Why I practice meditation in the Christian tradition

Christian Meditation photo

In my discussion of Meister Eckhart’s ‘Wayless Way’ I touched on the Dominican master’s notion of the need for detachment from everything if we truly want to break through to union with God. For Eckhart, ‘everything’ includes all our talk of God. This means, paradoxically, that if we are truly to encounter ‘God’, the ultimate reality for which we long, we must be rid of the ‘God’ captured in our theological definitions, concepts and images. At the conclusion of that discussion I asked why, if there is any truth in this teaching of Meister Eckhart, we should persist with Christian talk of ‘God’ at all. Surely it makes more sense to bypass altogether images and concepts we must ultimately let go anyway. Why not adopt at the outset a more ‘secular’ approach like that of Eckhart’s modern namesake Eckhart Tolle, or even of Buddhism which many claim is not a religion at all?

What follows is a first step in the development of an answer to this question, a defence of the value and relevance of meditation in the Christian tradition in a world where people drawn to spiritual practices have a rich abundance of options from which to choose. The simple point I make is that the value and relevance of the Christian meditation tradition derive both from what it shares with the other great meditation traditions and what distinguishes it among them. Continue reading “Why I practice meditation in the Christian tradition”

Prayer for the end of suffering

The Buddhist vision of transcendence is the cessation of suffering, which is not an end to the life circumstances that may trouble us but a deep, transcendent acceptance of life as it is. This video is an exquisite blending of spoken word, chanting and images from the films Earth and Baraka.

‘May the sound of this bell penetrate deep into the cosmos. Even in the darkest spots living beings are able to hear it clearly, so that all suffering in them cease, understanding comes to their hearts, and they transcend the path of sorrow and death.’

The Great Bell Chant: Chanted by brother Phap Niem. Translation read by Thich Nhat Hahn.