Quote for the Day

Whatever form of meditation you practice, it is in essence simply a method for detaching yourself from thinking (which tends to reinforce the egoic process) long enough for you to begin to trust this other, deeper intelligence moving inside you. It provides you with another way to think: from "beyond the mind" — which, incidentally, is what the word metanoia, usually translated as "repentance," actually means. — Cynthia Bourgeault, Mystical Hope … [Read more...]

The ENDS of Prayer

Recently a monk shared this with me. His is a markedly apophatic approach to spirituality, so this may not speak to everyone. But for the monk and I suppose anyone else who shares his approach to prayer, this little mnemonic is a tool to assist in remembering the contours of deep contemplation.It involves remembering the "ENDS" of prayer, in this way: Emptiness Nothingness Darkness Silence Of course, entering into the emptiness, nothingness, darkness and silence of contemplation is not to … [Read more...]

Christian Meditation in the Fourth Century

If there is any monk who wishes to take the measure of some of the more fierce demons so as to gain experience in his monastic art, then let him keep careful watch over his thoughts. Let him observe their intensity, their periods of decline and follow them as they rise and fall. Let him note well the complexity of his thoughts, their periodicity, the demons which cause them, with the order of their succession and the nature of their associations. Then let him ask from Christ the explanations of … [Read more...]

Meditation Minutes

"Seven times a day I praise You." — Psalm 119:164 I took a class on spiritual formation from the Shalem Institute in Washington, DC, back in the mid-1980s. The instructor, Isabella Bates, led us through a variety of meditative and contemplative practices. We met every Saturday morning from November through May for two and a half hours. It was a wonderful class. One thing that Isabella said, toward the end of the class, has stayed with me over the past 25 years. Commenting on the relationship b … [Read more...]

New Books on Christian-Buddhist Dialogue

Three new books have recently come to my attention, all of which look quite tasty; all of which are concerned with the great conversation between Buddhism and Christianity. I've begun reading the one by Alan Wallace, and so far it's wonderful. I plan on blogging more about these titles as or after I read them, but I thought I'd post them now to recommend them to all of you who share my interest in interreligious dialogue and in the spiritual practice of learning about other faiths as a way of … [Read more...]

On Learning a Musical Instrument as a Metaphor for Contemplative Practice

I'm a beginner with the bass guitar. I bought an inexpensive Ibanez bass the January before last and took about four months of lessons, but then stopped as I got more involved in writing my book on Christian mysticism. Now, over a year later, the book is on my editor's desk and I've resumed working with the bass. Thanks to a rather lucrative freelancing job I had earlier this year, I've upgraded my gear and am now learning with a Rickenbacker bass (I am not worthy to be playing such a wonderful … [Read more...]

Patience

I am not a particularly patient person. My house is full of books that I may never get around to reading, but I keep buying new ones, because I'm just a wee bit compulsive about having new books and also because I'm not patient enough to let a book stay at the bookstore (or at Amazon.com) until I need it. Meditation is also a daily struggle with my own impatience at the intransigence of my monkey mind. Wait for a slow unfolding of my deep relaxed self? Well, that would be okay, except for the … [Read more...]


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