I’m reading a book on meditation and contemplative prayer, by a Benedictine monk named John Main. It’s brilliant, and it’s taking me ages to read (well, ages by my standards, anyway – I’m usually a pretty quick reader) because I’m stopping to make notes at almost every page. He talks about the importance of meditation, silence and stillness as being the way to open oneself up to the Creator and Source of life: something I’ve been seeking a way to do for some time now.
One of the things he has written (and this is not a direct quote because I’m too lazy to walk across the room, collect the book, find the particular passage, and then walk back to my computer: it’s late, and I’m tired) is that one of the greatest barriers to people when they meditate is “the fear of slipping into non-being”.
I’ve been thinking about that for a couple of days now. And I’ve decided: that’s not my barrier to contemplative prayer, to spending time in silence and allowing the Origin of us all to open me and to touch and hold and nurture my soul. I’m not frightened of slipping into non-being. The more I think about it, the more I challenge my own assertion of fearlessness – is it delusion? bravado? lack of understanding? – the more I’m sure that I am in fact being honest. Non-being is not something that frightens me.
Non-being is not destruction. It’s not annihilation, eradication. It’s not being erased. It’s not destruction. It’s not a bad thing, a fearful thing. Non-being is everything. It is beyond what we can see and touch and measure and experience. It’s beyond what we can grasp. But it’s not nothing. It is everything. It is all.
And slipping into non-being, or everything, is not an unattractive prospect. Like the droplet of water which, when subsumed into the ocean, ceases to be a droplet, I will one day return to my Source. I will go home, be absorbed into the oneness of the whole. It will be gentle, and right.
I don’t believe that I will be absorbed into everything through the process of opening myself up to the Divine in prayer. I’m trusting that through the grace of Spirit I will experience a glimpse of that oneness, that connection, that foretaste of the home I will one day find.
So no, it’s not “slipping into non-being” that I fear, the loss of ego, of identity. Slipping into non-being, or everything: that’s the end of the story; that’s the happily ever after.