Grace, it's impossible to know if you would have come to knowledge of Christ without your Catholic background. For some reason, you were led to this site, and the picture on the home page resonated, as did some of the exchanges. Did your Catholic background contribute to that? Or did your search for truth lead you to Christ, who is the truth incarnate? Hard to say for sure.
I guess my Catholic formation has ingrained in me the conviction that every part of our human nature--even the senses and emotions--can know something of God. In saying this, I am not suggesting that this knowledge is perfect, but insofar as our human nature is united with Christ and his sacred humanity, we participate fully in the life of God in our very bodies. In my experience, this means that something of the experience of God encountered through faith is communicated to every part of our human nature, and that every part of our human nature is touched by God's grace. This is not the same thing as saying that the mind is capable of knowing God through its limited powers, nor, less, the senses or emotions -- only that they do participate in the knowledge of God obtained through faith. When one encounters a person whose faculties are formed in faith, one does indeed intuit a sense of the holy, even the divine. When I mentioned theology in the same vein, it was to affirm that something of faith experience--though not necessarily "the essence of that gained knowledge of God"--communicates through theology, Scripture, liturgy, etc. And so here I differ from Krishnamurti, who seems to have absolutely no use for any kataphatic mediation whatsoever, and whose teaching, in the end, collapses into a an apophatic gnosticism the nature of which only he and a few others in history claim to have come to know.
"When one encounters a person whose faculties are formed in faith, one does indeed intuit a sense of the holy, even the divine. When I mentioned theology in the same vein, it was to affirm that something of faith experience--though not necessarily "the essence of that gained knowledge of God"--communicates through theology, Scripture, liturgy, etc."
I agree it is the perfume of the divine surrounds this holy person that spread everywhere and invites every body. I think this smelling of divine perfume is more concrete than the words of Scripture. The problem is mind can cling on it and claim, �I find the absolute truth� and you know the whole attachment process sets on. I don�t mean communicating through Scripture or theology is not possible but it seems a very long process until one reach to the core of God�s knowledge. I�m in support of kataphatic mediation as long as it aims to reduce the activity of thought and as long as it works against any attachment.
K insisted to observe and watch without any support. I don�t understand how the conditioned mind can see in clarity. It is like demanding the blind to see. I can relate with his Pathless way� notion. Unlike him I can�t claim that everybody must go this way and neglect all kinds of kataphatic mediation. I believe some kind of support and help is important. For example Christ is a very good teacher and master in Christianity who can inspire millions of people. At the end it seems K�s teachings has very little use for humanity. As you put it correctly �Krishnamurti, who seems to have absolutely no use for any kataphatic mediation whatsoever, and whose teaching, in the end, collapses into a an apophatic Gnosticism the nature of which only he and a few others in history claim to have come to know.�
Grace, I think you describe some of the limitations of thought, but I also think this needs to be nuanced a great deal more. Christian spirituality does not view thought nor the operations of the intellect as an obstacle to the experience of God as many eastern pathways seem to do. When/if thought is operating out of attachments and pre-conceptions, then, yes, there is a problem. But thoughts can also be ways in which we are led by the Spirit, or in which our own inquiry into truth is directed by the mind's own intuitions of truth.
Consider this, for example: a spiritual directee who's been meeting with me for years related recently that while reading Scripture one day, he felt moved to envision Jesus sitting next to him and listening to him. He poured out his heart to Jesus, and distinctly felt Jesus putting his arm around him. In his thoughts, he heard Jesus speaking words of consolation and reassurance. The experience never moved into apophatic resting, but continued for some time, as he and Jesus rose and went to meet the day together. All through the day, he had this sense of Jesus present with him, guiding him, communicating with him in his thoughts.
Now to someone like Krishnamurti, and experience such as the above is so rife with dualism and possibilities for delusion as to be viewed with the utmost cynicism. That is because K and other radical aphophatics do not have an appreciation for what Catholics would call the sacramental nature of reality. By this I mean that creation, which comes from God and is good, can be a means of mediating the divine presence. We do not have to go beyond all thoughts, images, etc., to encounter divine presence as it is always encountering us through the medium of creation. And in Christianity, we have a perfect medium of mediation, namely Christ. So when my spiritual directee, with all his thoughts and conscious operations still going on, encountered Christ, he really did encounter God, and in a way just as real and pure and transformative as any apophatic experience could be. More, perhaps!
So, Grace, when you write, I don�t mean communicating through Scripture or theology is not possible but it seems a very long process until one reach to the core of God�s knowledge. If the "core of God's knowledge" is Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Scripture moves one to openness to this encounter of divine presence, then Scripture can be a very short and direct path indeed. It is as though Scripture is another kind of icon, or medium, through which divine presence reaches to the human. This idea of the divine reaching for the human is one that is at the core of the whole Judeo-Christian tradition.
"So, Grace, when you write, I don�t mean communicating through Scripture or theology is not possible but it seems a very long process until one reach to the core of God�s knowledge. If the "core of God's knowledge" is Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Scripture moves one to openness to this encounter of divine presence, then Scripture can be a very short and direct path indeed. It is as though Scripture is another kind of icon, or medium, through which divine presence reaches to the human. This idea of the divine reaching for the human is one that is at the core of the whole Judeo-Christian tradition."
I tend to agree with this viewpoint even through I can't say that I was born a Christian. Reading Merton tonight and understanding how words themselves are like "icons" or "mediums" through which the Spirit of Christ and the Blessed Mother communicate. Merton says:
This absolute emptiness, this poverty, this obsurity holds within it the secret of all joyb/c it is full of God. To seek this emptiness is true devotion to the Mother of God. To find it is to find Her. And to be hidden in its depths is to be full of God as She is full of Him...
This struck me as a poignant piece of well constructed, well articulated prose that has a sacamental quality and the words themselves are full of the listening which IS the blessed Mother, imo. So I do think words have a value, although I understand Grace's ambivalance to theology that is NOT infused (if I'm understanding correctly) with spiritual insight.
About scripture, Merton says:
Thus we find Her living in the midst of Scripture and unless we find her, also, hidden in Scripture wherever and whatever promises contain Her Son, we shall not fully know that life that is in Scripture.
I think I tend to agree with this...especially for someone who has a Christian vocation. It is like the Buddha said you can find the truth in the teachings, the teacher, or the sangha, or community. Not to run the risk of diluting either truth, I wish to point out the similarity. For the Christian the truth is found in the scripture and the human form of Christ, the embodiment of humility and love.
I find all of Grace's posts eddifying and rich and I agree with the most part with him. I seem to think in the same way and he does, so I thought I'd be the devil's advocate for us both
I hope I won't kill the thread here, or sound like I'm pointing towards myself/experience, which lately I give little value to. But I wanted to say that the Blessed Mother especially has been vital to my sadhana--and without her Grace, I feel I would be nowhere. It seems I rarely feel anything anymore, simply obscurity, whereas before She would infuse her presence quite easily in prayer. Now nothing, so I the thoughts of Merton struck a deep chord within me tonight, and hope it's alright to share in this way, even though I'm not Christian. Interestingly, whenever I used to be with my first teacher, who was a Hindu, I would feel Christ's presence or the Blessed Mother or a particular Saint who I'm fond of.
"When/if thought is operating out of attachments and pre-conceptions, then, yes, there is a problem. But thoughts can also be ways in which we are led by the Spirit, or in which our own inquiry into truth is directed by the mind's own intuitions of truth."
I think we are talking the same thing with different expression. In your description it seems there are two types of thought, correct me if I'm wrong. I don't see two different types of thought. Thought is thought for me. The other one, which led by Spirit, is not thought for me. Spirit can use some of the faculties of thought but it never enters into the process of thought. Spirit intuitively, not through the process of mind, lead to truth. When Spirit works active thought seems to be left out and frustrated, as a result of it thought asked many questions. This indicates Spirit is totally out of thoughts control and in my experience it never works through the process of thought. It seems thought is not participated in the works of Spirit. But, after Spirit accomplishes its work mind become active and it become aware of the knowledge poured into its centre by spirit. As I pointed out earlier Spirit works independently leaving mind aside. Since this spirit affects all parts of our being including mind, out of spirit's infusion mind become more knowledgeable and enlightened.
Christian spirituality does not view thought nor the operations of the intellect as an obstacle to the experience of God as many eastern pathways seem to do.
I don't see either mind/thought as such is an obstacle to the experience of God. What I want to say is conditioned mind can never function as the channel of God, but the mind, which is affected and intoxicated by the power of God or Spirit, can work as channel because it is enlightened and not conditioned any more. I think it is important to see these differences.
Peter W. Stoner has calculated the odds of a man coming along and fulfilling forty-eight prophecies detailing His identity, His life and ministry; One in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion.
The odds of a man fulfilling just eight of the Messianic prophecies would equal your chance of choosing the correct silver dollar from the entire state of Texas stacked three feet deep with silver dollars.
Jesus fulfilled over three hundred such prophecies. My rational mind, which cannot even imagine such large numbers, is forced to make a conclusion. Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah
The purpose of my prayer life is to bring my will into line with His purposes. Any schema of prayer which assumes that I am God or will ever become God would be a betrayal of this purpose.
Grace, I think you're describing very clearly how you see Spirit working in your experience and I very much relate. In my own, however, I do find that Spirit works in the realm of thought even prior to contemplative experience, and uses thought to direct the mind and will to some particular activity. I don't think God has any difficulty working within the realm of the conditioned human mind, as this is the only kind of mind we have and will ever have. Maybe we're splitting hairs about mind and spirit, here, but maybe we're also indicating the differences in approach by radical apophatism and kataphatic spirituality. As JB especially has noted, the two flow in and out of each other in Christian spirituality.
This has been a good exchange. Thank you for your generosity in sharing.
I don't think God has any difficulty working within the realm of the conditioned human mind, as this is the only kind of mind we have and will ever have.
Yes, since God is omnipotent everything is possible. However, God is too big for mind and I don't see God prefer to enter in the conditioned mind/thought when there is another alternatives. The alternative can be God sends the Person Spirit aiming to liberate mind. After mind become free from its conditionality can only then God establish proper communication with the liberated mind. Anyway, it is how Spirit works in me. I can only refer my own experience. If others experiences differs from mine I don't oppose. Better than any human mind God knows better how he best can function in us. As I mentioned earlier God is omnipotent and the decisive decision is in his hands. How beautiful it is to see his multifarious works in the mind of humanbeing.
I'm sort of intrigued by this discussion of unconditioned vs. conditioned and wonder if it's similar sematics, different framework you guys are talking about. Aurobindo talks about the process as actually transforming the physical cells of the mind and life, so perhaps a mind can become entirely intuitised? Then there would not be this dicotomy of conditioned vs. unconditioned. Is this a possibility? The ability of K to actually transform the brain and make it wholly intuitive?
What am I doing?
Why am I doing it?
How do I know it's from God?
Will my peers think I'm queer?
Those are great links, Michael. Thanks.
The Way of a Pilgrim was the book that really hooked me and "doomed" me to this experience, for better or worse. I'm rather fond of altered states of consciousness and I have a juvenile record to prove it
One thing I noticed right away about the Pilgrim was how his naivete in the state of prayer got him into trouble by not being able to keep up his guard. Although the field of energy can have the effect of calming troubled individuals, there is a tendency to forget that everyone else is not
in a loving, blissful condition.
Last night I was sitting at a bus stop and the young man who got there ahead of me was very
well into his Friday night "fun." He shakes my hand and radiates "love" toward me in the manner only whiskey can fashion.
For a minute there, we were united in love for all mankind. Then I had a feeling of superiority and revulsion from the ego, and I closed my eyes crosslegged and asked for love and tolerance and divine aid for this fellow traveler.
This produced an unusual effect in that that this young fellow slid over on the bench and is now practically cuddling up next to me. I am detaching with love, as they say.
He then proceeeds to puke all over himself, but still manages a smile for me. He then proceeds to walk over toward the liquor store and provoke an altercation with another patron. The divine aid came in the form of a couple fellows with badges
who intervened and escorted him away.
My! I guess there's a lesson in there somewhere. You certainly highlight the difference between spiritual peace and the peace that "spirits" brings.
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