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For Christians: What's wrong with meditation?





peaceupnorth
My grandfather, a firm Christian, believes Meditation is harmful spiritually. I have heard this opinion stated elsewhere as well, but I don't agree.

Would any Christians (or other religious-minded people) out there like to tell me their beliefs on the subject? I'm curious about the reasons behind this distrust of what is to me an entirely natural and helpful, aid in connecting and communing with the Supreme One.


Thanks,

also, if you''re just interested in criticizing people's beliefs and have no interest in real debate, please post elsewhere.
JinTenshi
Could be because they are afraid while you're meditating you're opening your mind to all sorts of things and who knows, you might just get consumed by the devil instead of communing with God. Afterall, Christianity has a load of things that one should not do, depending on how strict you are as a Christian. (And also which kind of Christianity you believe in - Anglican/Catholic) So there could be multiple reasons.
c'tair
AFAIK meditation has it's roots in eastern religions, especially in hinduism and (correct me if I'm wrong) in Buddhism. Same as Yoga, and that's why christian churches bash Yoga.

It's like being a christian but praying to Thor. Even though christianity already has LOADS of pagan-related stuff (like rituals, beliefs etc.) but they don't talk about it, and it was absorbed many years ago, while meditation and Yoga are pretty new and 'alien'.
Bikerman
Well, I should be fair to Christianity here and say that I don't believe the assumption is correct.
Many Christians (particularly Catholics) withdraw from society for a period of time - they call it a retreat during which time they will meditate, pray and generally try to find 'spiritual peace'. This is a long-standing tradition within Christianity.

Now, you may believe that praying and meditation are different. Well, I guess that depends on your definition of meditation - there are different understandings of that word. I use what I would call a meditation technique quite often to relax. There is nothing particularly spiritual about it - I simply use a focus (in my case simply breathing) to clear the mind of whirling thoughts, and then use another focus (in my case I 'think about' each part of my body, starting with the feet and moving up) to relax the body.

Some people would use a mystic interpretation of this type of exercise - moving/centring the chi, focussing the will/spirit, allowing the spirit of Christ to enter - or whatever. Others, like me, are more pragmatic and just regard it as a useful mental exercise.

There is nothing that I know of in Christianity that would forbid meditation in the sense of clearing the mind - in fact that is positively encouraged. Meditation using a mantra (or chant) is also found within Christianity ;-
http://www.wccm.org/home.asp?pagestyle=home
ocalhoun
In some branches of Christianity, meditation is encouraged. It really depends on what kind of meditation though.
If you are just trying to blank your mind and relax, that's great, but if you're using some chant that was originally part of a different religion (worshiping other gods) or trying for some strange effect like out of body experiences (divination), they would disapprove.
JinTenshi
Why chant when one meditates? XD I feel that would just cause someone to drop out of the meditation state, cause they forgot what to chant ( Just kidding ). I've never tried meditating nor yoga though, not sure what it can do to a person.
KHO
Actually, the Christian Bible states many time TO meditate. Meditation is many things, meditation on the Word (eg: praying and reading the Bible), meditation in the modern sense (eg: relaxing and opening your mind, freeing it of thought and bias).

heres a list of references to meditation in the Bible. Not too many, but it is mentioned and none of it is negative. http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=meditate&searchtype=all&version1=9&spanbegin=1&spanend=73
gcaughill
Define meditation.

As the previous post states the Bible says it is profitable to meditate on the Word of God.

As for the relative of the original poster who badmouthed meditation, he probably had in mind the eastern sense of the word. His intent was probably to protect against what he thought were the harmful influences of false teachings.

This is a perfect example where standing back from an issue and thinking can come in handy, protecting against problems that are really not problems.
peaceupnorth
Thanks everyone for your responses. The Christian meditation society and biblical references were especially helpful.
Aredon
Sounds like an opinion to me... If anything christianity encourages meditation. Since in a small way prayer is meditation.
JinTenshi
Ah indeed, prayer is a form of meditation haha.
mgeek
peaceupnorth wrote:
[size=18]My grandfather, a firm Christian, believes Meditation is harmful spiritually. I have heard this opinion stated elsewhere as well, but I don't agree.


I find this interesting. Why would a Christian say that meditation is bad? "Meditation" for the Christian is similar to what Mary did: "and Mary kept all these words (in other translations, "things"), carefully sifting them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). In the Old Testament, especially in psalm 1, meditation is the work of the Lord's devotee (= the righteous)
Quote:

the law of the LORD is their pleasant commitment;
God's law they study day and night.


The Jew, even today, reads the Law softly pronouncing the words. This is their "hagah", meditation. They pronounce the words they read because they must hear the words, not just see them. The Catholic lectio divina continues this practice.
satksri
Hindus believe that meditation is only a technique. It gives you a calm concentrated mind- with which you can approach any form or aspect of God- you could turn your contemplation to Christ or Allah or whatever.. Meditation only teaches us how to shut out the world of senses and turn within- to commune with the core of our religious life.. In fact, meditation in one form or the other is found in all major religions.. There is nothing Hindu about it..
Jaan
isn't the objective of meditation simply to clear the mind and think of nothing???

or are you referring to religious meditation (which i think is the same)?

iono.
spinout
modern christians and the old ones.... of course as someone wrong -> prayeesessions are meditation, but with a modification; meditiation are 2 way comm
mgeek
Jaan wrote:
isn't the objective of meditation simply to clear the mind and think of nothing???

or are you referring to religious meditation (which i think is the same)?

iono.


that is not Christian meditation. The purpose of Christian meditation is not clearing the mind but having heart that is more and more fixed on Christ.
protoolsman
Prayer (which usually involves some silent time as well) is a form of meditation. To turn your back to the world and focus on God. However, what your grandfather means (i think) is meditaition in the form of : let's clear my mind and be open to anything. Although many christians don't want to think of it there are also "bad influences" able to communicate with you. It not only says so in the bible but there are literally millions of examples through the years of peopel being "under the influence of something". I am being carefull here. So your grandfather is probably thinking about that. Why not remond him that prayer and silent time are forms of meditation and the Jesus himself went into the desert and meditated...
handfleisch
peaceupnorth wrote:
My grandfather, a firm Christian, believes Meditation is harmful spiritually. I have heard this opinion stated elsewhere as well, but I don't agree.

Would any Christians (or other religious-minded people) out there like to tell me their beliefs on the subject? I'm curious about the reasons behind this distrust of what is to me an entirely natural and helpful, aid in connecting and communing with the Supreme One.[/size]

Thanks,

also, if you''re just interested in criticizing people's beliefs and have no interest in real debate, please post elsewhere.


Unlike others here, I am not surprised by your question. Maybe because I grew up in a conservative area, I do remember fundamentalist Christian warnings against yoga and meditation (the Eastern variety). Something called the Southern Baptist Convention has been officially against it. In terms of their stated reasons, I recall they saw it as a first step toward getting involved in the New Age movement, which they see as unChristian, satanic, pagan, heathen. From my point of view, they were just being puritanical, close-minded, and defensive against anything new that might take away their hold on their followers.

From here http://www.christianresearchservice.com/LifeWayYoga.htm
Quote:

For decades, solid, Bible-based Christian apologists and cult-evangelists have warned the body of Christ about Yoga and the New Age Movement. God's word, the Bible, warns about false teachers, worldly philosophies, strange doctrines, and traditions of men, and commands Christians to avoid them.

and http://www.christianresearchservice.com/LifeWayYoga2.htm
Quote:

"Meditative systems that clear the heart but cannot refill it with substance have no power. In Eastern religions, many devotees of yoga cleanse their minds but leave them empty. Soon their minds refill with the same sort of congestion they had just swept away. Inwardness seeks someone to preside over the clean and the quiet"

and
Quote:
...promotion of Yoga, coupled with LifeWay's compromise, has the potential to mislead and deceive untold numbers of immature Christians worldwide. When the innocent and the unwary are encouraged to participate in pagan practices, the chances of their being seduced into paganism increases with each passing moment.

So that goes toward answering one of your questions.

In terms of your other question, I believe yoga and meditation (as long as both are done in a very positive and healthy way, with a teacher who is a good person) helps in achieving balance and serenity. And in a funny way the fundamentalists above could know what they are doing in opposing it, because balance and serenity helps one to avoid dogmatic beliefs like theirs.
peaceupnorth
Wow thanks for that... that really helps me understand the fearful and closed mind-set that is the cause for this misunderstanding...

What I don't understand is how people can call themselves followers of Jesus (who associated with Gentiles, Samaritans, prostitutes and other outsiders), and yet act in a way completely opposite from him... "Love your neighbour," not "fear, slander and shun your neighbour".... "whatever you do unto the least of my brothers you do unto me."

handfleisch wrote:

In terms of your other question, I believe yoga and meditation (as long as both are done in a very positive and healthy way, with a teacher who is a good person) helps in achieving balance and serenity. And in a funny way the fundamentalists above could know what they are doing in opposing it, because balance and serenity helps one to avoid dogmatic beliefs like theirs.


Well said!
handfleisch
PeaceUpNorth, thank you very much for your kind words and I am glad this helped you. It's great you understand so much about the New Testament, most people don't understand the "Good Samaritan" story, that a Samaritan was a hated nationality at the time.

Anyway I look forward to any other questions you might have or discussions you might start.
saee02391
I have to be.completely honest, I will start from the beginning. i was brought up with Christian ideals but never truly.adopted the faith nor.was I ever baptised. After my father passed I started to have spiritual experiences that led me to my.own system of.beliefs and took me.on.my own.spiritual path which I find utterly necessary in order to find out any kind.of.truth. you must experimence and.learn and not just accept somethinf blindly.. of course I tried many things and my.curiosity.was led by my own.intuition and attraction to something.. I started off.my.spiritual path of.enlightenment.by dabbling.in earth based religions such as Wicca and shamanism. I have always been.attracted so therefore it came.natural to me.. I have.to say thay after.a.short.period of.time with that i became disinterested bc it always left me with a feeling if something missing. I gained much knowledge during this time and.figured much out abut myself. This I do not think is bad..actually was necessary.for me to discover things.on my own bc it led me to the realization of what faith meant. You see, I also dabbled deeply into meditation during this time.period where I experienced profound joy and transformation I could only.describe as peaceful.. but my.spiritual experience started to intensify leaving me feeling vulnerable. Much like the same.experiences I had when me father passed.. I began to feel other presences..and I would "drift" in my sleep and start remembering where I was going.. I do not think this in itself was bad..but it left me.open...to other things.. I explored.these phenomena with great wonder and.curiosities. until one night I heard an.angelic voice call my.name.. it was beautiful..the sound of.bells dancing.in my.head.with the most.peaceful feeling wash over me. I felt protected and.charmed. I asked again one.night for the.voice to call me againm but.this time the feeling was not so pleasant. Instead.of the serene bells and.peace.comfort.me.. I felt a painful drilling in my head and a surge of.fear. I knew Iwas being.contacted bc I had asked.earlier that might and.I did not like this entity. I left my crown.chakra open.to recieve what this entity.had permission to give.. herein lies.the dangers.of meditation. Although it serves some.good purposes.. if.you are spiritually attuned enough to energies you must be. Areful not to open.doors for others to come in... I was able.to telecomunicate and have my body subject to a pathway...you must be. Areful.. if.you do nit possess enough light or do the wrong.things..bad things.can.happen no matter how good something.may seem..you still have to be. Areful. This is my story. i hope it helped
nickfyoung
The Christian believes that once he is converted he is under attack from the devil who is hanging around waiting for a chance to get in and disrupt things. That is why they are taught not to use any form of meditation that will empty the mind as you now have no protection from the devil.

Meditation on the word etc is OK because you are filling the mind and not emptying it.
tonberry
If it feels good, do it. Don't take a shortcut and let others decide for you. Meditation is an integral part of most religions and Christianity is no exception btw.
Indi
tonberry wrote:
If it feels good, do it. Don't take a shortcut and let others decide for you. Meditation is an integral part of most religions and Christianity is no exception btw.

I'm pretty sure that advice is just about as un-Christian as you can get. ^_^; "Do what thou wilt" is more in line with Satanism than Christianity.
Nilout
Psalm 1:2 - - - But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

The words of Scripture are living words. (See Hebrews 4:12.) They contain eternal wisdom held in the shell of human words. God wants us to “break open” these human words and begin to discover the rich wealth of personal application and understanding that they hold. This goal can be accomplished as you memorize and meditate on Scripture.

The Apostle Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you [live in you] richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). Meditation on Scripture will cause Scripture to “dwell in you” and become a source of wisdom in your mind, will, and emotions.

As you meditate, don’t be discouraged if you have to go over the passage several times before insights begin to come to mind. As God reveals an insight to you, pray it back to Him and ask Him for the grace to apply that truth in your life. If the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin in your life, confess it to the Lord and be forgiven.
Bikerman
Sound advice - study the bible and think hard about what it says. That means ALL of it - don't just cherry pick a few passages from the easier parts of Paul or Acts. I am firmly of the opinion that if more Christians really DID study their bible properly then there would be a deal fewer Christians.
ryancrear
I "meditate" and am a Christian, I like to call it my quiet time. My quiet time includes me and my lord. I clear my mind and focus on him and his teachings. I remember the two commandments given, " love the Lord you God..." and "Love your neighbour ..." Very little else matters as all scripture can be brought back to these 2 principles.

Like everything it can be taken in any way the individual decides to interpret it.
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