School of Meditation Weekly Teachings

Weekly Teachings 18/12/2011

Attention

Paying one-pointed attention to your word is the essence of meditation. John Main always stressed: ‘Just say your word.’ That is all that is needed. But as you well know the mind just keeps on going off on its day dreams, keeps on worrying or planning. Hence the importance of our word, our aid to help us focus one-pointedly.

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Weekly Teachings 11/12/2011

Leaving thoughts behind

We saw the importance that the Tradition lays on letting go of our thoughts. One of the important consequences of doing this is that it helps us to stay in the present moment. By focusing on our ‘word’ we leave thoughts behind, which always link us to the past and to the future. Just watch your thoughts for a moment.

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Weekly Teachings 4/12/2011

The contemplative tradition

The fact that meditation, contemplative prayer, is authentically Christian can also be seen from the fact that in many Christian traditions silent prayer forms the centre of worship. In the Carmelite tradition St Teresa of Avila was very influenced in the first twenty years of her spiritual journey by a popular devotional book of the time called the ‘Third Spiritual Alphabet’ by the Francisco di Osuna, a Franciscan monk, which recommends praying by repeating a spiritual phrase.

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Weekly Teachings 27/11/2011

Introductory Talks

Often when we tell people we meditate in the Christian tradition, they look at us in amazement. Christian meditation, surely that does not exist? When we tell them that it was in the early centuries of our era an integral part of Christian worship, their disbelief grows into scorn: “If that were so, why have I not heard about this in Church?” they protest.

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Weekly Teachings 20/11/2011

Benedict

Can the pursuit of a spiritual path lead to the very egocentricity it is trying to escape? Not infrequently. The Desert monks were acutely aware of this danger especially in solitude and relied above all upon the abba-disciple relationship to avoid it.

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Weekly Teachings 13/11/2011

Cassian

John Cassian, whom Thomas Merton called the ‘master of the spiritual life for monks – the source for all in the West’ and who put John Main back on the path of contemplation was born probably in modern day Romania about 360 AD.

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Weekly Teachings 6/11/2011

Gregory of Nyssa

Indian philosophy includes the doctrine of ‘advaita’ or non-duality. We are not one with ultimate reality but we are not just dualistically related to it either.  As with all ideas this one has spawned many versions. There are strong and weak forms of ‘advaita’.

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Weekly Teachings 30/10/2011

Origen

When Origen’s father was martyred his mother only prevented him from offering himself for the same fate by hiding his clothes. One of his great works is The Exhortation to Martyrdom where he sees this witness to faith as a sign of total discipleship.

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Weekly Teachings 23/10/2011

Clement of Alexandria: Jesus, the Divine Physician

Perhaps all identity is born from conflict. Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher, thought everything came out of conflict. Christian identity in its infancy also had to engage with and separate from strong religious and philosophical forces in Judaism, Greek thought and Gnosticism.

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Weekly Teachings 16/10/2011

Gnosticism

The occasion for the first great divide in the history of Christian spirituality was an esoteric and eclectic form of mysticism that is still with us and erupts from time to time in Hollywood blockbusters.

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