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Jiddu Krishnamurti and Anthony de Mello, S.J.: Two Spiritual Guides from India to Enlighten Us

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As far as I know, Tony never met Jiddu Krishnamurti. But Krishna 's mature thought deeply influenced Tony's mature thought, as he himself acknowledged -- so deeply that I would characterize him in certain respects as the mouthpiece for Krishna 's mature thought. But of course Tony was a Jesuit priest, so he integrated certain points from K's mature thought with comparable points in Ignatian spirituality. After all, Ignatius Loyola was a mystic, and so was Jiddu Krishnamurti, as was Anthony de Mello, S.J.

On page 155, Roland Vernon explains that "[o]ne of the basic principles of esotericism is the role of mediation between human and divine worlds . . . . [I]t is characteristic for esoteric systems to lay emphasis on the power of imagination to bring about mental dialogue with these mediators [such as angels, spirits, or in Theosophy's case, Masters]."

It is also characteristic of the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of Ignatius Loyola to lay emphasis on the power of imagination on selected biblical texts to bring about mental dialogue with certain key persons in the selected text (e.g., Jesus, Mary). In the Christian tradition of prayer, the form of prayer in which one uses the power of one's imagination on selected biblical texts is known variously as meditation or contemplation. In his famous religious conversion, Ignatius Loyola used this form of prayer extensively on his way to becoming a mystic.

Ignatius Loyola expected all Jesuits to be open to the possibility of becoming mystics, with the understanding that becoming a mystic ultimately depends on the grace of God. (In fairness to the men and women in all other Catholic religious orders, I should also say that they open themselves to the possibility of becoming mystics, with the understanding that becoming a mystic depends on the grace of God. In theory, lay Catholics could also open themselves to becoming mystics; however, in practice, most lay Catholics do not self-consciously try to open themselves to become mystics. In a certain sense God is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to employing individual persons as mystics. In theory, being employed by God as a mystic is open and available to all people; however, actually becoming a mystic depends on the grace of God, the employer, as it were, not simply on the would-be employee's being open to the possibility of being a mystic.)

By contrast, Jiddu Krishnamurti in his mature thought often sounds as though he expects everybody to become a mystic, which of course has not happened yet.

But of course the historical Jesus centuries ago proclaimed that the kingdom or reign of God has come. As I've suggested above, the experience of the kingdom or reign of God proclaimed by the historical Jesus is probably best understood as a mystic experience, or at least as an experience open to people who have had mystic experiences. For this reason, if you would like to experience the kingdom or reign of God proclaimed by Jesus, you will probably have to be a mystic, or at least have had mystic experiences.

At this juncture, I'd like to introduce the technical terminology that is used to refer to two different approaches to spirituality: kataphatic spirituality and apophatic spirituality.

When we use imagery and dialogue in meditation and contemplation, as Krishna used imagery of the Masters that he had learned early in his life in the Theosophical Society, then we are cultivating a kataphatic approach to spirituality. The kataphatic approach to spirituality is central to the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of Ignatius Loyola. However, the use of imagery and dialogue in the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of Ignatius Loyola can at times lead the person on retreat toward and into apophatic meditation and contemplation.

But when we do not use imagery and dialogue in meditation and contemplation, then we use the practice of silence and awareness in meditation and contemplation. In this way of proceeding, we are cultivating an apophatic approach to spirituality. In his mature writings, Krishna favors the apophatic approach to meditation and contemplation through silent awareness.

In Tony's July 1980 preached retreat in Denver , mentioned above, he used somewhat different terminology to refer to kataphatic spirituality and apophatic spirituality. Because God is not conceptualized as a person in apophatic spirituality, he referred to this tradition of spirituality as the awareness tradition of spirituality. Because God is conceptualized as a person in the kataphatic tradition of spirituality, he referred to this tradition of spirituality as the loving tradition of spirituality because it involves relating to and loving the conceptual construct of God that is imagined to be a person. So we may choose either the awareness tradition or the loving tradition as a general approach to God.

In Tony's July 1980 preached retreat in Denver , he made a crucial point regarding fantasy exercises using imagery and dialogue: Fantasy without feeling is not effective. Fantasy exercises using imagery such as the fantasy exercises in the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of Ignatius Loyola must evoke feelings in the individual person doing them in order to be effective.

This point is also crucial for understanding why Tony moved away from serving as the retreat director for Jesuits making a 30-day retreat following the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of Ignatius Loyola, to serving as the main facilitator in counseling retreats, as he styled them. The counseling retreats that he and his team of helpers presided over were influenced by Fritz Perls' Gestalt therapy -- in effect, they were something like encounters groups in spirit.

On page 204 of his fine biography of Tony titled ANTHONY DEMELLO, SJ, THE HAPPY WANDERER:A TRIBUTE TO MY BROTHER (Anand, Gujarat, India: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 2012), Bill deMello (sic) quotes at length a statement made by a former Jesuit about why Tony had moved from directing 30-day retreats to giving counseling retreats instead.

In Tony's July 1980 preached retreat in Denver , he discussed emotions. In his estimate, the basic emotions are fear, grief, anger, love, and joy. He considers some other so-called emotions to be spurious such as self-pity and guilt, and he considers resentment to be the emotion of the weak. To be human is to be able to experience all the basic emotions. In a certain sense, the healthy human person is "vulnerable" to experience all the basic emotions in a healthy way. Thus the man or woman who has the basic emotions available to him or her is able to live more fully. When you become "vulnerable" to all the basic emotions in a healthy way, you open yourself to flowing.

As mentioned above, John Bradshaw also discusses emotions. When our emotions are bound by toxic shame, we are not able to experience the basic emotions in a healthy way. To free up the basic emotions so that we can experience them in a healthy way, we need to undertake grief work to heal our toxic shame.

In Tony's estimate, the man or woman who has his or her anger available in a healthy way is able to be warm. Tony offered the following advice about what to do with anger:

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www.d.umn.edu/~tfarrell

Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 
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The world will probably not be changed appreciably... by Thomas Farrell on Tuesday, Sep 4, 2012 at 2:32:13 PM