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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Aboriginal associations with my house

Aboriginal associations[1] with 3227 Warburton Highway, Warburton.

 The area

This address is located within the Wurundjeri people’s terrirory.[2] There are seven clans that make up the Wurundjeri, and we speak a language called Woiworung. Woiworung country is the entire Yarra Valley from the headwaters of the Yarra River and all of its tributaries down to the Maribyrnong River and Kooyong-koot Creek.

The Yarra

The Yarra River was called Birrarungby the Wurundjeri people who occupied the Yarra Valleyand much of Central Victoriaprior to European settlement. It is thought that Birrarungis derived from Wurundjeri words meaning “ever flowing”. Another common term was Birrarung Marr, thought to mean “river of mist” or “river bank”.

Upon European arrival it was given the name ‘Yarra Yarra’ by John Helder Wedgeof the Port Phillip Associationin 1835,[7]in the mistaken belief that this was the Aboriginal name for the river in the Boonwurrung language. However it is believed that ‘Yarra’ means “waterfall”, “flow”, or refers to running or falling water,[1][3][7]descriptive of any river or creek in the area, not just the Yarra. The name Yarra Yarra is said to mean “ever flowing river”,[3]but most likely refers to the Yarra Yarra falls which were later dynamited. Of their contact with local Wurunderi people in 1835, John Wedge wrote:[8]

On arriving in sight of the river, the two natives who were with me, pointing to the river, called out, ‘Yarra Yarra’, which at the time I imagined to be its name ; but I afterwards learnt that the words were what they used to designate a waterfall, as they afterwards gave the same designation to a small fall in the river Werribee, as we crossed it on our way back to Indented Head.[3]

Creation Story

  1. Wurundjeri people believe that Bunjil, the Eaglehawk (or Wedge-tailed Eagle) Ancestor, is greatest of all the Creative Beings. He made the land of the Wurundjeri, and of all our neighbouring peoples – the great Kulin Nation. Then he flew into the heavens to become the Eagle Star (which Europeans call ‘Altair’). Here on earth he is still with us in the form of the Eaglehawk.
  2. We have stories about most of the places around us – rivers and hills and special rocks – and how they were created. Mo-Yarra and other Ancestors created the Yarra by carving its course with their stone axes.

The Ancestors who created these places are still present in them; all the earth is alive with Creative Powers.

Activity

Choose a place near the house – a stream, river, rock or hill. The Wurundjeri people would almost certainly have had a story about this place! It may no longer be known, but you can imagine what it might be like to see the world as the Wurundjeri saw it. Make up a Creation Story for the place you have chosen, thinking of a Dreamtime Being and how he or she might have created this part of the land, and still be present within it.

True Spring- September, October.

This was a time of plenty. Lilies, Orchids and MURNONG flowered, and still provided root vegetables. Greens were consumed in large quantities. Flowers were everywhere -Wattles, Hop Goodenia, Burgan, Kangaroo Apple, as well as orchids and small lilies which had been building their tubers over the winter. Snakes and Lizards became active, young Kangaroos came out of the pouch. Migrant birds – the Sacred Kingfisher for example, returned from the north. Tadpoles appeared in ponds, and the river, fed by melting snows from the mountains, flowed into the flood-plains and replenished the billabongs. Water-plants put on green leaves. Nowadays this flooding is prevented.

[1]All information is from Wurundjeri Culture Resource Kit, http://nrg.org.au/index_files/Resource_Kit_Preview.pdfaccessed 18 October, 2015.

[2]The Wurundjeri people’s territory extended from north of the Great Dividing Range, east to Mount Baw Baw, south to Mordialloc Creek and west to Werribee River.

[3]John Helder Wedge, published in Bonwick (1868).

 

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Mutual Enrichment: Meditation in Tantra and Christianity

 

Mutual Enrichment: Meditation in Tantra and Christianity

Lecture given at the Australian Meditation Conference,

Australian Catholic University

21 July 2108

Introduction

Mindfulness develops attentiveness in every way. It breaks down the silo effect which keeps different traditions apart.

This paper investigates the possibilities of mutual enrichment between Tantra and Christianity.

It uses the process called ‘comparative theology’, developed by Frank Clooney of Harvard University where one tradition understands itself more fully by learning from another. This topic will be treated fully in the session at 5 pm in this same theatre today entitled ‘Meditation Traditions across Religions’. This process does not confuse. It does not suppress; it does not equate; it does not exploit; it does not ignore the unique quality of another tradition.  It is a process of self-discovery through discovering the other. It is a noteworthy method of interfaith dialogue.

Thus, I propose that Christian meditation can discover itself more fully by learning from Tantric meditation and vice versa.

Am I qualified to broach this subject? I am Associate Professor at the University of Divinity where I lecture in meditation. I am also Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University with a special focus on interfaith.  My doctoral studies are in Kashmir Shaivism, which is now acknowledged as one of the great Indian traditions.  I have written books and articles with special reference to its Kula tradition which is considered to be the most tantric.[1]

Tantra

Tantra can be defined as the union of opposites, male and female and more broadly the union of licit and illicit, good and evil, spirit and matter, heaven and earth, time and eternity, pleasure and horror. Where the intellect seeks to categorize, tantra seeks to unite. Tantra is paradoxical. Mental constructs collapse as a result of the paradox, and the spirit enters into a new dimension, finding fulness of consciousness and ultimate bliss.

The principal figure of Kashmir Shaivism is Abhinavagupta (c. 975-1025). In his encyclopaedic work, the Tantrāloka, he reviews all the tantras of his day and interprets them from a non-dual perspective. In chapter 29 of that work, he presents the Kula ritual which he prefers to all others.

The Kula tantric tradition must not be confused with what Hugh Urban calls “the late-capitalist aesthetic”. He says

“… instead of the ideal of unity, order, or harmony, the late-capitalist aesthetic is one of physical intensity, shock value, immediate gratification, and ecstatic experience”[2]

The Kula tantric tradition shows a steady progress from order to spontaneity, from licit to illicit, from worship of the god to worship of the goddess. The goddess, in her freedom and lack of constraint, destroys all carefully elaborated plans and takes her devotee into her own joy.  She provides a spiritualty of pleasure, not the mundane and superficial pleasures of food and drink, but a lasting pleasure that does not cloy, a bliss that is perceived to be the very essence of things.

The Kula perspective is vast. I can make only a few points regarding its views on consciousness and relationship. These can be illustrated in the person of Chandan who lived in West Bengal, an old man when I met him, unassuming in his appearance but remarkable in his knowledge.

Chandan

At the age of fourteen, when boys were often given in marriage, Chandan refused. Intoxicated with God, he went in search of a guru and was eventually welcomed by a tantric practitioner, a ‘Bhairava’, and his consort, a ‘Bhairavī’, who lived in a cremation ground in Kolkata.

After teaching Chandan many things, the Bhairava told him to withdraw to a secluded place near the temple of Kapilas in Odisha, to perform austerities. This he did. At the direction of the goddess he eventually went to live the life of a sannyāsīin a village of milkmen where he stayed for over 40 years.

Chandan spent his day in contemplation of his guru and of Kālī, the fearsome goddess. He spoke with intelligence and verve, accompanying his words with dramatic gestures which were natural and unaffected, interspersing his comments by singing quotations from the sacred texts. He had no ritual practice or any other formal sort of practice. He said it is Kālī who guides to the ultimate stage, she who is in fact present at the beginning.

Chandan said there are three levels of consciousness. The paśu– the person who is more concerned with objectivity, with things and acts, and does not seek to channel his reactions. For example, he or she is focused on the sexual emission which is short-lived. By contrast the vīra– the ‘heroic person’ – is focused on the interior senses. He has control over his emotions. For example, he can withhold the emission and remain in the state of bliss (ānanda) for long periods of time. The vīrais still involved with ego. However, he begins to realize his true self. He understands that he is not the limited self but is really the god Śiva. This realization constitutes the crucial moment of transition to divyabhava,the ‘divine state’, where the sense of self-centered ego disappears.

This state does not eliminate the other states but contains them and constitutes the goal to which they are tending. Thus, the sexual emotions are present in this ‘divine state’, but without the limitations of the earlier states.

A whole new consciousness begins to operate. The practitioner is no longer the agent, occupied in doing things; he or she becomes the witness, involved in everything but not tied to anything. The pleasure he experiences is intense and delicate, permanent and independent of any stimulus. There is nothing but bliss, not a sensation of bliss which might imply a distinction between the experience and the experiencer. There is simply bliss without distinction.  He finds that he is no longer dependent on circumstance or situations or even a sexual partner but brings the same mind to bear in all the situations of daily life, in the good times as in the bad, in pleasure as in pain. He is ‘liberated while still alive’. The mind has been fully expanded.  He is the accomplished tantric.

All the religious traditions, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu etc. use sexual imagery to describe the highest states of mysticism. This imagery is not meaningless. It is not an attempt to satisfy the monk’s unfulfilled desires. On the contrary, the divine state is the source and goal of sexual activity, its beginning and end. The highest mystical state constitutes the summit of sexual experience.

The Kula tradition sees the highest ultimate Reality as consisting of the god and the goddess, Śiva and Śakti in sexual union. All things are an expression of their intercourse. This highest mystical state is that of the god Śiva who is in intercourse with all aspects of reality. These are called śaktis. In Tantrāloka 29.79,Abhinavagupta describes the accomplished tantric as follows:

“… having by his own nature become the … lord of the kula, he should satiate the many śaktis by pairing [with them], …”

Jayaratha, his learned commentator, re-affirms the point by quoting a verse which reads:

“His śaktis are the whole universe.”.

Therefore, every circumstance is a state of intercourse.

His every word is a mantra; his every act is a sacrifice. He has the mind of Bhairava. Such is the tantric ideal.

How can any of this relate to Christianity? In what way can the Kula tantric meditation tradition open up elements in Christian meditation? And again, in what way can Christianity reveal aspects of tantric meditation that already exist within tantra? I propose for your consideration that the contribution of Christianity is to develop the dimension of personal relationship and freedom within the tantric meditation. The contribution of Kula tantra is to develop the spirituality of pleasure within Christianity.

Christianity

Presence

The Latin word persona, originally referred to the mask which actors wore to indicate their role.  Christianity gives the term an altogether new meaning. In fact the  idea of the person is “one of the contributions to human thought made possible and provided by the Christian faith.”[3]

There can be various reactions to the presence of another person. ‘Hell is other people’is one of the most famous statements of the philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. He asserts, as a major theme of his work, that there cannot be both intimacy and freedom. One person cannot relate to another person without destroying their freedom. Either I oppress or I am oppressed. We cannot both be free.

Fear, retaliation, withdrawal, fight or flight: there are many reactions to the presence of another person. Another response again is to interpret oneself and the other as a collection of characteristics without substance. Since human beings do not essentially exist, they can be fundamentally ignored and dismissed. Others are viewed non-judgmentally but neither are they valued.  In all these cases, there is no interpersonal relationship, only rejection or indifference.

Most often the concern in tantric meditation is consciousness, as in in the quotation given by Jayaratha, the learned commentator of the Tantrāloka,

“The perfect expression of sexual desire, as it is called, is not to be performed for the sake of enjoyment. [It is to be performed] for the sake of considering one’s own consciousness: is the mind steady or fluctuating?”

However, there is another approach altogether. To meet is to be surprised, to perceive the value of the other, to welcome and to acknowledge, to affirm and to empower the other. To encounter also means becoming vulnerable towards the other person. It requires confidence in oneself and confidence in the other. Encounter is very different from mere awareness. It is not just a matter of camaraderie or friendliness. It is a highly creative moment of ultimate significance.

One of the contributions of Christianityto tantric meditation is to develop this experience of mutual presence. The idea of mutual presence lies at the very heart of Christianity, with its doctrine of one God in three Persons, not in three individuals or three functions. Christianityis neither tri-theistic or monistic.  In the Trinitarian view, God exists as ‘we’,[4]three Persons, not three individuals or functions, who are present to each other. God is a communion.

In the Gospel of St John, Jesus tells his disciples, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me”. (Jn 14:10) And again “I am, not alone, because the Father is with me.” (Jn 16:32)

The sense of the self implies the sense of the other. Emile Benveniste (1902-1976), the noted linguist, makes the point.

“Consciousness of self is possible only if it is experienced in contrast. I use the form ‘I’ only in addressing someone who will be the ‘you’ of my address. . . . the form ‘I’ posits another person . . . [neither ‘I’ nor ‘you’] is conceivable without the other[5]. . .”

The ‘I’ is inconceivable without the ‘you’. However, it is not possible comprehensively to define the other, despite the attempts throughout history to do so. There is simple awareness.

Much more could be said on this topic but we need to move on.

The sense of mutual presence is not entirely absent from Kashmir Shaivism. In his commentary on Parātrīṃśikā[6]Abhinavagupta examines the command ‘Listen’ (śṛṇu) which Śiva addresses to Śakti, his consort. He studies the pronouns, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘you’, and ‘I’. The ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘it’ are the objects of the universe. However, when the objects are addressed they are transformed.  The ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘it’ cease to be impersonal and become the personal ‘you’.

We have all experienced this transition. When we are ignored or ‘given the cold shoulder’ we feel diminished and reduced to the state of an object. When we are greeted, we feel affirmed and freed.

The act of addressing the other person is, therefore, fundamentally important in the process. However, it is when a person becomes fully aware of their own Self and their infinite autonomy, that they become fully capable of addressing the other. They transform the object which then becomes a co-subject: ‘it’ becomes ‘you’. This is because they recognise that in fact the object is already endowed with subjectivity. As Teilhard de Chardin states, consciousness is everywhere, even in inanimate stones. This self-awareness enables a person to perceive the essence of the other. Abhinavagupta states,

 “Adverting, by means of wonder at [his own] undivided ‘I’, to the [other] person’s [tasya] sense of wonder and freedom at [his] undivided ‘I’ … he addresses [him]: he designates [him] with the invocation ‘you’, with the ‘second person’.”

Having realized their own autonomy [svātantrya], they now recognize the autonomy of the other. It is one and the same autonomy that they share. They stand in amazement. They are able to say to the other person, ‘you are my very self’. This amazement takes them out of time.

The sense of this ‘I’ must be carefully understood. The megalomaniac thinks their limited ego is the universal Self. On the other hand, the self-depreciating person sees their individual ego as limited and confined to time and place. The enlightened person understands that they are essentially the universal Self and that their limited ego is a true manifestation of the supreme Self, and therefore has infinite worth.

Christianity draws our attention more closely to Abhinavagupta’s unusual commentary on the command ‘Listen’ and highlights its importance. Christian revelation, for its part, is not first and foremost a series of doctrines but the fact that the Infinite speaks to the finite and thereby transforms the finite.

Freedom

I have spoken of inter-personal presence. A person is fully constituted as a person when they are free. Any constraint on their freedom means a lessening of their personhood. If their freedom is removed, they are reduced to the state of an object; they lose their subjecthood.

Freedom is the hall-mark of the Christian. St Paul explicitly teaches that Christians do not follow the ancient Law (Gal 5:18) but follow the leading of the Spirit (Rm 8:2).

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor 3.17) They “are subject to no one else’s scrutiny” (I Cor 2:15).

It is easier to function under the constraints of obligation than to act consistently in a state of freedom, free from wilfulness and fancy, free from craving and resentment. St James, in a remarkable phrase, speaks of “looking steadily at the law of freedom” (Jm 1:25). Christian freedom makes others free; all creation seeks that freedom (Rm 8:21).

It is freedom from but also freedom for. It is freedom from all the negativities, in myself and in others, a freedom that gives the clarity of vision to see the freedom of others and to welcome it.  Those who are free communicate their freedom, infectiously so to speak. They are assured and confident. They empower and are empowered.They wish to be free with those who are free.Freedom inspires freedom, which grows exponentially as a result.

In the mutual recognition of freedom, the perception of an even greater freedom arises, an eternal and universal freedom in which they bathe.

In a letter to Sigmund Freud, dated 1927, Romain Rolland, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915, coined the phrase “oceanic feeling” to refer to the sensation of being one with the universe. According to Rolland, this feeling is the source of all the religious energy that permeates the various religious systems, and one may justifiably call oneself religious on the basis of this oceanic feeling alone, even if one renounces every belief. Freud discusses the feeling in two of his books, and dismisses it as a fragmentary vestige of the kind of consciousness possessed by an infant who has not yet differentiated himself or herself from other people and things.[7]

The experience of encounter leads to more than a feeling of oceanic existence; it leads also to a sense of oceanic freedom, an eternal freedom which persists even in the face of those who seek to suppress and disempower. Indeed, it is the experience of the One who is supremely free.

This point is made by Martin Buber (1878-1965) in his famous book I-Thou.  He notes that “this awareness of the ‘you’, namely of the other human person, gives a fleeting glimpse of the eternal ‘You’, who is called ‘God’. The human being reveals the Invisible.”[8]He also warns of the individualistic mentality that reduces the other to an object (Cassidy, 2006, p. 880).

Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995) states that the person facing me is the most fundamental experience I can undergo.  The other is transcendent and yet present, with claims that demand a response. Levinas proclaims the primacy of love that leads beyond a world fashioned by individualist concerns (Cassidy, 2006, pp. 877-879).

I propose that the Christian emphasis on presence and freedom is the major contribution that Christian awareness can give to tantric meditation practice. The pleasure that is experienced in the presence of the other is unsurpassable. I propose also that the spirituality of pleasure is a major contribution that the Kula tantric tradition of Kashmir Shaivism can make to Christianity.

Of course, pleasure is not absent from Christianity. The Christian traditionattaches great importance to the paśuand vīrastages, but it attaches special importance to the divyabhavastage. Indeed, the highest form of spiritual awareness is usually described in terms of sexual union, as we have noted. The Song of Songsin the Old Testament, for example, uses sexually explicit love poetry to describe the relationship of God and his People. The New Testament often presents Jesus Christ as the bridegroom. Gregory of Nyssa, Bernard of Clairvaux, the Beguines, and St John of the Cross are but a few of the many who have developed the link between the highest states and sexuality.

The state of mind enriched by both tantra and Christianity could be described as follows.

To hear the divine word means being transformed into the divine. Those who know their divinization start to look on reality in a new way. Their look is powerful. In their enlightenment they bring all beings into union so that there is one Self. There is a giving of self to self. Others cease to be other and they become one’s very self.

This is accomplished with a great sense of energy. Indeed, the divinized persons experience pleasure in having that energy and in sharing it, each transforming and freeing the other in tranquility and humility. They recognize each other’s freedom and this gives great pleasure. They are present to each other. They perceive the light of the other and allow their own light to be perceived. It is a communion of light, which involves the whole person. It is an experience of complementarity. They are destined to each other and find fulfilment in each other. They take pleasure in each other, not just spiritually but also bodily. They share body and soul, body and blood in a way that is eternal, free from time or circumstance.

Furthermore, as they are taken up into each other’s pleasure, it increases exponentially as delight increases the capacity for delight, taking them into levels of joy they had never imagined, right into the realm of divine bliss.

This is because, I propose, the human society is founded on the communion of the Three divine Persons, which is central to Christianity. By experiencing communion with each other, humans have an inkling of the communion that is God. They taste an infinite bliss and know it is their destiny as well. They truly see each other at last and glimpse the One who is called Holy.In coming into each other’s presence, they become aware of the infinitely Personal One who is called by many names in the many traditions.

They also experience intense pleasure in seeing that all things proceed from them and are destined to them. To put it in Kula tantric terms, the ever-changing universe is in fact the dancing movement of the goddess Kālī. The god Śiva enjoys her dance. The Christian too enjoys the changes of nature and sees them as gifts, gift upon gift, given for his enjoyment. The Giver is in the gift.  The Giver and the receiver become one in the gift.

Pain

There is a spirituality of pleasure. Is there a spirituality of pain? One response can be to endure it stoically. But is that all? Can any good come out of it?

Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who died at Auschwitz, wrote on her diary:

“Since I no longer wish to possess anything and have become free, everything belongs to me, and my interior wealth is now immense …”

The real victory over pain is to turn it into an advantage, but that is another subject for another day.

Conclusion

I have spoken of the point of view that arises when the tantric spirituality of universal bliss and the Christian spirituality of communion and freedom have enriched and revealed each other. Meditation develops this essential point of view. However, the few moments spent in meditation, in whatever way it is conducted, are a sort of training session so that the basic outlook of the heart functions in every circumstance. I propose that this enriched position is not just awareness but mutual presence, not just sensation but perception of freedom, not just peacefulness but ecstasy as well.

 

[1]« Les traditions du Kula sont certes les plus « tantriques » … » André Padoux. p. 148.

[2]Hugh B. Urban. Tantra. Sex, Secrecy Politics and Power in the Study of Religions.Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003. p. 255.

[3]Joseph Ratzinger. ‘Concerning the notion of person in theology’. Communio17 (1990) 439-454. p. 439.

[4]Ratzinger. ‘Concerning the notion of person in theology’. p. 453.

[5]Émile Benveniste. ‘De la subjectivité dans le langage’. In Émile Benveniste. Problèmes de linguistique générale. Paris: Gallimard, 1966. Vol. 1, p. 260.

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

[7]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oceanic_feeling 10 Sep. 2017.

[8]Dupuche.

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