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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
Mysticism In The Church

 

003whiteSection 10A The Contemporary Church       >     Doctrines of Demons     >      Mysticism     >   Contemplative Prayer

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Contemplative Prayer Ch. 2 - The Source of The Tradition
Many Christian mystics claim that Contemplative Prayer as it is taught and practiced in the modern church is rooted in the tradition of the Desert Fathers. This is as far from the truth as it gets.

Carol Brooks

Chapter I -  An Introduction to Contemplative Prayer: What it is, how it is practiced, its claimed importance, the introduction to evangelicals, the spread, and the million dollar question.

YOU ARE HERE 001orange Chapter II -  The Source of The Tradition: Many Christian mystics claim that Contemplative Prayer as it is taught and practiced in the modern church is rooted in the tradition of the Desert Fathers. This is as far from the truth as it gets.

Chapter III - Alpha - An Altered State of Consciousness: Alpha, the "resting state" of the brain, often associated with the transportation to a "higher realm of consciousness" or mystical experience, is harnessed by Buddhist meditators, Hindus, New Agers, Shamans, Witches and 'Christian' mystics alike.

Chapter IV - Summary and Conclusion: Contemplative Prayer is unsupported by Scripture regardless of how many out-of-context verses supporters pull up in the effort to bolster their claims. Besides which, silence is not God's first language, God does not dwell in us, we cannot decide how to approach the Almighty, and Christians may be transformed by pagan practices, but it is a transformation not for the better Finally, if the teachings of the mystics is true, God has been remarkably negligent.

Chapter V - Eastern Meditation Vs Biblical Meditation: Since the words meditate, meditation etc. are not exactly unknown in the Bible, it is imperative that we are aware of the difference between Contemplative Prayer and Biblical meditation.

Chapter VI - Experiencing God: Unfortunately, in this world of 'warm fuzzies' people are obsessed with how they feel. Thus they assume that since they don't feel the presence of God, He must not be there or is simply ignoring them.

Chapter VII - Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and Thomas Keating: These four influential and very popular teachers of contemplative prayer fraternized with Eastern mystics, embraced the spiritual philosophies and religious practices of Buddhism, Hinduism etc. incorporating them into Christianity. They also endorsed various pagan 'spiritual' books that flatly contradict the Bible. Yet, multiple thousands of people all over the world, including many well known church leaders, have seen fit to suspend all common sense, ignore the many, many warnings in Scripture, and blindly follow the teachings of these wolves.

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ON THIS PAGE

Contemplative Prayer - Is It Unique To Christianity?
The short answer is No!

The Methods Are Virtually Identical
Controlled Breathing and The Mantra
The 'Sacred Word' In Christian Meditation Practices
Is There Any Difference Between a 'Sacred Word' and a 'Mantra'?
Meaningless Repetition
Gird Your Mind or Empty It?

The Experience Is Virtually Identical
However, The Interpretations Vary - Apparently, Perception Is Everything:

Filled With Influences From The East
Is Contemplative Prayer Rooted In The Tradition Of The Desert Fathers Or Eastern Mysticism
John Cassian and John Main
Calling a Spade a Spade
The Divine "Spark" In Every Soul & Man's Basic 'Core' Of Goodness
Spiritual Teachings from Catholics?

Jesus’ Prophecy
Our Lord Foretold The Appearance Of These Impostors Down To The Last Detail

One More Question
Since there is little doubt that something does transpire during these mystical practices - the million dollar question is how to explain this phenomena.


Contemplative Prayer - Is It Unique To Christianity?
While modern practitioners of Contemplative Prayer believe it to be a Christian exclusive, the fact is that Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, & Sufism, as well as Occult/New Age devotees have long practiced an almost identical form of 'prayer'. As Mystica.com, an on-line encyclopedia of the occult, mysticism, magic, paranormal etc. says, "Mysticism is nearly universal and unites most religions in the quest for divinity." [01]

Speaking about Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, M.D, the Newsweek article Talking To God (cited earlier) says... 

    The techniques Benson teaches - silence, appropriate body posture and, above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer- have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God." [02]

Daniel Goleman, PhD, is an internationally known psychologist and New York Times bestselling author who was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and frequently lectures to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. In his book, The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience, he wrote (All Emphasis Added)

    The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East. While Jesus and his teachings were their inspiration, the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery. The ways of the Desert Fathers influenced Christian monasticism to this day. [03]

New Agers, occultists and others who practice Eastern religions regard contemplative prayer as part of their own tradition. As Above So Below was written by Ronald S. Miller and the editors of New Age Journal.  (All Emphasis Added)

    "Those who have practiced Transcendental Meditation may be surprised to learn that Christianity has its own time-honored form of mantra meditation. The technique, called Centering Prayer, draws on the spiritual exercises of the Desert Fathers, the English devotional classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the famous Jesus Prayer …".. "Reliance on a mantric centering device has a long history in the mystical canon of Christianity." [04]

    See Footnote I - The Desert Fathers


The Methods Are Virtually Identical
Even when meditation is practiced apart from a religious context or belief system, the techniques have remained unchanged for thousands of years. Any differences are superficial at best.

Controlled Breathing and The Mantra
Although a few cultures use extreme asceticism or hallucinogenic drugs, most mystics (from both Eastern and Western traditions) rely on tried and true techniques - the most common being controlled breathing and/or the Mantra that is essentially the over and over repetition of a word or phrase used to enable concentration. The word or phrase employed is often sacred to the person using it.

Inspired by Indian born Sri Chinmoy who was his spiritual teacher, award-winning writer Alan Spence wrote the following on meditation from a Hindu perspective. (Emphasis Added)

    Just take a moment, to breathe. Breathe slowly and evenly. Use your imagination, feel you're breathing out all the rubbish you want to let go of. Feel you're breathing in pure energy. [05]

 Chinmoy's instructions bear an astonishing resemblance to those given by Richard Foster (Emphasis Added)

    Having seated yourself comfortably, slowly become conscious of your breathing. This will help you get in touch with your body and indicate to you the level of tension within. Inhale deeply, slowly tilting your head back as far as it will go. Then exhale, allowing your head slowly to come forward until your chin nearly rests on your chest. Do this for several moments, praying inwardly something like this: 'Lord, I exhale my fear over my geometry exam, I inhale your peace. I exhale my spiritual apathy, I inhale Your light and life." [06]

Lorin Roche PhD, a non-Christian meditation teacher with more than one book to his credit says Meditation Has Enormous Mental And Physical Benefits, which is in fact the title of one of his books. Compare what he says with the instructions given by the "Christian" contemplative teachers. (Emphasis Added)

    "Sit comfortably. Pick something to pay attention to. It might be your breathing... or a silent syllable or phrase. Some people use their name for God -- Jesus, Jahweh, Elohim, Allah, etc. When your mind wanders -- as it inevitably will -- simply return to this focus. Don't exert any effort at "mind control." One easy way to start is simply to sit on the sofa, let out a deep breath and say, "Whew." When you resume breathing normally, pay close attention to the air as it flows into and out of your nostrils... your belly rising and falling... and any other physical sensations that you become aware of. Feelings of relaxation may give way to intrusive thoughts. That's fine. Gently return your attention to your breathing or other focus". [07]

What you should know is that Lorin Roche's Master's and Doctoral research were based on "... an 8-year period in which he sought out meditators of all types: Zen, Christian, Buddhist, Vipassana, Kundalini, TM, Sikh, Hindu, Tibetan, Jewish, Kaballah, Wicca, Native American, Theosophist, Arcana, Agni Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Brain Wave Biofeedback, Autogenic Training, Neurolinguistic Programming, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Gestalt, Charltte Selver Sensory Awareness, Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement, Shamanism, and others". [08]

Theresa and Mark Shaltanis
instructed the Lutheran Women's Missionary League to, [All Emphasis Added]

    Shut your eyes and note your breathing. As you inhale, say to yourself, "Be still." As you exhale, say, "and know that I am God." As your breath leaves your body, picture yourself moving closer to God. As you breathe in, see yourselves stopping and taking a close look at God. After a time of picturing yourself in this way, next focus more on the words. Keep breathing and saying the words in this pattern, but now drop off the end, and repeat until you are just saying "Be still." Continue your breathing and saying, "Be still" a few more times until you are ready for reading the Scriptures. [09]

Instructions by Spirit Guides
What is truly alarming is that all the instructions above mirror those given by 'spirit guides'. Opening to Channel: How to Connect with Your Guide, was written by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer, clairvoyants who have been channeling and working with their spirit guides for many years. Channeling being the process by which a medium or psychic transmits information from a non-physical entity who speaks through them.

On Page 68, the spirits tell one how to achieving a relaxed state. These instructions are virtually identical to the instructions give by 'Christian' mystics. (See Previous Chapter)

    1. Find a comfortable sitting position, on either a chair or the floor, which you can easily hold for ten or fifteen minutes.

    2. Close your eyes and begin breathing calmly and slowly, taking about twenty slow and rhythmic connected breaths into your upper chest.

    3. Let all your concerns go. Imagine them vanishing. Every time a thought comes up, imagine it on a blackboard, then effortlessly erase it, or imagine putting each thought into a bubble that floats away.

    4. Relax your body. Feel yourself growing serene, calm, and tranquil. In your imagination, travel through your body, relaxing each part. Mentally relax your feet, legs, thighs, stomach, chest, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, head, and face. Let your jaw be slightly open, and relax the muscles around your eyes.

    5. If you choose, imagine a bubble of white light around you. Imagine its  size, shape, and brightness. Play with making it larger and smaller until it feels just right.

    6. When you feel calm and relaxed and ready to return, bring your attention slowly back into the room. Savor and enjoy your state of calm and peace. [10]

The Mantra In Christian Meditation Practices
Teachers of Contemplative Prayer vary the approach by using what they call a "sacred word" rather than a mantra. In an obvious attempt to distance themselves from eastern mystical practices, contemplative.org makes it a point to say (Emphasis Added) "Sacred words are not used as mantras, as in constantly repeating them, but as a reminder of your intention to remain open. [11] However, this is not true. Several well known teachers of Contemplative Prayer teach the repetition of single words or phrases. For example,

Henri Nouwen: In his book The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen wrote (All Emphasis Added)

    The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart … when we use a very simple sentence such as "O God, come to my assistance," or "Jesus, master, have mercy on me," or a word such as "Lord" or "Jesus," it is easier to let the many distractions pass by without being misled by them. [12]

Morton Kelsey: an Episcopalian priest and the author of several books on spirituality suggested using the Jesus prayer ("Lord Jesus have mercy on me") repetitively in conjunction with breathing. (All Emphasis Added)

    The ancient Christian traditions of hesychasm stressed the use of the Jesus prayer and an imageless sense of God's presence as well as awareness of breathing. The essential element linking these practices was the search for silence, for inward stillness. For centuries one form or another of the Jesus prayer has been used for this purpose. One form is simply to invoke the name of Jesus, using it almost like a mantra." [13]

Brennan Manning: In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning says for the first ten minutes of their "simple exercise in faith", Christians should "Pray over and over the first strophe of Psalm 23: "Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing." [14]. In The Signature of Jesus, he says to choose a "sacred word", then (Emphasis Added)

    "Without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often". [15]

Gary Thomas - a bestselling author and international speaker teaches exactly the same method. According to his web site, his books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Additionally, he"has spoken at conferences, retreats, and college campuses in 49 states and eight countries, including appearances at the Focus on the Family National Marriage Simulcast, the Gaither's Praise Gathering, and several National Pastor's Conventions" [164] (So much for their discernment)

He says (All Emphasis Added)

     "Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing. [17]

Tony Campolo says he "learned about this way of having a born-again experience from reading Catholic mystics, especially The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola". Campolo says he uses "Jesus" as a "mantra" to clear his mind and to get himself into an altered state of consciousness. (All Emphasis Added)

    The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called "the thin place". The thin place is that spiritual condition wherein separation between self and God becomes so thin that God is able to break through and envelop the soul. [18]

In fact, in his book Open Mind Open Heart, Keating calls the 'sacred' word' a "Christian mantra"

    "Some teachers of prayer are convinced from their experience that contemporary Western minds are so active that they need to repeat a Christian mantra over and over, at least in the beginning" [19]


Is There Any Difference Between a 'Sacred Word' and a 'Mantra'?
Much energy has been expended in the effort to show that the sacred word is NOT a Mantra. But if you cut through the stream of gobbledygook, there is absolutely no difference. A page on the Contemplative Outreach web site endeavors to outline the difference between centering prayer and Eastern meditation practices. In their words. (All Emphasis Added)

    It is important not to confuse Centering Prayer with certain Eastern techniques of meditation such as Transcendental Meditation. The use of the sacred word in Centering Prayer does not have the particular calming effect attributed to the TM mantra. Nor is the sacred word a vehicle leading to the spiritual level of one's being as it is in TM. There is no cause-and-effect relationship between using the sacred word and arriving at some altered state of consciousness. The sacred word is merely the symbol of the consent of one's will to God's presence and action within based on faith in the doctrine of the Divine Indwelling. The sacred word is simply a means of reaffirming our original intention at the beginning of our period of prayer to be in God's presence and to surrender to the divine action when we are attracted to some other thought, feeling or impression. [20]

Does the Mantra Have a Calming Effect?
The mantra itself does not have a "calming effect". It is nothing but a method to induce an altered state of consciousness (the Alpha state) in which the practitioner is deeply relaxed. This state is commonly described as tranquil and pleasant - problems and worries seem to just fade away. For example, The Trinity United Methodist church in Memphis TN conducts Sunday morning Contemplative Prayer Instruction and guided practice 'classes', which they say leads into "inner stillness and peace" (Emphasis Added)

    Experience the sweetness and beauty of the contemplative way of life... especially for those of us leading busy lives! Sense the way that God leads us beyond anxiety into inner stillness and peace through the practice of Centering Prayer, an ancient form of Christian meditation. [21]

Is it any wonder that a self induced Alpha state is the goal of many spiritual practitioners.

Is The Mantra a Vehicle That Leads "To The Spiritual Level Of One's Being"?
as claimed by contemplativeoutreach.org?

The short answer being “no”.

Deepak Chopra is a prominent figure in the New Age movement and one of the best-known figures in alternative medicine. An article on his web site (by the lead Master Educator at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing) tells us the reason for the mantra (All Emphasis Added)

    This mantra is used in silent repetition during movement to help keep the mind focused. It's been said that in yoga, Asanas are postures of the body and mantras are postures of the mind. Mantras, when used in this fashion, are more like affirmations and help to keep you connected to a particular state of mind. [22]

In other words, the mantra helps the practitioner achieve his or her goal by keeping the mind focused, which is exactly what the 'Christian' sacred word is said to do, ie. "surrender to the divine action when we are attracted to some other thought, feeling or impression".  [23]

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, one study conducted in Italy concluded that, "Rhythm formulas that involve breathing at six breaths per minute induce favourable psychological and possibly physiological effects". However, it mattered not whether it was a prayer or a mantra. Reciting the rosary or a yoga mantra had exactly the same effect - "reducing respiration to almost exactly six respirations per minute, which is essentially the same timing as that of endogenous circulatory rhythms." [23]

An altered state of consciousness is not induced by the word (or words) used, but by the repetition of the word or phrase. There is NO spiritual power in the mantra itself. Buddhists or Hindus can achieve the desired mental state just as effectively by repeating 'Jesus' as they can a word meaningful to their own religion.

In Summary,
Both traditions choose a word and then bring their minds to focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. If the "sacred word" is used to help achieve the goal of clearing one's mind of all inner distractions (thoughts, feelings, memories etc.) and ignore all the external ones, then it performs exactly the same function as a mantra.

And since we quite enjoy the experience we have to find a way to explain why we have to use a word or phrase to clear our minds. Claiming that this sacred word is "merely the symbol of the consent of one's will to God's presence and action within" is merely deluding ourselves.

So what's new?


Meaningless Repetition:

It is mind boggling as to how people can blatantly ignore Jesus' very specific instruction not to use "meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do" when we are praying (Matthew 6:7). How can anyone miss the fact that the over and over repeating of a so-called sacred word amounts to nothing more than a vain repetition.

Did we miss the part where Jesus very clearly stated that the Lord does not hear these kind of prayers. As He said, the Gentiles think they will be "heard for their many words".

So, apparently, do we.

What happened to "We must obey God rather than men.  (Acts 5:29 NASB)

Somewhere along the line, all too many Christians have come to the conclusion that it is not really necessary to obey Christ in every detail. The traditions and teachings of men will do very nicely instead. I guess we have completely forgotten that Christ also stated

    "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36 NASB)

Note: Asking God several times over for the same thing, is very different than mumbling the same words over and over for 20 minutes.


Gird Your Mind or Empty It?
In his first letter, among other things, Peter told his readers to 'gird up the loins of their minds' (1 Peter 1:13).  The English word  gird means to "encircle (a person or part of the body) with a belt or band. For example, the angel who rescued Peter from prison told him to "Gird himself and put on his sandals." Acts 12:8.

However, gird also means to get ready for a dangerous situation or something requiring strength or endurance. The Free Dictionary says "prepare oneself for a military confrontation" Ex. "The U.S. is girding for a conflict in the Middle East". [24]

In the Old Testament, God told Jeremiah to warn those kingdoms that had forsaken Him and offered sacrifices to other gods that He would judge their wickedness. In the Lord's words "Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them (Jeremiah 1:17 NASB). In other words, He was telling His prophet to take courage and be resolute

It is no wonder that the NASB translates 1 Peter 1:13 as "prepare oneself for action".

What we need to pay attention to is the fact that girding your mind is a million miles away from emptying it which means suspending all critical thinking.

Peter also told them to

    Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (1 Peter 5:8 NASB)

The very fact that you have completely disregarded Jesus' very plain instructions in favor of the teachings of apostate Roman Catholics shows that you are no longer sober nor vigilant and it is entirely possible that you have already fallen prey to the evil that roams the earth.


The Experience Is  Virtually Identical
However, the Interpretations Vary - Apparently, Perception Is Everything:

The problem here is that although many Christian practitioners of Contemplative Prayer believe they are getting closer to the God they serve, what they experience is not exclusive to Christianity. Self-induced alpha is the goal of a wide range of modern spiritual practitioners. Let's hear from Thomas Merton 

    Christians and Buddhists both realize that without concentration, without abandoning distracting thoughts, prayer and meditation will not bear fruit. Concentration and devotion bring calm, peace, stability, and comfort to both Buddhists and Christians. [25]

However, since what is considered sacred varies from group to group, the experience is interpreted according to the beliefs of the practitioner.

The Christian mystic believes he has achieved intimacy with God and may even be receiving revelation from Him. New Agers seek a personal "spirit guide" who will grant knowledge and enlightenment. Occultists pursue psychic phenomena. Followers of some Eastern religions pursue the god within. Hindus believe they have achieved union with Brahman - the divine universal consciousness that is considered to be the source and sustainer of the universe. Non religious practitioners, particularly neo-paganists or who worship nature may interpret the experience as "being at one with nature" - a feeling of oneness with the earth or even with the universe. Those who term themselves "spiritual, but not religious" may seek to become one with a 'universal principle', or with the 'goddess'.

Note: Close to 40% of all Americans identify themselves by the very trendy phrase "spiritual but not religious". Unfortunately the term is as slippery and unformed as a blob of jello.  More Information HERE

If you want it straight from the horse's mouth, Richard Foster himself is quite clear that perception is everything. In his book Celebration of Discipline, he says (Emphasis Added)

    "If you feel we live in a purely physical universe, you will view meditation as a good way to obtain a consistent alpha brain wave pattern. But if you believe that we live in a universe created by the infinite-personal God who delights in our communication with him, you will see meditation as communication between the Lover and the one beloved. " [26]

The Mystica, a Mythical-Folk, Occult Encyclopedia substantiates this (Emphasis Added)

    "In mysticism, the altered state of consciousness may be total or partial. When partial, the state of consciousness is usually only a feeling. Most generally this feeling is one of unity with God, or the universe, or of enlightenment... The experience of being united with God or nature is called a mystical experience." [27]

So apparently this experience of being united with "God" is not limited to Christians. Those of other religions certainly do not believe they have encountered the God of the Bible in their mind altering trips yet, Christians assume that if they use exactly the same techniques, they will encounter the God of the Bible.

In other words, you can have the exact same experience achieved by the exact same methods, but interpret it in light of your personal beliefs. How exactly that works is well beyond me. What I do know is that when people (Roman Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Buddhists, western agnostics etc.) all over the world, experience exactly the same thing, to say what Christians experience is caused by the Holy Spirit is just so much tosh.
 

Filled With Influences From The East
For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, Because they are filled with influences from the east, And they are soothsayers like the Philistines, And they strike bargains with the children of foreigners.  (Isaiah 2:6 NASB)

Many Christian mystics claim that Contemplative Prayer is rooted in the tradition of the Desert Fathers and not in Eastern mysticism or New Age philosophy. In Brennan Manning's words,

    A simple method of contemplative prayer (often called "centering prayer") in our time and anchored in the Western Christian tradition of John Cassian and the desert fathers and not, as some think, in Eastern mysticism or New Age philosophy) has four steps. [28]

Numerous others will tell you exactly the same thing. The question is whether it is true and, if it is, how can they account for the fact that 'Christian' centering prayer as taught and practised in so much of the church today so closely resembles Eastern and Occult meditation techniques.

John Cassian (ca. 360 – 435)
It is true that, as mentioned in the first chapter, a form of Contemplative Prayer began with groups of hermits known as the 'Desert Fathers' who appeared in the third and fourth centuries much after the time of Christ and the apostles. These hermits dwelt in small, impoverished and isolated communities in the Middle East in order to devote themselves completely to God.

John Cassian a monk from Bethlehem visited and spent several years with these ascetics and, subsequently wrote two major spiritual works, the Institutes and the Conferences (or Conferences of the Egyptian Monks), written as dialogues of the Desert Fathers, were influential in the further development of Western monasticism. [29] In Institutes he codified and transmitted the wisdom of the Desert Fathers, covering virtually every aspect of life as he relates his 24 conferences with various monks in the deserts of Egypt.

John Main (1926–1982)
However, centuries later John Main, a Roman Catholic priest had a chance meeting in Malaysia with Swami Satyananda, founder of the Pure Life Society. Impressed by the serenity and 'holiness' of this monk, he asked the swami to teach him his method of meditating. "The guru accepted on two conditions: Main would meet and meditate with him weekly, and would commit himself to a half-hour's meditation morning and evening daily". At their first meeting, Satyananda instructed his disciple on the importance of there being "no thoughts, no words, no imaginations" in his mind during meditation - the sole sound being that of the chosen mantra.

What is truly unbelievable is that Main actually saw parallels between the spiritual practice taught by Cassian and the meditative practice he had been taught by the Swami in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, he traces the roots of centering prayer even further. In an article "John Main’s Monastic Adventure" by Laurence Freeman OSB, he describes Main's reaction if people later thought his teaching an 'eastern form' of prayer ..

    "...It is no more eastern than western, he would say, and what makes meditation Christian is precisely the faith in Christ that we bring to it. When he taught meditation John Main used almost exclusively the western tradition and the Christian scriptures. There was no doubt in his mind that this teaching went back in direct line to the apostolic community of the primitive church and to the Master himself". [16]

This absolutely boggles the mind.

Main learned how to meditate from a Hindu Swami. It was a Hindu Swami that taught him the use of a Mantra. It was a Hindu Swami that gave him a 'Christian' mantra. How then did these practices become no more Eastern than Western? Additionally, Freeman’s claim that this teaching went back directly to the apostles and Jesus Himself begs the question... what evidence does he have to back up this assertion? Where in the Gospels, or any other part of the New Testament, is there even a hint of the meditation techniques taught by Mains and other like him. Where in Scripture is there even a whiff of the idea that mantras were used in the early church..

The fact is that Freeman is making a completely fallacious statement - these teaching cannot even be traced back to John Cassian as Main claims much less Jesus and the apostles.

Cassian from Main?
Brother Max Sculley, author of Yoga, Tai Chi and Reiki: A Guide for Christians says

    Pick up any piece of literature on C.M., listen to any of the movement's leaders discoursing on the topic, and inevitably there will be reference to Main's 'monumental discovery' that mantra meditation is an ancient form of Christian contemplation. [30].

He is right. Sites galore will tell you that because meditation was not accepted as Christian way of prayer at the time Main, wishing to become a Benedictine,  had to learn how to become "detached from the practice" that was "most sacred" to him, and learn how to build his life on God himself. (I have to wonder why that was a problem). Anyway, as so many people will tell you, many years later John Main was

    "... overjoyed to discover the practice he had been taught by the Swami in the writing of John Cassian, a Christian monk, a Desert Father of the 4th century CE. There he read of "the practice of using a single short phrase to achieve the stillness necessary for prayer". He felt he had "arrived home once more and returned to the practice of the mantra". [31]

Christians have been repeating this like a 'mantra' (forgive the pun) ever since. As said by WCCM - The World Community for Christian Meditation "It was in the Tenth Conference that John Main recognised the Christian tradition of meditation which became the foundation of his major work".

    It was with a very wonderful astonishment that I read, in his Tenth Conference, of the practice of using a single short phrase to achieve the stillness necessary for prayer: "The mind thus casts out and renounces the rich and ample matter of all thoughts and restricts itself to the poverty of a single verse".. In reading the words and in Chapter X of the same Conference on the method of continual prayer, I was arrived home once more and returned to the practice of the mantra. (John Main, The Gethsemani Talks, Medio Media 2007) [32]

The problem being that John Main who learned his meditation techniques from a Hindu guru, conveniently read into Cassian's writings what he wanted to find there. If you actually read Cassian's tenth conference for yourself, you will find that far from advocating a word or phrase to "achieve the stillness necessary for prayer", Cassian was advocating the use of a verse from Psalm 70 in exactly the same way the original author appeared to have used it. Psalm 70 is substantially the same as the much longer preceding psalm both of which indicate that the composer was in trouble and needed help.

 "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me"

In fact, John Cassian gives some examples, probably drawn from his own life, as to how the Psalm can be used. One or two examples will here suffice. (Cassian's entire tenth conference is in Footnote II - read it for yourself)

    I am affected by the passion of gluttony.  I ask for food of which the desert knows nothing, and in the squalid desert there are wafted to me odours of royal dainties and I find that even against my will I am drawn to long for them. I must at once say: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    Sleep is withdrawn from my eyes, and for many nights I find myself wearied out with sleeplessness caused by the devil, and all repose and rest by night is kept away from my eyelids; I must sigh and pray: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

If that doesn't sound like he was advocating a phrase to help you empty your mind - He wasn't. In other words, Cassian invoked this prayer to ask God for help in any and all circumstances. As he said, this phrase

    "embraces all the feelings which can be implanted in human nature, and can be fitly and satisfactorily adapted to every condition, and all assaults. Since it contains an invocation of God against every danger.  He also advised using this prayer "when you fall on your knees in prayer this may be your chant as you kneel, and when you rise up from it to go forth to all the necessary business of life it may be your constant prayer as you stand.

IT WAS A PRAYER NOT A MANTRA.  One that we should all use very often.


Calling a Spade a Spade
The Bible says

    Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be SEPARATE," says the Lord. "and do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NASB)

YET

Although one of the earliest that I know of, John Main was not the only one to learn from the religions of the East. Although Brennan Manning specifically denies the connection, quite a few of the major players in the contemplative prayer movement have openly admitted to incorporating the practices of Eastern Religions into Christianity.

Nouwen: In the foreword to Thomas Ryan's 1993 book, Disciplines For Christian Living (Publisher: Paulist Pr (March 1993), Henri Nouwen wrote (All Emphasis Added)

    While deeply anchored in his own Christian tradition, the author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home.

    Further, with the inspiration offered to him by various religious traditions, he has given us very practical, direct and concrete answers to the question, "Tell me, how do I live my Christian life today?" [33]

Merton: The Jan - Feb 1999 edition of Yoga Journal says the following about Thomas Merton (Emphasis Added)

    Merton had encountered Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and Vedanta many years prior to his Asian journey. Through constantly probing his own faith Merton was able to uncover the stream where the wisdom of East and West merge and flow together, beyond dogma, in the depths of inner experience... Merton embraced the spiritual philosophies of the East and integrated this wisdom into (his) own life through direct practice. [34] 

Keating: Thomas Keating a Trappist monk of St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado and Catholic monk Basil Pennington co-published a book, Finding Grace at the Center, in which they stated: (All Emphasis Added)

    We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and "capture" it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible (One reason given is "that we might be prepared to enter into intelligent dialogue with Eastern spiritual masters") ... Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM, and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to give inner form and meaning to the resultant experiences. [35].

Keating is also spiritual advisor at the Garrison Institute, housed in a renovated former Capuchin monastery. The purpose of the institute is to "convene and support those who are exploring the wisdom, values and insight gained through contemplative practices... blah! blah!blah!. Unsurprisingly, the grounds  boast a labyrinth and an enthroned Buddha sits on what was once an altar. SEE

Tilden Edwards, is an Episcopal priest and executive director of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, D.C. His book Spiritual Friends is heartily endorsed by Richard Foster. (Emphasis Added)

    "This mystical stream (contemplative prayer) is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality... It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents. Some forms of Eastern meditation informally have been incorporated or adapted into the practice of many Christian monks, and increasingly by other Christians. [36]

William Johnston is an Irish Jesuit "active participant in the Christian/Buddhist dialogue". In his book The Mystical Way: Silent Music and the Wounded Stag, he wrote,

    "The twentieth century, which has seen so many revolutions, is now witnessing the rise of a new mysticism within Christianity. For the new mysticism has learned much from the great religions of Asia. It has felt the impact of yoga and Zen and the monasticism of Tibet. It pays attention to posture and breathing; it knows about the music of the mantra and the silence of samadhi …" … "Now what I say of Zen is true also of Christian mysticism. It also leads to an altered state of consciousness where all is one in God." [37]

You did notice Johnston's "all is one in God", also called....


The Divine "Spark" In Every Soul & Man's Basic 'Core' Of Goodness
While the subject is extremely complicated, in Hinduism

    Brahman (the Absolute) is the concept of the immanent ultimate reality that encompasses or is manifested in the material world. Brahman is the consciousness that pervades the universe - the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe.

    Atman, which in Sanskrit means 'self' or 'soul' is the immortal aspect of our mortal existence and part of the universal Brahman, with which it can commune or even fuse. In other words, God dwells within our own hearts as the divine Self or Atman.  .

Sigh! How much simpler it is to believe in a completely separate Being that thinks, feels, plans, and loves. But I digress.

Margaret Feaster's description of New Age Beliefs sums them up perfectly and is one of the easiest to understand. In her words,

    New Agers borrow many of their beliefs from Hinduism. They believe that we are all connected to an impersonal energy force, which is god, and we are part of this god. This god-energy flows into each one of us; so we too are god... They think because we are god, we can create our own reality, experience our own god-power. This awareness of our god-selves is called god-consciousness, super-consciousness, Christ-consciousness, pure-consciousness, unity consciousness, or self-realization. To reach this awareness, New Agers use mantras or yoga to go into altered levels of consciousness to discover their own divinity. They look inside to find their True Self or Higher Self — to find wisdom and knowledge since the True Self or Higher Self is god. [38]  

See An Overview of The New Age

Tragically the teachers of contemplative prayer do not only use the methods of other religions (See next chapter) but have wholeheartedly embraced the Hindu/New Age belief that God already dwells in each of us - even those who have not yet turned their lives over to Christ. According to them, the purpose of contemplative prayer is to find one's self, thereby finding God. This self they are seeking is a divine center at the core of each human being. (All Emphasis Added in the following seven quotes)

    Meister Eckhart, a German theologian, philosopher and mystic who was born in the 13th century, was perhaps the first one to speak of the divine "spark" in every soul, a spark "that is indistinguishable from God Himself." Matthew Fox, a Catholic priest who was expelled from the Dominican order, was the first to translate Meister Eckhart into English along with a commentary on his work. Of Meister Eckhart's soul spark he wrote,

    "Here the presumption is that God is already within the soul, which equates with the Hindu conception of Brahman the universal deity and Atman, the eternal deity within each individual soul."

    Henri Nouwen: Still, when we remain faithful to our discipline [Contemplative/Centering Prayer], even if it is only ten minutes a day, we gradually come to see — by the candlelight of our prayers — that there is a space within us where God dwells and where we are invited to dwell with God... One of the discoveries we make in [meditative] prayer is that the closer we come to God, the closer we come to all our brothers and sisters in the human family. God is not a private God. The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being. [39]

    Thomas Kelly: Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center. [40].

    Richard Foster: Recent converts - for that matter people who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ - can and should practice them (spiritual disciplines). [41]

    Brennan Manning: If I find Christ, I will find my true self and if I find my true self, I will find Christ. [42]

    The task of contemplative prayer is to help me achieve the conscious awareness of the unconditionally loving God dwelling within me. "What this means, in very practical terms, is that I don't have to worry about 'getting anywhere' in prayer, because I am already there. I simply have to become aware of this. [43]

    Thomas Merton: "During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton, "How can we best help people to attain union with God?" His answer was very clear: We must tell them that they are already united with God. "Contemplative prayer is nothing that 'coming into consciousness' of what is already there." [44]

If every man has a divine center then it stands to reason that, at the very center of their being, all men are good. However, the Bible says the "natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." (1 Corinthians 2:14 NASB). Ephesians says we were dead in our trespasses and sins, but made alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 5).

In the 20th Anniversary Edition of his book Open Mind, Open Heart, Thomas Keating says (note the capitalization of the word Self in the original writing)

    1. The fundamental goodness of human nature, like the mystery of the Trinity, Grace, and the Incarnation, is an essential element of Christian faith. This basic core of goodness is capable of unlimited development; indeed, of becoming transformed into Christ and deified.

    2. Our basic core of goodness is our true Self. Its center of gravity is God. The acceptance of our basic goodness is a quantum leap in the spiritual journey.

    3. God and our true Self are not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing. [45]

That this flies in the face of the Biblical teaching that all men are sinful, apparently matters not a whit to him. I guess he must never have read any of the verses that talk about the evil in the heart of man

    The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. (Genesis 8:21 NASB)

    "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NASB)

    "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Matthew 15:18-19 NASB)

    "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.  (Luke 6:45 NASB)

Nor had he apparently read Ephesians 2 in which Paul unequivocally states that we were sons of disobedience dead in trespasses and sins until Christ made us alive.

    (1) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  (2) in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  (3) Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  (4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  (5) even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ephesians 2:1-5 NASB

If one has a "Divine spark" one cannot be dead nor a child of wrath. It really is that simple.

Come to think of it, I have to wonder if any of them ever read their Bibles at all. If they did they certainly didn't take it seriously. As the late Walter Martin once wrote

    Because of the influx and influence of eastern religions and philosophy, everybody now is looking within themselves - to not only understand and to comprehend their own nature, but also to discover the 'god within'.

    However, the deeper you go into your own nature, the more you find out that God's Word is true -  the heart [of man] is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). You can sit cross-legged on the floor and have all the late night pseudo-intellectual conversations that you want to. You can study all the philosophy you want - and contemplate stones - and contemplate pools of water or spiders spinning webs. Hey, you can contemplate an old sack of potatoes if you want to; whatever it is you want to concentrate on.

    But the truth is you are never really going to understand what's wrong with you, and why you keep doing things that hurt others and that hurt yourself, until you recognize that man fell from his state of fellowship with God in the garden of Eden. And that this fall is not remedied by looking inside yourself, that fall is remedied by outside yourself to God - who in Jesus Christ on the Cross reconciled the world to Himself. [46]

And, if all of the above wasn't enough... Why exactly are we so wholeheartedly embracing ...


Spiritual Teachings from Catholics?
Although many hail men like Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating as great spiritual leaders and devout Christians, this is a million miles from the truth.

They were not devout Christians - they were Catholics, part of an organization that officially rejects the very heart of our faith - the doctrine that we are saved solely by the grace of God through faith in Christ. For example, the 7th Session, Canon 4 of the Council of Trent says (Note: there has been no substantial change in Catholic dogma since this council)

    If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [canons and decrees of the Church] are not necessary for salvation but...without them...men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification...let him be anathema.

Not only do they not have the Gospel straight (which fact alone disqualifies them from being legitimate spiritual leaders), but these men could not see through Rome's foundational heresies such as the papacy, the Mass, and the veneration of Mary. In Catholicism, good works, the sacraments, rosaries, novenas, stations of the cross, prayers to the saints, blessed medals and scapulars, indulgences, etc., etc. etc. are all supposed to help one be saved or, at least, avoid an extended time in purgatory (a concept the Bible knows nothing of).

Besides which, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 841, that Muslims together with the Catholics, "adore the one, merciful God." [The Section on Catholicism covers all these topics]

How then can we possibly trust them to point us in the direction of God?

Virtually all Catholics are immersed in all things Catholic and, more often than not, place a greater emphasis on church tradition than they do Scripture. Since contemplative prayer is an ancient tradition in Catholicism, the mystics saw nothing wrong with it, completely ignoring the fact that no such thing is taught in Scripture. When they discovered that various religions such as Zen Buddhism and Hindu yoga had similar traditions and experiences they had few, if any, qualms about integrating their practices with Christianity.

Richard Foster even says Spiritual disciplines are not hard and one need not be "well advanced in matters of theology" to practice them.

    Recent converts - for that matter people who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ can and should practice them. The primary requirement is a longing after God. [47]

Yet Scripture tells us that the prayers of unbelievers are not heard by God.

    "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.  (John 9:31 NASB)

    The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight. (Proverbs 15:8 NASB)

What does the Lord say about the practitioners of other religions? They are certainly not saved and will eventually be destroyed along with their idols [See, for example, Ezekiel 6:4-6). Instead of warning them of the danger thy were in, the mystics fraternized with them, borrowed from their pagan practices, and even claimed to obtain 'enlightenment' though their mystical traditions.

Yet we, who pay lip service to the belief that Scripture is the final arbitrator of all thing spiritual, trust these men to teach us how to pray and bring us closer to God.

We must be even more blind and deceived, and just as stupid than they were.


Our
Lord Foretold The Appearance Of These Impostors Down To The Last Detail
Furthermore, while it is not particularly surprising that our Lord foretold the appearance of these impostors down to the last detail - it is beyond belief (and foolishness) that we have blatantly disregarded Jesus' warnings, even though He was so very specific about the two places where the Christ would not be found -  "the desert" And "the secret or inner chambers."

    "So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. (Matthew 24:26 NASB)

So where does that leave the Desert Fathers who believed and taught that one can come close to God by various disciplines like solitude and silence in the wilderness. And where does that leave those who claim that we can go inward, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God.

I'll tell you where it leaves them - As vastly deluded people who have placed themselves well outside of our Father's saving grace.


One More Question
But there is yet one more question to be answered. Since there is little doubt that something does transpire during these mystical practices - the million dollar question is how to explain this phenomena.

As I am sure you have noticed, the phrase "altered state of consciousness' has been used many times on this page - something that is apparently accessible to anyone who is inclined to get there.. But what exactly is this state and can it account for the experiences described by meditators regardless of how they interpret it.


003white  Continue On To Chapter III - Alpha - An Altered State of Consciousness.
Alpha, the "resting state" of the brain is often achieved very naturally. However, often associated with the transportation to a "higher realm of consciousness" or mystical experience. Alpha, purposely induced by meditation, chanting, rhythmic breathing, rhythmic dancing, and mantras, etc. is the goal of both Christian and pagan spiritual practitioners and is harnessed by shamans and witches alike.
 

Bible1-Bar

 

Footnote I - The Desert Fathers
The Desert Fathers were Christian Hermits, Ascetics and Monks who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt, beginning in around the third century. They were often Christians fleeing the chaos and persecution of the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century. Christians were often made the scapegoat during these times of unrest, and near the end of the century, this persecution was made systematic by the emperor Diocletian. In Egypt, Christian refugee communities formed at the edges of population centers, far enough away to be safe from Imperial scrutiny, but still close enough to have access to civilization. Records from this time indicate that Christians often lived in tombs and trash heaps on the edges of major cities, more or less protected by their obscurity.

"They dwelt in small isolated communities for the purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction. The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks.

In 313, when Christianity was made legal in Egypt by Diocletian's successor Constantine I, a trickle of individuals, many of them young men, continued to live in these marginal areas. The solitude of these places attracted them; the privations of the desert were a means of learning stoic self-discipline. These young men saw in Jesus' fasting on the mountain and in his cousin John the Baptist (himself a desert hermit) two models for such self-discipline. These individuals believed that desert life would teach them to eschew the things of this world and allow them to follow God's call in a more deliberate and individual way.

Thus, during the fourth century, the empty areas around Egyptian cities continued to attract Christians from the world over, wishing to live in solitude. As the lifestyle developed, these men and women developed a reputation for holiness and wisdom. In its early form, each hermit followed more or less an individual spiritual program, perhaps learning some basic practices from other monks, but developing them into their own unique (and sometimes highly idiosyncratic) practice. Later monks, notably Anthony the Great, Pachomius and Shenouda the Archimandrite, developed a more regularized approach to desert life, and introduced some aspects of community living (especially common prayer and meals) that would eventually develop into Christian monasticism.

Many individuals who spent part of their lives in the Egyptian desert went on to become important figures in the Church and society of the fourth and fifth century, among them Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, John Cassian (ca. 360 – 435), and Augustine of Hippo. Through the work of the last two, the spirituality of the desert fathers, emphasizing an ascent to God through periods of purgation and illumination that led to unity with the Divine, deeply affected the spirituality of the Western Church and the Eastern Church. [PLACE IN TEXT]


Footnote - II John Cassian's Tenth Conference
CHAPTER X. Of the method of continual prayer. WHEREFORE in accordance with that system, which you admirably compared to teaching children (who can only take in the first lessons on the alphabet and recognize the shapes of the letters, and trace out their characters with a steady hand if they have, by means of some copies and shapes carefully impressed on wax, got accustomed to express their figures, by constantly looking at them and imitating them daily), we must give you also the form of this spiritual contemplation, on which you may always fix your gaze with the utmost steadiness, and both learn to consider it to your profit in unbroken continuance, and also manage by the practice of it and by meditation to climb to a still loftier insight.

This formula then shall be proposed to you of this system, which you want, and of prayer, which every monk in his progress towards continual recollection of God, is accustomed to ponder, ceaselessly revolving it in his heart, having got rid of all kinds of other thoughts; for he cannot possibly keep his hold over it unless he has freed himself from all bodily cares and anxieties. And as this was delivered to us by a few of those who were left of the oldest fathers, so it is only divulged by us to a very few and to those who are really keen.

And so for keeping up continual recollection of God this pious formula is to be ever set before you. "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me,"[1] for this verse has not unreasonably been picked out from the whole of Scripture for this purpose. For it embraces all the feelings which can be implanted in human nature, and can be fitly and satisfactorily adapted to every condition, and all assaults. Since it contains an invocation of God against every danger, it contains humble and pious confession, it contains the watchfulness of anxiety and continual fear, it contains the thought of one's own weakness, confidence in the answer, and the assurance of a present and ever ready help. For one who is constantly calling on his protector, is certain that He is always at hand. It contains the glow of love and charity, it contains a view of the plots, and a dread of the enemies, from which one, who sees himself day and night hemmed in by them, confesses that he cannot be set free without the aid of his defender.

This verse is an impregnable wall for all who are labouring under the attacks of demons, as well as impenetrable coat of mail and a strong shield. It does not suffer those who are in a state of moroseness and anxiety of mind, or depressed by sadness or all kinds of thoughts to despair of saving remedies, as it shows that He, who is invoked, is ever looking on at our struggles and is not far from His suppliants. It warns us whose lot is spiritual success and delight of heart that we ought not to be at all elated or puffed up by our happy condition, which it assures us cannot last without God as our protector, while it implores Him not only always but even speedily to help us.

This verse, I say, will be found helpful and useful to every one of us in whatever condition we may be. For one who always and in all matters wants to be helped, shows that he needs the assistance of God not only in sorrowful or hard matters but also equally in prosperous and happy ones, that he may be delivered from the one and also made to continue in the other, as he knows that in both of them human weakness is unable to endure without His assistance.

    I am affected by the passion of gluttony. I ask for food of which the desert knows nothing, and in the squalid desert there are wafted to me odours of royal dainties and I find that even against my will I am drawn to long for them. I must at once say: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    I am incited to anticipate the hour fixed for supper, or I am trying with great sorrow of heart to keep to the limits of the right and regular meagre fare. I must cry out with groans: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    Weakness of the stomach hinders me when wanting severer fasts, on account of the assaults of the flesh, or dryness of the belly and constipation frightens me. In order that effect may be given to my wishes, or else that the fire of carnal lust may be quenched without the remedy of a stricter fast, I must pray: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    When I come to supper, at the bidding of the proper hour I loathe taking food and am prevented from eating anything to satisfy the requirements of nature: I must cry with a sigh: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    When I want for the sake of steadfastness of heart to apply myself to reading a headache interferes and stops me, and at the third hour sleep glues my head to the sacred page, and I am forced either to overstep or to anticipate the time assigned to rest; and finally an overpowering desire to sleep forces me to cut short the canonical rule for service in the Psalms: in the same way I must cry out: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    Sleep is withdrawn from my eyes, and for many nights I find myself wearied out with sleeplessness caused by the devil, and all repose and rest by night is kept away from my eyelids; I must sigh and pray: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    While I am still in the midst of a struggle with sin suddenly an irritation of the flesh affects me and tries by a pleasant sensation to draw me to consent while in my sleep. In order that a raging fire from without may not burn up the fragrant blossoms of chastity, I must cry out: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me." I feel that the incentive to lust is removed, and that the heat of passion has died away in my members: In order that this good condition acquired, or rather that this grace of God may continue still longer or forever with me, I must earnestly say: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    I am disturbed by the pangs of anger, covetousness, gloominess, and driven to disturb the peaceful state in which I was, and which was dear to me: In order that I may not be carried away by raging passion into the bitterness of gall, I must cry out with deep groans: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    I am tried by being puffed up by accidie, vainglory, and pride, and my mind with subtle thoughts flatters itself somewhat on account of the coldness and carelessness of others: In order that this dangerous suggestion of the enemy may not get the mastery over me, I must pray with all contrition of heart: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    I have gained the grace of humility and simplicity, and by continually mortifying my spirit have got rid of the swellings of pride: In order that the "foot of pride" may not again "come against me," and "the hand of the sinner disturb me,"[2] and that I may not be more seriously damaged by elation at my success, I must cry with all my might, "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    I am on fire with innumerable and various wanderings of soul and shiftiness of heart, and cannot collect my scattered thoughts, nor can I even pour forth my prayer without interruption and images of vain figures, and the recollection of conversations and actions, and I feel myself tied down by such dryness and barrenness that I feel I cannot give birth to any offspring in the shape of spiritual ideas: In order that it may be vouchsafed to me to be set free from this wretched state of mind, from which I cannot extricate myself by any number of sighs and groans, I must full surely cry out: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    Again, I feel that by the visitation of the Holy Spirit I have gained purpose of soul, steadfastness of thought, keenness of heart, together with an ineffable joy and transport of mind, and in the exuberance of spiritual feelings I have perceived by a sudden illumination from the Lord an abounding revelation of most holy ideas which were formerly altogether hidden from me: In order that it may be vouchsafed to me to linger for a longer time in them I must often and anxiously exclaim: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

    Encompassed by nightly horrors of devils I am agitated, and am disturbed by the appearances of unclean spirits, my very hope of life and salvation is withdrawn by the horror of fear. Flying to the safe refuge of this verse, I will cry out with all my might: "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

     Again, when I have been restored by the Lord's consolation, and, cheered by His coming, feel myself encompassed as if by countless thousands of angels, so that all of a sudden I can venture to seek the conflict and provoke a battle with those whom a while ago I dreaded worse than death, and whose touch or even approach I felt with a shudder both of mind and body: In order that the vigour of this courage may, by God's grace, continue in me still longer, I must cry out with all my powers "O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me."

We must then ceaselessly and continuously pour forth the prayer of this verse, in adversity that we may be delivered, in prosperity that we may be preserved and not puffed up. Let the thought of this verse, I tell you, be conned over in your breast without ceasing. Whatever work you are doing, or office you are holding, or journey you are going, do not cease to chant this. When you are going to bed, or eating, and in the last necessities of nature, think on this. This thought in your heart may be to you a saving formula, and not only keep you unharmed by all attacks of devils, but also purify you from all faults and earthly stains, and lead you to that invisible and celestial contemplation, and carry you on to that ineffable glow of prayer, of which so few have any experience.

Let sleep come upon you still considering this verse, till having been moulded by the constant use of it, you grow accustomed to repeat it even in your sleep. When you wake let it be the first thing to come into your mind, let it anticipate all your waking thoughts, let it when you rise from your bed send you down on your knees, and thence send you forth to all your work and business, and let it follow you about all day long. This you should think about, according to the Lawgiver's charge, "at home and walking forth on a journey,"[3] sleeping and waking. This you should write on the threshold and door of your mouth, this you should place on the walls of your house and in the recesses of your heart so that when you fall on your knees in prayer this may be your chant as you kneel, and when you rise up from it to go forth to all the necessary business of life it may be your constant prayer as you stand. [PLACE IN TEXT]

 

End Notes. Chapter Two

[01] http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/m/mysticism.html (Emphasis Added)

[02] Kenneth L. Woodward. Talking To God. http://www.newsweek.com/talking-god-197774 (Emphasis Added)

[03] Daniel Goleman. The Meditative Mind. Publisher: TarcherPerigee; Subsequent edition (January 3, 1996)

[04] As Above So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life by Ronald S. Miller and the Editors of New Age Journal; 1992; pages 52 & 53. As quoted in Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church by Ray Yungen.
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/contemplativeprayerarticlebyray.pdf.

[05] Alan Spence. Hindu meditation. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/ritesrituals/meditation_1.shtml

[06] Richard Foster. Celebration of Discipline, Page 25. As quoted in  Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs By John Ankerberg, John Weldon Pg. 383. And in Running Against the Wind by Brian Flynn. Lighthouse Trails Publishing; 2 edition (August 31, 2005) Pg. 214.

[07] Lorin Roche, PhD & meditation teacher. Meditation Has Enormous Mental And Physical Benefits
http://www.purifymind.com/MeditationBenefits.htm

[08] About Lorin Roche. http://www.lorinroche.com/books/biography.html

[09] Theresa and Mark Shaltanis, Quiet Time with God, (International Lutheran Women's Missionary League, 1977), p. 35. As quoted in What Is Centering?  by Don Matzat. http://www.issuesetcarchive.org/issues_site/resource/journals/centerng.htm

[10] Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer. Opening to Channel: How to Connect with Your Guide. Publisher: HJ Kramer; 1 edition (January 7, 1993). Pg. 68

[11] Centering Prayer. http://www.contemplative.org/contemplative-practice/centering-prayer/

[12] Henri Nouwen. The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence. Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (December 2, 2003). Pg. 81b

[13] Morton Kelsey The Other Side of Silence, a Guide to Christian Meditation. Page 145. Publisher: Paulist Press; 2nd Revised edition (May 1997

[14] Brennan Manning. The Ragamuffin Gospel. Publisher: Multnomah (June 28, 2005) Pg. 204-205

[15] Brennan Manning. Signature of Jesus. Publisher: Multnomah; 4 edition (July 6, 2004). Page 204

[16] About Gary Thomas. http://www.garythomas.com/about/

[17] Gary Thomas Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God. Pg 185.. Publisher: Zondervan; Reprint edition (February 1, 2000)

[18] Tony Campolo Letters to a Young Evangelical, Page 26. Publisher: Basic Books (April 1, 2008)

[19] Thomas Keating. Open Mind Open Heart -20th Anniversary Edition. Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 20th Edition edition (November 1, 2006) Pg 41.

[20] How is Centering Prayer different from meditation, especially Eastern meditation practices?.
http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/faq-item/how-centering-prayer-different-meditation-especially-eastern-meditation-practice

[21] Trinity United Methodist church. Memphis, TN. Contemplative Prayer & Lectio Divina. 
http://www.trinityumcmemphis.org/centering-prayer.html

[22] Tris Thorp. What Is a Mantra? http://www.chopra.com/articles/what-is-a-mantra

[23] Effect of rosary prayer and yoga mantras on autonomic cardiovascular rhythms: comparative study.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC61046/  OR  http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/m/mantra.html

[24] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gird

[25] Thomas Merton. Contemplative Prayer. Publisher: Image; Reissue edition (February 5, 1971) Page 11

[26] Richard Foster. Celebration of Discipline. Publisher: Hovel Audio; Unabridged edition (February 28, 2007). Pgs 22-23

[27] http://www.themystica.org/mystica/articles/a/altered_states_of_consciousness.html

[28] Brennan Manning. Signature of Jesus. Publisher: Multnomah; 4 edition (July 6, 2004). Page 203

[29] Saint John Cassian. Written By: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-John-Cassian

[30] Brother Max Sculley DLS. Christian Meditation: Pseudo-Contemplation.
http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/book-promotions/yoga-tai-chi&reiki/cmpseudo.htm

[31] The School of Meditation. The World Community for Christian Meditation. Letter 3: How did John Main learn about meditation? http://www.theschoolofmeditation.org/content/letter-3-how-did-john-main-learn-about-meditation-0

[32] WCCM - The World Community for Christian Meditation. John Cassian. http://wccm.org/content/john-cassian

[33] Henri Nouwen. Foreword to Disciplines for Christian Living: Interfaith Perspectives by Thomas Ryan. Publisher: Paulist Pr (March 1993)

[34] https://goo.gl/6V8FYd

[35] M. Basil Pennington,  Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke. Finding Grace at the Center Publisher: SkyLight Paths; 3 edition (March 1, 2007).. Pg. 31

[36] Tilden Edwards. Spiritual Friends. Pages 18-19. Publisher: Paulist Press; 1St Edition edition (January 1, 1979)

[37] Fordham University Press; 1 edition (January 1, 1998) Foreword and Pg.146 of The Mystical Way

[38] Margaret A. Feaster. A Closer Look at Centering Prayer. Catholic Culture.
https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6337

[39] Henri Nouwen. Here and Now:  Living in the Spirit. Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; 10th Anniversary ed. edition (August 1, 2006) Pgs. 23- 24.

[40] Richard Foster quotes Thomas Kelly in Streams of Living Water Publisher: HarperOne; 1 Reprint edition (November 27, 2001) (beginning of chapter two]

[41] Richard Foster. Celebration of Discipline. Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; 3rd edition (October 1, 1998) Pg. 2.

[42] Brennan Manning. Abba's Child, Publisher: NavPress; Enlarged ed. edition (June 1, 2015) Pg. 105.

[43] Brennan Manning. The Signature of Jesus. Publisher Multnomah; 4 edition (July 6, 2004). Pg. 197.

[44] ibid.

[45] Thomas Keating. Open Mind Open Heart -20th Anniversary Edition. Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 20th Edition edition (November 1, 2006). Chapter 12. Guidelines for Christian Life, Growth and Transformation.

[46] Zen Buddhism, available from Walter Martin Religious InfoNet)
http://apprising.org/2008/06/11/the-inner-journey-to-apostasy-with-henri-nouwen/

[47] Richard Foster. Celebration of Discipline. publisher: Hovel Audio; Unabridged edition (February 28, 2007) Pg. 2.

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