Monday, 11 March 2013


At ChristChurch, Clarendon Park, for the seventh session in the course, "Going On Beyond: Meditation and Mysticism in the World Faiths". This nine-week course is an interfaith opportunity presented by Christians Aware, as part of its Faith Awareness programme. It is presented in association with Leicester Serene Reflection Meditation Group.

This evening we're expecting to receive a presentation on "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism" but our speaker fails to appear. So Kevin Commons and Ian Grayling (from the Serene Meditation Group) and I speedily organise a DIY session in place of the one advertised.

We set up three groups of five to discuss three related terms that impact on theory and practice: "meditation", "contemplation" and "concentration". Lively discussion ensues over the next half hour or so, during which we raise such points as those listed below:
  • Is there a hierarchy of these terms?
  • Do commentators or practitioners consider any of them superior or inferior to the others?
  • Does one have to go through different levels before experiencing each one?
  • Once you reach one of these stages (e.g. “concentration”) are you done with the others that come before it?
  • How do they relate to other terms used to describe similar experiences (e.g. "absorption", "reflection")?
  • What is there relation to states of mind where there is an absence of mental processes?
  • These terms are defined and redefined in complementary or contradictory ways according to the disciplines, paraphernalia and style of practice.
  • We should beware of falling into the trap of believing that we can use these (or any other) terms to describe or express experiences which are beyond words – especially as they are themselves translations.

We end with a short spell of meditation practice after the zazen (“just sitting”) form that we experienced last week. I think we do alright this evening, for a spot of DIY.

No comments:

Post a Comment