I’m noticing a steep drop in my views lately. Guess people aren’t interested in looking up Banksy pics this week…oh well.
Anyway, I’m through the second chapter of The Celebration of Discipline and I must say I am thorougly enjoying it. Foster writes in a way that’s fully easy to grasp, but also on a level that you feel like you’re listening to an old monk. It’s sensible, invigorating, and thought-provoking. Seriously. great book so far.
What I want to look at tonight though was the second chapter, which discusses the Discipline of meditation. I’ve always been fascinated by contemplatives and their ability to focus their entire being on God, wishing I could be like them, but always feeling that, as a layperson who works the weirdest shifts around, I could never achieve what they did.
Foster blew that thinking out of the water today in about a half-hour’s time.
Like I said, I never thought of contemplation as an exercise accessible to a common individual like me. It always seemed far too complicated, like I had to be this wise sage that studied under some great master before I could ever achieve that title. Instead, Foster shows the reader how even the masters and great contemplatives of times past and present understood meditation to be one of the simplest and most fulfilling practices a Christian can engage in.
Meditation isn’t what most people think it is; I know I’ve always pictured some old guy sitting in the lotus position (cross-legged with the feet tucked in) and pinching his forefingers together, chanting a mantra. It’s not that such a practice ISN’T meditation (thought Eastern practices of meditation differ greatly from Christian ones); it’s that it doesn’t HAVE to be that. You can stand, you can sit, lie prostrate; whatever is most comfortable. What is important is that you are able to fill your head with God and his vastness, contemplating His presennce and nature. In the East, the goal is detachment and emptiness. For Christians, detachment is still part of it, though only to prepare us to reenter the world, but we certainly do not empty our heads, but fill them with wonder of the living God.
This stuff probably sounds obvious; I can hear some of you going, “well, duh.” Frankly, I always had that picture of the old Eastern man sitting in that position, and tried very hard to be that guy. The simplification of the process makes it much more accessible without demeaning or emptying it of its potency. Foster discusses more than posture, obviously, and leaves much of the practice open-ended (as it should be), but his simple guide has made more sense of meditation more exciting for me already!
More on this tomorrow. Excellent stuff!