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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index


The Inner Eye of Love: Mysticism and Religion.

Johnston, William. (1978).
San Francisco: Harper & Row.


ISBN: 0-06-064195-9

Description: Hardcover, 208 pages.

Contents: Preface, 20 chapters divided into 4 parts: Part 1, Mysticism; Part 2, Mysticism and Theology; Part 3, The Mystical Journey; Part 4, Mystical Action, books and articles quoted in the text, index.

Excerpt(s): And so I have written The Inner Eye of Love. The title, I believe, touches a chord in the great religions of East and West. All are aware that man born of women is somehow in ignorance but that redemption is at hand. For he has a third eye, an inner eye, the eye of the heart, the eye of wisdom, the eye of love. When this inner eye is awakened man, blind from birth, sees the real glory and beauty and meaning of the universe. 'The eye is the lamp of your body. So if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness!' (Matthew 6:22,23). Surely these enigmatic words remind us that the important thing in human life is to see, to be full of light, not to walk in the dark. (page 9).

In the second section I turn to theology. one need be no great prophet to predict that Western theology of the next century will address itself primarily to dialogue with the great religions of the East. And I myself believe that this dialogue will be a miserable affair if the Western religions do not rethink their theology in light of mystical experience. In this book I have highlighted the mysticism of Jesus as the key to the understanding of Christianity, just as the enlightenment of Shakamuni is the key to the understanding of Buddhism.

I am aware that for many professional theologians mysticism is a peripheral affair an esoteric and embarrassing subject which has rightly been relegated to an obscure position in the curriculum of any self-respecting school of theology. I myself have not been able to accept this point of view. And in this book I set myself the task of finding a place for mysticism in the overall discipline which we call theology. I followed the method of Bernard Lonergan and found myself drawn to the conclusion that mysticism is the very centre of religion and theology. I discovered that mysticism is the exquisitely beautiful queen before whom the other branches of theology bow down with awe and reverence like lowly handmaids. I also saw clearly that this queen is the lady wisdom for whom all religions search and in whose presence all religions meet. (pages 9 and 10)

The word mystica was introduced into Christianity by an anonymous Syrian monk, a Christian neoplatonist of the late fifth or early sixth century AD, who composed several theological treatises, one of which was named Mystica Theologia. To his works he quietly affixed the name of Dionysius the Areopagite who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a convert of St Paul; and the Mystica Theologia he fictitiously addressed to Paul's disciple Timothy.

Though little appreciated at first, the works of the so-called Dionysius swept through the intellectual world of Europe after they were translated into Latin by the red-bearded Irishman, John Scotus Eriugena, in the ninth century. Initially some doubts were cast on their authenticity, but the 'pious fraud', as Aldous Huxley called it, turned out so successful that Albert, Aquinas, Bonaventure and the schoolmen greeted the author with the enthusiasm and reverence due to one who was close to St Paul and the New Testament. Commentaries on his works multiplied and even Dante sings the praises of the Areopagite. Only at the end of the nineteenth century was the identity, or lack of identity, of this anonymous monk definitively uncovered. He is now frequently called pseudo-Dionysius but I shall go along with his pious fraud and call him Dionysius. (pages 16-17)

Whatever way we envisage it, the microcosm or inner universe is investigated by psychologists and explorers in consciousness from Jung to Aldous Huxley and from D. H. Lawrence to Timothy Leary. What precisely it contains we do not yet know but one thing is clear: the deep forces of the so-called unconscious are profoundly stirred by love. Love of man for woman or of woman for man, love of mother for child or child for mother this is the power that moves the inner universe and stirs mysterious, unknown, uncontrollable forces within us.

But there is a human question which psychology never asks and which leads people to religion; namely, what is at the deepest realm of the psyche? What is the basis or centre or root of all? Put in Jungian terms I might ask: When I go beyond the ego, beyond the personal unconscious, beyond the collective unconscious, beyond the archetypes, what do I find? And in answer to this all the great religions speak of a mystery which they call by various names: the Buddha nature, Brahman and Atman, the divine spark, the ground of being, the centre of the soul, the kingdom of God, the image of God and so on. they use different terms: but all, I believe, are pointing towards a single reality.

Coming now to mystical experience, we find ourselves confronted with the most powerful love of all divine love, infinite love, unrestricted love; and this force shakes the so-called unconscious to its very foundation. The hidden layers of consciousness, normally dormant, are awakened; the inner eyes come to see; the inner voices begin to talk. But in particular it is the Holy Spirit who awakens within us; and it is to his voice that we must be attuned and attentive. Nor is this easy. We must learn the art of discernment in order to recognize his peaceful stirrings in the midst of the great chorus (sometimes a cacophonous chorus) which sings within. ... let me stress the point that mystical knowledge arises from a deep level of the psyche which is ordinarily dormant. It is a different kind of knowledge from that which we ordinarily enjoy. Mysticism does not mean that we learn new things but that we learn to know in a new way. (pages 32-33)

Keeping in mind that mysticism is the supraconceptual wisdom that comes from love we can find such experience throughout the pages of the New testament. in particular we find it in the great contemplative prayer taught by Jesus: "Our father". ...

And there is mysticism in the Sermon on the Mount. this is the mysticism of the present moment a moment that is lived without anxiety about the future or fear of the past, without preoccupation about what I shall eat or drink. ... Of one could speak about the opening of the eyes of the blind (what a great enlightenment!) and how the inner eyes came to see the glory of God: "But blessed are your eyes, for they see ..." (Matthew 13;16). But let me say a word about Jesus the mystic.

Again, if mysticism is the wisdom which comes from divine love, can we not see Jesus as the mystic par excellence? Because love for his father was the dominating passion of his life" 'Abba, Father!'. And the whole Gospel relates the drama of how Jesus loved the Father, how he was loved by the Father and how he offered himself for the world, praying for his disciples 'that the love with which thou has loved me may be in them, and I in them' (John 17:26) (pages 49-50)

These are remarkable chapters ["those mystical chapters in the Fourth Gospel"]. If we read them again and again we may find in ourselves that consciousness which is at the same time differentiated and undifferentiated, the consciousness which grasps unity and diversity at the same time. for Jesus prays "that they may be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us' (John 17:21). They are to be one, perfectly one, as Jesus is one with the Father. And yet they are not one, for the Father and Son are different persons. I myself believe that this experience of unity in diversity and diversity in unity is the core of the Christian mystical experience. And it can only be attained through love. (page 50)

My contention will be that the mystical experience is, and has to be, at the very core of authentic theology. So it was in antiquity when theology was, in the wise words of Anselm of Canterbury, 'faith searching for understanding' (fides quaerens intellectum). The great theologians of primitive Christianity (That is to say, those who built Western civilization and whose works are vibrantly alive today) were men of faith, living faith, mystical faith. While their outer eyes pored over tomes and manuscripts and sacred books, their inner eye 'beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father' (John 1:14). In other words they were deeply enlightened people; and they tried to express inadequately and imperfectly as they well knew the wisdom they perceived with the inner eye. They knew, of course, that this vision could never be satisfactorily expressed in words; yet they did their best. As for Thomas, that wise and enlightened man, he finally protested that all his writings sere as straw compared with the vision he perceived with the eye of love. (page 53)



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