Thomas Aquinas says that “Revelation has been made to many pagans. . . . The old pagan virtues were from God.” It is clear from this teaching that Aquinas is a Deep Ecumenist, a man of interfaith commitment open to learning how the Spirit works through people of all religions and cultures.
Rightly would he declare, were he living in our times, that Thich Nhat Hanh, who brought so much of the Buddhist tradition to the West, was and is a source of revelation to us all.
This includes TNH’s invitation that we overcome our dualisms and recover our mystical tradition so that the “jewels” in Christianity might return. These jewels have been covered over by many detours of empire building and reductionist education that Thomas Berry calls “academic barbarism” that defines truth as “clear and distinct ideas” and rewards the rational in our head at the expense of our hearts and breath and bodies. Knowledge, not wisdom.
Words alone are cheap. Breathing deeply is required also. Connecting to the heart, not just the eyes. Meditation, mindfulness, contemplation, art and creativity–accessing the right hemisphere of our brain, not just the verbal hemisphere, is needed.
Incorporating and honoring our bodies, breathing deeply, not just leading with our heads. The heart after all resides in the body and disperses its blood and values from that center. And breath is the same word as “spirit” in many languages (including Biblical ones).
The teaching that “the old pagan virtues were from God” is another affirmation of the importance of Deep Ecumenism from Thomas Aquinas. This means that the virtues Thich Nhat Hanh teaches such as compassion and both inner and outer peace, developing the mystic and prophet within all of us, are “from God.” Our times of Deep Ecumenism are marvelous and full of grace and can help heal the many troubles of our times, beginning with our inner selves and moving from there to our outer work and citizenship and service.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 71-76.
And from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, p. 31.
And from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Time, p 35 ff.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Mudra.” Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash.
Queries for Contemplation
What does it mean to you to hear that “revelation has been given to many pagans” and that “old pagan virtues are from God” and that Thich Nhat Hanh brought revelations as well as virtues to the West?
The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times
A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book! Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit
Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him. He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French). He gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way.
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake
Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time
While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward