THE WORLD COMMUNITY
FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
The roots of the Community lie in the desert tradition of early Christianity. In 1975 John Main started the first Christian Meditation Centre in London where the first of many weekly meditation groups began to meet. In 1991 the John Main Seminar was held in the old Utopian town of New Harmony, Indiana. It was led by Bede Griffiths and was the basis of his book The New Creation in Christ: Meditation and Community.
Meditators from many parts of the world came together on this occasion to discuss the future of the community that had been forming for many years already as a ‘monastery without walls’. They named it The World Community for Christian Meditation. The symbol of the Community is an ancient image that represents the union of the contemplative and active dimensions of life.
It is now growing through 100+ countries. Individuals, weekly groups and centres share the vision of peace and new consciousness that are the spiritual fruits of meditation. Groups meet in homes, parishes, offices, hospitals, prisons and colleges. A number of Christian Meditation Centres, such as that at Georgetown University, helps to share the teaching. Dialogue with other faiths has arisen from this deepening of Christian. The link with the Benedictine monastic family is especially valued and an Oblate Community grows within the larger community of meditators.
In recent years, initiatives have led to the teaching of Christian meditation to children, as an Eleventh Step practice, and has led to a deeper spiritual understanding among those in the business and financial worlds, those working for peace and justice, clergy of all denominations and the sick and dying.
On the eve of its 20th anniversary, the Community opened its Meditatio program, revised its governance structure and undertook a development of its outreach in crucial areas of social concern, technology and the training of young meditators for the next generation of leadership.
The Meditatio centre in London will coordinate a series of seminars as well as the development of our Internet presence and media. Training programs will be created to share the insights of these seminars with national coordinators and group leaders in the different regions of the community. What is learned at the global level will thus be shared at the local level. Meditatio will also help in the formation of young meditators who come from different parts of the world as interns or as part of the "Oblate year" formation program.
Medio Media, the publishing company of the Community, produces and distributes books, CD’s and DVD’s. Many countries have national WCCM websites and there are special sites for those working with meditation with children, prisoners, peace and justice and those in recovery.
The Mission Statement of the Community was agreed at the John Main Seminar at New Harmony Indiana in 1991 and forms part of the WCCM Constitution accepted by all national communities: To communicate and nurture meditation as passed on through the teaching of John Main in the Christian tradition in the spirit of serving the unity of all.
The International Office in London serves as a support and information hub for the world-wide community as well as a link between the Community and many other organizations and groups. A small core team and a wider group of volunteers run the centre and assume its responsibilities.
The team, all regular meditators, have been brought together by our common goal and belief in John Main's mission. We cover many areas and functions: supporting Fr Laurence, his travels, diary and logistics; providing support to the Trustees, the Guiding Board, national coordinators and countries worldwide; disseminating information, producing the International Newsletter; assisting Medio Media, the publishing arm of the World Community; fundraising, organising international retreats, pilgrimages and giving guidance for the annual John Main Seminar - the list is endless.
Our primary aim is to serve the worldwide community of meditators. A recent initiative has been to allocate a specific team member to each country, thereby providing a more personal approach. The International Centre is entirely dependent on financial support from the World Community, including a growing number of Friends who make its continued work more assured.
The World Community for Christian Meditation
Meditatio House: 32 Hamilton Road London W5 2EH UK
International Office: +44 0207 278 2070 UK Office: + 44 (0) 8570 4466 Fax + 44 (0) 8280 0046
In the Logo of the World Community for Christian Meditation the evocative image of a pair of doves perched on the rim of a chalice-shapeddish, as adopted by the World Community for its logo, is heir to an ancient pictorial andsymbolic tradition, that was disseminated through the Byzantine and. early-Christianchannels via bas-relief, pottery, textile and mosaic.
There are surviving representations of this theme form Greek as well as Romantimes, but its ultimate origin is probably Phoenician, connected with the cult and worshipof Astarte. The famous mosaic of four drinking doves form the Emperor Hadrian's Villa,built after 124 at Tivoli, near Rome, was probably the model for the less sophisticatedrepresentation found in one of the early Christian churches of Ravenna, the tomb of GallaPlacidia which served as inspiration for the logo.
The ultimate origin of the image is one by Sosus of Pergamum made at Delos inthe last centuries before the birth of Christ. It was much acclaimed, celebrated and copiedthroughout the ancient world. The Roman historian, Pliny, admired and wrote about it. Ahellenistic representation, this mosaic displays extraordinary skill and technical ability inits execution and the pictorial representation of a variety of difficult surfaces and textures,such as polished metal with diffused highlights and hard, detailed contours, soft feathersand a slab of marble on which the vessel stands. It is achieved by intricate laying ofminute glass and stone tesserae that denies the medium. There is an excellent copy of thiswork in the Palatine Museum, Rome.
The iconographic conjunction of water aIld doves, represents a complex, sacred,and very ancient pre- Christian funerary symbolic tradition that has been embraced by,and survived within the Christian Church, with representations of the type found in thedecorative programmes of baptisteries and martyria.
The symbolism here is as profound as it is archetypal. It is a trans-culturalmetaphor for the universally sacred, that can be apprehended not through empiricalinformation, but through personal experience. Symbols by nature are energy releasingand directing signs, sacraments of an inner reality -one we all share. A poetic reading,therefore is appropriate to the character and function of a symbol, which is of no value asa fact, but only as an awakener of the soul.
An emblem of universal matrix, water always illustrates the mystical symbolismof the cycle of death- birth -regeneration; i.e. Purification. Informed by its ritualfunction, this archetype, always denotes fecundity and resurrection. Traditionally, it is thefemale principle in nature, connected to the phases of the moon and life-giving waters. Infunerary symbolism it served to reflect hope of immortality.i
In Roman funerary monuments the deceased is often shown as a woman,identified with Aphrodite Urania (heavenly, of the spirit), as she is represented upon thesarcophagus, with her special bird, the dove. By thus identifying with the archetype oflife in perpetual renewal, the deceased is ensuring his/her resurrection. Therefore, one cansay that the drinking doves of the logo are iconographically akin to the veneration of themother goddess of pre-Christian religions, having survived within Christianity via Greekand Roman pictorial representations and the writings of the neo-Platonists.
'...for it is she we know to be planted deep in our fabric, she it is by whom men are impelled to have thoughts of love and perform works of peace...' (Lucretius)
'You alone can give men the serene benefits of peace' (Lucretius)
This is Aphrodite, the sacred feminine principle (one of her sacred shrines was atDelos, decorated by drinking doves of Sosus') not he debased vulgarised Venus of eroticlove most of us are familiar with.
'Such numinous symbols of our inheritance of myth as these', Joseph Campbellsays, 'become integrated within the Christian Church -images of transformation openingoutward to combine with their non- Christian, pagan, oriental counterparts and therebybecome transformed into non-sectarian, psychologically significant symbols, revealing asacred timeless event going on within man/woman always' ii Carl Jung, in his Symbols ofTransformation credits the Logos for filling our understanding and desires with meaning
'.....makes it drunken as if with nectar'.
Nectar, in classical literature, is the drink offertility and immortality. The soul thus fructified is called the Heavenly Aphrodite(Urania). Yet, it knows the pangs of birth,…..as earthly Aphrodite (Pandemos). It is notwithout reason that the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit iii.
In popular mythology, winged creatures represent spiritual messengers or simply,the Spirit itself, as in angels, the myth of Eros and Psyche (love and the human spirit).The dove of love and peace is also the symbol of the soul in India. In China, it stood formarital fidelity and long life. Usually represented in pairs - male and female - theyappear in the headdress of the goddess of fertility. In medieval alchemy the white doverepresents the whitening of the primal matter as it is turned into the philosopher's stone -the transformation of the black raven into the white dove.
In Christian art, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are often seen as doves, perching on atree or drinking the waters of Eternal life.Thus, we see them in our logo -a pair of doves -one drinking, the other happilystanding by -on the rim of a chalice-shaped vessel filled with water. The chalice is areference to Christ's sacrifice -as in the Eucharist, and, by the same token, offering ushope of eternal life, an assurance of the Resurrection.
This simple and beautiful representation - the logo of The World Community forChristian Meditation - enfolds a meaning that is both universal and most profoundlyChristian - one held sacred through the ages, offering a subjective glimpse into whatultimately is a numinous, transpersonal symbol. A metaphor pointing to a transcendentalreality.
Polly Schofield - Montreal Oblate and WCCM Archivist
i Eliade, Mircea. Images and Symbols. Princeton, 1991, p.131-132
ii Campbell, Joseph. Creative Mythology -The Masks of God. Penguin 1968, p.453
iii Jung, C. G. Symbols of Transformation. Bollinger, 1976, p.138