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!