For most people, meditation is a serious element of their spiritual life. With diet fads, Eastern Yoga retreats, Holistic revolutions and better health prompting many people to utilize meditation in their life, it is of no wonder why to many that meditation is not just another healthy life style instead of a theological and spiritual union with God.
While religious experience is the primary motive in these Eastern meditative methods, one can see that the idea of Christianity and other monotheistic creeds greatly differs in theology. The purpose of Monotheistic meditation is to become closer to God in a creator and creation relationship. With this different end goal, one may ask does it matter which road one takes to reach these states?Yes, meditation can spring forth physical wellness that stems from spiritual renewal, but this is only a side effect not the primary purpose for religious minded people. People use meditation to become closer to God. Meditation allows the soul to escape the noise of the conscious and external world and find the silence and solitude of God’s spirit. In meditiation a deeper union is granted to people who yet still trapped within a temporal reality can taste a small portion of the eschatological reality. In some ways, for those who are spiritually gifted and alive, meditation can take one to the brink of the beatific vision.
Christian Meditation Opposes Eastern Meditation
While union with God is always the key of meditation, Christian meditation greatly differs from Eastern meditation. Eastern meditation seeks the divine, but its theological basis of the divine greatly differs from Western theism. The idea of God as a being is completely different in Eastern thought. In fact, Hinduism teaches that Brahma, the principle name for the divine, is in many ways like a blazing fire that releases sparks, called Atman. Atamn is divine spark of all souls in the temporal reality. It is the purpose of meditation to help reconnect and to be reabsorbed into this divine essence. Another example is Buddhism. Buddhism teaches that the purpose of meditation is to help one reach a state of Nirvana where one can escape suffering and existence itself.Christian meditation looks towards prayer, scripture and Christ to help creation become closer to creator
The reality is from a Monotheistic perspective, some Eastern meditative techniques may be spiritually harmful in the way they open one’s mind and spirit to outside sources. Monotheistic meditation does not seek to escape the body but hopes to elevate the entire nature of man in union with God. The body too must share in the beatific vision, while in the East, the body is a prison and only a temporary home of the soul.
With these sharp theological differences, one can see that meditation brings one closer to God, but for different reasons based on different perceptions of divine reality and human existence. Hence it is important for someone entering into meditation, especially those of Western theology, to clearly understand their end goal and to properly correlate approved meditative practices that coincide with the theology of monotheism.
Those, however, who seek other ends that do not correlate with monotheistic theology and its ends, may find Eastern goals to be more what they find to be true and seek these practices more enthuastically.
If you are interested in meditation education, please review the program. Please also keep in mind, if you are trained in a more Christian or monothesitic background to review our Christian programs as well.
Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C