Q: I've been practicing meditation/contemplation for more than twenty years. As of late, I am periodically troubled by the question "why am I doing this, i.e., contemplation?" The question is in the context of why God wants us to perform what appears to be an act outside of what would be a normal life, i.e., an artificial act. Why is it needed and for what purpose or ultimate value? I still persist but my doubting often makes me think about abandoning my practice and just live.
A: Thank you for your question. I believe the question “why I am doing this?” can come from different levels of consciousness all at once. In other words, it contains mixed levels of awareness and motivation. For example, it could be coming from your ordinary level of consciousness that is calling you to once again renew your intention to practice and go deeper in relationship with God. It could be coming from the psychological level of consciousness signaling you are getting in touch with some emotions that need to be purified, perhaps letting go of expectations that are coloring your routine and discipline. The question could also be coming from your spiritual level of consciousness where you are being confronted to examine your deeper motivation for practicing Centering Prayer that you are not aware of. It could be your true-self level that is calling you to embrace it and just move on and “let go, let God.”
Another answer could be related to the question of why God created us and given us life? We can go to the Bible to Matthew 22:36-40, the great commandment of love:
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Everything we have has been given to us. If we believe this, then in prayer, meditation and contemplation we are giving it back, we are continuing the exchange as a part of the normal flow of daily life. You are offering a gift in return.
I look forward to continuing the conversation. Blessings, Fr Carl