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Dear Peter,

 

Probably for the reasons we have cited, Eliot's passages, such as the one you quote, can be interpreted as mystical experience or as a vision of unity in the world. 

 

BTW, I'm no expert on mysticism, but I don't think being a mystic always means "a person having a conscious, interpersonal relationship with a spiritual entity." Buddhists for example do not have a personal relationship with God nor do they have a God in the sense of an entity. The Buddha or a guru may be revered, but they are only facilitators for the samadhi or sartori, which is not personal, but rather impersonal. From my reading it seems to be a state of pure being at one with all being.

 

I wonder if the children of Medjugorje thought of encountering the Virgin as heaven itself, or whether heaven was an experience the Virgin facilitated.

 

Diana
 
> Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2010 21:44:34 -0800
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: signs and wonders
> To: [log in to unmask]
> 
> My concern is that we not get derailed by stereotypes.
> 
> I have led a fairly active prayer life over not a few decades.
> I have read about this stuff, attended guidance sessions, listened to
> endless tapes.
> I don't have any formal training as a spiritual director or anything like
> that,
> and I make absolutely no claim on being a mystic, whatever that is.
> 
> One thing I feel very confident about is that if someone goes around saying
> he or she is
> a mystic, then one can be fairly certain that such a person is not a mystic,
> if by
> mystic one means a person having a conscious, interpersonal relationship
> with a spiritual entity.
> 
> Indeed there are reports of people having spiritual experiences on a regular
> basis.
> I believe something like 200 such experiences a year in the US alone get
> serious
> attention by the proper authorities.
> 
> One bizarre little example, with which no one quarrels happened in a trailer
> park
> outside Portland, Oregon. The Virgn Mary appeared in the corner of a
> painting.
> It was witnessed by a whole lot (thousands) of people. It was not a hoax.
> It just came and eventually went. A mystery.
> 
> At the other end of the spectrum are the visionaries of Medjugorje in
> Bosnia.
> They were not nice little obedient, innocent peasant children who knew
> nothing.
> Their parish priest said they were certainly not the people he would have
> chosen.
> The only significant characteristic was that everyone knew these six
> teenagers would not lie.
> 
> It started in communist times with the first two doing their favourite thing
> of
> sneaking out after supper to go smoke cigarettes and sing pop songs
> forbidden
> by the communists. They saw lights which turned out to be the Virgin.
> Then the manifestations came to four others and they collected as a group.
> 
> Put the spiritual dimension aside if you want. These six people have been
> poked,
> prodded, measured in and out of their visionary states, as well as being
> questioned
> by communist authorities and church authorities. The medical examinations
> have
> been done by all the leading authorities in Europe. Whatever it is, it is
> not a hoax.
> The visionaries have kept a careful record of everything they have
> experienced.
> It seems that the Virgin was hoping they would join religious orders. None
> of them did.
> They are all raising families. The most articulate of them says that it is a
> painful
> life, because once one has seen heaven, then it is agony not to be there.
> Both the
> previous and current Popes advocate that people go there. The phenomenon
> has been accepted by Rome, just not officially (like sainthood, it takes a
> long
> time for the Church to commit itself). One interesting anomally was that
> when
> the visionaries were together in the apparition room ( in the local
> church - later
> she appeared separately to each of them - and apparently still does) before
> the
> apparitions happened, birds would swarm about the place, and then go still
> during the visions.
> 
> So are these people mystics? Does it matter?
> Mystical experience can be a manifestation of holiness, but there are cases
> on record
> of people going on to lead very mediocre, worldy lives, totally unconcerned
> with
> their experiences.
> 
> All this is by way of preface to suggest that of course Eliot would deny
> being a mystic,
> if for no other reason than that he would lose credibility with a whole lot
> of people,
> and would look like a nutter to a whole lot of others. I personally find it
> very
> hard to believe that he could have created the kind of poetry he did in Ash
> Wednesday and
> The Four Quartets without having had some intimate experience of
> transcendence.
> It may well not have been visions, &c as the stereotypes suggest; it
> certainly is consistent with
> "a deeper communion" as he put it in 4Q. He certainly had the sensibility
> for it.
> To me the following has the sura of mysticism:
> 
> "We must be still and still moving
> Into another intensity
> For a further union, a deeper communion
> Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,"
> 
> P.
> questioned endlessly over about 20
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Ken Armstrong" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, March 22, 2010 7:59 AM
> Subject: Re: signs and wonders
> 
> 
> > Nancy Gish wrote:
> > > Perhaps he did. I only reported what he did say, that he was not a
> > > mystic. I no longer remember where I read it because it has been many
> > > years since I researched Eliot and mysticism at great length, but I
> > > remember it without doubt. I'm not sure it matters much if he
> > > experienced it himself or experienced it through literature or
> > > speaking with others. So much of his work is evoked by reading, which
> > > is, after all, personal experience.
> > At the risk of raising everyone's ire except Carrol's, let me
> > hazard that reading and personal experience are very much not the same.
> > Again, no professional line here, but a story that Ong repeats comes to
> > mind about a ship's captain who learns by experience being a poor risk
> > (so many things capable of wrecking/swamping a vessel). The conversation
> > here about Eliot could go on and on with no positive conclusion, Eliot
> > having never said whether he did or didn't have a mystical experience.
> > For myself, I think mystical experiences are not so rare, even if
> > mystics, relatively, are, and Eliot more than likely had such
> > experiences, whether plural or singular. Don't know how that affects
> > Gerontion or TWL.
> >
> > Ken A
> >
> > > So maybe he did have
 		 	   		  
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