The search for sanctuary involves a Master enabling his slave to connect more deeply with his inner, innate slavery, thus allowing the slave to serve his Master in a more complete and whole way, with the slave spirit more alive and active. It also involves a slave learning how to build that sanctuary in the midst of everyday life. There are seven steps, and each step leads to the creation of a particular part of the sanctuary. Though the sanctuary itself is built by heart and mind, it is no less real for that.
Your sanctuary is that slave-space where only surrender and absolute obedience reside. It is a place where true connection with your slave spirit is alive. It is a place of real servitude, a place where you can really start to be yourself and the person you have been chosen to become. Freely choosing to resist the urge to the busy-ness of modern life and freely choosing to recognise and follow your calling is the frame of mind you need before you can take any steps towards finding your slave sanctuary and making any real connection with your innate slave spirit.
‘Sanctuary’ has two meanings: the primary meaning comes from the Latin root word, sanctus, meaning ‘holy’. So the first meaning is a ‘sacred place’, and deriving from this comes the secondary meaning: ‘a place of refuge’, a place where someone can escape to. A consumerist place of refuge will always be insecure because it is not rooted in a sacred space. The sacred cannot be manufactured by the consumerist society, because the sacred cannot be manufactured. The sacred is a given fact of life. The sacred is revealed to you by your Master; it is of your Master, by your Master and for your Master. The sacred is found once you recognise him as sacred; the sacred is not found when you recognise simply an item you fancy or a convenient pause for breath.
Finding the sacred space begins with the recognition of the sacred in daily living. Your slavery becomes the focal point which leads to true submission and surrender to your Master’s needs ensuring his life is fulfilled and providing him with your whole essence of being, existing solely for him to use and for his pleasure. There is no peace without sacrifice though, and there is no peace without justice. If you want to find the sacred space in your life, then you must want to ‘walk without blemish’. Failing is quite different from not even trying.
Before you can take a step into the sanctuary, you have to find the doorway, and that doorway is virtue. The doorway to sanctuary is the doorway to your heart. You have to open up the doorway and open up your heart to allow slavery to fully become alive and abundant within. Your Master will refresh your dormant seeds of slavery enabling them to grow and as they do so too does your inner sanctuary: a sacred place of refuge making possible your Master’s desires for you to become fulfilled.
Virtue is moral excellence. An examination of conscience is useful to reflect on how virtuous your life is and to keep virtue in check; as well as reflecting on positive affirmations: “I do not act in anger or nurse a grudge. I rid my heart of all deceit. I always present myself eagerly. I never turn away from Master’s Rule. I speak the truth with heart and tongue.”
Virtue is a necessary part of the fabric of society. Virtue enables a person to protect and foster all that is best in life. Virtue enables people to work with conviction and for the good of others; it prevents the vices sweeping us away into a busy whirl of chasing corrupt fantasies. It is not a consumer product: it is not just a refuge from our anxieties or a pause from a busy life, it is not something we can purchase in order to relieve the symptoms of modern life. Virtue is the doorway into slavery and into your internal sanctuary of slavery.
If you see virtue (moral excellence) as simply the right way to live, then virtue is sacred. Virtue is the recognition of the sacred in your daily life. Living a virtuous life is the recognition of the control your Master has over you and the recognition that you are entering into training with him, as his slave property. Virtue is the door into the sanctuary and as you open the door of virtue in your life, you will open the way into a sanctuary of peaceful servitude, and into a life that is transparent and has nothing to hide.
Virtue is the true door into the sanctuary of infinite space. Virtue alone though is not sufficient to create sanctuary, but it is a necessary way into it. Virtue is a narrow door, but the space beyond that door is infinite – the infinite space of real sanctuary in which will dwell the very soul of slavery.
Having located the doorway, you now need to step into the sanctuary. This is a sanctuary of heart and mind where the normal laws of physics do not apply. You will not discover it all at once because this sanctuary is infinite. Go through the door and take your very first step inside, yet as your foot approaches the floor you will realise that you have to lay down that floor yourself. The floor under your feet is the material that underlies the whole life of the sanctuary. It comprises an often rare craving: silence.
A carpet of silence is what you have to create. Silence is often considered awkward; on the other hand, silence can console us. The challenge is to find positive silence, and the biggest challenge is to find positive silence inside. To empty your head of all thoughts, words and images is almost impossible, but it is necessary as these pollute slavery, allowing the ego to be sustained; somehow these distressing noises need to become gentle, internal sounds.
Physical silence is a great help in fostering inner silence, but this silence is not an end in itself: it is there to let inner silence grow so the inner life might flourish. Distractions disturb the silence, like weeds. Even when you pull them up and throw them away, they grow back again quickly and you wonder why you bothered. But you need to keep weeding in order to let the flowers grow. The flowers in this case are the words from your Master that can grow if you have cleared a space for them. The trouble is that the flowers grow more slowly than the weeds.
The fruit that silence brings is known to a slave who has experienced it: slave-space. In the early stages you may find silence a burden; however, if you are faithful, there will gradually be born within you something that will draw you on to still greater silence and deeper connection with that slave-space where resides your purest slavery.
The task of the disciple is to be silent and listen. Silence will teach you everything. The one who sits in solitude and quiet has escaped from the three wars: hearing, speaking and seeing, yet against one thing shall he continually battle: that is, his own heart.
Silent solitude is a necessary part of life, not an additional extra. To know yourself and to grow requires the insights that only solitude, with your Master’s guidance, can provide. Because of the turbulence of life, the one who lives in the midst of activity does not see his sins. But when he is quiet, especially in solitude, then he sees the real state of things.
Distractions inside your head are actually noises inside your heart: they are the result of the natural human condition – the condition of not having a pure heart. Purity of heart is the goal. To work towards purity of heart, silence is needed; but it is not enough. We need something further on the floor of the sanctuary, something to dampen the unwanted noise even more than the underlay of silence. That further layer is meditation.
In prayer, a Master is spoken to as somebody familiar, being spoken to as ‘you’, rather than thinking about ‘him’. Prayer is a varied activity and can include silence, anguish, ritual as well as recitation of ‘a prayer’. What matters is to pray constantly, in order to have a pure heart, in order to see your Master everywhere. The mind can be turned to your Master in the midst of noise and the heart can be turned to him in the midst of complex mental activity.
In solitude repeated phrases or mantras can be spoken in time with breathing, rhythmically. The rhythm helps lift you out of yourself and away from internal noises. They can prepare the body for what is not an art of relaxation but of concentration.
In meditation, preparing your mind and body is done not as mental and physical exercise but primarily to allow you to speak to your Master and finally to let him speak to you, letting the conversation flow freely.
The principle way to meditate and the main way to be in silence creatively is through a type of reading known as Divine Reading. This involves taking a sacred text and reading it with the conviction that your Master is addressing you through this text. Just as prayer involves a slave speaking to his Master as ‘you’, so Divine Reading involves a Master speaking to his slave as ‘you’. The connection between Divine Reading and prayer is clear: as I let my Master address me, I feel moved to address my Master in response.
For most people reading is either functional or entertaining and, above all, rapid; rarely do people read with a sense of the text as a spiritual means of acquiring wisdom. My Master wants to remedy my disordered life and the ultimate remedy from my Master is to learn his wisdom. Humility is the key to this wisdom. You must avoid imposing your questions and then let the text question you. Divine Reading is not only a means of discovering something about your Master; it also helps you understand your hidden self.
In order to receive what a text has to offer you must read slowly and foster this slow reading. Repetition is the soul of genuine Divine Reading. It is a right brain activity; no-one grasps the entire content immediately but in a circular manner. Read and advance, and then go back and read again. With each repetition, something new may strike.
The four main movements of the process are: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. Meditation means a deep entry into the meaning of the text. Prayer means your response to your Master in the light of this meaning. Contemplation, the fruit of meditation, means a simple resting in the presence of your Master, without the need for any further words. Reading puts the food into the mouth; meditation chews it and breaks it up; prayer extracts its flavour; contemplation is the sweetness itself which gladdens and refreshes.
Divine Reading is a way of prayer. Before reading, pray that your Master will speak to you through this text. During reading, allow the reading to evolve into meditation and then into prayer and finally contemplation. When the reading is concluded, keep some phrase in mind and repeat it throughout the day so that prayerful reading becomes prayerful living. Reading becomes communion and begins to transform life. It moves beyond information and becomes transformation. Divine Reading becomes not so much a technique as a way of life: the text reframes daily life and daily life flows into the text.
The carpet of prayerful, contemplative meditation, with its underlay of silence, has now been laid. It is not a luxury carpet, however, and it can sometimes have a rough feel to it. The temptation to get up and look for something more comfortable is very real. So, you need something to help maintain your devotion: obedience.
The person in obedience to another is devoted to the loving service of this other. There is a deep connection between love and obedience. Yet to many this all sounds strange: for love goes not with obedience but with freedom. Freedom of choice is a core value of modern life. Yet for many people supposedly free choices are driven by obedience to a hidden agenda. A slave’s only freedom is the freedom to consent to a life of slavery.
Most people would probably say that obedience is the diametric opposite of freedom. However, obedience is potentially the greatest expression of human freedom, and it is through obedience that a slave finds his inner freedom. No longer is a slave living without purpose and direction; now a slave is able to be who he is meant to become.
The sanctuary is a place of listening, a place where a slave can listen to his Master. The word obedience derives from the Latin word oboedire, which means not only ‘to obey’ but also ‘to listen’. The prefix ob means ‘in the direction of’, added to audire, ‘to hear’, which become oboedire. So obedience conjures up an image of leaning towards somebody, straining to hear what they are saying. ‘To listen to somebody else’ is both the original meaning of ‘obedience’ and a good, working definition.
Obedience that is blind does not exercise discernment and simply follows the most assertive voice or the voice of the one to whom life has been surrendered. Obedience is not blind like this, it is discerning. Discerning obedience is ‘obedient freedom’.
Obedience is not just about doing what your Master says; it is about mutual love. You need to exercise your conscience. Conscience is not the same as feeling: conscience is the inner process that enables you to listen to voices beyond your own feelings and desires. Conscience notices the wide world of other people’s feelings. You can obey your feelings, you can obey your conscience, but they are not the same. To follow feelings blindly is as dangerous as blind obedience.
The step of obedience involves constructing the sanctuary walls – walls that simultaneously restrain a slave’s selfish voices and amplify the voice of his Master, thus beginning to reveal the true slave self. The real task of revealing this true slave self is a slow and profound work; it is not a fixed way but involves direction and change. And in the end, being true to oneself can only be achieved by listening to your Master.
Recognising a sense of personal sinfulness is a healthy reality check to stop the false self, the ego, getting away with being the true self. The challenge is to be true to yourself, facing up to your slave calling, in a loving way, and this is met most realistically by recognising that you need forgiveness, guidance, and help to achieve it and these three find their richest source in your Master. You should pray for your own discovery.
Your interior life is one of the places where your Master will manifest his presence. As you pray for your own discovery, the agenda of your life is set neither by other people nor by yourself: it is set by your Master. Life becomes a search for your Master’s agenda in your life. When you find it, then you have found your true self; and each step towards connecting with this inner sanctuary, this slave-space brings you closer to slave birth where you will find the ultimate freedom.
The walls of obedience need a roof to hold them together, and to offer shelter against the elements. You cannot build this roof on your own: you need to accept help. This requires humility, which is the next step. You climb up to the roof by way of humility, humility being a quality which enriches our lives.
Humility is neither a specific behaviour found in some people, nor a behaviour imposed by certain societies. Humility is a quality of life and a state of mind that has to be consciously developed.
The root of the word humility is the Latin word humus which means ‘soil’ or ‘earth’ and from this follows a practical definition: to be humble is to be down to earth. This leads into being realistic, honest and truthful. The root also connects humility with humanity, because to be human is to be made from the humus.
Humility is about our struggle to be fully human, to be our real selves, about the desire to be rooted in the real, earthy self and not to be deceived by the lie of the divine self. It requires blending extreme personal humility with intense will or strength, and using great inner resources for the benefit of others.
To attain humility you must do certain things. Being in awe of your Master you must remember what life is all about and not try to escape from it. You must accept the reality of his needs and the reality that some things should be accepted as they are. You must express your freedom by setting aside your own desires and being obedient. You must live through patient suffering: live life in a positive frame of mind when trying to obey and love your Master.
You must be radically self-honest. Openness enables you to grow and to learn. Just as there is a place for counselling and therapy, so there is a place for confession. You must have a constant mindfulness of sin, and this becomes a source of joy. Being positive about the negative parts of your life can be a very positive experience because it lets light into dark places and releases you from guilt enabling you to move forward. You must be content with your lot and with whatever happens to you, contentment being the fruit of great self-awareness.
You must have inner conviction and shy away from any sense of false humility, speaking not just with the tongue but with the heart. You must recognise, with humour, the seriousness of life and that life is to be lived with a sense of deep purpose. You must value silence and speak simply and gently. You must bear your heart as an outward manifestation of your humility. This integrity of character shows that the outer and inner person are as one, with no dissimilation of mind or body. The humble person is known by the combination of both physical and personal attitude.
So, you enter the sanctuary through the door marked Virtue. You then lay a floor of silence and meditation upon which you can build up the ability to listen to your Master. The walls of obedience provide structure and shelter from the elements and climbing the ladder of humility enables you to reach the roof. This is a place of shelter where fear is cast out and perfect love is possible. It is a place where slavery can really come alive, where there is the deepest connection between your Master and your slave potential.
Your sanctuary has no windows, though, and without these it will be a dark and gloomy place. The strong walls of obedience need the windows of your Master’s Masterdom to ensure that your sanctuary is bright and welcoming. The windows protect you from the elements, yet they also allow you to see your Master and let in the light of his presence. You can also open the door of the sanctuary, the door of your heart, and let him in, allowing yourself to follow your Master’s path and embracing his gift of slavery.
A slave is someone who has the mind of his Master; he does things in accordance with his Master’s will. The soul, in the realm of slave-space, that inner sanctuary, becomes distinct from the body which is in the temporal realm with the soul representing a higher level of life than the body. The love of slavery, explored through a Master’s guiding wisdom, alive within the sanctuary in the soul, is a vital source of self-esteem and together with humility become sources of true knowledge of one’s self and purpose.
A Master’s Masterdom provides a bigger picture that can reveal hidden aspects of a slave’s core human nature while at the same time revealing the divine that is beyond his experience. A Master’s Masterdom is the faith by which he wants to enable his slave to live and having been accepted into his Masterdom it is your calling to embrace the faith of his Masterdom, living by his will, obedient to his Rule.
A Master’s Masterdom helps a slave to make sense of life; it is prophetic and challenging. It is about being set free from the idolatry of people, objects and techniques. It is lived out through rituals and the interpersonal relationship itself. It is about being set free from the constantly shifting sands of human desire. It invites a slave to recognise his unworthy desires and his own destructive ego and turn to a wider horizon, towards the divine, learning a whole way of life, one to which he is called and chosen for.
You can find tranquillity in private but you cannot find peace there. Your Master’s Masterdom is a place of peace if you follow in good conscience. In your Master’s Masterdom you avoid the tendency to be self-absorbed. It offers you grounding in silence, schooling in prayer, a means to teach you obedience and a living experience of humility, finally leading to hope – hope in the joys of slave birth.
Masterdom is the cement that pervades the whole sanctuary holding together all the constituent parts. The cement of Masterdom makes sure that the sanctuary is protected and reliable, and won’t fall down in a gale.
So, having found the light of your Master’s Masterdom, your sanctuary is now complete, apart from one final truth: your Master, that divine presence controlling your life completely, is a man to be worshipped.
The final step is to create an altar in your sanctuary. An altar is a place for making offerings to your Master, and even for offering life itself. In return, your Master blesses the one who makes the offering and this reciprocal process is called sacrifice. The origin of ‘sacrifice’ is the Latin sacrum facere – ‘to make holy’. So as you offer your life on the altar, your Master blesses you and makes you holy, recognising you as the chosen one.
When anybody finds sanctuary they will also find an altar of sacrifice. No slave lives for his own sake; finding sanctuary is also finding out what your Master is asking of you. It is about asking for your Master’s blessing and living out the vocation that he will give you in return, a vocation to love in a unique way. As you progress in this way of life and in the faith of your Master’s Masterdom, you will run on the path of his commandments, your heart overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.
This section is inspired by the book 'Finding Sanctuary' by Christopher Jamison.