Breaking Free of the Tyranny of Thought
by James Finley
IMAGINE THAT YOU are sitting in meditation and that the simple word you have chosen to sustain present moment attentiveness is the word "God." As you sit in meditation, a discouraging thought arises. You sit watching it arise, endure, and pass away in the flow of a deepening awareness of the divinity of all that arises, endures, and passes away. But then the discouraging moment begins to engage you in such a way that present moment attentiveness begins to dissipate and becomes lost all together. The discouraging thought that tries to engage you may be something like, "I do not think you are going to get very far." The wise counsel of The Cloud of Unknowing advises not to get into a discussion with discouraging thoughts. If you do you will become discouraged. This is who discouraged people are -- people who listen to discouraging thoughts, giving them the imaginary power to name who they are and what their life is about.
Instead, turn to this discouraging thought and say, with silent unwavering resolve, "God!" Answer with this one word alone as often as the discouraging thought distracts you from your sustained stance of contemplative awareness of each thought arising, enduring, and passing away. Answer with this one word alone until the self that has and is discouraging thoughts dies in the emptiness in which you wait in a naked intent for God as he is in himself.
What is true of discouraging thoughts is true of all thoughts, regardless of their content. As they arise, endure, and pass away, we are simply to be aware of their arising, enduring, and passing away in the flow of a deepening awareness of the divinity of all that arises, endures, and passes away.
Taken from James Finley, The Contemplative Heart (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2000).