Although I was raised as a devout Catholic, I knew nothing about Christian Mysticism — it was quite mysterious! Only years later, after I had left the Church, did I stumble across Christian mysticism, and I wondered why it was kept under wraps so secretively.
After doing a little research, I discovered that the Church had historically felt that mainstream Christians were not ready for mysticism, that it was only appropriate for saints, who squirreled themselves away from society in order to communicate directly with God. They had already been “saved by Christ” probably before they even became nuns or priests, so why did they continue to meditate and pray contemplatively, shunning the world and all the goodies the world had to offer?
Well, shucks, I thought, what if I wanted to communicate directly with God, myself, and not go through the intermediaries of a priesthood (that I never really trusted). Why couldn’t I do the same things that contemplative saints do in order to come face-to-face with Him?
Because I was genuinely interested in this, I checked into becoming a Christian monk, but becoming a Christian monk was about as probable, in my mind, as becoming the pope! With all the education and qualifications involved, the main one being that I couldn’t be married, which I was, I didn’t have a chance!
Stymied, I decided to check into other religions hoping that they would offer instructions on how to go deeply inside myself. Surprisingly, I learned that Buddhism, established 550 years before Christ and based on meditation principles 5,000 years old, had “going deeply inside” down to a science!
Also, I eventually found out that Buddhist monasteries in Thailand require no prequalifications to join the order of monks, only a sincere desire to find enlightenment and a wiliness to follow the Buddha’s rules – married or not! And since the practice involved silent meditation, and not book learning or intellectual understanding, no formal education was required.