The Hidden Dimension
by Roland Trujillo
Years ago I used to listen to Chaplain Ray, a
radio preacher who had a prison ministry. At one point, he offered a free copy
of the book
Experiencing God Through Prayer by Madame Guyon to anyone who sent a
donation. I guess he liked her and felt that many of his listeners, who were
incarcerated, could identify with her because she, too, was put in prison. She
lived in the 1700’s and her deeply spiritual ideas were a threat to the status
quo. Someone wrote a biography about her entitled: Madame Guyon: Her Sole
Crime was Loving God.
I usually don’t respond to radio offers, but for some reason I ordered this book and liked it. She spoke of the inner way to God and it touched a responsive chord in me.
The book sat on my shelf for many years. But as I have grown through practice of the meditation and made many discoveries along the way, I came to appreciate her book even more.
I’m not sure how it came to pass (probably by research on the internet), but I came upon another English translation of her book (which was originally written in French and entitled A Short and Simple Method of Prayer). The version in English which I obtained was given the English title Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ. It is an even better translation, with a nice introduction and concluding remarks by Gene Edwards.
Recently I obtained a copy in the original French (which I can read) and also found a more literal and accurate English translation at an internet website. Nevertheless, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ has a lot to recommend it. It is reasonably faithful to the original, and seems to capture the spirit of the book in a nice way. Plus the biographical material tells some of the history of Madame Guyon and of her book.
I believe that the writings of Madame Guyon might be a joy to read for anyone who practices the meditation. She was a very spiritual lady and undoubtedly a kindred spirit. Therefore we are offering Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ in paperback form in the Book section at our online store.
Here’s a little excerpt from her book:
“How do you deal with those things that distract; how do you handle those things that draw you away from the inmost part of your being? If you should sin (or even if it is a matter of being distracted by some circumstances around you), what should you do?
You must instantly turn within to your spirit.
Once you have departed from God, you must return to Him as quickly as possible. There, once more with Him, receive any penalty He chooses to inflict.
But here is one thing you must be very careful about: Do not become distressed because your mind has wandered away. Always guard yourself from being anxious because of your faults. First of all, such distress only stirs up the soul and distracts you to outward things.
The more clearly you see your true self, the clearer you also see how miserable your self nature really is; and the more you will abandon your whole being to God. Seeing that you have such a desperate need for Him, you will press toward a more intimate relationship with Him.”
In our practice of the meditation, we draw closer to God and thus become a bit distant to people, places, and things. When something temporarily draws us in—whether it be a thought or someone or something on the outside—we become aware that we were caught up and then we snap out of our consciousness's excessive involvement. Becoming aware of being involved with thought or some external person or thing and then snapping out of our involvement will happen over and over again a thousand thousand times. Each time we become aware that we were caught up in something we are back in the present again and closer to the Light Who makes us aware. We cannot force ourselves to be aware; but by our meditation represents a daily commitment to wanting to know and do what is right. Each time we get caught up in something, the Light somehow wordlessly makes us aware of that fact. That’s all.
From the soul’s vantage point close to the Light, it gives its attention to people or occurrences. And in the Light, to which it responds, it remains somewhat distant to the stimulus. If some response to that which is pulling on its attention is needed, it will be given what that response is intuitively. Madame Guyon said it well. The properly inclined soul realizes its own lack, and draws closer to God, inquiring of Him instead of trusting in the intellect.
St. Paul exhorts us to “pray unceasingly.” Through meditation we learn to be closer to the Light and ever attentive to it which is the same as quietly ever having an attitude of humble inquiry. Madame Guyon understood that prayer is not a matter of words, but of the soul’s drawing closer to God and silently inquiring of Him in all matters. This is not done through an act of will or through effort, but of being so close to the source of understanding that one is distant to the problem. One stands back, observes, and becomes a conduit for the Light. Before learning to meditate, we sought to exert our will on problems, and thus we were drawn into them.