The Secret of the Spanish Mystics

Interview with SuperConsciousness Chief Editor Jaime Leal Anaya
Author: Jair Robles

Within the modern spiritual movement it is not easy to find a book that deals with Catholic figures other than Jesus and even harder to see that such work is a byproduct of actual research from the documents kept by the Catholic Church.

I believe that the divulgation of eastern traditions and their leading figures in the west has been very helpful in broadening our perspective on spirituality. At the same time, I think it is of great value for us who were brought up within a culture dominated by the moral values and spiritual practices of Christianity to be exposed to a different look at the lives and knowledge attained by some of the most outstanding men and women within the Catholic Church. This is important in order to fully embrace the idea of spiritual realization as a universal message available to all human beings.

The book, The Secret of the Spanish Mystics and The Creative Power of the Word, is the product of the passion of a young and inquiring mind that wanted to know the truth about those extraordinary tales his mother would tell him about the Spanish Saints.

Led by destiny, SuperConsciousness’ Editor, Jaime Leal Anaya, had the opportunity to study at one of the most renowned Catholic Universities in the World: Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland. There he had access to some of the original documents kept by the Catholic Church and some of the world’s most prestigious theologians.

Master's Degree in Theology, Graduation at Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth

This work is the result of many years of research and is now being published to a general audience. Leal Anaya wants to remind us of the real message behind the life of Jesus and the work of those who embraced it as their own path and risked their lives to share this knowledge with others.

In this interview for SuperConsciousness, Jaime Leal Anaya shares with us his journey of discovery and spiritual evolution and the role that his Catholic academic study has played in it.


SuperConsciousness: The book, The Secret of the Spanish Mystics and The Creative Power of the Word, was your thesis to obtain a Master’s Degree in Theology; can you tell us more about your background?

Jaime Leal Anaya: I was given a scholarship first as an exchange student to go and study in Ireland in the Pontifical University, called St. Patrick’s College, in a small little town near Dublin called Maynooth. I was not ever thinking of staying there or getting deep into Theology or Philosophy at all. I was thinking of pursuing a career in Engineering, following my family tradition and business. But in Ireland, I was exposed to a whole different world than the one I was born in Mexicali, Mexico.

Painting of Juan de la Cruz

I saw an opportunity to pursue something that was always of interest, since I was a child. The stories my mother would tell me about the saints, Saint Martin de Porres, Juan de la Cruz, and Teresa of Ávila. I remember wondering how come no one in the church could do such things today, and also wondered where could you go to learn to do these things. They are just fantastic stories of communication with God, being able to receive knowledge through contemplation and prayer, like in the case of Teresa of Ávila, to be able to levitate, heal people by touching them, just like Christ. As a child I never questioned that this wasn’t possible. I accepted it. I believed in it. I accepted it as a reality, and always wondered, “Where could I go to learn these things?” And I’m in this Pontifical University, this university of great renown, with the greatest minds in Theology and Philosophy that could be found, and in that setting I started wondering, “Maybe this is the place. Maybe this is where I get to learn how to do those things.” I mean, you can’t go much farther than that, you know, I was in the top seminary, the top Theological University, directly linked to the Vatican. That’s what Pontifical University means, and with the best professors. Everything that I could ask for was right there, and not only that, but I was very fortunate to know many people high up in the church when I was there, meeting the cardinals and the bishops.

My interest moved me to take this opportunity while I was there, and find out whether those stories were just stories or was there some truth behind them. And that’s what started me off on this journey. At the end of the first year of exchange I was offered a further scholarship to stay and continue with my studies. I enrolled in the baccalaureate, or the degree in Theology, the degree in Divinity, as it is called, the B.D. Also I was enrolled in the degree in Philosophy, because that was a requirement to be able to move into Theology, but I was allowed to do both at the same time.

SC: How much longer were you there? Because this is your thesis for your Master’s Degree, so this must have been four or five years after that?

JLA: What happened next was that I wanted to ask everyone — I would meet the Abbots, these old, beautiful beings, really holy people that I would meet, who were heading the monasteries and so forth — and I would look at them in the eyes and wait, saying to myself, “They have something to tell me. They know a secret they’re not teaching me in the classroom,” because there was no class on how to become a mystic, or even Christ.

I realized that the idea of becoming like Christ was more of a superficial thing, like a sentimental thing, you become like Christ, but Christ is so far away from you, because you’re such a sinner, and you are so imperfect and so limited. That’s the environment that everyone breathes there, that to be a Christ is an impossibility. As a Christian you believe that you want to be like Christ, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. It is going to be something after you die, maybe, and through the grace of God, if you’re allowed into Heaven.

It was very clear for me that they didn’t really believe that they could be like Christ. That was the environment, that’s what Christianity has become today. I would go to the holy people I could find, and I had access to everything, and I would look at them in the eye. I was certain they were not telling me something, and were about to point the way. But in the end, after many years, I realized they didn’t know, and that was very shocking to me. I was there five years, and it was quite shocking and a sense of loss for me to find that out. “Where do I go now? Where do I go from here?” since no one seemed to really know which was the way to have these marvelous experiences as did Juan de la Cruz and Teresa of Ávila.

SC: Your thesis is mostly about Fray Luis de León. Now that you’re talking about mystics, what characterizes someone as a mystic and why did you choose Fray Luis de León in particular?

JLA: What brought me to Fray Luis? I’m from Mexico, I speak Spanish and I could make a contribution to the university by doing research work on a figure that they didn’t know much about. I had access to reading all the original texts in Castilian. Also I was interested in Fray Luis, because he was a friend of Teresa of Ávila, and he was the teacher of Juan de la Cruz, and they were all in Salamanca. Another reason why I picked Fray Luis de León, specifically, was because I was coming from the world of Theology. I now understood and could speak in that language, and Fray Luis de León was a theologian. He was a teacher and professor in Salamanca. He was the first one to publish Teresa of Ávila’s works. He was the best candidate for me to understand what the mystics were about.

Statue of Fray Luis in front of the Old University of Salamanca

I had tried to read the poetry of Teresa of Ávila and it’s so far beyond in a way, that I got lost. I mean it caused me a lot of heartache in seminary. Reading the works of Juan de la Cruz, when he talks about the spiritual path and the Ascent of Mount Carmel, one of his greatest works, and in it he gives you instructions how to obtain Christhood. In it he says, “Well, you cannot desire any Earthly goods. You cannot desire anything from the Earth.” That was kind of obvious, I said, “Okay, I have to give up the world. I already knew that.” But then in the next sentence he says, “And you cannot desire any Heavenly goods either.” This was puzzling to me. “Okay, how am I going do that?” He gives you all these recipes for life and it sounded to me very much like Buddhism, where you become nothing. And he kept insisting, “You have to be nothing, you have to be nothing in order to come to be all.” It sounded like a riddle. But I couldn’t crack it, and it caused me a lot of heartache in seminary, because here I was, as a martyr and a victim, trying to give up the world, when I was really passionate on the inside, and try to give up the Heavenly desires as well, and having no clue where to go or how to go about it.

It was until much later, coming to Yelm, to Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, and only very recently I finally figured out what Juan de la Cruz was talking about. Becoming “the nothing” is really not about our personality but becoming the Observer, without judgment. If I had known that in seminary, I’m telling you, I would’ve been a much happier person. But this has been an amazing journey of discovery.

Coming back to Fray Luis, not only was he a theologian, digesting the knowledge of the mystics in a theological language which I could understand and relate to better, but also, he was a lover of ancient languages, and that was my biggest passion when I was studying Theology.

What really made me excel in my studies of Theology was that I wanted to know what Christ really said. I didn’t want someone to give me a translation or an interpretation of what Christ said. If I was going to study the real truth, I wanted to go to the source, and so it was very obvious to me that I had to learn the original languages of the Bible. First Greek, which is the language of the latest books of the Bible, and then going backwards into Hebrew. I wanted to know the original language and Fray Luis de León was an expert in that. He knew Hebrew very well, and he knew all the ancient languages and he was very strict in his Theology to always go to the source, so I took that from him and got an interest in Fray Luis for that reason.

SC: This leads me to the next question about the importance that Fray Luis de León gave to the original words and the use of the Christian Kabbalah. I was only familiar with the Hebrew Kabbalah, and didn’t even know there was a Christian Kabbalah. So can you explain more for those of us who are not familiar with it?

Oldest Shield of David, (ca. 1,000 A.D.) cover of the Torah by Ben Jacob

JLA: You asked earlier about what defines a mystic, who is a mystic, and basically, there may be different definitions for different people, but for me, a mystic is a person who can be like Christ and do the things Christ did. A mystic is someone who is embodying the Christ in themselves, who can heal with a touch, who can walk on water, be in two places at once, one who has all this wisdom being channeled through them, and can change someone’s life by speaking a word that is specific, critical and important in that moment. So a mystic would be anyone who was not the original Christ and is exhibiting some signs and acting and being like Christ did. Now that to me is a mystic.

The things that make the Kabbalah are the traditions of Jewish mysticism, in Judaism first, and then they were translated into Christianity. It’s the same as the Jewish Kabbalah, but it was adapted to support the faith in Christ and the church, instead of just faith in the Torah.

Becoming a saint in the eyes of Yahweh, in the eyes of God, becoming a mystic in terms of applying the Kabbalah, the Jewish Kabbalah is just becoming a righteous person, one who is favored and blessed by God, an ultimately good person.

In Christianity, it is utilized to prove the divinity of Christ, and it is a spiritual tool for people to contemplate and reflect on a word or a sentence or an image, a certain diagram, that somehow they believe will bring to life in them knowledge and wisdom, and it will actually change you.

In the Kabbalah, you take a word, for example, give a numeric value to each of the letters and then through numerology — it’s like numerology today — you can draw different meanings. That is part of the Kabbalah. Another one is to change the order of the words or the letters in a word to come up with different meanings. Playing around with the characters and the words, and in Hebrew it’s more obvious, because Hebrew characters are pictograms, and not very many people know that, but the Hebrew letters are really pictograms.

If you really have knowledge of Hebrew, which Fray Luis knew and understood very, very well, then you can draw all kinds of meaning. It can be a whole tree of facts, a whole sentence, a whole spiritual recipe in one word, just by playing around with the words and drawing different meanings and so forth.

3 Engravings of torture during the Spanish Inquisition

In the book, I present some of what Fray Luis did with the name of God, which is Yahweh, and then inserting the letter S, which then turns Yahweh into Yehoshua. The divine name is now revealed. Christ, Yehoshua, is really the divine name, God, incarnate, and that’s what we talk about in the book. But the Kabbalah is basically a spiritual practice, it’s like a tradition that is utilized to reflect on and get to know yourself and change yourself. It’s a spiritual path.

Fray Luis got thrown in the Inquisition for using it, and they said, “How come you’re using it? It’s Jewish.” And he says, “Look, what is the problem if by using it we get to prove that Christ is divine. If we look at the effect, the results,” he said, “we look at what we can show by utilizing these tools of moving letters around and so forth, we are proving the same truths that are held sacred within the church.” So that’s how he got through that. They couldn’t refute him, because he said, “Well, tell me where I erred. Tell me where I’m wrong, if I’m only using it to show that Christ is our Lord, that Christ is the Son of God, and Christ incarnate is our savior?”

SC: Fray Luis de Leon’s, The Names of Christ is considered his most important piece of work, and it’s also considered a literary masterpiece from the Spanish Renaissance. From what I understood out of some of your conclusions is that it is like a system, it’s kind of a recipe to become closer to God, a path that is shown through the different names that have been given to Christ in the Bible. Can you explain if this is correct and provide us with more details?

JLA: When I was sent by the university to do this research work, two things became very clear to me. The first one was the impact of the Inquisition in the lifestyle, the work and the language that they used, and why everything seemed like such a riddle. Because they were afraid for their lives, the torture chambers were horrible and word of its horrors was out.

When Fray Luis was in prison, he was sent with other friends of his, professors from Salamanca University. Most of them died within a week from the torture. He survived five years, and while he was in prison, he wrote this work, De los Nombres de Cristo. It is very clear to me, from studying it, that he’s putting in the words more than he’s really willing to say openly, so there’s that level of encoding in his words, out of need to survive.

Ab ipso ferro (from this very metal itself...) = La Poda Floreciente - Seal of Fray Luis for De los Nombres de Cristo

The other thing that was also very clear, he was also a painter and he drew this seal on the cover of his book, De los Nombres de Cristo. This seal is called “La poda floreciente,” the flowering pruned tree. It is a tree that has been pruned down and is flowering. The symbology of this tree is very interesting. It has seven branches, and there’s this big ax at the foot of the tree. He is basically saying, “In order to make this tree flower, you have to prune it, you have to cut it,” but the ax was a very clear symbol of the Inquisition as well. It is representing the suffering that he went through by the Inquisition. It tempered him, tamed him. But the ax also meant, in his circle of friends that you have to conquer yourself. That you have to take the metal, you have to take this ax, and cut these branches to make the tree of your own life flower and grow. So, he had this whole understanding of change and becoming and conquering yourself as a road to becoming like Christ

In De los Nombres de Cristo, the first name is “shoot,” something that’s just growing from the ground, the seed that has just broken ground, a shoot, and that’s the first name. Then from there, it starts going up from the shoot. There’s the “road,” and then the road goes up into a “mountain,” and then the view changes, you can see “the future” from the top of this mountain. Then you become the “shepherd” and then you become the “lover,” and then “beloved” of God, and you become Christ — Yehoshua — at the very end of this road.

Fray Luis has this whole philosophy of names, and this is explained in the book. He was very careful, he’s talking about Christ and doesn’t want to be killed. He doesn’t want to be tortured again. So, in Fray Luis’s work, it’s very real that all the names that he is describing about Christ, he is showing how we should be like that, and how we are called to become like that, he uses this word, a very important word in Castilian, avecinarse. Avecinarse means, “To become close to,” but in a very real sense of becoming it. Avecinarse is not just standing next to someone, avecinarse is really being it, becoming like one.

One of the names from that work that I love the most is “the father of the future.” After you’ve become a great shepherd and you’re on the road and you have already reached the top of the mountain, then you become the father of the future. And what he explains about this name is that your view is so vast that you know what’s coming, you can see what’s about to happen, and you can create the future — you have a much larger perspective. So, it’s beautiful how he presents each name as an evolution and growth.

Teresa of Avila's Confessionary

Now, that was news for me. Because I was excited to learn how to be a mystic, how to be a Christ, and all that I was getting at the university was, “Just do the works, pray hard, and hope for the best.” But here, I was given a very clear path to follow, which is really Christian, but it doesn’t represent Christianity today.

I was very happy to find this out, and it gave me a language then, to go and read the words of Juan de la Cruz, which was one of my favorites, and being a student of Fray Luis, I knew that there was communication between them. I discovered something in Salamanca about them and the groups of people that were friends with them that were unusual. I learned about some very strange things, like they had a labyrinth underneath the cathedral and the entry to the labyrinth was at the house of a very, very wealthy man, at the time, who was best friends with Fray Luis and with that group.

I followed this trail of who were their friends and where were they hanging out and what they were doing, and that’s how I started to find out that these guys were onto something really, really out of the box, in the 16th century, in the face of the Inquisition. They didn’t care. They were trying to put the message out, just like Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Raphael were putting it in their paintings and in their works of art. They were putting it in poetry and in these works, like De los Nombres de Cristo, in a Christian theological language, but the message was the same. The same message we are beginning to learn today, that the divine is within you. The power of the word — to speak with power as a Christ — has actually a creative power, and the more that we enact this nature, which is really in us all, by enacting this, you and I actually become a Christ. For Fray Luis this is what salvation really meant. It was not something in the afterlife. It is an evolution today.

SC: Why did you decide to share this with the public until now, what has changed within you, and what were the limitations that you found within the environment while writing your thesis, that did not allow you to express openly what you’re expressing right now?

JLA: Even though the original research work I did almost 20 years ago, the questions were still burning in me and it has been a great journey that hasn’t stopped. Right now, I’m in a better position to really understand where this was all going.

I also came to a realization that many people like me, had a Christian background and were still looking for answers too: “What is this all about? What are we doing here and what’s our destiny?” I realized that many people shared my story, my journey of looking for answers. I thought that from this early work to today, now seeing it so clearly, thanks to the teachings I learned from the Ram, that it was a good contribution to make and to make it available to all the people who shared that same background.

To realize that following Christ and salvation wasn’t what we were told, wasn’t the suffering Christ and the cross. That was never the message of Christ, that we should just hope for the best, die, and be rewarded in Heaven. The message of Christ was about transformation and empowering ourselves to be divine, to be like God the creator in Genesis, and start participating in our own lives through those words that we declare, and the words that we see, because they are, like in the story of creation, actually responsible for creating the world that we live in.

You asked me if I encountered a certain resistance, well yes. When I wrote it for the university, I was very careful how I presented it. I was aware that I had to satisfy the expectations of the faculty of Theology that I was submitting it to. There were many instances when I was seeing what Fray Luis was saying, and I was careful how I was writing it, because I did not want to fail, number one, I didn’t want to be labeled as a heretic. I could see that these traditions of growth and personal transformation with Fray Luis in De los Nombres de Cristo were not taught. So, I was very aware of that. I had to present it as a compelling possibility and show the sources and just be very careful with it.

When I finished my work and I met with my research director in his office at the university in Ireland, he was reading parts of it in front of me, and he was pointing out a couple of things to me. Then he said, “Jaime, I like how you’re writing. It’s very inspiring, what you’re presenting here,” and then he says, “But I don’t know why, when I read what you’re saying here, I feel like my head is floating up in the ceiling.” And his face was red. It was almost like he was committing a sin by reading this stuff or by considering these thoughts — the Kabbalah, the personal transformation and union with the divine — and it was very interesting to me and I was just looking at him, “What do you mean?” And he said, “Just every time I read this, I feel like I’m looking from above, floating above my head.” He was having these experiences, because he is a theologian and a very learned man, and a very intelligent person and he could understand that the words I was using were intentional, and they meant a lot more than was on the surface. So, he was picking up on the meaning and it was affecting him, it was confronting him. That was wonderful! I will never forget that moment.

SC: These stories about Fray Luis’s friends and the other things that you were talking about, is that what your following book is going to deal with?

JLA: Yes, my following book is more a historical novel. My first book is the facts. It is presenting the research. It’s all there, you can look it up. I didn’t make it up. This is the extensive research that shows the facts and the sources of this message we’re talking about to dispel any doubts that this was the real message of Christ. And the next series of books I’m working on right now is to flesh it out, to flesh this story out and talk about these clandestine meetings in Toledo, behind the cathedral and behind the noses of the Inquisition, with El Greco, and what they were about, and what was happening in this labyrinth underneath the cathedral in Salamanca, with the wealthy count, who was basically channeling.

The Secret of the Spanish Mystics, to me, is fleshing out the ancient wisdom, but how they spoke about it in Christian terms. If you are a Christian and you follow the Christian concepts and then expand your view and don’t assume that he’s only talking about Christ in Heaven, he’s talking about people, he’s talking about you and I on the path to becoming like Christ, then it all becomes very real. Then it all starts to make sense that this is an evolution, this is a transformation of the human into the divine, and that’s what we are learning in the schools of ancient wisdom today in places like Ramtha’s School.

SC: Is there something else that you would like to talk about and tell us, that has not been covered?

JLA: Yes, I believe that we’re living in extraordinary times. Not unlike the Renaissance and the horrible times of the Inquisition. I believe that today is a new Renaissance and that we’re living in privileged times, challenging times, not through the Inquisition, the fire of the Inquisition, but through the fire that we as a civilization have created ourselves by not knowing our connection to nature, and by disregarding Mother Nature and not living in harmony and balance. That’s becoming our Inquisitor now, because our lives are at stake now, through that fire.

We must wake up, and we are waking up. The message is becoming alive and it can’t be stopped now. It’s just coming out everywhere and it’s being spoken in so many different ways and it all points to the same message that Fray Luis was trying to tell us too. That we are divine, that we are actually creators and that we are in charge of our destiny and we need to take charge of our destiny by enacting the divine in us. Words have power and are a way of creating what happens to us, just like in the story of Genesis.

In so many ways all over the world, people are crying out, they want change, they want a new message. People don’t want fear, they don’t want to continue to live as separate and divided, in conflict and violence with each other, but as a brotherhood and sisterhood. We are all connected and we all affect each other. We can create a better future by changing ourselves. I believe we live in a Renaissance these days, and that it is unstoppable. We do not want it to stop anymore.

For more information about Jaime Leal Anaya and his work visit: http://www.jaimelealanaya.net/

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