Podcast Transcript - Introduction and The Ascension to the Temple of the Father
Hello, and welcome to the Logos of Experience and Truth Podcast.
For two decades I’ve focused exclusively on writing down imaginatively and understanding conceptually the various experiences I’ve had that can be termed mystical visions, since my first mystical vision occurred in the year 2001. I finally realized I’ve been doing the same thing over and again in writing these things down and figured maybe I should try a different or complementary medium of expression in this day and age and thus have turned to audio recording and podcasting.
So, the two key words that I want you to focus on in both of those titles that I’ve given you, are vision and experience. What I’ve always found most interesting regarding spiritual/mystical writings are when the actual experiences and visions are actually spoken of. And as most people, what I’ve typically found most boring is when they’re not spoken of, or they’re alluded to, but then they don’t actually speak about them. When all you get is a giant wall of text of teachings. Nothing wrong with the teachings. But if somebody is alluding to the actual visions and then they don’t talk about them, it always left me wanting.
Now when reading my patron saints work, St. John of the Cross’s, “The Ascent of Mount Carmel,” or the “Dark Night of the Soul,” I found it very frustrating that he mentions receiving visions from God, versus visions from the devil, and then he never really seemed to describe them in any greater detail. He provided a poem called the Dark Night, to which the Dark Night of the Soul is literally centered around as he breaks down each line and each stanza within it. And though the poem describes the experience at the end of it, the culmination, the finality of essentially ascending, and all the detail with that, but again, still never really mentions the visions of what was seen, right. He’s using poetic language to describe what was experienced, and I don’t know, maybe that’s how he saw it? But it didn’t seem like that’s what it was, it seemed like he was just using poetic language to describe what was occurring.
So just so you get an idea, in case you’re not familiar with this, I’m sure, you know, not everybody reads St. John the Cross’s, “The Ascent of Mount Carmel,” the “Dark Night of the Soul,” or his poetry. So, I’ll just read it real quick, it’s a very quick mystical poem. Just so you get an idea of what I’m talking about.
St. John of the Cross’s: The Dark Night. (Cross, 1991)
One dark night, fired with loves urgent longings,
–ah, the sheer grace!–
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.
In the darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
–ah, the sheer grace!–
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.
On that glad night in secret,
for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.
This guided me more surely
than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
–him I knew so well–
there in a place where no one appeared.
O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.
Upon my flowering breast,
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him there
in a breeze from the fanning cedars.
When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.
I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased;
I went out from myself,
leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
So as much as I resonate with the imagery in the poem, for me it’s always still been the spoken visions and experiences of the great mystics that I remember the best, like Arjuna and Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, or the vision of Hermes Trismegistus, or Moses and the burning bush, and of course, everything that Jesus goes through, which is all mystical language as well.
So, there’s definitely reasons for why they’re not always spoken of. I understand the reasons why. The greatest teachings, the teachings that all the mystics try and teach are kind of like the noble truths of the Buddha, or one of them at least in regard to no thought, or as Saint John calls it in another of his little poems: understanding without understanding. What this refers to is the essential state of mind, the place where the aspirant where one needs to reach in order to have the experience because what’s occurring is, if I’m using more secular language, the beginning of meditation takes you through your conscious mind. When you get deeper into it, you’re now delving through your subconscious mind. And even though they quote unquote say that you can’t enter the unconscious mind, that’s exactly what the mystical experience is.
Now, that might be something that a secular person might say. . .obviously, the religious, mystical person, obviously anybody that’s had the experience knows that there’s something else there when this occurs, something else that’s guiding. . . some other type of presence that’s there. So, in trying not to teach or show the visions and only speaking of the path, the way that I’ve seen it is that these various teachers that don’t try and teach the visions are doing so because teaching the visions themselves, one will try and contemplate them, which will create more thought and create more images. And that in not speaking about them I figure that that’s why they’re trying not to, or they don’t want to because it can be a stumbling block, I suppose, because entering the kingdom of heaven, being in the kingdom of heaven is when worldly thought ends. And you can start seeing and hearing some of that language that does occur frequently in the New Testament of dying to the world and being reborn in the kingdom of heaven. And we’ll come back to that idea, this idea of the difference between worldly thought and spiritual kingdom of heaven thought, because it’s very important when it comes to understanding the mystical path. . .
The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross published by ICS Publications. Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.