Monday, October 16, 2006

Juan de la Cruz

Today is the feast day of Juan de la Cruz (John of the Cross 1542-1591).

John is a Doctor of the Catholic Church, a rare honor, for his profound mystical theology. Some consider John the greatest mystic of the Roman Catholic tradition--Western Christian tradition.

John attempted, along his soul friend St. Teresa of Avila, a serious reform of their monastic order--the Discalced Order of Carmelites. Mt. Carmel is the mount on which the Prophet Elijah hid and prayed the Lord to reveal himself. Elijah found God not in the crashing thunder, nor the blazing fire, but the quiet wind.

For his efforts, John was kidnapped by his own brother monks and thrown in solitary confinement. [Religious orders had prisions in those days!!!].

Teresa searched frantically for John but was unable to locate him. John eventually escaped, though no one knows how exactly. But he spent nearly a year in essentially complete darkness.

After his escape John wrote some of hte most profound mystical theology ever. He is also considered by many to be the greatest poet of the Spanish language ever.

John is famous for his notion of the Dark Nights--the Night of Sense and The Soul/Spirit. In integral-ese that is the transition between the psychic to subtle and the subtle to causal state-stages of consciousness respectively.

John's mysticism revolves around two poles: todo y nada (everything and nothing). We must become nothing, totally empty, to receive all of God and therefore all of of creation. But out of tha total nothingness, that pure crucifixion of the self comes the greaty joy of union with God.

John, like all the great mystics of Christianity, read the Bible from the spirutal-mystical point of view. Particularly important for him was the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) from the Hebrew Bible. The Song is a short work that is a wedding song between a bride and groom. It is the only work in the Bible not to specifically mention God by name. Paradoxically, it is the greatest source of mystical theology in the Bible.

The mystics interpret the Bride as the Soul and Christ as the Groom. So note that when John writes of kissing his beloved, the imagery is not only sexual but homo-erotic (though spiritualized). Or trans-gendered if you like, given that John conceives of himself as Feminine.

From Translation of the Poem introducing John's Dark Night of the Soul: (Una Noche Oscura)

O guiding night!
O night more kind than break of day!
O night that joined Love with love, Love in her lover transformed!

On my flowering breast
All kept for him alone —
Left sleeping there —
And I gave myself,
And the cedars gave the air their smell.
The scent of his brow

When I spread his hair,
His calm hand Hard on my neck,
And all my senses suspended.
I lost myself,
I lay my face against my love,
Everything stopped,
My cares were left
Between the lilies all forgotten.

Forgetting oneself is codeword for mystical absorption in God. It is to truly go so conscious that one is no longer aware of being aware. Christians call this contemplation or the Cloud of Unknowing (Cloud of Trans-knowing).

To read the Bible mystically is to read the Bible as an invitation to the grace of mystical union with the Godhead. It is to read the text as Sacred Revelation--not so much as to gain "doctrines" about God or humanity, although those can flow out later, but rather as a calling to the Soul to return to its God, to its Lover.

In between the text, in the spaces of Scriptures, lies this rest, this Lover who hides and seeks us out, who suspends our senses and brings us, like deer, to lie beside restful waters in the deep sleep of union.


At 7:26 PM, Blogger Joe Perez said...

Excellent, thanks. :)

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Admin said...

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