May 17, 2015
I will be speaking of here of prayfull meditation, as meditation sort of snuck into our western awareness through means to reduce stress and other clinical problems. Meditation certainly works in these areas well, but the original source of meditational practices came out of the eastern society, especially India, where for thousands of years meditation practices were means to commune with the spirit and beyond. The Trappist Monk Thomas Merton wrote about 50 books, most of which were attempting to show the power of the Eastern practices of meditation. One of the ways so often advocated by so many is meditation and what is usually meant is to quiet ones thoughts to the point of silence for a length of time, often for 30 minutes or more.
I envy (I think) those that can do that in truth. I can rarely shut my mind down, and I have a sneaking hunch that many who claim to do so find a stray thought or a hundred stray thoughts sneaking by. That is the purpose of Mantras, and of breathing exercises, and other means to occupy the mind and to turn off the chatter that always seems to be present. The mind is a receiver of information, and all have agreed that there is an overload of information in today’s world. No previous generation has so much information available, pouring out of televisions and the Internet, let alone the previous generation sources of radio and books. Once upon a time, when the external to the mind came from another person and/or the environment one found themselves being in, then later from books when they become more common, some say that it was easier to reduce the stream of thought to silence, but I more firmly believe that even then the ego, an ingenious source used to understand our physical world and manage in this environment, is always afraid that it will lose power, fills the mind with suggestions, random thoughts often repeated – over and over. How often do we find ourselves revisiting past events, saying “if only this or that had been different, then – “, and of course, the past is set and can not be changed.
Many of the tools that I wrote about before are methods to be utilized to help control the mind when entering Quiet Time, and in this case, meditation. Meditation, as it is usually understood, requires a quieting of the mind, sometimes with the aid of a mantra (a short simple saying like “God”) over and over again. It usually follows a short reading or other source of thought that can be focused on with the second or third ‘tier’ of the thinking web we employ. That is, the reading should be performed with thought, and used to evoke a feeling or insight into a higher level of thinking than is used for day-to-day thoughts.
There are many resources for meditation available to, both in reading material and over the internet.
The general process of meditation, as taught by most masters, is to settle yourself in a comfortable position, in a chair or on the floor, sitting on a pillow or not, but the position must be comfortable. The best type of position is one where you can be lost in the wonders of the universe (contemplation) without danger of falling over, and in a position that permits the blood to flow to the arms, legs, and feet without restriction. The position should be open to the universe, and firm but not rigid. Thus a position where the hands are open in your lap or on your knees, relaxed. If it makes you feel better, touch the thumb and forefinger together gently, but this is not necessary – in fact, none of this is necessary, but only suggested as many have found it useful.
The purpose of meditation is to put oneself into a state of mind that is open to the Voice of God, if that is to be your gift at this moment. The term Voice of God usually means a feeling of bliss, that happiness beyond understanding, where you know, just know, that you are aware of the God that lies within, that Kingdom of God that you have within and without you at all times.
God is not “out there”, as Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed. Nor will they say ‘Look, here it is!’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is within.” ( Luke 17-20-21). But the Kingdom of God, the God of the universe, lies not somewhere else, but in your very being, is your very being, is can be reached by a single thought.
The purpose of meditation is to reach that state where the Kingdom of God is available to your mind, that bridge between the seemingly three-dimensional world that fills our daily life (the ego) and that Kingdom of God, our Soul, that is our life immortal. This state comes not at our beckoning, but as beckoning from the Immortal Wisdom that we call God. All we do is try to clear our minds of the garbage that seems to fill most of our thoughts, so if the moment is appropriate for our path in this sojourn, a two-way direct conversation with the Eternal Wisdom can occur. Again, this will usually be a lifting up of the spirit, as St. Paul described it, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago, (whether in the body I do not know or out of the body I do not know – God knows) such a one was caught up to the third heaven.” This allegoric statement of St, Paul shows that these moments are available, and are available for all, since this “third heaven” is identical to “The kingdom of God that lies within.” (Remember, Paul never heard Jesus preach, and was probably unaware of these significant words spoken decades earlier, as the gospels were not written until after Paul had transitioned, but was speaking from his personal experience.) Paul was assuredly speaking of his own experiences, and apparently even for him it was a rare occurrence. I have had this experience once, on Saturday, December 2, 1967. I remember it well.
But even if that level of direct experience of the Kingdom of God is rare, a connection with the “Kingdom that lies within” is not rare. It is possible to hold daily conversations with God, that is, both talking to and receiving responses on a consistent basis. I have spoken of this many times, and once you have found the path to reach to this level, connecting on this basis and expecting and receiving answers, comfort, especially comfort, and guidance can be a part of your life.
I am not worthy
Ah yes, I am not worthy. This disastrous advice is a common response by most major religions when asked about how to seek the council of God. This advice, frankly, is the advice of a group setting themselves up over others, to avoid serious questions that are difficult to answer, and demanding control of others. The phrase so often used is “you are not meant to know”. They are saying, with this statement that you are not worthy of God, that they, and only they, are worthy to tell you how to live your life, what not do, what to eat, what to study – to control your life as a child all of your life and not to become an adult who, as one made “in the Image and Like of God”, is worthy of seeing God face-to-face, now, as part of that “Kingdom of God that lies within.”
Genesis I starts off with the creation stories, and states: God created humanity in God’s own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.” (Genesis 1:27). God is beyond infinity, encompassing all that we know and so much more that we have not even guessed yet, and we are made in God’s image, the Image of the Divine Wisdom Herself. And anyone who has studied mathematics, it is a stated axiom that any subset of infinity is also infinity itself. And for the point that ‘image’ is not the object itself, mathematics states that when something is the image of another, they are equal to each other by default. That is if ‘a’=’b’, then a and b are the same. Are we equal to God in all things? Interesting question. Did not Jesus say “Greater things than this shall you do.”
Now I am not saying that we are equal to God in all ways, even though we are certainly capable to be as powerful as Jesus (Greater things than this shall you do) in the words of Jesus. Certainly we are worthy to be closer to God in all things. Certainly, by the word of God, in our inner being that never changes, what we call our soul, we are the Image of the Divine Wisdom, capable of anything we can image, if we move into a field of oneness between the mind and soul.
The Purpose of Life
This movement into oneness of the mind and soul is the purpose of Quiet Time, and the goal of meditation of all types. The Conversation with God series of books states the purpose of life in the most succinct way I have ever seen: “The purpose of life is to re-create yourself anew in the next grandest version of the grandest vision you ever held about Who You Are.” (Neale Donald Walsch, ‘What God Said’.) This statement of life’s purpose is breathtaking. We have all had a vision of ourselves that is much loftier than the one we seem to be now living, and most of time we are lost to that vision in the throws of everyday life, getting caught up with the next best thing or our job or finding money for the family, etc. etc. Then we remember something we had said we would do that seemed like such a great and lofty idea at the time, but it became lost in the rush of life. Maybe it is time to step back and look at that idea again, and move to see what can be done to accomplish it.
A critical part of that process is aligning yourself with the purpose of that goal, and to see if that goal is truly part of the greatest vision you have had for yourself. If it seems to be, perhaps now is the time. And meditation and Quiet Time need be a major part of that focus, so the new version of yourself will not be a flash in the pan but a step to ease the pain that is so prevalent in the world today. Mathew 25:35-36 states the preference of God in the words of Jesus: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in, naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.”
There are many meditation sources, and as stated, many of the methods listed under Quiet Time will lead directly into the silence of the soul, the goal of meditation. I especially like the more recent 20 minute meditation recordings of Deepak Chopra and Oprah, in units of 21 mediations on a topic.
If you wish to establish a daily routine of prayer and mind shift, I recommend strongly The Course In Miracles (ACIM), which is a year-long set of meditation practices meant to bring a person to a closer relationship with the Divine Wisdom, one step at a time. I have been through the course several times, and find it very useful in furthering my spiritual goals in life. This year a sung version by James Twyman (jamestwyman.tv) was released and is a powerful way to use the course, and James provides both a sung introduction, a reading of the daily lesson with emphasis on meaning, and a 2 minute reflection that fills in the meaning. I often can not find the time early in the day to listen, so I am not afraid to skip a day and pick up where I left off the next day.
Another way that was introduced by the Trappist Monk, Thomas Keating is Centering Prayer that many have found profoundly helpful. Centering prayer was developed from The Cloud of Unknowing, a fourteenth-century Christian mystical manual of the inner life. It is the process where a short reading from a spiritual book is read, then to sit quietly and let you mind just soak in and absorb the message. The recommended way to handle the chaotic stream of thoughts from the ego is to just let the thought float by and not let it catch your attention. The thought will just drift away and become a non-entity in the quieting process. This process may take some time to learn, for it is destroying the “death-grip” that the ego has on our consciousness, and permits the mind to reach beyond the ego in new ways. I have found it similar in style as what Eckhart Tolle teaches in learning to work only in the Now.
A spiritual teacher by the name of Osho has many forms and topics of a profound nature that have taught thousands how to meditate. He has many books, 20+, all devoted to bringing the reader into a more perfect alignment with the soul.
There are many, many more wonderful authors and leaders of meditation practices, and I could write a whole book and not cover all, so I will stop at these few as a starter. The internet is a strong place to find teachers, and if you are truly serious, then start looking.
Holy Wisdom, I am filled with Love for your Joy that you have brought into my life through prayer, Quiet Time, meditation, and contemplation. You have shown me even through struggles and pain that consistently returning to the Source will provide me with the strength and patience to find the way to Joy and Happiness, even though it may take much time. I am filled with gratitude for my life which has led to much deep discovery into the Eternal Realm that fills and surrounds us at all times, even when we are blinded to it’s existence. I ask that all be open to receive this gift of Joy that is available to all.