Meditation – With or Without Expectations?

Paola Di Pietro

by Rowan Williams

“There’s quite a lot of discussion these days about what meditation does for you. Research about how it calms you down and makes you more effective. Research that makes meditation quite interesting, too. I am not concealing that there’s wisdom in this, that there’s a recognition that the meditating is somebody in the process of change. But the question obviously arises:

Is meditation, just another technique? Another thing that serves our agenda, that serves our purposes?

Somewhere deeper than that is the sense that meditation needs to be an abandonment of agendas. We go to meditation not to solve the problem, not to become more effective. We go into it to take the risk of really being changed by the truth, the reality of the divine life to which we open ourselves.

So do we approach meditation with expectations or not? If we bring expectations, with what kind of expectations?

I’m going to be trying to work out how we understand genuine growth and change in meditation without committing us to the idea that meditation is something we can just check and just assess for ourselves as we might with any other kind of technique.

Meditation is a risky business because it’s risky to expose yourself to change. And part of the risk of those long patches of experience, which we all share, when nothing much seems to be happening. Nothing much seems to be changing.

How do we work with the expectation that we’re gonna be frustrated, that we’re going to find it difficult at various points? And that, too, is part of what I want to be reflecting on with?

I hope very much that these thoughts about expectation and lack of expectation in the process of meditation will draw out some deeper understanding of what it is we’re actually doing when we sit, breath and open the doors of our hearts to a reality that we’re never going to be able to comprehend. A reality that will always challenge and exceed every expectation we could bring to it.”

Join us on the second online talk of the Bonnevaux Speaker Series with Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, theologian and author, on 9th February, 8:00 – 9:30 pm French time.

Watch Rowan’s invitation to the second talk of the Bonnevaux Speaker series in the video below.