JWongTao, Sages, Immortals: towards a Christian-Taoist dialogue

Fr Joseph H. Wong, Camaldolese, Arezzo, Italy

More than forty years have passed since Thomas Merton’s book, The Way of Chang Tzu (New York, 1965). Merton wrote this book with John C.H. Wu, one of the pioneers of the Christian-Taoist dialogue. For example Wu was the first to translate the word Logos in the Prologue of St John by Tao, ‘in the beginning was the Tao’. Although others than Merton shared the interests and views of Wu, the dialogue is still in its infancy.

Taoism, with Buddhism and Confucianism, are considered the three basic elements of Chinese culture. In the long history of their development the three have strongly influenced one another. In English ‘Taoism’ refers at once to Taoist philosophy (Tao Chia) and to Taoist religion (Tao Chiao). The two cannot be neatly separated, but it is useful to make a distinction between the two.

Taoist philosophy and Taoist religion both draw their inspiration from the same basic text, the Tao-Te-Ching, written during the period known as the Spring-Autumn of the history of China (722- 481BC). It is the work of Lao-Tseu, the patriarch of the Taoist school. Little is known about him, but it is customary to say that he was a contemporary of Confucius. Besides the text of Lao-Tseu, Taoist philosophy rests largely also on the texts of Chuang Tseu (quoted in the title of Merton’s book), written during the period of the Opposing Kingdoms.

Although the roots of the Taoist religion go much deeper, its institution is often identified with the foundation of the sect of divine masters. In the middle of the second century a politic-religious movement developed in Szechuan under Chang Lin (also called Chang-Tao-Lin), which established a semi-independent state and attracted many disciples to the faith by healings and other magical and shamanistic practices. Religious Taoism evolved as a religion of organized salvation. It instructed its disciples to live a healthy life and to seek a long life and immortality by meditation and alchemy (external and internal).

Since philosophical and religious Taoism considers Lao-Tseu its principal source of inspiration, this article concentrates especially on points of contact between Christianity and Tao-Te-Ching (The Book of the Way and of Virtue). Nevertheless, I shall compare and contrast the various techniques of meditation and the quest for long life in Taoism in connection with analogous practices in Christianity. I shall also examine the metaphysical vision of Taoism and the Christian concept of God, the Taoist sage and the synoptic gospels, Taoist meditation and the hesychast method.

The Taoist Metaphysical Vision

The Chinese characters for Tao consist of two elements, one signifies ‘head’, the other ‘running’. This means something on which one goes, a way, a route, and in a wider sense a method, a principle, a norm. These many connotations are all summed up in the word ‘the way’. So for Confucianism the Tao is used to express the way of heaven or of earth. In Lao-Tseu and Chang-Tseu the Tao has a metaphysical meaning. The Tao is an ultimate reality as well as the first principle which makes a form, a substance, a being, a change occur. The assumption is made in such a way that, since the universe is in the course of becoming, it must have a first principle which includes everything; this is the Tao: ‘Before the formation of heaven and earth there was something undivided, silent and empty, independent and unalterable; it is everywhere in movement and never still. It can be considered the mother of the whole universe. As I do not know its name, I call it Tao’ (Chapter 25) (1).

The Tao conceived as ineffable and nameless occurs also in the opening chapter of Tao-Te-Ching: ‘The inexpressible Tao is not the eternal Tao. The name which cannot be named is not the eternal name. Wu (the nameless) is the origin of heaven and earth; yu (that which has a name) is the mother of all beings’ (Chapter 1). (2) The two terms (wu and yu) appear also in other places of the Tao-Te-Ching: ‘yu and wu interact’ (Chapter 2) and ‘The thousand things under heaven are born of yu. Yu comes from wu’ (Chapter 40). So the concepts of wu and yu are basic in the thought of Lao- Tseu (3).

Since wu was the origin of heaven and earth, wu cannot be considered as nothing or empty in a purely negative sense. Being the first principle or hidden source of all that is, the Tao cannot be a thing in the sense in which heaven and earth and the ‘thousand things’ are things. Granted that it is without form or limitation and that it is not a thing, the Tao is yu. Wu and yu, the nameless and the named, are two sides of the same reality: yu is the manifestation of the Tao, hidden as wu.

The Tao is called ‘mystery’ or ‘mystery of mystery’ (Chapter 1), so it is at once transcendent and immanent. The transcendent character of the Tao can be found in the description in Chapter 25 of the Tao-Te-Ching, quoted above. To express the aspect of immanence of the Tao, Lao-Tseu uses the term ‘Te’ (virtue or power), which is presented in the second part of the Tao-Te-Ching: Te is the dwelling-place of the Tao’ (4). Te is the Tao which dwells in objects; individual objects receive the Tao and become what they are, thanks to Te. Te is also described as a mother who nourishes all things: ‘It is the Tao that gives them life; it is the Te that takes care of them, makes them grow, gives them increase, protects them, comforts them, nourishes them, takes them under its wing’ (Chapter 51). The Te is the feminine and immanent side of the Tao.

Wu and the Christian Concept of God

templetaoisteThe idea of the Tao as the ‘nameless’ or wu finds an echo in the Christian concept of God. In the apophatic tradition, or negative theology, God is described as silent, incomprehensible, ineffable. In the introduction to his work Mystical Theology, Pseudo-Denys describes God as dwelling ‘in the brilliant obscurity of hidden silence… far beyond all existence and all knowledge’ (5). In so far as God is beyond all knowledge, God is nameless; in so far as God is beyond all creatures, God is wu. As heir of this tradition, Thomas Aquinas comes to the conclusion that ‘the most profound human knowledge of God is the recognition that we cannot know God’ (6). This is the result not of our present condition but of the fact that the nature of God is beyond all comprehension for human or angelic intelligence, on earth or in heaven.

Just as the Tao contains complementary aspects of the wu and the yu, so the Christian God is at the same time hidden and manifest. According to patristic teaching, the Father is the hidden source of the deity, true silence, incomprehensible and ineffable. The Son is the manifestation of the Father, ‘the visible image of the invisible God’ (Colossians 1.15), the Word born of the eternal silence of the Father. By the creation and above all by the mystery of the Incarnation, the invisible Father manifests himself in the Son, and in the Son we can see the humanity of God.

Just as the Tao, the Christian God is at the same time immanent and transcendent, God who resides in ‘inaccessible light’ (1 Timothy 6.16), and also, in the words of St Augustine, ‘more interior than the intimacy of myself’ (7).

Since the three divine persons are transcendence and immanence for the world, each has a proper and wholly distinct character. The Father remains the hidden source, the transcendent ground of the deity in the very womb of immanence. The Son, even if he is part of the hidden face of the Father, is the divine communication of creation in the history of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the interior bond of love which unites Father and Son, as breath penetrates and animates all things. The Spirit may be compared to the maternal womb (Te) of God which shelters, nourishes and transforms every human being and the whole creation.

One of the main difficulties in the comparison of the Tao with the Christian concept of God is that the Tao is most often impersonal. So the creation of the world by the Tao is explained in terms of a natural process rather than a creation by a voluntary act or thought. This certainly constitutes the basic difference between Taoist philosophy and the Christian vision. But the difficulty of perceiving an impersonal God is not as insurmountable as it seems. Among the names like Father, Saviour, Shepherd, which Christians use for God are also words like life, light, love, breath, water, fire, etc. If God is beyond all created things and all knowledge, we could say that God is just as trans-personal as personal.

The Tao-Te-Ching presents the Tao as incomprehensible, nameless and inexpressible. Like wu and yu the Tao is beyond everything, created and uncreated. How, then, can it be affirmed that the Tao is impersonal, lacking consciousness and intelligence? In order to remain faithful to the apophatic approach of Lao-Tseu it would be better to continue to affirm that the mysterious Tao is beyond personal or impersonal, that is, to say that the Tao is trans-personal. Religious Taoism would have no difficulty in adopting this manner of thinking (8).

The Idea of a Taoist Sage

taoismeEven if Lao-Tseu explores the metaphysical meaning of the Tao, his first concern is for human beings and their manner of life as individuals and in society. He defines the ideal person as a sage or a true person. Although Lao-Tseu teaches that every being can and must struggle to become a sage, he presents the sage as the ideal master of a condition.

Since the Tao is inherent in every thing, penetrating the heavens, the earth and human beings, Lao-Tseu perceives unity between human beings and nature, and even envisages an exact correspondence between the human microcosm and the macrocosm of the world beyond. More, Lao-Tseu describes certain general principles of the Tao which remain amid the changes of the universe, and which can be called ‘invariables’ (9). The capacity to discover these stable laws is called ‘illumination’, ‘knowing stability is illumination’ (Chapter 16). The true sage is one who is capable of perceiving the invariable ways of the Tao manifested in nature.

The first constant of the Tao is inaction (wu-wei). ‘The Tao remains always, without acting, and yet nothing happens without it’ (Chapter 37). This inaction means that the Tao does not intervene actively but permits things to follow their normal course. Spontaneity is the signature of the Tao: ‘Human beings follow the Earth, the Earth follows the heavens, the heavens follow the Tao, the Tao follows its own path’ (Chapter 25).

Consequently the sage must follow the Tao in practising inaction as a principle of life. This inaction does not mean doing nothing. It means tranquilly entrusting oneself to the Tao by respecting the natural course of things without violence or interference. Inaction is characterized by the fact that the sage does not take thought for himself, that is, he is not preoccupied by self-interest (Chapter 7). Inaction implies also taciturnity and freedom from dependence on personal success: ‘The sage confines himself in inaction and radiates teaching without speaking. He works, but the works do not belong to him. He acts, but keeps nothing for himself. He fulfils his task without claiming it for himself’ (Chapter 2). The same qualities of inaction are repeated almost verbatim in Chapter 51, a chapter in which Lao-Tseu praises the ‘deep virtue’ of the Tao. It is clear that the inactivity of the sage is imitation of the Tao.

Lao-Tseu recommends inaction above all as the essential quality of an ideal master who must transmit the rules of the wu-wei: ‘The sage says, “I do nothing and people transform themselves”. I aspire to tranquillity and the people become correct. I apply inaction and the people know prosperity. I have no further desires and the people become simple’ (Chapter 57). The Taoist master, by ‘remaining tranquil in the midst of the people’ allows the people to grow. Closely linked to the idea of inaction is another couple of constants of the Tao: ‘The movement of the Tao is a reversal’ (Chapter 40). (10) We are going to begin by studying this movement of the Tao. Lao-Tseu describes it: ‘the great Tao means permanent, permanent means reaching the goal, reaching the goal means reversal (fan)’ (Chapter 25).

This means that the movement of the Tao is not linear but circular. There are things which seem to be opposed but in reality are complementary, such as easy and difficult, long and short, high and low, in front and behind (Chapter 2). Paradoxically, great things seem to attract their opposites. More, the reversal in the movement of the Tao is reflected in the changes of the world: ‘Chance depends on bad luck, chance is what hides bad luck… normality turns to strangeness, goodness to evil’ (Chapter 58). The law of reversal attempts to balance unjust situations: ‘Is it not the way of heaven to be stretched like a bow? What is lifted up is put down, and what is put down is lifted up. From those who have much, the Tao is taken away, and to those who have little, he gives’ (Chapter 77).

Since the phenomena of change are governed by the law of reversal, the sage, illuminated by that law, must act in a manner opposed to what he wishes, since ‘anyone who gives reluctantly ends by giving joyfully; anyone who gains too much, loses all’ (Chapter 44). This does not mean that Lao-Tseu encourages deviousness. He only describes what happens: ‘By putting himself at the back, the sage is always in front, by remaining outside he is always on the spot. Surely, it is because he does not strive for himself that in the end everything is done for him’ (Chapter 7). To put it another way, ‘he does not exercise power, and in fact achieves everything’ (Chapter 34), knowing that everything can go in one direction and then reverse in the opposite direction: ‘the sage shuns all excess, all extravagance’ (Chapter 29), and the sage knows when to halt and when to withdraw: ‘holding a cup till it overflows does not prevent time moving on. When your work is finished, withdraw. This is the way of heaven’ (Chapter 9).

The characteristic movement of the Tao is the ‘reversal’, and a typical expression of its function is ‘weakness’. This third constant is closely linked to the two earlier ones, inaction and return. The opposite of weak is strong. In the world everyone wants to be strong. Few people realize that force and power are dangerous: ‘rigidity and hardness are signs of death. Gentleness and weakness are signs of life. Powerful weapons will not triumph; powerful trees will be cast down to earth’ (11) (Chapter 76).

Nevertheless, the weakness envisaged by Lao-Tseu is not an end in itself, but a means to attain real strength. The important factor here is that weakness becomes strength: ‘the gentle and the weak will conquer the tough and the strong’ (Chapter 36). Lao-Tseu evokes water to make his point: ‘nothing on earth is more gentle and fluid than water, but when water attacks what is hard and resistant, there is nothing stronger’ (Chapter 78). True strength suggests an interior strength which is achieved by the weakness envisaged by Lao-Tseu. The idea of weakness is linked to that of simplicity, the fourth constant of the Tao. Lao-Tseu contemplates a state of primitive innocence which includes the Tao. He considers that putting in place moral codes and human institutions is merely pandering to our desertion of the original condition (Chapter 18). So Lao-Tseu advocates a reversal to original simplicity by turning away from knowledge and simplifying our desires (Chapter 19). Because of our present perversion this reversal to simplicity needs training. To describe this simplicity Lao-Tseu uses the image of a child and of a block of stone, raw and untouched. As the knowledge and the desires of a child are very simple, Lao-Tseu often compares a person who has worked on himself or herself to a child (12). In the same way he uses the word p’u (rough block of stone) to explain the state of simplicity in which desires are under control (13).

Parallels with the Gospel

A Taoist sage is someone who appreciates and follows the constant way of acting of the Tao, characterized by inaction, the reversal, weakness and simplicity. These qualities can find their equivalents in the teaching of the gospels. To begin with, the idea of a ‘reversal’ abounds in the gospels. Mary’s canticle of the Magnificat is one of the best examples: ‘He pulls down princes from their thrones and raises high the lowly. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty’ (Luke1.52-53). Jesus teaches the beatitudes and the curses: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs, blessed those who are hungry, they shall be satisfied. Alas for you who have plenty to eat now, you shall go hungry’ (Matthew 5.3, 6; Luke 6.25). Foretelling that many will enter the Kingdom of heaven, Jesus promises, ‘The last shall be first and the first last’ (Luke 13.30). After having invited his disciples to take up their cross and follow him, Jesus says, ‘Anyone who wants to save their life will lose it, but anyone who loses their life will save it’ (Matthew 16.25). Here, in what we call a Christian reversal, a certain advantage is given to the poor, the humble, the weak. Jesus also uses the image of the child and applies it to the simple and the little. When the disciples try to prevent children approaching Jesus, he says to them, ‘let the children come to me, for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like them’ (cf. Matthew 18.3-4).

So God does not only uphold the weak, but like the Tao, chooses weakness and apparent folly as ways of acting in the world. St Paul says it clearly in his teaching on the cross. Knowing that the proclamation of a crucified Christ is a scandal to the Jews and folly to the gentiles, Paul nevertheless preaches that ‘God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1.25). For this reason Paul boasts that his weakness allows Christ to manifest his power in him, ‘for when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12.10).

In John the Baptist, another great figure in the New Testament, we find a very clear example of inactivity in the fact of not pursuing his own interests and not affirming himself. When he is questioned by the authorities, John confesses openly that he is not the Messiah, nor one of the prophets. He is glad to compare himself to a voice crying in the desert, calling people to conversion. John declares that he is not worthy to undo Jesus’ sandal. Preparing the way for the Messiah, John rejoices at the coming of Jesus and says, ‘He must grow greater and I must grow less’ (John 3.30).

The Techniques of Taoist Meditation

We have examined the metaphysical vision and the description of the ideal sage in Taoism. To add something to our reflection I shall briefly explain the techniques of meditation for a long life in Taoism. Although Lao-Tseu and Chang-Tseu did not really speak of these meditations as such, one can still find in their writings traces of this sort of practice of meditation.

Thus Lao-Tseu says, ‘Attain supreme emptiness and rest in tranquillity. Ten thousand things emerge together. I contemplate (kuan) their reversal. Now everything withers and returns to its source. To return to the source is tranquillity, and this means recovery of life. Recovery of life is constancy, and constancy is illumination’ (Chapter 16). This passage presents a precise teaching on meditation. In other parts of his book Lao-Tseu uses the term ‘attain unity’ (Chapter 39) or ‘be in unity with everything (shou-yi)’ (Chapter 10), which will become a normal term for Taoist meditation. On the other hand, with Chuang Tseu we find such expressions as ‘young in spirit’ and ‘seated in forgetfulness’, which have inspired many techniques of Taoist meditation (14).

Religious Taoism includes many traditions and so many methods of meditation. They can be divided into two principal groups, meditation with concentration and interior meditation (15). Meditation with concentration normally pairs with the term ‘be in unity with everything’ and is defined as the state in which a person’s consciousness is fixed on a single object. Interior meditation, called also ‘interior sight’, is considered meditation at an advanced level, in which the subject remains open to every kind of stimulus. Taoist meditation is based on the conviction that the human body is a replica, a microcosm, of the entire universe, the macrocosm. Deities dwell at once in the body and in the universe. The techniques of meditation imply the visualising of the deities which inhabit the different parts of the body. Nevertheless, there are basic elements shared by the different techniques of Taoist meditation: a certain exterior posture, breathing exercises, concentration or interior vision of a certain part of the body, normally the base of the tan-t’ien, a few centimetres below the navel.

The goal of meditation is to free the subject from the illusion of another self in order to reach an intuitive knowledge of oneself with the universe and the Tao which impregnates all things. By contrast with Buddhism, the goal of Taoist meditation is not to reach illumination by restricting oneself, but it serves also to maintain good health, experience a long life and prepare the ‘spirit-body’ for immortality. Some secondary signs accompany progress in the practices of meditation, such as perceiving a certain vibration, a certain warmth in the body and a vision of light.

The Hesychast Tradition

Such practices of meditation recall certain forms of Christian meditation. Despite the elementary differences between these practices, I observe a certain affinity between Taoist meditation and the eastern tradition of hesychasm which concentrates on the prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer (16). The practice of the Jesus Prayer consists in the calm and rhythmical repetition of a brief invocation, the name of Jesus. The standard formula is, ‘Lord Jesus, Son of the living God, have pity on me, a sinner’ (17). The goal of the Jesus Prayer is to produce and achieve the experience of the Risen Christ, who transforms us by giving us strength, thanks to the constant invocation of his name. Faith in Jesus the Saviour is at the heart of the Jesus Prayer, which distinguishes it from Taoist meditation, which has no such idea of a saviour.

The development of the Jesus Prayer occurred within the context of a complex psycho-physiological method among the monks of Mount Athos in the fourteenth century. The method presupposes an exterior posture, a breathing technique, an internal concentration on one’s centre, that is to say, the navel, and an interior quest in the depths of the heart (18). Hesychasts also speak of certain signs or manifestations which normally accompany the practice of the Jesus Prayer: a sensation of warmth and a vision of light. Detailing the spirituality, the immaterial character of these realities, they insist that the warmth and the light in question can be felt by our bodily senses, since they are transformed by the grace of God. Although the hesychast masters consider this method secondary and not essential for the Jesus Prayer, they voice their agreement with the theological principles. The practice is linked to the history of salvation, which implies a transformation of the whole person, body and spirit. The bodily method is based also on the belief that the human resurrection and transformation, no less than that of the whole universe, takes its point of departure from the Resurrection of Jesus, with the light of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor as a prefiguration of future glory.

In the writings of Chuang-Tseu esoteric descriptions are to be found of what he calls the ‘perfect person’, the ‘spiritual person’. We read that in the mountains of an isolated island lives a ‘spiritual man’ who ‘does not even eat the basic five grains, but breathes the wind and drinks dew. He rides on the clouds, hitches winged dragons to his chariot and wanders above the four oceans’ (19) These metaphorical descriptions of Chuang-Tseu were taken literally and contributed to the belief in immortal beings. At the same time Taoist practitioners sought an elixir for long life or even immortality; others believed that immortality could be attained only through physical death, with a body completely transformed. According to this point of view, death is considered a change of place: the aged body is like a dwelling with collapsing walls which need to be transformed into something better. So, during life the sage seeks to prepare, by techniques of meditation and by living a moral life, a ‘spiritual body’, valid for all eternity.

The Taoist desire for immortality and the quest for an elixir find an echo in Christianity. Christians believe in a future life with a risen body. The Eucharist is a pledge of a future resurrection. It is both beyond and not yet. The Eucharist is a spiritual elixir which nourishes, heals, and transforms the whole person, body and soul, and is a preparation for eternal life (20).

Enrichment by Encounter

I have presented affinities between Christianity and Taoism. I have also mentioned the differences between the two, such as the concept of a personal God and the idea of creation (21). A further difference could be added, the historical nature of Christian faith centred on Christ, in sharp contrast to the non-historical and atemporal teachings of Lao-Tseu and Chuang-Tseu. This and other problems can be a challenge and an invitation to go further in the Christian-Taoist dialogue. Nevertheless, the three problems discussed here show that there is a possibility of deepeningthe dialogue and exploring the different, albeit complementary, character of the two traditions in the hope that both may be enriched by such an encounter.

To conclude, I think it would be useful to focus on the central axis which unites the three aspects of Taoism studied here. I would suggest the notion of wu, non-being or empty formlessness, as the central axis: wu is the principal designation of the Tao, even before its particular manifestation as yu. Consequently the wu-wei, inactivity, is the path of the Tao and the most important quality in a sage. Furthermore, the practices of Taoist meditation are aimed at finalizing this state of wu, by bringing peace and self-emptying to one who meditates in a way open to being taken over by the Tao. In order to perceive the Christian God as wu, one must turn to the apophatic tradition. I believe that at the heart of the mystical, apophatic tradition there is a territory to be mined for a fruitful dialogue between Christians and Taoists.

(1) The numbers of the chapters given in parenthesis are references to the book of Lao-Tseu, the Tao-Te-Ching.
(2) This passage has been cited in different ways. Before Wang AN Shih (1021-1086) the normal reading was to join wu and yu to the name ming (‘name’), thus giving wu ming and yu ming, so ‘nameless’ and ‘named’. Wang was the first to put a hyphen after wu and yu thus giving a verbal interpretation of the word ming as here.
(3) This was already quoted in Chang Tseu (Chapter 33). ‘They [Kuan Yin and Lao-Tseu] constructed their system on the principle of nameless (wu) and named (yu) and focussed on the idea of Supreme Unity (t’ai-yi)’, quoted by Fung Yu Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, vol 1 (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 21952) p. 173.
(4) Kwan Tzu, Chapter 33.
(5) Pseudo-Denys, The Complete Works, trans. Colm Luibheid (New York, Paulist, 1987), p. 135.
(6) De Potentia, Q. 7, art. 5.
(7) Confessions 3.6.11.
(8) Religious Taoists venerate a Taoist Trinity, which consists of Ling Pao (the celestial truth of the sacred jewel), the incarnation of the interaction of the yin and the yang; Yu Huang (the Emperor of jade), the incarnation of the primal cause, and Lao Chun (Lao-Tseu), the incarnation of the Tao, cf. John Blofeld, Taoism and the Road to Immortality (Boston, Shambhala, 1978), p. 195.
(9) For the description of the Tao and its action as constant, see chapters 1, 32, 37, 74.
(10) Author’s underlining.
(11) Or ‘Whatever the people teach, I do. A violent man cannot die well’ (Chapter 42).
(12) Chapters 20, 28, 55.
(13) Chapters 19, 37, 57.
(14) For the expression ‘young in spirit’ see Chuang-Tzu, chapter 4; for the expression ‘seated in forgetfulness’ see Chapter 6 in The Complete Works of Tchuang Tzu, trans. Burton Watson (New York, Columbia University Press, 1968), p. 57-58, 90.
(15) Cf. Livai Kohn, ‘Guarding the One, Concentrative Meditation in Taoism’ in Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques, ed. L. Kohn (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, Center for Chinese Studies Publications, 1989), 123-156; idem, ‘Taoist Insight Meditation: the Tang Practice of Neiguan’, ibid., 191-222.
(16) For the history and spirituality of the Jesus Prayer, see Le récit d’un pélerin russe; Lev Gillet ‘The Jesus Prayer’; Kallistos Ware, ‘The Power of the Name: the Jesus Prayer’ in Orthodox Spirituality (Fairacres, Oxford, SLG Press, 1986).
(17) There are variations in the formula. The invocation can be shorter, ‘Lord Jesus, have pity on me’, and sometimes the name of the sinner is added at the end. See Kallistos Ware, op. cit., p. 5.
(18) Cf. Kallistos Ware, op. cit., p.20-25. The author notes that modern Orthodox writers place less emphasis on the bodily method. He warns also that the adoption of such a method should occur under the supervision of a spiritual master, in order to avoid negative results.
(19) Chuang-Tseu, chapter 1, in Chuang-Tzu, the inner chapters trans. A.C. Graham (London, Mandala, 1981), p. 46.
(20) For the link between the Eucharist and the Jesus Prayer, see Lev Gillet in ‘The Jesus Prayer’.
(21) For the difficulty concerning a personal or impersonal God, the idea of ‘trans-personal’ has been suggested as a possible solution