Excerpt From CHAPTER 9 AN INVITATION TO OPPENNESS page197

Published September 23, 2017

“I came in that night for something to eat. Then, I heard you tell
these men that, let me see, how did you put it? ‘Don’t try to change
the world you see, change the way you see the world.’ That nearly
floored me,” he laughed and slapped his thigh. “I mean all those
guys were just looking for some soup and you’re telling them that!
You weren’t the run-of-the-mill, holy-roller, soup-and-salvation,
Bible-thumping preacher! It sounded kind of new age, but I knew
you were coming from a different place.”

“I saw you here the next night, too,” I added to let him know I
noticed him.

“That’s when you said that the most important goals were to find
interior silence and discover our true selves. Aspiring to any other
purpose was living an illusion.

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I said.” I marveled at his recollections.

“Well, that’s what convinced me to find out where you were coming
from,” he confessed.

It was a key confession. As much as we talked over the past week,
we didn’t have any discussions about religion.

“So you’re the one person who liked my metaphysical approach
to the scriptures,” I said lightheartedly. “I do give the glory to God,
as they say, and I also thank God for a fellow named Roy Masters. He
teaches the Judeo-Christian meditation that changed my life,” I added
emphatically.

That’s interesting,” he said after a pause. “Do you use a
mantra?”

“No, there’s no mantra. It’s not like those Eastern meditations.
This meditation is really a concentration, an observational exercise
that centers you as you learn to detach your mind from random
thoughts,” I explained.

“Yes,” he said, as he looked off and back at me. “The desert
fathers didn’t use a mantra, either, but a phrase like in the Jesus
prayer. Whenever they sat quietly, but had various thoughts take their
attention, they’d say something like ‘Lord Jesus’ to bring their
thoughts back to the present moment.”
“Well, we don’t use any words, phrases, or imagery. After
awhile, your thoughts wander down stream, and you suddenly are
aware that you’re literally lost in thought. As soon as you realize
that, you’re back in the present moment! Our ego constantly seeks
to escape the present moment, but our honest intention will bring us
back.” I continued, “This meditation teaches an awareness of the
right hand to help bring your mind back to the present. It’s a very
gentle awareness of the right hand and the forehead.”

“Yes,” he nodded. “That’s the hand-and-eye connection. The
“transcendental eye” it’s called, in the center of the forehead,” he
explained.

“Wow,” I exclaimed with delight. “You’re familiar with it?”
“I read about such practices during my studies of ancient mysticism.
It was perceived as a tool to achieve the mind-body connection.
Some of the early orders of desert monasteries preserved the
practice, and some adherents evangelized it in their journeys.” I listened
intently, amazed at the complexity of this man.

“Before the great schism, many priests and others practiced a
type of quiet, contemplative prayer,” he said. “Unless you can put
your attention where you want it, you will never master yourself.
Beware of thought control and escapist practices.”

“Well, this meditation process is not escapist. It’s frustrating to
see yourself struggle to be still and aware of-the-present moment.
And seeing your own frustration is part of the process! I’m not really
a good example of it, but the meditation helps you find the power that
can change your life,” I said, trying to end with an encouraging tone.