From Laurence Freeman OSB, "The Light of the Self," from LIGHT WITHIN: The Inner Path of Meditation (New York: Crossroad, 1989), pp. 85-87.
Meditation exposes . . . a hard and essential truth [ . . .] : if we cannot communicate our real self to others it is because we haven't yet made contact with it ourselves.
If we feel isolated from those around us it is because we are isolated from ourselves. Only when we know who we are and so can be who we are, can we communicate ourselves to others. As you meditate you come into contact with your real communicable self. Doing that requires a certain amount of real work in perseverance in meditation.
Perseverance will make us ask the question," What does in fact block us from our real self?" Meditation gives us a very simple answer. Not an easy answer, but a simple one. "Nothing." Nothing lies between us and our real selves. Nothing anyway except the false idea that something does lie between them. The false idea is what we call the ego. [. . . .]
At each time of meditation morning and evening we shuffle off another layer of self-consciousness. First we learn to leave all ideas behind. Then at the next layer of consciousness we detach from the imagination and we leave all images behind. When we have done that, we are simply ourselves, unlayered and naked. This is what Jesus called "poverty of spirit."
It is a beautiful poverty of spirit. It is an invigorating path to follow. If there are times when it is rough that doesn't stop it being happy, beautiful and peaceful. It is a grand poverty because it sets us free to see the light of our real self and to know that we are that light. The mantra takes us through the layers of thought, language and imagination to the pure light of full consciousness.
The mantra is very simple. . . .The mantra is simply the focal point that leads us to the centre where the light of the real self shines out. As you continue to meditate you may not feel this happening during the times of meditation; don't worry and don't look for anything to happen. . . . [But] if you persevere then your life itself will slowly but deeply shine with that inner light . . . and you will know that the light is there in everything.
After meditation: “When I Am Among Trees,” Mary Oliver, THIRST (Boston: Beacon Press, 2006), p. 4.
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
Equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would also say that they save me, and daily,
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
And call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
Carla Cooper - firstname.lastname@example.org