The Contemplative Stages:
The desire to know and understand is the "first contemplative stage". This desire to know and understand takes the mystic with questions to some form of the Loving Divine for answers.
The "second contemplative stage" is when the mystic makes the connection to some form of the Loving Divine and their questions begin to receive answers. These answers then take the mystic through another series of Contemplative Stages that are within the "second contemplative stage". Most of what mystics write about involves the "second contemplative stage" and the exploring of the answers and understandings that they have received and are receiving from the connection that they have established with the "some form of the Loving Divine." There have been lots of writings about the stages that mystics, that have achieved a connection, go through as they explore what they are and have received as information and understandings. These stages that they write about are all a part of the "second contemplative stage".
The "third contemplative stage" is when the mystic reaches a point where the answers are no longer important. The only thing that becomes important at that point is the "Question". This is because the mystic discovers that it is the "Question" that creates their connection to the Loving Divine and that this connection is more important than than any answer.
The "fourth contemplative stage" is when the "Question" is no longer needed by the mystic to create and maintain their connection to the Loving Divine.
What most folks do not understand is that what mystics write about is just the "second contemplative level" of the the mystic experience. And the reason that folks do not realize this is because they still have the desire to know and understand. It is just that they do not have the connection so they go to somebody that does. The "second contemplative stage" is not the end to things, it is just something that you have to work your way through before you can go on to the next stage.
Thanks for your sharing on four contemplative stages, Tucker. Is this how your understand your own journey? It resonates somewhat with a traditional Christian approach to stages of prayer, though your emphasis on the "question" is somewhat different. Perhaps you mean by this a yearning, or do you mean inquiry of some kind?
The Christian stages of St. Teresa of Avila and others emphasize deepening relational union. It is love, surrender and ongoing purification that effect the unfolding of the stages, with increasing human participation in the divine life.
See http://shalomplace.com/inetmin...mplative/lectio.html which is part of a teaching series I presented years ago on Christian contemplative spirituality.
The Prayer of Transforming Union" is what I am calling "the fourth contemplative stage." Humm? Phil, at least based on my experience , what you have presented on the web page, which is a gift, is the progression of the pure contemplative prayer experience. By this I mean what a Christian monk or a person in a monastery would experience. And with their one and only goal being a deeper union with God. That which I am calling the "first contemplative stage" and the "second contemplative stage" is the experience that normal folks, for lack of any other term , go through, at least for the most part. And the first stage always starts with an inquiry. The second stage stars with the person having had a "spontaneous mystical experience." What am I using for a reference other than my own experience? My reference comes from years of reading message board posts that were posted by people who were trying to come to grips with a "spontaneous mystic experience" and they also wanted to share that experience and the profound, at least to them, understandings that they had received with others. The one thing that all these people had in common was the question or some version of it, "What is God?" After their spontaneous mystic experience they felt that they had met God and they wanted to share with others what that experience showed them. From there those that wanted to know more, which included me, begin to go through the different stages of the "second contemplative stage".
This going through the different stages of the "second contemplative stage" always eventually leads to the "void" or the "dark night of the soul" stage of the experience. Which then created two different groups of people, those that were experiencing the beginning wonderment with the desire to share it and those that had reached the "void" or the "dark night of the soul" part of the experience. And generally speaking those that were going through the "void" or the "dark night of the soul" part were on the internet to get help with the experience. From there the folks that were experiencing the "void" or the "dark night of the soul" split into two groups. One group saying no more of this I do not want to do it anymore and a second group that endured through the "void" or the "dark night of the soul" part to then go through the other stages of the "second contemplative stage". Eventually these folks reached the point what their experience took them into "understandings" that were beyond words. From there they begin to enter into the "third contemplative stage". You still want to know, but the "understandings" quit being important.
Because I had my first mystic experience at five years old, I spent a lot of time as a child hanging out with Lord Jesus and God. And what I discovered overtime was that through Lord Jesus and God that I had access to information if I could form the question right. Basically what I ended up doing was the same as Plato's approach to what became Western Philosophy. But instead of the answers coming from nobody knows where the answers came from Lord Jesus and God. My only limitation was the question and how that question was formed. What I did was to take what I am calling the "second contemplative stage" in directions that normal mystics do not take things. I took the "second contemplative stage" into the realms that the Father of Western Philosophy took things. It is just that I did it through Lord Jesus and God.
I am not sure I answered your question Phil ?
Yes, Tucker, I understand that you are sharing in terms of your experience, and it's interesting to see how that relates to traditional Christian teaching on the spiritual life.
One phrase you're using, "Dark Night of the Soul," usually means something different from the way you're describing it. Of course, people use it so loosely now that it has come to mean pretty much any kind of struggle in the spiritual life, but that's not how St. John of the Cross meant it in his writings.
- see http://shalomplace.com/inetmin...ative/darknight.html for a short summary of SJC on this.
On a different note, but also kind of fun, Fr. Anthony de Mello had a pithy teaching on stages of prayer:
Stage One: I talk, God listens.
Stage Two: God talks, I listen.
Stage Three: I listen, God listens.
Stage Four: No one talks, no one listens.
Night of the Senses and Night of the Spirit...Saint John of the Cross is right on with what he said, at least relative to my experience . I like the way that he divides it into two different concepts and experiences. I can sure see what he is saying mirroring my experience. The "Void" and the "Dark Night of the Soul" are two different things or experiences and I guess I didn't really say that did I Phil ? I meant for the "Dark Night of the soul" stuff to mean exactly what St. John of the Cross was talking about. The "Void" is being totally immersed in the "Unknown", for lack of any other term, and is a different experience. For most people it is a fearful experience and for me it was fearful until Lord Jesus invited me to take His hand, which I did. The instant that I did I was immersed in the wonderment of God's love. It was like night and day. Still nothing made sense, but it didn't matter.
So Phil where do I go to study the words of St. John of the Cross? You have peaked my interest . Not about what others have said about him or his words, but about what he actually said. His writings?
Fr. Anthony de Mello is right on with what he said ! And the reason that nobody talks in Stage four, is because you and God are just sharing the wonderment of His experience. As I wean myself off of old thought habits and more solidly establish new thought habits, I find myself getting deeper into this just experiencing God's experience as a child of God. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" is the best way of explaining what it is that I am experiencing, at least relative to a simple way of explanation.
The translation that Edgar Allison Peers did in the 1930s is freely available on the Interwebs:
That's a very readable translation, Derek. But it's difficult to understand SJOC without some kind of commentary. E.g., his use of "senses" applies not to those of the body so much as the "sensible" or "lower" part of the soul in its embodiment, associated with sensation, feeling, locomotion -- much of what we would today call the "psyche." And the night of the "spirit" refers to the "higher" part of the soul, the life of the mind: reason, beliefs, thinking, and the will. John's readers were familiar with these Thomistic distinctions.
Ascent of Mount Carmel Paperback – September 1, 2010
by St. John of the Cross (Author), E. Allison Peers (Translator)
Do you guys know anything about this book?
Yes, of course. But I think the publication date is for the book, not the original work, which was centuries ago.
Here's a good descriptor of the work.
The modern translation is the one in the Collected Works translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez, and published by ICS Publications of Washington, DC. If you want to invest in a printed copy, I would recommend that one.
Living Flame of Love is my favorite of St. John's major works.
Click here for a pdf copy.
Thank you Derek, your advice and the information that you gave with it is very much appreciated! You told me what it is I wanted to know !
Thank you Phil! I took a look at it and what you have given me is another God send . I understand the "Flame", but the problem is that I could not get it to kindle with any kind of intensity. I have been going to Lord Jesus about for a while now and thanks to what you have given me I now have the answer "Yea!"
John of the Cross mentions the "being in union" with the Father, Son, and the holy Spirit that dwells inside of you. My mistake was that I was not including the presence of the Father. It turns out that the Father dwells in the location of the "Center Pillar". The Son dwells in the physical body as the physical body of Christ. And, The Holy Spirit dwells in the area defined by the "Four Pillars". What I was missing was the Father in the "Center Pillar". With the Holy Spirit you get "Light", with the body of Christ you get "Light", but it is the presences of Father in the core of your being that creates the intense nuclear energy as "Light" that melts the "soul". It is the presence of the Father in the core. He becomes the "Center Pillar" that creates the intense "flame" that John of the Cross is talking about. "Yea!"
Love you! Tucker
Glad to hear that's St. John's work is so helpful to you, Tucker.
I've not heard of "Center Pillar" before. Is that the sushumna?
Sorry Phil , it is Jewish mysticism. I picked up the concept back in the days I was researching the "Kaballa" (that might not be the right spilling). The closest that I can come to the concept of the Five Pillars with scripture is Revelation 4:5-11. The four beasts would represent the Four Pillars and the Throne of God would represent the Fifth Pillar. The Five Pillar concept was about the only thing that I got out of looking into the Jewish mysticism of the "Kaballa" that stuck with me. This is because it works. There is a relationship between the Five Pillars and how the physical and the spirit bodies are grounded to each other and the Divine, at least based on my experience. What is funny though is that I have never found any mention of the Five Pillars in any of the Hindu stuff or in anything else that I studied that had to do with meditation and union stuff. Jewish mysticism is the only place that I have ever found the five Pillars mentioned.
The Fifth Pillar is an energy line that runs straight up the perfect center of your body from the bottom to the top. The First thing that a mystic does is to establish the Four Corners, which is kind of complicated if you do it the way that they do it . From there the Fifth Pillar, when established, becomes the "Key" to everything that has to do with establishing a "Union" with God. Until now I have never been able to understand how that Fifth Pillar key works. But, once you understand what John of the Cross is saying about there being a place that is beyond the touch of what I am calling programming and that that place is where your Soul melts into God through the action of the "Flame" and you then correlate that with Revelation 4:5-11, everything falls into place and it works.
At least it does if you understand what Lord Jesus was saying when He said, "I am in the Father and the Father is in Me and I am in you." From there Lord Jesus is the one sitting on the Throne with the Father indwelling Him. Which is what makes Lord Jesus the source of the Waters of Life. From there when you set up the Four Corner Pillars, the Fifth Pillar becomes the Throne with Lord Jesus indwelt by the Father sitting on the Throne with the Holy Spirit all around Them. Now if you have gone through the cleansing process that Mystics go through then your Soul begins to be melted by the Loving "Flame" into The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit as One.
Anyway Phil, it is Jewish mysticism and it is missing the "key" that is our Lord and Savior. For them to do it without the Salvation of Lord Jesus they have to be totally pure before the presence of God can indwell them and the Fifth Pillar become the Throne of God. But a Christian mystic can, if they have gone through the trials and tribulations (the cleansing) process, because they come under the Salvation of Christ. Actually any Christian can do it if they have a "loving heart" and if they do have a "loving heart" the whole process will probably happen automatically anyway . The rest of us have to do it the hard way . Arg ! But it is all worth it in the End! Yea!
Love, TuckerThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Tucker,
24. Not many people undergo so strong a purgation, only those whom God wishes to elevate to the highest
degree of union. For he prepares individuals by a purification more or less severe in accordance with the
degree to which he wishes to raise them, and also according to their impurity and imperfection.9
These words of St. John of the Cross are very heart warming!
St. John of the Cross in the "Living Flame of Love" puts into words the things that I have experienced and am experiencing. Although my level of union is not quite as deep as his at the time of his writings, what I am being told that is happening is the same thing that he says is happening. John of the Cross says that you are completely torn down and then rebuilt. At this time I am in first part of the rebuilding process, so his words give "Hope" and a meaning to things . And being completely torn down is something that I understand. I have always had an intense desire to be in union with The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit since my first prayer at five years old, way before I had ever gone to any church or read the Bible. It seems that for my whole life I have encountered nothing but hurdles and stumbling blocks. But during all of that time my desire to be in union with God never faltered. Yes there were times that I came to the conclusion that that was just not meant to be, but I never gave up, I was just depressed about it and spent a lot of time travailing God about it.
I like this mystic St. John of the Cross, he talks in words that I understand and he describes experiences that I have had and am having. Yes we both have had other experiences that are different because of our life paths, but the mystic transformation experiences created by these different life paths experiences are the same. St. John of the Cross is sure a gift to me, because there has actually been someone else out there that has gone through the things that I have gone through and am going through. There is a lot of hope in this rebuilding process and St John of the Cross fans the flames of that hope.
That's great, Tucker. He's one of my favorites as well, and it's obvious he knows from experience what he's talking about. I find Living Flame of Love, in particular, easy to relate to and understand.
St. John of the Cross is considered a Doctor of the Church in the Catholic tradition. There aren't too many of them. It means that his works are considered important and worthy of study by Christians.
Cool ! I guess now it is just a matter of time and grade to see where things go. I do seem to be changing daily since I started this "union with the Trinity" contemplative prayer meditation. Relative to describing things, St. John of the Cross saw/described the deep inner place as an intense flame and that flame's affect on wood, I see it as a tungsten element that runs up the exact center of the body in the middle between the front and back of the body and the two sides. And The Father's presence lights it up with an intense white gold light. In the time of St. John of the Cross all light came from a flame. In my day light came from an incandescent bulb. I wonder how mystics in the future will describe things because their sources of light will be different .
And the area that is 45 degrees up from the front of the forehead has now become where the loving Divine dwells and it is lit by the same loving inner light that burns within.
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