Saturday, November 28, 2015
Most Saturday mornings, I travel about 45 minutes west to the town of Woodstock, Illinois, film location for the Bill Murray classic film, Groundhog’s Day, and home to the BlueLotus Buddhist Temple (BLT). I’m about 25 years into a contemplative Christian mediation practice, mostly using the Ignatianpractices of Contemplation of Scripture, the Examine and Contemplation inAction. I’ve had a Jesuit Spiritual Director for the past 25 years and am unimaginably grateful for their patience, wisdom and the gracious presence of the Holy Spirit in the living of my prayer.
About three years ago, I began to feel and discern that I was getting in my own way at prayer. I longed and desired to grown closer to our risen and incarnate Lord, but seemed unable to open my own mind to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. I was, also, after so many years, longing deeply for a spiritual community seeking the still small voice of the Holy in shared silence. This longing seemed congruent with my deep spiritual roots in Reformed Theology and its emphasis on Christ’s Covenant Community.
With the encouragement of noble Buddhist friends, I made my way to the BLT and began to sit regular meditation with the sangha (the community of those gathered in Buddhist meditation).
A foundational Buddhist chant affirms Buddha’s teaching that all human experience springs from our minds “Mind is first.” It continues that our actions, for good or for ill are the result of our thoughts. There is no refuge in “the devil made me do it!” (sorry to Geraldine and Flip Wilson), nor, is there the luxury of the convoluted hubris in Christian refuge of, “I give all the glory to God.” In Buddhism, for good or for ill, we are responsible for our actions and before that the thoughts that got us there.
I am not a Buddhist. In my Christian ontology, God knit us in our mother’s wombs and we are made with wonder and awe (Psalm 139). The loving grace of God’s creation precedes all that is, especially, my feeble mind. God’s forgiveness precedes my thoughts and actions, for good and ill.
Yet, it is exactly my thoughts, the order and the disorder of my thinking which is the pall that blinds my heart and mind from experiencing and perceiving the exact same grace and forgiveness for which they long.
Over the last three years, I have slowly, and with great unbidden resistance, only just begun to learn to so order my mind in silence so as to hear and know the leadings of the Holy Spirit into a more intimate relationship with our risen Lord.
Namaste and Amen.