Photograph courtesy of: Richard W J Koh
An unidentifiable anguish of the spirit led Peter Ng on the path that in turn led to the blossoming of the Singapore chapter of The World Community for Christian Meditation. The story is best told in his words.


The Story of WCCM Singapore
Peter Ng, President WCCM Singapore  

It was a time in our lives when my wife Patricia and I were searching for a meaningful spiritual path. At the level of material needs, we were then quite contented. Our standard of living well exceeded what we had expected in our youth. Family life was joyful. Patricia was feeling quite fulfilled in the experience of motherhood. Yet there was for both of us a restlessness amidst the material contentment. Perhaps this feeling was what Fr Laurence, in his introduction to Light Within called an “unidentifiable anguish of the spirit straining beyond the superficiality and meaninglessness of modern life-styles” and opening the mind to the “need to journey to the heart”.
 
Our spiritual search led us to observe that meditation was an essential practice in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. As Christians, we wondered whether there was a similar way of prayer but rooted in the Christian tradition. On a visit to the church bookshop, Patricia’s eyes fell on Light Within the moment she stepped inside the door. She immediately began to meditate in the way recommended in the book. I postponed the journey, preferring to wait until we had a chance to meet some of the people involved in the teaching. Soon we had the opportunity to visit the London Meditation Centre. Our meeting with Sr Madeleine, and the first experience of meditating with a group there, kindled the flame of interest. I returned to Singapore resolved to begin the journey.

Flickering Flame

It was, as Fr John said, simple but not easy. Just to be still physically proved to be more difficult than I had thought. The difficulty of entering the stillness of meditation, coupled with the continuing demands of a busy executive and family life, meant that I meditated when I could and felt like doing it, rather than when I should.

The critical juncture of my journey was in February 1988 when Fr Laurence visited Singapore on his way to Australia. It was our first meeting with him. We arranged with our parish priest, Fr Alfred Chan, for Fr Laurence to give a talk to the parishioners at Holy Family Church. About four hundred people attended. We were astounded by the huge turnout, and we could feel that the period of meditation after the talk brought a new dimension of worship in our church. Before he left Singapore, Fr Laurence suggested that we should get a weekly group going. With the enthusiasm of the moment I agreed that it was a reasonable follow-up to the good response at his talk. The next day, as I mulled over the proposition, I recoiled on realising that I was poorly prepared for the task of starting a group. I could not honestly explain to a group that the teaching was that they should meditate every day, twice a day, and for at least twenty minutes each time, when I myself fell well short of this discipline.

Light

In that dilemma I realized that the time had come for me to make a commitment. I would have to re-order the priorities in my life. For three weeks I somehow found the time for morning and evening meditation and the fortitude to endure the mental distractions and physical discomfort. I found that the discipline was possible. We now have 29 groups in 18 parishes. I have found that the work of starting and leading groups has been the greatest source of encouragement and sustenance for my own journey. I have discovered, too, that the most important requirement to passing on the teaching effectively is my own fidelity to the discipline. 

How has meditation changed my life? I now have a glimpse of what Father John meant when he said that meditation would add a dimension of incredible richness and be the great integrating power in one’s life, giving depth and perspective to everything we are and everything we do. Meditation is a self-authenticating experience.
 

Peter Ng is Chief Investment Officer at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. He is a Trustee and Guiding Board Member of The World Community for Christian Meditation.