Mindfulness and Contemplation: What’s the Difference?

Like a gentle stream, mindfulness and contemplative prayer both seek clarity. Yet only prayer seeks the face of God.

Recently a reader left the following comment on this blog: I have been reading and tried to practice the way of a contemplative life although poorly I believe. But my hunger for anything on the topic of contemplation continues. Recently I have also been enticed into “mindfulness” practices. Now what or how do you relation […]

Here Cistercian monk, author, and centering prayer practitioner Father William Meninger, OCSO is interviewed by an evangelical pastor, Pete Scazzero of New Life Fellowship, on the topic of “communion with God.” At the beginning Scazzero offers a rather lengthy “history lesson” of the divisions within Christianity, but ends with a lovely ecumenical note: “rather than judge traditions different from us, we want to learn from them.” Amen! (If you want to skip over the introduction, start at about the 5:00 mark). Fr. William begins with a wonderful definition of what a monk is, and many delights ensue.

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What the Mystics Know (New York: Crossroad, 2015)

First, let me admit something: I’m not crazy about books that anthologize excerpts of writings from other sources. I find such “taken out of context” selections to be jarring to read. But that’s just my bias, so I’m recommending What the Mystics Know even though it’s that kind of book: sort of a “best of Richard Rohr,” at least in terms of his sizable corpus of writings published by Crossroad. Broadly divided into seven categories including enlightenment, imperfection, suffering, paradox, contemplation, truth and transformation, this book gathers together much of Father Richard’s easily accessible wisdom — not only on mysticism, but indeed on life in general. If you’re not familiar with Rohr, this would be a great starting point; if you already know his work, What the Mystics Know could work beautifully as a daily devotional.

Desert Island Discs (and DVDs)

Of course, if I were stranded here, I probably wouldn't care if I had CDs or DVDs with me...

If you were stranded on a desert island, what music would you want to accompany you? The BBC has a long-running program called Desert Island Discs which began airing in 1942 and as of 2015 it’s still going strong. Here’s the concept: Desert Island Discs … was introduced to the listening public as “a programme in which a […]

Principles for Contemplative Spirituality (Part Two)

Contemplation is like a path through a beautiful garden.

Last week I shared six principles that guide me in my understanding of what Christian contemplative spirituality is. This week I’m sharing six more. As I said last week, it’s a bit of a paradox to offer principles for a spiritual practice that is grounded in silence and invites us into silence. Speaking of silence: […]

Here’s a delightful video filmed in 2011, on the 100th anniversary of the publication of Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness (the book which directly inspired two of my books, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Answering the Contemplative Call). My friend Dana Greene, who is an Underhill scholar, is here interviewed by Liz Ward of the Shalem Institute to shed some light on who Evelyn Underhill was, and why her wonderful book on mysticism still matters, after over a century in print.

 

 

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The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart (New York: Crossroad, 2009)

Translated by Maurice O’C Walshe with revisions and a foreword by Bernard McGinn, The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart offers nearly 600 pages of English translations of the great medieval mystic’s German writings. With 97 sermons and five treatises, there’s enough material here for months, if not years, of study. Eckhart generally was more daring in his German works than in his Latin compositions, so it’s here that you’ll get the full sweep of his speculative mystical thought.

I’ll be interviewed by Kathy Chiero of WTVN, Columbus, OH, on July 19 as a guest on her “Sitting Room” program. Our topic will be “Why traditional religion is failing to connect the faithful to God.” Needless to say, I have an opinion or two on this subject! Hope you will tune in if you’re in the Columbus area, or you can always catch the show online at www.sittingroomradio.com.

Date: July 19, 2015
Time: 05:00-05:45 p.m. EST
Appearance: Guest on “The Sitting Room” with Kathy Chiero
Outlet: The Sitting Room with Kathy Chiero (News Radio 610 WTVN)
Location: Columbus, OH
Format: Radio
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Benedict’s Dharma (New York: Riverhead Books, 2001)

This book is an interesting interfaith experiment — in which four Buddhists (Norman Fischer, Joseph Goldstein, Judith Simmer-Brown and Yifa) reflect on the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict. For Christians, this is an interesting way to see how one of our foundational contemplative texts can be seen by practitioners of other wisdom traditions. While on occasion I found myself arguing with the various writers on one point or another, for the most part Benedict’s Dharma is a respectful, yet honest, contribution to interspiritual dialogue. It also includes an inclusive-language translation of Rule by Patrick Barry, OSB, and commentary from Christian monastics Mary Margaret Funk and David Steindl-Rast.

Christianity and Eastern Meditation: A Creative Synthesis
This five week course (September 9 through October 14, no class on September 23, Yom Kippur) explores how eastern meditation may be integrated into a Christian practice of prayer and contemplation. This is not about “blending” east and west, but about respecting the unique qualities of different traditions, as the best foundation for true interspirituality. While the class will be taught from a Christian perspective, people of all faith traditions (or none) are welcome to participate. Hope to see you there!

To download a flyer for this class, click here.

Date: September 9, 2015—October 14, 2015
Time: 07:15-08:30 PM
Event: Christianity and Eastern Meditation: A Creative Synthesis
Topic: Spirituality
Sponsor: Neshama Interfaith Center
404-483-5788
Venue: Ignatius House
Location: 6700 Riverside Drive NW
Atlanta, GA 30328
More Info: Click here for more information.

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In silence we learn that prayer is less about what we do than about what God is doing; it is something we receive. It engages us in the process of redemption and sanctification by which God brings us to glory, to our full stature as his children in Christ.

David Foster OSB
Deep Calls to Deep: Going Further in Prayer (London: Continuum, 2007), p. 11.