The Dance

I may be gay but meditation is what energizes my day, my life, my walk with myself.

What is the essence of meditation? What is it really about? I draw my experience, ideas and thoughts from many rich traditions on meditation especially from my rich orthodox and catholic traditions.

In this quote by Thomas Merton meditation is summed up so well.  Many of the other writings will be taken from.  John Main a Trappist monk:


If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything, never become anything, and in the end, because we have said everything before we had anything to say, we shall be left speechless at that the moment of our greatest.”

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude”


Also well put for me the definition of meditation by Osho:


Meditation is a death – death of all that you are now. Of course there will be a resurrection, but that will be a totally new, fresh original being which you are not even aware is hidden in you.


“It happens in poetry, in music, in dance, only for a small moment that you slip out of your personality and touch your individuality. But only because it happens for a small moment, you are not afraid; you always come back.


“In meditation, once you are gone in, you are gone in. Then, even when you resurrect you are a totally different person. The old personality is nowhere to be found. You have to start your life again from abc. You have to learn everything with fresh eyes, with a totally new heart. That’s why meditation creates fear.”


It’s learning to stand back and to allow God to come into the forefront of your life. So often in our experience, we find that we are the centre of our world. So many of us see reality revolving around us. We think quite naturally of situations and of people primarily in terms of “how is this going to affect me?” Now that’s all right as far as it goes. But if we really imagine that we are at the centre of the world, then we are never going to see any situation, or any person, or ourselves, as we really are. Because, of course, we are not at the centre of the world. God is at the centre.


“The only thing to seek in contemplative prayer is God; and we seek Him successfully when we realize that we cannot find Him unless He shows Himself to us, and yet at the same time that He would not have inspired us to seek Him unless we had already found Him.”

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude


Now, meditation is trying to take that step away from self-centredness to God-centredness. The result is that we find our own place in the world. We find where we should be. We find our relationships in the right order – our relationships with one another, our relationship with creation, and our relationship with God. What we discover, and what is very important for each of us to discover, is that we do have an essential place in God’s plan, each of us responding uniquely to the unique gift of our own creation. Perhaps that is the most important thing for people in our society to discover: their own dignity, their own unique gift, the gift of their own creation.


How can we set about this? Meditation is a discipline, and it is the discipline of learning to stand back, learning to focus our attention or, perhaps even better, focus our whole being on God. We have to begin somewhere. We have to begin with ourselves. We have to begin by learning to be silent ourselves. We have to really begin by learning to be, to be ourselves, not to be as it were defining ourselves by some activity, whether that activity is some work or some thinking process, but simply to be.


Now this is the purpose of the practice and the art of meditation in learning to say our word, our mantra. To meditate, what we have to learn to do is to sit down, to be still, to be as still as possible physically, and then to begin to recite in our heart, in our mind, in our being, our word or our mantra. The word I recommend you to recite is the word maranatha. That’s four equally-stressed syllables. You sound those syllables interiorly, silently, without moving your lips. As you sound them, you listen to them: ma-ra-na-tha.


The purpose of sounding them, the purpose of saying or sounding your mantra, is that that becomes the focus of your attention, of your concentration. You are not thinking about anything. You are not, as it were, pursuing any insights that are coming to you, any thoughts that are coming to you. You leave those. You let them, as it were, fall away. What you do is come to a greater and greater silence, where the only sound in your mind is the word, the mantra.


You have to learn, and the recitation of the mantra will teach you this, to be patient, to be extremely patient. You have to learn to be humble. In meditating, we are not seeking, as it were, to possess God. We are not seeking to come to some profound insights about God. We are seeking simply to be the person we are called to be. We are seeking simply to accept as fully as possible, and to respond to as fully as possible, the gift of our own creation. To do that, we have to learn to be still, to be silent, to be truly humble.


You are all familiar with the word ‘egoism’. The word ‘ego’ is used a great deal in modern parlance or jargon. Basically, in meditation, we are leaving the ego behind. We are not trying to see with the ego, as it were, but we are trying to be ourself, our true self. The curious paradox is that, once we give up trying to see, once we give up trying to possess, we see all and all things are ours.


Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.  Buddha


When you are beginning, you need to understand the simplicity of it. The simplicity is just this: that every morning and every evening, you give yourself the opportunity to be, to be in utter simplicity, to be in humility, not asking yourself, “What is happening to me now?” not trying to analyse yourself, “Am I enjoying this? Am I getting anything out of this?” During this time of being, you put your self-reflective ego entirely aside. And this you do every morning and every evening. And during the time of your meditation, just say your word, from the beginning to the end: ma-ra-na-tha. That’s how to begin.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.  Buddha


You have to begin on faith. There is no way that you can, as it were, evaluate what is happening when you begin. You have to begin in faith. But beginning will lead you into faith. You can’t, as it were, have a stab at meditating – you say your word for three minutes and then stop to see how you are getting on. You have to learn, and you require patience to learn, to say your word from the beginning to the end, every day.


Where does this tie in, in Christian terms? In Christian terms, we know that God has sent his Spirit to dwell in our hearts. In other words, his being is within us, and meditating is simply being open to his being. Listen to St Paul writing to the Corinthians:


For the same God who said, ‘Out of darkness, let light shine’, has caused his light to shine within us, to give us the light of revelation – therevelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 4:6)


That light and that glory are to be found in our hearts if only we will learn to be still, to be silent, to be humble. That is the exact purpose of the mantra – to lead us to that silence, sti

llness and humility. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.


As TS Elliot puts it in Burnt Norton the Four Quartets

*Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.” (TS Elliot)


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