The Way of Perfection

From The SpiritWiki

The book The Way of Perfection[1] by St. Teresa of Avila is a Connection Manual//Alignment Manual in the Medieval mystical tradition. The book provides guidance on establishing Right Environment, Right Thought, and Right Action with a view towards leading Sisters to concentrated and consistent "Contemplative" states.

Examples

Some examples of Alignment Manuals

Alignment Manuals > Brahmajala Sutra, Tao Te Ching, The Book of Great Decease, The Conference of the Birds, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, The Way of Perfection, Yoga Sastra of Hemacandra

Some examples of Connection Manuals > Bhagavad Gita, Brahmavidya, Cosmic Consciousness (book), Cosmic Memory, Create Your Personal Sacred Text, Crest-Jewel of Wisdom, Lankavatara Sutra, Lightning Path Connection Manual, Mundaka Upanishad, Perennial Philosophy, Sermon on the Mount, Taittiriya Upanishad, The Big Book, The Book of Great Decease, The Cloud of Unknowing, The Conference of the Birds, The Great Message, The Kingdom of God is Within You, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, The New Jerusalem (book), The Way of Perfection, This Is It, Yoga Sastra of Hemacandra

Notes

Teresa provides extended guidance on

Right Environment, which includes guidance on creating calm, peaceful, non-violent environments, and admonitions to be helpful, avoid drama and other negativity, remain non-attached to things and people (because non-attachment avoids drama), and so on. She also advises those interested in achieving contemplation to "shun relatives" if the relationships are unhealthy (ch 9),

Right Thought, which includes advice on avoiding stress and worry, not spreading negativity by complaining too much, not focussing too much on negative things, not getting caught in spirals of descending toxicity, mental discipline, and so on.

Right Action, which includes kindness, humility, love for others, compassion, avoidance of conflict, not letting ego get out of control (ch12) getting advice from healthy, knowledgeable people (ch 5), helping each otehr and meeting each others need (ch11), being discerning about who you let into your life (ch14), taking responsibility (ch15), etc.

She also says you have to have a healthy ego (ch 10), and she speaks, in a very sophisticated fashion, about the difference between needy love that enables, and love that supports and challenges (ch 7)

She says that mental prayer (reciting prayers in mind or vocally) is not enough (ch16) and that in order to achieve perfect contemplation (i.e. persistent and consistent connection), to achieve Divine Union, you have to be aligned to be able to make a connection(ch 16). We must "gain the greatest virtues." Makes comments about the need for Accountability. Emphasises humility as a virtue (ch 17).

She discusses the outcomes of connection using the example of the properties of water (cooling, cleansing, and quenching) (ch 19)

St. Teresa of Avila speaks of the importance of staying focussed (when praying and meditating) and of the importance of Intent to Connect, but in a Christian context, using the concept of a Christian God as a focal point for intent. "When you approach God, then, try30 to think and realize Whom you are about to address and continue to do so while you are addressing Him.[2]

She speaks of the importance of understanding what it is you are doing, and being clear about the meaning and the intent: "When I say the Creed, it seems to me right, and indeed obligatory, that I should understand and10 know what it is that I believe; and, when I repeat the “Our Father”, my love should make me want to understand Who this Father of ours is and Who the Master is that taught us this prayer[3]

Avila discusses "virtues" (a virtue is an act that is in Alignment) as a critical component of Connection. "The Saint protests against such ideas as these and lays it down clearly that, as a general rule, there is no way of attaining to union with the Beloved save by the practice of the “great virtues”, which can be acquired only at the cost of continual self-sacrifice and self-conquest."[4]

Avila notes Mortal Sin prevents connection (contemplation), or perhaps only allows it for brief periods.[5]


Footnotes

  1. St. Teresa of Avila. The Way of Perfection. New York: Dover Publications, 2012. https://amzn.to/2Id75es.
  2. St. Teresa of Avila. The Way of Perfection. New York: Dover Publications, 2012. https://amzn.to/2Id75es. p. 78.
  3. St. Teresa of Avila. The Way of Perfection. New York: Dover Publications, 2012. https://amzn.to/2Id75es. p. 81
  4. St. Teresa of Avila. The Way of Perfection. New York: Dover Publications, 2012. p. 7 https://amzn.to/2Id75es.
  5. St. Teresa of Avila. The Way of Perfection. New York: Dover Publications, 2012. p. 7 https://amzn.to/2Id75es.
References
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