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I'm reading Rohr's "Immortal Diamond" (which were translated into Polish only last year) and I'm beginning to think he does not want just articulate contemplative heritage in new language. On few pages he claims that the Church shouldn't bother so much about the bodily sins, because they are mostly mistakes (???!!), while the true evil are sins like greed, hatred and prejudice, which are "rewarded" in nowadays Catholic Church. What a nonsense...

Also he claims that only the "false self" sins, because sin is simply not being truly aware - the true self cannot sin. This is old medieval heresy of "free spirit" - those who claimed that a person united with God cannot sin, so they indulged primarily in sexual pleasures, believing they are innerly pure. Rohr does not go so far, but his definition of sin is simply wrong. Thomas Aquinas says and the Catechism repeats, that sin is a transgression of the divine law. As simple as that.

In one of his talks, accessible on Youtube, Rohr complains that he gets a lot of "hate letters" (which appear to be, from what he said at least, simply critical letters), in which people accuse him of heresy. He said that they don't understand him, because they are wrapped up in their false selves and don't have access to the true self. In my opinion such a stance is deeply condescending and arrogant, to the point where Rohr repeatedly complains about other people doing exactly what he is doing (unconsciously, I'm sure). His condescending attitude is particularly visible, when he sounds like he can judge Catholic faith and Catholic Church out of his experience, understanding and enlightenment. He writes that personal experience is a solution to a sterile debate "Scripture vs. Tradition". Apart from the fact that there was never such a debate, since Catholic Church never did not placed Tradition against the Scripture. But how can someone's personal experience, however deep and authentic, be an answer to great problems that separated Christianity in 16th century. I mean, really?

I'm really sorry to be another person who expresses "hate" towards Richard Rohr, but he is being really annoying, when he writes about everything with an attitude of expert - not only mysticism, but psychotherapy, religion, politics, culture, society, economy, global warming, homosexuality etc. For me, those are just personal thoughts of certain Richard Rohr on all those things. Thomas Keating's virtue is that he does not write about EVERYTHING.

I guess in Poland contemplative spirituality is slowly becoming more popular in the Church. Books are being translated - a lot of Merton, but also Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington, John Main, Lawrence Freeman, Richard Rohr, Martin Laird, Robert Kennedy, Willigis Jaeger.

There is a Benedictine monastery which organizes retreats with Christian meditation (mostly in John Main's style). I suppose there are also smaller groups in various cities, like 5-10 people meeting weekly to meditate. I suppose Jesuits and Dominicans are primarily involved in this. Christian Zen was also popular (I had participated in this for several year).

I think Charismatic spirituality is much more popular, also Ignatian spirituality is very much alive. But mostly people are drawn to traditional forms like rosary or simple silent adoration. For now I'm very happy that you can see full churches on Sundays and always 10-20 people on a week day mass. When I was in Belgium and I saw horribly empty churches, it was really sad. I'm not sure if contemplative Christianity is going to save Christianity in Western Europe. There is much hostility in the mainstream media and politics against the Church, so the Church is fading. In Germany the bishops accept homosexual and out-of-marriage sex ,contraception and abortion, in the hope of becoming more acceptable to people, but churches are still empty.
 
Posts: 421 | Registered: 03 April 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mt, one of the reasons I wrote God and I: Exploring the Connections Between God, Self and Ego was to respond to some of the kinds of issues you mention above concerning Self, sin, and so forth. I've run into the kinds of statements by Rohr you mention above, and agree that they're either insufficiently nuanced or just plain wrong. Any kind of self we might mean or refer to is capable of sin; even advanced mystics and contemplatives have noted as much. Our first parents had no false self and they managed to sin. So the nuance I would offer is that the false self is a consequence of sin, and biases us toward sin. As you'll note from my book, I do not consider the Ego to be synonymous with the false self, but consider the latter to be a deeply rooted attitudinal bias unto "making oneself OK by getting and doing."

Of that listing of writers you share, I would consider some to be much more reliable than others. I don't know if you're familiar with Jim Arraj's Christianity in the Crucible of East-West Dialogue.
- see http://www.innerexplorations.com/catew/christia.htm
See chapters 1 and 2, and his reflections on some of the writers you mention. Rohr had not written much on the topic at that time, and so he is not one of those critiqued by Jim, but you'll find similar teachings referenced there. Willigis Jaeger, in particular, is problematic.

My son married a young Polish woman whose parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 80s. They also describe a Catholic faith that is still strong there, but being tested in many ways. I hope they escape the modern/post-modern secularist scourge that has emptied the churches in most of Europe.
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil, I read your book a few weeks ago. I must praise it's conceptual clarity and simplicity - one almost forgets what difficult issues you deal with! Not only as a fellow spiritual journeyer, but as a scholar, I consider this clarity and simplicity in dealing with complicated topics your top virtue as a spiritual teacher. In comparison to your thought many of the nondual Christians and non-Christians are simply confused and confusing, because they use vague terminology, no clear definitions, arbitrariness of judgment and, in the last resort, argumentum ad experientiam suam, as I might call it violating mediaeval Latin a bit.

But enough with praising :-) What I personally resonate less with is 1) Jungian psychology and 2) false self notion. First may be just a matter of inclination or preference. I ended up being more psy hoanalytic in my view of psychology, I mean more Freudian than not. But I suppose that the problem with Freudian or orthodox psychoanalytic view is that it seems to have a lot to say about pathology of the psyche, not so much about its healthy functioning. Perhaps Jung is better in that, but his confusion of religion with psychology is sometimes difficult for me to take.

The second thing deserves longer debate. I'm quite familiar with various uses of the false self notion, I know well that Thomas Merton (the "founding father" in a way, of contemporary interest in mysticism and dialogue with the East) used this term. But I've been wondering for past two or three years, whether it is helpful or rather confusing and superfluous. In your book you refer to 12steps psychology in your treatment of false self. I have some thoughts about it, if you want me to share them here.
 
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quote:
But enough with praising :-)

No! No! More! More! Smiler

I agree that Jung's psychology needs "tweaking" to accommodate a Christian understanding of human nature. Robert Doran, S.J. has done some excellent work bridging Jung with Lonergan, so perhaps you might check out his work sometime.

Sure, we can talk about false self. I don't know if we have a thread on it, so please start one if you'd like. As noted above and in my book, I don't think it's a real self so much as the way conditional love has biased our beliefs, values, and even our identity. Theologically, we might understand it as the psycho-spiritual manifestation of Original Sin.
 
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I had this thought the other day. It seems to be where I'm at:

Sometimes the struggle and intensity of a spiritual LIFE doesn't allow the luxury of clear cut, fully formed spiritual or religious BELIEFS. It has made no difference to my struggle whether Jesus was the only begotten Son of God or not. That I RELATE to Jesus devotionally, whoever he was, has, however, been enormously helpful.


Sorry, I really don't want to divert from Tanja's topic.
 
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Sigh. . . Frowner

Sometimes, Stephen, you almost seem to be trolling.
 
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Really? Ok, no more from me.
 
Posts: 538 | Registered: 24 June 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Really. And if you don't see what I mean, then, yes, time for you to move on.

I think your incessant little shots at orthodox Christianity have become so second-nature for you that it's now "normal." There's also an implicit arrogance -- how you've "moved on" from all that, but Jesus is still OK . . . at least for now. Christian teaching about him doesn't matter much, so long as he satisfies your devotional needs. It's all about you and your experiences, and has become wearisome.
 
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Well, that's just nasty, and ignorant. So defensive and completely unable to read a person's spirit.

Fin.
 
Posts: 538 | Registered: 24 June 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Stephen, your words express your spirit. You have on numerous occasions indicated that you've "moved on" beyond orthodox Christianity, or that you find it irrelevant.
quote:
Sometimes the struggle and intensity of a spiritual LIFE doesn't allow the luxury of clear cut, fully formed spiritual or religious BELIEFS. It has made no difference to my struggle whether Jesus was the only begotten Son of God or not. That I RELATE to Jesus devotionally, whoever he was, has, however, been enormously helpful.

Well, of course, you wouldn't have even heard of Jesus if orthodox Christianity hadn't kept the memory of him alive, and had come to discern his status in relation to God. I mean, come on!! Why RELATE to Him and not Epecticus, or Socrates, or Mohammed? Because it's been "enormously helpful" to you? Hmmm. . . That's it? I would suggest that religious beliefs have enormous importance in directing our attention devotionally, and that when our devotional experiences dry up, the truths they express can still be formative -- life-savers, actually.

I have interacted with you on your journey for many years . . . spent countless hours dialoguing with you about all kinds of topics . . . tried to referee your "discussions" with conservative members of the forum, some of whom have left in frustration. During the past couple of years, it seems that you go way out of your way to get in little shots about Christianity, and now even Christian belief about Jesus.

It has made no difference to my struggle whether Jesus was the only begotten Son of God or not.

That I RELATE to Jesus devotionally, whoever he was . . .

You once knew! Now there's this flippancy, which does feel like trolling.

(Sorry, Clare.)
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ok, Phil.

You say: your words express your spirit.

But your interpretation of these words expresses your spirit, and has done for a while, and is, from my perspective, intolerant. It's been quite clear to me for some time that shalomplace isn't serving me, but somehow I was drawn back. When I saw Tanja's comment about cosmic energy, I was led to respond because it really resonated with me. Perhaps the reason I was drawn back. My comment about moving beyond orthodoxy was directed at her, to put the energy events in the context of my own life. I realise now it was misplaced, as it seems to have rubbed you up something rotten, getting me accused of arrogance and trolling - indicative of my opening mark about your own interpretive spirit, which is distinctly coloured by a supreme defensiveness about your faith. All I said was, "My path has taken me beyond (ie away from) orthodoxy." And you take such exception to this!? Innocent. Harmless. You really only reinforce my impression that religion creates a distorting mirror. (And how terribly sad for these poor conservative who left in frustration! At me? I thought there was a Buddhist involved.)

So...you respond to the orthodoxy remark, and I'm drawn in. If my following comment was flippant, it was because I really, really, really didn't want to be drawn in. But let's address your critique for a brief second -

You say we wouldn't know about Jesus if orthodox Christianity hadn't handed his name down. Not true. Orthodoxy handed down an understanding of Jesus, an interpretation, indeed, did it's best to stamp out other interpretations as heresy, some of which are resurfacing via gnostic texts, channelling, personal revelation. Jesus, in my view, is so powerful, he doesn't need an institution to hand his name down. That he appears within that context of orthodoxy is clear. He's gracious and wants to show his love everywhere. Do we need, in this day and age, the rituals, priests, dogma of orthodoxy to have a relationship with him? That's up for debate...BUT

Can you see how we're rehashing old ground? Do you see why I didn't want to be drawn in?

Finally, you say I'm only devoted to him because I'm helped by him. Woaaaa! How judgemental! How you misread my words! Place your own slant on them! I'm drawn to his supreme divine beauty which radiates in my heart like fire. When I close my eyes and say his name, I see him!!!! When I'm knocked down by the incoming cosmic light, I worship him. Can you see where that might be helpful?

Ok, my days at shalomplace are evidently done. I don't want to leave on a sour note. Can we remain friends and part in a civil manner, without acrimony or resentment. I'm sure we can Smiler.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: samson,
 
Posts: 538 | Registered: 24 June 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
You say we wouldn't know about Jesus if orthodox Christianity hadn't handed his name down. Not true. Orthodoxy handed down an understanding of Jesus, an interpretation, indeed, did it's best to stamp out other interpretations as heresy, some of which are resurfacing via gnostic texts, channelling, personal revelation. Jesus, in my view, is so powerful, he doesn't need an institution to hand his name down.

So you say.

But it's good that you finally name the true issue at stake, here, which is the age-old tension between gnostic variations of Christianity and the Apostolic (orthodox) tradition (within which are numerous contemplative and mystical pathways). I've picked up for some time that you have been drawn into the gnostic streams, and there are times (like in this thread) when you seem to be "evangelizing" for it in subtle ways. (I seem to haven an "antenna" for this issue.) Why else would you go out of your way to say you've moved "beyond" orthodox Christianity, and your comments about Jesus being "the only begotten Son of God?"

Truly, I don't have a problem with seekers who have questions and criticisms about Christianity. That's one of the reasons the forum exists. It does not exist to promote gnostic Christianity, however, though I would welcome a discussion with you about all that . . . not that we haven't had a few thus far . . . nor that the first 300 years of Christian history (when all this was hashed out) never happened.

Friendship develops when people see and love something together. There are certainly possibilities, here, and I do try to avoid getting "personal" in my critiques of yours and others' posts. Sometimes it's difficult to separate the ideas from the person, however. Apologies, Stephen, if I have given offense, which seems to be the case.

Perhaps we could transfer this recent exchange to another thread? I would welcome an open, frank discussion about gnostic versus orthodox Christianity. The tension seems to have re-arisen in this day, no thanks to historical revisionists like Dan Brown and his novels. I would like you to participate in such a discussion, as you have interest and passion for this topic. Maybe, then, it wouldn't keep "sneaking in" to other discussions.

Peace, Phil
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Passion is different from promotion, is it not?

Any strain of Gnosticism you and others have picked up on in past threads has been my use of shalomplace as a sounding board for me to process the host of BIZARRE experiences I've had since 2012, which eventually precipitated a move away from orthodoxy to whatever the heck this now is. If that has been challenging or frustrating for you, then so be it. If it has come across as evangelising, then it certainly wasn't intended as so.

My interest is not in ideas at the moment, but in intuitive feeling and recognition of the movement of spiritual energies affecting Planet Earth right now. Any ideas/theologies/philosophies which emerge from that primary source can be worked out in time, or are in process. That this interest and response is based primarily on personal experience is something I do not have a problem with. You evidently do. I don't have a problem with it because it isn't about ME. It's very much felt as a collective thing, both in my local community, and online.

So if you want to start a thread, fair enough, but my energies and attention are really elsewhere. My intellectual interest in these matters is in service to unfolding shifts and subsequent insights.

For now, I'll return your peace, and wish you all well.
 
Posts: 538 | Registered: 24 June 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
That this interest and response is based primarily on personal experience is something I do not have a problem with. You evidently do. . .

I don't have a problem with personal experience -- yours or anyone else's. Experience hardly ever speaks for itself, however; it's just the beginning of how human consciousness comes to know and understand. Same goes for "intuitive feeling." That's all in the arena of perception. True understanding comes from questioning and reflecting on perceptions, and, in the case of spiritual ones, dialoguing with some kind of religious tradition to clarify their meaning.

If you ever want to start a thread on gnosticism, go ahead. Maybe that would be a good place for the forum the serve as the sounding board you would like us to be for you. That's fine with me.

I still can't fathom why any of this should precipitate "a move away from orthodoxy." As Phil. 4:8 notes, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—-think about such things. That pretty much affirms exploration into all sorts of arenas. Orthodoxy is primarily about pointing to core faith convictions, and setting boundaries beyond which these will become compromised to some degree. Maybe your understanding of orthodoxy is too narrow?
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I didn't know if I should write something or not. I am sorry if I now jump into your discussions... But I have to because I don't feel it's right what is going on here right now. Please calm down both of you! Whatever I stirred up here now I don't know. But I am sorry that it lead to this overheated discussion between the two of you!

I didn't intend this to happen, all I said came from my heart and from a knowledge of experiences that's all. I did not want you guys to get all over the place because of it, I am sorry!

However since you have a discussion, I will just lay back for now until you are ready or finish in a way that is good for all of us!

Thank you for hearing me out!

-
Tanja
 
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For me, true understanding of one's life comes from personal revelation based on intuition. It's a deep release of subconscious information into the conscious mind and can be instantaneous at the right time. Reflection tends to muddy the waters if one is caught in the wheel spin of the thinking mind. And it's from that personal understanding of why we're here, what our lives have been about, that one is able to interface with more universal concerns - metaphysics, philosophy etc. Spiritual traditions can both help and hinder that process. What worries me about orthodoxy are preconceived universal ideas imposed on individual experience. I can make no sense of my life from that.

I did say I used shalomplace as a sounding board in past threads. I have no need to do that now. With that in mind, I see no real need to comment further or start any new threads. If someone has anything to add here of interest, I might respond. If not, I'll most likely be moving on.

Blessings. And thank you.


Tanja -- not to worry. It's good that your input released some hidden tensions. I, for one, am not particularly stressed or heated. I simply feel the need to be firm.
 
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What worries me about orthodoxy are preconceived universal ideas imposed on individual experience. I can make no sense of my life from that.

The key word I hear is "imposed." But what does that mean? That children are to receive no religious teaching? If so, why not extend that into other disciplines -- language, arts, science, all aspects of culture. It would be ridiculous to start all over in every generation in quest of "pure experience" unruffled by "imposed" norms.

Any decent catechist or preacher knows that you just can't dump biblical teaching or doctrines on people without explanation or connecting the principles to lived experience. Same goes for all the other disciplines that we are taught through the years. For the gnostic, this stuff is all "man-made." Only the unadulterated, pure revelation coming directly from the divine via intuition is really worthy. For the orthodox Christian, however, mystical knowledge is valued, and a sacramental perspective on nature and culture is affirmed -- God at work in the history of a people, a church, a community, a language, a school, a family, a life, etc. Dirty, messy stuff, all right, which is precisely where Christ loves to dwell. Kataphatic and apophatic knowledge are complementary, mutually enriching, and celebrated. The fullness of our humanity and its many ways of knowing are affirmed and provided for, including liturgy, art, philosophy, theology, retreats, etc. The body is considered just as much a part of our humanity has that high point of the soul where intuitive knowledge opens. We are humans, not angels inflicted with bodies, and it is good, for the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. The gnostics could never quite accept this -- considered it heretical. It's what we remember and celebrate every Christmas season.

There is relevance in all this to kundalini, however. Already, "kundalini=Holy Spirit" has come up, and there are bound to be other related issues. Kundalini is a good example of a gnostic-ish experience, seemingly standing on its own and requiring no interpretation or assistance from a religious tradition. Of course, not one single Hindu yogi would agree with this, and I don't, either. There's a delicate balance of allowing, learning and integrating involved, and religious traditions can be very helpful in providing guidance on how to do all this.
 
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Phil,

If you have made sense of your life, your purpose, in the light of orthodoxy, the Church, sacrament, then that's great. I'm very happy for you. I haven't. I have had to move "beyond" orthodoxy (ie away from, out with) to understand the complexity of my existence from the moment that serpent shot up my spine, via that damnable occult energy healer, via the crazy shenanigans of 2012 (twin flame, angelic visitations etc etc etc). Some of it fits with orthodoxy, some of it doesn't. I absolutely believe in reincarnation to make sense of the intricacies of my heavily inter-connected life, for example.

I really do think that's as far as we can go with one another. So I'm releasing myself from the conversation and shalomplace and whatever deep issues have been brought up here.

You're a good man, Phil. I really do wish you well.

Until we meet again...

Stephen
 
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Deep peace, Stephen. The door is always open, here. I hope you find what your soul truly needs.
 
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First, I don't think that getting angry and being harsh is something inacceptable in dialogues with other people. St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, says that being angry in defense of some important good is not only okay, it's natural and necessary. And - as far as I understand the exchange - faith and the divine status of Jesus is for Phil (as for me) something important to such an extent that anger is only natural. And I don't see how being "defensive" in things that are worth defending, could be something wrong. Christians nowadays, more or less patiently, allow everyone to criticize them and attack them, but let's try to criticize Muslim orthodoxy and you might just end up dead. Or criticize the gays and you might end up in court and finally broke. By the way, reading correspondence of St. Augustine and St. Jerome can have a refreshing effect on our ideas about sainthood - those great men, loving God deeply, could be and were very often quite harsh to each other and horrible to their adversaries. So Phil is practically a lamb (no offense, Phil Smiler ).

Personally, I think that the whole idea of not being "judgmental" is ridiculous. We should judge good things as good and bad things as bad, true as true and false as false. I don't think that Jesus wasn't "judgmental" when he said (Mt 16:23):

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Or was he "non-judgmental" when he said (Mt 23:27):

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness."

Not very polite, was he? And Paul not better ( 1 Cor 5:11-13):

"I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves."

There are plenty of other examples.

There are times to turn the other cheek, but there are times to throw the money changers out of the temple, using a whip (not suggesting that Stephen is one, however Smiler ) .
(Of course, I'm not advocating offending people just because we want to feel better ourselves.)
 
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Second, I totally agree with Phil on the dangers of "personal experience". Argumentum ad experientiam suam. "I had an experience", "I felt" etc.etc. This is so narcissistic and this narcissism is destroying any spirituality, but particularly in our times. Phil is right that there is no "pure experience" without concepts, theories, interpretations. We always have beliefs and ideas. I strongly suspect that the only difference is that people who claim they went beyond "theories" and "ideas" into pure experience just have unconscious theories and ideas, which they cannot reflect on critically or dialogue with others about them. It's better, then, to be conscious of one's own beliefs than to claim we transcended human nature so far as to become angels who do not think conceptually and discursively (but even the angels have ideas, just more complex and intricate than ours). Only God does not need ideas, because he sees everything in himself absolutely as it is, without mediation.

But this touches upon a great problem that can be found in any religion and spiritual movement. The interplay between personal experiences and objective, symbolic and institutional structures that have to contain those experiences. A great Jewish scholar Gershom Sholem wrote about this, about this tension between the mystic and the institution in a very interesting way. Even Zen masters, apophatic as they are, do not allow for "personal experience" to develop in a narcissistic way, since they insist on "checking" the experience in a community. Koan training is an attempt to give some "objectivity" to enlightenment - you have to learn to express this in koans, to learn their language, so to speak.

Of course, in this interplay of individual/subjectivity and community/objectivity, any extreme is dangerous. Too great emphasis on the personal experience, revelations, intuitions, visions etc. just closes a person in a narcissistic, regressive world of an infant who cannot take another's person perspective, cannot communicate in intersubjective symbols, but just "knows" and "feels" without a doubt. In infants this is adorable. In adults, not so much...
Too great emphasis on the objective structure tends to create dry, legalistic, ritualistic religions, of the kind that was criticized by the Jewish prophets or Jesus himself. But between narcissism of the New Age and the phariseeism there is something valuable. The search for authentic, deeply lived spiritual life which is supported by external, symbolic and institutional structures, that transcend the individual both in time (tradition) and in space (other believers/practitioners). Without those structures we end up in a void - maybe the void of enlightenment, but not a very good void after all, because we end up in a state when our own self, capital letter or not, is the ultimate point of reference. If that, extended to eternity, is not hell, then what is?

Again, what structures do we choose to support and contain our experiences? Well tested, traditional structures, created by wise people, which already helped a lot of others, or our own compositions of ideas from various sources, mainly from our own individual unconscious? I wouldn't go for the latter.
 
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Good reflections, Mt. Thanks for sharing them, as they touch on many of the issues that have come up. I will respond more soon, as I have some additional thoughts to share on this topic.
 
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I have moved the discussion on gnostic spirituality from the kundalini forum, where it was tangential to the thread topic under consideration. No posts have been edited, but perhaps a bit of context would be helpful.

During the course of that discussion, Stephen (aka Samson) had noted that he had moved on beyond Christian orthodoxy on his spiritual journey. I replied, "Beyond" as in "disagreement with"? Orthodox Christian teaching pretty much affirms anything worthy of affirmation, so I'm not sure what you mean, here. What followed was the discussion posted above, which is indicated with Moved Reply: . . . atop the posts I'm referring to. We can continue that discussion here, if there's anything left to say. I'm still wondering if a new topic on gnosticism would be helpful.
 
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The following quote is part of Jim Arraj's critique of Willigis Jaeger's teachings on contemplation and mysticism. It's from his book, Christianity in the Crucible of East-West Dialogue, which ought to be required reading for anyone interested in the similarities and differences between Christian and Eastern spirituality.
- see http://www.innerexplorations.com/catew/cru1.htm for the quote page.

quote:
The difference that matters between religions can be defined, according to Jäger, in terms of esotericism vs. exotericism. Esotericism is oriented towards inner experience, while exotericism is "based exclusively on scriptures, dogmas, ritual, or symbolism."32 But the only value in these things is that they point to the one, universal mystical experience, or ultimate reality. Many Christians remain in an infantile state of oral or meditative prayer. They need to learn a more grownup form of contemplative prayer, and "contemplation is something one can be trained to do."33 And this, I imagine, is what Jäger sees as what he is doing when he gives a retreat. And he is entirely comfortable in interpreting John of the Cross in the light of this nondual mystical experience that we can be trained to do.

But what is particularly disturbing in all this is his deep separation, even alienation, from traditional Christian faith. "What would happen," he asks, "if we could prove historically that Jesus’ bones had been recovered? Would Christianity then be just a bad joke?"34 He interprets the resurrection in the way we would expect. It has nothing to do with whether Jesus rose or not. "It is an experience that we can have: that our deepest essence is divine, and hence cannot die."35 Therefore, "If the bones of Jesus were to be found today and it could be proven that he had rotted in his grave, my faith in Jesus would not change in the least."36 But, of course, we need to ask just what kind of faith in Jesus does he have, and what is sad about all this is that he really doesn’t think that he has lost anything.

So here's an example of a radical disconnect between the kataphatic and apopathic (labeled exoteric and esoteric, respectively, by Jaeger) aspects of Christianity, where the former comes to be viewed as merely a kind of metaphor for the latter (rather than a "sacramental" support for it, and a different means for encountering God). Ironically, Jaeger and those he's mentored (I've come to know several) are fond of using Ken Wilber's teaching on stages of consciousness, which implicitly contradicts their view. For Wilber (and Keating and others), the Mental-Egoic level and its manner of knowing (conceptually, symbolically) is "lower" than the transpersonal levels which "go-beyond." Yet for Wilber, going beyond does not mean jettisoning a lower level, but "transcending-and-including" it. This understanding is not unique to Wilber, but is central to Spiral Dynamics, Gesber and a number of teachers in the "perennial philosophy" approach.

It's difficult to recognize the "include" aspect in Jaeger's teaching, as there's not much of orthodox doctrine that remains affirmed. Contrast that with John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and even Meister Eckhart, who definitely stretched the margins, here. If apophatic experience transcends kataphatic, then it ought to also affirm it as well while acknowledging the differences in terms of manner-of-experience. If it cannot, then there is some kind of a problem -- a contradiction of some kind.
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As I probably mentioned at other times on this forum, I'd practiced Zen in Sanbo-Kyodan lineage and met several times with Jaeger and the bunch of his disciples. I went twice to a monthly retreats in his spiritual center in Germany.

Perhaps just one more reflection on this. I noticed that for Jaeger and his followers it was much easier to use Buddhist texts, symbols and rituals as a "context" for meditation than Christians one, even though Jaeger would sometimes refer to some isolated Gospel passages in a Gnostic manner or speak about Eckhart, Madame Guyon and other heterodox Christian mystics. It's really interesting, though, that Buddhist stuff somehow seemed a lot more natural to those people and Jaeger himself, with mostly Christian background, than Christianity. I sensed a discomfort with respect to the latter. Jaeger would say that he considers himself a Christian, but I didn't see any symptoms of his Christianity.

Maybe a detail, but since he was forbidden by Church authorities to do mass or confession, he used to do "agape", Sunday meetings with singing, preaching and sharing bread and wine. I was to sing the "Dark Night of the Soul" with JOC's text and Loreena McKennitt music during this service, since at this period I was not only inebriated with love for God, but in my naivete, I was convinced that my experience of love was what Keating called very unfortunately "spiritual junk food", an addition to the "real deal" of enlightenment. Anyway, because I was going to sing my love song for Jesus, which probably looked totally crazy and "dual" for all those Zen people, when I think about it now, I talked with Jaeger about the schedule of the service. I asked him which passage of the Gospel he will comment on. He took the Bible, opened John's Gospel and showed me a half-sentence "I came to give life to my sheep and to give it in abundance". Then he took a pen and underlined this passage in the Bible. For me writing with a pen in books in general is unusual, but in the Bible?! But there was in this gesture something very subtle, that I noticed, a kind of negligence and lack of respect for the Scripture. Like it was just a book, out of which you can pick anything up, underline it with your pen and make a Zen talk about it. I realize now it was a minor event, but I cannot forget about it. Maybe I overreacted, but for some reason, it distanced me to Jaeger more than all his Zen, perennial and non-dual preaching.

By the way, his disciples and followers seriously believe he is some sort of Eckhart - mistakenly persecuted by Church officials unable to understand the depth of his teachings. No-one seems to notice (or even know, I suspect) that Eckhart ultimately renounced the "badly sounding" sentences from his German sermons in order to remain faithful to the Church. And Eckhart doesn't seem to be a kind of man who would do that because of fear of the stake, does he?

In America there are plenty people like Jaeger who call themselves Catholics, but Jaeger unfortunately is a German which made Joseph Ratzinger be more attentive to his teaching and ultimately condemn it. I guess I wrote that here also, but I remember that Jaeger once complained to me that he is saying basically the same things as Thomas Keating, but "Keating strangely has no enemies". Well, first, Keating really seems much more nice than Jaeger, but, second, he wasn't German.

Jaeger also was quite condenscending towards the popes. He said that John Paul II didn't understand anything of the spiritual dimension of Christianity, even though he "seems very devout" (???!!!). And he laughed at Benedict XVI, saying: "He wants to attract young people to Christianity by explaining to them what transsubstantiation is?" (during world youth days in 2005). Brother Roger's Taize movement was for him a "preparation" for real meditation, because of the chanting... etc.

All those things show that Jaeger, being a priest for so many years, has basically no clue as to the true meaning of Christian faith. By the way, he reported his first religious experience as being at church as a little child and listening to elderly women praying the rosary. It led him "into a trance-like state". So probably from the beginning Jaeger was experiencing Christianity not as a call to the relationship with God, but as a way to non-dual states of consciousness. The same with Bernadette Roberts, I suppose.
 
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