Christian Meditation ‘Guru’ speaks in Norwich
International meditation teacher and Benedictine monk Father Laurence Freeman was in Norwich in June 2007. Liz Day takes a look at his vision and teaching.
“If we are on the spiritual path we discover something more satisfying than success. We experience Realisation – the coming into reality of who we are. Meditation is the path of realisation – success and failure have nothing to do with it”.
These are the words of Father Laurence Freeman, Benedictine monk and Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation. Father Laurence, author of books such as The Selfless Self, Web of Silence and Jesus, The Teacher Within, has become a much sought-after speaker and leader of contemplative retreats in many parts of the world. He has conducted dialogues and peace initiatives such as the historic Way of Peace (in India and Northern Ireland) with the Dalai Lama. He is active in inter-religious dialogue with all faiths – recently at York University, he co-hosted an exploration of common ground between Christianity and Islam.
He encourages the teaching of meditation to children and students, seeing this contemplative dimension of experience as the essential characteristic of any real education.
All this is part of an overall vision which invites the timeless wisdom of the contemplative tradition back into the Church and into our culture as a whole. The re-emergence of this depth dimension offers hope and a practical way forward to the many who fear for our individual and collective fate.
This summer, people in East Anglia will have a unique opportunity to hear, and practice with, this celebrated teacher when he makes his first visit to the area. The centrepiece of his short tour will be an afternoon of teaching to be held at the beautiful church of St Peter Mancroft at the very heart of Norwich. His talk is entitled “Love and Meaning: Christian Meditation in the 21st Century”. This will be a chance for people to begin – or to deepen – their experience of meditation, a practice which offers a profound path of transformation.
It is the practical aspect of meditation which Father Laurence emphasises. It is, above all, a practice; something that we do every day. Using a less fashionable word, he reminds us that it is a discipline: “A discipline of simplicity – not solemn or pompous, but serious”.
At the heart of this practice is the steady work of bringing our attention to the still centre of our being, the Kingdom to which Jesus and other wisdom teachers point. We acknowledge our emotional and psychological wounds and – in the end – let them go. It is not our wounds, our failures or our successes which define us. Meditation, Father Laurence teaches, allows us gently to unhook from the endless wearying struggles of the ego. It frees us to be peacemakers:
“As we realise who we are, we come to realise who God is and who Christ is - the fully realised one who has fully transcended the ego and the light of whose self shines in each of us. Meditation is the humble and simple work which transforms our life”.