Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In the Stillness Dancing


"So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing."
TS Eliot: Four Quartets
 In memory of Lux Umbra Dei, whose Bio said just:
  Gratitude! Gratitude!
There are people in life who have a profound effect on us - even though we may know them all too briefly.   Their presence in our lives challenges us, hints of depths to which we feel drawn

John Main - was another (also known to Lux):
Many years ago we lived near Mt. Savior Monastery in upstate NY and we were privileged to hear John Main give a sermon at Mass and speak about meditation.  Only once before had I heard someone speak so profoundly, from the heart, in simple words, words which led you into the sacred.  He reminded me instantly of hearing Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel speak about the holiness of time, when I was in college.  He too had that quality of "knowing" something from the heart - and putting it into the simplest terms, so that each sentence held a universe of meaning.   Later I was able to briefly meet the Dalai Lama.   And that completed the Trinity for me - three leaders, from different faiths, each one in touch with the deepest heart of Reality, each one able to put a lifetime of practice into the simplest words and actions, as if teaching you from heart to heart.
From a review of John Main's biography:
In The Stillness Dancing describes Main’s life as a journalist, soldier, barrister, and Benedictine monk.  His life was a quest for an authentic life of prayer.  While a civil servant in India, he met an Indian Swami who taught him to meditate using a mantra (holy word).  This form of prayer was taken from him when he entered Ealing Abbey, England. As a novice he was directed to adopt a more “traditional” form of prayer.  Much later, after his ordination to the priesthood, John Main discovered that the form of prayer taught by the swami already existed within the mainstream of Western Christianity, but had fallen into disuse.  The biography describes how he spent the rest of his life attempting to restore this form of Christian meditation to the central place it once occupied in the Church.
John Main exercised a profound influence on us as well as upon the monastery itself.  It was his introduction to meditation that led us, decades later and in a round-about way, to another monastery in the mountains of Colorado - in the dead of winter.  It was there, at a meditation retreat, that I came to understand the meaning of "emptiness" ~ when I heard the meditation bell reverberate ~ as if inside myself.   And Lux Umbra Dei rejoiced!  Gratitude!

One thing leads to another....  It is a wonder to write it all down.  Part of this blog's unfolding path ~ a path which is a mystery, even to me.

3 comments:

TheraP said...

Because this particular post is really a tribute to two holy men, whose memories are dear to me and others, I have taken the liberty of "saving" (and holding for possible future use) a conversation from this thread, which had gone far afield from both the purpose of this post and the aims of the blog as a whole.

This serves as a learning experience for me. And I apologize in advance for any hurt feelings. However I determined that feelings could also be hurt by many persons who mourn the loss of these men and hold their memory dear. So I had to consider the greater good.

It is important to me that this blog be a safe place to open one's heart - without the necessity of defending one's terminology or one's beliefs.

I honor and reverence every person who sincerely follows a faith - or no faith. I immensely respect those who feel called to delve into terminology, dogmas and fine points of philosophy. However these latter are not the topics to which this blog will address itself This blog is dedicated to the language and the movement of the heart. To personal experiences which have shaped or bolstered one's life or beliefs and guide one's goals and aspirations.

We can seek together to understand, but we must take care as well not to undermine or denigrate belief, unbelief, or the inevitable failure of language to convey experiences which lie beyond language and at times beyond conceptualization.

I can see that having a blog of one's own carries great ethical responsibility, clarity of purpose, and discernment

This is another of those unfolding aspects of this blog - which, as I've noted, appears to have a life of its own - which I am seeking to follow as best I can.

Forestroot said...

Meditation crosses all cultural lines. Sometimes it even helps cross cultural barriers.

Fascinating Site you have created TheraP

TheraP said...

Remarkable comment, dear Forestroot, whose name reminds me of a Wise Ent (Hoping you read Lord of the Rings!)

There is actually a wonderful Buddhist Meditation, among Tibetan Buddhists termed Tonglen, the specific purpose of which is to arouse compassion for every living being:

http://www.quietmountain.org/links/teachings/tonglen.htm

I have a copy of it given by Kusala Bikshu, a Buddhist Monk from CA, who spoke at a Conference I attended some years back, which I will post in the near future. Such practices, as nearly all meditative practices, absolutely dissolve barriers - both inner and outer.

Here's a link for Kusala, a truly wonderful man:

http://www.urbandharma.org/kusalainfo/index.html

Your presence is much appreciated.