Seeing the Whole

Intellectual Visions
Teresa of Avila: Sixth Mansions: Chapter Four

In Teresa’s time, a private apartment of a palace could have “an infinite variety of glassware, and earthenware, and all kinds of things, set out in such a way that you could see almost all of them as you enter.” Teresa saw this when she stayed with the Duchess of Alba. She says, she only remembers seeing the whole and the overall impression it made on her. Teresa draws on this experience to help us understand the Intellectual Vision. We don’t remember the precise details of the vision, but we grasp the whole.

Reflecting on her visit with the Duchess of Alba, Teresa says, “there was so much to be seen that I could not remember it all, so that I could no more recall what was in those rooms than if I had never seen them, nor could I say what the things were made of; I can only remember having seen the whole. It is like that here. The soul becomes one with God. It is brought into this mansion of the empyrean Heaven that we must have in the depth of our souls; for it is clear that, since God dwells in them [our souls], He must have one of these Mansions. And although while the soul is in ecstasy the Lord will not always wish it to see these secrets (for it is so much absorbed in its fruition of Him that that great blessing suffices it), He is sometimes pleased that it [the soul] should emerge from its absorption, and then it will at once see what there is in this room; in which case, after coming to itself, it will remember that revelation of great things it has seen. It will not, however, be able to describe any of them, nor will its nature be able to apprehend more of the supernatural than God has been please to reveal to it. (Emphasis Mine.)


  1. In an Intellectual Vision our “soul becomes one with God” for a period of time.
  2. In an Intellectual Vision we see “the whole” verses the details (Imaginative Vision).
  3. The value and power of the Intellectual Vision is in “the whole”. Becoming preoccupied with the details of the Intellectual Vision will distract us and delay us in fully embracing the vision and taking action.
  4. When our soul emerges from the Imaginative Vision, it will “at once see what there is in this room” (the whole) and remember the “revelation of great things it has seen”.
  5. Trying to describe the details of the Intellectual Vision to others is distracting and challenging because it’s not about the details. We must, instead, incarnate the vision.

For additional material on Intellectual Visions:



Jesus Follower, Blogger, Public Speaker.

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Posted in 6th Mansions - Chapter 4
2 comments on “Seeing the Whole
  1. Aquileana says:

    A thought provoking post! … I really enjoyed the reading!. best wishes, Aquileana 😀

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