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September 25, 2011

Question: How important is meditation as a spiritual path in your faith?

Whenever I am asked to prioritize something of high spiritual value—today’s questions concerns meditation—I find myself asking “in relation to what?” If we were concerned only about our own personal spiritual development, we would have to say that meditation has the highest priority since it has great benefits. It clears the mind, brings peace to heart and soul, but most of all, meditation, if directed to problem-solving, can be a most valuable intellectual and spiritual tool. Like a concentrated beam, it focuses, sheds light and reveals secrets.

But as believers, we live in community, and our community exists in the larger world, the global village, that is becoming increasingly one village, at least in terms of media-assisted, instantaneous, international awareness. This international consciousness makes us painfully aware that humanity is in dire straits. How important, then, does meditation become in relation to social action and commitment to assisting in the development of those societies that suffer from hunger, disease, poverty, war, civic strife or catastrophic natural disasters?

And let’s not forget that some of these deplorable conditions exist right here at home. So it seems to me that if our “salvation” has become only a personal affair, a quest that is all about I, me and my, then we risk becoming egocentric, and fail to understanding something vitally important—the organic oneness of the human family—our interconnectedness with all others. Consequently, any time spent in study, meditation, and its companion, prayer, should be well balanced with social action, with a commitment to assist our community and the world, to improve the lot of the less fortunate.

But here some comments of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the son of the Prophet-Founder, Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) on today’s question: “Through the faculty of meditation man attains to eternal life; through it he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit. This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God. This faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts. Through the meditative faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out….” ( Paris Talks, p. 174)
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen September 25, 2011
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