Twentieth Annotation. The twentieth: To him who is more disengaged, and who desires to get all the profit he can, let all the Spiritual Exercises be given in the order in which they follow. In these he will, ordinarily, more benefit himself, the more he separates himself from all friends and acquaintances and from all earthly care, as by changing from the house where he was dwelling, and taking another house or room to live in, in as much privacy as he can, so that it be in his power to go each day to Mass and to Vespers, without fear that his acquaintances will put obstacles in his way. From this isolation three chief benefits, among many others, follow. The first is that a man, by separating himself from many friends and acquaintances, and likewise from many not well-ordered affairs, to serve and praise God our Lord, merits no little in the sight of His Divine Majesty. The second is, that being thus isolated, and not having his understanding divided on many things, but concentrating his care on one only, namely, on serving his Creator and benefiting his own soul, he uses with greater freedom his natural powers, in seeking with diligence what he so much desires. The third: the more our soul finds itself alone and isolated, the more apt it makes itself to approach and to reach its Creator and Lord, and the more it so approaches Him, the more it disposes itself to receive graces and gifts from His Divine and Sovereign Goodness.


Eighteenth Annotation. The eighteenth: The Spiritual Exercises have to be adapted to the dispositions of the persons who wish to receive them, that is, to their age, education or ability, in order not to give to one who is uneducated or of little intelligence things he cannot easily bear and profit by.

Again, that should be given to each one by which, according to his wish to dispose himself, he may be better able to help himself and to profit.

So, to him who wants help to be instructed and to come to a certain degree of contentment of soul, can be given the Particular Examen, p. 21, and then the General Examen, p. 25; also, for a half hour in the morning, the Method of Prayer on the Commandments, the Deadly Sins, etc., p. 125.

Let him be recommended, also, to confess his sins every eight days, and, if he can, to receive the Blessed Sacrament every fifteen days, and better, if he be so moved, every eight.

This way is more proper for illiterate or less educated persons.

Let each of the Commandments be explained to them; and so of the Deadly Sins, Precepts of the Church, Five Senses, and Works of Mercy.

So, too, should he who is giving the Exercises observe that he who is receiving them has little ability or little natural capacity, from whom not much fruit is to be hoped, it is more expedient to give him some of these easy Exercises, until he confesses his sins.

Then let him be given some Examens of Conscience and some method for going to Confession oftener than was his custom, in order to preserve what he has gained, but let him not go on into the matter of the Election, or into any other Exercises that are outside the First Week, especially when more progress can be made in other persons and there is not time for every thing.

Red Book 17

For the sake of my human weakness, the spirit of the depths gave me this word.

Yet this word is also superfluous, since I do not speak it freely; but because I must.

I speak because the spirit robs me of joy and life if I do not speak.

I am the serf who brings it and does not know what he carries in his hand.

It would burn his hands if he did not place it where his master orders him to lay it.

Red Book 16

The spirit of this time whispered to me: “This supreme meaning, this image of God, this melting together of the hot and the cold, that is you and only you.” But the spirit of the depths spoke to me: “You are an image of the unending world, all the last mysteries of becoming and passing away live in you. If you did not possess all this, how could you know?”

49. Amban’s Addition

Amban, a layman Zen student, said: “Mu-mon has just published forty-eight koans and called the book Gateless Gate. He criticizes the old patriarchs’ words and actions. I think he is very mischievous. He is like an old doughnut seller trying to catch a passerby to force his doughnuts down his mouth. The customer can neither swallow nor spit out the doughnuts, and this causes suffering. Mu-mon has annoyed everyone enough, so I think I shall add one more as a bargain. I wonder if he himself can eat this bargain. If he can, and digest it well, it will be fine, but if not, we will have to put it back into the frying pan with his forty-eight also and cook them again. Mu-mon, you eat first, before someone else does: “Buddha, according to a sutra, once said: ‘Stop, stop. Do not speak. The ultimate truth is not even to think.'” Amban’s comment: Where did that so-called teaching come from? How is it that one could not even think it? Suppose someone spoke about it then what became of it? Buddha himself was a great chatterbox and in this sutra spoke contrarily. Because of this, persons like Mu-mon appear afterwards in China and make useless doughnuts, annoying people. What shall we do after all? I will show you. Then Amban put his palms together, folded his hands, and said: “Stop, stop. Do not speak. The ultimate truth is not even to think. And now I will make a little circle on the sutra with my finger and add that five thousand other sutras and Vimalakirti’s gateless gate all are here!” If anyone tells you fire is light, Pay no attention. When two thieves meet they need no introduction: They recognize each other without question.


Seventeenth Annotation. The seventeenth: It is very helpful that he who is giving the Exercises, without wanting to ask or know from him who is receiving them his personal thoughts or sins, should be faithfully informed of the various movements and thoughts which the different spirits put in him. For, according as is more or less useful for him, he can give him some spiritual Exercises suited and adapted to the need of such a soul so acted upon.