John Main OSB (1926-1982) believed that the contemplative experience creates community. His genius was to recover and to re-present a way into this experience for ordinary people from within the Christian contemplative tradition. In the teaching of the desert monks on pure prayer he found the practice of the mantra. Realising that this way of prayer could further the search of many modern people for a deeper spiritual life, he recommended two regular daily periods of meditation to be integrated with the usual practices of Christian life. (Read John Main's "Opening Prayer" with an introduction and commentary by Laurence Freeman here.)
A Way of Compassion
It has become more and more evident in recent years that meditation, as a way of tolerance and compassion, builds a bridge of the spirit between peoples of different faiths, between rich and poor, and between all those suffering conflict or division. The great social and psychological distresses of modern society call for a deep contemplative response. John Main believed that each human being, whatever their lifestyle, is called to this contemplative depth.
The Meditation Group
It is a sign of this vision that meditation groups continue to form around the world. They meet weekly and support each person's own daily commitment to the inner pilgrimage. These groups often make use of the collection of John Main's talks recorded during his teaching of similar groups. Each group is linked in a common spirit to the wider community.
Most meditation groups today are led by lay people. In this renewal of a Christian tradition of prayer there is also great potential for Christians of all denominations to meet in common faith. Indeed, people of all religions can meet in their common humanity by meditating together.
Thirty years ago, in 1975, John Main began the first meditation groups at his monastery in London and, later, in Montreal. Visit these special memorial pages celebrating his unique place in the living tradition of contemplative prayer in the church. View an online slideshow to learn more about his life, read informative articles to appreciate better his influence on countless meditators around the world today. Listen to audio clips of John Main speaking about the practice and tradition of Christian meditation. (Group leaders are invited to submit their own reflections to be posted on the special pages.)
The World Community for Christian Meditation
Meditators at the John Main Seminar held at New Harmony, Indiana in 1991 gave the community a new form in The World Community for Christian Meditation. It has now spread through a hundred countries. Individuals, groups and centres share the vision of peace and unity arising from meditation. Groups meet in homes, parishes, offices, hospitals, prisons and colleges. A network of Christian Meditation Centres helps to serve this community and its teaching work. Dialogue with other faiths has arisen from this deepening of Christian spirituality in the lives of men and women in all walks of life. The link with the Benedictine monastic family is especially valued.
Read "John Main's Anniversary in Montreal" [PDF] by Polly Schofield.
John Main Seminar Directory
Find a complete list of Seminar presenters here.
A Quarterly Newsletter with a spiritual letter and news is distributed worldwide.
The John Main Seminar is held annually. Presenters have included Rowan Williams, Bede Griffiths, Jean Vanier, William Johnston, the Dalai Lama and Mary McAleese.
The International Centre in London serves the worldwide community and is happy to receive any queries or information.
Friends of the World Community
In order to support the work of teaching Christian Meditation, the International Centre in London relies on donations. "Friends" from around the world donate U.S.$100 or £50 a year or equivalent currency, directly to the Centre.
"There is no part-time or partial prayer, as if the Spirit were not always alive in our heart. But there are times, our twice-daily meditation, when we make a complete turn of consciousness towards this ever-present reality. There comes a level of awakening when our awareness of this reality is constant, throughout our most diverse activities and concerns." John Main
NEW PUBLICATION | Monastery Without Walls: The Spiritual Letters of John Main
The Benedictine monk John Main was one of the most profoundly influential spiritual teachers of our age. His belief that the desert tradition of meditative prayer practised by the earliest monastic communities had an immediate and contemporary relevance gave rise to the vision of a totally new kind of community, one made up of men and women scattered throughout the world yet united in their daily practice of Christian meditation.
To this fledgling family -- which today has grown to over 100,000 members in over 100 countries -- John Main wrote a series of intimate letters notable for their deep coherence and simplicity. Tradition and personal experience, church and society, meditation and prayer are the themes that weave in and out of these letters, but their centre is a sense of the presence of Christ permeating every dimension of living -- solitary and relational.
Monastery Without Walls is a complete and annotated edition of all of John Main's letters which together constitute a volume of remarkable spiritual wisdon and insight, as fresh and relevant as when they were first written.
To order, please use the Bookstore link at the left.
"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 Mission Statement of the World Community
Browse John Main Books & Tapes using the BOOKSTORE link at the left.
Read about Dom Laurence Freeman OSB, Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation.