Christian Meditation by P-HarpercollinsPubl


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									Christian Meditation
Author: James Finley

Enter a Monastery Without WallsChristian Meditation introduces an ancient practice to a contemporary
audience. James Finley, a former monk and student of Thomas Merton, presents the fundamentals of
both understanding and practicing Christian meditation. He provides simple, helpful instructions, as well
as explaining the deeper connection with the divine that meditation can bring. Above all, he makes clear
that the aim of meditation is to allow us to experience divine contemplation — the presence of God.

Divine DestinationThe reflections in these pages are intended to serve as aguide in understanding and
practicing Christian meditation. In broader terms, these reflections are intended to helpthose who are
being interiorly drawn toward meditation as agrounding place for learning to be a more awake,
compassionate,Christlike human being.In an attempt to be as helpful as I can be to as many peopleas
possible, I have written this book with both the serious beginnerand the experienced meditator in mind.
For the seriousbeginner, these reflections will introduce basic ways of understandingwhat Christian
meditation is, along with guidelineson how to practice it. This attention to the particular needs ofbeginners
does not, however, mean that our inquiry will not be,at times, challenging. This is so primarily because
meditationitself is challenging in the ways it draws us into a wordlessawareness of oneness with God
beyond what thoughts cangrasp or words can adequately convey. The truth is that we canventure into
meditation only in our willingness to be, at times, perplexed. What is more, we must be willing to befriend
ourperplexity as a way of dying to our futile efforts to grasp theungraspable depths that meditation invites
us to discover.It is with more experienced meditators in mind that thesereflections explore more refined
and subtle levels of realizedoneness with God. This does not mean, however, that we willbe dealing with
lofty matters far removed from the concernsof those just beginning their spiritual journey. For, as youhave
no doubt discovered, the further we travel along the selftransformingpath of meditation, the more we
realize ourselvesto be immersed in beginnings that never end. To bemore advanced in meditation means,
paradoxically, to discoverthat the oneness with God we seek was wholly present,without our realizing it,
in the humble origins of our spiritualjourney. To be more advanced in meditation means to be inthe
process of realizing that God is wholly present in eachstep along our way to divine fulfillment. It is to be
someoneslowly awakening to the divine destination of our journeymanifesting itself in the divinity of our
own breathing, ourown beating heart, our simply being who we are. Or, to paraphrasea line in T. S. Eliot's
poem Four Quartets, to be moreadvanced in meditation means to realize that "the end of allour exploring
will be to arrive where we started and know theplace for the first time. "I am committing myself to being
as true as I can to theessential spirit of the Christian contemplative traditions. Thisessential spirit is the
Spirit of God, groaning within us that wemight awaken to our eternal oneness with God as revealed to
usin Christ (Rom. 8:26). Down through the centuries and intoour own day, Christian mystics, monks and
nuns living inmonasteries, hermits, and countless seekers living in the worldhave yielded to the
transforming power of the Spirit of God within us. It is to these monastic, mystical traditions of
Christianfaith that we will be turning for guidance and inspiration.This specifically Christian focus is not,
however, intendedto suggest that Christians cannot benefit from Yoga, Zen, andother faith traditions. It
would, in fact, be tempting as we gothrough these reflections to note the stunning affinity thatsometimes
exists between Christian and non-Christian sourcesof spiritual wisdom. But to do so would take us away
from thiswork's intention of exploring specifically Christian ways ofunderstanding meditation as a way of
experiencing onenesswith God, one with us in life itself.This stance of limiting myself to specifically...
Author Bio
James Finley
James Finley is a former Trappist monk who studied closely with Thomas Merton. He is the author of
Thomas Merton’s Palace of Nowhere. He is now a renowned psychological and spiritual counselor in
Santa Monica, CA, who leads retreats and workshops on a regular basis throughout North America.

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