Sometimes, as over the turn of the year, I feel like blogging fairly frequently. At other times, like now, I don’t. I’m still integrating my work with the Ceile De paidirean (beads) and fuinn (chants). It takes a while. I suspect that I’m entering a quiet period.
Yet as I do so I want to say a little bit about what contemplative practice means to me now. Centring in silence is the essence of the practice. In sitting meditation I enter silence with a contemplative intent. The process is one of self-emptying, but not in a self-wounding spirit of renunciation, of holy war on ‘ego’, of pushing away the immature self-sense like an unwanted child.
Self-emptying is simply the will to let things come and go without grabbing on, making room for something else to be. Warmly spacious, it invites a more expansive way of being. We do not let go in order to get something better. The letting go is itself the something better, freeing us from our habitual self-protectiveness and contracted activities like taking, defending, hoarding, and clinging. For this reason Cynthia Bourgeault talks of ‘kenosis’ (self-emptying) as “primarily a visionary tool rather than a moral one; its primary purpose is to cleanse the lens of perception”*.
Having said that, I am finding that the contemplative shift into self-emptying does tend to open up states of acceptance (including self-acceptance), gratitude, peace, joy and love. They come in and are present, just naturally there, not in any way willed or dutiful, some of the time. They come and go, while contemplation remains centred in stillness and silence, and “looks at the world through a single lens of wholeness”*.
* The meaning of Mary Magdalene: the woman at the heart of Christianity. Cynthia Bourgeault. Shambhala: Boston & London, 2010