Thursday, November 25, 2004

Christian Prayer and Eastern Mediation

On the provocation (positive) of one of the readers of these blogs, I had a reread of the article I posted entitled Dangerous Meditations. On a second look, it might seem to imply that all meditation is unbiblical. This is not true, however. There is a long tradition of meditation within various segments of Christianity. There are differences, though, between Eastern meditation and Christian meditation. I thought I'd post this essay by Gailyn Van Rheenen entitled Christian Prayer and Eastern Mediation for you to read. It explores similar themes to the Christianity Today article but in more depth, breadth, and rigour. The author also draws on the book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster, one of the most prominent authors in Christianity on spiritual disciplines, including meditation. I hope you find the article informative and rewarding in affirming that Christians, too, have an important form of meditation to aid our spiritual growth.

1 comment:

  1. I apprecaite your distinction and think it is important for Christians to become aware of. Some other brief comments:

    Their are forms of generic meditation that simply involve gazing on objects or images for the purpose of noticing details and engaging with abstract symbolism as a means of becoming quiet, reducing stress and appreciating natural and simple beauty. To gaze at a painting, sculpture or nature scene without a particular religious orientation or goal is I think a natural and healthy activity condusive to mental and emotional health. I'm concerned that Christians don't lump everything that is not explicitly "Christian meditation" into the "New Age/"Dangerous" basket.

    The above form of meditation can be greatly enriched when integrated with Christian spirituality - nature for example provides a wonderful, three-dimensional "book" of the acts, nature and character of God (though Richard Attenborough has recently pointed out that much in nature is not beautiful or benign). The teaching of Jesus (his parables are practically all based on 'secular' events) seem to imply a meditative/contemplative posture of expereincing God in all things - as Jesus considered everyday events and happenings they "spoke" to him of eternal realities.

    I agree with your reference to Foster that Christian meditation does not take us into "hidden mysteries" (a gnostic view) but if such meditation is Christian it will lead us into a deper and more profound experience of the incomprehensible mystery of the Divine revelation - the love an peace that pass all understanding yet find us in the life of Christ.

    In conclusion, I think that Christian meditation, can be much more than the Lectio Divina as important as this is, but should also include a multi-sensory, Spirit-sensitive approach to expereincing God in reflection on all kinds of things (PSALM 139: "Where can I go to flee your presence?").