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8321Re: Spanish mystics

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  • pmcvflag
    Sep 16, 2003

      As I read your point I am made curious of two things. One, it appears
      to me that perhaps you are equating "Gnosis" with the "Mystical
      experience". You do seem to retract this at one point when you state
      that you feel Gnostics are looking for the true self, wheras the
      mystics are seeking the "other". Perhaps you could clarify this for

      Second, I would like to use Gerry's question as a springboard to ask
      something a little more specific. Instead of asking you to contrast
      the psychic and the pneumatic... I would like to ask you to consider
      what exactly is the cosmology in these orthodox mystical beliefs, and
      if that effects the soteriology in any way. I ask this because of the
      way you have connected the mystical experience to the pneumatic. I am
      not saying it is not related, I am only attempting to gain clerity on
      just how closely you relate them.


      > Thanks for the great question. Sorry I didn't respond right away -
      > actually waited until I finished the last chapter in Gnostic
      > ("Gnosis: Self Knowledge as Knowledge of God"), which seemed
      > to an answer. Sorry that what follows is lenghty...
      > In her introduction to Interior Castle, Teresa says something to
      > affect that, like the parrots, she knows how to say little but what
      > she has been taught, and repeats it often. Be warned - like the
      > parrots, I say little but what I've been taught, and unlike Teresa,
      > I've been taught very little! But as best I can, I'll suggest some
      > limitations for attempts at correlating Teresan/Johannine mysticism
      > with pneumatic gnosticism.
      > I wish I had Interior Castle with me that I might quote Teresa
      > accurately, but the notion that my mangled quote of Interior Castle
      > highlights - that we are 'taught' - is central to a distinction I
      > would draw between Teresa's experience and Valentinian, pneumatic
      > gnosis (it applies to Juan de la Cruz too, if less directly). To
      > think that Teresa's frequent protestations of doctrinal orthodoxy
      > a meer attempt to avoid Inquisition scrutiny, or an attempt to
      > assuage those scandalized by her sex, is, I beleive, simplistic and
      > overly informed by a 'modern' outlook. Teresa, IMO, wants her
      > students and future readers to encounter her way of prayer and
      > internal discovery as fundamentally consistent with and derivative
      > orthodox teaching. To her this is not just a means of deflecting
      > ill intentions of men who do not understand - this is a goal to
      > she is committed 'in the heart'. Again, that's just IMO, I know
      > there are many scholars who suggest otherwise, and I'm no scholar
      > what does that tell you?
      > But, for the sake of argument, go along with my take on Teresa's
      > orthodoxy as I attempt an answer to your question.
      > You wrote, "I'm wondering how you would see the achievements of
      > mystics in relation to the Valentinians' notion of psychic vs.
      > pneumatic salvation?"
      > Teresa offers us a way of prayer - a way of interior life that
      > to a condition from which we can encounter the Divine,
      > experience 'Union'. Thus, there is both an objective - Union - and
      > road to get there. I think we'd find the most sympathies between
      > Teresa, in particular, and the Valentinians when we consider her
      > of prayer independent of the objective.
      > But to answer your question, I am required to opine on
      > the 'pneumatic' nature of the objective itself - what you called
      > her 'acheivement', what Teresa calls Union, and what I would call
      > an 'encounter'.
      > What's involved in this encounter? First, there are two parties.
      > There is the one who prays, and an 'other', that which is
      > encountered. The one who prays seeks the other. What's
      > this 'other', and what's it doing? Can an encounter with
      an 'other' -
      > distinct from the self - be pneumatic in a Valentinian sense? And
      > what happens when the praying one and the 'other' finally encounter
      > each other?
      > For Teresa, the Other is God. God her What? God her Father. God
      > her Brother. God her Majesty. God her King. God her Friend. God
      > her Companion. God her Savior. The list goes on, and my point is
      > only that Teresa encounters a great many faces of the Divine, but
      > ever God is a real Other with whom she communes. He may be All-
      > Other, Ineffible, but there is one very 'real' face, God from God,
      > Light from Light, True God from True God, that she encounters in
      > daily practice of faith - Jesus Christ. Though Teresa's mysticism
      > enabled her to encounter many faces of the Divine, her Union
      > grounded in Trinitarianism, Christ-centric to its core.
      > I should note here that there is a dimension to Teresa's encounter
      > with God that is not easily placed in either 'pneumatic'
      or 'phsycic'
      > terms: she encounters Jesus Christ in the here and now through the
      > Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. But that could probably launch
      > entire other discussion (even though it's very relevant to the
      > present discussion), and I'll try and stay focussed on Teresa's
      > encounter of the Divine in a broader sense than any one particular
      > sacrament or prayer practice.
      > Well, from what I understand of Valentinianism, the meer fact that
      > Teresa encounters an Other - Jesus Christ in paritcular - is
      > problematic. Not having done enough research to have my own
      > I'll conditionally accept Elaine Pagels' (and Jung's) assessment
      > Valentinian scriptures direct the postulant to attain self-
      > an encounter not with 'other' so much as with 'true self'. I say
      > conditionally, because I suspect that Valentinians' equation of
      > gnosis with God-gnosis is not exclusive of an encounter with a
      > distinct 'Other' that is 'Source'. But I'm ready to accept that
      > Teresa's objective is to find that distinct Other, while the
      > gnostic's prime objective is to find the true self. The gnostic
      > makes knowledge of the Other subordinate, even if pre-requisite, to
      > self-knowledge. And with that stated, I can already respond to
      > question, no, Teresa' 'acheivement' is not Valentinian.
      > However, that doesn't mean I can or would want to deny that
      > encouter is, in a sense, pneumatic. Teresa's encounter is more
      > Faith - it is an intimate, personal experience of the Divine. This
      > is pneumatic, in that the encounter is intuitive, it is an answer
      > a call that is constantly beneath the surface noise (unconcious),
      > it is fundamentally spiritual. The very word 'Union' implies a
      > certain experience of the Divine that penetrates beyond pistis.
      > But imagine Teresa, having come into Union, proclaiming, 'I know
      > God.' Try saying it yourself, for that matter. To know something
      > the sense of 'gnosis', you have to be able to penetrate its meaning
      > fully. I don't think Teresa thought she'd done that, or that she
      > ever would. She certainly didn't think, like some Greeks would
      > that by knowing God she would become God.
      > That said, I think Teresa equates the encounter with salvation.
      > might even say that, in Interior Castle, Teresa is recommending
      > knowledge as a condition from which one can best acheive Union
      > (through Quiet, Union). But I think Teresa also believes that,
      > she's acheived Union, she is herself fulfilled - self as it should
      > be. Thus, for Teresa, true self-knowledge remains intimately tied
      > the process of encounter - we do not acheive encounter as a result
      > some precursory steps towards self-awareness. Rather, we become
      > and more truly aware of ourself as we encounter a distinct Other,
      > Other that Teresa's writings clearly conceive as Trinitarian.
      > I've already babbled on too long, and it will be a true act of
      > charity if any of you have read this far. So in closing, what I've
      > been trying to say is: Teresa, and many orthodox believers then and
      > now, pursue an encounter with the Divine Other that might well be
      > described as 'pneumatic'. Many have come to broadly associate
      > Salvation with the individual encounter with the Divine, and
      > Salvation History in turn with Humanity's encounter of the Divine.
      > We have come to see self-awareness as an integral aspect of the
      > encoutner process. And on the whole, we believe that the encounter
      > leaves us more Christ-like than before. But ever our way is
      > Immitation of Christ, Encounter of Christ, but not to be Christ.
      > us, Christ IS the Limit - that value which we shall ever approach,
      > seeming more and more similar, but never meet. I think that's
      > pneumatic, but it doesn't seem Valentinian.
      > Josh
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