free hit counter code Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation

Availability: Ready to download

Sitting in stillness, the practice of meditation, and the cultivation of awareness are commonly thought to be the preserves of Hindus and Buddhists. Martin Laird shows that the Christian tradition of contemplation has its own refined teachings on using a prayer word to focus the mind, working with the breath to cultivate stillness, and the practice of inner vigilance or aw Sitting in stillness, the practice of meditation, and the cultivation of awareness are commonly thought to be the preserves of Hindus and Buddhists. Martin Laird shows that the Christian tradition of contemplation has its own refined teachings on using a prayer word to focus the mind, working with the breath to cultivate stillness, and the practice of inner vigilance or awareness. But this book is not a mere historical survey of these teachings. In Into the Silent Land, we see the ancient wisdom of both the Christian East and West brought sharply to bear on the modern-day longing for radical openness to God in the depths of the heart. Laird's book is not like the many presentations for beginners. While useful for those just starting out, this book serves especially as a guide for those who desire to journey yet deeper into the silence of God. The heart of the book focuses on negotiating key moments of struggle on the contemplative path, when the whirlwind of distractions or the brick wall of boredom makes it difficult to continue. Laird shows that these inner struggles, even wounds, that any person of prayer must face, are like riddles, trying to draw out of us our own inner silence. Ultimately Laird shows how the wounds we loathe become vehicles of the healing silence we seek, beyond technique and achievement. Throughout the language is fresh, direct, and focused on real-life examples of people whose lives are incomparably enriched by the practice of contemplation.


Compare
Ads Banner

Sitting in stillness, the practice of meditation, and the cultivation of awareness are commonly thought to be the preserves of Hindus and Buddhists. Martin Laird shows that the Christian tradition of contemplation has its own refined teachings on using a prayer word to focus the mind, working with the breath to cultivate stillness, and the practice of inner vigilance or aw Sitting in stillness, the practice of meditation, and the cultivation of awareness are commonly thought to be the preserves of Hindus and Buddhists. Martin Laird shows that the Christian tradition of contemplation has its own refined teachings on using a prayer word to focus the mind, working with the breath to cultivate stillness, and the practice of inner vigilance or awareness. But this book is not a mere historical survey of these teachings. In Into the Silent Land, we see the ancient wisdom of both the Christian East and West brought sharply to bear on the modern-day longing for radical openness to God in the depths of the heart. Laird's book is not like the many presentations for beginners. While useful for those just starting out, this book serves especially as a guide for those who desire to journey yet deeper into the silence of God. The heart of the book focuses on negotiating key moments of struggle on the contemplative path, when the whirlwind of distractions or the brick wall of boredom makes it difficult to continue. Laird shows that these inner struggles, even wounds, that any person of prayer must face, are like riddles, trying to draw out of us our own inner silence. Ultimately Laird shows how the wounds we loathe become vehicles of the healing silence we seek, beyond technique and achievement. Throughout the language is fresh, direct, and focused on real-life examples of people whose lives are incomparably enriched by the practice of contemplation.

30 review for Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ms. S...........

    Don't make the mistake of thinking you are the weather ...good weather, bad weather, stormy weather...you are the mountain, God's dwelling place. Simple, yet revolutionary.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James

    This is book on cultivating silent and contemplative prayer. Unlike some books on the topic, it is neither ethereal or abstract. Instead it offers practical advice about how to grow into your personal practice of silence. One piece of practical advice which I found particularly helpful was what to do with distracting thoughts. Other books on contemplative prayer simply say acknowledge the thought and move on. This book argued that contemplation happened not in the absence of thought, or in our a This is book on cultivating silent and contemplative prayer. Unlike some books on the topic, it is neither ethereal or abstract. Instead it offers practical advice about how to grow into your personal practice of silence. One piece of practical advice which I found particularly helpful was what to do with distracting thoughts. Other books on contemplative prayer simply say acknowledge the thought and move on. This book argued that contemplation happened not in the absence of thought, or in our ability to stuff thoughts down, but rather in our ability to let thoughts come without following them with a string of thoughts commenting and building upon them. Thus silent prayer isn't about repression but about cultivating attention to God amidst the distractions. Beyond this, Laird's advice extends to breathing, posture, setting aside a regular time, the use of a prayer word or phrase to cultivate attention to God. Not really anything revolutionary that isn't said in other books of prayer. But it was said well none the less.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Amber

    This is the book I will be referencing the most I think. He has an amazing approach to the ancient contemplative practice of contemplative prayer. It is very similar to centering prayer but just uses a little bit different language. Its not quite so specific, which is why I think it lends itself really well to us for this season. It provides some amazing tools, resources and outlook to moving into prayer, silence and the art of letting go. This is a small book but it packs a punch. I would highl This is the book I will be referencing the most I think. He has an amazing approach to the ancient contemplative practice of contemplative prayer. It is very similar to centering prayer but just uses a little bit different language. Its not quite so specific, which is why I think it lends itself really well to us for this season. It provides some amazing tools, resources and outlook to moving into prayer, silence and the art of letting go. This is a small book but it packs a punch. I would highly recommend it, especially if you want to be able to read the full commentaries I will be referencing. Even if you don't decide you want to read a book this is the book I would say to get to just have on hand. At some point you will want to read it. Believe me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Glen Grunau

    I have read this book twice. Below are separate reviews of each read. 2014 Review This book came recommended by my spiritual director. It has been waiting for me for several months . . . perhaps representing some of the ambivalence I face in the practice of contemplative prayer (or perhaps more specifically known in the Christian tradition as "centering prayer"). Laird recognizes that contemplative prayer has its variants in many different religious traditions but makes no apologies for placing th I have read this book twice. Below are separate reviews of each read. 2014 Review This book came recommended by my spiritual director. It has been waiting for me for several months . . . perhaps representing some of the ambivalence I face in the practice of contemplative prayer (or perhaps more specifically known in the Christian tradition as "centering prayer"). Laird recognizes that contemplative prayer has its variants in many different religious traditions but makes no apologies for placing this book solidly in the Christian tradition. In so doing, he quotes a significant amount of scripture, particularly early on. How much I have depended on words throughout my life to ground me in theology and in my spiritual practices. I love words. This love in part explains my attraction to two of my favourite practices in life - reading and writing. Yet the contemplative journey has opened up for me a vast new ground of experience with God that is beyond words - the words that keep me in my intellect. Instead, a new path has been opened to me that leads me deep into my heart where I may become one in loving union with God. This is where meaningful spiritual formation takes place - a transformation not of my own doing through the exercise of my willpower (Dallas Willard taught me that) but through the grace of God as I follow spiritual practices that remove the impediments to this grace. I have come to see the parable that Jesus offers in Mark 4:26-29 as one that perhaps best describes this process: "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how." In this classic work on contemplation, Laird is a reliable guide that reveals how words - specifically the endless chatter and commentary in our minds - serves as the primary barrier that keeps us from a deeper place of union with God. It is only through our journey "into the silent land" that we can "be still and know that I am God". And this journey inevitably brings us face-to-face with our wounds. Laird knows that it is at this point that many abandon the quest and settle for some other form of less demanding "spiritual entertainment". This may be the best and most clear presentation I have encountered on centering prayer and its central role in the contemplative journey. It has refueled my desire to continue along this path despite the inevitable fits and starts that I have faced in the effort. 2019 Review Less than 3 months ago I retired from my vocation. I am taking this year to rest . . . and to wait. I do not know what will come next. I have longed for the emptiness that this time will offer . . . and I have been afraid of it. The spaciousness has been a welcome delight in so many ways. And yet it has also proved, perhaps predictably, fertile ground for the mind ruminations that tend to flourish best when one is not constantly preoccupied with task and activity. This week I read that Jesus dwelled with the beasts during his 40 days in the desert. Consolation for me as I consider the beasts that I am encountering in my own present desert of vocation and productivity. The beasts of my own constant mental commentary with related emotional disturbances. Perhaps the recognition that the “freedom” of my retirement could easily become the new “prison” of my distracted thoughts and emotions, has drawn me to look for guidance in my Christian contemplative tradition. I found a book that I had purchased some time ago and started to read it. When I realized that it was the sequel to Martin Laird’s Into the Silent Land, I decided to start with a re-reading of this classic. I soon recalled why this book had such a significant impact on me the first time I read it. Into the Silent Land has offered me the wonderful gift of reminding me of the strong appeal that Christian contemplative practice holds for me. Once again I have been welcomed into the Silent Land. I have been inspired to dive back into some of the contemplative prayer practices that I had set aside in recent years. Set aside in part because of the need for purification of my motivation for participation - I so easily turn even the most wholesome activity into an opportunity for spiritual performance and smug achievement. Although I do not deny that these impure motivations still exist, I find myself now poised to dive back in out of desperation for some of the inner peace that silence has offered to me in the past. A renewed desire to step into the “cloud of unknowing” that is the ineffable love of God. Once again, Martin Laird proves himself to be a capable teacher and guide. I cannot think of another book I have read that more effectively combines the essence of Christian contemplative prayer with the core of psychotherapy wisdom that I have been able to assemble during my 30 year vocation in mental health practice.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This is a wonderful guide to the Christian Practice of contemplation. Accessible to Christian believers and doubters alike. If you struggle with who God is and who you are, feel separate from God, from other people and creation, this guide may help reground you; that is if you are willing to hone the practice of stillness. No final answers here, indeed it is in acknowledging our unknowing that we are able to go deeper into God in "complete incomprehension." Laird presents an ancient skill famili This is a wonderful guide to the Christian Practice of contemplation. Accessible to Christian believers and doubters alike. If you struggle with who God is and who you are, feel separate from God, from other people and creation, this guide may help reground you; that is if you are willing to hone the practice of stillness. No final answers here, indeed it is in acknowledging our unknowing that we are able to go deeper into God in "complete incomprehension." Laird presents an ancient skill familiar to Christian, Buddhist, and other traditions. He breaks practice into three steps or doorways we are invited to cross until we are mainly silent, "gazing into luminous vastness that streams out as our own awareness." "The bottom line," he says, "is this: minimize time given over to chasing thoughts, dramatizing them in grand videos, and believing these videos to be your identity. Otherwise life will pass you by." This is sage advise, on a physical, psychological as well as a spiritual plane. Though we finally have no goal, we begin to see ourselves not as victims of our thoughts and feelings, but as silent witness. Should we finally master the question 'Who am I?' we are invited to answer another: 'Who is Jesus Christ?'

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christina “6 word reviewer” Lake

    Silence can--and must--be practiced.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Pelfrey

    One of the best books on the practice of contemplation I've yet read. It belongs alongside Keating, Merton, and the classics from which it draws so deeply and richly. At every turn Laird moves beyond instruction to a deeper pastoral treatment. His writing is like sitting under the tutelage of a wise teacher, who offers instruction and exposes us to the timeless masters, yet who also holds our hand as we continue into the vast, bottomless darkness where we find our footing in God's care. There is One of the best books on the practice of contemplation I've yet read. It belongs alongside Keating, Merton, and the classics from which it draws so deeply and richly. At every turn Laird moves beyond instruction to a deeper pastoral treatment. His writing is like sitting under the tutelage of a wise teacher, who offers instruction and exposes us to the timeless masters, yet who also holds our hand as we continue into the vast, bottomless darkness where we find our footing in God's care. There is practical instruction in things like posture, breathing, the prayer word, etc. There is navigation through obstacles, distractions, frustrations, etc. And there is also careful guidance in employing contemplative practice in confronting fear, chronic pain, and even addiction. Especially touching is the final section on "The Liturgy of Our Wounds," in which we discover, "The doorway into the silent land is a wound. Silence lays bare this wound. We do not journey far along the spiritual path before we get some sense of the wound of the human condition, and this is precisely why not a few abandon a contemplative practice like meditation as soon as it begins to expose this wound; they move on instead to some spiritual entertainment that will maintain distraction." Not for the faint of heart, yet very accessible in its employment of real-life case studies, poetry, and winsome anecdotes. This book is most highly recommended for any desiring to pursue contemplative practice...who desire to enter "into the silent land."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    One of the best books on prayer I've ever read - I often find them unreadable, actually. This one got me. A bit serious, and ends with an odd little fable about a "failed monk," but insightful, useful guidance and advice on mental or contemplative prayer. "Looking over the shoulder" of your distracting thoughts has really helped my meditation practice. He uses a lot of sources, from ancient to contemporary, and writes in a very accessible way. It's also not too long, so you feel like you're gett One of the best books on prayer I've ever read - I often find them unreadable, actually. This one got me. A bit serious, and ends with an odd little fable about a "failed monk," but insightful, useful guidance and advice on mental or contemplative prayer. "Looking over the shoulder" of your distracting thoughts has really helped my meditation practice. He uses a lot of sources, from ancient to contemporary, and writes in a very accessible way. It's also not too long, so you feel like you're getting the instruction you need and then you can get into practicing what you've learned. I took this out of a library and I'm going to buy myself a copy now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Christian contemplation, aka meditation, using a prayer word if necessary, to get closer to God. Prayer does not need to be words, prayers, lines of thought. Prayer can be silence. Sitting in silence, allowing the silence, ignoring the thoughts that come, now following them but just remaining in silence. This book is a nice, short book on the subject, with helpful hints, some repetition of the ideas, and a nice short story about a monk at the end to make it all make sense.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Faith Potter

    For our Western society that tends to define ourselves by our thoughts and feelings, this book offers a view of personhood and identity that is much needed. The perspectives offered here constantly encouraged and convicted me so much. For example, he encourages the reader to view every temptation as an invitation to prayer. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    A great book from 'Nova professor Martin Laird. A great way to clear your mind and learn the difficult art of contemplative prayer, which is much different than intercessory prayer. It's a quick read, but packed with great skills.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Kanas

    I don’t remember how this book was recommended to me but I’m certainly glad it came across my path. It’s not the first book I’ve read on contemplation and spiritual growth but it fits well into the successions on books I’ve read on this topic. Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, suffers from a “separateness” from God that, for a litany of reasons, it has imposed upon itself. We read about similar incidences in Bible with individuals assuming this same thing; that there is barrier that pr I don’t remember how this book was recommended to me but I’m certainly glad it came across my path. It’s not the first book I’ve read on contemplation and spiritual growth but it fits well into the successions on books I’ve read on this topic. Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, suffers from a “separateness” from God that, for a litany of reasons, it has imposed upon itself. We read about similar incidences in Bible with individuals assuming this same thing; that there is barrier that prevents us from being close to God. Somewhere along the path, Christianity has erroneously made the mistake of preaching that our “perfection” either is our conduit to knowing God or worse, entitles us with a feeling we have achieved some sort of deserved status with God. So Christianity in essence has joined the rest of the karmic faiths that are well known around the globe. I remember growing up, I was told that angels sit outside the movie theater because they cannot be present where sin is. How silly on one hand yet how deeply damaging on another. Laird asks his readers a question; Does Christ identify more with the perfectionist, or the sinner? It really speaks volumes how one answers that in regards to a persons true understanding with God and further, a persons capability to know God. If our understanding of God is identifying with perfectionism, our entire life will be spent with our ego looking inwards, judging ourselves, needlessly always asking ourselves, have I done enough? What this does is place layer upon layer of self before God. We can’t find God because of the noise we create and place upon ourselves by the constant chatter and revisitation of whether are standing with God is adequate. Other words, our entire being is consumed with ourselves over God. “My grace is sufficient for you” - Jesus (to Paul) No long theological expose’ just these words. We want more because we feel it must, MUST, require more. It cannot be this easy. Yet, it is the entire bedrock of what we are asked to believe. It means losing that ego. You must trust, TRUST those simple words. Jesus does not say much here because to say much is to interfere with....the silence. Silence meaning no chatter, no noise, no inward ego insisting more...”My Grace is sufficient...” that’s what is given, that’s all you need. You cannot instill your own ego here, because you have nothing to do with it, there’s nothing to self-check, you are both within and without the equation here. You contribute nothing. When we begin to understand Christ identifies with the sinner, chose to identify with the sinner, we can go from a place of inward ego living to a place of outward focused joyous living. Your forgiveness is/was established on Calvary. You are already forgiven, that is the entire point of the cross. It’s not an issue of asking for forgiveness, it’s accepting the forgiveness that Christ has already given. Because when you understand that even when we fall to sin, Christ is behind us saying “I’ll pick up the check for that” and you understand Christ is doing that everyday of our lives, you can begin to understand God, His purpose and His love. There is no separateness. God does not leave your side when you sin, He is there, sweeping it up into Himself and taking it to the Cross. And contemplation of that, leaves me in silence.

  13. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Ramsey

    Who are we, underneath all the noise and striving? Laird helps us hold space to know our truest identity hidden in Christ with God—the self that rests secure in the silence of God. He blends beautiful prose, authoritative expertise, rich theology, and stories that enliven and express how truly possible and good contemplative prayer is. The book was so beautiful I almost didn’t write a review, because I knew my little offering couldn’t touch how good this was. My only issue: at moments Laird’s view Who are we, underneath all the noise and striving? Laird helps us hold space to know our truest identity hidden in Christ with God—the self that rests secure in the silence of God. He blends beautiful prose, authoritative expertise, rich theology, and stories that enliven and express how truly possible and good contemplative prayer is. The book was so beautiful I almost didn’t write a review, because I knew my little offering couldn’t touch how good this was. My only issue: at moments Laird’s view of emotions and thoughts felt unnecessarily dualistic. For many Christians, already prone to dualistic distrust of the body, his earlier discussion of emotions like fear may lead them to further dismiss emotions as a dark part of humanity that detaches us from God. This couldn’t be farther from the truth (or, I believe, from Laird’s actual position). However, someone who has been reading contemplative Christian writing for a while will be able to follow his argument without demonizing the body. If this book had an added layer of interpersonal neurobiology, showing how emotions, thoughts, and silence work in our bodies, it would have been 5 stars. Extra bonus: Laird’s thoughts on suffering and our wounds are some of the most exquisite theological writing I’ve seen on suffering in quite some time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Armstrong

    This is one of the most spiritually enriching books I’ve ever read. I didn’t know very much about the practice of contemplation before reading Into the Silent Land and am now enthralled with the beauty and freedom of the concept. I will keep this book on my coffee table so that I’m reminded to come back to its truths and practices: it’s a combination of poetic explanation and practical implementation. The epilogue had me in tears, so powerful!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I've read this two or three times now. Highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    As someone who reads a great deal about the issue of contemplation and meditation, I have to say that this is the sort of book that I view as important even if it is one that I deeply disagree with.  Indeed, this book deserves at least some credit in that it spurred me to write about the subject  of biblical contemplation and meditation, which is something far different than the author makes it out to be.  And why the "Christian" contemplation discussed here is so different from the biblical one As someone who reads a great deal about the issue of contemplation and meditation, I have to say that this is the sort of book that I view as important even if it is one that I deeply disagree with.  Indeed, this book deserves at least some credit in that it spurred me to write about the subject  of biblical contemplation and meditation, which is something far different than the author makes it out to be.  And why the "Christian" contemplation discussed here is so different from the biblical one is something that is worth saying, because while this book does quote a great deal from the Bible, it does not do so in the way that one would expect, in terms of looking at passages and stories, but rather it cites the Bible the way it cites various Hellenistic Christians of the monastic variety whose practices are far more in line with heathen forms of meditation than with biblical forms.  There are a great many reasons why this is the case, including the fact that a great many people value tradition higher than scripture and are looking for support for what they already want to do anyway, but this book is a worthwhile one if short. Coming in at a bit less than 150 pages, this quarto-sized book contains seven chapters.  The author begins with some acknowledgments and a discussion of God as our homeland as a way of introducing contemplation and mysticism.  The first chapter discusses the separation of mankind from God as an illusion (rather than a reflection of the real effects of sin) (1).  After that the author talks about the wild hawk of the mind (2) and the body's call to prayer (3).  This leads to a somewhat lengthy discussion of the three doorways of the present moment (4), which owes a great deal to the contemplative thought of St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross.  After that there is a discussion about the riddles of distraction (5) and how they are to be dealt with in contemplation.  After this there is a discussion of the way that one moves from victim to witness by dealing successfully with affliction (6) as well as a discussion of temptation, humility, and failure where the author finally addresses the important matter of repentance (7).  The book then ends with a tale of monastic failure/success in an epilogue before the customary end notes. Ultimately, this book is useful if one wants to understand the culture of Hellenistic Christian contemplation throughout history, going back to the ascetic Egyptian desert fathers, the establishment of monasteries in the West, and the importance of monastic life as an aspect of the contemplative life.  The book obviously does a less successful job of encouraging people to live a godly life here and now, as the author is more concerned about what people think about contemplation and how Christian contemplation can be made to be as hip a Buddhist contemplation than what the Bible says about it and how the people in the Bible practiced it.  One will search in vain in this book for encouragement in meditating on God's laws and precepts, which the author seems not to know very well, and it is only at the very end of the book that the author deals with repentance, which is the first step to closing the separation and alienation that exists between God and mankind.  If this book is not without worth, the author seems unaware of and uninterested in the gap that exists between the author's idea of Christian contemplation as understood through tradition and the biblical model of contemplation that is not emptiness but always has some sort of biblical and scriptural matter in mind that is being contemplated and reflected on.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    “You say you seek God, but a ray of light doesn’t seek the sun; it’s coming from the sun. You are a branch on the vine of God. A branch doesn’t seek the vine; it’s already part of the vine. A wave doesn’t look for the ocean; it’s already full of ocean. Because you don’t know that who you are is one with God, you believe all these labels about yourself: I’m a sinner, I’m a saint, I’m a wretch, I’m a worm and no man, I’m a monk, I’m a nurse. These are all labels, clothing. They serve a purpose, bu “You say you seek God, but a ray of light doesn’t seek the sun; it’s coming from the sun. You are a branch on the vine of God. A branch doesn’t seek the vine; it’s already part of the vine. A wave doesn’t look for the ocean; it’s already full of ocean. Because you don’t know that who you are is one with God, you believe all these labels about yourself: I’m a sinner, I’m a saint, I’m a wretch, I’m a worm and no man, I’m a monk, I’m a nurse. These are all labels, clothing. They serve a purpose, but they are not who you are. To the extent that you believe these labels, you believe a lie, and you add anguish upon anguish. It’s what most of us do for most of our lives.” Years of Christian devotion, academic study, and this book may be the most powerful and impactful book on prayer I've ever read. To be sure, it's about only one type of prayer, but it is a necessary corrective to everything else I've seen. A long and dense read, but absolutely worth it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence Weber

    Into The Silent Land, by Martin Laird, was a very complex book on praying and how to truly enter into contemplative prayer. Many parts of the book were beautifully written, inspirational,and helpful, but there were also parts of the book that were very abstract, repetitive, and could be considered frustrating for someone who is a novice in their prayer life. Prayer is a great mystery, and Laird suggests that silence before God (and immersion into the silence of God) represents the pinnacle of pr Into The Silent Land, by Martin Laird, was a very complex book on praying and how to truly enter into contemplative prayer. Many parts of the book were beautifully written, inspirational,and helpful, but there were also parts of the book that were very abstract, repetitive, and could be considered frustrating for someone who is a novice in their prayer life. Prayer is a great mystery, and Laird suggests that silence before God (and immersion into the silence of God) represents the pinnacle of prayer life (this type of prayer is transformative). Obviously, for anyone who has tried contemplative prayer, this path/method is full of subtle challenges. Laird offers many suggestions designed to aid one in progressing deeper into contemplation and prayer life. I am sure that many of these suggestions would be considered useful to students willing to put in the practice, and Laird draws on the rich history of the Catholic tradition (especially focusing on the Wisdom of the Desert Fathers), but prayer is often so personal (intimate union between creator and created), that sometimes the best we can come away with from a book like this is that contemplative prayer is possible, yet still a mystery. For all that this book is (and it is very useful), I am still reminded of St. Paul's words to the Romans, "We do not know what [how] we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (Rom 8:26) In the end, I believe that our entire life is a prayer to God, and when we engage in things like love, service, justice, and truth, we are fully alive in prayer to God. When we look back on this kind of life however, we often come to realize that it is the Spirit at work in us helping us to truly live this life of prayer. Perhaps realizing this and taking some time to consider this in silence (immersing ourselves in the knowledge that the hand of God is at work in our lives)-perhaps this is truly the gateway into the silent land of contemplation with God.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alanna Truong

    This book started off well for me, and I was excited about much of his advice (though looking back in my note book, most of what I wrote were quotations of St. John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila and St. Augustine). The book is very quote heavy. I liked alot of what he said about silence, the importance of posture, and the attachment we have to the "idea" of ourselves and the trivial things we base our identity on (though this didn't go as in depth as I was hoping for). The book seemed to have This book started off well for me, and I was excited about much of his advice (though looking back in my note book, most of what I wrote were quotations of St. John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila and St. Augustine). The book is very quote heavy. I liked alot of what he said about silence, the importance of posture, and the attachment we have to the "idea" of ourselves and the trivial things we base our identity on (though this didn't go as in depth as I was hoping for). The book seemed to have a lot of good practical advice, and I was just waiting for it to get to the depth and beauty of contemplation - then chapter 4 and 5 happened. It became obvious that he has no place for emotions, except "awareness" and even states the goal is to "do away" with emotions. It is an attractive position when you are stressed, worried or struggling with any number of negative emotions, but his approach seemed more focused on indifference towards emotions, and this really felt like it missed the mark, and especially like it reduced a beautiful practice like contemplation to a passive indifference to life's suffering and pain. He seems to offer two options: be ruled by emotions, or be indifferent to them. I'll take the third option. (which is written about by Dietrich von Hildebrand in his book "The Heart: An Analysis of Human and Divine Affectivity") https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... I finished reading this so that I could review this book, I was left frustrated and disappointed, so many quotations seemed pulled out of context. But on the bright side, this book did get me excited to read St. John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila their writings in context.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    An elegantly-written guide to the contemplative life in a Christian context. Self-awareness begins with coming to grips with the fact that we are not our thoughts. The core of our personalities is a solid bedrock onto which our minds project our thoughts, feelings, fears, etc. We are not the weather above Mt. Zion. We are Mt. Zion. Through the practice of silence, we can see through the various forms of chatter the mind lays over our innermost selves - the "videos", as Laird often refers to them An elegantly-written guide to the contemplative life in a Christian context. Self-awareness begins with coming to grips with the fact that we are not our thoughts. The core of our personalities is a solid bedrock onto which our minds project our thoughts, feelings, fears, etc. We are not the weather above Mt. Zion. We are Mt. Zion. Through the practice of silence, we can see through the various forms of chatter the mind lays over our innermost selves - the "videos", as Laird often refers to them - to find the kernel of our being. As a Jung enthusiast, I found Laird's references to the MBTI rather interesting. There are certainly interesting parallels with Jung's thought. The inner silence Laird is looking at seems to be what Jung thought of as the unconscious; we don't really see it because it is masked by the "clothing" which we mistakenly take to be our true selves. Even something as descriptive as the MBTI is simply another layer of clothing. There is a deeper part of us. Silence allows us to see the chaotic thoughts that crowd our minds as mere drops of water in a vast sea of consciousness, thus taking away their power to obstruct us. A book to continually return to.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    There are numerous intelligently thorough reviews for this little gem on here. I don't think I have really anything new to add. I homeschool three children, I have two young dogs, and a chatty husband. So I know I need more silence. From my limited experience, it's in the silence that I nourish my relationship with God. Contemplative prayer is just one way a Christian can find that silence. The wonderful news is there are many ways to grow your relationship with God: vocal prayer, mental prayer, There are numerous intelligently thorough reviews for this little gem on here. I don't think I have really anything new to add. I homeschool three children, I have two young dogs, and a chatty husband. So I know I need more silence. From my limited experience, it's in the silence that I nourish my relationship with God. Contemplative prayer is just one way a Christian can find that silence. The wonderful news is there are many ways to grow your relationship with God: vocal prayer, mental prayer, imaginative prayer (Ignatius), reading Scripture (Lectio Divina), as well as, contemplative (meditation in silence) prayer. But with all of those, I notice, it's during the quiet times of prayer when your conversation with God deepens. Martin Laird's little guide goes through the process of contemplative prayer: the prayer word, body position, distractions, etc. But what I found the most helpful was reading the second half of the book, where Laird gives guidance on practicing with afflictions, dealing with the wounds of sin, temptations, definitions on humility, and looking at our failures as focal points of growth.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Noel Walker

    A very practical and articulate discussion of the Christian practice of contemplation. Laird first convinces the reader that God is not someone you go looking for; God is the ground of our very being. We have defined ourselves seperately from God using false scripts (Laird calls them videos) that we use to comment on our experience. Our separation from God is a learned helplessness that contemplation can help to address. Liard describes the posture of breath prayers and then describes how the pr A very practical and articulate discussion of the Christian practice of contemplation. Laird first convinces the reader that God is not someone you go looking for; God is the ground of our very being. We have defined ourselves seperately from God using false scripts (Laird calls them videos) that we use to comment on our experience. Our separation from God is a learned helplessness that contemplation can help to address. Liard describes the posture of breath prayers and then describes how the practice deepens from learning to stop reacting to distractions and learn to practice silence in response to your distractions. Don't chase distractions or work mentally at reinforcing your mind like a fortress of solitude. Rather, observe a distraction as just that, and return to the focus of your meditation. Laird then concludes with some practical examples of how breath prayers and reflective practices reinforce one's God centred identity. A great introduction.

  23. 4 out of 5

    D.j. Lang

    Let's get out the way first who probably won't like the book: those who have no interest in following Christ, and those who do believe in Christ but might think some of the language sounds mystical. I'm not going to argue whether it is or it is not: I just know some of my friends will not like the idea of contemplation. For the rest of us, I'd say the book blurbs are well-chosen and accurately describe the book. "Laird offers an approach to contemplative life that is within reach of us all." The Let's get out the way first who probably won't like the book: those who have no interest in following Christ, and those who do believe in Christ but might think some of the language sounds mystical. I'm not going to argue whether it is or it is not: I just know some of my friends will not like the idea of contemplation. For the rest of us, I'd say the book blurbs are well-chosen and accurately describe the book. "Laird offers an approach to contemplative life that is within reach of us all." The prose is clear. Laird guides well. He continually brings it all back to relationship with God. I appreciated and immediately resonated with how to face fears when really more than the fear itself, it's the commentary and video we run in our minds that cause us to focus on the fear and not focus on God in whom we find peace. I'm totally glad I bought the book, and I'm buying more as gifts.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Scott Hopkins

    Beginning this book that I am reading with my new Centering Prayer and Meditation group I meet with every FRIDAY morning at 9:30. They have welcomed me with open arms and deep hospitality. I am very excited to be a part of another meditation community. They have been together for years. PAX MYSTERIUM

  25. 5 out of 5

    Circle of Hope Pastors

    A gentle, stirring book to help us deepen our ability to listen to God.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz Whitlock

    Absolutely phenomenal book on Christian contemplation! I loved Laird's poetic writing style and the images he used to describe our lives. Definitely a book I will add to my "read once a year" list.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    a fabulous treasure. a thoroughly practical guide to contemplation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    most helpful book I've ever read. I feel like franny, nothing will be the same.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rich Lewis

    The book begins: “We are built for contemplation. This book is about cultivating the skills necessary for this subtlest, simplest, and most searching of the spiritual arts. Communion with God in the silence of the heart is a God-given capacity, like the rhododendron’s capacity to flower, the fledgling’s for flight, and the child’s for self-forgetful abandon and joy.” Let me share six key points I found very helpful. Contemplative Practices “There are two contemplative practices of fundamental impor The book begins: “We are built for contemplation. This book is about cultivating the skills necessary for this subtlest, simplest, and most searching of the spiritual arts. Communion with God in the silence of the heart is a God-given capacity, like the rhododendron’s capacity to flower, the fledgling’s for flight, and the child’s for self-forgetful abandon and joy.” Let me share six key points I found very helpful. Contemplative Practices “There are two contemplative practices of fundamental importance in the Christian tradition: the practice of stillness (also called meditation, still prayer, contemplative prayer, etc.) and the practice of watchfulness or awareness.” Of course there are various stillness practices. Let me name a few: Centering Prayer, Christian Meditation, the Jesus Prayer, Lectio Divina, chanting, walking, Visio Divina. It is important to find your practice. Dig deep in this well. See where it takes you. As you progress in your practice, you seem to develop the ability of watchfulness or awareness. You begin to create a space between your thoughts and you. You are not your thoughts. They are not always who you are. You can choose which ones to keep and which ones to let go of. God: Ground of Our Being “Because God is the ground of our being, the relationship between creature and Creator is such that, by sheer grace, separation is not possible.” “The fact that most of us experience throughout most of our lives a sense of absence or distance from God is the great illusion that we are caught up in; it is the human condition.” “For when the mind is brought to stillness, and all our strategies of acquisition have dropped, a deeper truth presents itself: we are and have always been one with God and we are all one in God (Jn 17: 21).” Each time we sit in silence we sit with God. The paradox is the God we sit with in silence continues to be with us even during our non silent times. It is us who forget this. Silence teaches us that we have always been one with God. Silence teaches us that the God we sit with is a constant presence as we move throughout the day. We are the Mountain “When the mind is brought to stillness we see that we are the mountain and not the changing patterns of weather appearing on the mountain.” “For a lifetime we have taken this weather—our thoughts and feelings—to be ourselves, taken ourselves to be this video to which the attention is riveted. Stillness reveals that we are the silent, vast awareness in which the video is playing.” “This move from victim to witness is an early psychological fruit of the contemplative journey. It is deeply liberating and gives us a sense of possibility for real change in our lives.” We are not our thoughts. We are much deeper than our thoughts. We are the vast awareness on which our thoughts seem to rest. Stillness helps us become more aware. We learn to just be with life. We learn to enjoy life. We look forward to life. We begin to see things we previously never noticed. Stillness is a portal to a vast and new world! Receptivity “God is always Self-giving; it is a question of removing the obstacles that make it difficult to receive this Self-gift. This receptivity is what contemplative practice cultivates.” “Contemplative prayer is the prayer of just being.” “Union with God is not something that needs to be acquired but realized.” A contemplative practice facilitates the inner ability to receive all that God wishes to give us. As Thomas Keating said, “God wants to share with us even in this life the maximum amount of divine life that we can possibly contain.” We discover that this is possible as we let go and open to God in the silence of our practice. Nourishment “The practice of silence nourishes vigilance, self-knowledge, letting go, and the compassionate embrace of all whom we would otherwise be quick to condemn.” We do not enter silence for its fruits. We enter the silence because we love God. We want a deeper and more intimate relationship with our Creator. God seems to have other plans. God blesses us with wisdom for daily tasks. God fills us with patience and confidence. God blasts us with an excitement for life. God enables us to have empathy and compassion for others. Conclusion “When you turn your attention from the object of your awareness to the awareness itself, there is just silent, vast, openness that has never been wounded, harmed, angry, frightened, incomplete. This is who you are.” This is the exciting part. We get to spend a life time exploring the vast, luminous and endless depths of silence. I encourage you to read this wonderful primer on Into the Silent Land which is also the title of this powerful book. Rich Lewis www.SilenceTeaches.com

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    After burning out at my old job, I’ve recently stepped into a new one that will hopefully allow me to prioritize the things I care about most in life – God, loved ones, and catching up on fun tv. Part of creating Halbs 3.0 has involved reconnecting to things I used to love doing, especially physical exercise and spiritual practices focused on being still and silent. Into the Silent Land was recommended to me by a colleague, and after reading it I could see why. While Laird’s prose isn’t exactly After burning out at my old job, I’ve recently stepped into a new one that will hopefully allow me to prioritize the things I care about most in life – God, loved ones, and catching up on fun tv. Part of creating Halbs 3.0 has involved reconnecting to things I used to love doing, especially physical exercise and spiritual practices focused on being still and silent. Into the Silent Land was recommended to me by a colleague, and after reading it I could see why. While Laird’s prose isn’t exactly easy to follow, it is powerful. The author provides some historical context to show that Christianity, like other world religions, has long has a strain of the faith emphasizing silence, solitude, mediation, and other quiet practices designed to help the practitioner understand more of ultimate reality and one’s one role and posture within the world. He also provides a guide, in a way, into the practice of contemplation. It’s not a step-by-step instructional book, or even a rough map, so much as the idea that in this “silent land” everyone finds their own way and connection to something greater. What appealed to me most in the book is the idea that you don’t have to go seeking God, or complete some sort of steps or reach some new spiritual level to be close to God. You just realize that God is already everywhere, and that you’re part of God. It’s a lot less doing and achieving, and a lot more releasing and being. It’s the kind of book that once you finish, you want to immediately flip back to the beginning to start reading again. I’m not sure I understood all of it, yet, but I do think I’ll be revisiting it. If the book sounds intriguing but you want something less dense, I’d recommend Henri Nouwen’s The Way of the Heart.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.