06 August 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: A Christian monk and 90,000 Arabs.

He was sitting serenely in the Church of the Nativity where Christ was born in Bethlehem. Magnetically drawn, we got to talking. A monk, he was about to return to his solitary life living in the desert amidst 90,000 Arabs. Just time for the fascinating and insightful conversation that follows. 

Also, Peace of Mind comes to Italy and an update on the foreign translations of my books. But first:

Thought for the Day:

    The attention I gave to my spiritual life, gave me the strength and confidence to recover

                                                   Long term Multiple Sclerosis survivor

Sometimes appearances do match expectations. Being at the birthplace of Christ in Palestinian Bethlehem, I was drawn to light a candle at the altar of the ancient Church of the Nativity. Lighting candles is not a feature of the branch of Christianity I grew up in, but I can recognize a useful ritual when I see it. A great way to formalizing wishing for peace, good health and happiness for everyone, especially those we know more closely.

Seated beside the candles, the monk was clothed in a black robe, had a long, flowing white beard, kindness in every pore and eyes that went deep, like into some dark well that reached into the heart of what matters. The archetype of the Holy Man.

Turns out he had lived in Australia some years back, but now I asked him what he would be doing when he went back to living on his own in the desert amidst so many Arabs.

“Praying” came the simple response.

“Do you pray on something particular, or is it like going into a deeper stillness?”

“No, it is not like meditation, it is prayer. It is a particular type of prayer. Do you know the Jesus Prayer?”

“Yes I do. Can you tell me a little about what happens when you do pray in this way?”

He paused to look at me more closely. It seemed like in the pause, he was deciding what level of response to give to such a direct question.

“The aim is to let go and become immersed in the presence of Christ.”

“Is that like letting go of the ego?”

“No, it is not like that; it is more like letting go of attachment to anything to do with this world, and becoming one with Christ.”

“Like a surrender?”

“More like an immersion or a joining.”

“So is it the practice of devotion?”

“Yes, devotion!”

The conversation seemed complete. We smiled. I had a brief opportunity to travel down into the depths of the well that his eyes gave entrée to; we shook hands and I went to light my candle.


Is prayer scientific?


1. Peace of Mind comes to Italy

After all these years, my first meditation book has been translated into Italian. “Meditare” becomes the fifth translation of Peace of Mind and I thought it may be useful to relist the other translations. Quite a few will be out of print but may be available second-hand over the net. Hopefully, with the new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer due out in October, there will be a new round of translations.


YOU CAN CONQUER CANCER - 13 translations

First published by Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1984 and new editions by Michelle Anderson Publishing, Melbourne, 2001 and 2004. Fully revised edition due for release in October 2012.

UK and USA English editions by Thorsons, Vermont, 1987

Germany: Peter Erd, Munich, 1985 and 1990

Spain: Sirio, Malagu, 1988

Israel (Hebrew): 1989

Sri Lanka: Daya Jayasinghe, Pitakotte, 1989

Poland: Wydawnictwa, Warsaw, 1992

Czechoslovakia: Pavla Momcilova, Cestlice, 1993

Netherlands: Uitgeverij Ankh-Hermes bv, Deventer, 1995

Norway: Oversattning Leif Edstrom, 1995

Thailand: Folk Doctor Publishing, Bangkok, ?

Indonesia: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, Jakarta, 1997

Japan: Shunjusha, 2003

The book has been printed in the following languages, but we do not have records of the publications:



PEACE OF MIND - 4 translations

First published Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1987 and new edition by Michelle Anderson Printing, Melbourne, 2002.

UK and USA editions by Thorsons.

Gt. Britain: Prime Press, Bridport, 1989

German: Scherz, Bern, 1990

Brazil: Editoria Gaiai, Sao Paulo, 1995

Hungary: Hunga-Print, Budapest

Italy: Meditare: Armenia, Milano, 2012


First published by Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1996

French: Vivez Soleil, Chenebourg, 1996

MEDITATION – AN IN-DEPTH GUIDE written with Paul Bedson

First published by Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2010

USA Edition: Published by Tarcher, 2011


First published by Brolga Publishing, Melbourne, 2011

UK Edition due the second half of 2012

3. Retreat

I am now on retreat for nearly 7 weeks with Sogyal Rinpoche. Home and garden is being well cared for by the house sitter, but I will be out of direct communication until the end of September. I get back to australia just in time for No 2 son's wedding!

The blogs are scheduled for every week or two, but there will be no comments on current affairs.


  1. Bede Griffiths also prayed the Jesus prayer: "Jesus Christ only son of the living God have mercy on me a sinner." And yes I can see how it is about devotion more than anything else.

  2. How beautiful it is the way the presence of Presence touches us directly with Light and Love.