http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... December 16, 2003


In This Issue: Christian Meditation

1. Information About Christian Meditation
2. Christian Meditation
...Tom Adams
3. The Pitfalls of Christian Meditation
...Sister Mary (Meg) Margaret Funk

4. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: Irish Community for Christian Meditation
5. Book/CD/Movie Review: Tools Matter
...by Sister Mary Margaret Funk, OSB


1. Information About Christian Meditation


Meditation is simple and practical. It is about experience rather than theory, a way of being rather than merely a way of thinking. Indeed, it is even more than a way of prayer; it is a way of life, a way of living from the deep centre of one's being.

The focus of meditation is Christocentric. This means that it is centered on the prayer of Christ which is continuously poured forth in the Holy Sprit in the depth of each human being. Deeper than all ideas of God is God himself. Deeper than imagination is the reality of God. Thus, in this way of 'pure prayer' we leave all thoughts, words and images behind in order to "set our minds on the kingdom of God before all else." In this way we leave our egotistical self behind to die and rise to our true self in Christ through Christian Meditation.

Meditators therefore undertake an inner journey of silence, stillness and simplicity. They embrace poverty of spirit, a radical letting-go, as the primary beatitude of the Kingdom. The way taught by the early desert monks such as John Cassian is to go beyond all distractions of thoughts, words and images. One takes a single sacred word or phrase (a 'mantra') and simply and faithfully repeats it during the period of meditation. John Main recommended the ancient Christian prayer 'maranatha.' In Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, it means "Come Lord Jesus" and should be repeated silently, interiorly, as four equally stressed syllables. Whatever thought, image or feeling comes, simply and faithfully return to the mantra. Two periods of meditation of about 20 to 30 minutes are advisable, at the beginning and end of each day. A quiet time and place, an upright posture, fidelity and perseverance are all that is required.

Christian Meditation is the missing contemplative dimension of much Christian life today. It does not exclude other types of prayer and indeed deepens one's need for the eucharist and one's reading of scripture.

To many, Christian Meditation may be an unfamiliar way of prayer despite its ancient place in Christian tradition. Meditation teaching allows ordinary people to recognize the seeds of contemplation within themselves. Meditation acknowledges the potential of the "holiness of all the people of God." Most meditation groups today are led by lay people. In this renewal of a Christian tradition of prayer there is also great potential for Christians of all denominations to meet in common faith and indeed for all people of all religions to meet in their common humanity.

Harness the power of Christian Meditation today!

2. Christian Meditation ...Tom Adams


Our post-modern culture with its emphasis on technology, the intellect and materialism, has obscured the deeper meaning in life, the essence from which all things manifest. There is a great need today to move our focus of attention from obsessive identification with the intellectual, thinking mind, to a more integrative approach that includes the heart. We need to return to heartfelt faith, based on our personal experience, grounded and guided through traditional teachings and practices with wisdom and love. Due to the rejection of its mystical roots, {the essence of the path in Christianity}, worship in many Christian churches has transformed into a superficial form of practice concerned more with outer achievement oriented goals ie. growth of the Church, moral and ethical rules, rite and ritual, theological debate and other mental busyness. Although these external practices are useful, they do not fully nourish the soul. The impersonal theory and theology that we think and talk so much about, are not enough, we need to meditate. A Christian meditative discipline will help us recover the essential truth of human nature.

Psalms 49:1-3

Hear this all you people; give ear, all you inhabitants of the world: Both low and high, rich and poor, together, My mouth shall speak of wisdom and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

Psalms 63:5

My soul shall be satisfied… When I remember you upon my bed and meditate on you


Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…for his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law does he meditate day and night.

I Corinthians 3:16-20 

Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? …the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written. He takes the wise in their own craftiness. And again the Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise (in the ways of the world), are in vain.

The historically based contemplative practices used to be restricted to the contemplative community of monks; however, they have now been made available to everyone, and are essential for Christians to realize union with the Christ, with God, through actual direct personal experience. Living a full life as a dedicated disciple of Jesus requires us to meditate in the depth of our being. The purest and ultimate goal in spiritual practice is to fully realize one’s complete union and identification with God, the Source of all, the true Self. We must leave the limited self behind and follow the master and his teachings in a return to God.

The practice of meditation has been used in the Christian church since its very beginning. In the Fourth century, A monk named  John Cassian went looking for personal instruction by the “Desert Fathers”, who were Christian monks meditating  in utmost simplicity and silence in the Egyptian desert. One of the monks whom John Cassian met named Abba Isaac taught him about the ceaseless prayer of the heart, a continual recollection of the holy presence of God and, How to Do It!

Meditation requires a leap in faith because we must dare to die to our limited but known self, before we truly experience and unite with God, the True Self; which we cannot realize through the rational thinking mind. We must become simple, clear, still and empty so that we can be filled with Everything, the infinite love, compassion and wisdom of God, within our own hearts, our own being.

Jesus said, “The man who would find his way must first lose it,” 


You, who do not forsake all that you have, cannot be my disciple.


He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates (detaches from) his life in this world shall have life eternal


“God is a spirit ; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 


…study to be quiet…


And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence… in heaven


Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him

Psalms 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Jesus said, “the kingdom of Heaven dwells within.”

John Cassian says this about the practice of meditation and the use of “the word”, the mantra, “This mantra must always be in your heart. When you go to sleep let it be saying this verse, till having been molded by it, you grow accustomed to repeat it even in your sleep.” Upon waking and throughout the rest of day, it should be resonating continuously in the depths of the heart. In the beginning it will require some effort and be mostly in your mind, but with practice you will feel it in your heart and eventually the mantra will flow within you on its own, like “living water” and you will be very still and simply listen to the mantra flow through you.”

The author of the “Cloud of Unknowing”, a 14th Century manual on Christian meditation says to choose “a word” that has meaning for you and once you have chosen “the word” the mantra, to let go of the meaning and simply listen to its sound. The mantra is a simple tool used to bring oneself to the state of silence and simplicity, into the presence of your Lord and spiritual Master.

Matt6:6 -8…when you pray, enter into your closet (the body) and when you have shut the door (to the thinking mind, judging mind), pray to your Father which is in secret ( in silence); and your Father which sees in secret will reward you openly. But when you pray, use not vain repetition as the heathens do ( mantra must be practiced with full attention, faith and love or it is ineffective ); for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Therefore, don’t be like them; for your Father knows what things you need, before you ask him.( do not petition the Lord with prayer, rest in the silence, the stillness and await the Lord)

Here are some of the more common mantras used for meditation in the Christian tradition.

A-men –  the Word,

Am-ma – the divine Mother,

Ab-ba –   heavenly Father,

Hum-sa – name of God in ancient Sanscrit, and means,  I AM THAT or I AM,

Ma-ra-na-tha –  come Lord; in ancient Aramaic.


John 1:1,3-4, 12 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him; and without him there was not anything made that was unmade. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

Exodus 3:13-14

And Moses said to God, Behold when I come to the children of Israel and shall say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they say to me, What is his name? what shall I say to them? And God said to Moses… I AM THAT I AM; and he said, tell them I AM has sent you to them.

Meditation is a practice of silence, stillness and simplicity. We use a mantra, the word of God, in conjunction with the natural rhythm of our breath, to help us stay present and alert, so that we can concentrate on union with God. As thoughts, words, other imaginary images and distractions arise into our minds we acknowledge them with non-judgmental awareness and gently return our attention back to the mantra and breath immersed in the sacred presence. We learn to let go of all ego-centered views, dualistic thinking, false views, selfishness and any other illusions that are the source of our suffering. Meditation is not an intellectual exercise or theological reflection; we don’t think about God at all, we practice to be with God, to experience the presence of Christ Consciousness, the power of the Holy Spirit within us right now in this present moment.. This type of ancient prayer form will bring us to a sense of deep union in our being, then with the being of others, with nature, and finally with Absolute Being, God.

Matthew10:34, 37-40  

Don’t think that I have come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace but a sword.   He that loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. He that finds his life shall lose it; and he that loses his life shall find it.

The sword mentioned here refers to the sword of discrimination or wisdom that we must use to cut through all our limiting thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and concepts, relating to our false identification with the limited self or ego, which exists separate from God. We must let go of all attachments, (to gradually die to the limited self in order to be born again in the eternal Self.


There is nothing from outside a man, that enters into him that can defile him: but the things that come out of him, those are the things that defile him. If any man have ears to hear let him hear.  And when he entered into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he said to them. Are you so without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever things entering a man from without cannot defile him? Because it does not enter into his heart, but into the belly… And he said, That which comes out of a man, that is what defiles him. For from within, out of the hearts of man, proceed evil thoughts.


Therefore you should watch and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all the things that shall come to pass (from within the hearts and minds of man) and to stand before the Son of man.


“With deep roots and firm foundations, may you be strong to grasp with all God’s people what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ and to know it though it is beyond knowledge ( thinking ). So may you attain to fullness of being, the fullness of God himself.”  

In the Judaic tradition, in which Jesus lived, the ruach or “breath of God” was the spiritual force that gave life. The word spirit comes from the Latin word “spiritus” which means breath. Also, it has been said that life and death are only one breath away. When we inhale or (inspire) we are filled with inspiration, we recognize the Divine within and when we exhale or expire we surrender our limited self and further merge with God, Absolute Being.  So the breath is considered the connection to life and death, and God.


And the Lord formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.

John 20:21-22 

Then Jesus said to them, Peace be with you; as my Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit.

Merely thinking and talking about the roots of Christianity is not enough.  We have to put the teachings of Jesus, and the mystics of the church into practice. Here is a simply guide to a beginning meditation with the breath.


1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, with your spine straight.

2. Be attentive to your breath, the breath of life. The breath of God.

3. Listen to the breath coming in with the sound “HUM” going out with the sound “SA” HUM-SA means “I AM THAT” or “I AM”

4. Let the breath be natural, do not control it, it may speed up or slow down.

5. The breath comes in and there is a space, the breath goes out and there is a space. Be aware of the space between the breath. Meditate there.

6. Rest in the still space between the breaths, that space where no thought exists, simply “ be” in the stillness, in “I AM”.

7. Meditate twice a day, begin with 20 minutes and gradually expand to one hour.

Meditate at the same times every day.

8. Find an experienced teache to guide your meditation practice

It is important to take note here that the “I” referred to in the mantra “I AM”  is not the egotistical “I” which we usually identify with our personality self, but instead refers to the absolute SELF, the non- dualistic “I AM”, which is free of attachment to the ups and downs, happy and sad, the constant coming and going of dualistic thinking in which we are usually mired down.


And the Lord said to Satan, where did you come from ? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

There are many mantras and methods of meditation “many mansions”, however this is the simplest, most natural and most effective that I have experienced, and it is a practice common to all the major world religions. This teaching and practice may be simple, however, because of its simplicity it can be difficult to do. Our modern minds and hearts are so complex and full of distractions we tend to resist the return to silence and simplicity. We need patience and a consistent motivation and effort in the beginning stages of practice until our minds become more focused and clear, so that we can rest in God, without the mind wandering to and fro.

3. The Pitfalls of Christian Meditation ...Sister Mary (Meg) Margaret Funk - From Benedict's Dharma 2, a Buddhist/Christian Retreat - http://www.benedictsdharma2.org


REV. KUSALA: Sr. Meg, yesterday we had many questions about the pitfalls of Christian meditation, and I was wondering if you could share with us your experiences and your insights on that subject.

SR. MEG: Okay, I knew that this time would be very brief, so I'm going to ask you to indulge me, I need to be very direct. If we were starting, or you were a group of spiritual directors or even my own community, I'd be a little bit softer. I'm going to be just as direct as I can.

First I'd like to say Jane's question at the end was a critical question for the Christian tradition. She even had a pointing to this higher power; that she lifts up her humble self to God, and then in humility would receive. She kept asking Kusala, what's the source of the Buddha's wisdom; and Kusala kept saying, "His own effort, wisdom, and compassion," you know. And then she said, "Well, who's home?" And he said, "There's nobody home." So, notice the two parts there. There is nobody there, and there is nobody here.

Now, in the Christian tradition, Jane also said with astute perception, that's exactly the opposite of the way we come at this. It's not wrong, but there are two truths here. He starts with the unitive; that there is only emptiness, and in the emptiness, there is really nothing.

REV. KUSALA: Yes, exactly.

SR. MEG: So, there is an emptiness. That's hard for us to grasp. We start with God being our creator, and we are a creature, so we start with duality. Well then, who brings us to this unity is Christ, and Christ for Christians is not negotiable. Jesus the Christ is not negotiable. If Jesus was human, who was the Christ, brings us to this, through the Holy Spirit, brings us to this same place or the same experience, this unity.

Now, meditation leads us to this experience of unity, even the experience of unitive consciousness, so sometimes we feel this oneness. But our training is lacking in emptiness training. So the danger for us is in the oneness, you think you are God. It feels like God is in the center, and then you start acting out of your center. The question is: Is it God, is it me, or is it emptiness?

The training is to be empty so that God works through us, which is a very advanced level of meditation practice. But if you do it to quickly, it can become big problem.

Now, that's the whole story, but let me go through the steps.

When you start meditating, there is an introduction to the practice, and you start feeling, and you get your practice, maybe Christian meditation, maybe a centering prayer, maybe a Jesus prayer. There are Christians that go to Hindu practice, a lot of body practice, yoga practices that also does the same thing.

The most skillful Catholic priest I know that does a Hindu practices through Christianity is Tom Ryan, he's at St. Paul Church in New York. He is very skillful.

All right, you start your practice. You feel body and mind as being one. You have the sense of mind slowing down and clearing up. These are just side effects: You are more balanced. Your health improves. Your body is more limber. You renounce your sins. Some people give up smoking. Your sex life gets ordered. Your food intake is moderate. There are lots of good side effects to meditation.

But then very soon, after about three months the difficulties start rising. The first difficulty is, it takes a lot of strength to practice, you start to see how much strength it takes to get started every day, to wake up an hour earlier. It's hard to practice when you're sick, to stay in a posture, to get your room set up so that it's quiet. The strength needed to practice is enormous, you might even need a meditation group to help you practice.

The second difficulty that arises when you're doing your practice is, it is no longer as sweet. Difficulties start rising. The afflictions rise stronger and harder. You become more grouchy, not less in your home life, and you start saying, "Wow, what's happening?" Your practice is breaking up levels of your subconscious, this newly released energy floats up from your unconscious to your conscious. Sometimes when you sit in meditation you might break down crying or start laughing, you can't seem to control yourself-- stuff just happens, and your thoughts become wild.

The third stage is when there is the unloading of the unconscious. Thomas Keating has a lot of training with the false self system breaking up, you just continue to unload and all that. It's normal in meditation. It just happens. But sometimes there are problems.

Now I'm going to stop here for a moment, and go through six problems with meditation , and then I'll get back to the difficulties.

The first problem I see is, if you've ever done drugs or too much alcohol, the brain is not ready to meditate. It may be never be ready.

Usually, when I have somebody coming to me, and I hear what their problems are in meditation, and I find out that they've done drugs, even just marijuana, they probably shouldn't meditate. There are other ways in the Christian tradition to come to that very same place, not through the door of meditation practice, because we believe in just this one lifetime.

There are other practices, meditation may be too powerful for some people. You don't need to meditate. There are other ways. And I can share with you what those other ways are, but I'm going to stay with meditation this morning. So drugs are an impediment to meditation.

There are some people who still do drugs and meditate, but to be honest, they don't meditate very deeply. That's just how they cope. They either use a consciousness meditation with music, or they do visualization, but they don't go down to this very deep place of emptiness.

Number two, about women, I'm trusting that we are all friends here, abortion. Any woman who has had an abortion, will find it very difficult to go to a deep level in their meditation practice. You might say, "Well, aren't they the ones that need it the most?" Well, again, I'd say there are other ways.

An abortion is a very serious breach of life. Now, you can come to peace after an abortion, with reconciliation and love. A counselor that I worked with, and a psychiatrist I worked with, and my own practice of listening to women, lead me to believe that three out of five Catholic women have had abortions. High. Higher than you might think. It's just part of our culture, and it's okay. It's okay.

Well, let's deal with it. Let's be up front with it, and let's just pick up where we really are. There are ways through the abortion experience that you can come to this experience of unity with God and feel fine. I've recommended the Rachel program. I recommend the true confession of sin, and then moving on. It's not an obstruction to your spiritual life; it's a way through. I recommend reading the book, Harlots of the Desert.

You know, when you get to the desert fathers and mothers, the 200 women and men, who did they go to, to lay out their thoughts?

Yes, Ruth?

RC: Women.

SR. MEG: Yes, the harlots, they had great humility. There is a marvelous book translated by Benedicta Ward, "The Harlots of the Desert." I'd give that to every woman who has had an abortion experience.

LH: Meg, if somebody has gone through the abortion process, maybe the programs that you've talked about, and maybe they have gone through the process of healing, could they then perhaps be involved in meditation, or do you think it's a closed door?

SR. MEG: Well, I'll just say my experience is that they'll go back to meditation, but I've never seen them do the type of meditation that is closer to the Buddhist type of meditation, in either the concentration or the receptivity. I think it's healthier for them not too meditate.

They might do the relationship practice of relating to a mate and being open then to a healthy sexuality, or even a celibate practice, they have a lot they can do, without meditating.

There is no sense of opening too deeply to the emptiness that brings back the terrible depth of pain that they've had through the abortion. Now, I would never say it directly, but usually they are not called to meditate. That's more the point.

Okay. The next level is mental illness. People that have had serious mental breakdowns or are taking medication because of schizophrenia or bipolar or multiple personalities. They always seem to end up on retreats because they are in a lot of pain, and they seek the benefit of the interior world. They can be very wise, and usually extremely intelligent.

Should they meditate? The answer is no. Really, no. There are other ways, again, through mindfulness above the river, staying faithful to their medication, being at one with the pain and sorrow they've had.

So mental illness is -- and they also -- we've had suicides. The risk of meditation practice is too high for them. Your risk as a teacher or a spiritual director is too high.

It's very hard with the mentally healthy to go this deeply under the river stuff, let alone people that are mentally unhealthy. We don't know what other forces might be working inside of them.

Okay, moving right along, the next group is the psychic phenomena folks. Some people are very open. They receive psychic phenomena. They are just paraspiritual.

I directed a retreat not too long ago with five or six Santa Domingo women as part of the group. They had a strong sense of the dead, the unliving. These cultures have much more of that kind of thing than we do in United States. They needed a very strong mental state to enter into the zones where that phenomena lives, they need a lot more training. That's another interesting level.

The fifth group are the people that overdo everything, they might access kundalini energy quickly -- lights, bells, whistles, and sexual energies rising. They need to disqualify themselves, because it needs to be a slow practice, so that your whole inner level of energies can accept it when kundalini rises.

Kundalini is an energy that once it opens, can never be put to sleep again, it's very serious. None of the people I know are advanced enough to guide people once the kundalini opens. It can be pretty scary stuff.

The sixth area is false teachers. False teachers are people who at some level take the disciple, and become the need, rather than servicing the need. It usually shows up as sex, I have story after story about this.

Whenever there is touching, physical touching with a disciple or a student, it is always a bad sign. Not sometimes. Always.

There are these advanced spiritual folks that run around hugging people. The point is, they can give you these energies, yes, but it really would be better for somebody else to do it. You really should get your physical contact from friends, a mate, or a partner. Not through a spiritual teacher. We don't have enough walls to defend ourselves from that.

That leads me to the next domain, and then we'll have to get -- oh, gosh, it's time for Mass already.

We have to be very cautious in the spiritual domain of Reiki energy massage, all that touching manipulates spiritual energies, but what you might get is the practitioners spiritual energy.

The problem is as I see it , and Reiki does work, and it can heal. But the Reiki practitioners may mix whatever they have, any afflictive emotional programs that they have, with your energy. Just saying a little mantra isn't strong enough to purify everything. You really have to have a pure life.

The problem isn't the Reiki practice. The problem is who's doing the practice, and in my opinion most are not far enough along, to be doing what they're doing. For instance, they should be able to fast for 30 days before they do any Reiki body work on you.

To become a Reiki practitioner, it may only take two or three weekends to become certified, they look at it as, it's what they do, not who they are. It's the energies of the unseen you have to be really careful of.

You might come back a week or two later, and you've got all these phantoms living in your head. Stuff you've never had before, and what happened is, they just moved from the Reiki practitioner to you.

I'm moving to the last thing. We go down below the river to the dark forces, and there are a lot of them, the dark forces. They are demonic and they do have form, they do have force.

First you get the gifts, the forces of light. If they can't get to you through food, sex, things, and anger, they'll get you through pride or the angels of light. They have powers.

It's possible to see into people's hearts. You can see ahead in time or behind in time; the gifts of light, they are not that hard to get. They come sometimes through angels of light, which means they are really dark forces getting at you, through light forces.

It's the pride. You have to be very careful of people that have powers, anybody that has powers. What you want in a teacher is humility, not powers, because those powers, where do they come from?

Then there are the dark powers. People talk about dark nights of the soul. All right, a dark night of the soul is someone not going through just normal afflictions of food, sex, anger, you know, death and all that. That's normal, they are afflictions.

A dark night of the soul is when you've experienced light, and then the darkness follows. It's all about God. God is missing. What happens in those dark nights is, light forces come and give you light, but they could be lights of evil, not lights of good. That is where you need direction, sorting out good lights from dark lights.

There are really dark forces. People really do hand themselves over to dark forces, and they end up needing an exorcism. As often as three times a year, I find somebody full of darkness, just full of darkness. I don't see halo's, usually, but you can just about see them. They are usually red, or they are gray and smoky.

I know people that can see spirits, they come in through doors and run around rooms and all of that. I'll ask them, well, what do they look like, and they always give me the same description. They are kind of smoky in the light. They have little red eyes, and they've got little -- like that picture on the wall, like that picture of Pan in Kusala's room.

JO: Yeats says it best: Where holy Dionysus once stood, a staring virgin stands. She took his heart from out his breast and held it in her hand. This is the transition from paganism to Christianity. Yeats said it best.

SR. MEG: Do you want to say it again?

JO: I'm paraphrasing, I'm sorry.

Once where holy Dionysus stood, a holy virgin stands, and took his heart from out his breast and held it in her hand.

It was a transition. St. Oren was a druid in Iona who worshiped the sun, and then Columba came and said, we worship the son behind the sun, and he was converted.

But we must always remember those moments of transition from where we first came, and how far we've come.

SR. MEG: And yet it's baptized, it's handed over to our hearts.

JO: Took his heart and held it in her hand. Yeats said it best.

SR. MEG: See, again, we are part of the cosmos, we believe that God through us is continuing creation, and we through God. Christ has already canceled out all evil, so we don't have to worry about that.

But meditation practice, especially if you go into too much emptiness, certain forces fill the emptiness. We don't have the strength, we don't have the teachers, and we don't have the teachings.

In my book "Tools Matter," the last chapter on discernment, I pulled together the teachings on the demonic from Cassian. You can find it there in John Cassian, who again Benedict presumed we knew, which we don't. So, in our tradition we have to be to be aware of, but not afraid of it.

That's the reason for holy water. That's the reason for the crucifix. That's the reason for the Jesus prayer, "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner." So, we let God do it through us.

The emptiness of Buddhism, is Christ to the Christian, not no-self. There is nobody home.

If it's us, that's self effort, with a big scoop of ego self, and it could even be the fallen self, it could be evil. That's the biggest battle, good and evil. Meditation is a very serious way in which we are more vulnerable to those forces. It's good, but it also has the danger of evil.

That's why it was canceled out many times by the church, because often the demonic arose instead of the goodness. In our tradition, when you do have phenomena that rises, you must dash it on the foot of Christ, or get it verified by a wise director.

So, here is the guideline: Anything that rises in meditation, we let go of. Anything! Good, evil, anything. We are just dwelling in front of our Lord; so, anything that rises, we lay aside.

Now, in our consciousness what rises, let's say to speak to our Lord, depending on what your path is. Above the river we can be more confident, yes, that is our Lord asking us to have a dialogue with him. But in our unconsciousness, under the river, usually nothing should be held on to. But sometimes we can't let go, because we are out of our domain.

If you are above the river, you know, through prayers and devotion and imaging, you can use your mind there. But below, we need to let go of everything that rises. Those things may not authentic.

JO: Jung would disagree with you. Our subconscious is full of everything, of course, but it's also an energy, our shadow side. The shadow is not necessarily bad; it's the unacknowledged side.

SR. MEG: Right, but don't you deal with it above the river instead of under the river?

JO: You can bring it up and deal with it in the light.

SR. MEG: I wouldn't bring it up. I would let it rise, and then deal with it.

JO: Then deal with it after it comes up.

SR. MEG: Jung is a good example of somebody who is not Christian. He is not Christian. He is self-effort. He is Hindu in his philosophy.

That is where we differ. We would let it rise, and then it's -- see, in other words, God isn't the center for Jung. The self is the center. It's functional transcendent, not transcendent functional. The transcendent is not at the center. That is where we would really differ.

That's why it's very dangerous for us to uncritically go to these places, which is what he did. He went to Hinduism to bring his marvelous stuff together, but it isn't the Christian tradition, and we really have to be careful.

I thought it was marvelous the way you got Kusala to talk about, "Isn't there somebody up there?" And he said, "No." And then you said, "Well, then who is doing this?" And he said, "Nobody."

We would say there is somebody, because we are a creature, and it's through Christ that we do this dynamic, because of Jesus being human. There is nothing like that in the Hindu or the Buddhist tradition. In the Asian tradition, they have no Christ who is also God.

Yesterday was the feast of Athanasius, and he combated the Arian heresy. The Arian heresy is basically the Hindu idea that we would all become gurus through many lifetimes, and that we are really god from the get-go.

Whereas, we don't think so. We say we are creatures from the get-go, and through Christ we become God. So, there is a basic fundamental difference there. It comes to the same point, but you could see our humility is different, and our training is different.

That's the way I understand it.

4. Irish Community for Christian Meditation


Introduction to and Experience of Meditation for Beginners

Every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. there is a special talk and practice for beginners to Christian meditation in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. You don't need any appointment just come along and a teacher will always be there to welcome you and help in any way needed.

The venue is at:

4 Eblana Avenue
Dun Laoghaire
Phone 01.280.7827
Fax 01.280.8720
email maranatha@wccmireland.org

5. Tools Matter ...by Sister Mary Margaret Funk, OSB


Sister Mary Margaret Funk turns to the wisdom of the desert fathers for the means of removing obstacles to spiritual growth, which include thoughts of food, sex, possessions, anger, dejection, and pride, among other preoccupations. Redirecting thought away from such weeds in the garden of the spirit can lead to a greater awareness of God. This somewhat Zen-like method to mental discipline may seem impossible at first, Funk admits, but those who succeed at it are rewarded with a liberating experience as they come to observe and control individual thought processes. Drawing on the writings of the fifth-century monk John Cassian, Funk goes on to explore deeply using such tools as memory, imagination, and rational thinking--tools right out of early Christianity--to work on inner healing. She also explains how other positive tools, such as ceaseless prayer, manual labor, and isolation, may lead to uncluttering the mind and purifying the heart. Worthy guidance for contemplative spiritual seekers. June Sawyers - Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Amazon.com - Reviewer: Sharon Salzberg from Barre, Ma. United States

This is a lovely new book by Mary Margaret Funk. It reads as both a source of inspiration and a practical guide for the development of spiritual practice. The importance of having tools and knowing how to use them as we tend "the garden of our souls" is articulated in a fresh and accessible way.

While it draws on practices from the early Christian tradition, the depth and universality of its message is applicable to anyone on a contemplative path. Tools do matter; they provide us with the means to bring our spiritual practice to life in an ongoing way. Many thanks to the author for this important manual of the heart.

Amazon.com - Reviewer: Pascaline Coff from Sand Springs, Oklahoma USA

God's call to contemplation is universal, Bede Griffiths, a greatly revered English monk who died in India in 1993 insisted, but the reason the "call" is not effective is because of a lack of receptivity. Meg Funk in this present volume offers us all a handbook for spiritual receptivity - more than 25 Christian prayer methods (tools) for our cooperation in becoming receptive to the gift of God's Sprit given without limit.

Sr.Meg truly takes her readers "back to the sources" of the desert and early Christian monasticism as she places in our hands another insightful and helpful 155 pages for the spiritual journey. Those who haven't yet read or may have forgotten the contents of her first volume: Thoughts Matter, will be happy to find that the author gives us not just a brief replay of the "eight thoughts" or "afflictions" that obscure our awareness of God but adds many new insights, nuances and examples. Of the more than 25 practices Meg shares here from our Christian tradition that can be reappropriated today as tools on the contemplative path, she gives pride of place and repeated focus to Lectio Divina "the classic individual prayer form".

Her presentation is very well done. Sr. Meg's years of compassionate intermonastic exchanges echo through her volume as she uses phrases like "right effort; right thinking, right relationships" and "the transmision of God". Her breakdown of the tools into negative, positive, social, and prayer tools is helpful. Under the social tools the author gives an exposition of humility with a unique glimpse at St. Benedict's 12 degrees (Chap. 7 of the Rule)and as she herself says "The tools involved in using these twelve steps form a refrain throughout this entire book". Motivation is critical! Attention and intention are frequent "wake up calls" thoughout the seven chapters of the work.

In the final chapter on discernment the author indicates what we can learn from each of the eight afflictive thoughts, using the suggested tools and knowing the goal of each effort. The "downside" or limitations of each of the tools is offered to help all walk in the Turth! Spiritual direction is also included in the final chapter with a view to the listener and the seeker.

The book is highly recommended for all seekers, monastics and lay alike!


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