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CHRISTIAN: The roots of Christian meditation reside in the very life of Christ, for the Gospels state that he often withdrew from the crowds to spend time "alone with God." Throughout the centuries, many monks, nuns and laypersons have followed his example, inspired by certain scriptures that present the goal of the Christian life as a form of union with God. From the Desert Fathers to the medieval mystics, we find that this spiritual quest began with purification from one's sins and errors before proceeding with holy reading (lectio divina), prayer (oratio), or meditation (meditation).

Regardless of the approach, all these activities lead to the unification of one's consciousness and a proper "ordering of the heart" (ordinatio caritatis). As the aspirant progresses in the ascent to God, he/she experiences a breakthrough en route to a dazzling darkness beyond all desires and concepts - indeed, beyond all created things. The result of such transcendence has been likened to an emptying of the self(kenosis), and enables the Christian contemplative to "imitate" the sacrifice and self-giving of Christ.

Entering more fully into this cloud of unknowing, or sacred ignorance, one becomes an empty vessel, which can then be filled by the richness of God. Here God "breathes" into the soul till Christ is formed within.

When this process of rebirth is perfected, God takes permanent residence within the mansion of the soul, making it possible for one to say, with Catherine of Genoa, "My being is God." In such an integral state, one learns to pray without ceasing, and can read, write, work, do what one will, while abiding in the Presence of God.

Text courtesy of the Museum of World Religions.

Traditions of Meditation:

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