Sunday, May 31, 2015

Origen on Spiritual Ambition

And in the Church of Christ are found some who take to themselves the uppermost places, that is, become deacons; next they aspire to be...presbyters, and some intrigue to be styled among men Bishop. 

But Christ's disciple loves the uppermost place indeed, but at the spiritual banquet, where he may feed on the choicer morsels of spiritual food. 

-- Origen

Some take, aspire, or intrigue to obtain positions. But the true disciple of Christ neither loves nor is attached to position. The true disciple does not seek the pleasure of recognition or the pleasure of authority over others. The true disciple labors--and directs all ambition--to experience the great spiritual pleasures of a righteous and holy life. This is the uppermost place.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

St. Augustine and the Greatest Commandment

You are commanded to love God "with all thy heart," that your whole thoughts--"with all thy soul," that your whole life--"with all thy mind," that your whole understanding--may be given to Him from whom you have that you give. Thus He has left no part of our life which may be unfilled by him, or give place to the desire after any other final good...For man is then the most perfect when his whole life tends towards the life unchangeable, and clings to it with the whole purpose of his soul.

--St. Augustine, on Matthew 22:37: "Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."

If we love God truly, with heart, soul, and mind, then all our being longs to find union with God. There is not room for any other love, should we truly follow the Lord's commandment.

Augustine again: [F]or it is the selfsame affection by which we love God, and by which we love our neighbour, save that we love God for Himself, but ourselves and our neighbour for God's sake.

Three day comparison of Alpha, Beta, and Gamma waves.

Three day comparison of Delta brain wave activity during meditation. Indeed, every day is different. 

May 24, morning

May 27

May 30

Thursday, May 28, 2015

And many of these would have God will that which they themselves will, and are fretful at having to will that which He wills, and find it repugnant to accommodate their will to that of God...Thus they measure God by themselves and not themselves by God. 

- St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross teaches a hard lesson. In our prayer practice, we too easily believe that pleasure, relief, comfort, and agreeableness in prayer is the will of God. If we encounter the opposite feelings, we consider the prayer faulty and not according to God's will. Thus, we abandon the prayer, thinking that God only wills the pleasant, the relieving, the comfortable, and the agreeable. St. John teaches that this mistake leads one away from God, off the spiritual path, and, most directly, hampers our life of prayer from actual progress.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

These persons...think that all the practice of prayer consists in experiencing sensible pleasure and devotion and they strive to obtain this by great effort...and when they have not found this pleasure they become greatly discouraged, thinking that they have accomplished nothing. Through these efforts they lose true devotion and spirituality, which consist in perseverance, together with patience and humility....

Such persons expend all their effort in seeking spiritual pleasure and consolation; they never tire, therefore, of reading books; and they begin now one meditation, now another, in their pursuit of this pleasure...But God, very justly, denies it to them.

- St. John of the Cross

St. John challenges us not to become attached to the sensible (bodily) benefits of contemplation. Rather, pursuit and attachment of the sensible benefits impedes receiving the greater gifts of contemplation.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Comparing yesterday's meditation to today's, we see higher delta activity, relative to theta, beta, and gamma waves. The delta waves today start much higher (about .4 compared to about -.4 yesterday), so that there is a larger decrease in delta waves throughout the meditation, compared to yesterday. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Do not suppose that by heaven here is meant the upper regions of the sky of this visible world, for your reward is not to be placed in things that are seen, but by "in heaven" understand the spiritual firmament, where everlasting righteousness dwells.

-St. Augustine, commentary on Christ's words, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven..."

Augustine, in this commentary, instructs his audience to let go of any corporal, materialistic conceptions of heaven, and instead seize the spiritual understanding of heaven that only the inner eye can observe.

I've included in this post four figures that show brain waves from a 15 minute morning meditation. Actually, these figures show brain waves from the second meditation of the morning. The first meditation was full of distraction and an active mind still disturbed from sleep. I unfortunately don't know too much about how to interpret the brain wave activity shown in the figures. The gamma wave activity goes to about zero, beta drops, alpha drops slightly, while theta and delta drop considerably. I note two spikes in the gamma and delta waves, though I don't know what aspect of the meditation they represent. As always, I use the Muse to record the brain waves, and the Muse Monitor app to export the raw data.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

See two kinds of life which we have heard set before men: the active, to which pertains "Though shalt not kill," and the rest of the law; and the Contemplative, to which pertains this, "If thou Wilt be Perfect." The active pertains to the law, the contemplative to the Gospel; for as the Old Testament went before the New, so good action goes before Contemplation. -- Remigius

A commentary of the following words: Jesus said unto him, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."

Remigius instructs us that an important step toward the Contemplative life is to give up our earthly attachments, and give them not to anyone, but to the poor. Love of the neighbor is the first step to ascend to the love of God, as the Saint says. But that is not enough. Once poor materially, we must follow the teachings in order to achieve spiritual riches: the eternal and absolute good.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Wherefore let us exhort all men to piety, that we may avoid evil, and obtain the good, of which Love is to us the lord and minister; and let no one oppose him-he is the enemy of the gods who oppose him. For if we are friends of the God and at peace with him we shall find our own true loves, which rarely happens in this world at present.

- Aristophanes, from Plato's Symposium.

Love is the lord and minister of the good, for men and women. Love is perhaps above the good, but only "to us." Love teaches the good to men and women. Piety comes before the discovery of the true loves. Piety opens us up to Love, which then leads us to the good.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The evening meditation once again very calm relative to the morning meditation. I find concentrating easier in the evening, possibly do to not being tired and in need of coffee. This particular meditation session featured three or four moments and near total stillness and emptiness, and many moments of a simply calm, focused mind.

Muse Day 2: The morning session was a bit less calm than last night. Time of day matters, possibly, more than I previously thought. In the morning, the disturbances of dreams and the dozing off contribute to a more disturbed mind.