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Christian Meditation - Phase Two

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2008-01-03 05:08:52     
Article by E. Raymond Rock

Contemporary Christians are discovering the deeper aspects of meditation. Previously, many Christians who have experimented with meditation misunderstood the real benefits of meditation by mistakenly believing that meditation is simply a relaxation technique, or a way to think about and worship God. Therefore, when difficulties arose from meditation, such as when their egos began to squirm, they felt betrayed and quickly discontinued the practice.

They may have even discouraged others from meditating by saying that meditation is harmful and dangerous, and that meditation should only be practiced by thinking good thoughts about God. But these are beginner's reactions to meditation, which are natural reactions when the ego becomes frightened. Keeping images of the world or even mental images of God in mind during meditation is a beginning technique. Eventually one has to go beyond mental images and thoughts and enter into a still emptiness. This is confirmed by the contemplative saints such as St. John of the Cross, and even the Bible; Luke 17-21: (KJV)

"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, lo here! Or, lo there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

As contemporary and adventurous Christians gird their loins and venture deeper into their religion, they discover that at its roots is transcendental understanding that goes well beyond mind, the transcendental understanding of the prophets. I truly believe that Christ was trying to teach his disciples how to attain this very transcendence, but was misunderstood by his followers. Tragically, His entire message may have been skewed because of the misunderstandings of unenlightened followers. He was trying to teach his followers to go within, which means into the stillness beyond thought, beyond images, beyond the world.

I believe that it is possible for contemporary Christians to come face-to-face with God just as Christ had; it's only a matter of correct practice, understanding, and determination, and Christians, I believe, are beginning to understand this; they are beginning to search for guidelines. Going to church every Sunday and enjoying themselves, and reading the Bible is not making a fundamental change in some Christian lives. A close look reveals that judgmentalism, annoyances, and wanting things to go their way is still overriding the true Christian compassion, generosity, and peace that Christ stood for. The religious wars continue.

Contemporary Christians are finding their roots, however; they are acquiring the courage to practice mediation at deeper levels, all the way to St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Senses, and more importantly, his Dark Night of the Spirit. Both dark nights are a required passage, according to St. John, to attain unity with God. This is what many contemporary Christians are now pursuing; they want to go all the way. In the dark night of the senses, one loses all interest in worldly pleasures. In the dark night of the spirit, God temporarily forsakes the serious Christian practitioner. Even Jesus had to make his way through these dark nights: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Real meditation is anything but light and love. Meditation is a dis-assembling of the ego, which is merely a construction of the worldly mind. This can be very painful, especially for egos that have been extensively built up. Believing that meditation is some kind of relaxation therapy, and therefore giving up as soon as difficulties arise in meditation exhibits little courage and a great misunderstanding. It is similar to a novice guitar enthusiast that quits playing just because his or her fingers get sore from pressing down on the strings when chording, not realizing that the fingers merely need to get accustomed to the new activity.

Real courage is when we can face not only physical death, but spiritual death as well, let alone a little ego discomfort in meditation. Correct meditation will provide this courage. Without attaining this kind of courage, we are left with cowardice, and cowardice brings up our sins.

Books can point the way to an opening in our hearts, but we must find the key and unlock the opening ourselves. But how do we unlock our hearts? Where is the key? Can ordinary people, such as you and I, even consider an unbelievable transformation of consciousness, a remarkable change in values where we act from our true center at all times?

We must consider seriously going within. Everything without is simply not God, simply illusion.

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com

Specialized in: A - Year - To - Enlightenment
URL: http://www.ayeartoenlightenment.com
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