THE SILENT CAULDRON

30. Jul, 2015

"The seed of God is in us. If the seed had a good, wise and industrious cultivator, it would thrive and grow up to God whose seed it is, and the fruit would be equal to the nature of God." Here Meister Eckhart (1260-1329 A.D.) in one sentence compresses so clearly the potential that lies within each of us. We all flounder around wondering which way to go in our lives, we allow ourselves to be diverted into the cul-de-sac of materialism; political corruption; objectivacation of both ourselves as well as others. But all those seemingly attractive goals take us off track, so that we expend large amounts of energy following the "good" that is really a flawed good. As previously noted in earlier web updates, it seems to be  a more attractive and simpler  route to say,"Why bother ? When I die, I die, end of story". But even if we allow that view some space, we come back to Eckhart's emphasis on our being a "good, wise and industrious cultivator". So here we have to translate those words into our own daily thoughts and actions, otherwise we become empty vessels. Like the existentialism of Sartre and others, we scramble to find solid meaning, something that will provide an exciting and uplifting framework for our activities." Justice is a stable and lasting willingness to do the just thing for everyone" (St.Thomas Aquinas). This defines the Common Good and our individual responsibility to be curious about what is happening in the world, and to challenge what on careful reflection we see as a level of evil ("a falling away from the right path"). E.g. the killing of the famous lion in Africa this week, involving a person who revelled in hunting and killing animals for large sums. There was illegality of varying kinds and a two day suffering by the lion. This exemplifies human disrespect for life in all its forms; greed and ego boosting. A righteous anger of calling for a full legal recompense will be JUSTICE.

Thank you. Tom Baxter

16. Jul, 2015

"There are two kinds of births for a person. One is INTO the world, and the other is OUT OF THE WORLD.(Meister Eckhart 1260-1329 A.D.). This means out of the material world and spiritually into God". Here Eckhart is reminding us that we have a choice, to focus our birthing of our creative energies into the world of work, or to connect those activities to a higher plane. Namely, developing our sense of the cardinal virtues of Justice; Fortitude; Temperance; Wisdom (Prudence). We can each of us in our different ways, birth these into our daily reality of life. "There is in the soul a something in which God dwells, and there is in the soul a something in which the soul dwells in God. But if the soul turns outward to other objects, it will die, and God also will die for the soul". Again Eckhart emphasises the importance of taking the right path. "It is the rule of nature that the higher always flows into the lower. Since God is above the soul, God is always flowing into the soul, and can never escape the soul." So God is both our mother and father, as in real life birthing. But as real children, we have the freedom but also the responsibility to wake up to life and its demands; sleep, whereby we can avoid the discomfort of pursuing our real goal in life - finding the true meaning, is comfortable. After all many take that route. Relaxing in front of the television unmoved by real events, sipping our next drink or whatever. Because the challenges of life today are so various and complex, whether they are political, social, it is particularly important to build our own framework of values that do connect to a higher Being. Otherwise we will become part of the whirling viruses of so much that is tainting our thoughts and actions today. As St.Thomas Aquinas stated "Enjoyment in our lives can only be real when we savour and focus on the last (highest) end alone, not only for the sake of something else."  SO, Let us go forward and ENJOY.

Thank you. Tom Baxter

29. Jun, 2015

"God is present everywhere in everything". (St.Thomas Aquinas).Here Aquinas gets to the root of so many of our life positions. Some of us on reading that statement may simply shrug their shoulders and say, "So what?" Others will lapse into vigorous denial that such a sentence can possibly be feasible.To shrug our shoulders is restricting our curiosity and even more it is walling us off from deep mental and metaphysical development. To deny the feasibility of Aquinas' statement raises the questions of science. We need science in all its forms, but ultimately it has not come up with a sound answer as to how the world was created and more so, why. Science has taken nearly 2,000 years to come up with a fairly good map of the universe and its constituent parts, only to find that each new discovery, raises yet more questions. To accept the notion of a Creator God, is for many, too frightening a concept,raising as it does, questions such as, "what sort of Creator? What are the implications for me? Why does evil happen if the Creator is supposed to be ALL Good? But as Aquinas points out, we cannot prove that the world began, it is a matter of faith, not of proof or science. Rather the universe was created together with time, not, that the action of creation was itself in time.So we have three stances, each raising differing questions as to their viability. "God hates nothing that he has made". Aquinas points out that God cannot directly cause sin, since that is disorder, and God draws everything to himself as the ultimate goal. However, God does freely choose to withold the light from those in whom he finds an obstacle. Therein lies yet another mystery." Oh soaring eagle! Oh glowing spark! Set me on fire! A day is as a thousand years, when Thou art absent! (Mechtild of Magdeburg 1210-1280 A.D), summarises the potential loss we experience when we allow ourselves to drift away from the Creator.

Thank you. Tom Baxter

20. May, 2015

"I, God ,am your playmate! I will lead you in wonderful ways for I have chosen you." (Mechtild of Magdeburg -1210-1280 A.D.). As we get weighed down by the grim world news, these words of Mechtild allow us to soar into the clouds, even if for only a few brief moments. They emphasise the philosophical and theological framework that provides stability and meaning and purpose for our daily existence. The psychological relevance here is therefore paramount because these words and the inherent values in them, provide a clear sense of identity for us to build on. Of course, the next moment we may experience a dark moment, but the message that we are not just accidental, but we were born with a purpose, to produce good in the world and to combat evil in its various guises and degrees, is in itself a re-birthing. As mothers know, giving birth is not only a painful but a wonderous experience. So we have an option, moment by moment, to feel deeply with love for all our momentary happenings. But what is love? As Mechtild and Thomas Aquinas maintained, it grows in the soul so enabling us to decide more compassionately, what decisions should we make; what actions should we do, and all part of an upward spiral towards a happier existence. "Delight completes activity as an end, as does beauty add to youth as its adorning grace." Aquinas here is almost painting a picture of us dancing with joy, when we are at ease with ourselves and with others. However,(there is always an However!) love and delight both require assistance from Reason and the Cardinal Virtues (Prudence; Temperance; Fortitude; Justice).  Otherwise our delight and joy could dry up into inaction or excessive reaction. For we fear what we may lose and therefore love can easily turn to hate. "Daily life is broken into a series of interrupted acts: the closer we can get to a single continuous activity, the closer we can contemplate the truth". This will then support us to gain a higher quality of joy and delight as we begin our metaphysical journey.

Thank you. Tom Baxter

5. May, 2015

"The blackness of hell was all about me. The sorrows of the world encompassed me. I had descended into a pit. Hope had foresaken me. I was like that mother whose child had been raped and slain. I was the mother who had borne the monster who had done it. I was even that monster, feeling in my own heart every abomination." This extraordinary picture of the journey of suffering by the social C.20th. activist, Dorothy Day as she was imprisoned, describes how at the very deepest level of pain, we feel the first fragmentary glimmering of light. Via Negativa is the route through our deepest anxieties to a re-birth, a new creativity in our lives. Yes, to Let Go of the first feelings as Dorothy Day states, of sorrow, isolation, guilt, is no easy matter. But the process of Letting Go of the darkness, slowly allows us to connect with others at a deeper and more meaningful level. This is the beginning of true community. This week in Britain we are faced with the dilemmas and potential pain of electoral choice. At differing levels, the country is experiencing the darkness before the light. Will a deeper sense of community arrive? Or will we be unable to Let Go of flawed ways of thinking and acting ? As St.Francis of Assisi (1181-1225 A.D.) wrote, "We are the mother of Christ when we carry him in our hearts and minds by love and a pure conscience. That is how we give birth to him through our works." Living and specifically, elections, are all about Choice. Via Negativa, this ancient tradition of experiencing pain, disappointment, and the letting go of those consequent feelings, and then climbing up into the blue skies of new found creativity will hopefully be a new framework for all of us after polling day. As the French Jesuit scientist, Teilhard de Chardin said, " born of a cosmic stream, ours is a cosmic responsibility."

Thank you. Tom Baxter