top of page


There’s a simple map for the journey which every meditator is on. It helps those who are frightened to start to take the first step and encourages those who drop out to reconnect to the path. The first stage is discovering your own monkey mind and the embarrassing level of distraction that prevents you from stillness and the simple enjoyment of reality that is the fruit of attention. Giving up at the first hurdle is common but it doesn’t mean you cannot start again – as many times as you fail. You will discover the value of the selfless encouragement of meditating with others – of spiritual friendship.
The second stage is encountering the hard disc of memory. Everything, real or imagined, in our history is stored there and some of it may be repressed. Like grief, anger, fear or shame which cause suffering and control us from the unconscious. The mantra brings healing to this level of consciousness without – at the time of meditation anyway – requiring self-analysis. In fact, it is the complement of usual psychological therapy because it involves taking the attention off ourselves. This is not avoidance but detachment. Healing is the prelude to enlightenment: nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light (Lk 8:17)
Then we touch the ego level itself, the ‘source of the I-thought’ as Ramana called it. Here we encounter a feeling of being blocked by our innate sense of separateness even as we long for the peace of union and non-duality. This brick wall has taken a long time to build and it takes time for the bricks to start falling out. As they do, we see through the wall and in God’s own time we find ourselves on the other side of it, in the Spirit. Here self-consciousness is reduced by transparency in the experience of recognition – seeing and knowing ourselves even as we know that we are seen and loved
At each of these levels, until we enter the full language of silence in the spiritual dimension, the mantra, with deepening subtlety is our faithful guide.
The important thing to remember is that as one level is reached and opens its mysteries the previous levels are not shut down. Distraction remains, though greatly reduced and at times more easily overcome. Healing continues even after the major wounds have been triaged. And the ego continues in daily life but more as a servant than as a tyrant.
This applies to other maps of human consciousness. For example, we could say we begin the journey in a pre-temporal state of oneness with all. This ‘uroboric’ mind will open to the magical with its attempt to manipulate what is now a strange, threatening world outside us. As the mind develops, we make stories – myths – to explain and manage things. Then we discover we can step back from them with rational objectivity. If we keep going, we break through into the conscious oneness of non-duality.
Wonderfully, though, all levels can stay open and be integrated with the next. Life without a sense of magic would be as algorithmically shallow as what we call ‘artificial intelligence’ but should think of as merely ‘very fast computers’. Life without the mythical imagination would lack the essential language which gives entry to the great scriptures and transcendent meaning.  Rationality without these other levels contributing would be like getting the best grades at school but having no friends.

Laurence Freeman 
Lenten Reflections 2024
bottom of page