Tag Archives: Mantra

Meditatio House: Stability, Growth, and Change

As some of you may already know, Meditatio House has moved. We have moved from Hamilton Road, Ealing (West London) to Cloudesley Square, Islington (Central London) – Zone 3 to Zone 1 for people familiar with the London Tube zones.

Suburban life is now somewhat more cosmopolitan. Down the road is the well-known Chapel Market (one of London’s famous street markets), and all the cafés and trend that is Upper Street, Islington. Angel Tube Station is not far away.

The first room set up at Cloudesley Square was the meditation room. It is somewhat smaller than the one at Ealing. It was important that this room be up and running as soon as possible. The prayer life of the community and our meditation together is central. The meditation room is the heart of the house. As we unpacked the rest of the house meditating together in the meditation room helped to maintain a sense of stability.

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We all need some kind of stability. As our world becomes increasingly mobile and fast changing, for many of us we can no longer rely on our physical circumstance to provide enough stability. I think of my own life here as an example of this: here I am on the other side of the world from Australia (the country of my birth). And in Australia I don’t really have a ‘place’ of my own. I have a hometown, but not a physical home.

For many, stability of environment helps them with the human experience of growth and change. A lack of external stability can make the inner experience of growth and change difficult.

It is said that the internal of the spiritual life is about pitching tents rather than building houses. Growing in the divine life within us means growth and change becomes not only necessary, but expected and eventually welcomed. It is this growth and change that helps to integrate our self-consciousness with its forgotten roots: God and the mystery of our deepest self. To build a house is to settle down within us at one ‘place’ on this journey back into Love. At some point we may decide that we have had enough of change and just want to stay in the one spot, the one place of growth that we have come to.

Pitching a tent is about settling with the knowledge that, at some point, we will be on the move again. Eventually, the God of love and change will entice us to move on, deeper into forgetting ourselves and being re-membered into love. The extent to which we are responsive to this enticement is the extent to which we have embraced inner tent living.

This reality of inner growth and change can make external stability more important. A marriage, a family, a community, a monastery – all of these have been attempts to make the external stable and supple enough to be a support for growth and change. But what can we do if the external is in flux, no longer providing enough support? Alternatively, what can we do if the external has become too rigid, too fixed in its patterns and ways and no longer at the service of growth?

If we somehow lose touch with the divine life in and around us (the initiator of growth) and our attention is too much on our self-consciousness (without a contemplative balance), the danger is that we will become too fixed, rigid, within ourselves as we over-identify with self-consciousness. As this happens, in time, our living environments can begin to reflect this inner fixedness and become, instead, a distraction away from change and growth. A too stiff personality becomes the foundation of living rather than our being in God.

Alternatively, if our external environment is too unstable the danger is that we can become (again) too fixed, hard within ourselves in response to this instability.

Meditation can help. Practicing it is a commitment to tent living. And when a couple, a family, a community practices meditation together it ensures that the external – the physical and relational circumstances of our lives – are to some degree a reflection of our tent living, supple enough to embrace growth and change.

The moving of the Meditatio House community to Cloudesley Square is a reflection of the change that can happen due to the uncertainty of life. It is also an acceptance of the invitation to have the external of life supple enough to nurture our growth together into the Divine Life.

The commitment to meditation, and to meditating together, gives us a stable practice amid internal and external change.

The paradox is that meditation, as a contemplative practice, not only encourages in us growth and change, it also deepens us in the experience of an ultimate stability in God. As we pitch and re-pitch our tents, we carry the home that is the cell of our heart everywhere we go. Home is where the heart is. The heart is the home of divinity and our true selves. Everywhere we go our heart goes too.

Cloudesley Square:


Meditatio House: Imagination, Detachment, and Play

There are many distractions of many kinds that claim our attention during meditation. Often these distractions are related to what we are attached to. Recently, as I sit and meditate, rugby union has been on my mind.

At the moment, in London, the 2015 Rugby World Cup is on. Every four years the top twenty rugby nations get together and play for the chance to win the Web Ellis Trophy. Australia – the team I support, and number two in the world – is through to the semi-finals after a fortunate ‘win at the death’ against Scotland.

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My attachment to rugby union runs deep. The secondary school I attended (from age 12 to 18) has always been a ‘rugby school’. Consequently, during the formative years of my teens, a strong attachment to rugby developed. The highs and lows of the Wallabies (the animal after which the Australian team takes its name) became my highs and lows. Consequently, the Rugby World Cup became a distinct time of emotional attachment. During the 1999 World Cup (which Australia won) my then spiritual director politely suggested to me that it would be a wonderful thing if I could take the same passion that I had for the Wallabies into life generally.

Lately at Meditaito House, during meditation, my mind has wandered onto the rugby pitch and imagined a sweeping backline move for a try or a strong shove from a dominant scrum. I have found these imaginings quite gratifying and felt quite self-satisfied after imagining them.

…meditation is our pathway into surrendering the very self, the separate, self-conscious identity that looks for experiences to ‘have’ in the first place. Meditation is a radical opening into a new possibility for being – being given and received as gift, being centred in and wholly transparent to the life of God. (1)

These words from meditator and theologian Sarah Bachelard are a challenging reminder to me at this time. There is a “separate, self-conscious identity” in me (in us all) that is using my attachment to the Wallabies and the world cup as a way to distract attention during meditation. This separate self-identity can be called ego.

The temptation to be gratified by the imaginings of this “separate, self-conscious identity” can be at times too great. Perhaps a new parent, during meditation, may find their imagination straying to their new ‘bundle of joy’ (assuming, of course, this new parent is not too tired to meditate at all). Perhaps a person obsessed with technology will get lost in the gratification that a new phone or computer is ‘providing’. And the feelings that a new love interest is generating in us can indeed be more immediately and powerfully gratifying than the ‘nothing’ happening as we meditate.

We all have attachments. It’s part of being human. Our attachments reveal themselves in our imagination. A life growing in awareness has the chance see this, accept it, be humbled by it, and begin to smile gently at it.

And yet if we surrender to our imaginings, we could experience the bliss and gratification of a being lost in attachment and imagination. Why meditate at all if I can feel this alive while entertaining imagination?

To seek and to be with God, to experience who we most deeply are, and to grow in true love, we need to go beyond using imagination in this way. Imagination used in this way can keep us from God, ourselves, and love – caught in self-consciousness as alienation from these realities.

The bliss and gratification of imagination is not the deep contentment and inner stability that we receive as gift while we attend to, and integrate with, the divine life within us; it is not the meaning and purpose that loving others can give us.

If we are to grow in becoming “centred in and wholly transparent to the life of God” imagination needs to be put aside and our attachments must fade. This is the work of meditation. It is the fruit of a commitment to a daily practice of attention on a mantra.

Over time attention on the mantra has the mind growing still and silent. Attention on the mantra draws attention deeper into being until the whole of us is lost in being and we become silence.

Rather than exercising the mind so that we might have an experience, we instead learn the value of being. Instead of awareness caught in imagination and attachment at the self-conscious level, during meditation awareness can come to transcend this self-consciousness, go beyond it. Rather than being aware of reflecting on an experience, we become free to attend without self-reflection to being. In this attending to being we have forgotten ourselves and commune with the Ground of Being – God.

‘Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, will save it. What benefit is it to anyone to win the whole world and forfeit or lose his very self.’ (Luke 9:24-5).

The life we are invited to lose is a life based on attachment and its use of imagination, a life that tries to make a separate self-conscious identity the centre of living.

Winning the whole world is the practice of a self-consciousness wanting to have, to own, to possess. However, a life of being is a life “being given and received as gift”. We are all a part of the gift of life for life’s sake. We cannot win a gift. Life being simply lived, rather than acquired, is life expressing the adventure of being. This adventure can happen anywhere and at any time – even on the rugby field. Attention lost in the adventure of life is awareness lost in being.

Perhaps the Wallabies (and professional sport people in general) and their supporters (including me) could see sport more as a creative and playful part of the adventure of life and less as an expression of hardnosed competitiveness for the achievement of reward. It is easier to do this when attention is on being; much harder if attention is caught in self-consciousness (with its attendant imaginings and attachments).

The best athlete
wants his opponent at his best.
The best general
enters the mind of his enemy.
The best businessman
serves the communal good.
The best leader
follows the will of the people. All of them embody
the virtue of non-competition.
Not that they don’t love to compete,
but they do it in the spirit of play.
In this they are like children
and in harmony with the Tao. (68) (2)

Detachment is about living life “in the spirit of play” and becoming like children (cf. Matthew 18:2-4).

(1) Sarah Bachelard in, John Main: The Expanding Vision (Laurence Freeman and Stefan Reynolds, eds), 70.
(2) Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching (Translated by Stephen Mitchell).


Meditatio House: Lectio Divina and Loving in Community

This week the Meditatio House community sat together to read and reflect upon chapter 15 of the Gospel of John (vv9-17):

9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

We engaged with this text using a method called lectio divina, or divine reading. This method has been around for as long as Christian monasticism itself. It is a wonderful way to allow scripture to speak into our lives from our hearts. The Spirit within the text comes to resonate with the Spirit within us. With regular practice, scripture becomes an agent of change that can transform our personalities and from there our lives.

We don’t  engage in lectio divina to have particular thoughts or ideas about God and life confirmed or dismissed. It is a heart exercise, one that asks us to move beyond our own agenda, our thoughts, our imaginings, and to simply be in the divine life. Lectio divina is a contemplative practice just as meditation is (1).

Typically, the way of lectio divina has four parts. There is the reading of the text (lectio); the repeating of a word or phrase of the text that we are drawn to (meditatio); the listening for that sense of what God might be saying through the text to us (oratio); and contemplation – simply being, without thought, in the experience of what is happening (contemplatio). See the ‘Four Stages of Lectio Divina’ below for a fuller explanation of the process.

This four part process should not be approached strictly as a step-by-step guide.

There is something wild and unpredictable about genuine lectio divina that will necessarily frustrate all our efforts to remain in control, or to channel its energies…experientially the way in which the different moments of the process interact is more circular than lineal. And there is no guarantee that having begun with lectio, a particular session will necessarily pass on to contemplatio.(2)

Our reading of John 15:9-17 became, as we shared together, a gentle and dynamic experience of the divine life moving through us for each other and the affirmation of community life.
The words of scripture in this text from John that drew me were….remain, love one another, bear fruit. As the other members of the house community shared their words, the way in which I received these words was affirmed:

Remain: Throughout the text there is the invitation from Jesus for us to remain in his life, in his love. This is the risen Jesus speaking to us. His life, his love, is God’s life and love.

As I repeated the word remain I sensed God inviting me to remain focused, attentive to the divine life within, the life of love that is doing the healing and integrating work as I remain in community. With time our conscious selves are healed enough to be forgotten and remaining in love can become our home and our way of being in the world.

Attention on the mantra, both at times of meditation and throughout the day, is also attention remaining in God, divine love, as healing and integration happen.

Love one another: Rather than being something that we make happen with (sometimes great) effort, loving one another, when we practice enough attention on and in God can be a simple act we do without conscious thought. Loving one another becomes a fruit of remaining in love, in Christ, even while we continue to feel our inner reactions to each other. Because we don’t dwell on the tension with our thoughts, the tension is not our focus. Love becomes more our focus and we grow in operating simply out of that.

Bear fruit: As I/we attend to Love and grow in remaining there, loving one another in small self-forgotten ways, and quietly integrating, the house community bears fruit. Just like any relating among people that value love and each other, there is a mysterious and tangible presence among us. This presence is God revealed through us, for others. This is the fruit that the world hungers for (though it may know nothing of its nature and source).

Lectio Divina

(1) Michael Casey OCSO has written wonderfully about the practice of Lectio Divina. Click here for the text of a paper he delivered to The Third Congress of Benedictine Oblates in 2013 called “Obsculta – the Oblate listening in the World”  
(2) Michael Casey, p7.


Meditatio House: the Spiritual Art of Weed Pulling

I spent some time this week pulling weeds. The physicality of it made it a spiritual experience. It is the body that grounds us in the here and now, making possible our experience of life and of the Divine in life. God and life can only be now and the body cannot be anywhere else.

Any spirituality grounded in human experience (and any authentic spirituality must be) values the use of the body as a way of practicing attention in and on the present moment.

The extent to which we are not in the present moment is the extent to which we are subject to fantasy and illusion. The past and the future are not here. They may be, for some reason, in the mind and heart, however only the present moment is the present moment. We are made for the present moment. In it there is a purpose and meaning and a full living of life that the past and the future cannot provide.

It follows then that our senses must be trained in staying enough with the body and the now. If we are going through the motions of doing something, without awareness of what we are doing now, then something may get done, however we will not be present to the experience. The gift of life and the gift of the divine life (grace) in life will be lost, unnoticed.

As I pulled the weeds I tried to be aware of what I was doing. I looked at my gloved hands as I pulled; I looked carefully so as not to miss any green shoots; I was present to my body with all its stretching and movement (and eventual aches). I also caught myself in daydreams; sung, whistled and hummed; said hello to the birds and apologised to the worm I accidentally cut in half.

I also remembered another time in my life when I was doing the same thing and was feeling quite lonely and depressed. Rather than repress this memory I welcomed it and accepted it as best as I could. As the sadness rose I experienced it and also experienced a compassion that rose to meet and love it. As I weeded, memories integrated and wounds healed. God was there and I was there enough.

The art of any doing as a spiritual practice is all about the forming of good habit first. Whatever else is given is given as gift. The more time we spend practising attending to the moment is more time accepting that each moment is the only true place and is the place to be. In this way we have a much better chance of staying alert, awake to the now in the day for longer. A good present moment habit practised daily sees us less in fantasy and more in reality.

Before enlightenment: hewing wood and drawing water; after enlightenment: hewing wood and drawing water. (Zen proverb).

The path to enlightenment is all about practice, practice, practice – with whatever is at hand. As we practice we come to see that everything is contained in the present moment, so we continue to do the very same things that helped us into the present moment. Anything done with attention teaches the present moment and keeps us there.

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints.. (Ephesians 1:17,18).

This prayer attributed to St. Paul can only be realised in the present moment. The enlightening of our heart’s eye – the mysterious gift of Divine life and understanding – can only happen in the now.

Meditation is only present moment when we are still enough in mind and body and our attention is on the mantra. It is at this now time of meditation that the enlightenment of the heart and the transformation of the soul happen. We must transcend all within us that would keep attention from this moment. However, we cannot transcend without God. The Christian needs Christ – the human enlightenment of God – if we are to transcend that within us that keeps us from the now: the ego and its use of distractions.

It does seem that the ego would prefer not to pull weeds or do the housework because activities like this have within them the potential of the present moment. Life and divinity in the present moment undermine the ego’s preferred position as the centre of attention. Consequently, we can often experience the same kind of inner resistance around housework (for example) as we do around meditation.

If we must do the ego prefers doing in a daydream, spending the time in the past or the future, or in some kind of alternate ‘now’ (fantasy).

If we are to be with God and grow in love, then an important part of this adventure is weed pulling – or chores of any kind, indeed anything that divinity can use to draw attention into the present moment and into the Divine Life itself.


Meditatio House: Mr Curly and the Space Between

Michael Leunig (Loo-nig), according to his website, “is an Australian cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet.” I, and many, would add the description mystic to this list. Many Australians, and perhaps a few others, have their favourite cartoons from Leunig cut out and stuck to fridges, notice boards and alike. Some of these cartons have followed me to Meditatio House and are accompanying me on the meditatio experience. This one, for instance:

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“Mr Curly transports wayfaring pilgrims away from the bad mood of the world to the peaceful shores of Lake Lacuna, a small, mystical and beautiful place of sanity which lies between the large, uncontrollable forces, the great powers, and the major issues. The little goat-drawn cart has been carved from a huge potato.”

Mr. Curly is a recurring character in Leunig’s cartoons. The Curly Flat website describes him thus:

Mr. Curly, of the paradoxically named town of Curly Flat, is a happy and optimistic fellow. Everyone in Curly Flat has the curious cranial feature: “..the curl is the tender, unfurling motion of nature’s growth; the unfolding consciousness; the way in which the heart reaches out into the world”.

Mr. Curly represents our loving, heartfelt best. He is a ‘fool in the world’, someone unaffected by the complications we create. He is fearless. He lives an enlightened playfulness, the playfulness of an integrated state. He is the human heart incarnate on the cartoonist’s page. He is, in his own way, the integration of ego and self that is a fruit of the contemplative way.

Perhaps a Buddhist might call him the image of a Bodhisattva. Some Christians may see him as a representation of the Christ consciousness within. I look at him and feel the pull of the divine life deep within me. Perhaps he’s just Mr. Curly. The bad mood of the world is a stranger to him.

The human and spiritual life is indeed a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage away from something to something else: from woundedness to healing; egoism to otherness; disintegration to integration; isolation to community; from fear to love. It’s a pilgrimage that does not proceed ‘as the crow flies’. It is a meandering journey, one that invites the development of patience and trust, one that reveals the destination as traveling with us.

Mr. Curly holds the reins of a goat. The goat is the force, the energy of the carrying cart. As Mr. Curly holds the reins he also guides the goat. The pilgrims can simply relax and experience the ride. Maybe the goat is a bit like grace – the grace of the goat. We need not be the energy of the pilgrimage. There is a creative energy in Creation that we learn, on the way, to participate in and be with. We learn to let go of the lie that ego is the source of this creative energy.

Lake Lacuna is the ‘unfilled space’, the gap between the forces, powers, and issues that can affect us and too much occupy the mind. It is a space because these forces, powers, and issues are absent. The absence of these things is stillness and silence. We can reclaim our inner stability and our sanity here. And we can experience the presence of Love.

What about the potato cart? Perhaps for the Christian meditator the cart is our mantra. It is a simple word, a word of the earth that grounds us and carries us, with grace, into the lacuna – the absence of things that reveals the presence of God.

Attention on the mantra is like riding the cart. As we meander along, deeper into the experience of the expansion of consciousness beyond ego, we ride the mantra lightly. Its movement becomes familiar to us. It moves with grace. Our lacunic arrival into the absence of distraction and self-consciousness, even if for a brief ‘moment-less moment’, would realise the potato as empty. Upon becoming aware of the lacuna we find ourselves in, it is time once again, to climb aboard the cart and continue our wayfaring journey into this mysterious, ever present silence.

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Meditatio House: The Siren Call of Spiritual Delight.

Just before evening meditation begins at Meditatio House, we listen to a reading from one of the many masters of Christian spirituality. Currently we are making our way through a book called Prayer by Swami Abhishiktananda (see the recommended links to find out more about Abhishiktananda). During one reading recently these words struck me:

So long as in our prayer we continue to think and feel, to treat God “in relation to ourselves”, it is certain that we have not yet entered the innermost “mansion” of the Interior Castle – according to the imagery of St Teresa of Avila. Those whose aim is God never stop short at anything whatever that is thought or felt, no matter how exalted or uplifting it may seem to be.

Teresa of Avila writes about two kinds of union in her book The Interior Castle. One union she describes as a betrothal, a kind of engagement to God. This betrothal is the kind of union that can also become a separation.The union at this point is young and somewhat changeable. During this time, however, there can be experienced what Teresa describes as a joy “greater than all the joys of earth, and greater than all its delights, and all its satisfactions..”. These are profound experiences which are the fruit of this young union, much like the experience of falling in love.

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My life had been a story of isolation and rejection. I had isolated myself to protect myself. I had been rejected by my peers as too different. Into my twenties I began to experience certain consolations of the soul, as if God was attempting to fill a void within me. As time went on, and as my contemplative practice began to slowly shape itself, there would come experiences of great joy, of being filled by a Divine love that has its being in everything and everyone. 

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If the Divine has gifted us with this experience of joy (an experience which can be the fruit of any contemplative practice), then this is when we need to be wary. Such is the nature of the experience that it can become something which we long for more than the Divine life itself. This joy, this satisfaction, is not God. It is a gift of God’s presence and action within us. It’s as if the experience becomes a kind of siren call of delight which the ego can use to keep us in this state of temporary and changeable union, in a state of attachment to our emotional life.

If we are to accept the above words of Abhishiktananda as an authentic statement of the mystical way, if we are to “never stop short at anything whatever that is thought or felt, no matter how exalted or uplifting it may seem to be”, then it is a part of the contemplative journey into God (a thoroughly human journey) to leave these experiences behind. They are not to be desired, even if they keep happening. The mystical, the contemplative way, is about arriving at another kind of union, one that is not changeable and subject to the whims of an insecure ego.

The Divine seeks from us a union that Teresa names as a marriage. This is simply a matured, stable, and largely conscious communion (common-union) with the Divine life. It is the union of which  Abhishiktananda speaks, the union which can be found at the centre of the soul, Teresa’s innermost mansion.

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There was a reason the words of Abhishiktananda had struck me so strongly: I had fallen for the siren call again – a very human thing to do. Who doesn’t want to feel that they are loved? The desire to have these experiences of joy sat just below the mantra as it sounded. It was splitting my attention between it and the mantra. Whilst ever this split was happening I was not fully engaging the meditators journey into an ever more stable communion with God. Through Abhishiktananda‘s words I was  being asked, once again, to leave behind the siren’s call. I went back and re-read Abhishiktananda. More words made an impact:

Yet it [the soul] is for ever incapable of reaching him [God], so long as it is not ready to leave itself behind and to be immersed and lost in the abyss of God himself. Then only it understands that silence is the highest and truest praise…The soul itself is then simply silence…

Silence. I had forgotten the true landmark of God. Not thought, not word, not image, not emotion. Silence. It’s abyss. The absence of everything so as to be filled with nothing, the no-thing of God. It was time to re-choose my way into silence once again. Time to re-focus on the mantra.

Boughton Aluph to Kings Wood8

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Teresa asserts that any desires for “consolations or favours” from God are no more once this “innermost mansion” (or room) of the soul is reached. This is because once attention is in this innermost mansion there is the most direct experience of the Divine that any human can have – one that is devoid of the desires to have the experience because the experience is happening. Teresa continues:

He [the Divine] and the soul alone have fruition of each other in the deepest silence. There is no reason now for the understanding to stir, or to seek out anything, for the Lord who created the soul is now pleased to calm it ….

All that is left is a silent “happy companionship”, a companionship being experienced without reason, that is, without the mind attempting understanding. All is silent. This experience awaits the practitioner of an established contemplative practice. It is an experience that is itself a Divine gift. It is not about ‘clocking up’ enough meditation time for this to happen, although there does need to be a certain preparedness. This preparedness happens when it happens. All we do is keep faithfully returning to our mantra, our prayer word, our breath – whatever is used in the great pilgrimage to the centre of the soul, that still point within where the Divine waits in silence.

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Pebble and the Pond

Each time we meditate it is like we are taking a pebble and gently tossing it into a pond. The pebble is our mantra. The pond is our mind.

After the pebble has been tossed, it falls gently through the surface levels of the pond. Light at the surface enables us to see the pebble as it falls.

Light at the surface of the pond is like the light of our senses at the surface of our mind. This light enables us to see, that is, to perceive, to imagine, to think, to be aware of emotion. With this light we sense both the world around us and the movements within us in response to this world.

This surface level of the mind is where our ego-consciousness resides. As the mantra falls gently through this surface area, our ego-consciousness is engaged, perhaps even disturbed – much like the water at the surface of the pond is disturbed in response to the pebble.

At this point in time, because of this disturbance, we give our attention to the mantra. Our one and only task during meditation is to grow in faithful attention to the mantra, to gently focus and re-focus the energy of attention on the mantra – the pebble as it falls. This exercise in attention to the mantra re-trains our attention away from ego-consciousness, away from ego-centricity and into the consciousness of Christ. The heart of this Christ consciousness is deep within our mind, in the pond’s depths.

As the pebble moves through the water of the pond it sinks into deeper water. It also sinks into water becoming darker. The light at the surface cannot penetrate into the ponds depths.

So it is with the mind. As the mantra sinks into the depths of our mind it draws our attention away from the light of surface sense and into the depths of a mind becoming dark. We leave the light of our surface senses behind. We leave ego-consciousness behind. Our minds, like a pond at these deeper levels, can then be experienced as still, dark, and silent.

If we continue to be aware of our surface senses settling and stilling, then attention is still, in some way, at the surface of the mind. This is normal. Perhaps, at this moment, it may be hard to let go of a curiosity that may be noticing that ‘something is happening.’ At times like this the ongoing invitation is always to give our attention to the mantra.

Perhaps ego-consciousness at the surface of the mind will resist, using whatever surface sense it can, no matter how well intentioned the use of our senses may be. We are not conditioned to live with awareness at our mysterious depths. To identify with the surface of our minds is perceived as somehow safer, as less threatening. However, with Christian meditation, our sense of awareness is being transformed. Less and less do we identify our humanity with ego-consciousness. More and more we come to identify our humanity with Christ at our depths. Awareness moves deeper.

There is nothing to fear. Attention growing in the mind’s depths will reveal to our minds, through experience, a God within who is Love uncreated. This God wishes to free our minds and hearts so that we may express, more and more, the unique being in love that we already are. Grace – the gift of God’s life already active in us – uses our fidelity to the mantra to help transform our minds and lives into instruments of love. To be growing in Love, its experience and expression, is the purpose of our lives.

Continue to gently sound the mantra. Gentleness is important. This gentleness will give the grace already active with the mantra space enough to draw your attention into the still and silent depths. If we find ourselves forcing our attention onto the mantra too much, this energy of force may be more from the ego. Gentleness helps the mantra to fall because gentleness is a hallmark of God. It is a gift of the Spirit drawing the mantra and our attention deeper.

During meditation divine Love is always working in us wherever our attention may be, and however we may be experiencing the mantra. We can unconsciously experience it at our depths, or it can be gently, quietly and faithfully working away at the conscious surface, or somewhere in-between. Nothing is wasted. Remain faithful to your practice. The fruits of the Spirit are growing in ways that are hidden. In time the fruits will be seen and experienced.

As the mantra continues to sink into the depths of our mind, like the pebble in the pond, drawing our attention into the still and silent depths, we will come to experience not a saying or sounding of the mantra ourselves, but instead we will come to listen to it. The mantra will become the silent voice, not only of our being, but of Christ within us. The mantra will not be heard in the surface sense. It will be experienced as a kind of echo of silence, more an inner movement of the life of God within us. The surface light of our senses will no longer surround it.


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