Many have discovered and recognise the Truth that is Jesus. I believe he is our knight, to continue the analogy of Sleeping Beauty! He offers us his kiss which awakens us and brings us into full conscious living by the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God ceases to be a myth. We suddenly ‘see’ what Jesus was talking about!
But living consciously doesn’t come easy. Take the drive to work. I have often arrived and thought ‘how did I do that?’ I don’t remember or hadn’t noticed a single thing – because I was too deep in thought or too busy listening to the noise in my head! So I try and drive to work consciously. Maybe you could try this too, as a simple exercise. Try to stop thinking en route – simply be with whatever you notice. Likewise, I work as an osteopath and notice how hard people find making changes to their posture to avoid pain.
I believe we need a discipline or method to help us. In osteopathy I use the Alexander Technique with my clients (NB: FM Alexander wrote a powerful book called Constructive Conscious Control in 1923). In my life generally, the discipline I prefer is contemplative prayer. This is my realisation of the Apostle Paul’s comments to the Athenians, ‘In Him we live and move and have our being.’ (cf Acts 17:28). To live the contemplative life is to live in the conscious reality that I am ‘hid with Christ in God’ (cf Col 3:3), and that God isn’t just ‘out there’ (as much of our dualist thinking would suggest), but he is very much deep inside too.
I want to suggest that unless we find a form of prayer (i.e. a relationship with God), that invades the unconscious (a way to be present to the moment), people don’t really change. We carry on living a form of Christianity that doesn’t break into our materialistic habits, our addictions, our unconsciousness, and fails to evoke active compassion and concern for justice or the poor. Living a contemplative life is not just a new way to do life, but rather an entirely different way of seeing the moment. The power in this ‘seeing’ is that we start becoming our prayers, not just saying them. I guess this is nothing short of living in the Spirit (Rom 8).
(Next I will describe my personal discipline of contemplative prayer…)