The Way of Unknowing is the fourth of eight sets of John Main’s collected talks. Listening attentively to his voice prepares you for the silence and stillness of meditation. These talks were designed to introduce meditation to peo- ple for the first time, and also to encourage people already meditating to deepen their regular practice.
Moment of Christ is the third of eight sets of John Main’s collected talks. These talks were given at his monastery in Montreal to groups who came on weekday evenings to listen to and meditate with him. The talks were meant to persuade ordinary people, many of whom came straight from work, of the importance of meditating and the simplicity of the Chris- tian tradition and practice of it.
The Christian Mysteries: Prayer and Sacrament is the second of eight sets of John Main’s collected talks. John Main believed that meditation verifies the truths of Chris- tian faith from one’s own experience. His reflections on the Sacraments show how this verification springs first from the heart where experience is direct before it touches our minds.
Word into Silence is the first of eight sets of John Main’s collected talks. This set of talks was given in the 1970s in England as an introduction to meditation and a means of encouragement for those who had begun to meditate.
Raimon Panikkar once said of John Main, who died thirty years ago today, on 30th December 1982:
John Main harmonized what he learned from the East and from the West. From every discovery there is a new creation. Main was not complicated - he was a symbol for us all. In this he was an authentic genius.
During my Christmas and New Year retreat on Bere Island I am spending part of each day editing a series of short talks on meditation by Fr John that have not yet been published in book form. In preparing for the re-issue of his collected talks in CD and online next month, we were delighted to find these talks. They will be available later this year in a new book to be called “In the Beginning”.
The extraordinary thing, I have felt, is that these talks given to new meditators carry the same force and depth as his most advanced teaching. This must be a sign of the profound simplicity that Raimon Panikkar speaks of.
Heaven has placed itself beneath the earth. When heaven and earth unite they are of one will. Their influences are in harmony.’ (I Ching, ‘Peace’)
As he faced his own death on December 30 1982 John Main wrote his last newsletter - one of his most powerful teachings - on the ocean of God on which the horizon is always receding. Having accepted his dying he could see deeply into the meaning of life that the birth of Jesus had forever radically altered. Every story we tell, including the story of Bethlehem, is an attempt to express that ultimate meaning. Fr John tells us that the end and the beginning of every story are like two ends of a string held in the mystery of God and joined together in the mystery of Christ. So nothing is left outside.