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114 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow food for the soul., 11 July 2008
By 
Barbara Buda (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
Every ten years or so, a small book appears and slips into the mainstream of life: it is simply `there' to take up and read or disregard. But gradually, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendation, it becomes what it was always meant to be: slow food for the soul, a contemporary spiritual `classic'. `Into the Silent Land' is the latest such offering on the table of life. To those who know their need and are alert to what gives lasting nourishment, this little book - just the right size for pocket or rucksack - has an almost sacramental capacity to bless and confirm, to lure and encourage.

After all, `God does not know how to be absent,' declares Augustinian friar and author Martin Laird. Inviting us to journey with him `Into the Silent Land' he sets out to describe a spiritual landscape with which we so often struggle but within which we are created to thrive. Slowly, we can recover the practice of contemplation by which we come to know ourselves as we really are: nothing less than love outpoured.

Lest this seem too abstract or only true for certain `special' people, we are reminded that the sense of separation from God and one another is the great lie. Thanks to the constant video of noise and distraction passing before us, we allow our attention to be stolen and the awareness of our deepest identity erased. We forget the simplest of truths: we are already one with God. `All we need is to experience what we already possess.' But, like the deep-sea fisherman we are blinded by ignorance: we insist on `fishing for minnows while standing on a whale!'

However, `it is the gift of the Christian contemplative tradition to address this problem by exposing the lie' and introducing stillness to the mental clutter. By drawing wisdom from the treasure house that is the Christian mystical path - in stories and images both practical and poetic - Martin Laird reaches out to us through his own distilled experience, wearing his profound learning with elegance. Whether beginner or long-term pilgrim, he does us all a great favour by pointing out that it is only by letting go the `paste-up job' we call `self' that we come to the real flowering of our identity.

`Into the Silent Land' is simultaneously pole-star and compass, journey and destination. It engages body, soul, heart and mind - all are involved, all matter. There is nothing ethereal about this path, nothing that denies the wonder and mystery of who we are. As the delightful story that is the Epilogue suggests: the answer to the questions `Who am I?' and `who is Jesus Christ?' is profoundly simple... but who am I to deprive you of the gift of reading this book for yourself!
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wisdom which brings the way of the contemplative into our modern day, 17 Sept. 2009
By 
Paul J. Kemp (south wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
The author brings a wealth of knowledge from the desert fathers and scripture to present a method of meditation which touches the practioner in his/her daily life. In reading Phillip Lairds book we come to realize that the sort of prayer we thought was rerserved for Monks Nuns and religious is actually readily available to us in a simple manner and is very practical in facing the challenges of every day life. Contemplation using the " prayer word" becomes a place of refuge leading to a freedom we previously could not have imagined. The author usues examples of people in fearful and challenging situations which have found that the very fears and problems they had opened the door to the " silent land". this book for me is a a must for people seeking a way to pray in a personal and life giving way.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for the journey, 12 Oct. 2010
By 
M. Tinker (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
I have been practicing John Mains tradition of christian meditation for a few years. This is the best book about the christian traditon of contemplation I have read. The book is simply and clearly written and has real depth. I have just started reading it a second time and can tell that this is a book I will keep coming back to. The author's approach pays particular attention to the jesus prayer tradition and also draws on the Cloud of Unknowing. I found the chapter on the use of a prayer word (mantra) fascinating, particularly the wide variety of early christian sources he uses to put it into a historical context.

A very deep, informative, but above all practical book for all who would like to learn about, and more importantly practice contemplative prayer.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation, 25 Nov. 2010
By 
M. R. Hickman (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
I have been more at the type of Christian Worship for many years which is very full in terms of singing, extempore prayer, preaching, etc. and I have been richly blessed through it. However, for sometime I have realised that there is a dimension missing - that of quietness and stillnes and simply allowing God to fill me. Sometime ago I attended a series of talks by a Benedictine Monk and whether his very practical approach to the religious life was a stimulus I am not sure. However, I started reading a range of books the general theme of which was in the realms of contemplation and meditation. Some books were very helpful but many missed the point for me in either being too theoretical or, more often, assuming a particular religious background or knowledge which was very different to my own.

My search was, therefore, for something that would pick me up from where I am - give me something of the background and history of contemplation but, at the same time, be very practical. This books fits that brief for me. When I first started reading it, I had doubts as it seemed to be more theoretical than I had hoped but, having flicked through the coming chapters of the book to see what was coming,I was hopeful and so it proved to be. A whole raft of practical, proven techniques are provided which have certainly helped me. What is also to the credit of the author is that where he is slightly at odds with others who have published in the same field he not only says so and explains why, but also describes other options so these can still be tried to see of they are of benefit as he makes the point very clearly that this is a persoanl journey.

Overall I have found it a very worthwhile read. It has taken me sometime to get through it as I wanted to practise a little of what I was learning before I moved on. I shall now leave a gap and then read it again and go one step futher in what I do practically.

If you fit my sort of situation then I am sure you will not be disappointed.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy 2 copies, 4 April 2008
By 
David Wells (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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You'll need two copies - one to keep and re-read, one to lend to your friends. An astonishingly grounded and wise guide to contemplative prayer. Not a "how to" book on techniques,but something much deeper, unpacking the nature and goal of contemplative practice as a way of uncovering the stillness deep within us, the place where we meet God. Although entirely rooted in Christian faith, the book makes some connections with other perspectives, particularly from cognitive psychology. If you have any experience of contemplative prayer, this is the book to encourage you further along the path to "the silent land".
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for those who want to learn to be still., 12 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
Although small in size this is a great book, get the hard back because you will read it again and again! Martin Laird draws from Christian wisdom down the centuries and puts it all into a modern context. He maps out the distractions which may hinder a meditation practice and ways of understanding how it deepens with daily practice and time. It is a clear, well set out book and a treasure for anyone starting off Into the Silent Land, even for those with an already established practice. In our noise filled and busy world there is a growing interest in silence and this is one book which will be of enormous help to anyone setting out on that path.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Silent Land, 26 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
This is the best book on contemplative prayer that I have read in many a year and I am over 80 years old. It is clear and practical and is illustrated with stories that reinforce the points made. The author' learning and personal experience sits lightly upon him while it gives depth and clarity to his writing. I have recommended this book to several people and they have been enthusiastic in their responses.

Elspeth
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the Silent Land, 25 April 2009
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This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
This is a very helpful book for anyone who wants to find out about contemplation. It is written in a down to earth style and deals with the sort of obstacles a person will encounter such as distracting thoughts. Because the author is trying to explain something that needs to be experienced, I sometimes can't quite grasp what he means - I think this will be helped by contemplating awhile then coming back to the book again later.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure of a book, 26 Jan. 2008
By 
Yen (South, UK) - See all my reviews
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Having spent the past few years reading one book after another on Christian meditation/contemplation to accompany my ongoing exploration and practice of this way of prayer, this book was an absolute delight. No waffle, no new-age hype, just brilliant 'puts his finger right on it' accuracy and a number of extremely useful case-studies which could be applied to many situations. I have recommended this book to several people, all experienced meditators, and each one has raved about it and ended up buying their own copies. If I were to recommend just three books to people embarking on the Christian contemplative path, this would definitely be one of them. It offers a rare and refreshing combination of genuine depth, brilliant clarity and wonderful readability. A real treasure and the best book I came across in 2007.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly simple, 16 Dec. 2007
By 
S. Pigott (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation (Paperback)
A small book, rich with simple yet profound truths, insights, and practical help in relaxation and meditation. Just right for busy and hassled people who need to take mini bits of time out in a stressful day.
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Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation
Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation by Martin Laird (Paperback - 24 April 2006)
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