Meditation for Thursday 13th April 2023
“In the 20th century Asian meditation swept into the Western world captivating the minds and hearts of millions of people. For meditation is built into the very culture of Asia. Whether one practices yoga in India, or t’ai-chi in China, or Zen in Japan, whether one practices the way of tea, the way of the bow, or the way of flower arrangement, one begins with, or ends with, a meditation that draws one into deep areas of life that are ordinarily unconscious. In this way one comes to the state of “one-pointedness” and acquires the grace of the meditative state.” (William Johnston ‘Mysticism for a New Era’. Orbis N.Y. 2000.)
I could add to this list the state of mindfulness as taught in Vietnam and universally promoted by the Vietnamese teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m sure you can think of others, as well.
In these meditation practices the common element is that there is no discursive thinking. One lets go of this facility in order to enter into a world of silence where with joy we discover our true selves.
In the West from the time of the Greeks the importance has been on thinking and hence much of Western meditation was enacted at the level of analytical thought. It’s true that the art of no-thinking was not totally absent. Think of John Cassian, (3rd century) and those 16th century Carmelites, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, but many others as well.
But up until relatively recent times religious meditation was an activity of the rational mind.
There is nothing wrong with analytical meditation which very often draws on the imagination as a tool in helping the meditator to understand, to resolve, to move forward or in the case of those who have a religious motivation to strengthen a relationship with God.
In our Thursday night practice we follow the tradition of no discursive thinking although I know of some meditators who begin and end their practice with prayer or with some form of analytical thinking.
We must each find our own path.
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