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: Considerations on the mysticism of essence and on the Carmelite mysticism
Topic:Esotericism Reading
Esotericism ReadingWhen we talk about Christian mysticism we must first of all draw a distinction. There are two different issues: one is the ‘mysticism of essence’, the Rhine-Flemish mysticism founded on the deep integration of the divine inside the soul. Another issue is the so-called ‘mysticism of feeling’, where the divine You is considered in a nuptial relation with the soul...

Considerations on the mysticism of essence and on the Carmelite mysticism
by Antonio d'Alonzo
(C) 2007 Esonet.it - Esonet.com

1- Introduction to the mysticism of essence

When we talk about Christian mysticism we must first of all draw a distinction. There are two different issues: one is the ‘mysticism of essence', the Rhine-Flemish mysticism (Meister Eckhart, Ruusbroec, Suso, Tauler, ‘Frankfurt Anonymous', etc.) founded on the deep integration of the divine inside the soul. Another issue is the so-called ‘mysticism of feeling', where the divine You is considered in a nuptial relation with the soul; this relation is destined to remain inside the drastic dichotomy subject/object, lover/loved. Indeed, Meister Echkart recommends the essential ‘detachment' of the soul from everything, even God himself: ‘Therefore I pray God to free me from God, because my essential being is above God, since we conceive God as the origin of creatures' (Meister Eckhart, German Sermons).

They are two different journeys (note 1). The first journey relates to the so-called ‘mysticism of essence', also called Rhine-Flemish. The second one is the mysticism of ‘the nuptial love', or via amoris; it develops mainly with Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Gallus, Hugh of Balma, Francis of Assisi and female monasticism; it reaches its top with the works by Francis of Sales. In actual fact, until the last century the Rhine-Flemish mysticism was identified with German mysticism. Unfortunately the heavy Nazi mystifications on the thought of Meister Eckhart, carried out especially by Alfred Rosenberg with his book ‘The myth of the Twentieth century', led to the use of the term ‘Rhine-Flemish mysticism', especially in the Latin countries. Recently there has been another attempt to distinguish German from Flemish mysticism, perhaps forgetting the fact that during the Middle Ages there weren't any boundaries between the areas of the high and low Rhine and that the integration of spiritual writings was a practice taken for granted and encouraged, in order to create a vulgar language literature.

Meister Eckhart (1266-1328) is of course the first example of Rhine-Flemish mysticism. He was a Dominican condemned for heresy in Avignon in 1323 (28 propositions from his books were banned). Other exponents are Suso, Tauler, the ‘Frankfurt Anonymous', Ruusbroec, Cusano.

Eckhart's mysticism is also called of the ‘essence' because it refuses any theological conceptualization of God, but also any dichotomy linked to the lover/loved dualism (where the lover is the soul and the loved object is God), which is a very innovative thought. Eckhartian mysticism has its roots in neo-Platonism, particularly in Procus and in the thought of Scotus Eriugena, but most of all in the Pseudo-Dionysius. For Eckhart the true knowledge of God consists of ‘want nothing, know nothing, have nothing'. The soul that wants to join God must not want anything, because the appropriative will goes back to the dualism I/You, knower/known, lover/loved. Basically, according to Eckhart the via amoris only leads to a false and temporary fusion. Symbolically this statement can be supported by the consideration that during the sexual intercourse the ecstatic fusion between two lovers is an illusion, it lasts a moment and it is destined to dissolve when the original duality is restored. Therefore it is necessary to be free from the will. According to Meister Eckhart man should free himself from the false knowledge of God, recognizing the finiteness and emptiness of any positive gnosis. Nevertheless it is essential to relinquish the idea of determining concretely a place in the soul where the Unitas Spiritus with God happens (‘have nothing'). Completely poor, without knowledge and will, the soul can then operate the detachment from everything, even God himself. At first God is platonically thought of as Intelligence to express the transcendence in relation to the being; later he is considered as a being, but totally undetermined, different from all other beings; so much so that he can be considered as nothing. Meister Eckhart's distinction between Got (‘God') and Gotheit (‘Divinity') is very important. The former is linked in a Heideggerian way to the hypostasis of presence and therefore to anthropomorphism. The latter is considered as the Abyss of the naked divinity, which can be reached by the soul that strips completely of itself and overcomes Christ's humanity. Detachment causes the soul to be completely disconnected and poor and leads it to the fusion with the Divinity, which happens in the depth of the soul containing the same divine sparkle. The divine Spirit can be generated in the depth of the soul, which can't be found in a precise point of the conscience. The depth of the soul coincides with detachment itself and it is the depth of God. This genesis is characterized by the primacy of the moment of Filioque, viz. of knowledge and detachment. At this point the soul is similar to the Divinity itself; whilst man is God by grace, God is God by nature.

‘So I say that man should be so poor that he should not be or have any place in which God could work. When man clings to place, he clings to distinction. Therefore I pray to God that he may make me free of ‘God', for my real being is above God, if we take God to be the beginning of created things. For in the same being God where God is above being and above distinction, there I myself was, there I willed myself and committed myself to create this man. Therefore I am the cause of myself in order of my being, which is eternal, and not in the order of my becoming, which is temporal. And therefore I am unborn and in the manner in which I am unborn I can never die.' (Meister Eckhart).

Rhine-Flemish mysticism refuses any anthropomorphic conception of the Divine and it relegates it to mere superstition and alienation. It is obvious that the God of the Book considered as a Master that arbitrarily decides who to save and who to damn, who sends floods or exterminating angels is considered, in this perspective, as a superstition, when not blasphemy. The philosopher which it refers to is Feuerbach, who objectifies in God the projection of the human conscience; nowadays we would talk about ‘imagery'. In this case it is legitimate to see the thread that joins the Rhine-Flemish mysticism to Illuminism and German Idealism. According to Kant Illuminism originates to redeem man from his condition of minority due to the imperfect use of Reason. Without going too deep into the essential distinction between Ratio and Intellectus, we can guess how the deep need for truth and clarity at the base of the philosophy of the Enlightenment leads to the refusal of revealed beliefs and the Great Tale of the Old Testament. At the basis of the illuminist Reason we find the search of God with human attributes, the refusal of any Revelation and the intuition that religion must be substantially interior. German Idealism, despite having a romantic origin, has this perspective; it can be seen in the ‘Attempt at a critique of all Revelation' by Fichte or ‘Phenomenology of Spirit' by Hegel. After all Pietism itself, although remaining in the closed circle of religious sentimentalism, showed the need to interiorize the revealed truths.

The two direct continuators of Meister Eckhart are Suso and Tauler, both Dominicans.

Suso (died in 1366 circa) at first followed the way of mortification of the body and maceration; after Meister Eckhart appeared in his dreams, he abandoned the mortifying ascetical practices to follow the way of detachment. His main works are ‘The little book of Truth' and ‘Horologium Sapientiae'. In the whole, Heinrich Seuse's works outline a less radical and extreme journey than Eckhart's, despite keeping his essential teachings. Suso unceasingly defends the master from the accusation of connivance with the Brethren of the Free Spirit. He says that a truly free and detached man is above antinomies and the principle of non contradiction. Suso draws from Eckhart the idea that in detachment the maximum is the minimum, the end is the beginning; oxymora are not as such in the life of Spirit. In detachment, all contradictions disappear in the synthesis of the Principle; he considers this Principle as Nothing, which is joined by the intellect of the detached man. It is a recovery of the Eckhartian idea (borrowed by the Pseudo-Dionysius) of the Gotheit as ‘Nothing', which is superior to all the beings because it lacks all determinations and at the same time it contains them all (every determination is negation). Suso is different from Eckhart because he keeps the idea of the humanity of Christ, the saints and the Virgin Mary. On the contrary Eckhart says that the humanity of Christ must be overcome. Indeed, we must overcome the idea itself of God in order to sink in the abyss of Nothing – Gotheit.

Tauler (Johannes Tauler, 1300-1361) is perhaps closer to the Eckhartian mystic radicalism. He says that man is made of three natures. The first is sensitive, the second is rational and the third is spiritual or interior. The journey towards perfection goes through the spiritual evolution from the sensitive nature to the interior one. The fulcrum of this dialectic is the idea of ‘Geműte', which we can inaccurately translate with ‘spirit'. The Geműte is the point where the fusion between the soul and God occurs and it is not comparable to the ‘synderesis' or the stoic egemonikón used by medieval mysticism; the Geműte is reflected on the concept of God as grunt , ‘Abyss'. The Geműte is the depth of the soul.

The concept of ‘Night of the soul' is extremely important in Tauler's thought. We quote the sermon 63 on the miraculous draught of fishes (Luke 5-38), where he writes:

‘These men live in the truest, most absolute poverty and in total annihilation of themselves. They don't want, don't have or don't wish for anything but God and anything of their own; it often happens that they work in the night, viz. in neglect and poverty, in deep and thick darkness and in such desolation that they don't find any support and don't experience either light or ardor. If they could be in true abandonment in such darkness, if God wanted such poverty, privation and aridity from them forever, they would be willing to stay there forever as he wishes, without thinking of gaining anything'.

It is obvious that the above passage theorizes the Eckhartian idea of the divine Nothing which must correspond to the detachment of the soul in good and evil, in joy and misfortune. The soul which is completely detached from the World and living things, abandoned in God, in the fear of the night, ends up by finding itself and God. Even better: it ends up by recognizing that it is God beyond any creationist dualism. It is a very painful and anguishing journey; this is also the sense of ‘Night' that strikes the soul as if God (meaning the ‘false' God, the living things, the World…) had abandoned the soul in the darkness.

The subject of the ‘Nights' was used by John of the Cross; we can also see it in Mary Magdalena de' Pazzi and in Quietism.

2. The Carmel and the Marian cult

Tradition has always connected the prophet Elijah with the Mount Carmel, a mountain range that stretches from the gulf of Haifa to the plane of Esdraelon, in Palestine. During the second half of 1100 some survivors from the crusades gathered on the Carmel to start a contemplative life dedicated to prayers and isolation. Albert Avogadro, patriarch of Jerusalem, assembles these survivors in the communities and supplies the Laws of the new Order. In 1200 the Order moves to Europe because of the Muslim occupation of the Holy Land. The Order is characterized straight away by the strong Marian mark. The name of the confraternity is Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel. The original Order was founded on the Marian devotion as well as on contemplative solitude, prayer, poverty and work. In the meantime, the Order changes from eremitical to mendicant. On the 1 st October 1247 Pope Innocent IV publishes the Modified Rule of the Carmelites.

In 1562 Teresa of Avila starts the reformation founding the first monastery of the ‘Discalced' Carmelites dedicated to Saint Joseph, where she aims at restoring the primitive tradition. She meets the young John of the Cross and persuades him to extend the reformation to the monks as well. In 1568 in Duruelo (Avila) the first convent of Discalced Brethren was founded. It is then restored the original Rule characterized by penance, seclusion and perpetual oration.

3. The founders of the order of Discalced Carmelites: Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada (1515-1582) was born in Avila. Since childhood she shows spiritual torment. She dreams of going to fight the Moors and at the same time she is attracted by the life of the saints; she tirelessly reads hagiographies. At the age of twenty she runs from home to enter a Carmelite convent. She is soon unsatisfied with the ‘weakness' of the Order and decides to start a Carmelite reformation, founding the first convents of ‘Discalced' Carmelites, where the old severity of asceticism and seclusion is restored. As it often happens, the ecclesiastical authorities oppose her initiative until the pope gives his consent.

Teresa extended her reformation to the monks too, with the help of the young John of the Cross, which she met in Medina. In 1568 the first convents of ‘Discalced' Brethren are opened, where the monastic and coenobitic rule, based on meditation and prayer, is radicalized.

The spirituality of Teresa of Avila is affected by her psychic instability which afflicted her since childhood. In 1538 a very serious illness makes her almost invalid. During her convalescence she gets closer to the inner meditation of the Franciscan Francisco de Osuna. She starts laying the foundations for her inner castle. Teresa is always ill and tormented; she gives a lot of importance to physical pain and illness as a fundament to the spiritual journey towards Christ. It is the idea of pain as introspective gestation, spiritual gravidity that we find also, but not only, in Nietzsche. Almost all the so-called ‘primitive' civilizations present some rites of passage that bring serious psycho-physical suffering, dreadful trials accompanied by scarifications, ritual wounds, incisions, mutilations (many of them on the sexual organs). In these cultures there is the idea that pain rescues the initiating from Nature and helps his communitarian access. In other words, pain helps becoming men and women. Something similar must have been at the bases of the Teresian spirituality.

Indeed, the second bonding agent of the Teresian system is Christological meditation focused on the Passion. By focusing on the Calvary of the Redeemer, she reaches the goal of sublimating pain, suffering and negativity. Through the formula ‘How you must have suffered for our love, my good Jesus…' the passionate Carmelite manages to remove solitude, illness, and psycho-physical distress that has become a conditio sine qua non of the ‘mysticism' of the Discalced nuns. This reminds us of the Nietzschean pages on the ascetic priest of the Genealogy of Morality: if the nagging thought and torment are the keys to obtain beatitude, we invoke more pain, more suffering, in other words more ‘sanctity'…

The third fundamental factor of Teresian mysticism is psychologism. If pain and suffering are the premises for ‘sanctity' – the subject of Passion, the object where our dissimulated drives must be directed – the primacy of psychology is the final corollary. The huge importance that the ‘reading' of the soul has for Teresa necessarily brings a regression of the spiritual and intellectual element (where by ‘intellect' we mean the active Aristotelian intellect, the Plotinian noús, the upanishadic Atman). The passional and sentimental element becomes priority, the grace that allows the loving soul to meet God. Of course the dialectic of love alone doesn't give true fusion, authentic unification with the One (either we call it ‘God' or more metaphysically ‘Spirit of the Universe').

Teresa of Avila's masterpiece, the Interior Castle , methodically elaborates this personal journey of ecstasy, rapture and pseudo-spiritual elation. The ‘Castle' is the symbol of the soul (especially introduced in German mysticism) which must pass seven morodas , or rooms, laid out concentrically. The first three dwellings concern the ascetic domain. The fourth is related to the ‘oration of quiet', inner prayer. The fifth (‘unification') is followed by the sixth (‘engagement') and the seventh (the ‘spiritual marriage with God'). The ascent is mostly psychic or sentimental rather than spiritual, related to numerous moods, sensations of beatitude and supernatural ‘graces' that accompany the journey.

John of the Cross (1542-1591) advised and directed by Teresa of Avila, is the founder of the Order of Discalced Brethren. He, more than her, attracted the criticism of the Calced Carmelites, who were determined until the end to oppose his project. John was kidnapped and imprisoned but he managed to escape and shelter in a convent of discalced Sisters. Once he obtained the nihil obstat he completed his reformation.

John of the Cross is a mystic and a thinker full of facets and ambivalences. On one hand he is deeply steeped in the Aristotelic-Thomistic theology learnt during his teenage years from the Jesuits. On the other hand he is spiritually close to the Rhine-Flemish mysticism (of the essence). The Aristotelic-Thomistic influence leads him to develop a series of irreducible dichotomies between natural/supernatural, subject/God, etc… The proximity to the Eckhartian thought leads him sometimes to fear the propaedeutic and intermediary character of Christianity and religion itself. The theological controversies on his way of thinking originate from this. For some Christian commentators, John never detached from the evangelical message and his doctrine is deeply Christian. On the contrary, for Orientalists, he can be considered the ‘Western Pata ñ jali' (definition by Siddhesvarananda).

He wrote four fundamental works, which form a whole. In the Ascent of Mount Carmel he presents the action of progressive stripping of the soul traveling towards God; in the Dark Night of the Soul , he writes about the purification through annihilation of the senses and the spirit during the ascent. In the Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Living Flame of Love , the soul, reached the top of the amorous unification is gratified by the ‘mystical nuptials' with God.

The Sanjuanist ‘night' borrows and re-proposes the subject of ‘nothing' of the Eckhartian ‘poor'. The annihilation of purifying dispossession of the ascent leads in the nada (‘nothing') that reflectively corresponds to the detachment of ‘know nothing, want nothing, have nothing'. For John as well as for Eckhart, Nothing is Everything.

Nevertheless, on the contrary of the Dominican master, John never rids himself completely from the scholastic legacy of adolescence. On one hand the Spanish saint seems to push towards the transcendence of any positive form and content; on the other hand he keeps alive the systematic mentality shaped by irresoluble dichotomies. In some passages Christianity becomes a means, a step to reach the ‘know nothing', without ever postulating any anthropological re-definition of the image of Christ or dare an overcoming of the Christological doctrine. This qualm, this kind of reluctance in the speculative boldness has unfortunately heavily affected the depth of the Sanjuanist thought, which seems to stop and go back at the moment when the deep blue of immaculate tops appears.

4. The Discalced Carmelites

The Carmelite ‘mysticism' developed mainly among nuns, since the Teresian elaboration of the via amoris found fertile soil in female psychology. The imperfect sublimation of passion and affective drives in the young women's hearts found its ideal transposition in the classic icon of the Redeemer, who has charming physical characteristics. The face of Jesus, made smooth and attractive by the pictorial art of the time, often painted with non Semitic and very Nordic features (blond hair/blue eyes/long slender face or even brown long hair/blue eyes/high cheekbones, etc…) seems perfect to seal and satisfy the projection of women's drives. The physical beauty that irradiates from the icons of the Redeemer is after all a languid compensating consolation for young women who, through the vow of chastity, are about to perpetuate the renunciation to the World and to the role of wives and mothers. In this sense the ‘nuptial' mysticism was a kind of ‘spiritual' transposition for what was denied on the mundane plane. We must also consider how many young women died of tuberculosis at the beginning of the 16 th Century. A life consumed by physical pain, seclusion and renunciation could only be justified by a very high goal. Whilst a mystic like Meister Eckhart, who had a great theological and philosophical preparation, could laugh at asceticism, or at least subdue it to the need for detachment, most of these young women lacked the necessary education and could take their strength only from a passionate devotion to Christ, to the idea of a sacrifice for a handsome and kind god-man.

From this disheartening picture rises the image of Mary Magdalena de' Pazzi (1566-1607). Mary Magdalena had poor health; for some aspects she is close to Tauler's speculations, therefore it sounds likely that she knew the Rhine-Flemish mysticism. This Carmelite from Florence as well falls in the tortuous path of ecstasies and visions, but her insistence on the ‘naked suffering', on the spiritual rather than physical annihilation, emblematically recalls the Taulerian ‘Nights'. Not only that. In some parts of her work Mary Magdalena also quotes the famous Eckhartian passage of ‘know nothing, want nothing, have nothing'. In other parts she recalls the ‘non-love', the love ‘without whys' postulated by Marguerite Porete (whose book The mirror of Simple Souls must have circulated in Florence in the 16 th century).

According to Mary Magdalena, like Porete, the peak of love is a dead love that doesn't expect anything, because to look for something means to be heterogeneous and extrinsic to the object. The total negation of love, then, leads to the total realization of love, because the dialectic negation of the objectivity of determinations (‘every determination is a negation', Spinoza writes) means to grasp the Whole, the Everything. In other words, love as yearning is always desire-for-something, therefore it excludes anything that is extrinsic to the desired object. In order to love the Everything we must give up the projections of desire and transform the soul itself in Love. The soul can't desire and exclude anything determined, because dialectically it is Nothing. Therefore it is the Everything, the divine universal Love.

Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart died of peritonitis in 1770 at the age of 22. She continued the ‘classic' journey of Carmelite spirituality; for her it is necessary to abandon oneself completely to Christ, following the Calvary and acting with love and humbleness. Teresa Margaret concretely realized her intentions, giving help and assistance to her sick sisters.

We are now at the story of Teresa of Lisieux (1872-1897), known for being involved in the ‘Taxil hoax'. It is significant that Teresa, during her journey to Rome to see Pope Leo XIII, stops in Florence to pray on the grave of Mary Magdalena de' Pazzi. Teresa died of tuberculosis at the age of 25; during her short life she was tormented by doubts and desperation, swinging between emotional outbursts and suicidal thoughts. The age when Teresa lived – the end of the 19 th century – is characterized by the affirmation of historical materialism and evolutionary theories. The catholic cultural primacy is destined to dissolve under the blows of the followers of the Enlightenment. Catholic Christianity is going through hard times. Even if it has abandoned the old inquisitorial habits, there is still the use of ‘purifying' the heterodoxy of mystics and witches with fire and the Catholic ‘spirit' is vigilant. Nothing is easier than to smell the sulfur in other people's houses.

When Leo Taxil makes up the story of Palladism and the conversion of the Great Sovereign Diana Vaughan to Catholicism, many Catholics reveled in seeing their anti-Masonic prejudices finally confirmed. Let's briefly remember the story. The Mason Leo Taxil revealed in a book the close connections between Freemasonry and Satanism. In particular he mentions a movement called Palladism where the line between Freemason tradition and Satanist doctrine is very fine. Palladism appears to the Catholics' eyes as a kind of ‘Satanist Freemasonry'. The Great Sovereign of Palladism is Diana Vaughan, but in actual fact behind this fictitious character there is Taxil himself.

Vaughan, alias Taxil, announces her conversion to Catholicism and publicly abjures the movement that ‘she' leads. The whole Catholic world falls in this trap, included pope Leo XIII. Teresa writes to Vaughan/Taxil, congratulating for the conversion and sending her stage picture in the role of Joan d'Arc. Teresa, completely taken in, even writes a comedy about the event, presenting demons, angels, forks, flames, etc… On 19 th April 1897 at the Société de Géographie in Paris, Taxil publicly reveals the hoax and declares he was mocking the Catholic credulousness. To make fun of the Catholic world Taxil shows to the public and the press the picture of Teresa dressed as Joan d'Arc and the poem that she composed. Teresa is very upset by the whole story; five months later she is taken ill and dies. The work of Teresa and her subdued religious sentimentalism is continued by two Carmelites emulators, Celine and Agnes, creators of the so-called ‘spiritual childhood' and ‘little way'. In short it is a teaching that postulates the return to the state of childlike innocence and purity.

To conclude with the ‘Vaughan' case, we must not forget that up till now some eminent scholars of proven catholic faith doubt the dynamic of the events and the truthfulness of the hoax organized by Taxil.

Our short incursion in Carmelite monasticism can't be complete without mentioning Elizabeth of the Trinity and Edith Stein. Elizabeth (1880-1906) continues the tradition of Teresa of Avila of the complete annihilation in the icon of the Crucifix, up to the point of losing herself in the love of God.

Edith Stein, philosopher and prestigious scholar of Husserl, found the accomplishment of phenomenology in the teachings of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. She was Jewish and she abandoned atheism for the Carmelite Order; she died in Auschwitz in 1942.

5. The Discalced Carmelite Brethren

Carmelite theologians in vain devoted themselves to organizing and systematically structuring the extraordinary Teresian and Sanjuanist teachings. The failure of this operation confirms once again how the Spirit can't be easily caged and trapped in the net of methodical and systematic rationality. On a spiritual level the main difficulty was the distinction between ‘natural' and ‘supernatural' field, an authentic theological predicament on which volumes have been written.

We must remember four names: John of Jesus and Mary (1564-1615), Thomas of Jesus (1564-1627), Joseph of Jesus and Mary (1562-1628) and Philip of the Blessed Trinity (1603-1671).

These four Carmelite theologians soon got lost in the attempt to classify the cases where the mystic ‘graces' are manifested, when the ‘direct' or ‘indirect' influence of God occurs, or the psychic dynamics of the Sanjuanist ‘nights'. Not to mention the clumsy attempts to use methods of exact sciences in dealing with elusive and random events like visionary ecstasies.

In 1720 Joseph of the Holy Spirit (1667-1736) published his Course of mystic theology in six volumes; it is an obsolete attempt to give a systematic form to the mysticism of his predecessors, whilst in Europe the thought of Enlightenment is developing and the spiritual experience is demoted to irrationalism and sentimentalism.

Among the Calced Carmelite Brethren we must remember John of the Cross of the Calced (John of Saint-Simon, 1575-1636), champion of the most authoritative attempt to extend the old rule to the Calced Carmelites and restore the original spiritual purity.

Notes

(note 1) Despite the fundamental spiritual mediation prepared by the manifestation of the Son – on the contrary of what happens with Meister Eckhart, Suso, Tauler, Cusan, Porete – from Francis of Assisi up to the Carmelite mysticism there is a certain sense of creatural subordination towards the Father Creator, which prevents the spiritual fusion between the Self and the Cosmos that is at the basis of any mysticism or gnosis. Even in the Indian way of thinking this ontological subordination remains; think about the bhakti , the way of personal devotion. But the Indian thought, on the contrary of the Christian one, manages to assimilate and shape everything, because in these traditions syncretism is a resource rather than an enemy to reject. Therefore in the Bhagavad G ītā ‘all is kept', personal devotion is only a step to be made before recognizing that the personal god is nothing but Ātman itself , the Self that lies inside the spirit of any living creature and that has the same nature of Brahman, the Universal Spirit. Unfortunately, it seems that contemporary Franciscanism and Christianity lack this ability so well developed in India, since the creatural feeling has never transcended but remains a sense of subordination, a kind of ‘oedipal complex' towards the Father.

------------------------------------------

Essential bibliography

Y. Pellé-Douël, Giovanni della Croce e la notte mistica, (John of the Cross and the mystic night, Note of the Translator) San Paolo.

D. Barsotti, La teologia spirituale di san Giovanni della Croce, (The spiritual theology of Saint John of the Cross, Note of the Translator) Rusconi

L. Cognet, Dictionnaire de Spiritualità.

M. Vannini, Il volto del Dio nascosto, (The face of the hidden God, Note of the Translator) Mondadori.



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