We are living in a time of brokenness and everyone is affected. We see brokenness in the guiding institutions of society upon which we have always depended to provide for the common good. We see brokenness in individuals, in our families, and in our environment.
During these distressing times, those whose lives have been affected by war or by a troubled economy that has created greater homelessness, unemployment, and poverty, will often seek the inner strength they need to cope and survive from their spiritual life.
But the times are also distressing for those who want to do something about these conditions or who are trying to assist those in need. They, too, seek inner strength and direction from their spiritual life.
Thomas Merton saw the “illusion of separateness” in our relationships as the root cause of the perennial issues confronting humanity. There is conclusive evidence in our culture, our society and our personal lives to support his view. In our relationships with people and organisations we encounter behaviours that create greater separateness: dishonesty, unfaithfulness, greed, addictions, self-centeredness, violence, and abuse of power. These behaviours erode the fundamentals that relationships require for personal and social harmony.
Lasting solutions will not come from fixing the economy or the healthcare system, nor from peace treaties or more legislation. Certainly these efforts may help to alleviate the pain and suffering, but they do not address the root cause. To address all the manifestations of brokenness and destructive behaviours is impossible. They are just symptoms of something deeper, something that can be addressed and needs to be addressed by every person.
We do not need to invent a new solution. It already exists. It is within each of us. It entails living contemplatively, that is, in relationships with self, others, nature and God free of the illusion of separateness. It begins with oneself, recognising and amending whatever we do that alienates us from our true self, each other, nature and God. We are living contemplatively when:
- We purposefully engage in activities intended to deepen our relationships.
- We are not distracted by meaningless activity and our active life does not suffocate our contemplative nature.
- We take personal responsibility for each of our relationships and are conscious of how our decisions, actions and use of time affect them.
- Our relationships determine our life’s goals and become the measure of our success.
- We find ourselves more concerned with the issues confronting humanity and less with the mundane concerns of daily life.
- We experience the freedom, joy and love that can only come from grounding ourselves in our relationships.
“We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.” Thomas Merton
Contemplative living can be taken to an even higher level of spiritual consciousness. If the soul has encountered previous negative religious experiences then it becomes locked to the window of opportunity that God has for that soul. Down through the centuries many individuals who were introduced to God by their family, have either directly or indirectly experienced the ‘wrath of clerical religious abuse.’ We only have to look at our TV screens to see how members of the Abrahamic Community in Jerusalem communicate God’s love to each other.
Regrettably, their contact is more fueled by ego, power to control or ignorance to the real truth behind each human story. Either way, today, because we have received so much enlightenment from embracing ‘Contemplative Living,’ we are ideally placed to challenge all forms of human misery and egoist language that seeks to separate the innocent soul from embracing a God of Love.
Today, there is a real spiritual hunger in all its forms at some stage in our quest for clarity and meaning to ‘who am I;’ ‘where I am going,’ etc. in this faith experience.