Meditating in the Silence
by Michael Maciel
Meditating in the silence is a way to access (download) the presence of God in such a way that it bypasses the filters of the conscious mind. In order to do this, we have to understand two things: first, the presence of God is alive with intelligence (information), and second, it requires our willing receptivity. In other words, we must invite this activity to take place. God cannot go against our free will, or, as Jesus said, "I stand at the door and knock". Meditation is achieved when we answer the door.
What is meditation?
It has been said that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is God talking back. I'm sure you've known someone who couldn't listen. While you're trying to have a conversation, they're busy thinking of what they're going to say next. They are more interested in getting out what they want to say than they are in hearing you. Let's pretend for a moment that this is what we are like when God is trying to tell us something in meditation.
Telling the truth
Spiritually, this is another function of prayer - saying what needs to be said. When we say what needs to be said, we can hear God's response. If one thing is left unsaid, we are non-receptive to that degree.
Have you ever experienced the peace that comes when you say what needs to be said? You've undoubtedly heard the term "speak your peace". Well, this is how peace is created. It's called "telling the truth", and telling the truth changes everything. Even when the truth we tell is devastating, as in "I don't love you anymore", the kind of truth that's not only devastating but irrevocable - you can't take it back. There's a certain peace in that. Saying what's real for us has a way of balancing the energy. That which was trying to express itself has finally been let go, and we breathe easier. Part of us way down deep inside stops holding its breath. When this happens, we're ready to listen.
Meditation is the natural and necessary reaction to this kind of prayer. The mind automatically becomes receptive once it is peaceful. Receptivity is the soul's natural state of being. When we confess that which our soul knows to be true, we stop resisting and start receiving. This is why it is said that confession is good for the soul.
But this begs the question - receptive to what? In order for meditation to be spiritually viable, the mind's receptivity must be "aimed" in the right direction, which is toward the infinite, universal, loving intelligence we call God.
What is faith?
Of course, one must first know that this God exists. You'll notice that I didn't use the word "believe". Belief can be speculation, while knowing is sensing. The astronomer, Percival Lowell, 'sensed' the existence of Pluto before actually discovering it. He observed that the orbit of Neptune was slightly irregular and mathematically deduced that there had to be an unseen planet exerting a gravitational pull on Neptune. He calculated where the source of that pull had to be and thus discovered Pluto. In the same way, we can observe an influence on our lives and deduce that there must be a cause. Without some sense of the presence of God, a real connection cannot be made, and no power will flow. Belief is a mental activity; sensing is spiritual, because it happens at the level of being, not at the level of thinking.
Knowing is faith. Faith is sensing the presence of God, establishing a real connection with that presence, and allowing the spiritual force and intelligence of God flow to you. Faith is the act of receiving the knowing of God. Faith is an act of love with the divine. Faith is the mechanism by which all things come to us from God, or from anywhere else for that matter.
Without faith, meditation is nothing more than a mental exercise - it is us thinking. And thinking is the same as talking. It is not listening. It's thinking that God needs our help to fill in the blanks of our spiritual needs. We want to make sure that He gets it right, so everything that comes through must first pass the inspection of our ego. It has to make it through the filter of our understanding and the gauntlet of our acceptance. This is like trying to give someone a massage who has no trust in your ability to do it right. In order for the process to flow correctly and unfold in the way that it needs to, there must be trust.
Once trust is established and the divine influx begins, an interesting reaction occurs. We get an inkling of something, a piece of the puzzle we've been working on, and we say, "Aha! Now I've got it!" and we abort the connection. We ricochet off the experience and arc away on a tangent. We've gotten a little piece of gold, and we want to travel with it.
This is what the story of Moses is about, the one where God commanded him to take off his shoes as he approached the burning bush on the mountain. The mountain symbolizes meditation - the elevated state of consciousness. Shoes have a secular, common sense meaning and a spiritual, symbolic meaning. The secular, common sense meaning is "don't drag dirt into the house - leave the 'world' outside". It also means, "Take your shoes off and stay awhile." The spiritual, symbolic meaning is "don't let this revelation set off a firestorm of worldly insights. Stick around! Don't allow your thinking to run all over the place trying to make the Truth fit in with your mundane agenda. Now is not the time to 'understand' - now is the time to be receptive and let the experience transform you from within. Don't 'take the bit and run'".
Whenever we silence our thinking, open up to the presence of God, and resist the urge to "connect the dots" within our understanding, we receive far more than our mind can comprehend. The first stone tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain, the ones he destroyed when he saw his people worshipping the golden calf, were blank - they could not be read with material eyes. Moses wrote the second set, with its famous corrective tone, in a way the Israelites could understand - and accept.
Prayer prepares us to enter into the presence of God. It is the emptying of our hearts and minds, so that we can be receptive. In the precious moment when we actually experience the presence, we are commanded (like Moses) to discard our understanding - our ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, black and white, up and down - and to submit to the spiritual overhaul that the unadorned contact with God always brings.
Jesus reenacted this principle when he washed his disciples' feet at the Last Supper (an event different in detail but identical in spirit). The essential message here is "sit down, let go of your ideas, and receive". The implication is that in order to walk in the Way, we must first allow God to cleanse our materialistic understanding, because where we will be walking is not of this world.
It isn't wrong to benefit in a practical, "down to earth" way from the influx of grace that a good meditation will bring. On the contrary, it would be wrong not to use the gifts from God to transform our lives. Earthly insights are one of the rewards of getting close to God. But loyalty to the "Most High" and simple protocol demand our undivided attention and submission. After all, this is not about us - it's about God. Later, we can sort out the application of our new knowledge. But first, we need to let go and let the entire message of God make its imprint on the background of our being, which is our soul.