When we meditate, we enter the mind of Christ by entering into meditative states of awareness of all that we hold in common as human beings. We sit, silent and still, and learn the intimate texture of thoughts, feelings, memories, and bodily sensations that all of us as human beings experience. In doing so we drop down into levels of oneness with others that transcends the differences between us. I am not you. But if I have intimately tasted my own aloneness, my own experience of thoughts arising and passing through my mind, my own breathing-then I already have in my intimate awareness of myself an intimate awareness of you.
This knowledge is not that of the words written on the pages of my mind, rather, it is a knowledge of the human experience of the mind itself. The experience is not simply my personal feelings about this or that. It is rather the intimate understanding of the texture of my own heart as feelings play across its surface, flow through it, and alter its state from one moment to the next. Grounded in this self-knowledge, I am grounded in awareness of oneness with you at a level that precedes and transcends the differences between us. I know you with an empathatic, heartfelt knowledge of what it means to be a human being.
It takes time, but little by little we enter the social dimensions of the mind of Christ in awakening to how perfectly one we are with everyone living and dead. As this awareness slowly seeps in, we are able to grow, day by day into a more patient, gracious recognition and acceptance of and gratitude for others. Little by little the graciousness of Christ’s emphatic mind of oneness with others is translated into a thousand little shifts in the way we think about people, our attitudes toward them, and the way in which we actually treat them day by day.
As we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of Christlike compassion we start to see others through the eyes of Christlike compassion as well. In learning to be compassionate towards ourselves as precious in our frailty, we learn to be compassionate toward others as precious in their frailty.”
~ James Finley, Christian Meditation, p. 96
I've come to believe that compassion is a crucial component in glorifying God and bringing glimpses of His Kingdom to the world. Jesus lived with great compassion-healing, preaching, teaching and extending himself out to the margins of society where many wouldn't dare to go. To be instruments of His peace and love it's essential as we grow with God to reflect Christ's compassion to others. As important and central as that is in our mission towards service to others, I think sometimes it's often overlooked to invoke that same compassion we extend to others to ourselves as well. It seems that sometimes we are more willing to forgive others and less willing to forgive ourselves. When we harbor guilt, feelings of unworthiness, etc. against ourselves that can only serve as a stumbling block in our mission to help others.
We become imprisoned by our own illusions about ourselves instead of being liberated from them. God offers us full liberation and redemption from our sins! As Christians, I feel it's important to take hold of the offer God holds out in His hands and allow Him to break the chains that bind us from serving Him more fully and living a more joy-filled and productive life. In fact, it should be one of our prerogatives! God wants us to find pleasure in Him, joy in Him. How can we find joy in God if we are trapped by our own prisons we have built around our hearts?
I love this passage from Finley because I can relate to so much that he says. Contemplative prayer, or Christian meditation, has been an invaluable experience for me in so many different ways. To experience the unfolding of your consciousness, to see more clearly with objectivity your thoughts and realize them for what they are...oftentimes impermanent illusions built upon the shaky foundation of attachments and other impermanent illusions, is transforming. It allows one to enter into and experience a new diminsion of God's reality. When stillness of one's mind is acheived and all of one's desire stretches towards the depths of God and is then enveloped in union with His love and peace...one does not walk away unchanged! It is also a beautiful way to realize profoundly the interconnectedness that we have with all of life that surrounds us. To treasure it, for it is a manifestation of God's glory, it is His love breathed out.
Thank you for bringing us safely into a new day. I pray that You guide our hearts to an ever deeper and fuller understanding of Your love, Your Grace, Your compassion. May You illuminate the areas in our lives where we need to come humbly before You in repentence and help us walk as free sons and daughters of God so that we might reflect Christ's compassion and love fully and boldly in all the corners of the world.
May we give You, and You alone, all glory, honor and praise.
In Jesus' precious name,