Thursday, July 28, 2011

Karlfried Graf Von Durckheim: On Contemplative Practice

"In order to reconize the reality of this experience of Greater Being, we need nothing more than the 'sacred sobriety' of common sense. This, in fact, is that transcendental realism which is neither clouded nor inhibited by preconceived concepts and rational thought structures. This sense of reality permits the unique, unclassifiable quality of the experience to be as it is, accepts and savours it, and because of its very incomprehensibility, is intuitively convinced of its truth."

"We need to practice in order to acquire the possibility of recognizing the quality of this reality. By remaining alert and constantly prepared, we can learn to hear and feel the call of Divine Being in everything that happens to us. For this we need to work diligently in order to become vessels capable of receiving all that is poured into them. And this practice remember, must not only begin but also end the day. 'Learn to live each day to its end in such a way that it becomes a part of Eternity,' as the poet says."

"We need a new kind of discipline here, one that aims so to develop our inner experience that it is lifted to a higher level. The results of such discipline come not from the sort of practice that is the mere carrying out of specific exercises, but from one that confirms the old saying: 'Each moment is the best of all opportunities.' Thus all things and all events become the field of practice on our journey along the Inner Way. Moving ever onward and keeping in touch with his inner essence, a man transforms himself step by step, into a 'person.' whose transparence to Divine Being makes possible the fulfillment of his human destiny."

-- Karlfried Graf Von Durckheim --
("The Way of Transformation: Daily Life as Spiritual Practice," p. 31.)
"It is a truism," notes Graf Von Durckheim, a practically-minded and modern mystic, "that all work, all art and all professional activity require practice if they are to succeed. This we accept, and in order that we may establish ourselves in the world, it is obvious that we must be at pains in all our vocations, avocations and transactions to practice and assimilate experience. We do not realize, however, that the success of man's most important task - infinitely more essential than any of his arts or professions - also depends upon practice."

"The destiny of everything that lives is that it should unfold its own nature to its maximum possibility," he points out. "Man is no exception. But he cannot - as a tree or a flower does - fulfill his destiny automatically. He is only permitted to become fully what he is intended to be when he takes himself in hand, works on himself, and practices ceaselessly to reach perfection."

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Karlfried Graf Von Durckheim (October 24, 1896 – December 28, 1988) was a strange amalgam of old and new, nobility and modernity, public and private, Western and Eastern. A Bavarian nobleman and professor, he was appointed as a foreign envoy from Nazi Germany to Japan immediately before World War II, where he was exposed to Zen teachings. Interned for a year and a half in Japan's Sugamo prison after the war, he practiced intensive zazen meditation, before returning to Germany and starting a career as a psychoanalyst and spiritual teacher.

Along with psychologist Maria Hippius, D├╝rckheim founded the "Center of Existential and Psychological Formation and Encounter" in the early 1950s. "What I am doing is not the transmission of Zen Buddhism," he asserted, "on the contrary, that which I seek after is something universally human which comes from our origins and happens to be more emphasized in eastern practices than in the western."

His "Initiation Therapy" dealt with the encounter between the profane, mundane, "little" self — the ego and super-ego — and the true Self. "The therapist is not the one who heals, that is, who intervenes with his own skills," he observed, "he is a therapist in the original meaning of the word: a companion on the way."
(Source: Wikipedia.)

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