The Rare Handful? (Jean Leclercq’s Definition of Mystical Experience)

In the Classics of Western Spirituality edition of the Selected Works of Bernard of Clairvaux, Benedictine scholar Jean Leclercq, OSB offers the follow definition of "mystical experience":...those rare occasions when a handful of Christians may enjoy sublime states of prayer and union with God.What do you think? I have problems with the idea that mystical states are "rare" and only available to a "handful" of Christians. Perhaps Leclercq is trying to protect the integrity of the "sublime" … [Read more...]

The Feast of Saint Hildegard

Today, September 17, 2012, is the first feast day for Saint Hildegard of Bingen, as a saint recognized universally within the Catholic Church.Hildegard passed away on this day in 1179. It took 833 years for it to become an "official" saint's day in the Catholic Calendar. Pope Benedict XVI recognized Hildegard as a saint just this past May.In another 20 days — on October 7 — Hildegard will be declared a Doctor of the Church, joining with Juan of Avila and only thirty-three other saints, my … [Read more...]

Nonduality in the Bible … and us

A reader writes:I love reading your articles but am new to the terminology. What is "non-dualism" and is it compatible with Biblical truth? Also, why did non-dualism get marginalised?Great questions, both of them, and both point back to Richard Rohr, one of the most dynamic contemplative teachers alive today. Rohr calls Jesus the first nondual religious teacher in the west, and also speaks of how nondual wisdom teachings have been lost in the west since the late middle ages (I would cut u … [Read more...]

The Nondual Writers of Footnote #45

A reader of this blog writes to me:Hi Carl.  I was reading Richard Rohr's The Naked Now and in one of the footnotes he lists a number of "non-dualistic" writers he thinks are worthwhile.  Some of the names I know, others I'm not familiar with.  For instance: Bede Griffiths, Bruno Barnhart, Laurence Freeman, Ruth Barrows, Bernadette Roberts, Eckhart Tolle, Jean-Yves Leloup, Sebastian Painadath, Hugo Enomiya-Lasalle, and Ken Wilbur (I've heard of him, just haven't read anything by him).  Who on t … [Read more...]

The “Overplus” of Reality

Indeed that which, beyond all else, spiritual genius never fails to give us, is  this realistic sense of the overplus of Reality; a perfection exceeding in its totality and splendor all possible human apprehension.— Evelyn Underhill, Man and the SupernaturalI stumbled across the quotation from Evelyn Underhill the other day in an anthology of her writings (Daily Readings with a Modern Mystic) and was immediately struck by the whimsy of the word "overplus." Clearly this was written before Ge … [Read more...]

The Point of Mystical Writing

Now because the Holy Spirit speaks through Isaac's mouth, the words of this thrice-blessed saint are matchless in their beauty and are fired with a divine spark. That is why, even though he writes so much, he makes a holy silence come to rest within our spirit, just as if there were no one speaking, but we only heard the distant echoing of a sea hidden from our sight.—Photios Kontoglou's Encomium for Isaac the Syrian,in The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the SyrianThe above quotation is … [Read more...]

The Mystic Way of Evangelism

...there are other, deeper indicators of a loss of vitality in the American church. The accommodation of the church to the consumerism, competitiveness, and individualism of postmodern culture is pervasive, from the opulent lifestyle of prosperity gospel preachers to the ubiquitous "worship wars" to pseudoevangelistic "transfer growth" as churches cater to Christians who shop around for a better deal. The fruitlessness is experienced by renewal-minded pastors who are appointed to dysfunctional … [Read more...]


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