Thursday, June 12, 2008

Paul Tillich and Clay

This week we had our religion and ethics discussion at the book store. Clay, our leader, brought in an idea of Paul Tillich's that God can be found not "out there" but in our "depth" and used some Biblical quotes to affirm this. In other words, if I understand correctly, Tillich is saying God is inside of us. With this on the table, I said that if this is true, then meditation makes all the sense in the world as a way of practicing spirituality. Clay, who unequivocally rejects all things that relate to the practice of Eastern religions, went on to say that he sees no purpose whatsoever in meditation, and feels that the only way to experience spirituality is to be in deep conversation with people about it. He even said that he has four friends who meditate and that when they go to silent retreats, they can't even discuss how they feel when they meditate. How absurd, he insinuated, making a statement about how people come up with some delusional opinions about their religion when they practice alone.

Four years ago I might have wholeheartedly agreed with Clay. Talking, doing, reading, talking some more--this was the way to not only get to the Truth but also the way to conduct my life. Talk about books, children, spouses, the government, the death penalty, teachers' plights, the economy, movies, and on and on.

And then I began a very preliminary dabbling into meditation. Not deep meditation as I've heard about but sitting still for fifteen, thirty minutes, even an hour. And to tell you the truth, I really liked it. A lot of wonderful things have come up while I listened to my breathing and the birds and the traffic and planes and lawn mowers. And I've come to believe that there is something deep inside of me that can be accessed in a spiritual way if I will just be still and quiet.

So I challenged Clay to try it. I don't think Clay gets challenged very often because his voice rose as he told me some conditions for his trying it, but I hope he takes the dare. I would love to have him come in one Monday night at the book store and say, "Okay, everybody, for the next hour we will be closing our eyes and listening, counting, silently reciting a mantra." Now THAT would represent a conversion experience!


G Liz said...

I can't recall which woman Christian author wrote this, but she said that when we pray, we are talking to God...but when we meditate, we are LISTENING to his answers, his guidance/direction. She strongly emphasized the importance of meditation, and I am an advocate as well.

I wish I could remember who it was...I don't think it was Beth Moore. I'll let you know when it comes to me.

Love ya!

mamie said...

Gina, one of the most powerful prayers I've heard came from a book by Gail Godwin: "I'm listening." But even this presupposes that God is an outward manifestation. I'm still fascinated by this thought of an internal god.

MitMoi said...

I don't think it would indicate a conversion experience. I think it would indicate he'd slidden (totally a word) into insanity.

Sitting still for an HOUR .... without anything to READ?? And NO MUSIC??? Heresy I tell you, heresy!

<3 Mit!

mamie said...

Well, Mit, maybe I need to challenge YOU to try it for a few days. Start with ten minutes--you've already done five. And nobody said you couldn't have music. Dare you....

Church Lady Chronic-ails said...

After scanning your work, I see several authors I find spiritual strenght in. That's neat. I also enjoy SUe monk Kidd.
How about some pics of your girls when they were in preschool? You sound very familiar and I'm just wondering. You mentioned aol at one point. Is there email I can write to?

mamie said...

Church lady, yes indeed we knew each other in a former life - all those little girls, dancing and making crayon pictures!! I'm so glad to re-visit your blog and have you visit mine. For some reason I was getting a November post every time I went on yours and now realize that it wasn't updating. Howaya? You can get me using the old AOL address if you still have it.