Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Guest writer and CAC teacher James Finley continues to share insights on meditation (another word for contemplative prayer).
Reading the Gospels, we get the impression that Jesus was fully human from the ground up. He did not live out of his head. It was not mere ideas that he espoused, but deeply lived truths about what it means to be a fully alive human being. We see the glory of God in the fully alive human person of Jesus. And we see how Christ invites us and empowers us to see the glory of God in the flesh-and-blood human being we simply are and are called to be.
When we meditate, we enter the mind of Christ from the ground up. We settle into the mystery of the concrete immediacy of our breathing and our bodily being. We are quietly attentive to the thoughts and feelings that arise, endure, and pass away within us. Sitting in this way, we do not fly off into some eternal realm. Rather, we enter into the mind of Christ, which knows and is the divine generosity of the concrete immediacy of ourselves just as we are.
There are not two minds of Christ, one human and the other divine. Rather, the mind of Christ is the realized oneness of the divine and all that we are as human beings. Who we are in Christ is in no way reducible to our everyday, ordinary self. Nor is who we are in Christ in any way dualistically other than our ordinary self.
Sometimes we might believe that we are meditating to open ourselves to some kind of extraordinary experience beyond what we are accustomed to in our day-by-day life. And there is some truth in this. There are incremental degrees of spiritual awakening to oneness with God beyond ordinary experience. But as the spiritual journey continues to deepen, it comes full circle back to where we started. We get up in the morning and touch our feet to the floor. And we know that this ordinary experience of this utterly ordinary event is the mystery of oneness with God manifesting itself in and as this very ordinariness.
This is why we sit in meditation: so that we might settle into this ordinary mind; so that in becoming, at last, just ourselves, we might realize our eternal oneness with God. This ordinary mind, one with God, comes as an inarticulate certainty in the pit of the stomach. It comes as the kind of clarity characteristic of turning to see something beautiful and sensing immediately that it is beautiful. To enter the mind of Christ is to enter into the ordinary human awareness that God eternally contemplates in Christ the Word. To enter the mind of Christ is to enter into the ordinary human mind that God loves into being as your very ordinary awareness.
Gateway to Silence:
Rest in God resting in me.
Adapted from James Finley, Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God (HarperSanFrancisco: 2004), 116, 121, 191-192.