A brief-but-brilliant reminder from John Main (1926-1982), Benedictine monk and master of mantra meditation. This is from his 1981 talk “The Present Christ” where he exhorted those gathered at the Montreal abbey that forgiveness of sin was not the response of a judge but instead the embrace of a Lover.
…prayer is not talking-to but being-with.
From the late Fr. John Main in The Present Christ: Further Steps in Meditation (1987):
Meditation is pure action that purifies all our other activities. It is pure because it is selfless, wholly other-centered. Most of our activities, our hopes and plans are carried out with a predominant concern for results, for their material worthwhileness. At its worst this concern is mere self-interest, egoism at its most intense. But any concern for results, for the fruit of action, betrays a possessiveness or attachment which disturbs the harmony of the energies deployed in the activity. In meditating day by day, however, humbly and ordinarily, beginning our pilgrimage at the point we have received the gift of faith to begin, wherever that may be, we set out into the mystery of selfless, other-centered activity. We may indeed begin meditating with a superficial concern for results, trying to estimate if our investment of time and energy is justified by returns in knowledge or ‘extraordinary’ experience. Perhaps anyone formed by our society is conditioned to begin in this way. But the ordinary practice of meditation purifies us of this spiritual materialism, as we enter into the direct experience of Being, of pure action, we find all our other activities progressively, radically, purified of egoism. To put this more simply–because meditation leads us into the experience ofl love at the center of our being, it makes us in our ordinary lives and relationships more loving persons. Meditation teaches us what theology alone found not convince us of, that Being is Love.
By Tommy Airey
It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than to be a soldier on the battlefield.
45 years ago, Jim Douglass wrote a little book called Resistance and Contemplation (1972), urging radical disciples to take seriously both the personal and political–what he called “the yin and the yang of the Movement.” In the second chapter, he recounts the last talk that Thomas Merton (photo right) gave, just hours before his death from electrocution in that Bangkok bathtub in 1968. Merton told the story of Tibetan Buddhist monks being driven out of their homeland by Communist revolutionaries. The elder monk tells the fretting younger protege, “From now on, Brother, everybody stands on his own feet.” Continue reading
From John Main in The Present Christ: Further Steps in Meditation (1986):
Christ’s forgiveness of our sin is not the reprieve of a judge but the embrace of a lover. Our redemption is our being brought near–so near, in Christ, that we can no longer focus on God as an external object with the mind’s eye but are instead taken beyond all images to be in the presence of the truth, revealed in silence; the eye with which we see is the eye that sees us. Our vision itself is Christ.