Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by GlorytoGod, Mar 17, 2009.
When did the East-West schism end?
The Chuch's manner of handling dissidents (e.g., mystics) was
graciously extended to simple holy folks whose experience didn't
quite match the Church idea of what they should have experienced.
It seems the Church saw them as being comparable to the heretics
who didn't agree with the Church's model of the universe. Would
you agree that the Church's idea of being in a position to determine
what a proper "mystic experience" for all people is really the hight
The persistent conflicts between what these mystics had to
say for themselves and the Church Magisterium are fairly well
documented in terms of the specifics of heresy charges brought
against them. It is clear that these people had no need of the
Church's sacraments and that their ideas were unacceptable
to Church authorities.
It seems the Inquisitor tribunals kept detailed notes on what these
people had to say for themselves. In addition, the Church's own
institutional legacy provided substantial detail. Consider, for example,
the accusations spelled out by Council of Vienne (1312 AD) against
mystically-inclined groups like the Beguines and the Beghards, who
the church described as "faithless" heretics who bring disrepute
on the Church and "true Catholics" by the error of their ways,
including the perverse/pernicious error of finding freedom in
"the spirit of the L-rd."
There seems to be plenty of material documenting the conflicts
the mystics and the Church. However, it's hard to get a sense
of the extent of the conflicts from case-by-case descriptions
of a few celebrated mystics like Meister Eckhart and his followers
or the women who were burned at the stake.
Altogether, how many mystic theological movements did the
Church condemn? Some of the schisms that seemed purely
doctrinal and seemingly concerned with specific beliefs may
actually have been thinly disguised Church opposition to
mystic tendencies (e.g, the Nestorian and Monophysite
controversies) that were seen as a threat to the Church's
monopoly on matters of faith.
I'm not sure how you can maintain that mystics affirmed
Church doctrine in light of these things.
thanks, I used to do some Buddhist meditation years ago, a bit similar to that.
Path of One, I find your comments of visualization interesting. Visualization has become an integral part of sports training. Most Olympic athletes visualize a perfect performance before their race. There have been scientific studies that show the benefit to the nervous system, as the nerves actually become better trained at triggering muscles to move as they should through visualizing without actually moving.
I believe it has other benefits such as the quieting of the mind, and can also be used for visualizing interacting socially the way one would want to rather than how one tends to. Also, visualizing the movement of chi through the body is important to T'ai chi.
As for Buddhist meditation, when I was twenty I was regularly attending meditation at a Ch'an Temple in Halifax for a few months. The temple was an old wooden church that had been painted blue and had a large bronze Buddha sitting on the alter. Halifax has become one of the main Buddhist centres in North America. Ch'an is the Chinese version which Zen branched out of. There was a Chinese monk there who spoke no English and led the meditation sessions. We would do walking meditation for ten minutes, with the monk setting the pace going around in circle through the space; then we would sit for 45 minutes; then another walking meditation; then a tea ceremony where we could sit in a more relaxed posture and contemplate at ease; then we would sit in meditation for another half hour. Afterwards we would go into the kitchen to drink tea and talk at leisure. The conversation was in Mandarin, as most of the people there were Chinese, but a kind woman would translate for me. I was fascinated to hear these deep conversations between this monk and these rather domestic seeming ladies. I remember one time when the monk was talking about the kernal of thoughts, and how we have to get through the thought itself to the kernal from which it was derived --and quiet that.
Another time, during walking meditation the monk asked this lady who could translate to tell me that I have to stop mourning my lost childhood. My posture communicated this state of mind to him.
I would explore and discover various approaches to meditating as I meditated. The main process was to become aware of what thoughts pop up and distract me, and quiet them. At other times I would focus on feeling love and clear away whatever distracts me from that feeling.
It would seem not all paths lead to Rome. Some methods seem to move one toward different goals.
In practicing Taoist meditation for example the emphasis seems to be on clearing the mind/body organism of blockages, and to teach how to move Chi throughout the body.
Internal martial arts spend the majority of time doing this, and if pressed, teachers point to spiritual transformation by way of simply removing the blockages preventing what is already there.
I find some merit in these practices in a roundabout way. Thomas has mentioned the dualistic nature is resolved in the Trinity, a concept I find fascinating and would like to hear more, especially compared to Advaitic practice.
Apparently there is a different intent, a different idea of what the Human is, and what it should aspire to embedded in each religious practice. Even from a purely intellectual standpoint the array of transformative methods is very intriguing.
I suppose you could simply ignore the Papal Bull condemning Eckhart von Hochheim, which was issued on March 27th of 1329, which starts out by implying that he was "an enemy of truth." I'm sure some of the accusations in the Bull are just a matter of opinion, and I suppose you could argue that the fact that the accusations and characterizations appear in a Papal Bull is no reason for us to pay any attention. Anyway, see if you think this rises to the level of personal condemnation:In the field of the Lord over which we, though unworthy, are guardians and laborers by heavenly dispensation, we ought to exercise spiritual care so watchfully and prudently that if an enemy should ever sow tares over the seeds of truth (Mt. 13:28), they may be choked at the start before they grow up as weeds of an evil growth. Thus, with the destruction of the evil seed and the uprooting of the thorns of error, the good crop of Catholic truth may take firm root. We are indeed sad to report that in these days someone by the name of Eckhart from Germany, a doctor of sacred theology (as is said) and a professor of the order of Preachers, wished to know more than he should, and not in accordance with sobriety and the measure of faith, because he turned his ear from the truth and followed fables.
The man was led astray by that Father of Lies who often turns himself into an angel of light in order to replace the light of truth with a dark and gloomy cloud of the senses, and he sowed thorns and obstacles contrary to the very clear truth of faith in the field of the Church and worked to produce harmful thistles and poisonous thornbushes....
The Papal Condemnation of Meister Eckhart - Page 4
If he was not wrong, why did the Pope issue a bull condemning him? The attempt to assert ideological dominion vis a vis Eckkart's writings was rather blatant:If anyone should presume to defend or approve the same articles in an obstinate manner, we desire and order a process of heresy against those who would so defend or approve the fifteen articles and the two last, or any one of them, as well as a process of suspicion of heresy against those who would defend or approve the other eleven articles according to their literal sense.
The Papal Condemnation of Meister Eckhart - Page 10
And you would maintain this despite the aforementioned Papal Bull?
As an aside, Pope John XXII apparently went after Eckhart with a personal vengeance.
It's all kind of interesting, but none of it reflects well on the Pope and the Church. Thomas, you are free to defend and minimize all you want - although I'm not sure why you insist on making assertions that are so easy to refute.
The fact remains: if there was no issue, there would not have been any need for him to "revoke" the teachings the Church had a problem with, nor would there have been any need for a "confession" from him. And there wouldn't have been a Papal Bull condemning him.
That's what I've found. Visualization is a very powerful tool for a variety of things, depending on what you are visualizing. It's a sort of consciously driven reprogramming of the mind and body.
I've used it for more mundane things like sports, too. I ride dressage, where the purpose is total harmony between a horse and rider with nearly imperceptible signals between the two. You go farther (and so does your horse!) if you spend time visualizing a perfect movement many, many times. The idea is that no matter how many times you goof it up under saddle, if you visualize a correct movement far more, you will advance more quickly... and you do. Harmonious rides come from harmonious thought.
Spiritually, I find it is useful for many things, and the same principle applies. Focused attention on a harmonious response when angry, for example, or when anxious... one can train the body/mind to work with one's consciousness rather than do its own thing. It is developing a state of aware attention, in which the purpose is not relaxation, but calmness. There is a distinct difference. The more time spent in this calmness, the more impact it has on one's life.
Sounds lovely. That's about what I do. Sometimes I work on just quieting my mind... a tough task. Other times I focus on cultivation of loving-kindness- a sort of calm, open state that is deeply loving toward all beings. And sometimes, being the mystic I am, I go and wait in openness to receive any message I can from the Divine.
Don't mention it.
The quotes you mention are from the prologue offered by Pope John XXII, and are not part of the bull itself, which is visible in its entirely here.
The Bull condemns the ideas, and subsequently the man if he persists in them. As Eckhart himself announced his own unfailing faith in Christ and His Church, and withdrew those pronouncements made which conflict with the true doctrine, then the ideas stand as condemned, even by Eckhart himself.
Let's look at the articles condemned:
The first article. When someone once asked him why God had not created the world earlier, he answered then, as he does now, that God could not have created the world earlier, because a thing cannot act before it exists, and so as soon as God existed he created the world.
The ideas expressed here, that God comes into existence; that the world is eternally created (if God is indeed eternal, which the prior text suggests not) are both evidently erroneous.
The second article. Also, it can be granted that the world has existed from eternity.
Again, wrong. A created thing is not eternal.
The third article. Also, in the one and the same time when God was, when he begot his coeternal Son as God equal to himself in all things, he also created the world.
I could go through the lot. I would still defend him, though.
From your polemic perspective. From mine, it's common sense — the assertion of true doctrine in the face of an error. If Eckhart (or anyone else) persists in them "in an obstinate manner", then of course he's a heretic, by the very definition of the term ... it can't be otherwise.
Yep. Read the clarification here
According to the article, "For all practical purposes, the exoneration of Meister Eckhart has been achieved" Richard Wood OP.
I would say Henry, the Archbishop of Cologne, who accused Eckhart and who advised the Pope, was far more personally determined to bring the Meister down.
Are you sure you're not just covering your own that I've despatched one after the other? At least i put up a case, you simply jump to something else to have a go with.
There was an issue, and even his most ardent supporters agree there are still issues.
The matter does not reflect well on us, I admit that, and have never made any bones about it. We are not perfect, but, as the Lord says" "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" (John 8:7).
I think we're back to the Metta Bhavana
What a profound observation. Regardless of Thomas' doubts, Meister Eckhart was definitley "in touch."
Are you saying the meaning is any different on account of where the language appears??
Eckhart was not alive when the Papal Bull was issued. How would he have refrained from the conduct as a dead man?
Again, why the Papal Bull if there was nothing to condemn him for?
But it was otherwise. How much deterrent value could the Bull have had as a warning to a dead man?
Pope John XXII issued the Bull against Eckhart in 1329. Eckhart had died the year before.
The vindication didn't happen before his death.
Sorry, but I can't think of one refutation. When you quote scripture and provide no exegesis whatsoever, I'm under the impression you're merely sandbagging because you have no argument. Misrepresentations of history - including making up facts, ignoring essential details, minimizing, glossing over, "talking past" - and stating conclusions that are clearly incompatible with the facts have the same impact.
In continually trying to derail this discussion, it's obvious you're not really interested in how the Church views Eckhart, only in asserting your own judgements on the matter. Likewise with regard to the Church, Scripture and Tradition.
That you're entitled to your own opinions, I have never questioned, what I do question is your self-appointed and somewhat self-opinionated position as spokesperson for the history of Christianity and its Faith.
On that we shall never agree. So let's leave it there.
Christian and Buddhist Contemplative Prayer
The Dalai Lama at Blackfriars
Saturday, May 31, 2008 (scroll down the page)
Fr Fr Paul Murray OP first spoke about contemplative prayer in the Dominican tradition, drawing in particular on the writings of three of the Order's great spiritual teachers, John Tauler, Catherine of Siena and Meister Eckhart. The difficulties of the 14th century, in which these three lived, reflect our own difficulties in many ways, he said, and their experience of and teaching about contemplative prayer can lead us also to compassion and service.
The Dalai Lama spoke about his involvement in conversations with Christians, in the first place with Thomas Merton who spent three days with him at Dharamsala. He remembers the great boots Merton was wearing and also their discussion about the Buddhist belief in endless life compared with the Christian belief in one life alone. 'Only this life, created by God', His Holiness quoted Merton as saying, and repeated it ... 'only this life, created by God'. Which implies, he continued, an extraordinary intimacy between God and the one who is thus created. It seems as if Merton thus succeeded in communicating one of the central teachings of Christianity to the Dalai Lama and that he has pondered it ever since.
In speaking about Buddhist contemplation His Holiness said that he could agree with all that had been said by the Christian speakers if the term 'God' were substituted with the phrase 'ultimate reality'. Buddhism also recognises three stages in seeking understanding and wisdom, the stage of knowledge when one learns about things from teachers, the stage of critical enquiry when one engages in study and reflection, and the stage of meditation or contemplation when one seeks to understand reality and illusion. In both Buddhism and Christianity there is the emphasis on compassion and on the fact that contemplative prayer must issue in service of others and a concern for peace.
It was a wonderful moment for Blackfriars. The Dalai Lama had joined the community for midday prayer before the colloquium: his prayerful reverence towards the altar, the tabernacle, and the brethren, was very deeply moving. He spoke as powerfully in the way he was present with us and to us as he did by his words.
The Dalai Lama's talk is available here
Of course this would explain why I quoted the Papal Bull at length at the top of the page.
Frankly, it concerns me that we can't seem to agree on anything
Fine. It was time to get back on topic.
Generally, it is useful to see human behavior as being purposeful and motivated. For instance, where does the need for meditation come from? Is it an end in itself or does it have value as far as helping to achieve other goals?
Why does it matter? Well, I suspect the effectiveness of meditation - like anything else - depends on intended use, which can vary quite a bit. Here are some possible reasons why a need for meditation might arise:
1) Our usual way of learning is very abstract and limited to intellectual things. This interferes with somatic learning.
2) Similarly, we tend to use only certain specialized brain functions and neglect others.
3) Our usual mode of interaction is focused on the external world instead of what's going on with us internally.
4) We don't really know ourselves and as a result we are trying in vain to crystalize personal identity through actions and experiences that don't do our true potential justice (e.g., not finding a balance between drives toward autonomy versus dependence, competition versus intimacy, meaning/integrity versus meaninglessness/despair, creativity versus repetition, idle curisiosity versus dedication, etc.)
5) We are unwilling to face certain things and become caught up in generating a smokescreen by which we hide what is going on with us inwardly.
6) We equate shallow experiences with worthwhile experiences (e.g., ego gratification through an search for personal legitimacy and power by torquing people around on Internet discussion forums with misleading communications, etc.) and getting so caught up with this kind of thing as to equate the self with the process.
Meditation helps you to figure out that you could be doing something else. It's a learning tool.
In his talk the Dalai Lama spoke of a discussion with the Benedictine monk Fr Bede Griffiths, and they discussed the Christian emphasis on one life only, and the Dalai Lama asked what's the problem with accepting the Buddhist teaching of reincarnation? Fr Griffiths spoke of "this very life" ...
The Dalai Lama says:
I do urge you all to listen, it is truly ecumenical, and is focussed absolutely on the question of meditation.
But surely if one treats meditation as a learning tool, then it runs the risk of becoming a pragmatic exercise — it seems to me one is doing one thing with the same expectation one has of the usual run of things — you're doing something else, the same way you do everything else — to get something out of it. The danger then is you're not meditating, your intellectualising?
I see no difference between meditation and prayer, but I regard neither as a tool for learning. I think it's more a 'right brain' thing, not a 'left brain' thing?
I don't pray to learn, nor do I have any expectation of prayer.
The method of prayer, or meditation (and there are many) I would rather call experiential disciplines, than empirical techniques?
imo prayer is outgoig, meditation is incoming, prayer talking to G!d, meditation listening.
And most suredly a tool.
I'm thinking about a self regulation model of prayer. See the chapter on Emotions and Religion by Robert Emmons starting at p.235 Handbook of the psychology of ... - Google Book Search
Interestingly, Emmons work is now almost entirely on gratitude. PUBLICATIONS
Makes sense to me.
The way I see it, prayer is not about petitioning or asking for things. It's more about experiencing gratitude - an emotion that counteracts negative affect. I don't think it's any surprise that ancient prayers invoke humility before G-d. This would seem to move naturally into a state of gratitude.
The words "Thank you Jesus" is a way to generate a sense of gratitude by making the attribution personal. It goes back to the OT. Consider the Psalms:We give thanks to You, G_d
We give thanks to You, for Your name is near.
People tell about Your wonderful works.
Prayer is a way of staying attuned to divine influences. In the above Psalms we see how the person remains alert to G-d's present works. There are others like it.
How's your knee, Wil?
Much better thank you. They still want to operate...now hmmm guess my knee is a metaphor for me not listening for the past 30 years! or possibly for me listening and avoiding what could have been a worse situation.
It's not too invasive by laposcropy. But you'll want to plan on recovery time.
I found some good stuff searching the phrase "stubborn" here:
The Dead Sea scrolls in English - Google Book Search
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