“Meditation” is a hot word in Christian circles today, because of its association with secular or Eastern meditation. Many Christians simply throw out the word totally, not understanding that there are two kinds – biblical, and secular/Eastern. We are encouraged to engage in Biblical Meditation, but warned about the secular/Eastern.
Why? What’s the bottom-line difference? That’s what I will explore in this article.
For a fuller discussion of what Biblical Meditation is, and a background to this article, including a working definition, click here to an earlier blog.
Some Similar Practices
Both biblical and secular meditation practices can look similar, and contain similar actions. For instance, choosing a peaceful environment, knowing your time limit, choosing the same time every day, following a healthy lifestyle, etc., are items listed as helpful for secular meditation1 – and, Christians would agree, also helpful for one’s daily time with God.
While there are secular meditation practices that a Christian simply will not do, some of them are things we do in everyday life. One practice is to focus on one’s breathing.2 As a singer, I had to do that for a long time so I could change the way I breathed (from shallow to diaphragmatic). Visualizing is another.3 If you give me directions, I have to use visualization to “see” your directions in my mind before I can follow them. Other techniques include focusing on one’s body to relax it, practicing being calm all day, etc. These don’t seem so bad, do they?
So where does the difference lie?
I’m so glad you asked! Because even in the practices I mentioned above, there is a danger so subtle that many miss it. This danger can take you down the slippery road that leads far, far away from God. It can ultimately lead you to a place from which you cannot return.
Don’t be confused, however. The danger is not in the actions of living a healthy lifestyle or focusing on your breathing, or visualizing something. Don’t get hung up on these actions or you will go off on the other side of the ditch.
The danger lies in why you’re performing the action. The danger is in what it does to your mind. The danger is that the intention of secular/Eastern meditation is radically different than the intention of Biblical Meditation and can pull you far away from God.
Purpose of Secular/Eastern Meditation
“Listen” to these quotes:
- “By training in meditation, we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind regardless of the external circumstances.”4
- “The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful.”5
- “If we train in meditation systematically, eventually we will be able to eradicate from our mind the delusions that are the causes of all our problems and suffering … (and) come to experience a permanent inner peace . . .”6
- “We are able to have glimpses of our awareness (pure mind) which is the essence of our inner self … when we truly see our inner realities, we can merge with them and take refuge in our scared space.”7
- “The TM technique allows your mind to easily settle inward, through quieter levels of thought, until you experience the most silent and peaceful level of your own awareness — pure consciousness.”8
- “The purpose of meditation is to calm the mind, achieve inner peace and, eventually, reach a higher spiritual dimension, often referred to simply as being.”9
We all want to be peaceful and calm. God created us to be at peace, so this is not a wrong desire. He tells us to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5), so controlling our minds is a good thing. But can you see the danger here?
The intention of secular meditation is to focus on self for the purpose of working one’s way to peace without God through coming into a deep meditative state where thoughts are hushed.
As a Christian we all want a “higher spiritual dimension,” but which spirit? Genesis 3:4,5 says:
“But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’”
This passage tells how the wrong spirit (the serpent, or Satan) tries to convince Eve that she will be like God – that she will come into a higher spiritual dimension. Her action of eating the fruit was a result of her listening to the serpent, and seeking a higher spiritual dimension by obtaining it the serpent’s way — apart from God.
To come to the place where the mind is completely stilled and rational thoughts are no longer reminds me of Luke 11:24-26, where an evil spirit finds an empty “house” (mind) and invites his friends to come and fill it. “And the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
I submit to you that whatever offers a higher spiritual dimension apart from God is dangerous and not something a Christian should not engage in.
Back to Biblical Meditation
The above is radically different from Biblical Meditation, which never bypasses one’s thoughts, and which places the focus on the true Creator God, His Word, His actions, His creation, etc.
The entire purpose of Biblical Meditation is to draw us closer to God. Peace results from that nearness because God IS our peace.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace . . .” Ephesians 2:13-14.
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” Romans 8:6. (Paul’s “spiritually minded” is talking about having the mind be on God – Jesus.)
“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” Isaiah 26:3.
I could add more Bible verses. And all of them would show that the only true source of peace is God. Any peace without Him is not true peace, nor will it last.
To sum up, while there are some secular meditation practices that a Christian will not do (not discussed here), the bottom line difference between biblical and secular meditation . . . is God!
One focuses on self and working one’s way to salvation – to geting one’s needs and desires fulfilled. The other focuses on God and receives salvation from Him, allowing Him to meet their needs and bring His peace.
Being able to receive our needs from God means coming close enough to Him to trust Him fully. Take the next step in your relationship with God by going on retreat. Find out why this would be beneficial in this document you will receive in your email:
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An Afternoon With The King!
http://www.wikihow.com/Meditate Part 3, #6 ↩