Nov 29, 2022·edited Nov 29, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

Thank you for all these nurturing and calming thoughts; I'm not mad, then, to share the suspicion that I'm running on a program that's not really beneficial and that it is within my power to discover the patterns and let them go. I stopped my life some 15 years ago because l found it deeply mediocre on a soul level. Divorce, ended my career, sold the house etc. But l did it alone, l read, meditate and look at the sea on my own, a hermit living in a small town in England.

Reading your post, all was well, very well indeed, l felt connected to your thoughts until l came to the last few sentences; you cannot stare into the abyss alone. You need an elder to guide you. But what if there isn't anyone there for a one to one guidance? I have looked. Do YouTube Gurus count?

I'm not stopping staring into the Abyss no matter what, but perhaps l should take out an insurance?

Greetings from

Worried of Smalltown

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Nov 28, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

I will join you in "Pascal's challenge."

This is the season of Advent, which encourages us to reflect on the second coming of Christ, so necessary to consider in this dark world. This is the season when believers ask, "Why so long, O Lord? When will the sorrow and misery cease for your children?"

I am a little surprised that your reflection on 'infinite distraction' does not include the third agency in this world, the power of evil, the Satan, the ruler of this world. In the New Testament, there are three entities or powers: God the creator of the world, the Enemy who controls this world today, and the human beings and creatures who find themselves held in captivity. We experience distraction because we battle spiritual forces arrayed against us. "For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6:12” It is only the power and love of God who defeats the forces of evil and gives us the mystical assurance of the Lord's presence, the FIRE Pascal experienced for two hours in 1654.

Thanks for writing and best wishes on sitting. I remember a poster in high school that said, "sometimes I sit and think, sometimes I just sit." It's taken me years to realize the second may be more valuable.

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Hi Jack,

Thank you for this honest and illuminating reflection. This is part of the trick, isn't it? When we open to God in silence and stillness we open to both the Presence of Christ and to all that is in us that seeks something else. And thus the battle (and the revealing of our divisions, and the slow, humbling purification) continues.

Your humility is edifying. I'm not responding on the thread of some other comments here, but I do want to say that I have a greater trust in a testimony to Christ that comes out of an encounter with God in one's weakness and need than in one that comes out of a sense of triumph and being right where others are wrong. It is when we are weak that we may encounter divine power in a deeper level, and I do think that this is some of what the desert, silence, stillness and solitude can teach us. If you go into silence to encounter Christ, and in the process meet and must face many demons, you're standing alongside a long line of holy ones - from St. Anthony of Egypt on to the present. Singleness or marriage mean less than the intention of the heart to seek the Infinite One - in whatever state of life we may find ourselves. My prayers are with you - and all the rest of us as we bumble along - this Advent.

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Nov 29, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

This is from the Chuang-Tzu/Zhuangzhi:

'Brilliance queried nothingness, saying: “Are you, sir, being or are you nothing?” Brilliance, unable to get a response, carefully regarded the other’s appearance—a far-reaching vacuity. He gazed the entire day and saw nothing, listened but heard no sound, reached out but was unable to grasp anything. Brilliance said: “How perfect! Who can be as perfect as this! I can grant the fact of nothingness but not the non-being of nothingness. As for nothingness, how can one realize such perfection!” '

The 'nothingness' of deep peace through solitude and prayer (whatever ur preference) is pretty damn rich for being 'nothing'. I feel like I've seen or felt it once or twice and it feels so warm, deep, holy, peaceful and eternal. (Hope I'm making sense!)

Good luck on the Pascal Challenge! (maybe i even try it myself)

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Thanks, Jack. These are fruitful reflections. I have tried many times to find my chair of silence, but it always turns out to be one of those swivel chairs that spins me toward one task or another, one obligation or another. Still, I agree there is something very fundamental about cultivating that silence, both as a discipline to move away from the distractions, and (for me anyway), not just for silence, but a silence that is angled toward God within a particular context of understanding.

What’s your feeling about context? For example, there are people who report reaching a level of silence and stillness that is without context; one in which the individual self dissolves, monsters and all, and what’s left is a sense of being connected to an absolute All, or void, or big-s Silence (words cannot describe it, reportedly).

For me, I think there are difficulties with this view, though I understand the appeal of it. In a left-brained world, we are trying to restore a balance toward the right. (I actually think the balance is the real thing, a particular silence in a particular context, though its experience and expression may differ somewhat from person to person.)

What about yourself? Do you feel there is a place in the silence that might be reachable, and when reached will reveal only silence, or perhaps Silence? Or is there any remaining context? Can this even be talked about? (Or should we call in the Zen master to swat us on the back with a stick, just because we’re talking too much?) :)

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Thank you. Such a beautiful piece of writing and thought. I don't know how I'll find time for Pascal's challenge with a wild two-year old daughter and another child due to arrive any day now. But I know how important it is.

I'd also like to take this moment just to commend you and this substack. Everything you write rings with truth and clarity. Personally speaking, it always chimes with something that I'm facing at the same moment. A few weeks ago, I went to fast on a mountain for four days, around the time you were writing about the desert fathers. I longed for it, negotiated the time away carefully with my wife... And yet as soon as I arrived, I found myself almost immediately desperate to rush home. Undoubtedly for some of the reasons you describe here.

So keep going! You're speaking to many of us out here, Somewhere in all our wanderings we'll find a path out of this morass - for us and, maybe, our civilization too.

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Nov 28, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

Good Morning, Jack. Sounds like you are really going places on The Path. Thanks for sharing about it with us readers.

I remember that initially I was so tearfully shocked, dismayed, even crushed at the perception of my flawed and inadequate self.... but in time it wasn't that scary anymore; fresh revelations can (sometimes, on a good day) be met almost with a sense of laughing at myself. I hope you also feel bathed in God's love and fond care for you while gazing at the fact of your darker potential! I suppose it is not good to see one self clearly if not also seeing The Father more clearly.

This is none of my business, but I did have the thought that if I were spending a similar week in solitude I would have turned the internet off along with the bells.


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Jan 11, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Thank you, Jack. Yes, things are well with us here. Brief comment in reply, that the Modern Project in my view takes this basic flaw in our perception and makes it the fundamental ‘fact’ of our existence. There is an ‘I’ which I know, and all else is unknown and potentially a deceptive threat to my ‘I’, my precious :) Everything that can be done must be done to separate all the ‘I’s. This is of course the work of the diabolo, the one who divides and throws apart, the one who teaches you to be afraid.

Note the subtle lie which we all miss because we bought it ‘you shall be as God’ . . . Up to this point the man and the woman had no sense of not being in God. The offer suggests a lack which wasn’t there! But we having swallowed the suggestion buried in the offer of something which was ours all along, miss the deceit.

The shift to egoic self consciousness suggests we have a journey to make, except for those who do, we return to where we started, knowing it for the first time (with apologies to your countryman :) )

A wee ramble :)

I look forward to your post!

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Jan 9, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Hi Jack

Do hope you are well

On this aversion to silence, prayer, reading scripture, etc etc possibly ad Infinitum as the circle never becomes a straight line however close you get :) - Something occurred to me some months ago that is a little suggestive in this regard: when the man and woman became self conscious and found themselves outside the Garden, they found the way back ‘closer off’. I mention this as it resonates at a psychological level with my own ‘blocking’ experience. Only the ego death - flashing sword - enables the return. This to a certain extent explains the paradox that God is always and everywhere present, but ‘I’ cannot discern his presence

Grace and Peace


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Nov 29, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

I understand about distractions. It’s a battle. I think of it as a worship disorder. Our precious father wants our worship and to die to self. Thankfully our father in heaven is a benevolent, compassionate and all loving. Jesus his son is my righteousness. Do I grasp that fully? I am a wonderer, a drifter, easily distracted. There is a battle for my heart. I have to remember the good news (gospel) daily. When I don’t my worship disorder kicks in. I pray that I can be content in Christ. I can’t do it on my own. I pray for joy In Christ, satisfaction in Christ, and contentment in Christ. That is a prayer for each of you.

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As you know, Jack, I loved this piece.

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Nov 28, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy

Lovely 🙏🏼

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deletedNov 28, 2022Liked by Jack Leahy
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