Father John Main, founder of the prayer called Christian Meditation, refers to where we find the “truly religious understanding of man.” This, Main contends, is not discovered “in terms of reward or punishment, but in terms of wholeness and division.” He writes, “The supreme religious insight in East and West is that all our alienations are resolved, and all our thinking and feeling powers united, in the heart…. (Word Into Silence)
Our meditative practices, as the practice of other Spiritual Disciplines, are not motivated by a desire to avoid punishment but by a desire to enter into Love more deeply, more fully. The writer of I John 4 reminds us of the blessing of love in removing any felt need to avoid punishment from the Divine:
17By this is love perfected (or, finished, made whole, complete) with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love (or, whole, complete love) casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected (or, made whole, complete) in love. 19We love because he first loved us. (ESV)
So, love is the source, motivating agency, and end of meditation. But, how does Christian Meditation, through love, resolve alienation? Alienation receives healing through simplification, or singleness. In meditation the disjointed energies are slowly rejoined, or reconciled, into wholeness, completeness.
Therefore—and this is where much religious teaching fails—, reconciliation, while theoretically received at a point in time, is practically a process over time. Hence, meditation, by means of the return to the Center, the True Self, or what Main and others refer to as the heart, is training in the healing of alienation by means of the reconciliation of our energies. Over time, we find that consistent practice in meditation leads toward our being a more whole, less distracted, and more present Person.
The heart is the center of will, the font of action. Aligning the heart with this love, which I John speaks of, transforms the heart to have the will to love and behaviors loving toward others:
Guard your heart above all else (or, with all diligence),
for it is the source of life (or, from it flow the springs of life).
(Proverbs 4.23, HCSB)
18 And He said to them, "Are you also as lacking in understanding? Don't you realize that nothing going into a man from the outside can defile him? 19For it doesn't go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated." … 20Then He said, "What comes out of a person—that defiles him. 21For from within, out of people's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders,22adulteries,greed, evil actions, deceit, lewdness, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.23All these evil things come from within and defile a person." (Mark 7, HCSB)
Sit in meditation. Take a word with spiritual significance to you and repeat it on each out-breath. Do this for at least ten minutes. Intend only to be present to the Spirit, who is Presence. Do this for at least a week. Consider expanding the practice, over time, to two times daily and to at least twenty minutes each meditation. Then, move to two meditations daily of at least thirty minutes each. Repeat the word from the beginning to the end of each meditation. If the mind wanders, return to the word. Do not judge yourself. Even advanced practitioners of meditation experience the “wandering mind,” or “monkey mind.”
For more on the above practice of meditation, go to www.wccm.org.
Another form of Christian meditation is Centering Prayer. You may prefer that form. For Centering Prayer go to www.centeringprayer.com.
I draw near to you, My Love, that I might be as you are, even as you, through the Word, are as I am. Amen.
Brian's book of mystical love poetry,
An Ache for Union, can be ordered through major bookdealers.
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
The People of the
United Methodist Church