A simple meditation to start your day
There is a brief text which is one of the most universal, ecumenical texts in the world spiritual literature. Be you a Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, follower of shamanist practices, this text speaks to any open heart. The reason is that it is pure poetry, being composed solely of metaphors. Why not try it out as a morning meditation? Sit comfortably and follow David the shepherd as he walks through life. And above all, read and visualize this with your heart.
The Lord (Infinite Love, Divine Love) is my shepherd*
Anyone who has followed or talked to a real shepherd knows the incredible love and care a shepherd gives to his flock. He knows each animal individually and will do anything to protect it from danger or any harm, to find the best pasture, the surest shelter for the night. Imagine that Love shepherding you through this day.
I shall not want
What an amazing statement: every one of our needs met! The spiritual life is a life of abundance, not suffering or ascetic privation.The Bible has some amazing metaphors to describe this abundance, like the passage in Malachi which speaks of the sluice-gates of heaven pouring forth their abundance on the receptive heart, or Jesus saying that all that the Creator has is ours – surely the most amazing statement on abundance ever uttered.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
Life does not have to be one of constant rush, stress and pressure. When one lives in the now, in the awareness of the Presence, one gets as much (or more) done, but with no stress. Things start to flow. Visualize yourself as one of the sheep lying down in lush green pastures. Feel the soft carpet of grass. REST there, and at any stressful moment in the day, come back there, be it only for a brief moment.
He leadeth me beside the still waters
For a nation of shepherds living in a semi-arid climate, water was the most precious resource. Water means above all life. As you meditate on this text regularly, you will discover that the source of living waters is in you, and it is unlimited. Feel yourself as one of the sheep drinking deep draughts of these living waters which are always available, because they are in us, deep in the wellspring of our heart.
He restoreth my soul
Total contentment and the deepest satisfaction are our inheritance. Our soul rests in a deep sea of calm and expresses perfect poise and composure, permanent, boundless bliss. Visualize yourself expressing an all-pervading harmony, the uninvaded rhythm of effortless being, complete release. All these qualities are already there, deep down inside us, if only we would love ourselves enough to give ourselves the time and space to tune in to their presence. (This is what Jesus meant when he stated that the ‘Kingdom of God’ i.e. all these qualities and so many more, is already in us.)
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake
Feel yourself being guided by the shepherd, and when you get off the path, feel his rod gently but firmly bringing you back. Once again, do not mentalize this meditation; keep in anchored in the heart – visualize and especially feel the power of these simple metaphors.
Yea though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I shall feel no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me
At one period in my life, I went through over seven years of very aggressive attacks of depression. Because I was on the spiritual path, I would berate myself very harshly for having such attacks. I never took a pill or saw an M.D. because I had decided to overcome this spiritually. It was getting worse and worse, and one night at 1.30 a.m. out of utter desperation I phoned a dear friend in the States. With immense love in her voice, she said one sentence that lifted me out of that depression in five minutes. ‘Pierre, the 23rd psalm does not say there is no valley of death, but that when you are in the valley, you are not alone, the Shepherd is there with you.’ Whatever the circumstances, whatever the trial, the promise is that we are never alone; Divine, infinite Love is ALWAYS there, and will not only protect us but use those circumstances we label as afflictive and unbearable to make us grow and learn.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
This metaphor is an assurance that we will always have the resources to meet any challenge that faces us in life. Providence will never allow us to face a situation we cannot master if we trust in its help.
Thou anointest my head with oil
Oil is here an image for consecration, inspiration, charity and especially gentleness. So just feel this oil of gentleness being poured over your head!
My cup runneth over
Once more, the psalm returns to a metaphor of abundance. Note that the cup is not just full; it runs over! Just know that this abundance is already yours now for the taking – although learning how to accept this totally free abundance may take quite a time, as we have to unlearn a great deal!
Visualize yourself sitting under a torrent which is just pouring over you, pouring goodness, pouring, pouring, pouring…
Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
Mercy is a quality one does not hear such a lot about nowadays. Yet it is such a beautiful quality. It means a kind and compassionate treatment of a person where severity would be expected or even merited.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever
The ‘house of the Lord’ here is a metaphor for the consciousness of infinite, unconditional Love. ‘Eternity’ (‘evermore’ in the psalm) is that Mind-space where there is no other consciousness but that of infinite Love: no time or physical space, no jarring events, no lack of any sort. Although most of us will probably experience such a consciousness for only brief moments here on earth, we can, through daily, hour after hour, minute after minute practice start to establish an ever-clearer awareness that this Love-consciousness is the one and only thing that matters. Ultimately, all the rest is secondary.