Untitled, 2018

By Stefan Davidovici, Milano


„Dying Before We Die”

A Thought for Thanksgiving Day

by Richard Rohr

In one way or another, almost all religions say that you must die before you die, and then you will know what dying means—and what it does not mean! Your usual viewing platform is utterly inadequate to see what is real. It is largely useless to talk about the very ground of your being, your True Self, or your deepest soul until you have made real contact with these at least once.

That demands dying to the old viewing platform of the mental ego and the false self. There is just no way around that. If you do make contact, you forever know that something is there that can be talked about, relied upon, and deeply trusted. You move from religion as mere belief to religion as a new kind of knowing. 

Kathleen Dowling Singh explains why we must die before we die: “The ordinary mind and its delusions die in the Nearing Death Experience. As death carries us off, it is impossible to any longer pretend that who we are is our ego. The ego is transformed in the very carrying off.” [1] 

Some form of death—psychological, spiritual, relational, or physical—is the only way we will loosen our ties to our small and separate false self. Only then does it return in a new shape which we might call the Risen Christ, the soul, or the True Self. 

What dies? Your false self—and it is just a matter of when, not if

Who lives? The God Self that has always lived, but now includes you.
Note that it’s a what that dies, and a who that lives! 

Once you know that life and death are not two but are part of a whole, you will begin to view reality in a holistic, undivided way, and that will be the change that changes everything.

This is nondual consciousness.

No one can teach you this.

Even Jesus had to walk it on his own, which is the only meaning of God “requiring” his death of him. Jesus calls this goal the “destiny” of the “Human One” (Mark 8:31), and he seems to know that he is a stand-in for all of us (Mark 10:39)—much more than he ever walks around saying, “I am God”! The only person Jesus ever calls a “devil” is Peter when he, the so-called “infallible” first pope, tries to oppose Jesus’ central message of death and resurrection (Matthew 16:23).

[1] Kathleen Dowling Singh, The Grace in Dying: A Message of Hope, Comfort, and Spiritual Transformation (HarperOne: 2000), 219.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 59-60, 62, 66, 81.

„Despre lucruri mari, cu starețul Clement” — JURNAL SCOȚIAN

1. Zicea starețul Clement: Cel mai greu nu este să-l iubești pe aproapele tău, ci să-l suporți. Oamenii nu se despart pentru că nu se mai iubesc, ci că nu se mai suportă. 2. Tot despre iubire, spunea: Ca să iubești pe cineva, mai întâi trebuie să-ți fie milă de el. Bunul samaritean, când l-a […]

via despre lucruri mari, cu starețul Clement — JURNAℓ SCOȚIAN

„Time has a destiny”

The Solemnity of Christ the King, which closes another year in the seemingly endless cycle of liturgical years, proclaims as gospel truth the notion that time does indeed have a destiny.
Christians can still speak of the “year of Our Lord,” counting time forward from the savior’s birth, even though the modern world continually resets clocks and calendars, and every soul among us stands in a different moment in time, one too personal to be shared.

It is an astounding claim: that something which happened more than 2,000 years ago, in linear time, nevertheless will draw all of time, all of the longings of the human heart, into itself. Christ, at a given moment in time, will be manifested as the one who collects, who harvests all of time.

He will draw the hopes and struggles of each of us into himself. Is this a delusion, a fantasy? Time will tell.

ReadingsDaniel 7:13-14 Revelation 1:5-8 John 18:33b-37

By Fr Terrance Klein, s.J.


Father Thomas Keating’s parting wisdom for a divided church and country

„On Oct. 26, one of the great spiritual leaders of our time, Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., died at the age of 95 at St. Joseph’s Monastery in Spencer, Mass. Though he was known only to a relatively small circle during his life, his loss is being felt by thousands who like me, met him, studied his thinking and counted him as a gentle guide to our most personal challenges and a soaring guide to the aspirations of the spiritual life. But beyond the impact on those of us who knew and loved him, he left us a powerful but unlikely solution to our current national crisis: centering prayer.

Father Keating was a member of one of the most austere and rigorous Christian religious communities—the Cistercians—and the strictest version of that community, known as the Trappists. Trappists are men and women monks like many others: They dedicate their lives to vigorous physical work, observe a strict schedule of chanting the Psalms, usually six times per day, live mostly in silence apart from others, and believe their vocation to be one that leads to deeper love of God and healing in the world. Father Keating entered the monastery at 21.

“I joined the Trappists,” he once told me, “because they were the most demanding, and that’s what I wanted.”

Father Keating left us a powerful but unlikely solution to our current national crisis: centering prayer.

But it was not the strict order of the monastery that captured Father Keating’s passion. Instead, it was the goal of all those disciplines and practices: to lead human beings to experience the unconditional “love beyond love” that is God’s presence within us and to have that love lead us “to respect and befriend and love one another.”

“Holiness,” he said at a retreat, “does not consist in any practice but in a disposition of heart…trusting to audacity in [God’s]…unconditional love. Only that can bring…[us] into full emotional or spiritual maturity.”

Father Keating and his fellow monks decided to try to teach an ancient way of developing a loving disposition of the heart. It was a practice that was deeply rooted in the history of Christianity and of many other religions, but to many believers it was new and original. They called it “centering prayer” and suggested that it was not just for monks; it was for everyone.

“Holiness,” Father Keating said, “does not consist in any practice but in a disposition of heart.”

Coming as he did from the Christian tradition, Father Keating drew on the overlooked insights of great spiritual masters of that tradition—the consciousness genius of the anonymous 14th-century author of The Cloud of Unknowing, the remarkable simplicity of the spiritual path of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and the transcendent unifying vision of the 13th-century monk Meister Eckhart, to name a few.

But because he saw through the false certainty that can warp all religions, he believed this path to God was open to Buddhists, Jews, other Christians and people of all religions or none at all—to anyone who sought the source and experience of unconditional love.

“People are unhappy with authority these days, and I understand why. But they shouldn’t be unhappy with direct and intuitive practices of direct relationship with God.”

“Everyone is religious just by coming into being,” he said. “We already are most of what we want to be, but it’s unconscious to us and our reason doesn’t function enough to let us see it…. So we learn listening, waiting and trusting, and these are the ways of contemplation that allow us to see.”

Centering prayer has grown dramatically since Father Keating and his fellow Trappists first taught it in the late 1970s. Today, there are several aligned organizations dedicated to the practice and hundreds of thousands of individual practitioners, as well as thousands of small community-based groups. Father Keating saw that centering prayer could help fill a void left when traditional religions focused too much on ideas and authority structures, especially when those ideas and authorities promote violence or division.

“People are unhappy with authority these days,” he said to me just a few months before his death, “and I understand why. But they shouldn’t be unhappy with direct and intuitive practices of direct relationship with God.”

If there is one thing our country needs right now, it is what Father Keating tried to teach: a disposition of the heart that leads us to love and respect one another. And even more, we need the calm and presence and silence that will help us reduce the toxicity in our public discourse and become present to the gentleness and goodness within each of us.

“Focus on trust. When you trust that we are all part of something beautiful beyond our wildest imagination, you will find healing.”

En souvenir de la nuit du 23 novembre 1654

Blaise Pascal (19 juin 1623 - 19 août 1662), portrait posthume réalisé en 1690 d'après une peinture de François II Quesnel (château de Versailles)

Né dans la famille d’un conseiller à la cour des aides de Clermont (aujourd’hui Clermont-Ferrand), en Auvergne, Blaise est éduqué par son père dans l’esprit de Montaigne et de Rabelais.

Curieux des sciences et des mathématiques, il écrit à onze ans un Traité des sons puis passe à la géométrie d’Euclide. À seize ans, un essai le fait remarquer par la communauté des savants.

Esprit pratique, éloigné en cela de son aîné Descartes, Pascal met au point une machine à calculer, la « pascaline ». Il lancera aussi plus tard la première ligne au monde de transports en commun à Paris, investissant dans ce projet ses dernières forces et sa fortune !

À 23 ans, l’âge où le commun des mortels se passionne pour l’autre sexe, Blaise Pascal se tourne vers la religion et, avec sa soeur Jacqueline, découvre les écrits de l’abbé de Saint-Cyran, directeur de conscience de Port-Royal et promoteur des idées de Jansénius. Il effectue sa « première conversion ».

Dans le même temps, il multiplie les travaux de recherche et s’intéresse au vide. En scientifique averti et précautionneux, il reproduit l’expérience de Torricelli, un savant italien inventeur du baromètre à mercure (1608-1647).

Le 19 septembre 1648, au sommet du Puy de Dôme, dans une totale indifférence aux troubles de la Fronde qui agitent la capitale, il apporte avec son beau-frère la preuve de l’existence du vide et de la pesanteur en montrant que le niveau de mercure dans un thermomètre de Torricelli descend à mesure que l’altitude augmente. L’impact ultérieur de cette expérience sera tel que Pascal deviendra comme son cadet Isaac Newton une unité de mesure. Un Pascal représente un Newton par mètre carré : 1Pa =1 N.m(-2).

Pascal rencontre Descartes mais les deux esprits sont trop différents pour pouvoir dialoguer utilement. Le premier est mystique et pratique, le second très abstrait et plus ou moins agnostique.

Quelques années plus tard, il correspond avec un autre génie de son temps, Pierre de Fermat. De leurs entretiens, il tire les bases d’une nouvelle discipline mathématique : les probabilités. À l’aube du XVIIIe siècle, le philosophe allemand Leibniz allait reprendre ses travaux et les mener à leur terme.

Entre science et mysticisme

Blaise Pascal est troublé lorsque sa soeur entre à Port-Royal, en 1652. En réaction, il fréquente les salons comme celui de Madame d’Aiguillon, nièce de feu le cardinal Richelieu. Il est tenté d’entrer dans le « monde » et de se marier, bref, de se ranger.

Tout change dans la nuit du 23 novembre 1654. Le jeune homme (31 ans) éprouve dans sa chambre une violente expérience mystique. Nous en avons connaissance à travers un billet que l’on retrouvera plié dans son pourpoint après sa mort : le Mémorial.

« Feu, Dieu d’Abraham, Dieu d’Isaac, Dieu de Jacob, non des philosophes et des savants », écrit-il, « Certitude. Sentiment, joie, paix. Dieu de Jésus-Christ… Oubli du monde et de tout, hormis Dieu… »

Le savant se rapproche dès lors de sa soeur et des jansénistes de Port-Royal. Il renonce presque entièrement aux sciences et se consacre à la réflexion théologique.

Participant à la querelle des jansénistes et des jésuites, qui rappelle en plus violent les débats contemporains entre intégristes et modérés, il publie un célèbre pamphlet, les Provinciales, où il défend la rigueur de Port-Royal et ridiculise les Jésuites et leur souci d’accommodement avec les réalités humaines.

Affaibli par la maladie, il jette toutes ses forces dans un projet d’ouvrage théologique qui n’aboutira pas mais dont il nous reste un recueil de notes, les Pensées.

Il ambitionne de ramener les « libertins », autrement dit les gens du monde, à la foi catholique dans toute sa pureté et développe pour cela l’argument du pari, resté fameux : 

« Vous avez deux choses à perdre : le vrai et le bien, et deux choses à engager : votre raison et votre volonté, votre connaissance et votre béatitude ; et votre nature a deux choses à fuir : l’erreur et la misère. Votre raison n’est pas plus blessée, en choisissant l’un que l’autre, puisqu’il faut nécessairement choisir. Voilà un point vidé. Mais votre béatitude ? Pesons le gain et la perte, en prenant choix que Dieu est. Estimons ces deux cas : si vous gagnez, vous gagnez tout ; si vous perdez, vous ne perdez rien. Gagez donc qu’il est, sans hésiter. »