Resources for Daily Practice

This bibliography has been compiled by Teresa Tillson.

Daily Offices

OREMUS is a form of daily Christian prayer published on the Internet. It is published by the Episcopal Church, but uses prayer forms from other denominations, especially Presbyterian.

Christian Meditation and Contemplative Practice

Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, (1966) Living Prayer, Springfield, Illinois: Templegate Publishers. Russian Orthodox bishop Anthony Bloom talks about uses of the Jesus Prayer, the Lord's Prayer, and silence. An excellent book for beginners. While Living Prayer is my favorite, you can't go wrong with any of Metropolitan Anthony's other works. (A "Metropolitan" is the Orthodox version of a Bishop.)

Anthony deMello, (1990), Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. New York: Doubleday. Wake Up! cries Jesuit priest Anthony deMello in a mix of Christian spirituality, Buddhist parables and Hindu breathing exercises. A delightfully funny call to grow up from our illusions and into reality through spiritual awakening.

Richard J. Foster, (1992), Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. Richard Foster explores the variety of Christian spiritual traditions and their practices, from Benedictine contemplation to Igniatian Examen, and from prayer of petition to prayer of authority. Foster, a Quaker, cherishes and carefully explains the value and uses of the broad array of Protestant and Catholic prayer forms. He has also written excellent collections of devotions and readings.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, (1989) translated by Anthony Mottola, New York: Doubleday. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Jesuit religious order, wrote this Christian Spiritual classic that teaches meditation using the active mind and imagination.

Thomas Keating, (1994) Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel, Element Books. Teresa's pick for the best single primer on beginning to pray. Keating, a Cistercian (sub-type of Benedictine) monk, lays out the method of "Centering Prayer", a contemporary version of a prayer practice used by monastics and lay people for centuries. See also www.centeringprayer.com, the web page of Contemplative Outreach, founded by Fr. Keating.

Thomas Kelly, (1941), A Testament of Devotion, San Francisco: Harper Collins. Quaker Thomas Kelly's modern classic of the spiritual life.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, The Practice of the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence was a 17th Century monastic who practiced daily conversation with God in all activities great and small; "speaking humbly and talking lovingly with Him at all times, at every moment, without rule or system". Numerous versions of this short classic are in publication. Don't be distracted by the Brother Lawrence's humility, which is not a virtue we currently prize and which the language of his time emphasized. His way is one of extraordinary courage and peace.

Thomas Merton, (1971) Contemplative Prayer, New York: Image Books. "[Merton] brings together a wealth of meditative and mystical influences--from John of the Cross to Eastern desert monasticism&emdash;to create a spiritual path for today" (Amazon book review). Merton -- the writer who most stimulated popular interest in 20th century monastic practice -- wrote so much and so well on the contemplative life that picking the best is difficult. Also try New Seeds of Contemplation and No Man is an Island, both collections of essays on the process of entering into the spiritual life.

Peace Pilgrim, (1992) Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Works in Her Own Words. Blessingway Books. Peace Pilgrim walked America for nearly three decades, bearing the simplest of messages: This is the way of peace &endash; Overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. If you want to enter relationship with God, but are reluctant to do so within a specific tradition, Peace Pilgrim is for you. But don't shy away if you are rooted in a tradition. Peace Pilgrim is too good to miss. See also www.peacepilgrim.com, a web site maintained by friends of Peace Pilgrim.

The Way of the Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way. (1992) translated by Helen Bacovcin, New York: Doubleday Image Books. A classic of Russian Orthodox spiritual literature. A thorough introduction to the 'Jesus Prayer', a practice beloved among Orthodox believers.

Gale Webbe, (1964) The Night and Nothing, New York: The Seabury Press. Unfortunately now out of print, Gale Webbe has written one of the best contemporary descriptions of what a person entering into an extended, disciplined prayer practice should expect to experience. Speaks realistically of both the ecstatic and barren times of any journey of prayer. A contemporary counterpart to St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul.

Other reliable authors include: Basil Pennington, William Menninger, Richard Rohr, David Stendahl-Rast, Allan Jones, Thomas Moore, Gerald May, Tilden Edwards.

My resources skew toward Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox writers (all "high-church" or liturgical traditions). There is also a rich tradition of personal prayer in the American Protestant tradition, though it tends to be less meditative, more active, more free-form, and to center on bible reading and extemporaneous verbal prayer. I urge you to explore on your own, as I am less familiar with this literature. To get started try Catherine Marshall's Beyond Ourselves and Hannah Whithall Smith's The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life. A medieval precursor to this tradition might be Thomas a'Kempis' The Imitation of Christ.

Early Desert Fathers and Mothers

The 4th century christian Abbas and Ammas who retreated into the desert areas of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia and Persia set the tone for the medieval monastic. Their writings provide insight into what we should strive for and expect from the spiritual journey.

Roberta Bondi, (1997), To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church, Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Thomas Merton, (1988), The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century, W. W. Norton & Company.

Thomas Merton, (1988), The Way of Chuang Tzu, W. W. Norton & Company. Not exactly the desert fathers. Just goes to show that those who practice intentional spiritual discipline tend to think alike.

Buddhist Tradition for the Western Reader

I am by no means an expert on Buddhist tradition. However, I do recommend some personal favorites and classic authors that may prove useful as a beginning.

Thich Nhat Hahn, (1987) Being Peace and (1991) Peace is Every Step. Thich Naht Hahn, the venerable Vietnamese Buddhist monk, has written extensively on Buddhism for the western reader. The above books are ones I have read and loved. He has also written more specifically on Buddhist practices such as breath, The Four Noble Truths, walking meditation, mindfulness, and commentaries on various sutras. You can never go wrong with these works.

Eugen Herrigel, (1989), Zen and the Art of Archery, Vintage Books. German Eugen Herrigal lived in Japan in the 1950's and set out to learn about Zen by studying one of the classic arts &endash; archery. Herrigel explores the difficulty of a Westerner trying to grasp Zen's fundamental demand -- that the spirit of Zen must be experienced directly, not through the understanding or intellect. Short and unforgettable.

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, New York: Weatherhill. A classic on the practice of Zen. Profound but easy to read. I highly recommend it. Suzuki-roshi came to the United States in the 1960s, establishing the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the first Buddhist training monastary outside of Asia.

Diasetz T. Suzuki (1996), Zen Buddhism: Selected writings of D. T. Suzuki, Image Books. "No other figure in history has played a bigger part in opening the West to Buddhism than the eminent Zen author, D. T. Suzuki… Suzuki stands apart from all teachers before or since because of his exceptional ability to eloquently capture in words the seemingly inexpressible essence of Zen." (Amazon book review). This is considered Suzuki's best work, providing both an intellectual framework for understanding Zen and a vivid understanding of the practice of Zen. A challenging book to read, and worth the effort.

Other well known western writers on Buddhism include Roshi Philip Kapleau.

The American Zen Association in New Orleans and has an excellent discussion of sitting meditation.

Tricycle is a quarterly magazine of Buddhist thought, and their web site at www.tricycle.com.

The San Francisco Zen Center has links to other Zen sites on the web worth checking out.

In Minnesota see:

Clouds in Water Zen Center

and

Minnesota Zen Meditation Center

3343 E. Calhoun Pkwy
Minneapolis, MN 55408
612/822-5313

Disclaimer