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Why Christians Cannot Practice Transcendental Meditation

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By Rev. Mr. Ian VanHeusen
4/30/2015 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

The goal of Prayer is always intimacy with Jesus Christ

Before you think that this article is another stereotypical condemnation of Transcendental Meditation and other forms of East Asian meditation practices, I ask you to think again. Christians are not able to practice Transcendental Meditation not because it is immoral or because it opens you to the demonic, but rather due to the nature of what it means to be a Christian. Due to Baptism, Christians are brought into a relationship with the triune God, and this relationship is opened up through the gift of God's grace. 

When we rest quietly in God's presence, we engage in contemplation. In contemplation we spend time with God in wordless silence, aware that he is with us.

When we rest quietly in God's presence, we engage in contemplation. In contemplation we spend time with God in wordless silence, aware that he is with us.

Highlights

By Rev. Mr. Ian VanHeusen
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
4/30/2015 (4 years ago)

Published in Blog


style="margin: 0px; font-size: 11px; line-height: normal; font-family: Helvetica;">RALEIGH, NC - Through the sacraments, Christians enter into a new way of living because we are inserted into the on-going relationship between the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This insertion is the foundation for Christian prayer. The trajectory of Christian maturation is bringing to our awareness the reality we have received in the sacraments. Thus, although a Christian may adopt certain techniques from Transcendental Meditation, the reality is that when a Christian adopts these techniques, they are doing something different than those who have not yet come to know the Lord. The essence of Christian prayer is our relationship with the Lord, and this relationship is always present to those who live in a state of grace.

That being said, we should also recognize the possibility that a baptized Christian is engaging in Transcendental Meditation as an explicit rejection of Christ. In that case, they are denying their identity in Christ, and such a practice would be the essence of personal sin, namely the rejection of God's love made possible in Jesus Christ. In certain sense, such a person would be working against the activity of the Holy Spirit, and this can be a gateway to more serious conditions such as demonic possession.


Like all natural goods, meditation techniques represent elements of our created nature which can either lead us towards God or become idols. I would connect meditation to natural goods such as food, exercise, and even our sexuality. When such natural goods are enjoyed in accord with right reason, they become a powerful means of giving praise to God. When they are detached from our ultimate orientation, they can enslave us in patterns of self-absorption and egocentricity.

Thus, the natural goods of meditation are to be drawn up into and transfigured through the power of Christ's love. Christian meditation fulfills the natural wisdom of East Asian meditation practices, leading our limited human nature to a goal that goes beyond our unaided abilities. In this way, Christians do not need to look outside of the treasures of our tradition to find deeper forms of prayer and meditation.

Although dialogue with East Asians religions is and will continue to be fruitful, this is not because in them we discover something new. Rather, by entering into dialogue with other religious traditions, we are able to see the riches of the Christian dispensation. Likewise, we are able to proclaim Jesus Christ in new contexts and with a fresh perspective, one that takes into account the changing culture.

The goal is always intimacy with Jesus Christ. While techniques and spiritual experiences can be a source of refreshment, they are secondary to the greater call of fidelity to Christ. This fidelity is an interpersonal reality that involves our commitment to the Church that he established through the ministry of the Apostles. If you are someone who has an interest in East Asian philosophy and meditation, I would encourage you to look into the great wealth of wisdom contained in both Western and Eastern Christianity.

Deacon Ian VanHeusen blogs on prayer and meditation at www.contemplatio.us. He will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Raleigh, NC on June 6, 2015.

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