How much do I want to read more? 8/10
This is one of the rare book using the word "God" I can read with delight.
Surely because it describes this amazement when struck by the awareness of "being alive".
This is such a weird and profound mystery, so magical. We don't have the words to describe it. Yet this book does a pretty good job at it, and invites us to enter more often and more deeply in this state of awareness.
What a wonderful world to explore !
Introduction: New Seeds of Contemplation (Sue Monk Kidd)
Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.… To work out our identity in God.
If my reading of The Seven Storey Mountain inducted me into the mysteries of the interior life, waking an urge to be, New Seeds of Contemplation initiated me into the secrets of my true identity and woke in me an urge toward realness.
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self … We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.
Contemplation is not and cannot be a function of this external self. There is an irreducible opposition between the deep transcendent self that awakens only in contemplation, and the superficial, external self which we commonly identify with the first person singular.
Our reality, our true self, is hidden in what appears to us to be nothingness … We can rise above this unreality and recover our hidden identity….
We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real … and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists.
The book was written in a kind of isolation, in which the author was alone with his own experience of the contemplative life. And such a book can be written best, perhaps only, in solitude.
The second writing has been no less solitary than the first: but the author’s solitude has been modified by contact with other solitudes; with the loneliness, the simplicity, the perplexity of novices and scholastics.
it is impossible for one man to teach another “how to become a contemplative.”
here are perhaps people without formal religious affiliations who will find in these pages something that appeals to them. If they do, I am glad, as I feel myself a debtor to them more than to the others.
THIS is the kind of book that writes itself almost automatically in a monastery. Perhaps that is one reason why relatively few such books get written. There is too much passion and too much physical violence for men to want to reflect much on the interior life and its meaning.
a long tradition of such writing: Pascal’s Pensées - Cautelas and Avisos of St. John of the Cross - the Meditationes of Guigo the Carthusian.
1/ What Is Contemplation?
CONTEMPLATION is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source.
Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source. It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason and beyond simple faith.
contemplation is not vision because it sees “without seeing” and knows “without knowing.” It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words or even in clear concepts.
For in contemplation we know by “unknowing.” Or, better, we know beyond all knowing or “unknowing.”
Poetry, music and art have something in common with the contemplative experience. But contemplation is beyond aesthetic intuition, beyond art, beyond poetry.
Contemplation is always beyond our own knowledge, beyond our own light, beyond systems, beyond explanations, beyond discourse, beyond dialogue, beyond our own self.
contemplation is a sudden gift of awareness, an awakening to the Real within all that is real. A vivid awareness of infinite Being at the roots of our own limited being. An awareness of our contingent reality as received, as a present from God, as a free gift of love.
Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him Who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being: for we ourselves are words of His.
Contemplation is this echo. It is a deep resonance in the inmost center of our spirit in which our very life loses its separate voice and re-sounds with the majesty and the mercy of the Hidden and Living One. We ourselves become His echo and His answer. the contemplative is at the same time, question and answer.
We awaken, not to find an answer absolutely distinct from the question, but to realize that the question is its own answer. And all is summed up in one awareness—not a proposition, but an experience: “I AM.”
It is the gift of God Who, in His mercy, completes the hidden and mysterious work of creation in us by enlightening our minds and hearts, by awakening in us the awareness that we are words spoken in His One Word.