Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ps 119:15

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.

Meditation got a bad press with the Maharishi and 'transcendental meditation'. I never quite knew what that meant. I gather it is something about thinking about the sound of one hand clapping. An impossibility, of course, but the idea seems to be that by thinking of the absurd we disengage our mind from logic and consequence and engage in pure thought without reference points.

Utter hogwash, of course, and certainly not what the Bible means by meditation. Rather than running the mind in neutral we are expected to work hard. Wikipedia has this, "The Old Testament book of Joshua sets out a form of meditation based on scriptures: "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful" (Joshua 1:8). This is one of the reasons why bible verse memory is a practice among many evangelical Christians."

Again they are missing the point. Although it is a fine thing to memorize scripture verses it is far better to know the Bible and understand it. Being sylable perfect is rather beside the point with so many versions around.

Meditation is about thinking deeply about a subject and a Christian meditates by thinking deeply about the Bible. It is unhurried thought, seeking to understand meaning. I know a lot of people who can recite the 23rd Psalm but apart from knowing that it is often read at funerals they couldn't tell you what it means.

Nor is it a matter of what the commentaries say. They will tell you the technical side of exegesis but they say little of what it means to me or you.

Here is how to meditate on Scripture. Ask yourself the following questions:

What does the passage tell me about God?

What does the passage tell me about living?

What does the passage tell me about my life, here and now?


early 60s professional living in Jersey exurbia said...


You apparently cannot practice relisgous tolerance, I know you cannot stand Islam, bui your dismissal of Transcendtal Meditation (of which I was a foromer preactitioner until learnig to worsip in sllence as a Friend) as hogwash is a bit much. TM is derived from ancient spritual practices in India. Your confusio with Zen Buddhism (the sounf of one hand clapping is a famous Zen koan) shows your clear lack of any knowledge of legitimate NONCHRISTIAN religions. Perhaps since you cannot be tolerant of non-believers you shold just post on Christion maters only.

Terry Hamblin said...

I was writing about Christian meditation. Actually, I really do believe Jesus when he says "I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, but through me."

I am afraid that all other religions are false trails. Religious tolerance is like a physician tolerating homeopathy, reflex iridology and foot massage. They are all quackery and stop people getting the proper treatment. Likewise, false religion keeps people from the truth and endangers their immortal souls.

I knew, of couse, that the koan was Bhuddist, but I deliberately conflated it with TM. For me religion comes in two boxes: 'true' and 'false'; both TM and Zen belong in the 'false' box.

Not to say that these man-made faiths are valueless. Even complete atheism has given us some valuable insights. But as ways to God they are blind alleys.

So you are quite right. I do not practice religious tolerance - though that is a long way from wanting to fight in the crusades or blow up an airliner.

Tolerance is the flavor of the day. We tolerate everything but intolerance, people say. They are wrong. Some things should not be tolerated.