Thomas Merton on Christian meditation and awareness of God:
Meditation is not merely the intellectual effort to master certain ideas about God or even to impress upon our minds the mysteries of our Christian faith. Conceptual knowledge of religious truth has a definite place in our life, and that place is an important one….[But] the knowledge of which we are capable is simple knowledge about Him. It points to Him in analogies which we must transcend in order to reach Him. But we must transcend ourselves as well as our analogies, and in seeking to know him we must forget the familiar subject-object relationship which characterizes our ordinary acts of knowing.
Instead we know Him insofar as we become aware of ourselves as known through and through by Him. We "possess" Him in proportion as we realize ourselves to be possessed by Him in the inmost depths of our being. Meditation or "prayer of the heart" is the active effort we make to keep our hearts open so that we may be enlightened by Him and filled with this realization of our true relationship to Him. Therefore the classic form of "meditation" [among others] is repetitive invocation of the name of Jesus in the heart emptied of images and cares.
Hence the aim of meditation, in the context of Christian faith, is not to arrive at an objective and apparently "scientific" knowledge about God, but to come to know Him through the realization that our very being is penetrated by His knowledge and love for us. Our love of God is paradoxically a knowledge not of Him as the object of our scutiny, but of ourselves as utterly dependent on His saving and merciful knowledge of us….We know Him in and through ourselves insofar as his truth is the source of our being and His merciful love is the very heart of our life and existence. We have no other reason for being, except to be loved by Him as our Creator and Redeemer, and to love Him in return. There is no true knowledge of God that does not imply a profound grasp and an intimate personal acceptance of this profound relationship.
The whole purpose of meditation is to deepen the consciousness of this basic relationship of the creature to the Creator, and of the sinner to his Redeemer.
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