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.
Christian Meditation Author: James Finley Description 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. Excerpt 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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