This brief note is to let you know about my writing projects, and some hopeful plans for 2016.
Some of you have been letting me know that it’s taking a while for the books on the Psalm Structures, and The Red Line of Hope, to get finished. I think you’re right, and here’s one reason for the delay:
The year of 2015 was full of new discoveries (these actually began in late 2014) and I’ll explain them here.
First, some background:
Before these new discoveries, my work was “concentrated” on the stunning presence of mystical structures in the Book of Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Many of these discoveries happened while I was studying in Rome. Additionally, almost all the authors of the New Testament are consciously aware of the presence of these Psalm Structures. The first book I’m writing about the Psalm Structures is mostly done.
But while I was working on this in Berkeley, I put aside the unfinished project on the Psalm Structures and began a new project called The Red Line of Hope, after some friends and advisors suggested I pursue this new path. This book is about a theme, again hidden, that runs through the entire Bible. It has to do with human evolution, and with women and men, and with the ongoing integration of humanity. A mature and integrated humanity will be in deeper harmony and relationship with Humanity, Cosmos, and God. A mature and integrated humanity will be in greater flow and communication with the Holy Spirit. This book is nearly done, and will be the first to be published (God-willing).
Then I was thunderstruck with the realization that both of these mystical themes are entirely present in the Qur’an. This is a very joyful discovery. It shows that three Abrahamic religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, have even more profound connections than we previously knew. For not only do our Scriptures share themes, characters, and events on the literal level; we also share Divinely-placed mystical structures that further unite our Scriptures and our communities.
Already, this is a lot of material, and it is all uncharted terrain for the most part. While some of this material goes well with current scholarship, some of it is radically new.
But while working on these discoveries, new things occurred in 2015.
Here are just a few of these newer discoveries:
-Gregory Palamas’ 150 Chapters: Palamas is a great theologian, and a saint in the Eastern Church. Western theologians think highly of him as well.
His book entitled 150 Chapters actually has 150 brief chapters, usually a paragraph in length. There are also 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms. Each of the 150 Chapters is in dialogue with the Psalm of the same number: Chapter 1 hiddenly speaks of Psalm 1, Chapter 2 of Psalm 2, and so on, through all 150 chapters. This hidden dialogue adds many dimensions to his treatise.
Gregory is following a tradition, a hidden tradition, in doing this. The numbered chapters of the recently-discovered Gospel of Thomas is doing this very thing with the Book of Psalms, as are the 153 Chapters on Prayer of Evagrius Ponticus, one of the monks of the desert of Egypt. The Gospel of Philip may be doing this too. Many theologians of the Eastern Christian tradition have written “centuries,” that is, books with 100 brief numbered chapters. These authors may also be in dialogue with the Psalms in similar ways.
–William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire: Shakespeare knows the Bible immensely well, which many scholars have noted. During some parts of his education, he would have sung the Psalms on a daily basis. His poetic intellect and imagination would have been fascinated with the Psalms. It is likely that he was part of the team that translated the King James Bible; and it is been conjectured that he placed his own name within Psalm 46 of that translation.
There are 150 Psalms of the Bible. In 1609 Shakespeare published his Sonnets as a book, a collection of 154 sonnets.
The dialogue that Shakespeare is having with the Psalms, and with the entire Bible, is hidden and entirely profound. In multiple artistic modes, many or all of the sonnets are in dialogue with the Psalm of the same number. This discovery is a surprise.
Additionally, the Sonnets are limned with hidden autobiographical revelations of Shakespeare’s own life. He suffered immensely from some specific offenses, as a youngster. He knew anger, repression, and disorientation. Later, in his young-adult years, he may have been involved in a scandal. Then, he was saved by a woman. After his struggles, he landed on his feet, celebrated humanity, and had a mature relationship with God. All of this is in the Sonnets, hidden. Shakespeare is an extraordinary person. He is a great affirmer of humanity.
Additionally, with the new hermeneutical lens of the Psalms in place, I have been rereading Shakespeare’s dramas. All of them that I have read thus far have evidence of the Psalm Structures. In one play, a character walks around carrying a concealed rope ladder.
Helen Vendler’s superb book, The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, has been helpful for seeing more deeply into the landscapes and geographies of the Sonnets, as well as the operative mechanics of the Sonnets’ poetry.
New questions abound: Was Shakespeare shown the Psalm Structures by another, or did he figure them out himself? Was the Holy Spirit his teacher on occasion?
Certainly, informed future discussions about Shakespeare will have to consider his dialogue with the Psalter (Book of Psalms).
-Other writers of sonnets: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Donne, Lady Mary Wroth, Edmund Spenser, and William Drummond all speak to the Psalms, hiddenly. Their sonnets appear in numbered collections. Note that these poets are English-speaking.
Much earlier than these, Petrarch, the founder of the sonnet form, knows of the Psalm Structures. He writes in Italian.
Later sonnet writers, such as Pablo Neruda in Spanish, and Ranier Maria Rilke in German, know of the Psalm Structures.
Poets Writing in More Modern Forms:
-Owen Dodson is a poet, playwright, novelist, and actor of the Harlem Renaissance. He knows of the Psalm Structures, as seen in his collection of poetry, Powerful Long Ladder. He makes daring innovations of the Psalm Structures as he makes statements demanding racial equality. His poetry is strong and forceful.
-Wallace Stevens himself edited The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, which contains much of his earlier poetry.
After Shakespeare, I know of no other poet who says so much, with such artistic freedom, in dialogue with the Psalms.
(A note: In Stevens’ poems there sometimes appear words or attitudes that seem to be racist, or belittle ethnic groups. But I think, and hope, that this is not the case. Stevens is a keen social critic. He is speaking of mindsets of his era in these statements, and holding them up to be examined in the light of day. For example, in The Blue Guitar, he wants to get everything prejudiced and weak out of the human soul, and to strengthen it.)
There could be many other poets who know of these realities.
Questions abound: How did these poets learn of the Psalm Structures?
-Nietzsche. In most books of his “philosophy,” his aphorisms are numbered, as are the Psalms. This helps us to follow his repartee with the Psalms.
When he was young, he had a gruesome training in the Bible. He knew of the Mystical Psalm Structures. And he wanted to throw them out the window.
Like Shakespeare, Nietzsche knew much suffering in his youth. Unlike Shakespeare, he did not recover, at least not during his communicative portions of this life, before he became insane, silent, and institutionalized.
Nietzsche’s project is ominous, perhaps evil. He saw all humanity, and our human future, as his artistic medium. He perhaps hated God, and was trying to revenge/avenge himself on God. Or, it may have been his insanity driving him.
His remarks about psychological layers, and events in our lives, are sometimes insightful. Many people, and I, may have learned some things from him when we were younger students.
But while he purports to know of the interior life, and the life of solitude, he actually knows little about it, and he clearly knows nothing about certain spiritual aptitudes that humanity is capable of. His writing is entertaining, and some time after I was a monk I began rereading Thus Spoke Zarathustra when I needed a laugh, because Nietzsche is fun yet clueless about many realms and capacities of our soul. His parodies of the Bible, however, are nice little works of art.
Psalm 6 is the first Psalm of the Mystical Ladder, and this Ladder is perhaps the most important of the Psalm Structures. In Part 6 of Zarathustra’s Prologue, Nietzsche does a parody of the Psalms Ladder, in which he tries to leave certain good things, including God, behind us.
Psalm 144 is the final Psalm of the Ladder, with Psalm 150 being the heavens above the Ladder. In Sonnet 144, William Shakespeare does an hysterical parody of the Mystical Psalms Ladder. Like the humorous episodes in the Bible’s Psalms of lament, which call God a drunken warrior who missed the battle, or a shepherd who let his sheep be stolen by the enemy, Shakespeare vents major spleen at God in a humorous way. Yet he desires to grow as a human, atone for past mistakes, and make life better. For all.
Nietzsche was jealous of Shakespeare (see especially Aphorism 98 of The Gay Science). And he knew a lot of what Shakespeare is up to. He was unsettled by the intricacy and power of the Sonnets.
In a larger frame, Nietzsche does not understand several components of why we should help the poor, or why charity is the best option for humanity. He is wrong about what leads to the strongest, healthiest, smartest, happiest society. He misunderstands humanity.
-J.M.W. Turner’s works were featured in a wonderful show at the De Young Museum recently. He knows about some the basic storyline of human evolution, hidden in the Bible. Many of his works are feminine on one side, and masculine on the other side, dealing with integration and with Biblical themes in fascinating ways.
-The etchings of Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo may be commenting on similar themes as Turner, but in different ways.
-Raphael’s series of Vatican paintings ends with Solomonic themes and the Feminine, as well as Solomon’s construction of the first temple (the integration of the human heart); Solomon, as well as Bathsheba and the Queen of Sheba, represent human integration. In this sense, they are an unremarked high point of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). A New Testament icon of this human integration is Mary standing by the Beloved Disciple, near the cross. The Beloved Disciple takes the Feminine into himself. Integration. These themes will be dealt with in The Red Line of Hope.
To conclude, connections with Hinduism:
The first real public words of Jesus in the Bible, the Beatitudes, represent the Mystical Menorahs of the Psalms. The Beatitudes are also deeply connected to Chandogya Upanishad of the Hindu Tradition.
Additionally, the Mystical Menorahs are interwoven with the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita has 18 chapters. 18 Psalms make up the Mystical Intertwined Menorahs of the Psalms. The Gita and the Mystical Menorahs align perfectly. The Psalms of the Mystical Menorahs are multiples of 8: 8, 16, 24, . . . , to 144, the 18th Psalm of the Menorahs. Chapter 1 of the Gita shares themes with Psalm 8, Chapter 2 with Psalm 16, Chapter 3 with Psalm 24, and so on, all the way to the 18th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which has connections with Psalm 144.
But this is astounding.
It’s a miracle.
How could these Hindu Scriptures and the Scriptures of the Abrahamic Traditions share Mystical realities?
It turns out that these hidden structures of our Scriptures inform the worlds of theology, poetry, philosophy, art, and even are shared among Traditions, that seem not to be directly related to Islam-Christianity-Judaism. Perhaps learning about these realities hidden in our Scriptures will also enhance our understanding of other things too. Perhaps other developments will develop.
I don’t think it’s too much to say: These Mystical realities invite us to celebrate a new level of reality that we moderns have not been aware of yet. And we are being invited to participate in this more enlightened awareness.
Initial lessons-learned from the Mystical Realities of our Scriptures that also pervade theology, poetry, philosophy, and art:
-God loves us all. Each human person is beloved to God.
-God desires our evolution, our growth. (As individuals and as a human community)
-Part of this is that God desires our growth of compassion for all other people, just as God loves us. We show this love by, for example, helping all people, including the poor, toward happier lives. Sharing. Choosing to think of others, and to care for others. We are also learning to care for our one environment, our shared home, the Earth. What is the Earth like?
These things are very positive news, for all of us.
On a personal note, please allow me to say:
Apologies are due for lapsed correspondence, delayed meetings, and books returned tardily. Things have been busy. I’ll be sharper in 2016 (God-willing).
Many thanks are due to many people and organizations, and I’ll mention them as the appropriate time. The help and patience of many people have been of immense importance to me. I’m thankful.
In the next weeks I plan to write generic essays to give initial brushstrokes on what’s happening here, and let people know about it. Specifically, I intend to write quick essays on:
-Gregory Palamas’ 150 Chapters
-Nietzsche and philosophers
-Chandogya Upanishad and the Bhagavad Gita, and the Bible.
Then I hope to finish the book that is almost done, The Red Line of Hope.
Part of the purpose of writing this plan is to let my friends know about it, so that you can hold me to account. Thanks again to all for your help, interest, and patience.