Love’s Ecstasies and Obligations: Jewish Mystical PerspectivesThe Jewish tradition understands love as an act of caring, connecting and knowing. Some forms of love are religiously obligatory: it is a religious duty (mitzvah) to love God, our neighbors, and the stranger and to give generously to the less fortunate. Other forms of love are not obligatory but are strongly encouraged: e.g., visiting the sick, tending to the needs of the elderly, protecting animals. We will examine how compassion and justice are wedded in most forms of sacred love as well as experience some practices for opening the caring heart and hand.
The Challenge of the Desert: Passions and Emotions in Early Christian Spirituality In the fourth century of our era, the tradition of Christian spirituality that developed in the Egyptian desert envisaged the practice of the virtues as the first stage in a process of spiritual ascent that would culminate in the contemplation of the divine reality beyond the realm of shape and form. In this perspective, the body was largely a hindrance to be left behind as the individual ascended towards a higher and higher intellectual insight. After the fifth century, however, the greater emphasis on the mystery of the incarnation within Christian theology ensured that Christian spiritual practice would come to view the embodied condition of humanity, as well as its attendant passions and emotions, as a fundamental resource for individual growth. As the individual transcends the border between the human and the divine realm, the ensuing intellectual and affective transformation accomplishes a dramatic reconfiguration of the inner life where the body is not shed, but is utterly transfigured.
This presentation will focus primarily on the works of Evagrius Pontikos (345-398 ca.) and Maximos the Confessor (580-662).
Burack, Charles and Cattoi, Thomas, "Mystical Teachings and Contemplative Practices in Judaism, Christianity & Islam." (2012). Founders Symposium. 48.