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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

Psalms1:1-2
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,” 

Luke14:33
You, who do not forsake all that you have, cannot be my disciple.

John12:25
He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates (detaches from) his life in this world shall have life eternal

John4:24
“God is a spirit ; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 

Thess4:11
…study to be quiet…

Rev8:1
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence… in heaven

Psalms37:7
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.

Yah-weh 

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.

Mark7:15-21
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.

Luke21:36
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.

Eph.3:15-19
“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.

Genesis2:7
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.

MEDITATION TECHNIQUE

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

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

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

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

5. The breath comes in and there is a space,
5. 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,
6. that space where no thought exists,
6. simply “ be” in the stillness, in “I AM”.

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

7. Meditate at the same times every day.

8. Find an experienced teacher
8. 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.

Job1:7
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.