Each week during the academic term I prepare for this newsletter a little reflection about meditation and about our work here at the John Main Center, and I invite one of our many meditators to present themselves and, in their own words, to describe their connection with what we do.
Somehow, the usual formula doesn’t seem appropriate this week.
Taking time to still our bodies and quiet our minds in meditation unites us not only with our own creative and sacred core; it also connects us with all humanity and indeed with all creation. Paradoxically, our deliberate inaction is therefore a powerful kind of action in the face of injustice, violence and oppression. This is the power that Christians see in the silence of Jesus before Pilate. It is the power that most people feel in that most eloquent way to pay respect: a moment of silence.
Your own practice this week – whether in a formal sitting or any kind of personal prayer or contemplation – is an act of solidarity with those suffering and at risk everywhere, and a witness to the resilience of the human spirit.
At the JMC we begin and end our group meditation sessions with a short reading. This may seem unnecessary and even odd, since meditation is about leaving thoughts and images behind. Just as the body and mind are connected, however, so too are reason and the subconscious. Moreover, if we propose to enter into the here-and-now through meditation, we don’t pretend that it’s a here with no physical location and a now with no news. We are meditating as members of our generation, facing the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.
And there’s been news this week.
Some time ago I ran across the following arresting sentence in Citadelle, the posthumously published work of French novelist, aviator and human rights proponent Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (He was shot down off the Mediterranean coast of occupied France in 1944.) As with everything Saint-Ex wrote, an unblinking acceptance of the human condition is balanced with a subtle appeal to rise to the nobility of which we are capable – in this case, to wake up:
Vaine est l’illusion des sédentaires qui croient pouvoir habiter en paix leur demeure car toute demeure est menacée.
“It’s a foolish illusion to think that if you mind your own business you can live safely at home: every home is threatened.”
Including a reading is not necessary at a meditation session. Still, I think I know what short text I will use today.