303: James Finley on Contemplation and Awakening

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By Eric Zimmer|Wondery and Eric Zimmer. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

James Finley is a contemplative practitioner, clinical psychologist and faculty member of The Living School for Action and Contemplation. Drawing from his experience as a former monk and spiritual directee of Thomas Merton, James helps seekers who desire to live a contemplative, whole life. In this episode, he and Eric discuss many of his works and concepts pertaining to contemplation, awakening to our true nature, truth that transcends religions, love and wisdom. We think you will be struck (as we are!) by how expansive, inclusive and edifying James’ words and teachings are when it comes to helping you to connect with that which is loving and true and always present.

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In This Interview, James Finley and I Discuss Contemplation, Awakening, and …

  • The question: In this moment, what’s the most loving thing I can do?
  • How it’s love that feeds the good wolf
  • His book, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere
  • His violent, abusive alcoholic father and how that facilitated his seeking a place in a monastery with Thomas Merton
  • Merton’s message that we are one with the infinite love that is God and that is our deepest identity and it is our destiny is to realize that
  • That we subsist in a relationship with God as light subsists in flame
  • How truth transcends religions
  • The True Self and False Self
  • The lie that the ego is all that we are
  • Identity: The discovery of the true self is the process of dying to our dreaded and cherished illusion that anything less than infinite union with infinite love has the authority to name who we are.
  • The acts that hurt ourselves and others is the acting out of a mistaken identity
  • His book, The Contemplative Heart
  • To contemplate means to pay attention, to observe carefully
  • Contemplation is sustained attentiveness infused with love
  • His book, Christian Meditation
  • Taking the stance of least resistance when it comes to awakening
  • The welling up of that which sustains us in the brokenness
  • Removing complexities and distractions to be present in stillness
  • The mystic teacher is one whose words awaken your heart to the desire for “the great way” and offers trustworthy guidance in it.
  • The mystic teacher uses language in the service of helping a person to let go of their dependency on the kind of language that stops short at explanations to find the language that is a kind of a cry from the heart, from our true self.
  • The true self embraces both solitude and communion with others
  • The metaphor of a high jumper and a very high bar and God’s mercy or compassion then placing it on the ground where we then trip over it and fall into God’s loving arms
  • Being sustained by a mystery that then brings us to itself – and that is wisdom

James Finley Links:

jamesfinley.org

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