There are a few well meaning Christian friends who ask me about my leaning towards eastern philosophy and meditation. I would like to disabuse their minds.
I admit that before becoming a Christian I was particularly interested in the Eastern Religious forms of Meditation. After I became a Christian I was heavily influenced by the writings of Brother Lawrence, “The Practice of the Presence of God.”
The transcendental form of meditation in eastern thought is an attempt to empty the mind, to be detached from the world, and in the process to lose one’s self, and become one with the so called Cosmic mind.
The discipline of contemplative meditation, which, is hardly discernible, among Christians, except to a few who have embraced the monastic life, is not exclusively innate to Eastern thought or Philosophy.
Meditation means “the act of focusing one’s thoughts: to ponder, think on, muse.”
Meditation is reflective thinking or contemplation, usually on a specific subject to discern its meaning or significance or a plan of action.
Meditation is synonymous with contemplation, reflection, rumination, deep thinking, or remembering in the sense of keeping or calling something to mind for the purpose of consideration, reflection, or meditation.
Scripture abounds with passages teaching, even commanding us, to Meditate:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”(Philippians 4:8)
“When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches”(Psalm 6:36)
“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy doings; I muse on the work of Thy hands.” (Psalm 143:5)
How is it then that this religious discipline of Meditation is hardly significant in the lives of modern day Christians?
One reason is perhaps the lack of understanding, teaching, or practice of Biblical Meditation as an individual discipline, which shapes and directs the life of a believer. Another reason, yet, may be the complete misunderstanding of the contemplative discipline as something unique only in Eastern thought, and religion, that, to even consider the practice, would expose the Christian mind to mystical or new age thinking. This position is understandable for it seems that a thin, line, divides the external meditative life of a Christian and the eastern mystic.
As Christians our meditation is anchored on God’s Word, the Bible. Biblical Meditation is object oriented. It begins with the reading, re-reading, memorizing of God’s Word; thinking, and reflecting. The object of reflection is God, His Word, and His revealed truths.
While Christian meditation may involve a greater degree of silence and solitude, unlike the Eastern tradition it does not mean sitting and focusing the mind upon infinity or emptying the mind so that some cosmic force is summoned to fill it through repetition of some chant or mantra. The Eastern forms of meditation teach detachment from the world. The object is detachment.
Biblical meditation, involves becoming removed from the ways of the world, from worldly thoughts and influences, that we may abide with the living God through Christ. The object of Christian meditation is the worship of the true and living God. It is the discipline of walking in the spirit and not in the flesh.(Galatians 5:16)
This is where Christian meditation diverges from the similarity. Meditation in the Bible is an exercise in reflective thinking, divining Biblical truths, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer. In this way God is able to speak to the believer through Scripture, and through the thoughts that come to mind which reflects on the Word, filtered by the Word. A Christian who practices the contemplative life of meditation is ever mindful God’s reminder to his creation, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)