Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Paper V

It cannot be emphasized enough that both aspects of knowing must work together. It is most emphatically NOT the case that one is 'good' and the other is 'bad'. Both Walsh and Zinn make their mistakes because they are using a merely linear approach to these texts, that is to say, a post-Cartesian model of the mind; they do not understand that both Richard and the Cloud-author are trying to teach ways to open to deep mind, that they are using a model of two ways of knowing.
Similar problems emerge in Karsten Harries' Infinity and Perspective in his analysis of Bonaventure, Meister Eckhart and Nicholas of Cusa.(17) In taking a merely linear and rigidly controlling approach, he completely misses the point of what all three of these authors are trying to do. He raises the question of why these authors who are so profoundly incarnational, at the apex of their vision seem to denigrate creation by leaving it behind. This of course is a gross misunderstanding of the process that Bonaventure, Eckhart and Cusa (and many others) are trying to teach: Harries has mistaken their descriptions of method, of an intentional shift of attention, for a dualistic transcendence. In fact, all three authors understand that re-centering in deep mind incarnates a person more deeply in his or her body, and in the creation; that a life of contemplation is living the ordinary through transfigured perception.
In fact, the process of re-centering in the deep mind is the way that human beings realize their incarnation: re-centering restores the proper balance and flow between deep mind and self-conscious mind. When a person is centered in self-conscious mind, he or she is living in a fantasy world. Re-centering in the deep mind by doing the work of silence re-integrates and roots the person in his or her body.
For example, Eckhart says, 'So in truth, no creaturely skill, nor your own wisdom, nor all your knowledge, can enable you to know God divinely. For you to know God in God's way, your knowing must be a pure unknowing, and a forgetting of yourself and all creatures'.(18) In this he is not rejecting the material creation but rather indicating a simple shift in attention away from the self–conscious mind and its phantasmagoric constructs and concerns to the direct perception and transfiguring qualities of deep mind.
This shift away from the self–conscious mind to the deep mind is often signposted by paradox, as is evident in Bonaventure. The Itinerarium builds to the end of Book VI, where there appears a sudden string of paradoxes. Book VII then speaks in praise of silence. Again, the thoroughly grounded and incarnational Bonaventure is not denying incarnation, he is simply signalling this change of focus, the eliding of self–consciousness, and the attentive receptivity of beholding beyond unknowing.(19) This engenders the ability to see God in all created things as a function of deification.
(17) Karsten Harries, Infinity and Perspective (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002).
(18)  Meister Eckhart, ' Et cum factus esset Jesus annorum duodecim, etc.', in Karsten Harries, Infinity and Perspective (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), 177.
(19) Bonaventure (Classics of Western Spirituality), translated by Ewert Cousins, Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1978.


Blogger Ultra Monk said...

This is a very interesting blog today. thanks.

2:29 am, May 26, 2014  
Anonymous Marion said...

This isn't a comment but a question. I have been reading your blog off and on for the past year. I attend a roman catholic charismatic community where little room is made for contemplation and silence. The charismatic focus is noisy and demonstrative and I get the distinct feeling one doesn't quite measure up, spiritually, if the Holy Spirit is not manifested in you in obvious ways (tongues, resting in the Spirit, etc.). I disagree. Have you written anything on the damage this focus may have on some people? If so, could you point me to the references?


4:00 pm, May 27, 2014  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

To Marion: My heart goes out to you. It sounds as though you need to find a different context, preferably a monastic one. Is there a monastic community anywhere near you where you could go to worship? I haven't written anything specifically on charismatic communities, but I know plenty of religious communities that were destroyed by the charistmatic 'thing'. If you can't find any suitable place to worship, it's better not to go than be subject to what you describe. Blessings.

4:27 pm, May 27, 2014  
Anonymous abigail tingman said...

Dear Marion:
I am from a fundamentalist background and totally feel your pain. However, if you are planning on "taking on this community," by which I mean, attempting to show them the error or their ways, or even just wish to share what you are seeing, be prepared. They probably will not tolerate it. I have been publicly eviscerated, humiliated, mocked and shunned, all for what...? Participating in Centering Prayer.
Though it maybe bothered me a little, it bothered me a lot less than I would have thought, Why? BECAUSE OF Centering Prayer. It makes an elemental difference in the practitioner and somehow brings us closer to His intention for us.
Best to speak one on one to those to which the Lord leads you and not publicly as I did. In any case, exercise caution as Maggie suggests. Blessings, abigail

3:50 am, May 28, 2014  

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