Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > ArisingOfNames


The Arising of Names In Meditative Prayer

Dec 11, 2004

To use another metaphor, if your particular mind is in communion with the Universal Mind, then, the potential is for some data known within the Universal Mind, connected to every other file in the cosmic computer, to move over some data into your mind-file without your conscious choice. So, it ought not surprise us, if we are practicing Silence, that we would receive “impressions,” “visions,” “images,” or “words” that are transmissions, or impartations, of universal Reason, or Word.

Note: As a Christian and serving vocationally in the United Methodist Church, I assume all divine revelation to exist within the interpretive matrix of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. When these are discerned properly, there will be no factual contradiction between any of these sources. Within the Church, Scripture takes foremost interpretive-place, not because it will always be true when one or the other proves false. No Truth can be false, thus, the four aspects of the interpretive matrix will never contradict among themselves. Scripture is the foundational Story for the existence and growth of the Church, and has been rightly noted to be a divine-human book. Within that Story, or interpretive basis, we enter the dynamic interplay of the other aspects of interpretation. The complexities of interpretation are what we call hermeneutics. Therefore, be aware that the following writing on what I call immediate revelation assumes a responsible use of the other components of hermeneutics and, thus, helps guard against the problem of relegating responsible interpretation to a run-away subjectivism that characterizes our “me” culture. We are not to believe just what “I want,” but seek Truth and Its truths.

As you deepen in the practice of meditative prayer—that is, especially after you have been habituated more to the Stillness and Quiet, rather than the turbulence of thought often a trait in early practice--, you may experience arising of names, as well as other mental phenomena. Spontaneous arising of names is a positive sign that Silence, in which you are entering deeper union with God, the Living Intelligence and Love pervading the Universe, is connecting you more deeply with the Thought of God and your union with others. This is an opening in which contemplative prayer re-emerges with intercessory prayer.


Yes, we need be aware that the arising of mental phenomena in meditation may or may not be substantial enough to warrant attention. The scope of this brief writing will not allow in depth guidelines of discernment in such matters. However, I make two notations. First, we need to avoid extremes in this matter. We need to be cautious of the rationalists and materialists, even in Christianity, who have no confidence that God is still communicating directly to us. These persons often have an idolatrous relationship with Scripture and a confidence that, somehow, God quit giving revelations. However, the other extreme is to assume any nice, or good-feely, or astonishing “spiritual message” is of God and needs attention. Second, anyone doing meditation needs a Spiritual Director, also called a Spiritual Friend, or Mentor, who can assist in discernment. This Mentor may or may not be trained as a Spiritual Director, but, it needs to be someone who has and is working with spiritual discernment and has proven character in life and been proven to be faithful in contemplative practice.

Recall, also, that union with God and others is a natural-spiritual fact and prior to the manifestation of that union. The felt experience of union with God is possible only because of a prior Fact of union with God. The felt experience of union with others is consequent of the same prior Fact. Therefore, when I write of phenomena arising in deepening union, I am speaking of a deepening experience of a prior union, in which we participate in God by Grace. We could say, then, the absolute fact is becoming lived fact.


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