It is tempting to fix a divided, chaotic world in our heads, by imagining it whole and unified by excluding (or exterminating) anyone who won’t play by your rules or who challenges you. Many crimes against humanity are committed in the name of imagined unity and order. This causes domestic violence, institutional dysfunction and state tyranny. Its most subtle and serpent-like form today is in the manipulation of minds through mass media. Rather than imagining a solution and imposing it, we need to go directly into the experience of unity itself. This is the purpose of every true contemplative practice. Whatever reduces meditation to anything less, to just a short-term pain suppressant or distraction, pollutes the well of truth.
Meditation is the work that ordinary people do to find the peace and vitality of unified consciousness in their daily lives. Sharing the gift of meditation begins by reassuring a beginner on the path that their distractedness, the personal brokenness they will encounter and the ego’s sense of failure or unworthiness are not the way to judge their practice or progress. Instead of a falsely imagined wholeness they will find the liberty, the goal-less goal of poverty of spirit. Then the unified mind and heart see divine beauty manifesting in manmade ugliness, wholeness appearing through brokenness, God’s power healing through weakness. Only in this paradoxical vision of a unifying consciousness can we begin to understand what redemption means.
After meditation: “The Fact of Forgiveness” by Kim Stafford in SINGER COME FROM AFAR (Pasadena: Red Hen Press, 2021), p. 103.
The Fact of Forgiveness
It is a given you have failed.
It goes without saying you were hurt
and so you hurt some others.
Of course you alone could have saved someone
or something you did not.
The midnight court of the sleepless mind
has reached its verdict: Life Sentence.
Life will be long and hard, but also mysterious
in how you are condemned to live
by beauty all the same.
Through the bars of your cell, you must watch
the moon grow full and generous.
A tune made for others will arrive as if for you.
The world can’t keep its treasures from you—
no matter how little you deserve,
you have it all:
Moon, Sun, Sleep, Waking, Water, Air—
a bird dancing away out of sight
leaving the print of its flight
and a filament of song