Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The One Centre

This week I've continued to ponder the call to move through the surface agitation of events, fears and distraction to come to rest in God and to source responsiveness here.

I've been thinking about the relationship between contemplation, action and activism and sensing that, despite the manifest need for action on many fronts, there is danger in allowing ourselves to get too caught up in activism. The danger is that the energy we expend in these ways ends up exhausting itself or (even worse) is somehow co-opted to fuel the very energy of destruction we seek to counter. What you resist persists, so the saying goes.

This is clearly a subtle matter calling for discernment. There is (I think) a real place for activism - for public protest against injustice, for creating communities of resistance and so on. But somehow the energy we bring to this needs to come not just from indignation, anger and fear, but from the non-anxious source of all things. It needs to be a response grounded in the energy of creation and reconciliation that can transform alienation and isolation into real communion, real peace.

In contemplation, this is the energy we seek to be awake to, receptive to, available for.

This morning, I went to the island in Lake Ginninderra, where we celebrated Easter last year. The island itself seemed agitated when I arrived. A very large flock of corellas has moved into the neighbourhood - they were noisy and felt like invaders.

The other birds seemed agitated - the crows were cawing and moving heavily through the trees; even the waterbirds seemed not quite themselves. But I found a spot among the she-oaks to sit quietly, and practised being still amidst the agitation. The water sparkled, the wind soughed in the trees and I saw a water rat swim by.

Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of meditation as a process of sinking deep into the ground of your being, just as a pebble thrown into water sinks to the river bed. John Main wrote similarly: 'The purpose of meditation for each of us is that we come to our own centre. In many traditions, meditation is spoken of as a pilgrimage - a pilgrimage to your own centre, your own heart, and there you learn to remain awake, alive and still' (Moment of Christ). What's important is that as you sink into your own centre, you discover 'there is only one centre' and that our life task is to learn to live out of that 'one centre'.

What makes this a journey of faith is the ungraspability, un-encompassability of the centre. We sense it, intuit it as we find ourselves drawn into its field, its orbit ... but we don't see 'it'. We can do no more than trust we are not deluded, and that our availability to this energy really is the 'one thing necessary'.


1 comment:

  1. I'm reminded of Parker Palmer's comment that the 'spiritual life does not mean abandoning the world, but engaging it more deeply through life-giving action.' Is my activism (or not) life-giving action? It's something I must discern through contemplation, which I guess brings it back to the quote from Meister Eckhart at the top of your blog: 'What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action'.