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Kevin SSF

Kevin SSF of the European Province writes about learning from a Christian/Buddhist meditation retreat, with an organisation called the Awakened Heart Sangha.

I cannot remember where I came across the following, ‘God’s centre is everywhere. His circumference is nowhere.’ Openness or spaciousness is a significant precept taught by the Sangha; a principle that has begun to lead me towards a wider vision of God. This is not simply head knowledge; it is also personal experience based on a willingness to be open-minded and have my own assumptions and practices challenged.

Two simple examples of how my own meditation practice has changed: I have always meditated sitting cross-legged with my eyes closed and hands resting in my lap. It was suggested that I might like to try and sit with my hands resting on my thighs and the eyes neither shut nor fully open. In his book Openness, Clarity, Sensitivity, Rigdzin Shikpo explains the symbolism associated with this posture. ‘When you sit cross-legged with your eyes open and your arms out, there is nothing in front of you, so there is no protection. This expresses openness. There is a sense of being united with the environment and space: the opposite of closing off. The hands are not across the body which could symbolize an attempt to defend or protect yourself. Having them out, open, on the knees, expresses spaciousness.

Another reflective exercise I was encouraged to practise at various times was to gently explore the sense of space; to ask where is the boundary, where is the centre? Can anything be truly boundless?
These seem such simple things yet I return to them time and again. It took my Buddhist friends to remind me of and reawaken me to the experience that ‘God’s centre is everywhere, his circumference nowhere’ and of the need to sit quietly, open and vulnerable before God’.

Click here to read the rest of this article  (link to Franciscan September 2006, opens new window – PDF format)