Cantica I ---- Inferno: Vestibule of Hell plus 9 Circles = --------------------------------> 10

Cantica II - Purgatorio: 2 terraces ante-purgatory + 7 cornices + earthly paradise = 10

Cantica III -- Paradiso: 9 spheres + White Rose = -----------------------------------------> 10

        We begin from the earthly paradise with our inner companion. We are "free, upright and whole;" we have forgotten through Lethe and remembered through Eunoë. We have become fully human. Yet there is further to go -- to become more-than-human, transhumanized, to dwell in mystery, to realize that we and all things in the web of creation are " infinite/finite God-bearing images of the whole."

        In Dante's imagery, we are called to think symbolically of the PLANETS WITHOUT and PLANETS WITHIN. Macrocosm -microcosm. Our movement through the spheres teaches a reversal of centers -- from an anthropocentric standpoint to a God's eye standpoint -- beyond good and evil, beyond all "either-or" dualisms. A view of the world out of time and in time. No-where/now-here. From "true human being" to "universal -- human and divine -- center" Ever toward a Oneness which makes each being even more itself.

1) Spiritual deepening is all about LOVE

LOVE is best seen in the two great commandments: 1) Love God (or the Great Mystery) with your whole mind and heart and strength; 2) Love your neighbor as yourself.

        i) To love your GOD with your whole mind and heart and strength. ---

To love that which most deeply joins us -- the Great Mystery; the Ever-Present Origin; the All in All; the TAO or Pattern which connects; the great SELF; the depth dimension of all things -- with our whole mind and heart and strength.        ii) To love your neighbor as yourself. Dt. 6:5 also Mk 12:29-30 The process of moving beyond the human is all about love -- all about moving from the circumference of the circle to the center where Love is. Everything is a song of Love. 2) Spiritual depening is increasingly recognizing and appreciating our COMMUNAL or ECOLOGICAL INTERDEPENDENCE. We are not simply "skin-encapsulated egos;" we belong to the great web of life -- which includes past, present and future generations. In medieval terminology, the Mystical Body of Christ or the Three Churches: Church Militant, Church Suffering and Church Triumphant.

To say that all is love reminds us that spiritual deepening doesn't belong to "me" as a solitary individual. Rather it is my increasing consciousness of being a jewel in a great net where every jewel reflects every other jewel. (Indra's net)

Using Charles Williams' phrases, we can say that the process of deepening is toward the "in-othering" and "in-Godding" of all things. Williams calls the great web the "co-inherence." Dante is familiar not with the words but with the notions.

 3) Spiritual deepening can be THOUGHT OF AS INVOLVING STAGES OF
           CONSCIOUSNESS; Dante's deepening is SYMBOLIZED AS A
           MOVEMENT THROUGH SPHERES.   The planetary and other spheres are described in terms of light, color, music, dance and concrete poetic images. In truth, the heavenly splendors are beyond space and time -- in the Rose. They simply appear in the spheres of the planets for Dante's learning. Dante knows he has changed his stage of consciousness by the increased beauty of Beatrice's smile and eyes.
4) Spiritual deepening BRINGS US FACE TO FACE WITH PARADOX. Question: why does Dante need another guide after Virgil has crowned and mitred him?

He doesn't and he does. Paradox shows up again and again in the contemplative journey. The ultimate paradox: Everything is alright exactly as it is -- from a mystical perspective: from a view outside space and time AND Everything is not alright exactly as it is -- from a moral point of view, from within time and space. Thus, BEFORE AN ACTION, we give advice from the moral (Quid agas) or action-guiding point of view; but AFTER THE ACTION is done, we accept unconditionally. [e.g. accepting our child -- no matter what] When we see the mystery, we recognize that all things are what they are and more. And all persons are their actions and more than their actions.

5) The aim of the mystic is TO SEE AS GOD SEES.

This great transformation of centers -- from a human-centered to a God-centered point of view -- occurs in the sphere of the Primum Mobile.

What does it mean to see as God sees? It is to see BEYOND SPACE AND TIME,
                    BEYOND MORAL CATEGORIES (right-wrong/reward-punishment),
                    BEYOND DUALISMS ("either-or" dichotomies of any kind).
Everything is already redeemed. Everything is exactly as it should be. The drama and everything about it is perfect just as it is.

In Paradise, we are still in training for love, but the inner work is shifting -- from the moral/political perspective of Hell and Purgatory -- to -- the mystical, the trans-human or "God's eye" point of view which, in being beyond space and time, can be everywhere at every time -- NO-WHERE and NOW-HERE. Each event increases the love.

First Sphere -- the Moon -- Two women appear; they were nuns but were forced to leave the convent to marry. Piccarda is the speaker. There are different functions -- some now higher and later lower yet all are equal in glory. E sua voluntade e nostra pace. Hierarchy and equality.             Second Sphere -- Mercury -- only men appear; Justinian is the speaker.
                            Mixed motives.

             Third Sphere -- Venus -- Two men and two women -- a noble friend, a
                            wonderfully wild woman, a troubadour and a harlot.

These three -- in the shadow of earth -- seem to show a first sketch of

a) beneath faithfulness/unfaithfulness --a deeper will and loyalty -- call it SOURCE FAITH;

b) beneath hope/lose of hope -- a deeper service -- call it SOURCE HOPE; and

c) beneath passion for perfection & passion prizing imperfection, a deeper way -- call it
                                                                                                            SOURCE LOVE.
Fourth Sphere -- the Sun -- the 1, 2, and 3 rings of 12 flames each. Three speakers -- Thomas, Bonaventure, (then Thomas again) and Solomon. On learning and love and reconciliation. St. Francis' love of Lady Poverty. St. Dominic's love of learning so as to tend the garden. Then Solomon on the resurrected body. To know and not know; to love and not love; to know and be known; to love and be loved.

Fifth Sphere -- Mars -- two rays form an equal-armed cross. A vision of Christ -- the one who died and rose again. Then Cacciaguida. Finally eight warriors are pointed out. Paradox here?

Sixth Sphere -- Jupiter -- the realm of rulers. "Diligite iustitiam qui iudicatis terram." The "M" grows a neck and becomes an eagle. A corporate voice speaks here. The Many and One. Justice and Mercy.

Seventh Sphere -- Saturn -- the souls of the contemplatives -- manifesting as light -- a golden ladder. Peter Damian. St. Benedict.

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