The Patriarchal History, commentary on select verses from Genesis 12-46

Genesis 12-46: commentary on select verses.

Salvation history: the Patriarchs

 

Year 1, Week 12, Monday                              Glenroy 1975

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”Genesis 12:1-3

Salvation history begins with the promise made to Abraham. The Jews of today, buoyed up by the promise made to Abraham, wish to become ‘a great nation’, living ‘in the land promised to Abraham’s descendants’.

We, the new Israel, look for no ‘city here below’. A promise has indeed been made to us, not in terms of acreage or population. Our promise is in spiritual terms, in the realm of the Spirit which is far more real than any country or nation. A promise has been made to us. When was this promise made? When we received the gift of the Holy Spirit we were filled with power and longing and hope. We received the first fruits of the Spirit and we are charged with power from on high. We are a pilgrim people, leaving our earthly country, our family, our earthbound home and we seek a city that is to come. We are not looking for a few hectares of earth but the infinite reaches of the Spirit ‘who fills the whole world’. We are not looking for a great nation but for the communion of saints.

Let us then be filled with the power of the Spirit, the determination, the vigour, the impatience of God. Let us, with boldness, take possession of our kingdom. God is waiting, is delaying until we with full determination, the full ‘yes’ without admixture of ‘no’, take the kingdom of heaven by storm and establish it now in our time. Let us with the strength of God carve out a kingdom for ourselves and for him from the wide expanses of creation. Then will the promise be fulfilled and the vocation of Abraham be fulfilled in the eternal kingdom above.

                                                               Glenroy 1977

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”        Genesis 12:1-3

In ignorance of the full consequences of his action, but dimly aware of the greatness of his future, Abraham leaves all. He has strength to depart because of the promise. The promise can be fulfilled only if he leaves all. He is to obtain a land, an offspring, a nation. He is to be a blessing for the ends of the earth and a judgment on all mankind.

All this applies to Abraham. It applies to all of us. It applied to Christ. He left all. More than any man he left all in his death which separated him from earth, race and God. No man can leave more than he. No man could leave more than he because he had most to leave. He did this in hope of the promise made to him. And so, he became the kingdom of God; all men are his body; the nations of the earth are his; he is a blessing that confirms the whole universe; he is the final judge.

We leave, for what destination we know not, but the Spirit of God, the promise, guides us through strange paths. We leave what we know and are refashioned by what we do not know. We leave completely and become completely new, else. We become the future. Body, we become Body. Body we become Spirit. Man, we become the Future Man. Man, we become God. Earth, we become heavenly. Time, we become eternity. Constricted, we become infinite. Poor, the earth is ours. The Spirit of God draws us on, and we leave.

                                                                     East Doncaster, 1989

Today we begin the long cycle of readings that stretch from the figure of Abraham to the person of David. It is the story of promise and its fulfilment in the person of David, the anointed one, the chosen of the Lord, the prefigurement of Jesus the Christ.

According to the Jewish mind, the son was already existing in the father. From the father’s body came all the subsequent heirs. In the body of Abraham, the person of David exists already, hidden yet real. Already in Abraham the chosen people exist. His character is their outline.

In the episodes which we read over the next two weeks, the character of Abraham is shown. Whatever about the historical accuracy of this portrait, it is expresses what the Jews thought of their ancestor. It represents the ideal man of God.

Today’s reading recounts the first words spoken in history to a human being. The first command is ‘leave’. Three times this command is made, in ever sharper focus: he must leave country, then family, and finally even his house. He is to leave for a land which is uncertain, known only in the future.

This command to Abraham is made constantly throughout his life. He must leave all he knows and listen only to what he is inspired to know.

The first characteristic, therefore, of the person who will be the source of all is to leave all. We are called to be completely free of all attachment, to be obedient only to the command of God, to the inner nature given to us. That total dedication alone is satisfying. It alone is the source of all fruitfulness.

From the person who, at the Transcendent One’s impetus leaves all in the prospect of what only the God knows, from him in time will come an immense fruitfulness. All blessing will spring from him, a whole people, even the world to come.

                                                                           East Doncaster, 1995

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.             Genesis 12:1

To Abram Yahweh says: Leave all for a land I will show you.

To his disciples Jesus says: Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.

To all the Spirit says: Come to me and enjoy the wide expanse within.

 

Year 1, Week 12, Tuesday                              Glenroy 1977

“Is not the whole land open before you? Part company with me;

if you take the left, 1 will go right; if you take the right, I will go left.”

Genesis 13:9

Abraham is a man of wealth, but first he is a man of peace. He allows Lot, his nephew, his junior, to have first choice. He accedes to Lot’s choice of the fertile portion and his own unfertile portion. Despite the risk involved and the seeming folly of such generosity, although he puts his own future at risk, he will not allow his ambition to take the place of the promise. If God is to give him a great future it will have to be within the context of peace.

Lot, in his cupidity, has made the wrong choice. He chose the plain and the encampment near Sodom. He will be driven from there by the destruction of Sodom and will take the even drier hills of Moab and Ammon as his pasture land. His cupidity redounds on his own head.

Abraham now hears a promise made to him. He, the man of generosity, the man of peace, willing to sacrifice his own future rather than go against what he knows is of God, is blessed: the dust of the arid hills now becomes a gauge of future blessing; the infertile land is a sign of his own fertility.

A promise is made to us. Folly if we follow our pre-conception of how this promise is to be fulfilled. Rather, we follow the guiding light of the Holy Spirit. At times it will seem madness to follow the Spirit. It will seem to jeopardise the very promise, even to fight against it. Yet we take the risk, because we follow the Spirit whose fruit is peace and harmony, generosity, readiness to sacrifice, who leads us, by masterly strokes, to the goal.

                                                               East Doncaster, 1989

“Is not the whole land open before you? Part company with me;

if you take the left, 1 will go right; if you take the right, I will go left.”

Genesis 13:9

Abraham is a man of wealth. His ownership is not only in camels and servants. He is wealthy in his very self, in his self-concept, his self-assurance, his ability to cope. Above all he is wealthy in his generosity. He will let Lot decide their future. He knows that, whatever the situation, he will prosper and that he will be the source of blessing.

His detachment is thus the source of his magnanimity. He can be detached because God has spoken to him and he has obeyed completely, and has hearkened to the word entirely.

Lot sought the fertile fields and thus, by contrast, shows himself to be a poor man. His attachment has brought about his destruction. The fair fields of Jericho destroy him.

Abraham is free because he is bonded to the One who is beyond this world and who governs all. Thus, Abraham is the source of all.

So, for ourselves, the freedom we acquire by faith in Jesus who is beyond all in his resurrection – this freedom gives us a greatness of heart, a magnanimity which will allow us to be the source of blessing. We allow the events of life to shape us because we know that, being with the transcendent God, we are free in every circumstance and bring blessing to every moment. The circumstances may determine the different ways in which we are a blessing, but blessing we shall always be.

 

Year 1, Week 12, Wednesday                          Glenroy 1977

Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.”       Genesis 15:7-15

The promise is made to Abraham. Yet how improbable is its fulfilment. He has been promised a nation of descendants, a land for his domain: yet he is old, he is one household within a powerful nation.

The promise is made. Yet how doubtful its source. God has spoken, yet dreams speak. God has vowed, yet humans are prone to illusion.

What a man is Abraham. How strong, how convinced in his future. How sure, how determined. No weak promise; no weak Giver of promises, for Abraham is no weak man.  He knows and he believes.

Hope against hope, this is our quality, we ‘sons’ of Abraham. A promise is the heart of a man, as much as any will or reason. A sense of promise is the beginning of a man. And this promise is that we should have the earth for our domain, and humankind for our body.

For at the heart of aIl existence lies a promise and One who promises – that is our God. And we are convinced, for we cannot be human unless convinced of it. A promise is made: this we know and we believe.

Yet Abraham is weak too: “How shall l know l am to possess it’. Therefore, God gives him a sign of fire and cloud, light and darkness, the extremes of reality, as a sign of the determination of Him who exceeds reality.

We are weak too. How shall we know? Therefore, God gives us the sign of the cross: the one who knows life and death, the extremes of our human reality, as a sign of the fidelity of Him who is beyond all human reality. Christ dead and risen: our hope of future glory.

                                                                     East Doncaster, 1989

“Now as the sun was setting Abram fell into a deep sleep.”              Genesis 15:12

Abraham has heard the word of God and has placed his faith in him who is beyond all things. He alone will bless Abraham.

This is expressed experientially in the act of Abraham falling asleep.

He sleeps to all that is not of God. He falls asleep in God who is to be the source of all his knowledge and his living. He is as dead. He has finished with this world and lives alone in God and the promise.

This is his sacrifice.

Therefore, it is from him that blessing will come. From his own body, already dead through age, an heir will come. To him all this land is given. By his union with God all fruitfulness comes from him.

For us too, in our prayer we die to all else. We are alive only in the One who is beyond all. Therefore, although we seem to sleep and to be unknowing, we are the ones from whom all fruitfulness comes. To us the whole world is given as our possession, our responsibility. We are in covenant with the One. United with him, he is the subject of all our being, and he blesses us. We do not seek blessing. We seek only to be in him. Yet to be in him who is all good, there cannot but be blessing.

 

Year 1, Week 12, Thursday                                      East Doncaster, 1989

 “The angel of Yahweh said to her, ‘I will make your descendants too numerous to be counted.’” Genesis 16:10

Three times the promise has been made to Abraham that he would be blessed with land and offspring. It is clear what the land is to be. It is not clear who is the heir.

Yesterday’s reading proposed that one of Abraham’s servants should be his heir. Such a possibility is rejected by God. In today’s reading, we hear of Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, born through the slave-girl, Hagar, becoming heir. Sarah rejects this possibility. The problem of the rightful son still remains a problem.

Ishmael, nevertheless, is to be blessed. Though he is a ‘wild-ass’ of a man, he will be numerous too, for all the offspring of Abraham, in whatever way conceived, will be blessed precisely because they are of Abraham.

The Christian is a child of Abraham, conceived and given birth by the Holy Spirit through faith.

 

Year 1, Week 12, Friday                                           East Doncaster, 1989

“No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.

God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.”            Genesis 17:5, 9-10

The promise is made once again to Abraham that he will have a child. This will be fulfilled, however, only after two other events have occurred: Abraham’s change of name and his circumcision.

Once he has acquired his new name, that is his vocation, and once he has received the public mark of the covenant, only then is he able to have the son who represents immortality, blessing and fruitfulness.

For Saint Paul, vocation and covenant are given by the reception of Spirit.

This involves interior transformation, above all, yet it is perceived in the manifest quality of the Christian. Thus, the interior transformation is made evident in the body. These two are not opposed but form one whole.

The body is the revelation of Spirit coming from above. The transformation of the body shows the power of the One from whom all proceeds. The body is the image of God himself.

                                                                        Glenroy, 1999

At the outset the Word came to Abraham that he should leave his father’s house and his country for an unknown land and there to be the father of a nation. On the strength of this Word, Abraham leaves all and sees the land he has received.

But how will he be the father of a nation? Will he accept some man of his household to be his heir? No! God tells him; his heir will be of his own flesh and blood. Will it be the son born to him by his wife’s servant girl, Hagar? No! God tells him; his heir will be born to him by his wife Sarah. The Word has come personally to Abraham and the blessing will come from Abraham himself. He himself will be the source of his own salvation. His own flesh will provide the fullness of happiness. This produces a reaction in Abraham. He laughs. It is the reaction of mingled belief and disbelief. Can such happiness really come his way? Abraham calls his son ‘Isaac’ which means ‘laughter’.

To the Christian also the Word has come, in God’s own time and his choosing. The Word contains within itself every blessing and the Word works itself out in the life of the Church. When Christians at last understand how their life has been fruitful, their reaction is amazement. “In our mouths there was laughter, on our lips there was song.” Christians see that their salvation springs from their own self, that they are their own salvation and they stand amazed that such a thing is possible, and their face is covered in smiles. Laughter, not mockery or derision, but the laughter of delight is the natural condition of the Christian, the sign of salvation. Sadness and gloom, the downcast and solemn look do not suit those who are seated at the banquet of life.

 

Year 1, Week 12, Saturday                                    East Doncaster, 1989

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He looked up and saw three men standing near him.” 

Genesis 18:1

The mysteriousness of this episode is well known. It is the first manifestation of the Trinity in the life of Abraham. It is directly connected with the fulfilment of the promise, namely the birth of Isaac. The three ‘men’ who speak as one, who at times appear as one and yet are three: this has classically been taken to represent in an obscure way the revelation of the Trinity which is fully revealed in Christ.

Our knowledge of the Trinity and our deepening relationship with them in their diversity is the cause of all our fruitfulness. They, of their own free choice, come to visit us and their visit is always productive. Without them there is no fruitfulness.

Our task, therefore, is to allow them to come to us and to welcome them, placing all our wealth at their disposal. Then, in the impossibility of our mortality, we shall produce all the blessings imaginable.

 

Year 1, Week 13, Monday                                    Glenroy 1975

All of scripture, all the great books of religion are trying to describe that final state to which all are called, the state of Man.

In the present text we have the presentation of the effect of the Man upon humans. For humans, by their condition of temporality, of ignorance, are trapped in limitation, and are even more trapped when they give vent to the untamed or even the perverted in them. Being in a state of sin, they are liable to destruction, for their condition is purely time-bound.

The Man, on the other hand, is beyond time, in the sphere of the eternal, confidently conversing with God. And yet his roots are with other humans, for their nature is one. In virtue of their solidarity, the Man, who is eternal, penetrates with eternality the world of time and so saves it from destruction. His justice, his conformity with the eternal, casts a light over the gloom of the temporal, and so sinners are saved by the just

This the individual who seeks holiness seeks conformity with the Man is not engaged on a selfish quest but on the most fruitful quest possible: that of saving sinners.

It is essential to understand this solidarity. It is not just a likeness: it is a real identity. Yet, identity does not eliminate difference. Individuality and identity are not opposed.

This helps to elucidate the most refined mystery of the human race and the Church who are the counterpart of the mystery of the Trinity. For humans come to identity while retaining their individuality. It is by his identity with sinners that the just man saves them.

                                                                        Glenroy 1977

Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

Genesis 18:24-25

Noah prevented the extermination of the human race. The ten just men could have prevented the destruction of the cities. Moses’ prayer for his people withheld the Lord’s wrath. Jesus, the one Just Man, redeems all mankind.

The just man does not live in isolation. Nor does the unjust sin alone. Every person is inextricably linked up with every other person so that to pull up the ‘tares’ is to uproot the ‘wheat’.

This fact lies at the heart of Abraham’s argument: The Lord cannot destroy the guilty without destroying the innocent.

Now, God cannot destroy the innocent. He who is Just cannot but love the just. He can no more harm the innocent than hate himself. Therefore, God’s hand is forced: he is caught in the trap of his own nature. He is ‘forced’ to spare the guilty because they live with the innocent.

This is true of Christ and the human race. God cannot bring the human race to nought because Christ is human. No matter how great the sin of mankind – as long as it remains human – God cannot destroy it, because of Christ. Thus, Christ is the Just Man, the saviour. Whoever is with Christ is saved from the devouring fire.

What does all this mean in terms unaffected by ancient stories. It is the just person who makes humanity worthwhile. If the masterpiece of art gives credibility to artistic activity; if the discoveries of science warrant public expenditure on research; if success in a match gives spirit to a team at all matches; if some good moments keep a marriage together:  if we understand this then we understand how the just can make the human race viable. Without them we would fall apart, lose heart, consistency and value.

In the face of the fragile reality, it is the just who preserve it.

                                                                     Burwood 1983

“Approaching him he said: ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner?’ ”         Genesis 18:23

Abraham intercedes for the city of Sodom. His appeal on behalf of the just is also an appeal for the sinner. Abraham pleads with typical oriental circumlocution, but he also shows a familiarity and a boldness that belongs to the friend of Yahweh. He does so, even though he is not one of the men of Sodom. He pleads for them but is not with them.

Abraham is mediator and to an extent he is distinct from both parties, since the perfection of intercession comes when the intercessor does not take sides, and at the same time is not separate either from the one to whom he pleads and the ones for whom he pleads.

Abraham is the father of the people of God, but Christ is the Lord. Jesus, the perfectly incarnate, is both the just man and the sinner. He bears in himself both the sin and the justice of the world.

Jesus pleads for the world, but he also does what he asks for. He does not cease to ask, for he is Son. He acts because he is God. His asking and his initiative, his dependence and his authority are one because he is God from God. His intercession also involves the transformation of the self. He is what he asks for. He brings about changes in himself. It is his own body that he changes because he is man among men. He is the forgiveness of God.

 

Year, 1, Week 13, Tuesday                                Glenroy 1977

“‘Look, that city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!’”            Genesis 19:20

Our existence is precarious, the complexity of our body is fragile. Our world, our society are

so remarkable, so defiant of what seems the universal law of nature.

Is it a wonder that any attack on this fragility should open the flood gates and allow the sweep of the universal law to blot us out? Our defiance of these laws makes them more ready to reduce us to their pattern. And this reduction is the work of the One who made the laws. Our conscience tells us that the reduction is punishment.

All who are bound to that society perish with the fools who open the flood gates.

Yet, in today’s reading, some escape. Those who follow the angels are saved. Even more, those who follow the Man and leave the follies of mankind are saved. They lose their possessions even as they lose their outward form, but they escape to another city and acquire another fortune. They are saved from the destruction that falls on Sodom and Gomorrah.

For with the Just Man we find our other self, our second self, our truer self, our self beyond ourselves, intimated by the present but not contained by it. He saves us. We live in another city, with the Just Man, with another self, our self beyond ourselves, our spirit.

                                                                        Burwood 1983

“I grant you this favour too, and will not destroy the town you speak of.”

Genesis 19:21

The contrast between Abraham and Lot is clearly made. Abraham has pleaded for the great cities of the plain although he is not their citizen. He has secured the promise of God not to destroy them because of the ten just men that might live there. Lot, on the other hand is pleading for the little town of Zoar. He pleads for it because he has not the energy, so he says, to go into the abode of Abraham in the hills. He shows concern only for his lack of concern.

Abraham is the father of a nation and father of all that have faith because he is the man of faith. Lot is the man of doubt, the man of little faith. Because there is a grandeur of conception in Abraham’s whole outlook he cannot but be ‘father’ the world’s monotheistic religions.

Prayer cannot be small. The work of intercession is a grand task. We pray, not for our own comforts but for the salvation of the world. Christ, the one just man, saves the world by his prayer. In our justice and faith, we too have great designs and with the faith that moves mountains we decide on them.

 

Year 1, Week 13, Wednesday                                   Glenroy 1977

But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you.’Genesis 21:12

God is endlessly fruitful. Of the billions of suns, he has chosen one to shine on an earth capable of supporting man. Of the millions of men, he had chosen Abraham to bear his promise. Of the sons of Abraham, God chose Isaac to succeed him.

Why Isaac? But if Ishmael, why? God must choose. There is a reason for the choice, but the reason is of little importance compared with the choice. There is some advantage in Sarah’s son – he is a freedman – but this advantage is slight and must be slight: for it is God’s freedom which makes the choice, not the advantage which forces the choice.

God must choose, for someone must bear the promise. There cannot be two bearers or the inheritance is divided and mankind is divided.

If he chooses Isaac it is only for the good of all, including Ishmael. To Isaac the glory, to Ishmael the blessing. To Isaac the inheritance, to us the usufruct. To Isaac the authority, to us the joy.

So too in all of God’s works: he chooses one or other to bear a role: but all benefit from it. His choice of one man is so that he be man for others.

And so, with Christ: if he has the role, all benefit from it; all are saved by his being raised. If he is chosen, we too are chosen. No gift is given which is not a public gift.

Thus, everybody is for everybody. Each body is “given up for you”. Each body is a fountain from which one drinks. And everybody achieves the perfection of the Body only when they have become one for all.

All other roles will vanish and one role will remain: to be a body for everybody. To give body to everyone. All roles are directed to that one role: to be a body.

Being body for all, one’s body will be transmuted into spirit as waters flow endlessly from one’s side. And as they flow, this other body from the body, this water from the side, this spirit taken out of flesh, will give substance to all bodies.

So that from one’s chosen body flow blessings for all, from all for all.

The body does not depart, for there is no other source. The water does not cease to flow for the supply is endless. The waters flow to others and they receive body from which other waters and the same waters flow.

                                                                     Burwood 1983

“So, she sat at a distance; and the child wailed and wept~.

But God heard the boy wailing

and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven. ‘What is wrong, Hagar?’ he asked.

Do not be afraid, for God has heard the boy’s cry where he lies’.”  

Genesis 21:16-17

The boy lies under the bush and cries. His mother sits and awaits the end. The course of nature will put an end to the boy. The waterless land will claim another victim.

Although the child is not of the promise but of nature, not of grace but of necessity; although the child is dying because of the incapacity of nature, finally, to sustain him, God hears the cry. Nature, which proceeds from his hands, can draw down his compassion. The child expresses his distress, the child who lies and waits, and calls upon God unknowingly.

Where Abraham, the man of faith, can approach God and obtain his request; where Lot, the man of little faith, can plead with the angel and find security; the child who cries naturally, draws the pity of God. God comes to redeem the nature which he created good but not immortal.

So it is that those countless generations of children, beaten, exposed, aborted, who cry or cannot cry, who weep with their blood if not with their tears: they will draw down the mercy of God and the wrath of the Just One.

 

Year 1, Week 13, Thursday                                   Glenroy 1977

So, Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.””                    Genesis 22:14

God called to Abraham in the land of Haran to leave his father’s house for a land mysterious and uncertain. At long length the child is born to Abraham and all his hopes are pinned on that one boy.

And again, God calls to Abraham, this time to sacrifice his son: in other words, to place his future and all his hopes in jeopardy: for how could he become a great nation, how could he possess a land except through a son and heir.

God had called on Abraham to leave father and land for an unknown future; now he calls on Abraham to sacrifice son and all hope, with nothing ahead of him.

What greater test can be given a person? Only one more: one’s own death. Jesus sees the crumbling of all his plans. A monumental failure among his people, he sees even his teaching brought to nought, as his disciples abandon him. Rejected by all, with no future of any sort ahead of him, with no hope, feeling abandoned by God and man, and crushed in mind, body and spirit, he faces the ultimate darkness. He is truly brought low as hell. No one had gone so low before; no one can go lower. Nor can anyone go as low again: for in their abasedness they will find the companionship of the one who preceded them.

And as Abraham, without a murmur, sets on his way, his one answer, his one reaction “the Lord will provide” is our only answer to evil. For he does not know the mysterious workings of God and his thoughts are not God’s thoughts. But one thing he knows is that his God is of good-will. He places no hope in anything else but that.

For this reason, Abraham, the man of faith, the man who knows that God is good and that all else is uncertain, is the first of every man of faith. All others are his children, his followers, his inheritors. And so, with Isaac’s effectual death, Abraham becomes the father of a multitude far in excess of all those whom Isaac could have engendered. All men of times past and future, of continents and planets unknown, who are of faith, are his heirs.

But more than that, of Christ, the utmost man of faith, all are heirs, co-heirs and even Abraham gives way to Christ, for before Abraham Jesus is.

And so, to all of us: men of faith solely in our God of good-will, leaving all else, we become infused with a Spirit beyond all else, the Spirit of promise, the one who makes us heirs of all, rulers of all: for if we have left all, we gain all.

                                                               Burwood 1983

“Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood.’

Genesis 22:9

Hagar sits a distance away, not wishing to see her son die, while Abraham prepares his son for sacrifice. Ishmael is the son of nature; Isaac is the son of the promise. The cries of the future bowman turn God’s heart to compassion. The silence of Isaac resounds from end to end.

While the cry of Ishmael is a prayer that wins his salvation, the silence of Isaac is the perfection of prayer. It is the silent acceptance of the unknown mysteries. It is the obedience of one who trusts completely. Isaac allows himself to be bound and placed on the altar. He makes no sound. He trusts in his father, Abraham, who trusts in God. Isaac, the child, shows the qualities that make the kingdom of heaven belong to him. Therefore, he cannot but be saved. If the cry of Ishmael wins the compassion of Gad, the silent assent of Isaac makes the renewal of the promise imperative.

The perfection of prayer is obedience, comprehending or uncomprehending.

 

Year 1, Week 13, Friday                                Burwood, 1983

“After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, opposite Mamre in the country of Canaan.” Genesis 24:19

Abraham left his country because of the promise that he would inherit the land of Canaan. The moment that sees the beginnings of mortality – the death of his wife – is the moment which sees the beginnings of fulfilment. The purchase of the cave is the first step in the possession of the Promised Land. In the first portion of land is buried she who alone could provide the son of the promise. The last glimmer coincides with the first light of dawn.

This plot, like the child in the womb, will grow into a land. Isaac too, the child of the womb, will have grown into twelve tribes. The cave will have become a Temple. The land will be the holy centre of the earth. And on it will take place the great drama of salvation. David and the Son of David will walk it. Good and evil will be locked in struggle and from another cave, a tomb hewn in rock, from which the Son of Man will emerge.

Yet we do not have concern for cave or land, not even for the rock of the tomb. Our land is beyond land. Our earth is heavenly. Time has become non-time. What is flesh, taken from earth, is now spirit. The first purchase of land at Machpelah, opposite Mamre where the Three Angels appeared, has become the incarnate and risen Lord, seated at the right. There too for us is all land found.

The promise that germinates in the form of a cave-tomb is fulfilled in a land, but is complete in the Risen Body of the Lord. Land becomes Spirit. The promised is fulfilled; the transformation is complete.

 

Year 1, Week 14, Monday                                    Glenroy 1975

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 

So, Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you.”

Genesis 28:10-12, 18, 20-22

We are surrounded by the presence and the activity of God.

This passage fills me with joy, always, as it teaches that, though we are unaware of the fact, the activity of God about us is continuous. It is an activity of blessing, of promise, of purpose: for God is blessing Jacob; it is supportive and encouraging: for God is protecting Jacob; it is powerful and eternal: for it is angels who ascend and descend; it is mysterious and marvellous.

Yet we do not know it. In our waking hours our minds are filled with the cares and interests of daily life. It is when we take leave of these things and allow the hidden awareness to flow into our consciousness, as in sleep, that the truth dawns on us. It is a privileged moment.

Once this truth has penetrated into our consciousness, then we marvel and are amazed; we have fear, not in the sense of the fear of evil, but in the sense of realizing our true position under God. We are amazed and delighted and we stand in wonder at this benevolent power which we can respect. We come to know the true dimensions of history and reality.

And so, we pledge ourselves; we take on and commit ourselves to this truth we have come to know, not by raising pillars of stone to God but by other acts which give expression to our new-found knowledge.

                                                               Glenroy 1975

“And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”       Genesis 28:13,16

The revelation of God is always accompanied by a promise, for God is dynamic and we know him as one who has a will in our regard. When we know him, we become like him and we have a new will, united with his – and we look forward to the promised land which we seek as he seeks to give it to us.

                                                               Glenroy 1977

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran.”       Genesis 28:10

The future of a person is seen in his distant past. But only the future reveals the past. From the very beginning Jacob has been ambitious. He has come second from the womb but still grasping the foot of the brother that preceded him.

A person with determination sees every moment as an opportunity. Jacob’s whole character was in search of blessing, so that the fortuitous event of Esau’s hunger was seen by Jacob’s restless eye as an opportunity to advance: he buys the birth-right for a bowl of lentils.

The man of determination – like our determined God – changes, by every ruse, the purposes of others. Jacob deceived Esau and wrung from him the blessing meant for Esau.

Every person of single-mindedness brings persecution upon himself, as the rock creates waves, or the arrow causes turbulence. Jacob is determined upon the promised. His very determination brings him trouble: he must flee a bitter Esau.

Yet even as he flees, even in the moment of fatigue and perhaps of doubt, at the very moment when the elucubrations of ambition recede into the background then the true cause of Jacob’s determination appear clear to him: it is God who has promised him the inheritance. All his own plotting, from the womb onwards, has been due, in final analysis, to the fact God is promising him the inheritance. If he had not known, deeply, interiorly, that the inheritance was his, he could not have struggled so hard to obtain it. His basic character was determined by a future event.

But now God appears to him and reveals the promise. Jacob can now leave the Promised Land certain of his future.

And so, for all of us: our origin and basic character is decided by our future state. With determination we seek that future already present. While determination brings us trouble, it is at the depth of confusion that we see the essence of our character: God promising us.

So too, with Christ: his future resurrection describes even his conception in Mary; he seeks his future with determination, even bringing opposition upon himself. But as he hangs upon the cross, at the depth of his abandonment, God makes his promise in its highest pitch and keeps it: ‘You are Lord of all the earth’.

 

Year 1, Week 14, Tuesday                              Glenroy 1975

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.”          

Genesis 32:24

Like Jacob who has seen the promised land and who comes to take possession of it, we too have been gifted, in the Holy Spirit, with a knowledge of the truth. However obscurely, we have seen the hope God sets before us and our hearts reach out to it.

The kingdom of heaven will never come to us if we wait on the farther side of the stream. No, by a new movement of the Spirit we claim this kingdom. Empowered by the Spirit, as champions running our race, we let strength fill our muscles and steady our will. We claim it.

We fight with God. Not because God is unwilling but because we are determined. We anticipate the hour and demand it now. We spare no effort but claim it now in the vigour of our will.

Then God will grant our desire and will bless us. By this third outpouring of the Spirit we are new beings and receive a new name as Israel did. We merit the kingdom and make it ours: not because we have only desired it but because we have willed to have it. It is ours, ours.

Glenroy 1975

All this has a mystical meaning.

The person who succeeds in entering the promised land must first fight. He must therefore be alone. There can be no one to help him. But if he separates himself from all who is dear to him, it is because he wins a land for them. They, without fighting, profit from his fight. He, alone, must fight with God. God will oppose him, but he is determined and will not let go. The fight is alone and lasts the long night, the dark night of the soul, in silence.

Finally, he succeeds. God gives him a blessing. He acquires a new name and becomes a new person, with a vastly new dimension and purpose. He acquires a people who will be named after him: not only his wife and children and possessions, but a whole nation will bear his name. He has wrested a blessing from God; he will win mankind and the universe too.

But not without a penalty. As Christ still bears the mark of the passion, so Jacob bears the mark of the wrestle – a permanent physical disability. The one who fights with God will suffer and retain, though glorified, the marks of that struggle.

Though he has wrestled closely with God and wrested the greatest blessing, God remains forever mysterious. No matter how close he may come, the human can never understand God. Indeed, he wants to know, just as he has wanted to struggle, but he can only obtain so much. God, finally, is beyond man’s comprehension. He sees God face to face, but in darkness, without understanding. He attains the greatest closeness possible. To go further would be to burst the limits of man’s nature and not to survive.

The struggle over, the blessing obtained, the sun rises, never to set again, a permanent day, the darkness gone – yet the struggle is preserved, for he limps.

                                                               Burwood 1983

“That same night he rose, and taking his two wives and his two slave girls and his eleven children he crossed the ford of the Jabbok.”            Genesis 32:23

Jacob was a wealthy man, in cattle and in family. The cattle he has given to Esau. His family he now sends on ahead of him. They have moved on to the land of the promise. As the Israelites crossed the Sea of Reeds, so the wives and concubines and children of Jacob cross the Jabbok. They are safe because of his prevision. Jacob now has nothing.

Yet all of this is done because Jacob is to wrestle with God. Jacob provides for them and is free of them so that he can grapple with God and free them even more truly. He is free of them so that he can free them. He will cross the Jabbok because his future lies across it. But he will not cross it until he has struggled with the mysterious One.

So, it is with Christ who decides to wrestle with God. He separates himself from people, but it is for their sake that he does so. He cannot struggle unless he has already, in intention, won. Already he has achieved his purpose. Struggling with God he is victorious against men. His struggle is the entry into the truest holy land. His family are his prize: the wider family of the human race which becomes his by virtue of conquest. The greatest of battles occurs alone. Already, as he decides to do battle, he is victorious.

All is in the intent. How pure and strong is the intent?

 

Year 1, Week 14, Wednesday                                   East Doncaster, 1989

Genesis 41:55-57, 42:5-7, 17-24

This episode given over two days foreshadows, most clearly among all the patriarchal narratives, the passion of the Christ.

Today’s reading condenses the lengthy story of Joseph who has been betrayed into the hands of the Egyptians out of jealousy. He has been sold, but by his wisdom he has risen to power.

The details are given now. Tomorrow the justification is provided. Joseph, the man of dreams, will explain the great puzzle: the meaning of his life and of his brothers’ actions.

So too, Jesus knows the mind of God, which is his own mind. His own life is a sign which must be explained. Jesus will explain it and will also reveal the meaning of our life and death.

 

Year 1, Week 14, Thursday                                Burwood 1981

“And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.”             Genesis 45:5

It was an injustice for his brothers to sell Joseph into Egypt. Yet the power of God is greater than their sin. The sin was a sin, yet now it is redeemed. If it had not been a sin it would not need to be redeemed. Human act has contributed to evil; divine agency has drawn good out of it. As God drew creation out of nothing and we marvel at his power, so God draws good out of evil and demonstrates his graciousness.

This is not excuse for sin. While God draws good out of evil, to presume that he will redeem all actions would be to tempt him. Whereas their deed offends against their brother, presumption is against God. Where their action is an offense of man to man and therefore to God, presumption is blasphemy. God’s redeeming mercy is not an invitation to irresponsibility but is a call to a comparable generosity.

The proof of God’s redemptive power, far from being an excuse for sin, has made our future sins more blasphemous. Redemption increases our risk of condemnation.

                                                                        East Doncaster, 1989

Joseph now reveals who he is and the whole purpose of the extraordinary tale. The sorry story of betrayal is God’s work. God has used the jealousy of the brothers to engineer the saving of the whole family. Although the brothers are indeed guilty of sin, they are not to reproach themselves. Good has been brought out of their action. Their sin is redeemed.

In a similar way good will be made of the hardness of pharaoh’s heart when the Israelites are brought out of slavery in Egypt.

Above all, good will be made of this world’s sin when the carpenter of Nazareth, the one who knows, is put to death at the hands of the Romans and is raised so that he might go before us to save our lives.

Thus, the episode points mysteriously to the hand of God at work in the turmoil of this world. At the extremities of good and evil, the One beyond good and evil is at work, making his presence known in that all is good.

 

Year 1, Week 14, Friday                                Burwood 1983

“Israel said to Joseph: ‘Now I can die, now that I have seen you again, and seen you still alive’.” Genesis 46:30

This is a touching scene when Israel, the old man, sees his favourite son, his son of the cloak of many colours, the long-lost son whom he thought killed. The old man cries out “Now I can die”. His heart has been filled. The pain of the past has been overcome by the splendour of his son’s destiny. Jacob will die happy because all things have turned out well, in the eyes of man and of God. Indeed, his death will not be death, for a happy death is an experience of immortality. Death cannot touch those without sin. Death has no meaning except in the context of disaster.

So too with Simeon. That old man, who sums up in himself the best of Israel, has longed for the coming of Israel’s favourite son. With equal surprise and unexpectedness, the child Jesus is brought to him in the Temple. The old man takes Jesus in his arms and reiterates what Jacob said: ‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace’. Simeon is happy to die because he has seen the saviour. Joseph saved his brothers who had condemned him. Jesus is a Joseph and more than Joseph because his saving is of the world and his condemnation was far graver. As Simeon takes the child in his arms he knows that all things will be well. One far more majestic than Joseph is here, more powerful than any chamberlain of Egypt. Death, therefore, is no more. It has become irrelevant in the context of the joy that is experienced. Sin is removed in the presence of the child so that death cannot touch the old man.

The aged Simeon fulfils the aged Israel because the new Joseph is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Jewish Family in 3rd cent. BCE,  Reflections on verses from the Book of Tobit

A Jewish Family in 3rdcent. BCE,  Reflections on verses from the Book of Tobit

 Year 1, Week 9, Monday                                                                  Glenroy 1977

Tobit 1.1; 2.1-8

What is good grows. What is good wishes to excel itself. But the only way to excel is to exceed. Therefore, good seeks out evil to overcome it, be changed through it and through God’s excellence.

The story of Tobit is a case in point. Tobit is admirable as father, a Jew, a householder. His generosity and his knowledge of the Law are exemplary.

Yet he is struck down, being blinded and impoverished, – all to a purpose: “So that his faith, as Raphael tells him, may be tested.”

I do not of myself seek out difficulties and trials. I may even flee them, as did Tobit. But the inherent nature of things is that the good man will meet with adversity, as the rock creates spray.

For God’s will it is that the good can become itself by conflict with evil. The Spirit of God in a man will drive him to choose situations of risk, so that his inner nature may become realised. After all, God creates order out of chaos and transforms evil into good. Note how that evil is overcome, not by being eliminated but by being shown to be good. Good transforms evil into good. Good, obviously so, becomes good in a way unimagined by using evil to the good.

Thus, we see the man of Spirit, Jesus, taking the risk, provoking the result, so that through the cross he learns obedience and redeems all mankind. And again, the evil of Adam’s fault now becomes ‘felix culpa‘, a happy fault.

For evil is overcome by being transformed into good by the power of the Holy Spirit who uses all things to profit, by raising the Man above all evil, beyond all we know as good.

Jesus is beyond good and evil, with God who is above good and evil as we know it, the Ruler of all, who takes us through good and evil to light inaccessible.

 

ditto                                                                                                    East Doncaster, 1989

The dating of the Book of Tobit is unsure. Its particular value is the presentation of Jewish family life during the obscure period between the retum from exile and the revolt of the Maccabees.

Its particular religious value is the statement that the hand of God is at work in the ordinary family, in its trials and happiness. It is the movement of focus away from the grand scenario of Exodus and Exile to the domestic scene. It is the history of salvation seen in the family.

This first excerpt from the Book of Tobit shows the character of the old man: he is just in the way Job was just or Noah was just. He buries the dead even at the risk of his own life. He celebrates the feasts of the Torah. He is “wise, merciful and just”.

 

Year 1, Week 9, Tuesday                                                                 East Doncaster, 1989

Tobit 2:9-14

It is in the context of Tobit’s goodness and justice that the blinding takes on its dramatic quality. The wife puts the problem well: what is the point of all his goodness if it leads only to his blindness. That is the problem treated in the Book of Job.

 

Year 1, Week 9, Wednesday                                              Glenroy 1977

Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17

Tobit has been blinded and reduced to poverty. He will not, however, curse God, as his wife suggests. No, his opening words are: ‘You are just O Lord’ and he praises God. In his wretchedness he prays for the deliverance of death.

Sarah’s shame is beyond all bounds. When a woman’s duty was above all to care for her husband, no less than seven have died; when a woman’s glory was to bear children, she has never even been freed of her virginity. Though despairing, she will not do harm to her father by hanging herself as her wretchedness suggests. She prays for the deliverance of death.

Separated by thousands of miles, separated by age and unconnected in their problems, Tobit and Sarah pray for a like solution and will be delivered in reference to each other. Their prayer is answered: Raphael is sent to bring remedy to them both. He is unexpected means of answering their disconnected problems.

God will always answer prayer. His answer is always unexpected. That is why it seems to us, sometimes, that our prayers are not heard. For God’s thoughts are above our thoughts, his love greater than our love, his power beyond ours. When we open ourselves to his effectiveness, the answer cannot but be unexpected, perhaps uncomprehend, unseen, unknown.

As Raphael accompanies the young Tobias and advises him, who could know that God was already composing his solution. And as he answers our prayer, it is in a process: how can we understand the meaning of the process, until the end. Only at the end of the story does Raphael explain all. Only at the end of history will we know that God has answered the prayer of every person who turned to Him, but unexpectedly, beyond expectation. For he is God.

 

ditto                                                                                                    East Doncaster, 1989

Tobit realises the point of his wife’s comment, which leads him to the same mind as Job: it is better to die. He asks for release.

The scene shifts to Sarah who is distressed because of the all-true comments of her maid. The jibes have shown her the despair of her situation. She in her own way is just: she refuses to harm her father’s name. She is the innocent victim – like Job – of the demon. She asks for release.

When the person is brought to the end of their tether, the testing is complete.

The angel Raphael is sent to their help.

 

Year 1, Week 9, Thursday                                                 Glenroy 1977

Tobit 6:11, 7:1,9-14, 8:4-8

Young Tobias shows the ardour of youth and a good conscience. For he has scarcely arrived in Ecbatana before he is washed, seated and wedded. He is not put off by the hesitation of Raguel or the fate of the previous seven husbands, but insists on claiming Sarah as his wife.

As he prays, it is with nature and faith; there are no plaguing doubts or religious fearfulness. It is a return to Edenic innocence and primitive justice.

For that reason, his prayer is heard and the demon Asmodeus is confounded. Tobias and Sarah – strengthened by their concordance with nature, by unity with their people, through obedience to the Law of Moses, by the ardour of youthful bodies in their prime, by confidence in a compassionate God – enjoy a humanism which is divine. The truth they enjoy and live cannot but be successful over Asmodeus, for evil gains entry only when there is fault. The restoration of all things means the irrelevance and impotence of Asmodeus.

All this is achieved through the ministration of Raphael; the work of a messenger, an adviser, an angel, has restored them to innocence.

It is the re-integration of the human race, its return to the original innocence. It is the innocence of nature which precedes any historical deformation. It is the conquest of sin and evil.

The balanced person and the balanced society that conform to nature, that give place to religion and dwell in the presence of God: all this overcomes evil and fulfils the purposes of creation.

Prayer is successful when justice is restored.

 

ditto                                                                                                    East Doncaster, 1989

Along with the scenes of sadness, the Book of Tobit gives this delightful scene of the marriage of Tobias and Sarah. Comedy is not absent: entering the city, acquaintance and marriage occur all in the course of one day; during the wedding feast the father of the bride gives the most surprising speech, warning the bridegroom that seven others have died in his daughters’ arms.

And within this humour, which is delightfully Jewish, there is a touch of romance and affection between the two young people. There is a sense that this wedding will bring happiness and solution to Tobit’s blindness and to the precarious state of the Jewish people in their dispersion.

 

Year 1, Week 9, Friday                                                                    East Doncaster, 1989

Tobit 11:5-15

This scene is most touching. Typical of the anxious mother, Anna is waiting at the door of the house, watching for her son’s retum. Young Tobias comes with blessing for his aged parents. He brings his young wife to enrich the home and to ensure the succession. He brings medicine to heal the blindness of bis father. Tobit exclaims: “I can see, my son, the light of my eyes”.

This is a touching moment. It is perhaps a moment we have all experienced. Homecoming is one of the most powerful experiences we know.

To live in family, to know the delight of finding each other again; the reconciliation, the homecoming, the solution of problems that seem to overwhelm: family life is one of the greatest gifts of God to mankind.

The happiness of the family makes life worth living. It is a taste of heaven itself. For that reason, the Jewish and Christian traditions have always placed great emphasis on the family. The family is where the greatest sorrows are known and also the greatest pleasures. It is, for most of us, where salvation is found.

 

Year 1, Week 9, Saturday                                                               East Doncaster, 1989

Tobit 12:1, 5-15, 20.

The events of the Book of Tobit are now explained. What might have seemed to Tobit and his family as just a mixture of bad and good luck is now revealed to be the work of God and of the angel Raphael. “It is right to reveal the works of God”.

The kindness and mercy of Tobit were noted. This meant his testing, as it did of Job. The severity of the testing brought Tobit to the limits of prayer which was indeed heard though seemingly ignored. Raphael both tests and heals, brings to death and back. God is at work in the events of life, through the ministry of his angel. There is the hidden realm of grace at work in the lives of ordinary people.

We need to understand our lives. It is the joyful task of old age to understand the hand of God in our lives, the work of the angels.

This late Jewish work shows how God acts in the lives of ordinary people. Now that the Jewish people, as a nation, is no longer functioning, the family has become the place where God is at work, bringing salvation.

 

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Good and evil, grace and sin: commentary on select verses from Genesis 1-11

Good and evil, grace and sin: commentary on select verses from Genesis 1-11

Year 1, Week 5, Monday                                                     Glenroy 1977

“God said: ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.”   Genesis 1:3

God does not engage in some complex process to create light. The power of his will is sufficient: his fiatis enough.

The power of God is evident to us who have free will. We know that the act of creation is done out of love, gratuitously and generously. Creation is the natural outcome of his own completeness and energy. To say that it is necessary implies a lack of preceding fullness: that God would be less than God without it. To fear that the gratuitousness of creation would make us irrelevant is to misunderstand the act of generosity: the creator loves himself and his work, and wishes to draw his work to himself.

Neither is creation a mere product of technology: God does not create a machine that runs by itself. He establishes a world which he maintains; he continues to direct the world that he maintains and directs it for the sake of humans who are free. Furthermore, he endows humans with every capacity that he, God, possesses, so that humans become creators of the world. God has the initiative, but humans second the creator, having come to share his power. They become their own creators, so to speak, by sharing in the wisdom which was present at start of creation.

In this way we come to know the mind and the purpose of God and why he creates.

 

Year 1, Week 5, Tuesday                                                      Glenroy 1977

“God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Genesis 1:28

God creates the different levels of creation and eventually creates humans, the final, the highest and the greatest work of creation, the only work made in the image of God.

The relationship between humans and creation is described in a blessing: “be masters of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth”. All three levels of living things are subject to humans because these are most alive. They are, however, created along with them, beings of flesh and blood. Thus, two things are required: mankind is livelier, mankind is of the same substance: humans are both like and unlike creation.

These two elements must stay in balance if humans are to remain master. If they fail to feel their unity with creation, if they treat creation as something foreign, if they subject creation and exploit it, treating flesh as rock and stones as money, they will become mere slave-masters, and creation will rebel against them and kill them. If, on the other hand, they fail to be livelier, if they give up the process of mastering creation, creation will turn elsewhere.

Humans are both like and unlike creation. They feel the all-encompassing unity, they are aware of every aspect of nature, of their situation and environment. They walk among the trees as among a palace full of persons, they walk in the fields as across coloured carpets. All creation is their body, which they feel and grasp and cherish. They do not have the strength of creation nor its extent in time and space, but they are more quick and their emotions more intense. Therefore, they can take it all as their body.

The purpose is this: to take the essence of all creation and to turn it into the new heaven and the new earth, the new Jerusalem, the liberated creation, wherein all the just with their glorified bodies will walk, in all things spiritualised. For if there exists a spiritual body there exists a spiritual creation. And if humankind is resurrected on the last day, creation too – in its essence – will be resurrected. Then it will have the freedom of the children of God who have mastered it.

 

Year 1, Week 5, Thursday                                                    Glenroy 1977

“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” Genesis 2.21-23

The man was made from the soil of the earth and given the breath of God. The beasts were likewise made from the earth, but without the breath of God. Woman, so delicately, is not taken from the earth, but from the body of the man. She is an altogether special creation. This is done so surprisingly, so gently, so human: her origin is human, the part of another body, but with flesh given from elsewhere, we know not whence.

All the beasts were useful. They were certainly a help, but no helpmate. Their usefulness did not remove the man’s loneliness. God is forced, so to speak, to try another tack: he takes the rib, that is, he takes the rod, the ‘bone’, the stiffened flesh of the man, shaped like a rib and encloses it in flesh. The concern is now no longer for the garden but for another sort of tree. She, the woman, is flesh for the man’s bone. She is the crown, the robe, the justification of that tree. She is the one who encloses, captures, tends that tree, and makes it bear a ‘seed’.

The man realises this radical change upon seeing her. He had been asleep – for most great changes in our character and personality occur unconsciously. The man ceases to be a lone labourer, hardly different from the beast, a rude and rough fellow. In his sleep he is changed in his body, as it stiffens; his body helps change the world around him, as it takes on a new character. All gifts are given to us ‘while we sleep’ – ‘the Lord showers gifts on his beloved while they sleep’. It is not our effort that makes the great changes in life. The world changes while we are asleep. The man cannot cope consciously with the change and so withdraws. Every great event is the action of God, and God is seen through them. Man cannot survive the sight of God and so retreats into unconscious.

God brings the woman. The man recognises her: their bodies are perfectly related to one another and so there is a basis, now, not of similarity – for he had that with the beasts, but of relationship: they are made for each other; one is modelled with regard to the other. There is difference, yet the difference is for the sake of a greater unity. On the basis of difference and relation he can recognise that he and the woman are made for each other. Being related in their bodies, they can relate in their persons. And so, he welcomes her; he rejoices at this gift from God; he sees the unity of their bodies. And his loneliness is gone.

 

Year 1, Week 5, Friday                                                      Glenroy 1977

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ … So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.”  Genesis 3:6

The tree is referred to as “the tree in the middle of the garden”. There was nothing special about it except that it was forbidden. This fact was temptation enough. The man is drawn to the forbidden and nameless. He forgets his purpose which is to cultivate the other trees and goes after something that is not for him.

The trees permitted and the tree forbidden stand for the order established by God. Order means ‘yes and no’, ‘this and not that’. Every sin is an attack against this order, an attempt to set up a new order; every sin is a doubt about God’s good intentions and a setting oneself up as God. The fall in Genesis is an account of everyman’s fall.

Conscience reveals the law of God; it perceives the purpose without knowing why it is so. In the immediate a forbidden thing can appear good and a commanded thing appear bad. Therefore, there is a conflict between what is known immediately and what is known from the mysterious future. Everyman at some stage chooses the immediate bad instead of the future good.

The result is the loss of the future good and the choice of future evil. Yet God will subvert his own order and not allow man the full price of his folly: he will send one who is without sin and who saves man from the consequences of his unhappy choice. The new Adam will save unhappy Man.

 

Year 1, Week 5, Wednesday                                                Glenroy 1977

when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up  …And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed…. 15The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” Genesis 2:5, 8, 15.

In the desert where there is no rain, no vegetation, no husbandry, God creates his first work: the human being. At the head of creation stands the purpose of all creation: the human, whom God fashions from the clods of earth like a child playing with the sand. Into this shape, so marvellously contrived, God breathes his own breath. The man is alive with the life of God.

God then establishes an oasis for the man, an oasis in this desert of barrenness, with every variety of tree. It is a paradise, a garden, with all that he needs for his sustenance.

From the beginning the man must work: the garden is for his pleasure, to feed his eye; for his sustenance, to feed his body. Yet the man is also for the garden: to cultivate it and care for it. From the beginning work is a part of human existence. Work is not the result of sin and the fall. Creation supports man: man cultivates creation. He looks after it, in a mutual relationship.

That relationship is quite opposite to the attitude of exploitation-idleness. Creation is not an abode to be plundered. The trees do not simply bear fruit. The world is not a breast with unending supplies of milk. This would force man into a perpetual childhood, bad-tempered at that.

Creation, by the structure God has given it, forces man into an attitude of maturity: a contractual arrangement. Creation will support humans if humans cultivate it. The support is free and the cultivation will be free. If either fails, both fail – the contract is broken. If man exploits creation, the trees will fail to produce their fruit and to attract the eye. If creation fails, man will be absorbed by the desert.

The trees are many: we have not even begun to see them all. The riches of creation, the depths of relationships, the powers of the human person: these are available for cultivation. We are given these things. We do not make them, but we cultivate them and allows them to develop.

When human beings have cultivated the ‘garden’ to its utmost, they will find that their work has made them immortal; their effort and the resultant fruit have made them deathless. And for all eternity they live and work. For work is natural. Jesus says ‘God keeps on working and so do I’.

 

Year 1, Week 6, Monday                                                      East Doncaster, 1989

“Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.”     Genesis 4:25

During week 5 of Ordinary Time, we saw the introduction of sin into a creation that was originally good. During this week, 6, we see its progress.

The first sin was the offense of man against God. The second sin is the offense of man against man. The original sin derived from the wish to be like God. The second sin derives from the wish to be pleasing to God above one’s fellow. The ground which produced brambles as a result of the first sin now produces offerings unacceptable to God in the second sin. The serpent that tempted from the tree is now a beast crouching at the door. The sin of the children follows on the sin of the parents. Sin against God leads to sin against man.

The garments of skin protect man and woman from their vulnerability but do not remove their guilt. The mark will protect Cain but only by the threat of bloodshed.

Adam has set a trail of blood that will be reversed through ‘the sacrifice more pleasing than Abel’s’, that of the Second Adam.

 

Year 1, Week 6, Tuesday                                                      East Doncaster, 1989

“So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favour in the sight of the Lord.”  Genesis 6:7-8

After the sin of man against man, there is the continued growth of violence until the point when God undoes his work of the sixth day. He brings a flood upon the earth to wipe away every living creature. God – in the laws of nature – will imitate man’s violence to its ultimate degree.

Thus, the sin of man against God has bred the violence of man against man which in tum brings about the destruction of all living creatures.

Except that Noah saves a remnant of his family and of the work of the sixth day. In this way a new beginning might begin. The one just man saves a remnant and the remnant repopulates the earth.

 

 Year 1, Week 6, Wednesday                                                 East Doncaster, 1989

Genesis 8:6-13, 20-22

With a word God had created the architecture of creation and its furnishing. However, man’s violence had brought God to loosen the joints of the world and to destroy all living creatures.

But things are now restored. The flood subsides. The dove announces the end of the disaster. Noah opens the hatch of the ark to find that the world is once again habitable, for it is through Noah that the world is renewed. His justice has saved a remnant. It is through a man that God restores. With Noah all is remade.

This scene provides the backdrop for Jesus’ work. He will enter the waters of the flood at his baptism. As he rises from the river, the Holy Spirit comes bearing peace and the sign of anointing. In Jesus a new humanity is formed. More than Noah, he, Jesus, himself the remnant, repopulates the earth. Thus, all things are restored in him. In his body a new race is formed, the community of his disciples.

 

Year 1, Week 6, Thursday                                       East Doncaster, 1989

“God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.”Genesis 9:1-2

Although all things are restored in Noah, traces of violence remain. There was originally no shedding of blood; mankind’s food was only vegetable. But now, after the flood, there is the command to be the terror of all that lives, for mankind will eat flesh.

This violence will not be removed until it too is made fruitful. It needs to be redeemed. Only when Christ shows the traces of the nails and the lance will violence be made useful and glorious.

The restoring work of Christ not only restores mankind in its flesh. It also allows the wounds to be beautiful. It allows violence to be valuable. The sin of mankind is taken away by being transformed into grace.

This is the complete restoration after the flood

 

Year 1, Week 6, Friday                                           East Doncaster, 1989

“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, …  the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”           Genesis 11:4, 9

We come now to the fourth fall. After man’s disobedience to God, after the crime of man against man, after the human destructiveness of creation, there is now the conflict of nation with nation.

Just as the first sin was the human attempt to be like God, so this fourth sin is the human ambition to reach the throne of God. By not observing their proper place, the people of Babel bring about their own destruction. The attempt to be God prevents one man from allowing his brother to be like God. Civil strife begins.

The mark of this disunity is the inability to communicate. Only on the day of Pentecost will this punishment be undone. The various languages are preserved; the one Gospel is communicated in all of them. Humanity has received the Spirit of God and has become like God, not on some mountain but where God truly dwells, namely in the community gathered in prayer.

 

Year 1, Week 6, Saturday                                                     East Doncaster

By faith Abel …. By faith Enoch … By faith Noah, …By faith Abraham” Hebrews 11:4, 5, 7, 8,

The episodes of the Book of Genesis we have been reading this week have shown the progressive corruption of mankind until the appearance of Abraham, the father of faith. Hebrews 11:1-7 points out that the gloom of sin is shot through with rays of light.

Creation is the work of God. Abel’s offering is pleasing to God, an offering that forecasts the passion of Christ. Enoch who is assumed into heaven prefigures the resurrection of Christ. Noah, the just man, prefigures the Christ who saves the Church, the bark of Peter floating on the waters of baptism.

Thus, sin is contrasted with faith. Faith proves victorious in the end. The sad story of corruption is outshone by the greater story of faith.

 

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Letter to the Hebrews, Commentary on some verses

Letter to the Hebrews, Commentary on some verses

Glenroy 1977

Year 1, Week 1, Tuesday                                                 

“You have put him in command of everything.”       Hebrews 2.5-9

For Christ is coming and will take possession of all things, being master even of the angels, for nothing is not subject to him.

Christ is effecting the future. His body is transforming all bodies, his mind is enlightening all minds, his will is influencing all decisions, his Spirit is encouraging all true ambition. His person, in every dimension, is giving its dimension to the fabric of creation. And continually so, for ever, and yesterday too, for the past and all times are determined by his determination.

For all of us too, we have that same future. All are to be subject to all, and all to the Eternal One who is subject to none. We too by our bodies will transform all bodies, if we are already subject to the Incarnate One who is subject to none but his God.

We are subject to Christ in every way: our bodies to his glorious body of splendour and strength; our minds to his infinite awareness; our wills to his authority and breadth of determination; our spirit to his Spirit of exultation and peace. Each of us in turn will attract each other, not with a solitary strength but with the strength of all: for all give him their encouragement; and he in turn, as he draws, gives his strength to all others to draw him with his own and their strength, so that all are drawn together into one body.

We let Christ take our bodies and our spirit – or rather we let the mysterious one who Jesus has become – not in his limitations as the Nazarene – take over our mind and hearts; let that welcome visitor possess us. For we see him only obscurely, he who influences us so mightily. We welcome him and he transforms us, opening wide fields of activity and clearing our eyes to see the brightening day, for he is ruler of the coming world, coming, even now, even in me.

 

Year 1, Week 1, Thursday

“Every day, as long as this ‘today’ lasts, keep encouraging one another.”   Hebrews 3.13

To encourage means to give heart. The work of encouragement is a divine work, for it means to recognize, – as God recognises his Son, to give vitality and power – as God gives the Spirit to his Son. To encourage means to recognize people in their worth and to want it. It means to add one’s will to their talent, to give energy to their body, life to the clay of which they are made.

The writer calls upon us to encourage one another as long as this ‘today’ lasts: this time of pilgrimage, this desert sojourn, for the Church cannot achieve its goal without the vitality of the Spirit coming from God through each member as through the Son. But even in heaven the work of encouragement continues, indeed principally in heaven, for the peace and joy and vitality reach their infinite pitch due to infinite encouragement.

If we fail in encouragement, sin will lure us, for we cannot do without encouragement. If it does not come from truth, it will come from the lie. If it does not come from us who are of God it will come from Satan and his minions. We will seek encouragement from idols and the false comfort of sin.

To fail to encourage someone is to drive them to sin. To deny them the Spirit is to condemn them to the evil one. To deny them heaven is to give them the darkness of hell. Therefore, we are guilty of the sin of others, for we have failed to encourage them.

To be able to encourage, one must have been encouraged by the mysterious workings of God in history and society. One must have been made to feel of God, a son to him, of one nature with him and empowered. Then in turn, being one with God, with his nature and spirit, one is able to encourage divinely. Only a son can establish sons. Yet even as l establish sons, it is God who really establishes them, for the hour is his and the greater force is his, but he uses me as he uses the events of history, to engender further sons.

And of all that he has used, Christ is the First-born.

 

Year 1, Week 1, Friday

“We must therefore do everything we can to reach this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of disobedience, and be lost.” Hebrews 4.11

The Hebrews were freed from their slavery to Egypt by the crossing of the Red Sea. Yet their rebellion cost them a speedy capture of the Promised Land. For a whole generation they had to sojourn in the desert until all those who had lacked faith should die.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews takes their case and applies it to his audience. They have crossed from slavery to freedom through the waters of baptism Let them beware lest a lack of faith condemn them to a sojourn in the desert and final loss.

He is urging them to faith. For it is lack of faith which prevents us from reaching the land. If we had faith to move a whole range of mountains we could bring heaven to earth. If we had strong faith we would accomplish the purpose of mankind.

Yet we are weak. We are held back by the faithlessness of others and we also hold back their faith. For this reason, we are forced to keep marching without making any advance. The faith of Christ draws us on, yes, but we place hindrances to the full expression of that faith. We hold him back. Although he has redeemed the world, we restrain his redemptive power.

The writer urges us to do everything we can. Yet we are rebellious for reasons we do not know, and even our rebellion is hidden from us, so blinded are we by sin. Therefore, we wait for the gift of God and the Breath of God to move us.

The place of rest is no idle sinecure. The rest we seek is perfect motion, infinite activity, which knows no effort and knows no tiring. The perfect grace of consummate art, the ease of excellence, the facility of expertise: this is the rest of God who sustain the universe, directs all history from within his eternal seventh day of rest. We too look for that ease: of blessing and of giving the Spirit, of knowledge and of drawing to ourselves. All the work of redemption will be ours, without effort, because of the perfection of faith.

 

Year 1, Week 2, Monday

“Although he was Son he learned to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey im the source of eternal salvation…” Hebrews 5:8

The suffering endured by Christ changed him. It cut away all that did not pertain to faith. It burnt away all that was imposed from the sin of society. It stripped him of mortality and all weakness, so that he was made perfect; that is, he was made perfectly in tune with God, so that God’s will was his, God’s thoughts were his thoughts, God’s purpose was his. In this way he was obedient.

For obedience is not a blind carrying out of orders. That is obedience solely of an external sort. Obedience of mind and will, indeed obedience of the spirit, is the supreme form – where one’s spirit is God’s Spirit.

For this reason, the Trinity is the supreme example of obedience: for the Son is of the same nature as his Father; and more than that, the Son breathes the same Spirit as his Father. For they are One in every way.

It is to this obedience we are called, modelled on the Trinity. Yet we shall achieve it only by following the same path of suffering. We must be cut and burnt and stripped – by the events of life or by our own penance.

In tune with God we will have the strength of God and the peace, the resourcefulness and the solidity, the knowledge and the affection of God. In tune with him we will know all times future and times past, with a love extending from end to end. For the stripping is the stripping of chains, the burning is the refining of gold, the cutting is the removal of rotten flesh. As a result, all that is human will be made full, fully human, fully divine, by our obedience, for the good of mankind.

 

Year 1, Week 2, Thursday

“For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” Hebrews 7:26

Jesus is holy.

This means, on the one hand, that he is without sin. But, more positively, he has been raised to a greater condition: condemned as a criminal he has been freed from the Law; crucified with robbers he has gone deeper than any sin. And again, humiliated as much as a person can be, he has been glorified beyond all humans and angels; spread on a cross between heaven and earth, he has been raised beyond the highest heavens.

Holiness therefore is two sided: there is freedom from sin and there is exaltation. If either aspect is missing, both aspects are missing. If a person seems to live an innocent life, yet is not raised on high, his innocence is only apparent – there are important hidden areas of sin. If a person feels exaltation but lives with sin, his exaltation is illusory, an emotional out-growth of sin.

Jesus is holy. Raised on Easter Sunday, he is free now in this world as he has never been before: free from death and free to do wonders. Like the sun at dawn he is not obscured by the mountains of sin. His light sines without hindrance. Beyond the influence of sinners, he is no longer restricted by them, but like the sun which ascends gradually to the brightness of noon, his influence increases in effectiveness with the passage of time. He is not depressed by sin; he is not silenced by the authorities; he is not limited to this time or place; he is not hemmed in by his own ignorance. He is free.

He is strong in his freedom: the energy of the universe is concentrated in him. The energy of the Creator of the universe is present in him. He is stronger than the earth and the heavens, being raised above them all, freer than them all. He guides all things.

 

Year 1, Week 2, Friday      

“It is a better covenant of which he is the mediator.”             Hebrews 8:6

Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant. Being so excellent in himself and undergoing the ultimate event of death, his covenant with his God cannot but be a covenant between God and all men. For if every human action involves every other human being, how much must the supremely human action of a supremely human man implicate every person who is still human. Jesus’ covenant with the God who saves him is a covenant, therefore, between every human being and the God who is saving us.

Yet all this does not condemn us to inactivity and sinecure. On the contrary, involved by his choice, we are called to make our choice. Each one of us, moved by the Spirit, will make that covenant for him/herself. Each of us, being born of the Father and not of the Son, will be inspired to act in the same way. Each of us, come to the maturity of Christ, will need, like him, to make his/her free covenant.

While we were children, covenants are made on our behalf. Once we become mature in the domain of grace, we need to make covenant for ourselves. We will stand before God and say: ‘you are my God’ and he will say ‘You are my son, my people’. And again: ‘You are my God, the strong one, the one who builds up and cuts down’. And he will say in turn: ‘You are my ‘son’ to whom I give the ends of the earth for your feet, the trophy of mankind for your shoulders’.

And as we make this covenant freely and independently, based solely on the Spirit moving in us and free of models and pre-conceptions, we will find in fact that it is like, is indeed the same as the covenant of Christ. For if we make it out the Spirit and our humanity, he has made it out of the fullness of power and his pre-excellence in humanity. If we make it through feelings of joy and strength, he has made it through the experience of being the First Born. What we do he fulfils and has fulfilled, for he excels. Our covenant renews his. Our covenant, made in freedom, is his covenant. For his covenant, new and eternal, is eternally renewed.

There were many covenants: with Noah and Abraham, Moses and David, to mention a few. The greatest, the new and eternal covenant is made with the Nazarene. After him there are many covenants: with each person who comes to maturity, until the last day, when all is complete.

 

Year 1, Week 2, Saturday

“… how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!”            Hebrews 9:14

The author of Hebrews describes at length how Christ has replaced the liturgy of the Temple. The excellence of Jesus’ person, the significance of his life and death: these have fulfilled the glory of the temple and its sacrifices. The writer uses parallels, such as blood and movement, to bring out the nature of the fulfilment, but we know it is the excellence of Christ’s resurrection, not the external parallels, which prove the fulfilment.

Christ, in his excellences, brings the temple liturgy to its fullness. Even when he performed nothing cultic or symbolic, every action was a liturgy, every action was a reconciliation between God and mankind, every action showed forth the purpose of God, every event of his life combined heaven and earth.

Christ replaces the Temple. We take the place of Christ. Christ replaces shadows with his reality. We take the place of Christ’s glory. Jesus fulfils what the Temple approximated to, each person of virtue is the prolongation or Christ. We do not have Christ in our world, so much as Christians.

For this reason, our every action, performed in the spirit, is a liturgy. Even our common duties of workplace and home, are a cultic action. Liturgy is no longer reserved for specific times and places, but is performed every time a person acts in faith, hope and charity. It is the extension in our world, of the liturgy performed in heaven, for our Spirit is a gift from Christ who is full of Spirit as he stands before his God.

Never again will Christ appear as he did. He cannot appear again in the flesh, but only in the Church, that is, in every person of virtue. He can only appear in the Spirit who impels every just person. Such a person is one with the Strong One, knows him, has his dimensions in body, action and spirit, so that his/her action is that of the Strong One; the liturgy of the Strong One is his: in heaven and in earth. Then the person of virtue is Christ in the world as Christ is that person in heaven.

No need for Christ to appear: the person of virtue takes his place, is Christ in his time and place.

Thus, because Christ replaces the temple, the strong person takes the place of Christ.

 

Year 1, Week 3, Tuesday

“Here I am. I am coming to obey your will”.             Hebrews 10.9

Jesus goes beyond presenting symbols and presents himself. Symbols were the imperfect sign of a future perfection. Jesus himself, in his perfection, can use no symbols.

He has the fullness of divinity in him, for he says the great ‘I am’. He is the compar of the God who dwells in the unknown and who make all things known. He is the fulfilment of all the hopes of mankind as they sought to see who was their liberator.

And as he says ‘Here I am’, he presents himself before God, equal to him yet subject to him. God could not say that phrase to Jesus. No, Jesus comes before God and is aware of himself, for even the Son is aware of the mysterious God through being aware of his generation from God.

And as he stands, it is a dialogue of love. Between man and woman there is that relationship of I-thou. Between man and his God there is not that relationship. It is one of Father and Son, where the Son rejoices in his being and in his being knows his Father as the source of his being. He rejoices in his Father’s greatness and goodness and acknowledges him as the source. (Between husband and wife there cannot be that acknowledgment, for one is not the source of the other). And this dialogue continues in eternity: for the Father is continually source of the Son and the Son is aware of his continued generation and stands continually with awareness of his being and acknowledges his Father’s greatness.

And in return the Father recognises him and says: ‘You are my beloved Son’ and ratifies him and sends down his Spirit upon him, that blessing and ratification by the Father.

And as the Son is acknowledging his Father, he places himself consciously and determinedly within his Father’s will, so that he goes on to say: “I am coming to obey your will”.

So that, as there is unity of nature in the generation and acknowledgment, so there is unity of Spirit in the ratification and obedience – an eternal dialogue where deed and word are one.

And as the world is created and salvation history is initiated within the Spirit, so Christ, impelled by that Spirit, will become incarnate, will preach and be raised, he who says: “Here I am! I am coming to obey your will.”

 

Year 1, Week 3, Wednesday

“… he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified”   Hebrews 10.14

How is it that we are perfect when it is so clear that we are weak?

We are perfect by Christ’s intention, but imperfect by our indecision. We are perfect by association with him but imperfect by ourselves. We are perfect in the future and imperfect in the present. Perfection and imperfection mingle in us and compete. Yet he is the stronger, for his determination overrides our faint-heartedness, so that our imperfection is temporary and our perfection is settled.

In ourselves we feel our weakness. Christ knows his strength. From his point of view, it is only a question of time. From our point of view, it is a doubtful agony. As we change, our mind becomes that of Christ, our weakness is changed into his strength and our determination becomes like his and changes our bodies, our lives, our world.

In our determination we achieve the perfection of others less firm We are a rock supporting them, forming them. As Christ to us, so we to others.

And this by the Holy Spirit.

 

Year 1, Week 3, Thursday

“… let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10.22

We are entering the Holy of Holies.

Already we are entering heaven, even in this life. Death is not the beginning of our entry into heaven. The death by faith – that is the doorstep of our entry into life. Even now, once we have died and risen with Christ in faith, even now we are entering ring the Holy of Holies, into the presence of God.

Our faith is now in the risen one, the one who is spirit, the one who is beyond knowledge. Our faith is in the one we do not see but whom we sense: the great one, of mystery and authority, the one who is symbolised to us in different ways but above all in his sojourn in the flesh.

Death is a significant moment, but it is not the most significant moment. The most important moment is faith, when we die with Christ and receive the life of Christ. The weakness of our faith is made up for, not by the moment of our death, but by the work of the community and their penance on our behalf. A certain judgment is made of us at death, for the history of our lives is to an extent written and concluded at that time, but the work of resurrection is to be performed by the community and by Christ.

Already at faith we have begun to enter the Holy of Holies. The writer of Hebrews urges us to continue with our movement into that place. He is urging us to holiness, to deeper faith, firmer hope and works of love, in particular by attending the community meetings – presumably the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. For as we grow in these virtues, the whole world becomes the sanctuary. As the heart changes so does the universe. As we become divine so does the world. As we become holy, so do all things become the Holy of Holies.

 

Year 1, Week 3, Friday      

“But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.”           Hebrews 10.39

Constancy is the gift of God. God does not waver or vary in his moods and intentions. His anger and his compassion are the same motivation applied to different circumstances. He does not vary, for he is faithful. It is because we change that God seems to change. The earth tilts this way and that so that the sun appears higher or lower in the sky, warmer or colder. Yet the sun does not change, it is our earth which varies. God is faithful, determined, peaceful. His constancy is not indifference but infinite concern. His constancy is not boredom but fullness of power. He is determined to make us a kingdom where each shall be son.

We are destined to have the same constancy: not varying in exultation or depression according to the circumstance. For our will comes from God, not from the fortunes of history. Our determination is from outside this wheeling planet and we do not vary in basic mood. At all times we have peace, at all times we seek the kingdom destined for others and for me. If at times we act in anger or at other times in compassion, these moods are found at the periphery of our existence where we impinge upon the varying world, but our heart is constant and determined.

Therefore, we are of God. Therefore, our souls are saved. We are already beyond the judgment, beyond the grip of the world. Already we are with God, saved; and like God, saving: for our fidelity is saving the world, preserving those who also look to faith.

Our constancy is perfectly subtle. Like water, it is infinitely variable according to the structure of the river bed, and like water, it is irresistible. Water has immense force precisely because it is so determined – drawn by gravity; it is irresistible precisely because it is so variable – forever finding new routes.

But we are of God, we seek the kingdom; and the fight is no trouble, because our victory is certain.

 

Year 1, Week 4, Thursday

            “everyone is a first-born son”.            Hebrews 12.23

The title ‘first-born’ is a title of privilege and excellence. It is a messianic title, as in Colossians. How can it be predicated of all?

Christ is not the source of grace as God is. The Father is primarily the source of grace to all. Yet the Father does nothing without the Son. The Son seconds his Father’s will. The Son is source of grace in a seconding way, but the Father remains always He by whose will we are born again. Our sonship is of God. We are not sons of Christ.

Christ is called ‘first-born’ because of the excellence of grace in him. We are less than first-born because we are firstly created, the result of the free decision of God. We are associated with him by his sharing of our human nature. God, in giving his grace to all, cannot do without the seconding will of the Man among men, but the source of from God.

The Christ is “first-born” by virtue of his eternity. We are first-born in time by virtue of the fullness of grace which comes to us. Christ has the precedence and we are the result. We are first-born, not in honour but in power, not in place but in fact. What Christ is excellently, we are eventually. What God makes of Christ, in the first instance, he makes of us, at the last. We are all sons of God, all equal in fact, all first-born.

 

Year, 1, Week 3, Monday

“He does away with sin by sacrificing himself.”       Hebrews 9.26

This is shorthand for the essential mystery of all reality: he does away with death by ‘doing away with himself’.

Jesus is full of life. He feels such energy, such desire, and yet he finds himself in a world of lassitude and tepidity, of unhappiness and discord. He and the world are clean contrary to each other: he does not accept the world and the world cannot accept him. Therefore, the fight begins. He sees through the world and its weakness and condemns it. He comes to replace it with the life, the body he feels already within himself. They grapple: the world covers him with shame and pain, with doubt and death. Every scar, every brand is tried on him in vain. He allows the worst: death itself; he wants the worst: complete rejection, so as to show their weakness and inconsequence compared with his vitality.

All these things he turns to his profit, for as he grapples he strengthens; as the fire burns he is refined; as he seizes hold he adopts new postures. The vitality, so active and yet so dormant, becomes awake and appears; the pain brings out the best in him.

When the worst has been tried – death by public crucifixion – he achieves the best: his fullness of vitality, filling the whole world and impelling all people. His death is a sacrifice bringing the blessings of heaven. Death with all its attendant sorrow and lassitude, despair and doubt are shown to be ineffective: the sin of the world is taken away. Death is made insignificant at the moment of his death. Death is done away with at the moment he ‘does away’ with himself.

The infinite life is all around us, within us, with its strength and solidity; and to it, as it possesses us, we say ‘Yes, let it be’.

 

 

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LES INGREDIENTS IMPURS DU RITUEL KULA, Versets sur les ingrédients cités dans le commentaire de Jayaratha sur le Tantrāloka, ch. 29 d’Abhinavagupta

LES INGREDIENTS IMPURS DU RITUEL KULA

Versets sur les ingrédients cités dans le commentaire de Jayaratha sur le Tantrālokach. 29 d’Abhinavagupta

 Ayant établi que l’impureté n’existe pas, Jayaratha cite un verset qui prépare le lecteur à la question des mets prohibés.

Cit.10b.1         « Il faut adorer cette lignée [des Parfaits] avec des ingrédients qui sont à la fois haïs par le peuple et interdits par les Śāstras, qui sont dégoûtants et méprisés. »

Les principaux ingrédients du rituel Kula sont les trois M’s : vin (madya), viande (māṁsa) et rapports sexuels (maithuna). Les tantras non-Kula y ajoutent deux autres: poisson (matsya) et graine séchée (mudrā). Le rituel peut ajouter d’autres ingrédients aussi. Jayaratha cite un verset qui les nomme:

Cit.17b.1         “Le sperme et l’urine du mâle, le sang menstruel, les fèces, and le phlegme; la chair humaine, la chair de bœuf et de chèvre, le poisson, la volaille, l’oignon et même l’ail: voilà la belle série de douze ingrédients.”

Et plus tard,  lorsqu’il parle de ce qui est dénommé ‘oblation’ (caru), dont on se sert dans le rite d’initiation de l’Ānandeśvara, Jayaratha nomme les cinq ‘joyaux’, comme il les appelle, qui ne ressemblent aucunement aux neuf joyaux typiques de la gemmologie indienne : perle, rubis, topaze, diamant, émeraude, lapis lazulite, corail, grenat.

Cit. 200b.1      « Je vais parler de l’oblation située dans le corps, que même les dieux ont du mal à avoir: l’urine mâle, le sperme, le sang des règles,  le phlegme et les fèces. Donc, une fois qu’il a célébré le rituel [appelée ‘ādiyāga’], il devrait obtenir l’oblation située dans le corps. »

Selon les Lois de Manuces cinq ‘joyaux’ sont impurs. « Les orifices au-dessus du l’nombril sont pur, mais ceux en-dessous sont impurs, de même que les souillures qui en sortent. »[1]« Les douze souillures corporelles sont : huile, sperme, sang, moelle, urine, fèces, morve, cérumen, phlegme, larmes, ceux qui vient des yeux et transpiration : voilà les douze souillures humaines. »[2]

Le pratiquant kaula,par contre, considère que le corps est un temple, et donc tout ce qui sort du corps est saint. D’ailleurs, c’est précisément parce que les mets sont effrayants et non pas attirants qu’il les utilise. Il n’est pas nécrophile ou coprophage ; il est parfaitement normal. Il ne rejette rien. Il accepte tout, il se sert de tout, et il s’identifie à tout. Il pratique la voie de ‘la main gauche’ qui est plus effective car elle est de nature plus sacrificielle.

Dans la voie ‘de la main droite’ le pratiquant imagine ce qui est affreux tout en se servant de ce qui ne l’est pas. Mais ceux qui se limitent à ce qui est doux et agréable se privent du côté néfaste des choses. Le sacrifice le plus authentique et digne du nom se fait par ce que le corps refuse. Le célébrant se sacrifie ; son désir naturel pour le beau et le bon est mis de côté. Il n’en fait plus aucun cas. Il proclame ainsi que la vraie béatitude se trouve au-delà du plaisant et du déplaisant qui sont transitoires. Le vrai bonheur se trouve dans la reconnaissance que ce monde entier est la forme de Śiva, et mieux encore la forme de Bhairava.

De fait, Abhinavagupta préfère l’appellation ‘Bhairava’ pour désigner le dieu suprême. Il explique le nom en Tantrāloka 1.96-100.

«  [Ce dieu] porte l’univers… le nourrissant et le soutenant. …. Il en est le grondement …. Il protégé ceux qu’effraie le flux du devenir. … Par lui se produit, en raison de la grâce, la prise de conscience de la frayeur de l’existence. Il est ce qui brille chez ceux dont la pensée s’attache à la concentration sur ce qu’on nomme engloutissement du temps …. Il met fin au tourbillon du passager. Il est donc le ‘Très Effroyable’. »

Un mythe raconte que Bhairava, faussement accusé du meurtre d’un brahmane, fut condamné à fréquenter les champs crématoires. Ce séjour dans l’immonde lui accorde d’immenses pouvoirs.[3]La voie de ‘la main gauche’ est censée conférer des pouvoirs semblables.

Cela rappelle les ‘aghori’ qui hantent les champs crématoires. Comme leur nom indique, ils sont ‘sans peur’. Ils n’ont pas peur, ils ne font pas peur, car ils transcendent la peur. Rien ne leur est épouvantable, ni la mort, ni les mets dégoutants.

Les ingrédients sont « haïs, dégoûtants et méprisés. » Ils sont aussi « interdits par les Śāstras » Ce ne fut pas toujours le cas que le vin et la viande fussent interdits. Par exemple, le Śatapatha Brāmaṇadéclare, « La viande est la meilleure des nourritures ».[4]Mais à la suite de l’introduction de la doctrine de la non-violence, et de l’ascendance des brahmanes, l’abstention de la viande devint un critère de la pureté.[5]Cela dit, LesLois de Manuqui décrivent le train de vie du brahmane parfait se contredisent. Après avoir déclaré que celui qui mange la chair d’un animal en cette vie sera mangé par le même animal dans une vie à venir[6], le texte continue, « Il n’y a rien de mal à manger de la viande ou à boire du vin ou à avoir des rapports sexuels, car c’est comme ça que les êtres vivants prennent part à la vie, mais s’en détacher apporte bien des fruits. »[7]

Le pratiquant kaula ne fréquente pas les champs crématoires. Du fait que le célébrant est un gṛhastha, c’est-à-dire avec famille et métier, sa pratique a lieu chez lui, dans sa maison. Les mets horribles permettent cette transition du champ crématoire à la maison..

[1]LesLois de Manu5 :132.

[2]Les Lois de Manu5.135.

[3]Voir H. von Stietencron. ‘Bhairava’. In Vorträge /  Deutscher Orientalistentag, SupplementaI, vol. 3, 1968. pp. 863-871.

[4]Śatapatha Brāmaṇa11.7.1.3. The Laws of Manu. Wendy Doniger (trans.) London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1991. p. xxxiii.

[5]Francis Zimmerman. The Jungle and the Aroma of Meats. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. p.2. The Laws of Manu. p. xxxiii.

[6]LesLois de Manu5.55.

[7]LesLois de Manu5.56. Jayaratha citera ce texte dans son commentaire sur la distinction entre le pratiquant kaulaet l’homme égaré. Voir le commentaire qui suit Tantrāloka29.98b.

 

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LE VIN, Versets sur le vin cités dans le commentaire de Jayaratha sur le Tantrāloka, ch. 29 d’Abhinavagupta

LE VIN

Versets sur le vin cités dans le commentaire de Jayaratha sur

le Tantrāloka, ch. 29 d’Abhinavagupta

                       

L’essence du vin

Cit.13b.1         « L’alcool est la suprême Śakti ; le vin est appelé Bhairava. Le Soi devient liquide à cause de Bhairava le magnanime. »

Le mantra est la forme phonique de la divinité. De même, selon ce verset, l’alcool est la forme tangible de la Śakti et le vin la forme tangible de Bhairava. La conscience illimitée se trouve actualisée. Le Soi dévient liquide. Le Magnanime s’incarne dans le vin de sorte qu’il se transmue en vin ; le vin est divin pendant le sacrifice ; le vin constitue le moyen par excellence d’accéder au Soi.

Du fait que le dieu et la déesse, Bhairava et sa Śakti, sont inséparables, ce verset n’oppose pas alcool et vin mais prend la forme d’un hendiadys.

Selon LesLois de Manu,toute boisson alcoolique barre le chemin au ciel ; selon le Kula, par contre, elle est la divinité même. La divinité se trouve dans l’immonde; on devient divin en se mêlant à ce qui est interdit. On se divinise en se mêlant à ce que les textes sacrés interdisent, et on fait preuve d’autonomie en opposant ces lois. Dans un milieu où le vin était absolument interdit, participer en un tel rituel indique une audace extrême, et pour cette raison le rituel Kula est réservé au ‘héros’.

Le nom ‘Bhairava’ est bien choisi car il signifie la forme farouche du dieu tandis que le nom ‘Śiva’ indique sa forme bénéfique. La raison en est que Bhairava s’incarne dans le vin. Le Soi dévient liquide.

 

Les avantages du vin

 Cit.13b.2         « Sans [le vin] il n’y a pas de libération; sans [le vin] il n’y a pas d’élan [vers la libération]; sans [le vin] il n’y a pas de pouvoir surnaturel, surtout dans la tradition de Bhairava. »

Ceux qui distinguent entre le licite et l’illicite, sont immobilisés. Ceux par contre qui n’en font aucun cas ressentent l’élan de l’esprit  et reconnaissent qu’ils sont libres de toutes les entraves. Cependant, leur liberté n’est pas ce libertinage dominé par l’ego et ses fantaisies. En se servant de ce qui est interdit le célébrant fait preuve de souveraineté car Śiva, source des lois, est autonome à leur sujet. Ce n’est pas quittant cette vie qu’on devient libre, mais en identifiant le ‘au-delà’ et le ‘ici-bas’, le transcendant et l’immanent.

L’acte même de consommer la boisson, qui est Bhairava, fait que le participant soit Bhairava, et qu’il jouisse des pouvoirs surnaturels de Bhairava.   Il ressent en lui-même la divinité qu’il est devenu et il en ressent la toute-puissance.

Les ‘Bhairavatantras’ sont une série de textes, dont la plus célèbre est le Vijñānabhairavatantra, étroitement liés au Shivaïsme du Cachemire. Il y aussi le Bhairavakulatantraet le Svacchandabhairavatantra.

Cit.13b.3         «O Maheśvarī, du fait que [le vin] est senti, entendu, vu, bu et touché, il donne la jouissance et la libération …. »

Les tantras prennent souvent la forme d’un discours adressé par le dieu à sa parèdre qui est ici dénommée Maheśvarī. Il lui explique que le vin,  qui est connu par tous les sens, l’odorat, l’ouïe, la vue, etc. et qui est donc très matériel, a ceci d’étonnant qu’il est capable  de conduire le pratiquant au niveau subtil qui est la jouissance, et au niveau suprême qui est la libération. Tout autant que les paroles d’un maitre, le vin est un moyen puissant pour avoir accès à la divinité.

Selon la tradition hindoue, les quatre buts de la vie humaine sont la religion (dharma), les biens (artha), le plaisir (kāma) et la libération (mokṣa). Les trois premiers sont réunis sous le vocable ‘jouissance’ et selon le point de vu dualiste s’opposent au quatrième, la libération, alors que la tradition non-duelle tantrique les identifie.  L’essence du tantra est « de mettre le kāma  – le désir – (en tous les sens du terme) et les valeurs qui lui sont associées au service de la délivrance. »[1]Le vin est l’humanisation du divin, l’incarnation de l’infini. En même temps il divinise l’humain. Jouissance et libération sont un. Le pratiquant devient libre en cette vie ; il est non-duel.

 

 La prééminence du vin

 Il ne s’agit pas de n’importe quel alcool. Selon les classifications hindoues tous les alcools, sauf le vin, peuvent être ramenés en trois genres.[2]Jayaratha cite un verset qui  parle de ces trois catégories.

Cit.13c.4          « Le whisky, le rhum et l’hydromel sont dénommés ‘alcools fabriqués’. Pour l’Adepte ils font plaisir en ce qui concerne le ‘féminin,’, le ‘masculin’ et le ‘neutre’. »

Les termes ‘féminin’, ‘neutre’, et ‘masculin’ sont pris de la grammaire et se réfèrent au monde objectif, le monde des choses.

Selon la tradition Kula, telle que le conçoit Abhinavagupta, l’Adepte (sādhaka)  se donne à la récitation du mantra et en acquiert tous les pouvoirs de sorte que le roi, par exemple, en dépend pour la victoire, ou que le commun des hommes le prie de leur accorder les bonheurs matériels. L’Adepte joue donc un rôle public important. Lui aussi cherche les plaisirs du monde et les pouvoirs surnaturels, mais selon Abhinavagupta, il joue un rôle mineur.

Le pratiquant Kula n’est pas tout d’abord un Adepte car il vit au plus haut niveau de la conscience non-discursive, et les plaisirs du monde, qui ne sont pas refusés, restent en second lieu. Le rapport entre la conscience est les plaisirs constitue un sujet qui revient constamment; le but est de les réconcilier, de devenir jīvan-mukta, libéré en cette vie.

Cit. 13b.5        « Le vin de raisin, par contre, est naturel et simple. Sa splendeur est bhairavienne. Le Seigneur suprême n’est ni ‘féminin’, ni ‘neutre’ ni ‘masculin’. »[3]

Les termes ‘féminin’, ‘neutre’ et ‘masculin’ se réfèrent aux genres dans la grammaire et indiquent le monde objectif, le monde des choses. Par contre le Seigneur est le sujet suprême, le ‘Je’. Il ne peut jamais être un objet.  Abhinavagupta aborde ce sujet dans son commentaire sur les versets 3 et 4 du Parātriṃśikāvivaraṇa[4]où il explique la commande ‘écoute’ (śṛṇu)que Śiva adresse à sa parèdre. Il explique quel’acte même de s’adresser à un objet transforme l’objet radicalement et fait qu’il devienne ‘tu’. Abhinavagupta ajoute que le ‘tu’ devient ensuite ‘Je’, car le ‘tu’ est absorbé dans l’unique ‘Je’. Le ‘tu’ ne reste pas à l’écart et duel mais est accueilli au plus profond du Soi. L’acte d’adresser est un acte de divinisation.

Tout cela se passe naturellement, car Śiva, le sujet, se plait à s’exprimer dans l’objectivité de ce monde et ensuite à lui accorder sa grâce, de sorte que ce qui était inerte et passif redevienne pleinement conscient, le ‘il’ et ‘elle’ deviennent ‘Je’. L’acte même de s’adresser change celui qui est adressé qui devient ‘tu’ et le ‘tu’ devient finalement le ‘Je’ lui-même.

La citation souligne la spontanéité de Śiva/Bhairava. Le vin est ‘simple’ car il se fait tout seul. On n’ajoute rien ; on le laisse, et tout naturellement le jus de raisin se transforme en vin, alors que le whisky, le rhum et l’hydromel sont fabriqués, forcés pour ainsi dire, par l’homme qui change le cours naturel des choses pour satisfaire à ses besoins. Le vin, comme on a déjà vu, est le produit naturel de la vigne. Alors que les autres alcools, tel que la bière, l’hydromel et le whisky, sont des boissons artificielles, fabriquées par l’homme, le vin résulte d’une fermentation naturelle et spontanée.  Tout comme les sept fluides ou humeurs du corps, chyle, sang, chair, gras, os, moelle, sperme, le vin se fait tout naturellement. En le buvant le pratiquant se met en rapport avec le monde qui provient uniquement de la main de Śiva et qui n’est pas le résultat des actions karmiques des hommes. Le pratiquant shivaïte ne cherche pas à changer le monde mais à s’y identifier.  En choisissant le vin il s’immerge plus profondément dans le cycle naturel de ce monde et se conforme alors à la volonté divine.

Ce signalement de ce qui est naturel revient constamment dans le rituel Kula. Les émotions surgissent de leur propre accord ; l’éveil se fait de lui-même,  l’émanation et la réabsorption de monde sont spontanées. Rien n’est forcé ou involontaire.

Le fait même d’être exclu donne au vin une qualité spéciale. On fait voir qu’on n’a rien à faire avec les traditions purement sociales qui sont le produit de la mécompréhension humaine. On utilise le vin précisent pour faire voir qu’on dépasse tous ces conditionnements. Le divin se trouve en s’associant à ce qui est naturel mais qui est rejeté comme injuste par les traditions artificielles des hommes karmiques qui se méprennent sur la valeur la réalité.

Le vin est splendide car il dénoue les liens qui engourdissent l’esprit.  Du fait aussi qu’il est interdit, il laisse apparaître la gloire divine. De meme que le mantra possède une splendeur innée car la śakti l’habite.

Dans Tantrāloka37.42 Abhinavagupta louera le vin de son pays, le Cachemire, disant qu’il est ‘hautement bhairavien’ (mahābhairava), c’est-à-dire ‘formidable’, ‘bouleversant’. Il faut se rappeler de la légende de Bhairava. C’est précisément dans l’impureté que les pouvoirs sont acquis.

Cit. 13b.6        « Le rhum, l’hydromel et le whisky : Ānandabhairava [le vin] les dépasse tous. »

Le mot ‘nanda’ signifie ‘béatitude’ ; le préfixe āsignifie ‘lieu’, et donc ānandaest le ‘lieu’ où se trouve la béatitude, que ce soit la naissance d’un fils, l’assouvissement d’un désir, la jouissance sexuelle, ou la connaissance divine etc.[5]Le terme Ānandabhairavasignifie ou bien ‘Bhairava le bienheureux’ ou ‘la béatitude divine’. Le vin est la forme physique de la divinité tout comme le mantra en est la forme phonique  et de ce fait il confère la béatitude. Il dépasse les plaisirs de ce monde. Il est foudroyant et épouvantable car il révèle l’insuffisance des plaisirs mondains – le rhum, le whiskey et l’hydromel – et communique la connaissance de ce qui relativise et dépasse le monde transitoire.  Mais il est aussi une réalité physique. Ce qui est matériel conduit hors du matériel.  Il est immanent et transcendant à la fois.

Cit. 13b.7       « Cet élément est de quatre genres qui constituent un système conforme aux quatre âges. Des quatre alcools, la béatitude [c’est-à-dire le vin] concerne la paix. »

Les quatre âges (yuga) sont Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga et Kālī Yuga. Le Satya Yuga est l’âge d’or, l’ère de la vérité et de perfection.  Les millénaires depuis le Satya Yuga font preuve d’une corruption progressive aboutissant au Kālī Yuga, notre ère, l’ère de l’obscurité et de l’ignorance.

Les alcools fabriqués confirment cette déchéance. Seul le vin est capable de nous faire remonter ce parcours et retrouver l’âge d’or et de paix.

Le théâtre indien énumère huit émotions qui sont ‘eros’, ‘humour’, ‘dégout’, ‘colère’, ‘compassion’, ‘courage’, ‘horreur’, et ‘émerveillement’. Abhinavagupta y ajoute une neuvième, la paix, semblable à la surface tranquille du lac qui reflète le ciel et laisse voir le fond, tous les deux. Celui qui arrive au bonheur divin connait la paix qui permet à toutes les émotions leur plein effet, car elle ne s’y oppose pas, alors que celui qui est asservi à une émotion particulière est rendu incapable d’apprécier les autres. Celui-là seul qui est profondément paisible peut devenir totalement furieux, par exemple, car sa colère est pure et affranchie des émotions  contraires et conflictuelles.  C’est le vin qui mène hors des émotions passagères et limitées et conduisent à l’émotion primordiale ; le vin permet aussi le plein épanouissement des émotions.

Cit. 13b.8        « Tout comme Śiva-Bhairava est chef dans les rassemblées des bhairavas; tout comme, dans la réunion des déesses, Kālāntakī [‘Celle qui est à la fin des temps’] est suprême : de même ces deux [c’est-à-dire Śiva-Bhairava et Kālāntakī] sont dénommés chefs de toutes les meilleures essences. Toutefois, Bhairavanātha, le vin, est la meilleure essence, lui qui est ‘mercuriel’. »

Le développement de l’alchimie est fortement lié  à la tradition des Rasa Siddha et des Nātha Siddha au moyen âge qui cherchaient les siddhas, c’est-à-dire les pouvoirs surnaturels.[6]Le fait que ‘Bhairavanātha’ peut être traduit comme ‘Bhairava le Nātha’ souligne le rapport avec la tradition des Nāthas.

Dans l’alchimie (rasāyana) indienne, le mercure était censé accorder un niveau de vigueur et de santé tel qu’il permettait aux yogis qui le consumaient de vivre des centaines d’années.[7]La citation accepte les enseignements au sujet du mercure. Qu’en est-il du vin ? Est-il inferieur au mercure ?

Il se peut que le mercure accorde les pouvoirs tel que la vie et l’immortalité, mais le vin le surpasse car lui aussi  donne force et santé mais il accorde de surcroit l’accès à la conscience suprême.  Il est donc la meilleure essence; il est ‘mercuriel’. ‘Rasendra’, ‘Maitre des essences [de l’alchimie]’, est un des noms de Śiva-Bhairava. Inutile donc de se lancer dans les insuffisances et les complexités de l’alchimie.

Jayaratha sait bien qu’il faut défendre l’usage du vin, moyen scandaleux. Il faut le justifier en démontrant son efficacité, car ce qui est plus effectif est pour cette raison plus vrai. La preuve se trouve non pas dans le raisonnement mais dans l’expérience. Le vin est plus simple et plus efficace. Le tantra et partant le Kula se vantent d’être le moyen le plus rapide et le plus facile de parvenir a l’état de libéré vivant.

 Cit. 13b.9        « Toujours cher à Bhairava et à la assemblée nombreuse des Mères …. »

Qui sont ces mères ? Le verset est incomplet mais il se peut qu’elles soient les ‘Sept Mères’, Brahmāṇī, Vaiṣṇavī, Māheśvarī, Indrāṇī, Kaumarī, Vārāhī,Cāmuṇḍā, à qui on ajoute une huitième, Nārasiṁhī. Il y a aussi les dix déesses, les Daśamahāvidyā, qui sont Kālī, Tārā, Tripura-sundarī, Bhuvaneśvarī, Chinnamastā, Bhairavī, Dhūmāvātī, Bagalāmukhī, Mātaṅgī, et Kamalā. Il y a bien d’autres listes. Les ‘Mères’ possèdent tous les pouvoirs, et sont l’objet particulier des rites tantriques.  L’adorateur espère bénéficier de leurs pouvoirs en leur offrant le vin. On verra plus tard, à la citation 13b.24, que si le célébrant manque de leur offrir le vin, le yoginīs s’affaissent et deviennent comme des animaux.

Le vin est cher à Bhairava car il est le dieu du vin. Il est cher aussi aux Mères qui le préfèrent à cause de sa prééminence sur les autres alcools et le mercure. Ce verset conclut la section sur la supériorité du vin.

 

Les sanctions

 Cit. 13b.10      « S’il manque d’adorer le dieu Bhairava, s’il manque de rassasier les mantras, s’il boit comme un animal attelé qu’on désaltère, même un héros ira en enfer. »

Le ‘héros’ est le célébrant du rituel Kula par excellence, car il a le courage d’utiliser les mets interdits. Mais il lui faut suivre les rites usuels, c’est-à-dire, adorer son dieu et rassasier les ‘mantras’, c’est-à-dire les déesses. Elles sont rassasiées par le vin. S’il néglige ses devoirs et boit du vin comme un animal il sera condamné aux enfers. Toutefois, la condamnation n’est pas éternelle car l’enfer est un lieu de punition d’où on peut s’échapper, tout comme le séjour au ciel n’est pas à jamais car on peut en échouer.

Le terme ‘héros’ est sans référence aux castes. Tout le monde peut devenir un héros, pourvu qu’il prenne part au rituel Kula quipermet l’égalité qui élimine et surpasse les castes.

Cit. 13b.11      « Un brahman qui assiste à une cérémonie Kula or même un guerrier, si le vin ne l’a pas touché, doit faire un rite de réparation. »

 Bien que l’alcool soit la boisson caractéristique du serviteur, les autres castes s’en servent aussi. Le rituel Kula ne tient pas compte des castes. Toutefois il se peut qu’un brahman, épouvanté par l’idée de boire de l’alcool le refuse. Les Lois de Manulaissent savoir que boire du vin pendant le repas rend impur. [8]  Même toucher le vin inconsciemment exige le renouveau de l’initiation.[9]Ce verset dit le contraire.

Cit. 13b.12      « Si l’arôme du vin et de la viande lui manque à la bouche, il est réduit à l’état d’un animal attelé. Il doit célébrer un rite de réparation. »

 LesLois de Manuavertissent que l’acte même de sentir l’odeur du vin fait perdre sa caste au brahmane.[10]Ici aussi le rituel Kula n’est pas d’accord.

 

 Le moment propice

Il ne s’agit pas de consommer le vin n’importe quand. Son usage se fait uniquement pendant le rite. S’en servir en dehors du rite est l’affaire d‘ivrognes.

Le texte suivant est mal souvent mal traduit et mal compris : « Bois, bois, et bois encore chaque fois que tu tombes. Mets-toi debout et bois encore. Tu seras enfin libre du cycle des naissances. »[11]La ‘chute’ signifie la faiblesse de la kuṇḍalinī,c’est-à-dire de la déesse en forme du serpent qui se replie dans premier chakra, le mūlādhāra,au lieu de se dresser et de parvenir au sommet de la tête, le sahasrāra,  où elle s’unit avec le dieu et jouit de la béatitude infinie. S’il y a une ‘chute’ il faut faire usage de ce qui est interdit, le vin, pour ranimer l’esprit.

Ce même genre d’injonction se trouve vers la fin du chapitre 29, les vv. 282-283,  les participants doivent consommer l’ ‘oblation’ de nouveau pour que le rite ne soit pas en quelque sorte défectueux. Il ne s’agit pas de s’enivrer.

Cit. 13b.13      « S’il ne boit pas d’alcool pour un jour ou pour une demi-journée, pour le quart d’un jour ou même le huitième d’un jour, l’homme devient un pénitent. »

Cit. 13b.14      « La meilleur consommation [de vin] est celle qui se fait à chaque occasion. Celle de valeur moyenne se fait aux ‘conjonctures’. La pire a lieu seulement une fois par mois. Si moins que chaque mois, il devient un ‘animal attelé’. »

Le chapitre 28 du Tantrāloka  décrit la phase initiale (ādiyāga) où les substances utilisées dans le sacrifice Kula sont préparées. Elles seront utilisées dans la phase suivante (anuyāga), le rite célébré avec la parèdre en chapitre 29. Les substances sont consommées aussi dans le ‘Sacrifice du Cercle’ où les pratiquants du Kula se réunissent avec leur gourou. Ce Sacrifice du Cercle est décrit en Tantrāloka28.60b-111. Il a lieu fréquemment : après un décès, pendant une conjoncture astrale, à l’occasion d’une fête ou d’un mariage,  à l’anniversaire de la naissance du gourou, etc. Le vin est utilisé aussi dans le rite quotidien et dans un rite  dit ‘optatif’. L’usage est donc fréquent. Ces versets ne signifient pas que le pratiquant doit en boire beaucoup mais qu’il doit en boire souvent. Si non, il ne sentira pas l’effet libérateur du rite ; il deviendra comme tout le monde, un ‘animal attelé’.

Mais ce n’est pas n’importe quel vin consommé à n’importe quel moment. Car l’usage du vin est réservé au moment du rite. Il est consacré. S’en servir en dehors du rite est l’affaire d‘ivrogne.

 Les castes

Cit. 13b.15      « Pour les brahmanes [la cérémonie se fait] avec le bois de santal ; avec du safran pour les guerriers, avec du camphre liquide pour les paysans, avec de la liqueur gâchée pour les serviteurs, O Bien-aimée. »

 L’alcool fut particulièrement associé avec la classe au plus bas de l’échelle sociale, avec ceux qui se trouvaient exclus de l’initiation sanctifiante. C’est précisément leur boisson – gâchée de surcroit –   qui devient la boisson préférée du rituel Kula. Ce qui est méprisé devient le moyen d’atteindre la divinité. Le pratiquant s’identifie donc à la servitude.  Le rituel renverse l’ordre social

 Cit. 13b.16      « [L’alcool est utilisé] à l’occasion de l’initiation d’un brahmane, pendant la bataille au cas d’un guerrier, pour la bénédiction de la terre pour un paysan, pour le rituel funéraire d’un esclave. »

Ce verset souligne que l ‘usage de l’alcool s’applique à toutes les castes malgré les interdictions. Pour le brahmane c’est au moment de l’initiation qui lui confère le pouvoir spirituel dans les rites ; quant au guerrier, c’est pour lui donner courage et force au moment de la bataille; quant au paysan, c’est parce que le vin symbolise le sperme divin qui fait fructifier la terre. Le vin est utilisé pendant le rituel funéraire du serviteur, car sa servitude prend fin alors et il peut espérer renaitre dans une caste supérieure. Pour lui, la mort signifie la libération.

La citation 13b.16 prépare le texte suivant qui condamne la limitation de l‘usage du vin.

Cit. 13b.17      « Du moment que [l’alcool] fut gâché par le Maitre des démons, depuis ce temps-là la répartition des castes fut divulguée. L’usage de la boisson est permis pendant le sacrifice Sautrāmaṇi des brahmanes, pendant une grande bataille au cas des guerriers, pendant le travail aux champs et lors d’une grande célébration en famille ou d’une réunion des amis pour les paysans, à la fin de rituel au champ crématoire pour les esclaves, à l’occasion d’un mariage ou de la naissance d’un fils.     

Une telle division de la boisson, O Belle, est l’affaire des gens trompés. Mais pour ceux qui ont sont initiés dans la tradition de Śaṅkara et dans la tradition de la déesse, qui obéissent à la commande du gourou, qui se retirent [du regard public], qui s’absorbent dans la récitation et l’adoration, qui sont experts en connaissance et discernement, dont l’esprit est honnête et sans gourmandise: ces deux fois nés ne sont jamais hostiles [à l’usage] constant [du vin], O Bien-aimée. »

La citation 13b.16 semble dire que l’usage du vin est lié aux moments précis de la vie. La citation 13b.7 corrige ce malentendu possible.  L’usage de l’alcool dans le rituel Kula n’a rien à voir avec les occasions de la vie ordinaire.

Le premier paragraphe précise que le dégât du vin et la division en castes eurent lieu en même temps. Cette constatation contredit l’histoire de l’origine des castes décrit dans leṚg Veda10.90 qui parle de l’Homme Cosmique qui se sacrifie et de sa bouche sortent les brahmanes, de ses bras les guerriers, de ses jambes les paysans, et de ses pieds les serviteurs. Non, c’est le Maitre des démons qui a réparti les castes !

Le texte continue et implique Indra, le dieu principal du Ṛg Veda, qui est le créateur et sauveur, et en quelque sorte le maître des dieux.  La légende relate que Indra but une quantité excessive de soma, la boisson sacrée du Veda. Il avait besoin d’être purgé. Cet épisode est célébré à la Sautrāmaṇi, fêtementionnée dans le Yajur VedaBlanc, ch. 19-21, qui comprend une oblation de sura, liqueur extraite de diverses plantes.  Il est normal donc que les brahmanes, les représentants de dieux, se servent de l’alcool pendant leurs rites. Tout cela veut dire que le chef des dieux aimait l’alcool et que l’usage de l’alcool est autorisé par les textes plus vénérés.

Toutefois, l’utilisation décrite dans le premier paragraphe est limitée. La citation proclame que cette restriction est « l’affaire des gens trompés », car elle impose des contraintes à la liberté. Pour les pratiquants du rite Kula par contre, qui jouissent de la liberté divine, il n’y a pas de restrictions. L’usage peut être constant, c’est-à-dire, à la lumière des citations 13b.13 et 13b.14, pendant le rituel Kula.

Le terme ‘deux-fois né’ ne s’applique strictement qu’aux trois castes supérieures qui furent nés pour la première fois de la matrice maternelle, et une deuxième fois lors de l’initiation védique. Mais dans le sacrifice Kula ce système de castes ne compte plus, car le rituel Kula admet tout le monde. Les serviteurs tout autant que les membres des autres castes adorent Śaṅkara,c’est-à-dire Śiva; ils adorent la déesse, ils obéissent au gourou, ils agissent en secret et ils s’adonnent à l’adoration et la récitation.  Eux aussi sont donc essentiellement deux-fois nés, même sans avoir reçu l’initiation.

L’adhérent du Kula n’est pas conformiste. Comme dit le verset bien connu:

“Il est secrètement un kaula, extérieurement un Śaivasiddhāntin,mais en public il suit les Vedas.”[12] 

Il se sent forcé de célébrer les rites en secret car l’opprobre publique lui serait insupportable. Il n’observe pas le système des castes pendant le rituel secret, mais il continue à le soutenir en public. De plus, le secret, tout comme la proscription, ajoute à l’efficacité du rite. Il n’est pas un révolutionnaire ; il ne cherche pas à changer l’ordre social. Au contraire, il a besoin des distinctions entre les castes pour qu’il puisse faire voir qu’il les dépasse.  Il est donc complice.

 

Les autres instruments du culte

 Les pratiques rituelles varient énormément en Inde, mais d’habitude on se sert de parfums, fleurs, encense, lampes, et offrandes de nourriture comme l’orge et le riz. Les versets qui suivent soulignent le fait que ces objets ne sont pas nécessaires mais que le vin est indispensable. Jayaratha se sent obligé de citer cinq versets qui disent la même chose, tant la coutume habituelle est dominante.

Cit. 13b.18      « Mets d’un côté toutes les oblations, de l’autre uniquement le vin. Le [sacrifice] peut être célébré même sans oblation. Sans le vin il n’est jamais possible. »

 Cit. 13b.19      « Le culte est célébré tous les jours sans ces [autres] ingrédients. [S’il est célébré] sans ce seul [ingrédient, c’est-à-dire] sans le vin qui est Seigneur, [le culte] devient inefficace. »

 Cit. 13b.20      « Si l’offrande de fleurs et d’encens etc. fait défaut, O Sulocanī, il faut qu’il rassasie le mantra avec de la liqueur. »

Cit. 13b.21      « O Déesse, à quoi bon utiliser d’autres combinaisons d’ingrédients acceptables au sacrifice ? Ils ne valent pas la seizième partie d’une seule [goutte] de l’ambroisie-de-la-main-gauche. »

Ce verset fait voir que ce qui compte c’est l’usage tant soit peu d’un breuvage strictement interdit. L’euphorie causée par le vin n’est pas exclue, mais elle est sans grande importance. Le mot ‘seizième’ signifie tout simplement ‘minuscule’.

Cit. 13b.22      « La coupe, la fleur, l’encens, la lampe, et l’offrande, n’importe quel ingrédient ‘héroïque’ etc.: tout est basé sur le vin. »

 

En somme

Cit. 13b.23      « O Bien-aimée, celui qui désire la présence [divine] devrait, toujours et partout, adorer le Seigneur des śaktis en compagnie de ses śaktis  en se servant uniquement du vin. »

Le Seigneur du monde est Akula (a-Kula)  car il n’est pas Kula, il n’est pas la déesse. C’est d’elle, la Sakti, que les autres śaktis émanent.  Le Seigneur unique se trouve alors entouré de toutes ces śaktis qui le vénèrent et se soumettent à lui.  Akula y prend plaisir tout comme il se plait en la déesse, sa Kula.

Le pratiquant adore le Seigneur par l’usage du vin et par conséquent il entre en la présence du Seigneur. Il devient lui-même le Seigneur, et donc lui aussi il est entouré de toutes les śaktis. Au verset 29.79 du Tantrāloka, Abhinavagupta parle du célébrant qui est devenu ‘le seul maître du Kula’, ‘le Seigneur des śaktis’,et qui rassasie toutes les śaktis. Lui qui est sans forme adopte ainsi toutes les formes. Celui qui n’est rien est désormais tout. Le pratiquant atteint l’apogée de la divinité.

 

 Les punitions

 Si le célébrant se sert de vin il est divinisé, sinon il est puni.

Cit. 13b.24      « Les yoginīs de celui qui adore la trace des ‘pieds’ sans utiliser de l’alcool s’affaissent et dévorent sang et chair. »

Le mot kulasignifie non seulement la tradition, mais aussi le monde entier qui est sujet à la déesse, celle qu’on nomme Kula par excellence. Elle régit sur d’innombrables kulaou familles qui sont elles aussi régies par des déesses inferieures, les yoginīs. Le culte de yoginīs fut une des sources de la tradition Kula. Elles sont farouches et en même temps elles sont la source d’immenses bienfaits.

Il faut que le célébrant adore les yoginīs, c’est-à-dire qu’il ‘adore la trace des pieds’ carles empreintes ou les pieds sont l’objet de vénération dans la tradition hindoue. Plus précisément, il faut que le célébrant rassasie ces hordes d’ogresses avec les mets affreux, même avec les liquides vitaux de son propre corps. Il s’approprie alors leurs pouvoirs et devient leur maitre. Mais si le pratiquant ne leur offre pas le vin, même s’il leur offre ces autres substances horribles, elle se vengent, et insatisfaites par le vin mangent la chair et le sang, de l’adorateur on peut supposer.

Cit. 13b.25      « Sans le vin, O Déesse, ils ne seront jamais parmi les Parfaits. Selon l’enseignement du Thohakāsails seront à jamais exclus du kulade Svayaṁbhū. »

La tradition Kula distingue entre trois courants, le courant des dieux, le courant des Parfaits, et le courant des humains. Le but des humains, selon la tradition Kula,  est de faire partie des Parfaits et avec eux de se réunir avec les yoginīs, les parèdres par excellence et d’en jouir les bienfaits. Sans le vin le célébrant est exclu des Parfaits. Il ne sera jamais reçu dans la compagnie des Parfaits dont le chef est Śiva, appelé ici Svayaṁbhū, dont le nom signifie ‘Celui qui est sa propre cause’, ‘Celui qui se manifeste de par lui-même’.

 

Citation suivant le verset73b-75a[13]

Il faut ajouter ii une citation qui qui est située plus tard dans le commentaire de Jayaratha.

Cit. 75a          « Il faut soigneusement éviter les Siddhāntas, les Vaiṣṇavas, les Bouddhistes, les Vedāntins et ceux qui suivent le Smārta parce qu’ils sont des ‘bêtes attelés’. Ils abandonnent la présence divine qui provient du contact avec la boisson non-duelle. Ils s’en détournent. Ils sont sans vie, privés de vie. »

Toutes les autres écoles qui se trouvaient au Cachemire à cette époque sont rejetées. En premier lieu, la tradition principale de la vallée, le Śaivasiddhānta, qui proclamait qu’on devient ‘comme Śiva’, mais, à la différence du Shivaïsme du Cachemire, on ne se reconnait pas être Śiva lui-même. Ils sont tous rejetés en tant que ‘bêtes attelés’, sans liberté et sans illumination. Ce jugement est sévère.  La raison en est qu’ils distinguent entre le pur et l’impur, entre le licite et l’illicite et partant que tous se récusent de prendre part à la boisson interdite. L’usage rituel du vin devient alors le signe qui distingue les pratiquants du Kula.

Ceux qui refusent l’impureté sont impurs et impuissants. Ils sont bornés, leurs idées sont restreintes. Ce n’est qu’en prenant part à l’horreur que le dépassement et l’élévation en résultent. On arrive à l’état de Śiva ; on fait voir qu’on lui est identique. La consommation de ce qui semblait donner la mort à l’âme révèle la vie qui était cachée, et transforme l’être limité. Le participant se vivifié par le vin alors que les bouddhistes et les autres ne le sont pas. Ils ne viennent pas en contracte avec la source de la vie ; il ne sont pas ‘libérés en cette vie’ (jīvan-mukti), « ils sont privés de vie» (jīva-varjitā).

 

[1]Formule de Madeleine Biardeau citée par André Padoux, in Recherches sur la symbolique et l’énergie de la parole dans certains textes tantriques.  Paris: Institut de Civilisation Indienne, 1975.  p. 5.

[2]Consulté le 24 séptembre, 2017 en https://archive.org/stream/wineinancientind00boserich/wineinancientind00boserich_djvu.txt

[3]TĀVp. 3300.

[4]Cf. John R. Dupuche. ‘Person-to-Person: vivaraṇa of Abhinavagupta on ParātriṃśikāvivaraṇaVerses 3-4’. In Indo-Iranian Journal44 (2001)1–16.

[5]J. A. B. van Buitenen. ‘Ānandaor All Desires Fulfilled’. History of Religions, 19 (1979) 27-36. P. 32.

[6]David Gordon White. The Alchemical Body. Siddha Traditions in Medieval India.Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1996. p. 2.

[7]David Gordon White. The Alchemical Body. Siddha Traditions in Medieval India.Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1996. p. 9.

[8]The Laws of Manu11.71.

[9]The Laws of Manu11.151.

[10]The Laws of Manu11.68.

[11]Kulārṇavatantra 7 :100.

[12]Cf. Jayaratha ad Tantrāloka4.24, et 251, vol. 3, p. 27 et 28. Abhinavagupta. (tr.). Padoux, A.La Parātrīśikālaghuvṛtti de Abhinavagupta. Paris: E. de Boccard, ?? 1975.

[13]29.73c-75b est la paraphrase d’un texte du Mādhavakula(Jayadrathayāmala, Ṣaṭka4, f. 127v2-6). Sanderson, ‘A Commentary’, p. 110 bas de page 63.

Posted in Abhinavagupta, Hinduism, Jayaratha, John Dupuche, Kashmir Shaivism, Tantrāloka | Leave a comment

LE RITUEL KULA Versets cités par Jayaratha dans son commentaire sur Tantrāloka 29.18-23, ‘Le Sacrifice Quotidien’.

LE RITUEL KULA

Versets cités par Jayaratha dans son commentaire sur Tantrāloka 29.18-23  ‘Le Sacrifice Quotidien’.

Dans Tantrāloka29.18-23 Abhinavagupta décrit le rite quotidien qui présente l’essentiel du rite Kula. Il sera largement développé dans les six sacrifices.

Le rite quotidien comporte quatre étapes :

  1. Régénération du célébrant
  2. Préparation des ingrédients
  3. Divinisation du célébrant,
  4. Satiation des déesses.

Dans la première le célébrant se régénère par le mantra, ce que nous avons déjà vu en étudiant le mantra. Dans la deuxième étape il prépare les ingrédients que nous avons déjà examinés.

Cit. 21d.2        « Après qu’il s’est préparé, en se servant de tout ce qui est agréable et de tout ce qui lui porte bonheur, qu’il adore le dieu sans cesse. »

Pour commencer, Jayaratha aborde le côté agréable. Les déplaisant est utile, le plaisant aussi. Le pratiquant Kula ne refuse ni l’un ni l’autre ; et il les surpasse.  Cette citation sert aussi comme introduction aux versets où Abhinavagupta parle du calice qui contient les trois ingrédients essentiels du rite Kula : le vin, la viande et le fluide sexuel. Le vin et la viande préparent le pratiquant pour l’acte sexuel ; ils sont donc ‘causes’. Le fluide sexuel qui résulte du coït est ‘fruit’.

Cit. 22a.1  « On réfléchit sur la [tradition sacrée] et on se la rappelle, cette tradition dont les essences, à l’occasion de la Cérémonie de la Corde, accordent la meilleure béatitude.  [Telle est la coutume] dans la tradition révélée par Bhairava qui coupe [le fil de] l’existence. »

Le coït qui produit les fluides a lieu lors de la Cérémonie de la Corde, qui est longuement décrite dans Tantrāloka 28. Les essences, c’est-à-dire les fluides sexuels, surgissent au moment de la jouissance, qui est « la meilleure béatitude ». On peut bien supposer que ce ‘fruit’ est desséché sous forme de poudre ou de granules, pour qu’il serve au rituel quotidien.

Bhairava coupe le cycle des naissances car le rite Kula accorde la ‘libération en cette vie’.

Cit. 22a.2   « L’ ‘oblation’ et la tradition orale sacrée, le discernement,  l’accouplement et la cérémonie d’adoration sont tous situés dans la ‘bouche’ des yoginīs. »

L’union avec layoginīse revêt de multiples aspects. Le vagin est cet endroit sacré d’où le célébrant puise le fluide sexuel qui est l’oblation ; c’est là qu’il reçoit la tradition sacrée qui est communiquée non pas par écrit mais par expérience; la conscience étant éveillée en conséquence de cette union, le célébrant sait discerner entre le vrai et le faux, le non-duel et le duel ; l’accouplement n’est pas seulement un acte physique, il est aussi l’adoration de la Déesse qui s’incarne dans la parèdre. Cette citation décrit de façon saisissante la sainteté de l’union avec la yoginī.

Cit. 22a.3   «  N’importe le cérémonial d’adoration qu’il célèbre, n’importe la récitation qu’il fait, si le corps n’est pas divinisé, tout sera ineffectif. »

Cette citation a à faire avec la troisième étape. La formule « Étant devenu dieu, qu’il adore dieu » est maintes fois répétée. Le célébrant se reconnaît véridiquement ; il agit comme le dieu ; il est le dieu. Les rites et les mantras sont peu utiles s’il ne se reconnaît pas ainsi. En se reconnaissant sans arrêt comme dieu il adore le dieu sans cesse.

Cit. 22b.1        «  ‘Je ne suis pas, je ne suis pas un autre ; je ne suis que des énergies.’ Il lui faut, à chaque instant et uniquement par la mémoire, maintenir cet état d’esprit. »

 Jayaratha reprend et élargit ce verset dans Sacrifice 2.

Cit. 64b.1        «  ‘Je ne suis pas; tel autre n’existe pas non plus. Seules les énergies existent.’. S’il médite sur cela, ce lieu de repos, cette réalité innée, même pour un instant, alors, étant devenu un voyageur dans l’espace, il sera le compagnon des yoginīs. »

Dans le Sacrifice 2 le pratiquant place sur son corps les 24 lieux sacrés où selon la légende les membres de Satī sont tombés. Il se constitue comme la base cachée qui supporte les temples où les pèlerins viennent adorer la déesse. Toutefois le célébrant pourrait devenir orgueilleux en se voyant ainsi. Ce verset contrecarre cette erreur. Le pratiquant n’est rien. Le sentiment du soi, l’égoïsme,  le sentiment d’être substantiel et inébranlable sont une erreur. Śiva est ‘Je’, mais l’être humain n’est que le résultat du jeu divin, une manifestation passagère de la śakti, qui est l’origine et la fin de toute chose.

Il en va de même pour tout autre objet dans l’univers. Toutes les śaktis sont une limitation de la divine śakti, pareilles aux étincelles qui sortent du feu et disparaissent, insubstantielles.

C’est précisément en se rappelant que « je ne suis pas » que le célébrant devient divin. Śiva est nommé ‘Akula’, ‘celui qui n’est pas Kula’, car il est sans forme aucune. Il est, mais rien ne peut être dit de lui. Il est comme le hublot au centre de la roue. Cet espace parfaitement vide donne à la roue la possibilité de tourner.

Selon cette citation si même pour un instant il se rend compte de son « je ne suis pas », le fruit est merveilleux. Il devient un « voyageur dans l’espace ». Il sort des limites de ce monde, il vole où il veut, il est libre. Il n’est plus prisonnier de son ego. Il est Śiva ; il se trouve en la compagnie des śaktis et s’en réjouit.

Cit. 22b.2        « Les déesses qui n’ont pas de représentation physique et qui désirent une représentation physique (mūrti) s’installent dans sa masse charnelle. Du fait qu’elles convoitent les meilleurs ingrédients, elles jouent avec les diverses émotions. »

Le terme mūrtisignifie ‘coagulation’. Tout existe mais tout n’est pas visible. Par exemple, le sucre dissous dans l’eau est invisible ; c’est lorsqu’il se cristallise qu’il devient visible. De même les déesses n’ont pas de forme physique d’elles-mêmes, mais il se peut qu’elles désirent se matérialiser et se révéler. Elles se manifestent donc dans le corps du célébrant.

Cette idée de coagulation se trouve dans la cérémonie du avahana. L’adorateur invite la divinité à habiter l’image de plâtre ou de bronze ou d’argile. Attirée par la ferveur de l’adorateur et la qualité des offrandes la divinité s’installe dans l’idole qui devient alors la divinité réellement et physiquement. Après avoir chanté les louanges etc., le pratiquant ‘renvoie’ la divinité, et l’image redevient un objet.

Les déesses s’installent dans le célébrant. Elles ‘jouent’, mais c’est le jeu de l’amour.  Elles   sont actives. Elles explorent le corps et l’esprit de l’homme pour y susciter les meilleurs ‘ingrédients’. Elles font qu’il s’éveille et qu’il se reconnaisse comme Śiva, qu’ il se rende compte de ce dont il restait ignorant. L’éveil des multiples chakras et facultés fait que le pratiquant devienne pleinement conscient de l’univers en entier. Il reconnait qu’il est non seulement Śiva mais qu’il est l’univers aussi. Il est l’univers et l’univers lui appartient. Mais il y a aussi un autre sens au mot ‘ingrédient’, c’est-à-dire la virilité sexuelle. Les déesses font que les meilleures essences, c’est-à-dire les fluides sexuels, commencent à surgir et à se déverser.

Si l’officient accomplit le rituel sans l’inspiration des déesses, les gestes seront dépourvus de force. Il sera sans engagement, le rite sera ineffectif. Si le pratiquant s’ennuie, ses actes seront ennuyeux. Le dehors et le dedans doivent coïncider et se refléter harmonieusement.

Cit. 23b.1   « Il faut répandre les gouttelettes vers le haut et de chaque côté, O Bien-aimée. »

Le célébrant se reconnaît comme Bhairava. Toutes ses émotions et ses états d’âme sont maintenant à leur comble. Il est parfaitement conscient ; ses facultés sont épanouies. C’est alors, en toute liberté, parfaitement engagé et lucide, qu’il fait l’offrande. C’est la quatrième étape du rituel journalier. Il boit du calice pour assouvir les déesses qui l’habitent et pour rende hommage au Soi, car le célébrant est lui-même le Soi. Il répand les ingrédients autour de lui pour assouvir tout ce qui existe. Jayaratha reprend cette pratique et la confirme par la citation 23b.1.

 

 

 

 

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