Now, I know what you're thinking, this guy looks like the grand inquisitor, but I assure you, that through thorough research done 300 years after his existence, I have concluded that he is a gem in the dust, you're welcome.
If you ever wanted to reach the next level on your Christian journey, there is nothing after what this man teaches. This is the absolute pinnacle of the ride, and once you understand his point of view, the struggle morphs into rest.
Make no mistake, you are not reading this by chance. You know there's more!
These are not his biases, they are yours, potentially, and it might help you recognise them, if nothing else. One cannot maintain a state of awareness while being subjected or imprisoned in a worldview delimited by borders called childhood, tradition or past experiences.
The first one you might consider is 'God is too busy to talk to me'. I used to think that there must be more to this Christian life than just church, fellowship and a short prayer every day. There is more, but you have to first believe that the God of the universe, would make time for you. It's hard to accept that He personally cares about you, I mean you understand it intellectually, but deep down, I think we all struggle with this.
Surely God cares, but not on a super small level as in: 'I am having a bad day because of someone else'. It just doesn't feel right to come to God with that, maybe we should save for something big, right? Wrong.
Being humans, guilty as charged, we operate in a dualistic world. If we do this, we can't do that, multi-tasking at best. So we project our own view of reality along with our limitations on God. Also, we believe that if we pester Him with every day occurrences, He might somehow get bored or used up, like there is a limited amount, and we must use Him wisely, scarcity mindset all the way!
As Keith Green once said, if your two year old daughter comes crying and tells you that she lost her nickle, would you make fun of her insignificant problem?
That's why God is who He is, He cares about our life's nickle's compared to all of His Kingdoms and Universes. He is the God of the great and the small.
There's a nice relating intro to this song, you might want to have a look.
The Good Stuff
''By two ways one may go to God, the first by Meditation; the second by Contemplation.'' - Miguel de Molinos
Here is one of the most important statements ever spoken by a Christian, as it outlays the two telephone numbers that God always answers.
But before we break this down, let's define prayer:
''Prayer is a sallying out or elevation of the Mind to God. God is above all creatures, and the Soul cannot see him, nor converse with him, if it does not raise itself above them all.'' - Miguel de Molinos
So what is the difference between Meditation and Contemplation?
Meditation is more of a beginners stage, where one reasons and examines specific aspects of God's character, and slowly defines a personal view of the divine. This stage is essential in building stamina and exploring the depth of God using faith.
Contemplation is a next level skill, where one already knows the truth (Christ), and has no need for further considerations or proof. At this stage, the entire act consists of focusing the attention on Jesus, and is more like a prayer of faith, in complete silence and trust. No more words, just complete surrender in adoration.
A transition from prayer to meditation, then contemplation in the same session is quite normal, as the minutes go by, a natural adjustment. To rest in silence between the struggles of our humanity trying to grasp the infinite creator is where one finds purpose.
''Meditation operates with toil, and with fruit; Contemplation without toil, with quiet, rest, peace, delight, and far greater fruit. Meditation sows, and Contemplation reaps; Meditation seeks, and Contemplation finds; Meditation chews the Food, Contemplation tastes and feeds on it'' - Miguel de Molinos
Miguel goes on to treat the number one drawback when trying to execute contemplation. This is where most fail, even after a few minutes. The soul wants so badly to express itself, to not waste time, that after a short while, it will want to exist again, and will recall to memory reasons to ask for forgiveness, again. Maybe God is not over our sin, maybe that's why He's not replying sooner, surely it would be very efficient to first go back and apologise sincerely and only after come back to contemplation...
The mind will always find a way to 'exist' again.
Another common mistake is unbelief that God is present and trying. What if He's not actually aware that I'm waiting for Him? What if I'm not doing it right? A few moments pass, you think of something else, and then punish yourself on the way back while deciding you have to start over again.
Here is a great illustration that argues with our need to resubmit our intent in silence: If a jewel given to a friend is once placed in his hands, it is no longer necessary to repeat the act by daily telling him: '-Sir, I give you this jewel, I give you that jewel...!', but to let him keep it, provided that you don't take it back.
''That kind of prayer is not only the easiest, but the most secure; because it is abstracted from the operations of the Imagination, that is always exposed to the tricks of the devil, and the extravagances of melancholy and rationalization, wherein the Soul is easily distracted, and being wrapt up in speculation, reflects on itself.'' - Miguel de Molinos
When God intends to guide the soul in the school of the divine in an extraordinary manner, He first makes it go through a period of dryness and darkness, for two essential reasons. First is to get us to let go of ourselves, by realizing that we are helpless, the second is to increase our perception of how much we need Him.
God cannot be reached by rationalising, or by trying to decode mysteries using our own wisdom, that would be an insult, just like a dog cannot grasp a human's thoughts, it's the human that makes a decision to reveal himself to the lesser creature, as far as the dog is able to comprehend. With God, it's a little different, as He can also give us the ability to understand what He wants us to, unfortunately, we cannot do that with our pets.
''Not to wait on God is the greatest idleness, idleness of the Soul is the business of the businesses of God'' - Miguel de Molinos
The gardener places more esteem on the plants that he sows in the ground, than the ones that spring up by themselves, so God favors the virtues that He places in our soul while we wonder through aridity and desert, over all others that the soul pretends to acquire by it's own strive and endeavors.
''But all Hell will conspire against thee, seeing one single Soul inwardly retired to its own Presence, makes greater War against the Enemy, than a thousand others that walk externally.'' - Miguel de Molinos
Striving in prayer through darkness and dryness may be compared to children who work for their father and at the end of the day receive no wage, but at the end of the year receive it all.
''The greater the nakedness, and quietness in God are, the greater sweetness and strength received by the Soul, which ought to endeavor to become so pure and simple, that it should have no other support, but in God alone.'' - Miguel de Molinos
''God is much displeased with those Souls, which in helping others before the time, defraud themselves, suffering themselves to be transported by indiscreet zeal, and vain complacency.'' - Miguel de Molinos
The above statement is of high importance, as there is so much spiritual vanity in being a busy bee for the kingdom, it's one of the most common traps for high level believers! Covering sin with extra kingdom work shifts is a trade off that relieves anxiety, and helps to forgive ourselves. If life is hectic, and 'no time for God today' is everyday, then extra toil and effort for the ministry gives us a false sense of holiness, of balancing out the sins.
Even worse, an intelligent person might find an apparent loophole in the system, and instead of actually getting rid the sin left in their life, just focus on helping others live godly. Then, they rationalize their piety in putting others before themselves, even when it comes to fighting personal sin. There's no time for yourself if you're just helping everyone, right? How can that be wrong?
A wise man said once that there are two types of procrastination. The basic type, when one puts off something that has to be done, for an activity that brings pleasure or comfort. For example, watching TV instead of learning for tomorrow's exam.
And then there is virtuous procrastination, where one delays an important activity for something that is also crucial, but just not as important. For example, you have an exam tomorrow, and instead of learning for the exam, you are helping your mother with the dishes.
Because you are involved in an act of kindness, some advanced mental gymnastics, and voila! You are already forgiving yourself for not doing what you know you have to do. This is an example when you win, but you lose, because the enemy is yourself.
This becomes a far greater problem when instead of helping yourself spend real time with God every day, or getting rid of the sin in your life, you are virtuously procrastinating by bringing others to Christ. This is a fine example of doing the right thing, at the wrong time, or just in the wrong order. For example, I feel good about writing this, knowing that it will help you, even though I know I should be spending time with God, and I am currently running away from that, and helping myself with a portion of holiness and forgiveness by creating this instead. I will not do well on judgment day if I keep this up.
''It should concern thee more to be quiet and resigned in a holy case, than to do many and great things, by thy own judgment and opinion ..., he that does the Will of God, does all things! This thy Soul ought to comprehend and hold firm to.'' - Miguel de Molinos
It can give great satisfaction to bring others to Christ, but it should never be done as a cover up for our personal spiritual struggle. It's just another form of running away, an escape if you will, as spending considerable time alone with God doesn't just come, it's real work. Not that to spend time in God's presence is work, it is surely rest, but the decision to go there in the first place is not very attracting, at least at the beginning of the journey.
''Thou’lt think and with great confidence too, that thou art in a condition, to guide Souls in the way of the Spirit, and perhaps, that may be secret Vanity, spiritual Pride, and plain Blindness;'' - - Miguel de Molinos
For the few that like to see the world in black and white, I have to mention that this does not mean you shouldn't bring others to Christ, you still have to do that, just not when it's done as a means of receiving extra forgiveness through additional toil, or when it replaces time spent in God's presence. This was a legal spiritual disclaimer, for when I get to heaven, I like to cover all my bases.
''Mystical knowledge proceeds not from Wit, but from Experience; it is not invented, but
proved; not read, but received.'' - Miguel de Molinos
''O how are, in a manner infinite numbers of Souls to be pitied, who from the beginning of their Life to the end, employ themselves in meer Meditation, constraining themselves to Reason, although God Almighty tries to deprive them of rationalization, that He may promote them to another State, and carry them on a more perfect kind of Prayer, and so for many years they continue imperfect, and in the beginning, without any progress or having as yet made one step in the way of the Spirit; beating their Brains about the frame of the Place, the choice of the Minutes, Imaginations, and strained Reasonings, seeking God without, when in the mean time, they have him within themselves.'' - Miguel de Molinos
''Lay this down as a firm ground in thine Heart, that for walking in the inward Way, all sensibilities should first be removed; and that the means God uses for that is dryness.'' - Miguel de Molinos
''The greatest Temptation is to be without Temptation.'' - Miguel de Molinos
''There are three kinds of silence; the first is of Words, the Second of Desires, and the third of Thoughts. The first is perfect; the second more perfect; and the third more perfect. In the first, that is, of words, Virtue is acquired; in the second, to wit, of Desires, quietness is attained to; in the third of Thoughts, Internal Recollection is gained. By not speaking, not desiring, and not thinking, one arrives at the true and perfect Mystical Silence, wherein God speaks with the Soul, communicates himself to it, and in the Abyss of its own Depth, teaches it the most perfect and exalted Wisdom.'' - Miguel de Molinos
''He calls and guides it to this inward Solitude, and mystical Silence, when he says, That he will speak to it alone, in the most secret and hidden part of the Heart. Thou art to keep thy self in this mystical Silence, if thou wouldest hear the sweet and divine Voice.'' - Miguel de Molinos
Not a Boring History
Miguel was the leader of a movement called Quietism, in the 17th century Spain.
Because of the 'new' doctrine he was promoting, he was brought before a tribunal of the 'Holy Office of the Inquisition' and asked to explain his teaching, after which he was sentenced to life in jail, where he passed away after nine years.
The opposition of the Catholic church at the time gives him a lot of credibility in my books. I mean if you're teaching Christ and you get a life sentence from the Inquisition squad, you know you're doing it right!