Existential Issues

images-3Finding one’s place in the world

I am reminded of the school of existential psychotherapyViktor Frankl, and others, wrote about the idea that a fundamental aspect of human life is trying to understand one’s place in the world and to discover a meaning for one’s life.

The first question that we received had to do with whether mindfulness can be reconciled with Christianity. And, if not, if there is an alternative practice that can achieve the same goals.

Since I am not a theologian, I am not sure that what I have to say will be all that useful, but my thoughts are that the analogy to mindfulness is the awareness of God in everything.

I ran across this discussion that may be relevant –

“The believer, therefore, must not look upon anything as ordinary, for God is in everything. True, he may have to pass through the same circumstances — to meet the same trials — to encounter the same reverses as other men; but he must not meet them in the same way, nor interpret them on the same principle; nor do they convey the same report to his ear. He should hear the voice of God, and heed His message, in the most trifling as well as in the most momentous occurrence of the day. The disobedience of a child, or the loss of an estate, the obliquity of a servant or the death of a friend, should all be regarded as divine messengers to his soul.

So also, when we look around us in the world, God is in everything. The overturning of thrones, the crashing of empires, the famine, the pestilence, and every event that occurs among nations, exhibit traces of the hand of God, and utter a voice for the ear of man. The devil will seek to rob the Christian of the real sweetness of this thought; he will tempt him to think that, at least, the commonplace circumstances of everyday life exhibit nothing extraordinary, but only such as happen to other men. But we must not yield to him in this. We must start on our course every morning, with this truth vividly impressed on our mind — God is in everything.”

This is from the writings of Charles Henry Mackintosh who was a nineteenth century Christian preacher, writer of Bible commentaries, magazine editor and member of the Plymouth Brethren.

A similar notion is contained in the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius.

The Awareness Exercise (2) is a spiritual exercise to help one find God in all things. The modern understanding of the Awareness Exercise is rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, especially in the exercise called the Contemplatio.

The spirituality of this exercise, the Contemplatio, is the spirituality of finding and loving God in all things. The Contemplatio assumes God’s love for us and it is an aid to help us in gratitude to grow in our love and service of God. This exercise has a contemplative quality to it and is focused on our inner experience of the Trinity. How is God “drawing” me (John 6:44) in my existential awareness or consciousness? Hence, the name Awareness or Consciousness Exercise. In the Awareness Exercise we are not focused on our conscience but on our consciousness, i.e., on our awareness of what is going on in our interior experience. Thus the Awareness Exercise is related to the discernment of spirits.