Meditation is a way to escape out of the prison of the ego and its desires by leading us into the silence of deep contemplative prayer. Laurence Freeman stresses in Jesus the Teacher Within that “Jesus had an ego. So it is not that the ego in itself is sinful. It is egotism, fixation on the ego that leads to the forgetting and betrayal of our true Selves. Sin happens when the ego is mistaken for the true Self….He also demonstrates the human capacity to live in a healthy balance between the ego and the Self.” (p.242) Becoming aware of what holds us back allows our ego to be permeated with the energy and consciousness of our true spiritual Self. This is true imitation of Christ.
We must not forget that the ego is built up out of the thoughts and images others have of ourselves, which we have made our own over the years. These are only thoughts, often pure illusion, not the reality of who we truly are. But to see through the wiles of the ego and escape its imprisoning domination is not something we can do on our own. Only by accessing the silence, where the spirit and consciousness of Christ dwells, do we get the insights that help us see the escape route. Our increasing self-knowledge is therefore in the first place dependent on prayer and spiritual guidance, but the spirit does not only act in the silence but also uses other human beings to make us aware of our shadow, through our instinctive reactions, our prejudices. In discovering our own shadow, we become more compassionate and open to others – we recognise their woundedness as our own.
At the basis of our relationship with others in friendship and community is meditation. John Main always stressed, that meditation creates community. We experience in the deep silence that we are not on our own but are deeply connected through the deeper part, spiritual part of our consciousness. Thus self-knowledge leads to knowledge of others and knowledge of the Christ within through the deep attentive listening that is meditation and this way of paying attention we carry over into our day to day life: “To listen is to turn towards another, to leave self behind; and that is to love….It is essential to Christian faith that we listen to Jesus with such unclouded attention that we lose ourselves…..thus he becomes….a ‘door’ that leads to self-knowledge.” (p.42) But facing all the repressed and lost parts of ourselves requires great courage and humility: “Jesus exposes the high cost by which self-knowledge is achieved….To know oneself requires unknowing one’s self. Finding involves loss. Seeds grow only through death. ….every day demands the death of the ego’s old illusions, habits, values and beliefs.”(p.41)
He does show that through meditation and deep prayer communion with the Divine is possible in this life: “Humanly Jesus communicates to us how even within the limits of his humanity he enjoyed the vision of God. He knew what prayer really is. …He knew the divine presence which is at the heart of prayer.”(p.245)
This is what Jesus meant when he says: “I have come that they may have life and life in all its fullness.” His whole life and teaching shows us the way to wholeness and holiness. “Jesus was fully human because his self-knowledge derived from consciousness of union with his father……We become fully human and share in the fully divine through union with his humanity. In the Spirit, the non-duality of God, Jesus can at the human level share with us everything that he is.” (p.244)