The Fourth Tower: The Shepherd’s Whistle

We are now leaving the active purgative-stage in the journey to the illuminative and passive stage. In Essence, the spiritual adept is now discerning how the Unborn Spirit is taking a more prominent role in the soul’s development.

In order to begin to speak of the fourth dwelling places I really need to entrust myself, as I’ve already done, to the Holy Spirit and beg him to speak for me from here on that I may say something about the remaining rooms in a way that you will understand. For supernatural experiences begin here.

In an interesting twist, she states that in this Fourth Tower any malignant force trying to disrupt the spiritual proceedings actually enhances a positive response on the part of the adept—for becoming acutely aware of the origin of temptation, one’s spirit becomes stronger in overcoming it.

The poisonous reptiles rarely come into these rooms, and, if they enter, do more good than harm. I think it is far better for them to get in and make war on the soul in this state of prayer; were it not tempted, the devil might sometimes deceive it about divine consolations, thus injuring it far more.

Teresa describes a most unsettling mental vexation that was suddenly afflicting her at this junction:

While writing this, I’m thinking about what’s going on in my head with the great noise there that I mentioned in the beginning. It makes it almost impossible for me to write what I was ordered to. It seems as if there are in my head many rushing rivers and that these waters are hurtling downward…not in the ears but in the upper part of the head where, they say, the higher part of the soul is. And I was in that superior part for a long time, for it seems this powerful movement of the spirit is a swift, upward one.

A parallel situation is occurring within my own life recently that would like to hinder the completion of this series. My 87-year old father was rushed to the hospital five days ago and is near death at this stage; it all hinders on a successful operation on his heart (where two-valves are shot and need clearing) accompanied by radiation on a tumor in his rectum which was discovered at the beginning of his hospital stay. Needless to say, I’m heavily involved with my family rushing to and fro and attending to the situation. Well, as always when writing about such intensive spiritual matters like Carmelite spirituality that is in conjunction with the Unborn, adverse spiritual forces detest this noble effort and are making attempts (really feeble at best) to derail it. Like Teresa, my own spirit is strong in and in effect, only becomes stronger “in spite of distractions”.

For all this turmoil in my head doesn’t hinder prayer or what I am saying, but the soul is completely taken up in its quiet, love, desires, and clear knowledge.

Reference is also made to “spiritual delights” occurring at this stage, Teresa says that they cannot be imagined or even somehow acquired through our own efforts, no, they are a grace from the Unborn and reveal that one’s own will must be in unison with the Divine Will.

We next come to the crux of this Tower and that is the prayer of Recollection and the outcome of that: the Prayer of Quiet.

The effects of this prayer are many. It is a recollection that also seems to me to be supernatural because it doesn’t involve being in the dark or closing the eye, nor does it consist in any exterior thing, since without first wanting to do so, one does close one’s eyes and desire solitude. It seems that without any contrivance the edifice is being built, by means of this recollection, for the prayer that was mentioned. The senses and exterior things seem to be losing their hold because the soul is recovering what it had lost.

Yea, this emphasizes that great Recollective Resolve that empowers the adept to turn about from all defiled sensate strongholds and recover what was lost—their true Essential and natural homeland in the Unborn—one’s undefiled Buddha-nature. This is all initiated by what Teresa terms the hearing of the Shepherd’s Whistle.

Once the great King, who is in the center dwelling place of this castle, sees their good will, he desires in his wonderful mercy to bring them back to himself. Like a good shepherd, with a whistle so gentle that even they themselves almost fail to hear it. He makes them recognize his voice and stops them from going so far astray so that they will return to their dwelling place. And this shepherd’s whistle has such power that they abandon the exterior things which they were estranged from him and enter the castle.

Teresa’s reference to hearing this supernal whistle has to do with what Buddhists term, the Parato ghosa: this is the great deathless sound, one that is not heard in the conventional sense of hearing but rather that sublime “inward self-realization”—a soundless sound that can only be discerned within one’s own Dharma Ear.

I don’t know in what way or how they heard their shepherd’s whistle. It wasn’t through the ears, because nothing is heard. But one noticeably senses a gentle drawing inward, as anyone who goes through this will observe, for I don’t know how to make it clearer. It seems to me I have read where it was compared to a hedgehog curling up or a turtle drawing into a shell.

Hence, when one hears the wonderful voice of the Sugata, one is actually being filled with the compassionate and primordial wisdom that reflects the inner sacred sound of suchness (tathata) ITself.

The prayer of quiet is an even deeper form of recollection which comes directly from the Unborn Spirit. It is “accompanied by the greatest peace and quiet and sweetness within ourselves.” With “no effort the soul drinks directly from God” and experiences an exuberant feeling of peace.” The adept need not strive for this type of prayer, because it is disposed upon when the “soul is not thinking of it at all.” All that is needed is a detached humility.

Teresa concludes with a caveat: once the Prayer of Quiet has been conferred, one doesn’t have to depend again upon any outside agencies or meditations for spiritual consolations or spiritual growth.

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