A general theme of this web site is to support people’s choices as to whether they believe in God or not and to help people realize that if they are not sure what to believe that this is OK and valuable too.
In some ways I have painted myself into a corner with this very open minded approach. I am wary of writing practice tips about God centered meditation for fear a new reader struggling with faith will assume they are supposed to follow this line of practice when they really are not sure what to believe is the truth of this life.
I am wary of writing practice tips about atheist approaches to meditation for fear a new reader will think I personally am committed to saying there is no God.
Neither do I want to write about how people should approach meditation if they are genuinely and quite completely confused about whether God exists or not. My concern is that a new reader might think this perspective is the sole focus of this web site.
Generally, I have tried to work with this dilemma by referencing all three of these beliefs in everything I write. I am reasonably convinced this is not the right way to go either as I have found no way to fully develop any one of these views without it sounding like the view in question is the only one.
Going forward, as soon as time and budget allow, I am going to restructure the home page and supporting articles and workshops. While I will keep the theme of giving people the real freedom to search out their own beliefs, I will create a section for those who believe in God, those who do not, and a section for those not sure what to believe. This way people will be able to focus on any one belief, or bounce back and forth between different sections of the web site as they wish to.
With this as a prelude please allow me to proceed to a few comments for those who either believe in God or are at least willing to try to find out for themselves whether they might yet find a way to believe that God is the foundation of all life.
As most people know, learning to offer love and kindness to all people is a foundation of practice that can be shared by people who believe in God and those who do not. As I have written many times, those people who are still not at a point where they are willing to engage this practice should not force themselves to try to love anyone they are really angry at. For more on this please see the chapter on Affirmation in my book “The Simple Path of Holiness.”
But now I want to write for those who have found a way to be comfortable forgiving all offenses and offering love to all who live.
There is a fork in the road in this practice of offering love to all who live. Those who believe in God can adapt the practice in this way.
After spending a suitable amount of time silently, graciously, and tenderly offering love to the four directions, they can narrow their focus and offer their love to those teachers and saints they are drawn to venerate.
They can further narrow their focus to offering their love silently, graciously, and tenderly to God. It is one thing to pray to God. It is another to praise God should one be moved to do so. It is a slightly different practice to stream love and devotion to God.
Some will find that while doing this practice there is a sensation in the center of their chest where this love is silently arising and offered as a gift.
This love of God awakens communion with God in the silent chambers of the heart. You can call these chambers the secret, hidden chambers of the heart or the secret, hidden depths of the soul as you feel called to do so.
For Catholics and Greek and Russian Orthodox mystics this experience may unfold this way. A general sense, or interior vision, of the glory of Christ may arise in the heart or mind. The subtle yet profound image of the glory of Christ radiant in the center of heaven arising in the center of the heart or mind draws the “gaze of the heart” and holds it there.
Love is given. Love is felt. Love is shared in silent, intimate communion.
For me it is like the light of my heart is touching the light of God. It seems the light of mortal and immortal life and love mingle and intertwine in the round mandala in the hidden chambers of heart. The question of whether this experience is an empirically “real” phenomena or a comforting delusion is a question for another time. What I can tell you is that in the throes of the experience such questions seem to be a bit superfluous.
The giving of love and worship gives way to the single wordless act of being joined in a communion of mutual holding. This communion arises from a deeply held trust, however irrational such trust may seem to be. This trust awakens revelation and the trust becomes further emboldened by clear confirmation that the old tales of living forever in immortal grace and beauty are actually true, however irrational such a belief may be.
There are deeper states of meditation than these, but I cannot speak to them as I have only read about them. What I am reasonably sure of is that both God centered believers, committed atheists, and even those who are not sure what to believe can attain to experiences of deep communion through a willingness to perfect the purity of the love they offer to all.
Be angry at whoever you are angry at, until you perceive the value of forgiving them.
Wrestle with each and every doubt you have until you perceive the value of taking the reckless and foolish choice of exploring the radical dimensions of living in trust and faith in those mature beliefs you feel called to explore most deeply.
Clear the mind. Open the heart. Let your love stream forth from the unguarded fountain of your heart.
Please let me know your experiences, pleasant or difficult, with communion and the “Prayer of the Heart.”
All constructive comments will be posted.