Saturday, April 21, 2007

praying from the center of our true selves

"Our meditation should begin with the realization of our nothingness and helplessness in the presence of God. This need not be a mournful or discouraging experience. On the contrary, it can be deeply tranquil and joyful since it brings us in direct contact with the source of all joy and life. But one reason why our meditation never gets started is perhaps that we never make this real, serious return to the center of our own nothingness before God. Hence we never enter into the deepest reality of our relationship with him.

"In other words we meditate merely “in the mind,” or in the imagination, or at best in the desires, considering religious truths from detached objective viewpoint. We do not begin by seeking to “find the heart”, that is, to sink into a deep awareness of the ground of our identity before God and in God. “Finding our heart” and recovering the awareness of our inmost identity implies the recognition that our external, everyday self is to a great extent a mask and a fabrication. It is not our true self. And indeed our true self is not easy to find. It is hidden in obscurity and "nothingness,” the center where we are in direct dependence upon God. But since the reality of all Christian meditation depends on this recognition, our attempt to meditate without it is in fact self-contradictory. It is like trying to walk without feet."

- “Contemplative Prayer”, pp. 69-71

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