The prison of the empirical self is all encompassing. Again and again in meditation one is thrown back into the endo-cosmos of imaginings and fantasies. Holding the focus of attention in the detached awareness of the sitting, breathing body is like trying to get the little ball-bearings into the eyes of one of those childhood toys. Again and again they roll down, failing to find the precise point of balance. In any one session of meditation one can achieve a few moments, seconds, of being in the existential now. The centre of gravity is not there but in the discursive mind. The imperative to spend more and more time in meditation becomes ever greater. Even then there is no guarantee that one will pierce the all-enveloping weight of this empirical now. I never really understood the meaning of ‘God is dead,’ until now.

And yet I feel that this is the greatest adventure. Everyone is trapped in this empirical now – or in their private endo-cosmos. We comfort ourselves with religion and rehearse the ancient rituals, especially at this time of the year when the cold of poverty and helplessness is translated into the vision of a divine baby. The myths and rituals of faith may carry us a long way but eventually they will have to be discarded, leaving us with a blind and naked – and seemingly impossible – belief in our transcendence and the reality of God.