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Title: A Medieval Carthusian Monk's Recipe to Multiple Kensho
Subtitle: Hugh of Balma's Approach to Mystical Union and Some Striking Similarities to Modern Zen Teaching
Author(s): WALACH, Harald
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 19    Date: 2009   
Pages: 199-225
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.19.0.2043680

Abstract :
The Carthusian Hugh of Balma (flourished around 1260) is one of the most important and least known writers of the Christian mystical tradition. He held that a unification of the soul with God was possible, following the Pseudo-Dionysian way of letting go of all mental operations. The result of this union is experiential knowledge of God. After describing what is meant by this concept it is contended that this is rather similar to some Zen teachings in modern times, thus opening up a bridge between the traditions. What Hugh had in mind is pure receptivity, similar to enlightened mindfulness in the Soto tradition, while at the same time acknowledging the fact that dramatic experiences of enlightenment might also be possible. The relationship between these two traditions and the open questions is discussed. One of them certainly is the question about the nature of this final reality.

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