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Featured Is meditation wrong for a Christian?

Discussion in 'Requests for Christian Advice' started by Chris V++, Sep 29, 2020.

  1. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Why think that "passive awareness" has nothing to do with God? Admittedly I don't quite know what that term means, but it brings to mind this verse:

    "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10).
     
  2. Akita Suggagaki

    Akita Suggagaki Well-Known Member

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    Passive awareness, like burning incense is not owned by Buddhism. It is universal. Any time we are attentive, listening rather than distracted, we are passive and aware. Though maybe passive isn't quite right because it takes effort. We listen for God. Not some image of God that we worship. The real God who is always with us. All we need to do is sit in His presence with him. that takes stillness, quiet, and attention.
     
  3. Akita Suggagaki

    Akita Suggagaki Well-Known Member

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    1. Isaiah 55:8
      For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

    2. Isaiah 55:9
      For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.

      Do we idolize our thoughts? Some seem to think it is our thoughts that protect us from the devil. Could anything be more wrong since it is our thoughts that the devil influences?
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
  4. Akita Suggagaki

    Akita Suggagaki Well-Known Member

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    Proverb 4:23
    Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

    How does one keep their heart with vigilance?
     
  5. Akita Suggagaki

    Akita Suggagaki Well-Known Member

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    What we are really talking about here is the training of attention. There are many ways to do it and they are not owned by any religion, culture, time or place. Science tells us that our capacity to be attentive is like a muscle that can be developed.

    That is why I liken it to playing a sport or musical instrument. It takes effort and patience but then it can be used for anything, including seeking God and becoming attentive to God's presence always with us.

    Listen, be attentive, be vigilant, be mindful, wait, watch. No religion owns what your mind can do. Our cognition has at least two capacities, Intellect & Reason. Reason sorts things our, explores them and uses lots of words. The intellect is deeper, more subtle, more like spirit. It doesn't need words.
     
  6. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    I don't know if this is the right place for a nuanced discussion of the topic, but the claim that meditation is a natural skill that can be used to "become attentive to God's presence" is a bit problematic from a Catholic perspective. God isn't a thing in the world that we have access to via natural means or skills. Attention and concentration power may allow us to focus in on certain things, including divine things, but we have to be careful when identifying such things with God. This is admittedly a difficult subject.
     
  7. Akita Suggagaki

    Akita Suggagaki Well-Known Member

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    Yes, we certainly cannot will God into action. But He is always there. It is our attention that is lacking. How is that problematic for a Catholic?
     
  8. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    You seem to be saying that we can build up a natural skill that will allow us to access God, or to access an awareness of God. I think that's an interesting idea, and the Buddhists are all for it, but it's not a Catholic idea. Or perhaps it's just not a Roman Catholic idea. I'm undecided. Some westerners like Meister Eckhart got close to saying something like that, but the Thomistic tradition which includes folks like John of the Cross are going to avoid it.

    Why? Because for Catholics God isn't a thing that we act upon, or sense, or grasp, or become aware of, etc. At best Catholics would say that the reality you speak of (the "God" that we are aware of) is a created grace given by God, not God himself. Even for the Orthodox the contact would be with the divine energies rather than the essence.
     
  9. Akita Suggagaki

    Akita Suggagaki Well-Known Member

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    I have never heard that perspective. You are saying we can never encounter God? Only God's grace?

    Believe me, I have read St Thomas and St John. I don't think they say that anywhere. In fact, they speak of an intimacy. And it is an intimacy that is both acquired (otherwise there would be no reason for any spiritual practices) as well as graced (and even our spiritual practices are graces).
     
  10. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You may change your mind when the mushroom clouds appear over the cities and the consequent nuclear winter sets in. Your solar panels won't be much use then.
     
  11. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Yes, I believe that it is incorrect to say that we experience God directly, at least in this life. If you want to pursue this topic I would recommend starting a new thread on whether and how God can be encountered or experienced.

    Here is Fr. Hardon. Notice the scare quotes:

    In the perfect we find contemplative prayer (acquired, infused or both) which on its highest levels involves an ineffable "experience" of God's presence and an "experimental" perception of divine mysteries and realities.

    Fr. Hardon Archives - Part Two - A: Grace Considered Intensively
     
  12. Akita Suggagaki

    Akita Suggagaki Well-Known Member

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    I have to backtrack. St Thomas Aquinas and I don't speak the same language. I don't spend much time with him anymore. St John of the Cross and st Bonaventure are more friendly. I know them better. In fact St John of the Cross says that God is the center of our souls. That intimate! St Bonaventure, we simply cross over into the unspeakable.
     
  13. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    I haven't looked at this in awhile, so my sources are not in order, but to speak off the cuff the idea is that God is not a proper object of human experience. The pain in your big toe, the butterflies in your stomach, the warmth in your breast, and the joy in your heart are passions, feelings, and experiences. They are not God. They may be caused by God. They may be gifts or graces of God. But they are not, in themselves, God. God is not quantifiable or circumscribable in that way. The fact that God abides in believers does not mean that they have a differentiable experience of Him. There are manifestations and revelations, but it's incorrect to identify any individual experience with the uncreated God.

    Anyway, that's just a kind of overview. I've been interested in this topic for many years but haven't visited it in some time.
     
  14. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    This subject would be a good thread, I think.

    I would agree that we cannot experience God directly, strictly speaking. Nonetheless, if what we experience is God's energies (EO) or graces (RC), it still seems acceptable to say that it is God we have experienced and not something created or other than God.

    To use a common example, was the light on the Mount of Transfiguration Christ? Yes and no. It was not the Person, but it emanated from the Person and was nothing other than the Person (i.e. not created). (Is that a bad example?)
     
  15. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Agreed.

    The practical problem is that people sometimes become attached to an experience and value it above God, and I think that problem helps illumine the issue a bit.

    I am actually planning to pose a Palamite question related to this topic to a group of Thomists. Maybe I will do so tonight, else tomorrow. Definitely on topic, though.
     
  16. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

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    God is Spirit. The centre of man's being is his spirit. It is not the Spirit of God. Those who are born again have a new spirit where God is able and pleased to dwell. The soul is the capacity to express the content of the spirit - turning the sensing of the spirit (intuition) into words, expressing the joy in the spirit by emotion and responding to the direction of conscience and intuition by the appropriate act of volition.

    What I've said is the ideal. More often, Christians are insensitive or even ignorant of the spirit. So they act, think and feel according to what seems right according to their own ideas. That leads to confusion, to errors of judgement and sometimes, great danger. It's a constant battle but the fight is well worthwhile.
     
  17. Akita Suggagaki

    Akita Suggagaki Well-Known Member

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    This may be what I am getting at, cultivating sensitivity to the spirit. Certainly it takes attention.
     
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