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Center for Action and Contemplation

Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 3 Summary

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 3

Summary: Sunday, July 26-Friday, July 31, 2015

From Francisco de Osuna, Teresa of Ávila learned about contemplative prayer and how “to think without thinking” (no pensar nada es pensarlo todo). (Sunday)

“One cannot break attachments by force, Teresa discovered; they are the expression of an inner hunger. When that hunger is assuaged, attachments will fall away with almost no effort on our part.” —Carol Lee Flinders (Monday)

Teresa of Ávila believed that God is ever alluring and inviting us home and that our longing for God is the core motivation of our beings. (Tuesday)

“It was painful enough for [John of the Cross] to wonder if God had given up on him, but the true agony descended when he began to find himself giving up on God.” —Mirabai Starr (Wednesday)

“If we are absolutely grounded in the absolute love of God that protects us from nothing even as it sustains us in all things, then we can face all things with courage and tenderness and touch the hurting places in others and in ourselves with love.” —James Finley (Thursday)

John of the Cross understood the true meaning of humility, which is not self-deprecation or low self-esteem, but a simple acknowledgment that I am very small, quickly passing, and insignificant as a separate self. (Friday)


Practice: Spiritual Canticle

James Finley invites us to approach John of the Cross’ poem, “The Spiritual Canticle,” not just as subject matter. “We are to read it as the opening up of our hearts, that we might rest in . . . this oneness and communion in each other and as each other. In your most childlike hour, you’re asked to surrender to that oneness. And a transformative experience occurs. Love is transforming us into itself.” [1]

Allow your heart to open that you might rest in your communion with God as you read a selection from John of the Cross’ poetic conversation between lovers, between bride and groom:


In the inner wine cellar
I drank of my beloved, and when I went abroad
Through all this valley
I no longer knew anything,
And lost the herd that I was following.

There he gave me his breast;
There he taught me a sweet and living knowledge;
And I gave myself to him,
Keeping nothing back;
There I promised to be his bride.

Now I occupy my soul
And all my energy in his service;
I no longer tend the herd,
Nor have I any other work
Now that my every act is love

With flowers and emeralds
Chosen on cool mornings
We shall weave garlands
Flowering in your love,
And bound with one hair of mine.

You considered
That one hair fluttering at my neck;
You gazed at it upon my neck;
And it captivated you;
And one of my eyes wounded you.

When you looked at me
Your eyes imprinted your grace in me;
For this you loved me ardently;
And thus my eyes deserved
To adore what they beheld in you.

Do not despise me;
For if, before, you found me dark,
Now truly you can look at me
Since you have looked
And left in me grace and beauty.


The small white dove
Has returned to the ark with an olive branch;
And now the turtledove
Has found its longed-for mate
By the green river banks.

She lived in solitude,
And now in solitude has built her nest;
And in solitude he guides her,
He alone, who also bears
In solitude the wound of love. [2]

Gateway to Silence:
“God alone is enough.”  —Teresa of Ávila

[1] James Finley, Intimacy: The Divine Ambush (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), CD, MP3 download.
[2] Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C. D., ed., John of the Cross: Selected Writings (Paulist Press: 1987), 225-226.

For further study:
“Emancipation,” Oneing Vol. 3 No. 1
Richard Rohr and James Finley, Intimacy: The Divine Ambush (CD, MP3 download)
Mirabai Starr, trans., Dark Night of the Soul
Mirabai Starr, trans., The Interior Castle
Mirabai Starr, Saint Teresa of Ávila: Passionate Mystic

Image credit: St. Teresa of Ávila (detail) by Fray Juan de la Miseria, 16th c.
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