Sunday, February 27, 2011

Meditation...Christian or not

The following link is a 4-minute video that guides the listeners through a mindfulness exercise. (click here for access). The concept of mindfulness is derived from Buddhist tradition and considered an important means towards enlightenment. The video and the information in the video itself doesn't seem to contain any indication of any particular religious practice nor the invocation of any supernatural powers or other deities. It seems that it represents a valid and even helpful spiritual exercise. More precisely, there are different mental health professionals who find it to be useful in some of their interventions with the clients.

In our class we discussed the aspect of spirituality as related to Christianity and other faiths or religions. One interesting point of discussion was whether believers from other religions can be more spiritual than Christians. Related to that discussed that other individuals, who do not belong to the Christian tradition can have the ability to interact with the spiritual world, in some aspects even better than some believers, but still not know the truth and be in spiritual blindness.

Meditation seems to be an important aspect of cultivating a meaningful spiritual life, or increasing spiritual awareness. As we read through Psalms we often encounter exhortations from the Psalmists to meditate upon God's precepts, law, glory, character. Overall, there seems to be a large group of Christians that would agree that meditation is important in one's spiritual journey. However, when it comes to defining how should we meditate, what would that look like and what are we to do. There is little prescriptive or detailed information in the Bible that Christians can refer to. So what should one do? Would it be adequate for a Christian believer interested in meditation to employ methods of meditation used in other religions in order to grow spiritually? More precisely, would there be any benefits that a Christian could derive from observing a spiritual discipline such as meditation practiced by a person from a different religion? Many questions that don't have an easy answer. Personally I have been guilty in the past for dismissing issues like that too quickly. I believe it is worth exploring what can be learned from an exercise like the one presented in this video and wrestle with the question if there might be some of principles from the video that could be applied in Christian Spiritual Formation.

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