Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: Into The Silent Land (Page 1 of 2)

May 30, 2021 — Letting go of your pain

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Luke 7:36-50

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

More thoughts for meditation

For a long time, the woman in Luke 7, was thought to be Mary Magdalene — that’s not common belief now, but the author of the Cloud of Unknowing believed it to be true. Laird uses this passage as a way to help us forgive ourselves so that we become aware of our propensity for contemplation.

“It is not uncommon to find people with a very sensitive consciences and who seem to have a certain attraction, even aptitude, for the contemplative path, but who cannot come to terms with things that have happened in the past…

“[Meister Eckhart] says that there is a kind of repentance that ‘draws us downwards into yet greater suffering, plunging us into such distress that it is as if we were already in a state of despair. And so repentance can find no way out of suffering. Nothing comes of this.’ Eckhart contrasts this kind of repentance ‘which is of God’ and says that it ‘brings spiritual joy that life the soul out of her suffering and binds her to God.’ It becomes a question of dealing with afflictive thoughts in the right way. This was the key to Mary Magdalene’s success; she was able to break the cycle of obsessive thinking.” — Into the Silent Land, p. 130.

Suggestions for action

Sometimes mistakes we made in the past, broken and unreconciled relationships, a fear of a faith crisis, pain that we’ve suffered, is our ultimate distraction and unbearable pain. Sometimes we can’t bear to forgive ourselves, and sometimes we can’t bear to forgive those who have hurt us (our friends, family, spouse, children, parents). Begin a journey of letting go of that pain today, whether you need to forgive yourself, someone else, or both , try to do it. Make a list and let go of the things as you write them down, or make it a point to work on that.

May 29, 2021 — More than pain

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

More thoughts for meditation

“We cannot pass through the doorways of silence without becoming part of God’s embrace of all humanity in its suffering and joy.

Silence is living, dynamic, and liberating. The practice of silence nourishes vigilance, self-knowledge, letting go, ad the compassionate embrace of all whom we would otherwise be quick to condemn. Gradually we realize that whatever it is in us that sees the mind game we play is itself free of all such mindless and is utterly silent, pure, vast, and free. When we realize we are the awareness and not the drama unfolding in our awareness our lives are freer, simpler, more compassionate. Fear remains frightening but we are not afraid of fear. Pain still hurts, but we are not hurt by pain.”  — Into the Silent Land, p. 116

Suggestions for action

Laird reminds us again that we are not our pain, just like we are not our distractions. We don’t get rid of our pain, fear and compulsion to find our inner silence with God — and our inner silence with God does not always get rid of all our pain, fear, and compulsion. We meet it again with silence. We are more than our pain, which is still to be acknowledged as real and as hurtful, but when met with silence, it doesn’t dominate and preoccupy us. Psychological balance is critical to our discovery, but spiritual depth is equally critical. As you feel your sorrow, loneliness, despair, and pain today, trust in God, and meet it with silence.

May 28, 2021 — The Third Doorway

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Psalm 42

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

More thoughts for meditation

“Crossing the threshold of the Third Doorway requires vigilant waiting in the silence of just being. When we are well practiced in this way of prayer, we will find that we have acquired a certain skill at recognizing thoughts. They appear and disappear in awareness. Now shift your attention from the thought to what is aware of the thought, the awareness itself. This is a very simple shift, but a shift that immediately reveals (however briefly) the still mind. The discursive, reasoning mind will immediately try to turn this too into an object of awareness by generating a mental image of the stillness or a thought such as “the mind is now still” and then embroider some commentary on that. But by now we are well aware of the subtlety of our thoughts. … So now shift your attention from these objects of aware to the aware-ing itself. The prayer word is essentially silent at this point, even if at more surface levels of consciousness it might be quietly recited. Here one waits, and when the moment is ripe the present moment opens up.” — Into the Silent Land, pp. 65-6.

The Third Doorway is appropriately difficult — the most telling sign that you have arrived here is your oneness with God. Laird further writes, “This is not the loss of identity, but its flowering, and we inhale the performance of a fundamental Christian truth that baptism proclaims: my ‘I am’ is one with Christs’s ‘I am.’”

Suggestions for action

Continue to practice this contemplation today. It will take a commitment, certainly one that is longer than the time you take reading this entry. Set aside time this week to venture as far as you can. Our world is filled with so many distractions, our attention can span as long as a YouTube video or a Tweet — give yourself grace as you venture into mystery and oneness with God.

May 27, 2021— The Second Doorway

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Psalm 125

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

More thoughts for meditation

“Previously the prayer word was like a brick wall, and the quiet repetition of it involved a good deal of mental activity. This begins to change as we approach the Second Doorway. The repetition of it is far less a mental saying and more a part of our simply awareness.

We may also become aware of some of the physical and emotional benefits that often accompany a well-established contemplative practice. Many people find that blood pressure decreases or stabilized, the pulse slows down, and there is a greater emotional tone. Life will continue to bring its stresses strains, but we are more aware of how we are the cause of much of our own suffering, and in any event, can somehow let go with greater facility. We get over things more quickly.” — Into the Silent Land, p. 60-61.

We can’t push our way through the Second Door merely through effort — it takes letting go, letting be, and living in the present moment. Praying regularly and often is the best way to facilitate this process.

As you continue to practice this way of prayer, continue to get distracted, and use the prayer word to bring you back, you’ll find yourself getting over your “failure” more quickly and sooner, and subsequently being more adept at the technique itself. As the distractions, in and of themselves, frustrate you as you venture through the first door — so does the content of them, and so we are forced to comment and think them away. When through the second door, we are at peace with whatever distractions come, and we merely let them go, without diving into our process right then and there.

Suggestions for action

This is a challenging door, and not all of us will get through the second door during this 7-day introduction. Try to contemplate further today, and see what happens. Try to let go of the distractions as opposed to combating them.

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