We are discussing how Martin Luther King, Jr. and Père Chenu agree that dualism is a “strange” and “unbiblical” (or unJewish) way to look at ourselves and the world.
King says religion succumbs to fear when it separates matter and spirit, body and soul, the sacred and the profane.
Many other thinkers and activists agree. Catholic Feminist theologian Rosemary Ruether says that the foundation of patriarchy is dualism. (Thus to deconstruct dualism is to move beyond patriarchy and open the doors to women.)
Thich Nhat Hanh declared that if Christianity can recover its non-dualistic tradition, the gems and treasures it holds could come alive again.
Julian of Norwich defines mysticism as “oneing.” Oneing names mystical experience where we taste the non-dualism of God and us.
Meister Eckhart calls God “the One” and calls us to “separate ourselves from all twoness.” That is mysticism. His term for the “oneing” that is a mystical experience is “breakthrough. In breakthrough “I learn that God and I are one.”
Dorothy Soelle says that mysticism—”the truth that nothing can separate us from the love of God”–eradicates the masculine hierarchical consciousness that renders patriarchy possible.
Chenu championed the non-dualism of Thomas Aquinas and in an article in my book, Western Spirituality: Historical Roots, Ecumenical Routes, entitled “Body and Body Politic in the Creation Spirituality of Thomas Aquinas,” he writes:
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was a champion of creation spirituality [who] trusted the Creator and the creature to work dialectically with the spirit of creation.
On more than one occasion, Aquinas wrote that
…to take something away from the perfection of the creation is to abstract from the perfection of the creative power itself.
Chenu comments that this statement
…contains both a metaphysical and a mystical principle for Aquinas and lays open the key to his entire spirituality. For him (as for Francis of Assisi), nature is not a mere shadow of the supernatural but contains spiritual energies in itself. To study nature and existence was for Aquinas a form of prayer and meditation, indeed, a ‘liturgy’ as he insisted in his running debates with cloistered monks of his day.
To be continued.
Adapted from M. D. Chenu, O.P., “Body and Body Politic in the Creation Spirituality of Thomas Aquinas” in Matthew Fox, ed., Western Spirituality: Historical Roots, Ecumenical Routes, pp. 192f.
Also: Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 277-279, 325, 329-333.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Mahamudra: One aware about two.” Photo by Hartwig HKD on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Chenu and Aquinas and Francis of Assisi that nature is not a mere shadow of the supernatural but contains spiritual energies in itself? What follows from that?
In this book, Fox gathers scholars from various cultures and traditions such as Helen Kenik, Jon Sobrino, Nicolas Berdyaev, Rosemary Ruether, M. D. Chenu, Mary Jose Hobday, Ronald Miller, Monika Hellwig, James Kenney, Justin O’Brien and others to approach creation spirituality from many traditions and many angles.
“An exciting and important book…a pleasant alternative to the oppressive burden of the fall/redemption tradition.” ~ New Review of Books and Religion