But then, at a certain point, you see evolution turning in towards the center. In other words, it goes into socialization or planetization, whereby human beings begin to move from a million different consciousnesses walking around to somehow a single organism, a single consciousness. Now, not totally, obviously. We retain our individuality. We're always emphatic on that. But then, at a certain point, this planetization or socialization happens,


whereby dispersed humanity begins to actually become one and pulsate as one. So, he sees that as a turn in the evolutionary direction. That's a powerful idea. He saw that happening. Because he saw that the track of humanity had been centrifugal or dispersive for many centuries, especially in the West. Individualism, everybody becoming an isolated atom. But at a certain point, you see the opposite trend beginning to take over, the convergence beginning to happen. And he saw that happening in our time, in the last couple of centuries. So, that, he saw it as this turn in the evolutionary direction. You can also see it on a historical scale. Hubert Cousins talks about the axial time and the second axial time. And the first axial time, that first millennium before Christ, was the evolution of personal consciousness, individual consciousness, breaking through on India and China and Persia and Greece and Israel.


This comes from the Aspergers, you know. So, Cousins' original idea is that at this point, when he's drawn from Teilhard, we've arrived at the threshold of the second axial time, where the emergence is not personal, individual consciousness, but global consciousness. A coming together. Realizing that behind and within our individual consciousness, there's one. There's one consciousness. We could call divine consciousness as we want, but now it has to become incarnate. It has to be a body and a being. In a single humanity. Again, without submerging the individual. Now, that's somehow within the scale of history. That's within what we have recorded in our human history. And, jumping to the end, because otherwise I'll get there. I'd like to propose somehow that Jesus is the noonday of East and West, and Jesus is the noonday between, let's say, the first axial time and the second. We have this solar trajectory, which moves from sunrise in the East


to something like a sunset in the West, or if you prefer, the arrival of global humanity or global wisdom, whatever. This track from East, let's call it West over here, for simplicity. And in the center you have a point of inflection, which I think is the point of incarnation. So, for instance, if we talk about my left-hand column there being the ancient wisdom, the unitary principle of primordial philosophy or non-duality, and if we talk about the right-hand column as being dominated by history, and if we talk about Christ as being the fusion between those two, the embodiment of the left-hand column and the right-hand column, to put it most critically possibly. If we speak in those terms, then you can see Jesus as being between, let's say, non-duality over here and history over here. East over here, West over here. And somehow, this principle of incarnation as being the principle,


after this point at least, of history itself, which you can see in the West. I mentioned that theory of Joachim, that we're arising from the age of the Father to the age of the Son to the age of the Spirit, the age of spiritual contemplation and so on. And that actually it's going in the opposite direction. That for the last thousand years, our history in the West has been a kind of descent, which many people see as a tragedy. Peter Griffiths saw it as a tragedy for the past 500 years. And so do many other people who feel we've lost the old wisdom. Ordinary people tend to see it as a history of progress. The standard of living and the evolution of science and the spread of education and so on. And I think there's truth and falsity in both of those ideas. Because we've made an exchange. We've exchanged, in a sense, wisdom for science. We've exchanged wisdom for history, for progress. And I think we have three stages.


We have, first of all, the stage of illumination, or the old wisdom. Wisdom number one. Then we have a stage of incarnation, or a descent, in which wisdom gives way to science. And that's the time of incarnation, we could say. In that science, I think, is a descent into embodiment of wisdom, of the non-dual life. I think that the relative consciousness, instead of being the dominant consciousness, goes behind you, almost as if as you're descending the afternoon path. The sun is behind you instead of ahead of you. It's no longer your focus, it's no longer your destination. But it's the light in which you see everything else. But you're not looking at it, you're looking at everything else. You're looking at the earth. You're beginning to become not a philosopher, not a mystic, but a scientist. So Hegel is a solar art, as it was.


So you're looking ahead of yourself, you're looking at what's in front of yourself, you're looking at your world, and you're beginning to understand it. Because your understanding is coming from that unitive consciousness, which has become your sky, or your sunshine, your sunlit sky in some way, rather than the focus, you can't focus on it, but rather than what's in front of you. Does that make any sense? And that's the process of incarnation somehow. A lot of people have seen Western sciences deriving from Christianity, and they have all sorts of arguments to support this thesis. And I believe basically that it is true. That somehow the incarnation, or the coming of Christ, is a coming of divinity into this world, so that the human person, I've said this before, the human person becomes at home in this world in a new way, in which the human person was never at home before in this world. So it creates a human world around itself, that's what the West has done. It's domesticated nature around itself, and made itself more or less comfortable inside this transformed nature,


this humanized nature. And it's very circumscribed. It's very private in a sense, because most of the world is left outside, rather hungry too. So that's what's happened, I think, in this process of incarnation, which has to go on to another phase. Another phase which brings in all of humanity, and at the same time which recovers the wisdom consciousness, which opens the kind of linear, rational, scientific consciousness of the West to the other dimensions of consciousness once again. So that would be the second wisdom that we're talking about. As we move from illumination, the old wisdom, through incarnation to science, scientific mentality, it's just a middle stage, it's not the end. Because science is still inhuman, after all. Even the most human and social of sciences is still inhuman. Because they're rational, rather than being a matter of the whole person. They're not a matter of feeling, they're not a matter of the head,


they're not a matter of the heart, they're not a matter of the body and the mind. So somehow science and wisdom have to meet in such a way that science takes on flesh once again. Or at least that there's an integration of the two ways of thinking. A lot of people have been working on that problem for getting together wisdom for contemplative consciousness in science. But I think the way to do it is not directly, like Kupfer does it with our physics, but rather moving through the actual historical track through which science came into being, out of the Christian society, the Christian civilization. And basically, I think, out of the fact of Christ, the fact of incarnation, the fact that the divine light comes into this world, so that it's inside the human person, the human person finds the world transparent in a way. Transparent not through the mystical penetration of the old contemplatives, for instance, in the Greek tradition, Greek Christian tradition, but transparent rationally. But that rational grasp of nature is only an intermediate phase.


It's a means, it's not an end. Listen, science is a means. That kind of knowledge doesn't satisfy it. It doesn't fill the person, it doesn't transform the person. It's not the knowledge we need ultimately. We're moving towards something else, which we can't really draw a line around, we can't delineate it, circumscribe it, but we can intuit it, we can feel it. We can feel it trying to conform within ourselves. I'd like to develop a little more this idea of Jesus as the new man. This may sound like the old Christian show, but maybe it is turning out. If you read St. Paul, the only way you can understand it is through Jesus in the center of it, and Christ in the center of it. Bonaventure saw Christ as the coincidence of opposites, where the opposite of divinity and creation come together, or divinity and humanity, and every other opposite somehow is being united in this center. And that's the meaning of this figure, in a way, ultimately,


is that there's a center where all the dimensions come together, and all of the opposites, old and new, past and future, divine and creative, all somehow are joined at this point. But they're not just joined in a symmetrical diagram, as you might get from Eliot's poem, from Little Giddings, which we just heard. Rather, they're drawn together in a living, moving sense. So instead of just saying Christ, and say Christ's mystery, to contain all of these dimensions of what's going on there, instead of saying Christ's mystery, you might say Christ's event, because the thing is historical and developing, and we're in the middle of that development. We're not, at the end, looking back at it. We're in the middle of it. So it's dynamic, it's living, and we're participating in it. So, Jesus as the center. Well, suppose we put that in history. The old wisdom, the old Christian wisdom, was largely a matter of reading the Old Testament, reading the Bible, in the light of the Christ side.


Remember what the Ratzinger statement said. The Old Testament is scripture, the New Testament is spirit. So, in or through spirit, through that unitive vision of spirit, you read the Old Testament, and it opens itself up to you. The veil is taken from the face of Moses, okay? And instead of Moses, you see Christ. Instead of Moses, you're also aware of that light within yourself, okay? The divine light no longer facing you, but within yourself, in which you read the scriptures. Suppose, however, that the history that we're supposed to read doesn't stop there. What about the history of the past 2,000 years? See, the old wisdom couldn't really handle that. Joachim is a proof of that, because he flunked, and he predicted this ascending curve of history, and it descended instead, and seemed to make a fool of it. Yet, he was right in a way. He was right about the forward movement. He was right about the essential progressive dynamism that is in Christianity, okay,


and that is in history as well. He was right in looking to the future instead of just looking back and seeing us as moving out from God and then coming back to God. That's not enough. That's not the Christian... That's not what we find in Christ somehow. God is moving into humanity, moving into the world, and renewing humanity in the world and producing something new. So we don't just return to a past paradise. We don't just disappear back into God. That may be the way of the East, but it's not the way, I think, of the New Testament. Let me explore a couple of levels of that idea of Jesus as the new King. Jesus is the new day of East and West. The East, both in the sense of the ancient tradition of unitive wisdom and non-deriving, and in the sense of the first thousand years of Christianity,


of Christian spirituality and theology, which is dominated still by a kind of platonic period. I'm saying a thousand years is roughly a thousand years, probably almost 1300. But I think the West was still very much under the influence of the East, of Greek philosophy, and had not emerged with its own character yet. And I think that the character of the West is inseparable from incarnation, from embodiment, and therefore from that descent. The East tends to construct a theology which is like a crystal palace. It's a tall tower with this luminous, contemplative experience of God everywhere. That's not what you find in the West. If you move from Evagrius to the rule of Benedict, you find a dramatic change. And the change is in the direction of incarnation, bringing things down to earth once again. Maybe because the West had to cope with these invasions and so on, with the difficult circumstances of the collapse of the Roman Empire.


Maybe that's what brought it down to the ground. But in any case, the movement to the West is a movement to incarnation. Now, Jesus between East and West means Jesus at the point at which light turns into flesh, or light becomes embodied in flesh, and contemplative experience becomes human life in some way, or you might say it becomes human history. Now, it's still there, but you don't see it so easily. You're not focused on it. Maybe it's inside you, shining out, instead of being, as it were, in front of you when you're moving forward. That's a contemplative way. But the movement from East to West is like a movement also from light to fire. The luminous experience of Eastern mysticism, from that to the fire of history, the dynamism of the West. Now, that light is still in there somewhere, but we have to find it. It's forgotten. Because we've emigrated instead of integrating.


I think we have these three stages now. Illumination. And that's something that happens to you. That's something you produce, even though there are many spiritual practices that encourage it, that seem to prepare you for it. Incarnation in science, which is emigration also. I should have put that... No, that's all right. I'll let it stand. The word emigration should be here. Because you're moving from one to the other. You're exchanging one from the other. In some way, you've got to do it. But then you have a phase of integration. That's what we're, I think, on the threshold right now. We have to achieve. As I said, often people criticizing the West and kind of have asked Westerners themselves, considerably sitting on top of a pile of garbage, that Western history is just so much rubbish and so much exchange of wisdom for power. That's not quite true. It's not even nearly.


There's plenty of garbage in the West. That's the byproduct of the enormous positive thing that's happening in the history of the West. And we know that somewhere. We know that human freedom and democracy and concern for human rights, concern for the human person, we know the urgent importance of these things. And these things belong to Christianity. And that's what emerges in the West. And the Church itself isn't big enough to hold those things. What is the place of democracy in the Catholic Church? You have to look pretty hard to find it, to find an acceptance of it. I'm talking about the past, but it's also largely true of the present. For human freedom, human freedom is begotten by Christianity, by the Christ in it. But the Church tends to suppress the idea and the idea of human freedom in favor of safety, control, and guaranteed salvation, something like that. So a lot of those things couldn't really flourish inside the Church. The wineskin had to be broken,


the wine poured out, and then those things confront the Church from outside. And then the Church accepts them. If you have an enlightened hierarchy, then they can be accepted. And then at that point the Church says, as we have always said. But the Reformation, you know, and Protestantism in the West, I think, is a product of that. Christianity expanding beyond the container of the Church, beyond what the Church could permit to exist within it. But with Vatican II, the Church enlarges itself to accept implicitly most or all of what it had rejected. So that's an enormous moment of change for the Church. Turning towards the world, turning towards human progress, turning towards human achievement, turning towards freedom and monopoly, and saying, yes, these things are right, these things belong, and we should promote them. It's an enormous change, if the Church can just stay on the track.


So Jesus, the noonday of East and West. Secondly, Jesus, the noonday of wisdom and science. That sounds like a poor exchange. It sounds like maybe he shouldn't have come at all, but that's the trade that we have, okay? Trading wisdom for science. But science is only at an intermediate stage in this. It's like it belongs to the stage of the West. And if the stage of the West is giving way to a global stage, then maybe science itself will sit down in its place and participate in the game, okay? But no longer in the vent or on the shelf. Because the wisdom is necessary, which transcends science, which embraces science. We need that rationale. You can't have a united humanity without that rationality, without that communication, without all of that. It needs science, it needs media, all of that. But beyond that we need a wisdom, which is like a forming common human consciousness. As if humanity should wake up to its being a single being once again. As if beyond our individuality


there's some kind of awakening to the dimension of consciousness which is common to all of us. I think you can see some of that happening, can't you? I mean, when people respond to a disaster or to a crime, when people respond to the Iraq war, when people respond to the tsunami or even the floods in the southern United States, there's a common movement of the heart of humanity around these events, okay? And why is it always taking something negative to produce that? Well, I don't think it does. I mean, the response to the funerals on April the 2nd, maybe, is another example. Or the response of the Will of St. Teresa to Mother Teresa, you know, things like that. But it's the disasters that bring it up more sharply. It was the greatest urgency. But you can see the beginning of the emerging of a common human consciousness. And that becomes a kind of argument, a kind of statement that nobody can argue against. To argue against what that common human consciousness perceives is like to sit against the Holy Spirit, in a sense, that Jesus talks about.


Why? Because it's directly calling the good bad. It's directly calling white black, calling light darkness, okay? And it's not because it's common. There's something to it. It's just because it's right. And because instinctively we realize it's right. Like those stories of Jesus, you know, those things that he does, like healing on the Sabbath, you know. He heals a person. Many fears of healing on the Sabbath. He says, will you take your ox out of the pit on the Sabbath, okay? And will you help me heal this person on the Sabbath? Now that kind of reason can't be contradicted, you know. So the Pharisees go home and grumble, but they can't say a word against that. And that's the way it is with this truth that's emerging now, I think, in the common human consciousness. Just beginning. But we really have to go with that truth, don't we? We have to hang on to our root faith, root faith in the revelation that we have. But we have to go with that emerging consciousness. Wisdom and science. There's one more theological level here,


and that is the Jesus and the Trinity. I mistrust Trinitarian schemes of history because there have been so many of them that crashed, but it's like a joking scheme. But Jesus is the central person in the blessed Trinity, between the Father and the Spirit. Between the Father and the Spirit. Now, behind East and West, can you imagine the depth dimension, which is God, which is the source, and which we call Father in the New Testament? On the one hand, as being represented by East, that's the Eastern West, that's the place where the beloved disciple is to remain. On the other hand, can you imagine the Holy Spirit no longer just acting within individuals, obviously within the spiritual life, no longer just acting on Pentecost days, tongues of flame. But the Holy Spirit within human history. The Holy Spirit having become embodied in human history, and impelling human history,


and that's the West. So, I think there is a Trinitarian pattern behind all of this, when we talk about Jesus as the Noonday of the Eastern West. Now, what's the Noonday? Well, the Noonday is a point where you move from ascent to descent. The Noonday is also the place where somehow everything is embodied within one, and making it the same there as the age of the Son, as Joachim's King. Age of the Father, age of the Son, age of the Spirit. The West, I think, is another kind of Noonday as well. Between the East, let us say, for antiquity, and the global future. The West has had a particular vocation in the world, because, remember those two events, the phenomenon of the West, which is unique, this kind of civilization, its enormous power, and its enormous achievement, and the kind of luminosity that it is in the world, despite all its outrages and sin.


The connection between that and the uniqueness of the Christ event, of the coming of Christ, I think one is a direct consequence of the other. And I think that the West has had a particular vocation, let's say, in God's plan, in the scheme of salvation. It's got a particular partial embodiment of what came into the world in Christ. Rahner's got this, I've mentioned this before, but Rahner has these three stages to the church. The first stage, the first church, is the Jewish church, where, if you want to become a Christian, you have to become a Jew. The second stage is the Eurocentric church, or the church within a single cultural complex, which is Roman, Greek, and Germanic, let's say, the European cultural complex. So the European church, and wherever Christianity goes, it plants a European church. The third phase of the church, he says, starting with Vatican II, is a world church of that multiple enculturation, which I spoke about earlier. So the West stands between these two other periods.


You can see it standing between Judaism, let's say, and a world, world Christianity, or one world, if you like. The West has a particular function of uniting the world. Uniting the world, at least on that level that we've been talking about, of a common communication, of common languages, of common science, common kind of human level of humanization of the world, and the West brings the world together in that way. Not yet on a religious level, but on a human level. But then beyond that, of course, there has to be something further. There has to be a spiritual union, which the West cannot bring about, but can still be the conduit to it. So the West plays a central role, something like Jesus does, in history. But the West has to follow its solar trajectory of ascent and descent. And now we're in the phase of the descent of the West, where it appears to have to give way to


some kind of global civilization. And we have the option of either going with that or resisting it, digging in our heels and trying to dominate the rest of the world. And the choice is an obvious one. One other noonday image. We talked about the self of the East, which is the human person which, in some way, allows its individuality, its ego, its little self, to be dissolved into the big self, which is the source, which is the ground, the divine absolute. And we talked about a person in the West who is in this world and who develops and who somehow has a life in history, has relationship and a meaningful existence and what you do has a kind of imperishable value and meaning.


That's like an invention of Christianity. It's also in Judaism already. That person in the world, thoroughly in the world, the individual in the Jewish tradition does not recede as a burden to God. God remains transcendent. This person is on a journey through the world, maybe lost in the world. Not on a journey, but somehow guiding the whole journey and waiting there at the end. That's a person in the world. And we are that person by and large. So, Westerners who move East and adopt Eastern spirituality, I think, find it difficult to squeeze that emergent person, the person who has awakened in this world, back as it were, into the self, the self in the capital West, the big self. So, Jesus somehow has a new name there also, I think, between the person of the beginning, which is the self, which is... And Thomas Merton's idea of the true self is somewhere between the two. But it owes a lot to the Eastern idea


of the true self. Jesus is between the two, in which this divine reality, the self which has disappeared into the divine, becomes incarnated in the very limited human being that we are, which nevertheless is violently alive in this world and going somewhere, and doing something, and in relationship. One more thing. There's another idea connected to this, which I call the revolution of Jesus. Once again, this may seem like another version of Christian chauvinism. I'm sure it is, but there must be a good Christian chauvinist. I think, very often, in the effort to find this unity, the unity of humanity and the unity of the religions, as we hear this, sometimes there's a tendency to lay down the distinctiveness of Christianity.


Well, I haven't been doing that, obviously, and calling Jesus the history of center and so on, or the center of history and so on. But there's an alternative way of thinking of Christ about this, something that makes a radical change. It's already here in what I've just said. So I'd like to talk about the revolution of Jesus, which I've pictured in seven stages. Now, the first two stages are kind of personal. That's the way you experience it. Now, there are three central stages, which we've already talked about. And finally, there are two final phases, which are the repercussions of this revolution in history and in evolution. We already mentioned that. First of all, I think, writing the New Testament, or in your own experience, is awakening to the transcendence in Jesus. You're awakening to the presence of God to this other dimension, this dimension of depth and power of the Savior, which is in this human being walking around, which is in Jesus. If you were one of the apostles,


the first ones to meet Jesus, you'd recognize it. We recognize it in the scriptures. Secondly, there's something that goes further, where you realize that he is the center of everything. And this happens, I think, mostly after the resurrection. And you see it especially in Paul, where Jesus' picture brings together heaven and earth, and gives him 10,000 stars automatically. But you realize somehow that in him is that point where everything comes together, where the center around which everything disposes itself, so that everything potentially, virtually, is contained. Now, those are kind of personal, subjective phases. The third phase, actually, is the phase of baptism or new birth, in which that which you perceived in him is now in you. And if Jesus was the center before, as someone external to yourself, someone you encountered, you discover the same center within yourself, and the same life within yourself, the same depth within yourself,


the same presence of God within yourself. That's what happens to the disciples after the resurrection. When Jesus goes away, it means I'm not the Holy Spirit. And he says, unless I go away, the Spirit won't come to you. And you're better off if I go away because when I go away, what I am, you shall be. It's related to the fact that what I am in this world, you are in this world. So I have to go away. Because he can't have me in both ways. I can't be walking around as objects, beside you, when I need to be identical with you, when you need to be myself in this world. So that's the new birth of baptism. Then there's that reversal. Remember, this is lesson one. This is lesson two, embodying or dispensing incarnation, that tractor of return to humanity. And in the middle, there's this reversal. Remember, from ascending to descending, from taking to giving,


from the movement inward towards the light to the movement outwards from the light. And then finally, these two kind of phases of repercussion or consequence. The first being, that change in history that Jesus made. I've talked about that in terms of Cousin's idea of movement from the first to the second axis. First to second axial time. Now Cousin's doesn't put Jesus in the middle between the two, but it's potential, it's implicit, relating to papyrology. In other words, Jesus is the point at which the ascent and the emergence of individual consciousness reaches its maximum. At the same time, the point at which it changes direction. So instead of ascending now, you don't ascend anymore because you have nowhere to go. You start to descend. And we speak of it in traditional terms as God coming into humanity. But this movement of descent in the gospel, it's always there, permeates the whole thing. The movement is not upward, it's downward.


And Jesus teaches the disciples to descend with him, to follow him. And that's not to go up, it's to go down, because they're already up. But the up, the divinity is within them, is incarnate in them. So that makes a change in history as well. That's how I would explain that descending shape of the past thousand years of Christian history. I could go into more detail, but that would take more time. But one example. There's a man named Auerbach who wrote a book called Mimesis. I'm not sure my pronunciation is right. Anyway, what that book is about, and it's a highly respected study, is that the subject of literature has changed in the past 2,000 years. In the old days, you could only write about nobles, kings, princes, still hardly to learn Shakespeare. You could only write about the upper crust. The only actions and experiences that were significant were the experiences of the nobility, the kings, of those superhuman people,


but gradually, in the course of the centuries, the center of gravity of literature has moved down to the gifts of realism like the 19th century French novel or of our American contemporary writers. So that ordinary human life becomes a subject of literature, or even human life that's below the ordinary plane in the sense of being a life of poverty or a life of abuse or whatever it may be. The center of gravity has come down, which means that somehow literature has followed the trajectory of incarnation from these divine humans walking around, even sometimes in Shakespeare, from that level to the ordinary human level. And the same thing happens in politics, in a way, how the movement from monarchy or imperial dignity or nobility itself to democracy, which is something that tends to carry the world along with it,


or in science and epistemology, from mysticism, from the contemplative theology, the wisdom of Platonic Christianity, to the metaphysics, the Aristotelian consciousness of Aquinas, to Newtonian science, right down to the end of the current society, or also in the sphere of religion, from the lofty contemplative religion, Eastern Christianity, to the more down-to-earth and institutionalized religion and humanized spirituality, which emerges gradually in Christianity, in Catholicism, to the down-to-earth spirituality in Christianity of Protestantism. It's an incarnational trek. And each of those frontiers, each of those lines, were coming down. So history itself was following that trajectory. And evolution, I spoke about that,


Teioza, instead of just rising at a certain point, evolution turns in upon itself. And it turns in upon itself at the human stage. And within the historical scale, it's our time in which we can see it happening. And we see the planet and humanity becoming somehow one people, one planet, consciously so. And the center of that, of course, that's being what you'll make as being the Christ, the risen Christ emerges at the core of that and provides the attractive force to complete it, to hold it together. Thank you. I think we should probably quit at this moment and see if there are any questions. Yes? It goes without saying that that global church is also a non-patriarchal church. But I wonder if that's another way that that eastern axis of intuitive wisdom meets up with that western axis of historical action.


But whether the church might have to go through that same World War II phase of total disintegration in order to meet that rebirth. Whether that collapsing in of the Roman pyramid that it's built on has to happen in order to get, really realize its potential. And I don't mean just the Roman Catholic, but also Roman Christian, because the Protestants took that same imperial model of hierarchy in spirituality. So they're both, I think, influenced by that. Excuse me, I don't know much about the Protestant kind of configuration you're speaking of. How far the change will have to happen to collapse and to what extent it can happen to, let's say, conversion or transformation is an open question. I don't think anybody can predict it. It depends on how much, let's say, the hierarchy or the structure representative of the structure resists the change, the tidal change, the necessary change.


And to what extent do they open themselves to it? And there's a vast difference between different leaderships, for now, and the way they accept that. For instance, John in the 23rd opens the gate to that movement in a way in which 500 years of history or more washed through the Catholic Church at the same time and left it very confused and very renewed, very refreshed, very aware inside itself that there's a new movement. And you can have other leadership that just closes all the gates. And we can't predict which that's going to be. We can only pray that it happens through transformation rather than through violence, through revolution, which causes too much suffering and too much damage. We've had enough of that already. Yes? You mentioned that Western society was prosper as a result of this incarnation of Jesus. I'm wondering how you came about this conclusion when I am from the East


and I don't see it that way. I see this Western world coming with this vision of domination and oppression. So that's kind of against what Jesus was teaching. So how could you elaborate on that? That's a helpful question, actually. I think that the oppression and domination which the West exerts is a result of the gift that it's been given and has been misused. Before, I mentioned those two options. If, let us say, material prosperity is a result largely of incarnation, which sounds so simple that it can't be true, but I think it is true. If material prosperity comes from a certain new gift of God to the world, which in the first place is spiritual, but also kind of cascades down to material levels. Then you have these two ways of going. When you have become somehow better off than other people through spiritual gifts or material gifts, you can either take the way of domination


or you can take the way of giving. Either the way of taking or the way of giving. The West largely has taken the way of taking. And where the missionaries went, for instance, in what we call Hispanic countries, we shouldn't call them that. Where the missionaries went, also the emissaries of the king went hunting for gold and beating up the natives and torturing people for whatever riches they could extract from the country. Slavery and all the rest. That's a consequence of the misuse of the gift that has been received in order to be passed on. So I don't see it as somehow negating it. I see it as a, what would you call it, a necessary corollary in some way or development. It's the misapplication of the good gift. How many charismatics sometimes talk about the bad side of a good gift? Well, the bad side of a good gift depends on our appropriation and application of that gift. Either I take it to myself


and see it as terminating in myself. If the gift terminates in myself, then it places me in a position, because it gives me power, to exploit other people, to dominate other people. And I remain king, I remain emperor, and use everything else for my own good. Now that's the demonic option when we receive a gift. So it has a terribly sharp alternative, that demonic application of the gift that I have received. Which is a gift, first of all, of spirituality, but then also of material good. On the other hand, if I understand the gospel, unless I embody the spiritual gift, I let the material gift flow out from me by giving instead of taking, by distributing instead of dominating and exploiting, and finally I give myself. That's what Jesus does, and that's the pattern. Two ways. You can see some of both in the West, but what's most visible, I suppose,


at the present time is the exploitation, the demonic option, which is by no means a thing of the past. People who claim to be Christians and who continue to take that line are only too visible. If the whole world is getting together at some gap, when will the gap be beginning to fill between the masculine and the feminine? The whole Old Testament is filled only with Noah and Moses and all the prophets and every John the Baptist. So, at which moment will women have a chance to enter the game? Well, I'd say something has happened in our time that never really happened before. The consciousness of this issue. The common consciousness of this inequality and of something that should have happened but hasn't happened, which is the emergence of women


to a full condition of equality. But equality here means equality as persons, but with the distinctive gift of the woman that the feminine has to bring. And if we talk about a new wisdom, and if we talk about humanity getting together and realizing itself as a single humanity, it cannot be done without the element of the feminine. I think Teilhard would say that the feminine is the secret, somehow, of that wisdom and that heart, that common heart which draws humanity together in this third era. But when will it happen? Who knows? We know it's already happening. But a lot of the prophetic voices, prophetic words of today come from women and they're being heard as well. They're not heard in bastions of power. They're not heard in, you know, certain places I won't name. But they're being heard in the world. So the feminine is having a stronger


and more heard voice than it ever has before. So there's great hope. It's the hope, it's like the hope of the Second Vatican Council. I mean, the church can turn back once again and try to close all the doors and windows. But once that council happens, there's a hope that it doesn't go away because there's a new consciousness. There's a new awareness that Christianity is the gift of newness. That Christianity is the gift of always something starting anew. Starting from zero. That Christianity is the... What is it? The faith in the one who generates. The faith in the one who creates, the one who generates. The one who brings light out of darkness and light out of death. So the hope of the feminine, I think, is that the same consciousness is gone. Okay? Right? Mahomet cannot do it. No, I don't think so. Mahomet. I mean, the Muslim world isn't in such shape for women. Well, the reason why the Western world or the Christian world isn't in the same shape


is the result of Christianity. But a Christianity which is not even partly realized. And also there's a connection, as Ephesians said once again, of the feminine with the Holy Spirit. Feminine with the Holy Spirit. It's always easier to grasp the Word. It's always easier to hang on to the Word and make a structure, an institution, a document out of it. The Spirit is ungraspable. It's always working somehow within, within, beneath the surface, and also around the edges. I'd say the feminine has a future on its side. Yes? Could you talk about, I call it the descent of relativity. The descent of relativity that our Catholic Church has been very concerned about. Yeah, like relativism. Yeah. A lot of the worries of, let's say, the hierarchy today


or the Catholic Magisterium, as it's called, the teaching office of the Church is about relativism. Of truth being somehow lowered so that anything goes and so that every truth is relative. Now, that goes along with the issue of deconstruction, postmodernism and deconstruction. Deconstruction is an extreme example of that. And I say that there's a positive there and there's a negative. The positive is that truth is more complex than we have been willing to admit sometimes. That not everything, for instance, that's presented for our belief has the same importance as truth. So there's a hierarchy of truth. And I think deconstruction can do a useful work, just like termites have a very useful work to do. By dissolving the old structures and the things that can't really stand in the future. But beneath all of that, we have to have an affirmation or affirmations which are absolutely,


what do we call it, invulnerable or which are absolutely unquestioned. Now, the affirmation may have to be reformulated to some extent. It may have to be fine-tuned, the way we express it. But the affirmation itself is the lock and cannot be allowed to just disappear into an ocean of possibilities. That's the trouble with a lot of biblical scholarship, that if it doesn't have the affirmation in the center, it can't express it for shame somehow to the rest of the world. I suppose if you make a strong affirmation, it gets your head shot up. But biblical scholarship can be so timid about the affirmation that it just dissolves the revelation into a heap of sand, into a pile of fragments. Because it's an essentially analytical process. The same is true of much intellectual literature. But on the other hand, some truths can be erected in such a single, unchanged expression that they go counter to the reality.


It's possibly to be so inflexible and literalistic about certain elements of faith that that's fundamentalism, okay? So we end up distorting Christianity because Christianity is a living thing and we've turned it into solid rock. So it's a difficult, complicated question. It's better sometimes to talk about particular cases, not something being relatively biased or over-approved. Yes? ...recent history of the late Paul Jones, who gave me all the way to the Eastern Church. He talked about East, East, West. Did the human precept get in the way? I don't quite follow. The coming together of the schism. Oh, Eastern and Western Churches. Yeah, well, I think that'd be a great good. Isn't that forward? It's part of what we're talking about.


But what we're talking about is bigger than that because it involves not only Christians coming together, but the whole world. It's beginning to slip up from this evolution. It can be, but it can drag along behind. We're that close. I don't know whether it's moving forward now or not, the reunion between the churches. Yes? You had mentioned the first day that there were some good writings coming out now in terms of wisdom, theology. Can you give us some recommendation? Because you said that it was kind of like nothing really happened for 500 years. Well, I'll just recite a few names because I remember them. One example is B. Griffiths. I don't follow B. Griffiths all the way, but he's an example of a contemporary wisdom writer in Catholicism and Christianity. Now, notice that most of the new, many of the new satanical writers, new wisdom writers have some contact with the East. Because that's the place, in some way, either metaphorically, symbolically,


or actually, geographically, you go East to find wisdom once again. So you sort of get out of the amusement park ride of the West, as it were, and move back on the southern grounds to find wisdom. So another one is Thomas Merton. The two are very different. He constructs a kind of religious philosophy, universal one. And Thomas Merton is totally on the individual, on the subject, contemplative subject. Another is Abhishek Canaan. Abhishek Canaan. You've got some women satanical writers like Beatrice Bruteau. B-R-U-T-E-A-U. B-R-U-T-E-A-U. Beatrice Bruteau. Well, there's a lady named Sarah Grant who wrote what we'll call an affirmative, or an alternative theology. Or alternative theology. She's a non-dualist. She's writing as a non-dualist Christian. I'm kind of critical of the way she does it,


but it's a necessary effort. Cynthia Bourgeot? Cynthia Bourgeot. She's got a wisdom book. She's sort of your student in a way. Well, we've done some things together. What's the name of that wisdom book? Is it Encountering the Wisdom of Jesus or something along that line? Something like that. Bourgeot, B-R-U-R-G-E-T-A-U-L-T. Now another person who you wouldn't think of as a satanical writer is called Rahner. He's in a certain tradition, let's say, of Catholic theology which derives from scholasticism, from Aquinas and so on. But within that tradition, he represents a kind of explosion in the present time. And that he's got a concept. He brings theology back to the human person. So his theology... So his theology... And that he's got a concept.