Death and Resurrection - a reflection and guide in meditation

Death and Resurrection - a reflection and guide in meditation

St Benedict told his monks, 'Always keep death before your eyes.' We don't talk much about death in the modern world. But what the whole Christian tradition tells us is that if we would become wise we must learn the lesson that we have here 'no abiding city.' [We must hear] what the wise of ages past and present say to us: to have life in focus we must have death in [focus. . .]. Talking about death is hard for the worldly to understand. Indeed the principal fantasy of much worldliness operates out of completely the opposite point of view: not the wisdom of our own mortality but the pure fantasy that we are immortal, beyond physical weakness.

But the wisdom of the tradition St Benedict represents is that awareness of our physical weakness enables us to see our own spiritual fragility too. There is a profound awareness in all of us, so profound indeed that it is often buried for much of the time, that we must make contact with the fullness of life and the source of life. We must make contact with the power of God and somehow, open our own fragile 'earthen vessels' to the eternal love of God, the love that cannot be quenched.

Meditation is a way of power because it is the way to understand our own mortality. It is the way to get our own death into focus. It can do so because it is the way beyond our own mortality. It is the way beyond our own death to the resurrection, to a new and eternal life, the life that arises from our union with God.

The essence of the Christian gospel is that we are invited to this experience now, today. All of us are invited to die to our own self-importance, our own selfishness, our own limitations. We are invited to die to our own exclusiveness. We are invited to all this because Jesus has died before us and has risen from the dead.

Our invitation to die is also one to rise to new life, to community, to communion, to a full life without fear. I suppose it would be difficult to estimate what it is people fear most-death or resurrection. But in meditation we lose our fear because we realize death is death to fear and resurrection is rising to new life.

Every time we sit down to meditation we enter this axis of death and resurrection. We do so because in our meditation we go beyond our own life and all the limitations of our life into the mystery of God. We discover, each of us from our own experience, that the mystery of God is the mystery of love, infinite love-love that casts our all fear.

Meditate for Thirty Minutes.... Remember: Sit down. Sit still and upright. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Silently, interiorly, begin to say a single word. We recommend the prayer-phrase 'Maranatha.' Recite it as four syllables of equal length. Listen to it as you say it, gently, but continuously. Do not think or imagine anything-spiritual or otherwise. Thoughts and images will likely come, but let them pass. Just keep returning your attention-with humility and simplicity-to saying your word in faith, from the beginning to the end of your meditation.

After Meditation...

Eckhart Tolle, THE POWER OF NOW (Novato, CA: New World Library, 1999), pp. 185-186.

The acceptance of suffering is a journey into death. Facing deep pain, allowing it to be, taking your attention into it, is to enter death consciously. When you have died this death, you realize that there is no death-and there is nothing to fear. Only the ego dies. Imagine a ray of sunlight that has forgotten it is an inseparable part of the sun and deludes itself into believing it has to fight for survival and create and cling to an identity other than the sun. Would the death of this delusion not be incredibly liberating?

Do you want an easy death? Would you rather die without pain, without agony? Then die to the past every moment, and let the light of your presence shine away the heavy, time-bound self you thought of as 'you.'

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05 January 2021

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John Main OSB, MOMENT OF CHRIST (New York: Continuum, 1998), pp. 68-69

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Explore the practise of Christian Mediation from John Main.

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