For experience you have to be naked: free of descriptions and stories, free of ideologies and projects, free of all judgment. “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves,” Jesus said; “so take nothing for the journey.”  We would have expected the opposite: take everything with you because you are going to be so vulnerable.  But no, take nothing; be naked to your experience.  “Unless you become like children…” he said.  If you want to know what love is, you have to be in love.  Your theories are of no avail. Theories may tell how love happens, but that is not what love is.  Can you feel anger without going into the story of what caused you to be angry?  Can you feel fear, just as it is, without rehearsing a situation?  Theories and stories and explanations are distractions: they draw you away from the reality of love anger and fear.     

When we try to be fully present to our experience we will see the tiny fatal gap (unless we are very unusual people): the microscopic ‘hanging-back’ that has become second nature to us.  It is very small but crucial: as small and crucial as the difference between Stop and Go when you are about to dive off a diving-board.  It is very easy and even normal to be all Stop.  To change the metaphor: an electrical switch creates only a tiny gap, but that is enough to cut off the current.  Meditation means putting the switch to On.  If you can do that regularly even when there is nothing to look at and nothing to do (that's meditation!) it will gradually become second nature to you to live in your experience.  There is no name for it; it has no stories to tell, no theories to defend…. It is the wonder of existence, God's gift moment by moment. 

Meditation means being intimate with everything, not dividing things into categories: important and unimportant, interesting and uninteresting, nice and nasty…. What are we doing with such categories?  We are looking sideways at the world, picking out bits that support our ego-plans and rejecting the rest.  We are not being intimate with the world, not waiting for anything to reveal itself.  We are consequently uprooted and restless, as if our experience had no value and we needed something else to make us happy.  And so we are continually running around trying to find something that will make us feel richer, stronger, safer, more loving, more loved….  We are so distanced from our own experience that we do not know its richness, and so we behave like beggars!  

Donagh O'Shea.

These are brief articles, one per month,
on a wide variety of topics concerning the living of the Christian life.