Surrendering to Love:

A few days ago, in the middle of preparing a very practical talk for our weekly online practice group, I came across an email someone sent me a couple of years ago.

Reading their words again, I was struck by their joy and deeply moved by what they were discovering through meditation. And I was reminded of my own astonished excitement when I was first introduced to the practice.

So, I put my half-finished talk to one side and decided to try and say a little about the sheer wonder of what we are involved in each time we meditate.

Here’s a little of what they wrote:

“I’ve practiced various forms of meditation for many years. In my heart it always felt absolutely right. But, on more than a few occasions, some of my Christian friends (and several Christian ministers) tried to stop me meditating, which left me feeling quite alone and guilty.

I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to have discovered the deep roots of meditation in the Christian tradition. After a lifetime of thinking of prayer as something quite complicated, the simplicity of the practice is utterly liberating.

I’d been taught to think of God as separate from me, somewhere “up there” or “out there.” So, to find an ancient way of prayer that invites us to be still and know[1] that we are not separate, but one, is revelatory. It feels as if my life is opening.”

The Christian life might be described as accepting the invitation to centre our life in the single, infinite reality that is the source of our life, whose nature is pure Awareness, Love, Peace; the reality we call God.

The invitation to each of us is to know and manifest this reality in our lives, to become its fragrance in the world, as St. Paul so beautifully puts it.[2]

Meditation is a simple way of becoming open to the fullness of this reality. The very simplicity of the practice helps simplify us, unify us and bring us into harmony. It is a vehicle which carries us to the innermost centre of our being, to discover that we are not just one with the source of our being, but with all being, and so with all creation.

“In the prophet Hosea,” writes Meister Eckhart, “our Lord says, ‘I will lead the noble soul into the wilderness, and there I will speak to her heart,’ one with One, one from One, one in One, and a single One eternally.”[3]

We cannot bring all this about by ourselves. But we don’t need to worry about that. Even before we ask, God gives us all we need to come into the fullness of his Love.

Establishing a daily practice of meditation is so important, because it is through our daily faithfulness to this simple work of stillness that our whole way of seeing and being is rearranged and transfigured.

The way of meditation is the way of selfless attention, the way of Oneness.

We follow the pattern of Christ’s humility, adopting the mind that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Philippians:

“Be of the same mind, having the same love, being united in your soul and of one mind… Be of that mind in yourselves that was also in Christ Jesus, who, though existing in God’s form, did not consider being equal with God something to be grasped, but emptied [let go of] himself…”[4]

Saying our prayer word, following the flow of our breath, we let go of our thoughts and the content of our moment-to-moment experience. Letting go of our self-conscious self, we leave behind all that limits and constrains us and surrender to Love.

In traditional Christian terms, we enter the prayer of Christ. We enter the stream of love that flows between the Son and the Father and are carried into the heart of all reality, the heart of all relationship.

It is easy to be intoxicated by the beauty of this vision. But the invitation to each of us is to know this within the fabric of our seemingly ordinary lives.

What does this mean for each of us, for our relationships? Not less than everything.

As we sit, still and silent, we learn to see and accept what arises within us. We see our impulses, our passions and our fears. We see the stories we weave about ourselves and life. We see the fundamental causes of our suffering and learn to meet their presence quietly, peacefully, without feeding them.

As we quietly notice our negative thoughts and quietly, repeatedly choose to take refuge in the sanctuary of our practice, they gradually decrease. And as they decrease, our suffering decreases. A space is cleared in which the calm, compassionate light of awareness can shine.

The peace we encounter ever more clearly, is the peace of resting in our fundamental nature.

We begin to see that this place of peace isn’t only here during our times of meditation.

It is here when we are blown about by life’s events and rocked by pain. It is here in our openness and vulnerability to the suffering of others. It is here in our work for social justice and in the smallest act of kindness. It is ever-present. Even in the midst of the greatest challenges and sorrow, we can turn to this sanctuary of peace within. It is always here, always available, because this peace is our deepest truth, our deepest identity, our deepest “me”.

To know this and let this knowing shape our lives, is the foundation for peace within us and the foundation of peace between us; it is the deepest basis for compassion and justice, for our care of each other and this precious world.

Our quiet practice is deeply radical.

It doesn’t say “believe this” or “believe that”. It says “come and taste for yourself.”[5]

It turns us towards the reality that comes before all our words and ideas, before all our religious metaphors and doctrines.

It clears the way to seeing that beneath and before all that we argue over, all that we think divides us, we are one in God’s Oneness.

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[1] Psalm 46:10.

[2] 2 Corinthians 2:15.

[3] Meister Eckhart, The Nobleman, in The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart, trans. M Walshe (New York: Crossroad, 2009), p. 564.

[4] Philippians 2:2–7.

[5] “Come, and you will see” (John 1:39).

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The School of Contemplative Life

The School of Contemplative Life

Chris Whittington is the Founder of the School of Contemplative Life. Visit our website: www.schoolofcontemplativelife.com