Saturday, May 29, 2010

(26) Electronic Retreat: Thomas Matus

I've just come off the better part of two days watching part of a
collection of videos on Youtube. Probably I managed a third of
these presentations by Thomas Matus. A monk, a Camaldolese
of the Benedictine Order, a dedicated hermit, he seems to me
to be a man of wisdom.

Of course hermits nowadays don't exactly sit in a cave.
Fr. Thomas has stakes not only in California, but also in Italy
and India. A practitioner of Yoga before he even became a monk,
he surely could be considered a deep meditator. And his books
sometimes reflect this.

I haven't read all of his books, mainly on the contemplative
tradition of the Camaldolese, but I have dipped deep into his
latest--"Ashram Diary." It's an account of his stay(s) in the
ashram established by the late Bede Griffiths. Within the
monastic world, Fr. Bede was (and still is) a super-star.

Though a Benedictine, Griffiths was also a Christian member
of the sannyasis--Hindu inspired universally-oriented monks.
As put by Wayne Teasdale, they are "contemplatives or mystics
from all traditions united in their awareness, their love, and their
dedication to the earth, humankind, and all sentient beings."

Thomas Matus also is a member of the sannyasis, initiated by
Fr. Bede. And after this electronic retreat, I could easily see
that Matus was definitely universally oriented. His video talks
seem to range from six-to-ten minutes in length. And what I
did was try to categorize so that I had a sense of continuity
when it came to his presentations.

The themes I chose were *interiority* oriented. He talked on
some of the following topics: Consciousness, the Collective
Unconscious, Dreams and Fantasy, the Paranormal (Psi),
Psychoactives, Universal Law, and even Extraterrestrials.

This good monk wasn't afraid to admit that he had an alien
encounter when he was six-years old. And it would seem
that this encounter has lingered in the back of his mind. It
has been a long time, since Matus recently celebrated his
70th birthday.

As for Consciousness/Unconscious, well Fr. Thomas
seemed to take very much a cosmic approach, if you will.
His dreamwork, too, he felt connected him with the universe
and a coming out of the Unconscious into consciousness.

Regarding Psychoactives, Matus certainly was *not* into
chemically induced psychoactives that supposedly enhance
our consciousness. Rather he stressed that Natural Actives,
such as our sense of Beauty (whether as experienced in Nature,
the Psalms, Art or Music) would seem the most Real.

Not surprising that Fr. Thomas would stress Music. An
accomplished musician and composer, he noted that Music
is the "heart" of his feelings when it comes to his own
experience in this world.

During the final part of this electronic retreat, I switched to
another theme presented by Matus--to *science* and how it
impacted us spiritually. This was not surprising, in that years
back I first encountered a book which he contributed along
with authors Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB, and the physicist
Fritjof Capra. It was "Belonging to the Universe: Explorations
on the Frontiers of Science & Spirituality." It was the result
of a discussion at Esalen Institute, comparing side-by-side
the New Theology and the New Cosmology.

Fr. Thomas talked about the "cloister" of science. He discussed
the meme, that "infectious virus" of Dawkins'. He talked about
the Ground of the universe. He referred to Teilhard, one of my
spiritual heros who pioneered the idea that science could also
be the approach towards a more realistic and natural under-
standing. Above all, Matus stressed *integration* when it came
to his own sense of understanding the Mystery in which we live
and have our being.

Throughout, I enjoyed this electronic retreat with Thomas Matus,
a rare "Man in Full," if you will. He most definitely is on my own

Saturday, May 15, 2010

(25) Creativity & the Divine

Currently I am in the midst of a book about Creativity that
suggests that such is the flashpoint where the human and
Divine meet. Indeed this book goes on to discuss the creativity
of the universe, itself, describing in detail the billions of years
wherein, like an Artist, the Divine spreads forth the great Cosmic
Mural. Until, at last, after a succession of life forms, there's the
human that we are today, the creative entity who now stands
in the forefront of this beautiful little planet we call home.

Reading this book about Creativity and the Divine, I felt
swept-up into its message. The message? At first it seemed
very much about the "tools" of creativity, which for the author
was about Freedom and the Openness to Diversity.

The author didn't call for anarchy or anything like that, but
rather his book was more about a balanced sense of wonder--
and duty. Duty towards what? A duty connected with the
Wonder of it all. It wasn't a stern unwavering duty written
into the concrete of some authoritative system, but more a
duty deep in the recesses of Freedom. A freedom balanced
between spontaneity and strategic consideration.

"Strategic" suggests not only getting from point A to point B,
but it's about long-term thinking and projections. Nowadays we
seem to be pretty poor when it comes to this ability to strategize.
But that's what most artists, creators do. Before the paint hits the
canvas there's the imaginal layout that lurks in the mind. Perhaps
this is the way of the Mind of God as well, thinking through the
entire *unfolding* of the universe before setting it off on its long

But if one looks close, whether the universe, the work of an artist,
or even an author's story, there's that spontaneity that seeps in
from the very first stroke. The story starts with the plan in the
author's mind, but as it spills forth it journeys into new territories
ripe for previously unexpressed options. The same seems the case
with the artist and his or her choice of colors and nuanced motifs.
And such adventurous expressions are also observed within the
long expanse of the universe.

These free expressions are wonderfully diverse. They surely
serve as the Adventure into the ever New.