Hello my Spiritual Friend,
I trust all is well and you had the past two weeks to digest the two-part notation regarding ‘Meditation’.
Now then, to help work out the ripples of this foundation, of meditation, I hope to help you in appreciating the obvious basics and simplicity of the various activities of the mind.
I have assembled, for you, a few writers’ comments to help further ensure a cohesive basis.
“Nevertheless, it is admitted on all hands that a state of contemplation is reached as a rule after a considerable period of preparation, and it is into this period that the use of the intellect enters. The proper preparation for contemplation is meditation “Meditation sows, and Contemplation reaps: Meditation seeks and Contemplation finds: Meditation prepares the Food, Contemplation savors it and feeds on it”- and the point in which the one is distinguished from the other is that whereas in meditation the truth is sought with repeated acts of the intellect and the imagination, in contemplation the truth is simply seen without effort. “It differs from meditation”, says Father Doyle, “ in that it is made without reasoning, without the use of sensible images ... by a pure, quiet, simple operation of the mind which we call intuition.” The two are compared by Scaramelli to the condition of the audience in a theatre before and after the raising of the curtain. In the first case they will search with their minds the probable details of the scene they are about to see, and will all arrive at more or less different conclusions as a result of the intellectual method. Yet, when the curtain is raised they will all see, simply by looking and without further effort, the scene in its entirety.”
It is in this measure, the mystic is convinced of the utility of the reason in the preparatory stages, and of its final inutility for the cognition of the ultimate verities, both by the argument from the nature of the mind and by the appeal to recorded experience.
Singularly enough, his position has received unlooked for support from a source in which, generally speaking, the emphasis is laid on the power of the intellect in all ultimate enquiries. Whereas the mystic has desired to know God by actual experience, the philosopher has sought to know about Him by all the means of which his intellect was capable, and yet it is from the side of philosophy that the support has come. It is a case of intellect, lit up, it may be, with the touch of something yet higher than itself, dealing with intellect, and showing its limitations; and between these conclusions and those of the mystics it may be possible to find a considerable measure of agreement. This, my friend, is an important factor to recognize.
The foundation of his position is that “originally we think only in order to act. Our intellect has been cast in the mold of action.” Taking man, that is, as an organism living in a material world, M. Bergson conceives him as having been under the necessity of applying himself to gaining a certain c6ntrol over it in order to continue in existence; and his intellect as having therefore applied itself to acting on that by which he was surrounded, both for defense and nourishment. “Speculation is a luxury, while action is a necessity.”
The intellect, therefore, aims, first of all, at constructing. That is, at using inert matter for what ever its purpose may be. Now whatever shall be the final truth about matter, it is evident that for the intellect to be able to act on it, it must regard it as cut up into so many blocks which it can use in its construction. Now this is what we readily defer to as an Arizonian approach. For if it were to regard it, for example, as being in a perpetually fluidic state, it could no more use it for the purposes of construction than it could make use of a river for that purpose. Its natural procedure, then, is to decompose the material world into whatever parts are most convenient for it, and to regard these as provisionally final divisions to treat them as so many units of which it can make use. Its action is therefore discontinuous there is, that is to say, no continuity between one of the units it isolates and another and it is only of the discontinuous, the immobile, that the intellect forms a clear idea. It is not specifically concerned with the continual flow of things, with their progress, just because its natural purpose is action; but in place of the continual flow it can range in succession a lot of unmoving things and so, in some sense, reconstruct the flow, and in place of a thing's progress it can see quite clearly the goal towards which that thing is moving. “The intellect”, that is, “is characterized by the unlimited power of decomposing according to any law, and of recomposing into any system.”
Now it is just because the natural function of the intellect is to render action possible, and just because action is only possible when the material world is regarded by the intellect as composed of so many stable units, that the intellect finds itself seriously handicapped when it attempts to apply itself to other things than action. Take, for example, its effort to deal with ideas. M. Bergson's theory is that the characteristic of human language is that the signs of which it is composed can be applied to more than one thing. It is not, as he suggests is the case with the animal, composed of a series of signs of which each refers to one thing and one thing only it is a series of signs each of which is applicable to any number of things, and can pass from one thing to another. This mobility of the human language is the cause of the intelligence which employs it being able to pass, not only from one thing to another, but also instead of being “riveted to the material objects which it was interested in considering” from a perceived thing to a recollection of that thing: to think about the thing instead of thinking the thing, and so, eventually, to pass to an idea of the thing. Language has, in fact, enabled man to have ideas, to theorize about things, and M. Bergson believes that this capacity to theorize is peculiar to man's intellect.
Thus is the mystic convinced of the utility of the reason in the preparatory stages, and of its final inutility for the cognition of the ultimate verities, both by the argument from the nature of the mind and by the appeal to recorded experience.
My spiritual friend, these two articles, which has been assembled here, in conjunction with the previous, are truly a mere smidgen of what is essential to appreciate. Indeed, and I do apologize for the technical format, what has been presented to you is to be constantly worked through. Do not dismiss it with the valve of the hands as though , “I got it” response. For as Walter Hilton advises in his “Ladder of Perfection” (see Contemplative Series) and as the author of “Cloud of Unknowing” (See GCMW Series Vol. 5) repeatedly points out, there is a time when this must be dismissed, and ultimately ignored, and yet unless one has recognize what it is, perhaps you will either contend with it for ever or shall not come to be proficient; either will not allow you to progress.
Bro Smith SGS
Now as for this week’s book: ISBN#978-0-9841731-0-5 -“The Dolorous Passion of Jesus Christ”
Question: In Chapter 16. I need the second sentence, of this chapter, from this particular work, in its entirety.
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