Blessed is the one who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; But this one’s delight is in the Torah of Yahweh, And on Yahweh’s Torah this one meditates day and night. Here is one like a Tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that this one does, this one prospers. Ps 1:1-3
Meditation has always been at the heart of the mystical path as it seeks union with the Divine. It is in meditation that we move from seeking to speak about the Divine, or even to the Divine, to seeking to listen to the Divine voice within. It is the mystical understanding that existential union with the Sacred is not built on knowledge about the Sacred, but is rooted in direct communion with the Sacred that transcends knowledge.
It is only by opening ourselves up to the voice of the Ultimate, which is always seeking to speak to us and connect with us, that we have hope of experiencing in the now, in fits and starts, the ecstatic eternal union with the Ultimate that is our final destiny. Meditation is the spiritual discipline that is all about this opening up to listen to the Ultimate, and therefore it is the primary means of the mystical path.
In Christian mysticism there has been two primary forms of meditation. Contemplative Prayer is one of these forms and it shares with the disciplines of Eastern spiritualities a focus on emptying the self. Contemplative Prayer is a valuable form of meditation, but it is not the only kind of Christian meditation. The other major form has the exact opposite focus. Instead of seeking to empty the psyche to connect with the Divine within, this style of meditation seeks to fill the psyche with concrete sacred reality. Perhaps the most famous example of this would be the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. The secular version of this kind of meditation in modern Psychology is called “Guided Imagery.”
In Psalm One this kind of meditation is presented as the key to a life of prosperity. Here the concrete sacred reality is the Torah, or the laws of God. An interesting things happens, though, if we follow the Traditional Christian understanding of this passage.
Instead of restricting the meaning of Torah here to the books of Moses, the common Christian understanding is to see the passage to be teaching meditation upon any and all of the Christian Scripture. This would include meditation on Psalm One itself. However, meditating on Psalm One immediately leads us to meditation where the concrete reality we meditate on is the natural world, we might call this Creation Spirituality Meditation.
There is wonder and joy in meditation where the content is the creation. Our psyches are so made that when we focus on something concrete which we can experience with our senses, and when we surrender to that sensual experience, that we naturally experience a zen of connection and loss of ego. We are captured by the aspect of creation we focus on.
Let’s think about the promise in Psalm One, becoming a green tree planted by a river. The tree is not an image most of us have trouble creating. Instead our lives have been filled with them. Many of us only need to take a short walk or drive to find one which we can see, touch, hear, smell and even taste.
Instead of avoiding our senses, like in the meditation of emptying, in Creation Spirituality Meditation we open our senses. Although one can become a tree alone in a room with eyes closed, it is a richer and fuller form of meditation to go out to that real tree and to relate to it, to surrender to its reality, and to let its existence fill up the psyche.
Creation Spirituality Meditation then becomes all about gazing on and sniffing and hugging and even licking the tree. It may include climbing the tree or dancing around it. This is a meditation that gets sap on the fingers and dirt on the knees.
Of course becoming a tree is only one example of Creation Spirituality Meditation. We can also let the stones, the birds, the wolves, the surf, the very air be the sacred content of our meditation. Any aspect of the creation will connect us with the Creating One who calls the worlds into existence. For in rediscovering ourselves as a part of this creation, we will re-enter into the sacred communion that all creation knows in the Divine.
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