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Old 08-27-2009, 10:45 AM   #18
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Re: How To Teach Power & Harmony?

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
PAG. I am not sure what you mean by "indulged" here, for its use here does not appear to fit any of the eight meanings offered in the revised OED. The Spiritual Exercises are a handbook of meditation, as Ignatius saw this, and the Jesuits expect their members to use the Exercises all the time. During the years I was a member of this order, I did the full 30-day retreat once, but, as a novice and scholastic, pretty constantly used the Exercises, together with other mystical works (e.g., The Cloud of Unknowing, Walter Hilton, Meister Eckhart, John of the Cross, Thomas a Kermpis). During this time, I never had the sense that there was any indulgence involved.
I had no reference to the eight meanings in the OED, I am afraid, -- It was the word the kami evoked in me. You had a desire for them -- to which you yielded = "indulged." Or in the more technical context, the 1968 Penitentiary does seem to grant them plenary treatment in retreat. Wherefore, I suppose the kami may also have thought it appropriate to suggest it to me under the circumstances.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
PAG. See above. I have deliberately avoided discussing the "music of mythical and mystical insight", because (among other reasons) I do not regard them as the same and because I am unconvinced that the distinction 'linear / recurrent or recursive' does the music any justice.
I did not say they were the same. I will say they are related. While words are antithetical to mystic experience, a great many have been spilt in dealing with its imagery. (Those insistent kami again, I suppose.) And it is in imagery that they relate. "Words of power" (the topic at hand) as they evoke or create harmony with concrete senses is something that the Celt and the Japanese seem to hold in equal awe.

But really, I am not asking whether you are capable of discussing them. I have absolutely no doubt you can do them good service on that score. I am talking about doing it rather than discussing it. I have some reservations about someone like John Stevens, not because of his artistic choices, which I think are actually fairly evocative -- but for the pattern of spiritual/theological assumptions or choices in rendering his word-pictures that seem to diverge from patterns that I see in the material he is addressing. Of course, my own assumptions are equally in the dock, but I sort of like mine, which is a failing he and I most likely share.

When I read the Doka, or the lectures on the aspects of myth, I try to turn off my analytic brain for a while and just see the images given, as they move and transition in imagery, as thoroughly as I can. Then I turn it back on again. Sometimes I put the switch on rapid cycle. Straight on ahead - random walk back, and iterate. Same as the way that the pattern of images connects Hilton's Scala, Jacob's ladder, the mustard tree, the Vine and branches, the pillar of fire, and stream of living water. I see those -- I could analyze it for you, but only the evocation of the imagery might make you see it.

Your own efforts on the particular historical and cultural issues help to bring more and more out of the blurry background. But the background that I see is not blurry because my eyes lack focus -- it is blurry because it is snapshot of a moving pattern of its own. If it seems now one thing and now another that is part of what the image itself presents to be seen in its native changes. Much of what I write in this mode is in a sense a meditation on the imagery and its associations. What I write and think in the other mode is much more analytic and tends to the physical.

If I were to look for a "type" to point to I would look to Hiltons' intellectual forebear, Hugh of St.Victor, for whom the alternatives of systematic thinking from revealed knowledge and imaginative contemplation were companions and not strangers, and showed a certain indifference to established categories of more purely philosophical thought. Phronesis rather than sophia. Closer to MacIntyre, and very far from Rawls.

How about you? What do you see ? Would you indulge whatever there is in you of the Saxon skald or "long-haired Gaul" or your inner Irishman and let us see how your verbal moonlight paints the scenes from the imagery as you see or its patterns and associations?

Or, perhaps tells us why, despite that recurrent manner of the Founder's teaching, that may not matter, if that is your belief. Kisshomaru Doshu tried to weed it out, or it seems so from your accounts. But it seems equally true that it will not be weeded, so, perhaps it could be better cultivated, instead.


Erick Mead
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