Monday, June 2, 2008


My grandmother's name was Therese, named after a Christian Saint. Looking up Christian Saints, I came across this amazing woman, who reminded me of a YouTube video (below) of a present day, Indian saint named Amma, in rapture. Amma is the Indian Saint who heals millions with unconditional love hugs you may have already heard about on the news.

It was this passage about Teresa of Avila's teachings about the four stages of the soul, that made me think of the Amma video below. So first - here is Theresa's statement:

The fourth is the "devotion of ecstasy or rapture," a passive state, in which the consciousness of being in the body disappears. Sense activity ceases; memory and imagination are also absorbed in God or intoxicated. Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, a complete impotence and unconsciousness, and a spell of strangulation, intermitted sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space. This after half an hour is followed by a reactionary relaxation of a few hours in a swoon-like weakness, attended by a negation of all the faculties in the union with God. From this the subject awakens in tears; it is the climax of mystical experience, productive of the trance. (Indeed, St. Theresa herself was said to have been observed levitating during Mass on more than one occasion.)

Teresa is one of the foremost writers on mental prayer. Her definition was used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Mental prayer [oraciĆ³n mental] is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us." (more on Wikipedia)

Here is the video of Amma now, in what appears to be the state described by Theresa - a strange sight to Western eyes, although not as strange as someone levitating -

The communists call religion the opium of the people. This opium beats all other drugs, but you have to spend as much time and money on it as you do on "real" drugs. And - it helps to hang out with people who know how to get high. Religions can be as much trouble as drugs - in many ways - and just as deceiving. It is all very tricky, and we need to check within our hearts to guide us. That is were this "mental prayer" comes in. In Christian Science this idea is taken even further to "silent prayer" - not talking with God, but just being in his presence. It's all meditation in various forms.

Before you think the above Saint, Amma, may just be a drugged out, strange Indian with a multi million dollar business watch this Newscast - her physical feat each day alone seems to only be possible by "miracle". Her message is love and compassion - unconditional love, like that of a mother. It indeed seems to move mountains.

- and here another, very old video of her early days.

What do you think? How open-minded are we when we think prayer or love is not scientific? They are stepping stones to silence, stillness, and what we, in our lack of understanding, call miracles. If you read "Autobiography of Yogi", by Paramahansa Yogananda, or "The Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East" by Baird T. Spalding ( a wonderful set of six books a friend just gave to me to read), so-called miracles seem nothing but easy tasks if we only understood the underlying, scientific principals. That is why for example, Christian Science considers itself a scientific method, teaching how our minds play a role in affecting the material circumstance around us.

Silence and stillness is the unifying principle all the physicists are looking for. It will be interesting to see how they will eventually express this in a formula. First they have to find it. How to write a formula about the non-physical that is the source of all the physical? There is no God, but God? Much like the word Uni-verse. What would that look like in a unified principle formula? The unified principle formula would have to be a contradictory statement, like Mohammed's statement, the word Universe, or many Buddhist statements. Only a contradictory statement can get close to describing truth.

The Tao tells us the truth that can be described - is not the truth. Maybe Jesus' statement: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" is even wiser than any direct statement. I love this mystery and could write on and on about it. That's why I had to write a short children's book instead, with all of this between the lines.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great post. It's cool to hear that you're writing about Amma (You seem to be on top of things!) I hear there is a buzz on the web about Amma, the Hugging Staint. She is going to LA next week to hug people and give them her blessings.

Turns out, though, that she is violating a boycott. And that is not making hotel workers very happy at all. This is huge, I think. Check it out: