The Minimum Working Hypothesis

keep-calm-and-test-the-hypothesis keepcalm-o-matic co uk

“Research into sense-experience – motivated and guided by a working hypothesis; leading, through logical inference to the formulation of an explanatory theory; and resulting in appropriate technological action.  That is natural science.  No working hypothesis means no motive for research, no reason for making one experiment rather than another, no way of bringing sense or order into the observed facts.  Contrawise, too much working hypothesis means … Continue reading

Be Melting Snow

Totally conscious, and apropos of nothing, you come to see me. Is someone here? I ask. The moon. The full moon is inside your house. My friends and I go running out into the street. I’m in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren’t listening. We’re looking up at the sky. My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden. Ringdoves … Continue reading

A Series of Quotes from The Cloud of Unknowing: Moderation

no moderation

“Now if you ask me what sort of moderation you should observe in the contemplative work, I will tell you: none at all. In everything else, such as eating, drinking, and sleeping, moderation is the rule.  Avoid extremes of heat and cold; guard against too much and too little in reading, prayer, or social involvement.  In all these things, I say again, keep to the … Continue reading

So Many Skins


“A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves. Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.” – Meister Eckhart … Continue reading

A Poem by St. John of the Cross

His experience of the soul’s seeking, and finding, its Beloved God… One dark night, fired with love’s urgent longings -ah, the sheer grace!- I went out unseen, my house being now all stilled. In darkness, and secure, by the secret ladder, disguised, -ah, the sheer grace!- in darkness and concealment, my house being now all stilled. On that glad night, in secret, for no one … Continue reading

Intimacy with God: Review

Synopsis:  “We are summoned into the presence of God by the fact of our birth, but we become present to God only by our consent.  As our faculties and capacities to relate gradually develop and unfold, the capacity to enter into relationship with God increases, and each new depth of presence requires a new consent.”  Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer, by Thomas … Continue reading

A Series of Quotes from the Cloud of Unknowing: Sin Destroyed and Goodness Nourished


In Chapter 12, Anonymous tells his novice “That in contemplation sin is destroyed and every kind of goodness is nourished”: And so to stand firmly and avoid pitfalls, keep to the path you are on.  Let your longing relentlessly beat upon the cloud of unknowing that lies between you and your God.  Pierce that cloud with the keen shaft of your love, spurn the thought … Continue reading

A Series of Quotes from The Cloud of Unknowing: Using One Word

In Chapter 7, Anonymous gives practical advice on how avoid distracting thoughts during contemplative prayer… It is inevitable that ideas will arise in your mind and try to distract you in a thousand ways.  They will question you saying, “What are you looking for, what do you want?”  To all of them you must reply, “God alone I seek and desire, only him.” If they … Continue reading

A Series of Quotes from The Cloud of Unknowing: Contemplative Work of the Spirit


The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymously written 14th Century mystical text.  Standing in the line of St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, and drawing on Dionysius the Areopagite, its author aims to instruct souls in the way of contemplation. It will blow your mind. In this first excerpt, our author describes “How contemplation shall be done, and its excellence over … Continue reading



I’m drawn to mysticism. I don’t know how I got here, but the experience of God in the quiet of my own soul seems to be just about the only thing that matters to me religiously anymore.  Not that this experience doesn’t lead to other important things.  The active life is almost always a major part of the day to day existence of the saints.  … Continue reading

A Series of Quotes from the Bhagavad Gita: #3 Meditation


Here Krisha encourages Arjuna to seek “the Self” (read Brahman or God) through meditation.  The world without leads ultimately to restlessness and dissatisfaction.  But those who practice meditation will be “free from affliction.”  My favorite image here is that of the mind as an “unwavering flame in a windless place.”  Seeking satisfaction in the world, we can be like a flame in the wind, this … Continue reading

A Series of Quotes from the Bhagavad Gita: #2 Awakened Sages and Wisdom


In this excerpt, Krishna refrences some crazy Hindu beliefs about rebirth (whooops, that’s not very pc is it? – yes, I went there), and more importantly discusses the freedom that comes from being “established in the Self.”  This is basically the Hindu way of saying “He must increase and I must decrease” or “not I, but Christ (God) in me.”  The more you are filled … Continue reading

A Series of Quotes from The Bhagavad Gita: #1 Selfless Service

Although The Bhagavad Gita is not conventionally classified as the most authoritative writing in the Hindu Scriptures (as it is not a part of the Vedas), it may be the most influential and widely read.  Embedded in the middle of the Mahabharata, the great battle epic of ancient India (think Iliad), the Gita is an extended aside that bears the vivid stamp of personal mystic … Continue reading

A Series of Huxley Quotes from The Doors of Perception: #5 Back Through the Door


Last “Doors” excerpt for ya…this quote ends the book: This (spiritual) given reality is an infinite which passes all understanding and yet admits of being directly and in some sort totally apprehended. It is a transcendence belonging to another order than the human, and yet it may be present to us as a felt immanence, an experienced participation. To be enlightened is to be aware, … Continue reading

A Series of Huxley Quotes from The Doors of Perception: #4 Over Against the Quietist


Huxley’s reflections on quietism against the “active contemplative,” and the effect of mescaline on one’s will toward action: But meanwhile my question remained unanswered. How was this cleansed perception to be reconciled with a proper concern with human relations, with the necessary chores and duties, to say nothing of charity and practical compassion? The age-old debate between the actives and the contemplatives was being renewed—renewed, … Continue reading

Ropes and Threads


“The soul that is attached to anything however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly.” – St. John of … Continue reading