John Cassian (360-438) on sex and long meditation retreats

Today, I found an intriguing translation of the works of the early Christian mystic John Cassian, 360-438.

I suspected that the chapter on sex (which - of course - I wanted to explore first) would grant a deep insight into old mystical sexual experience, or, at least, thinking. Early Western Neo-Tantra, perhaps?

Or what? Anyway, the translation left me stunned! And I eventually learned to avoid long meditation retreats.

The book of fornication

Here is the complete and unabridged 1886 translation of the book on sex:

What the f...!

But it's not John Cassian's fault. It's the translator's fault. 1886 just wasn't the year for sexual self disclosure of Christian mystics. It was the year in which Pemberton invented Coca Cola. It contained cocain. Unlike John Cassian's text on fornication, at the time cocain was not considered as dangerous but as medicine. How times have changed!

John Cassian on long meditation retreats

But then, Cassian was also quite sophisticated for his time. Daniel P Brown approvingly mentions him as an opponent of long meditative retreats. The psychologically sound reason: social isolation during long retreats will just create states of avarice, lust, anger etc. Dan Brown illustrates it quite funnily in his Sacred Sundays interview.

A thought on...