InFocus Series: Meet Vladimir Volrab, Czech Republic

My spiritual journey began when I was about sixteen years old. I grew up in a non-religious family but during this time I started to be naturally attracted to spirituality. After a period of searching I became a Zen Buddhist student in the Korean tradition and I was trying to keep up a regular practice and also attend meditation retreats.

A few years later I became friendly with a reform priest. He gave me the Gospels to read because he wanted to discuss them with me and also he
wanted to know my thoughts about them from a Zen Buddhist perspective. Actually, I had never read the Gospels before and was very surprised when the reading of them gave a deep and direct meaning and sense to my life. I am convinced that this was because of the experience of silence that I had already had within the Zen tradition. The Gospel’s narrative reflected my own story of life. I felt I was ready to hear them at that stage of my life. I received baptism, entered the church and started to study theology soon after that. I had found a place to belong within the religious life of my own culture.

Nevertheless, I had entered into an environment where spirituality was more of a conceptual understanding than experience. I still felt a great desire for the experience of silence so I started to look for references to meditation in the Christian tradition. One day I finally found a book by John Main: Moment of Christ. After reading a few pages I understood that I was really “at home”. Especially John Main’s idea of meditation as a process of “smashing the mirror” which deeply resonated in me. Every time as John Main says, we look into the mirror which is between us and God, we see ourselves, our past, and the things around us. If I can really see the story of my life as connected with the Gospel narratives, I understand that I am not the central focus in this story. God is the focus, not as an intellectual idea or image.

I’m grateful that I was invited to the meeting of young contemplative teachers and scholars this year, which took place in Snowmass, Colorado. We discussed many problems of the today’s world and churches. Although we were people from different Christian backgrounds, we have shared an understanding that the answers should come from our experience with God’s presence in our hearts. The process of “smashing the mirror” is able to bring God into our
lives as the source and purpose of all our efforts. I believe that this is what Christianity and the world desperately needs

If I can really see the story of my life as connected with the Gospel narratives, I understand that I am not the central focus in this story

Vladimir Volrab
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