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Carmelite Map (for Map Geeks)

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Carmelite Map (for Map Geeks)
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11/18/19 8:14 PM
Sorry this is long. It is strictly for map geeks. (Edit: lightly edited for clarity and to fix the link)

Recent discussions prompted me to dig around the Carmelites a little. Daniel of course discusses St John of the Cross, but I also found a great summary of St Teresa of Avila's interior castle here. I'm not sure whether she is mentioned in MCTB2 - maybe very briefly?  She was one of just four female Doctors of the Church, and seems to have been a serious scholar, advanced meditator and religious leader.  Reading the summary makes it clear she was also doing pragmatic dharma! 

Here is a summary of the summary ... My observations are in italic bold.

1. Outside the body are many evil temptations Cravings
2. God dwells in our soul, and is within all of us Pointing to non-conceptual non-separation
3. The soul can unite with God in this very lifetime In This Very Life - also a famous dharma book!
4. Mortal sins do huge damage to the soul Creating karmic sankharas
5. We enter the interior castle (the soul within the body) to find God through prayer. This is a journey through seven interior mansions

Mansion 1 - Commence meditative prayer. Meditate on our own baseness, and practice humility, self-knowledge, turning to god. Establish a practice, start to weaken clinging

Mansion 2 - Persevere, embrace suffering, avoid bad company, purify imperfections, grow in charity. Then you may practice interior prayer - active recollection of god within. Continue to use meditative prayer when necessary. Keep weakening clinging, and develop non-conceptual mindfulness. Possible A&P in the very specific form of achieving an interior non-conceptual flow state.

Mansion 3 - Having overcome the initial difficulties, keep going, as despite your progress reason stills dominate love. There may be periods of aridity in practice, which should be met with humility and acceptance, and perserverance. Once you have the skill, keep going while purification/rewriring gets established. Work through the dark nights!

Mansion 4 - At this stage the meditator/penitent achieves the prayer of supernatural recollection in a temple of solitude, in which the exterior world and the senses lose their hold, and the prayer of quiet arises.  This prayer has ineffable peace, blessings and sweetness, infusing and spreading within to cause an interior dliation. The first of these seems to be some kind of samadhi or maybe access concentration, and the second is clearly jhana. 

Mansion 5 - At this stage the meditator/penitent achieves the prayer of union. Quotes follow.

Here the soul “falls asleep to the things of the world,” and in this sort of death becomes united to God. Thus the faculties are suspended, and there is virtually an unconsciousness, as the soul appears to have withdrawn from the body. The hallmark experience of this prayer is the certainty that, however short in duration, the soul was united to God ... "God implants Himself in the interior of that soul in such a way that, when it returns to itself, it cannot possibly doubt that God has been in it and it has been in God; so firmly does this truth remain within it that, although for years God may never grant it that favor again, it can never forget it or doubt that it has received it. This certainty of the soul is very material ... the soul now has the most “vehement desire” for penance, solitude “and for all to know God.” It is overwhelmed for having “merited such a blessing.”  Cessation, but maybe mixing in some aspects of A&P in the last bit.

Mansion 6 - Absorption in the concept of god, ecstasies and mystic experiences, accompanied by some reverses and suffering and periods of aridity in practice. Meditative prayer continues to provide a support in difficult times. These raptures, mysticism and discouraging reverses seem common at second and third path. So does a second dark night when some parts of the body/mind resist emptiness. The return from the flow states to simpler contemplation practices, when needed, is an interesting technical recommendation. 

Mansion 7 - Union with god. Forgetfullness of the self. Lack of emnity to those who mistreat you. Marked detachment from everyting. Love for god. Almost constant tranquility. No lack of crosses - but they do not unsettle the soul's peace.  Loss of fear. Experience of almost constant presence of god (The Bridegroom).  After much toil, the silkworm emerges from the cocoon. The worm dies, because Christ is now its life. Many common elements here to descriptions of advanced meditators - no self, tranquility, detachment, death of self etc. 

So. Just thought I would share.  emoticon
 

RE: Carmelite Map (for Map Geeks)
Answer
11/20/19 4:06 PM as a reply to curious.
Thanks for posting this! I live near Catholic University and see many nuns and monks in my daily life - I often wonder what kind of meditation they are doing in the course of their contemplative lives. Have you seen anything written about what they actually do? Like is it effectively mantra-based (if, say, reciting rosaries could be considered mantras)?

RE: Carmelite Map (for Map Geeks)
Answer
11/20/19 7:10 PM as a reply to constructedmyself.
A good systematic overview is The Ways of Mental Prayer by Vital Lehodey https://www.amazon.com/Ways-Mental-Prayer-Introductory-Letter/dp/1926777077 ("Mental prayer" was a 16th century way of distinguishing contemplative prayer from ordinary "vocal prayer.")