Blessed are the poor in spirit
And so St Paul teaches that we should seek that death in this life, so that Christ’s death should shine out in our bodies. That blessed death, in which our outer nature falls away and our inner nature is renewed, and our earthly dwelling is dissolved so that our heavenly home is laid open to us. A man imitates this death when he drags himself away from being part of this flesh and breaks those chains that the Lord had spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: Break unjust fetters, undo the thongs of the yoke, let the oppressed go free, and break every unjust constraint. It was to put an end to guilt that the Lord permitted death to come into the world; but so that human nature should not end up perishing by death instead of guilt, the resurrection of the dead was given us. By death, guilt would be ended, and by resurrection, human nature would be eternal. And thus this death is a journey for everyone. You must always be journeying: from decay to incorruptibility, from mortality to immortality, from turbulence to peace. Do not be alarmed by the word ‘death’ but rejoice at the good that the journey will bring. For what is death except the burial of vice and the raising up of virtue? Hence Scripture says, May I die the death of the just – that is, may I be buried with them, put down my vices, and put on the grace of the just, who carry the mortification of Christ around in their bodies and their souls.
Let death do its work in us, therefore, so that life may do its work also: a good life after death, that is, a good life after victory, after the battle is over, when the law of the flesh is no longer in conflict with the law of the mind, when we have no more battles with mortal flesh but in mortal flesh we have victory.
In the New Testament the situation is almost completely reversed. It is not manwho goes to God with a compensatory gift, but God who comes to man, in order to give to him. He restores disturbed right on the initiative of his own power to love, by making unjust man just again, the dead living again, through his own creative mercy. His righteousness is grace; it is active righteousness, which sets crooked man right, that is, bends him straight, makes him correct. Here we stand before the twist that Christianity put into the history of religion. The New Testament does not say that men conciliate God, as we really ought to expect, since, after all, it is they who have failed, not God. It says, on the contrary, that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19). This is truly something new, something unheard of—the starting point of Christian existence and the center of New Testament theology of the Cross: God does not wait until the guilty comes to be reconciled; he goes to meet them and reconciles them. Here we can see the true direction of the Incarnation, the Cross. (in Introduction To Christianity, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)
In The Lord’s Prayer as a Way of Initiation Fr. LeSaux is cited as writing:
Once as (Jesus) was in a certain place praying and when he had finished one of his disciples said: Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples”. (LK. 11.1) and the disciples listened fervently to the words uttered by the Master, the Guru. Jesus appeared in the world not to teach ideas, but to impart to men an experience, his own personal experience of being the Son of God; and then, following on from this experience of his and by its efficacy, to bring them to realize and integrate in their own awareness that condition which is their’s also, of being sons of God.
Salvation does not consist of an idea but of a change of level in the soul. It is a remorseless process of dying to oneself, dying to the inherent dualism of the human mind and to the bondage of the ego which is the main obstacle to man’s possession by the Spirit as foretold by the Scriptures. It is an immersion into a state which is beyond-mind. It is from his false ego that man has to be saved in the first place.
The essential task is the surrender—the handing over of the peripheral I to the inner Mystery, the abandonment of the phenomenal I which man regards as the centre of his being, whereas the centre of his being is independent of all localization, whether psychic or physical. That is why the real experience . . . demands first of all, a drastic purification of the intellect and of the I; this purification is the most urgent need of our time, in every tradition. “Go, sell all that you possess . . . then come and follow me” (Mt. 19.21).
(Evil), the condition of sin, is to be unaware of God’s Presence. As long as this actual remotemeness from God is not an unbearable burden, an intolerable anguish, man knows nothing. The sinful condition is to be willing to remain remote from God. Life is the experience of the Presence of God.
(from The Lord’s Prayer as a way of Initiation,Texts from Dom Henri Le Saux O.S.B. –Swami Abhishiktananda Presented by Odette Baumer-Despeigne
It is tempting to rail against intellectualism when first encountering this material. After all focusing on ideas to the exclusion of the real leaves me without the grounding I need. I am soon seduced by the stillness permeating Fr. LeSaux's words: purification, remorseless dying to oneself, dying to the inherent dualism. I am left listening to the stillness that my heart craves, touching the silence in which I am least resistant to God's mercy. It is here that I find rest--a state beyond-mind.