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Community of Heart: Practicing in Common-Unity

Today’s post is by Keith Kristich

Communities of spiritual practice are often home to those who would not typically choose to spend time together.

In Chris Heuertz’s most recent book, The Sacred Enneagram, a book integrating contemplative prayer with personality psychology of the Enneagram, Chris writes this of his contemplative prayer group: “Those who normally would be divided by doctrine and belief come together in unity. Through their words, they would find plenty about which to disagree, but silence brings them into a new kind of communion, forming a new kind of community.”

Silence, creating communion. Silence, creating common-unity.

What kind of strength is needed for community to come together though they disagree on doctrine and belief? What kind of community is in common-unity despite being “divided” on such things as apparently important as “doctrine and belief?” Only a community grounded in the spiritual heart.

The beauty of contemplative prayer is that it is “trans-rational,” meaning it transcends or goes beyond our ordinary awareness of the thinking mind, bypassing our usually tight-gripped and deeply defended concepts and beliefs.

If “trans-rational” isn’t the right word for you, another more ancient way of putting this would be to speak of contemplation as descending “with the mind in the heart.” This mind-in-heartedness, as Tilden Edwards would say, means our mind isn’t all alone by itself. With the mind in the heart, our mind’s sweetly defended concepts and ideas are all of a sudden in the company of Spirit and Truth in the Heart of our being.

In many ways our contemplative prayer does not ignore the mind or ignore the doctrine; it simply puts it in its rightful place: second to the more immediate and fundamental Presence shared by all. And this Presence, as Tilden Edwards says, is present “prior to” our ideas about the Presence.

Attending to this Presence is the way of contemplative prayer, the path to the spiritual heart. And in that heart, we find the One, the Only, and the Holy. Attending to the One in group practice allows a community to transcend the rational thinking mind, bypassing our concepts about the Sacred. In this group, trans-rational, spiritual state, we indeed find ourselves in community—in deep common-unity—precisely because the Sacred to whom we attend is in common-unity with Itself. And we are a mirror and expression of that unity. We are its image and likeness, both as individuals and as a collective.

I encourage you, as you find or participate in group prayer and meditation, to rest into this space of trans-rational, mind-in-heartedness, for in it we may recognize not only our preexisting union with God but union with others.

 

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