Rufus Jones, one of the Religious Society of Friends’ greatest mystics, spoke in meeting, beginning “I was thinking”. After, a Friend commented that he was sorry to hear what Jones had said, you should not be thinking in meeting. All Quakers are aware of this story, and it relieves me to be absolved again by Valerie Brown, because in Meeting I think.
I may merely be ruminating, thinking unproductively, or I may be thinking as yesterday, being led to insight. By their fruits shall ye know them. The latter is good. I may never stop ruminating entirely, and attain Perfect Centering- it helps to be aware of and dwell on the moments where I do get it right,
She says I should let go of goals in my meditation, and this creates resistance in me. Of course I have goals. They may be unspecific, such as “improvement”, and I may need to be open to refining them with greater understanding- use the word as a Springboard, not a box- but of course I have goals.
One of my spiritual practices is having a bath, like this morning: I bathed for two hours, initially in water as hot as I can bear, reading and musing. And I saw that all I am capable of now is No- No, for example, to the goal that I should be supporting myself, for it comes from outside me. And- I am patiently and unconsciously turning my No around, from a No to my deepest self, my reality and my desires, to a No to things outside which I have found inimical. Even my conscious goals might have inhibited that.
My locus of control is internal, and so deep I am only conscious of it afterwards. Like Moses in the Wilderness, Exodus 33:20-23. The Lord said,
I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But, you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.
I thought that story was Elijah, and needed my Concordance to find it. Ha! Take that, Bible-haters! A story which is gibberish if taken literally, and holds spiritual truth.
Valerie Brown describes various spiritual practices: centering down, centering prayer, and meditation on the Breath. As for concentrating on the Breath, I have not done this a great deal. Valerie describes it in a way which makes it far richer than I had imagined: do listen. And hearing her voice is so much more intense than reading the words.
The picture is of my meditation bear, who sits in my ritual space all the time, holding the silence. Sometimes I meditate beside her, and sometimes in the ritual space I cuddle her and weep.