Father Thomas Keating used Zen & TM to develop Catholic Centering Prayer
Is there an apparent or real active “common denominator ” between eastern religion and Christianity in their mutual belief in a personal soul/spirit that has given rise to the emerging church which is moving fast towards forging religious
For the purpose of discussion, let's invent “pide” as an acronym for the purpose of this blog and subsequently identify the detail construct of “pide” in its role as the potential catalytic spiritual
“common denominator” in unifying all religion.
The east believes in the existence of a “personal-immortal-divine –entity” ( pide ) from
birth which is also what the majority of Christians commonly believe, in broad terms. The exact “theology” around their respective pides show similarities and also differences, but there are sufficient commonly understood
similarities on which the contemplatives from both east and west have built a massive bridge to further their unity. One such similarity is “immortality”…..that pides can be burned forever and cannot die. Pides are entities with
“physical form” which although vague, are capable of feelings ( pain, torment, thirst, fear etc ). Pides are individuals ie personal…. there is Joe’s pide as distinct from Wong’s pide. The Hindu greeting “ Namaste means
“ I see the divinity in you” which is reciprocated with “I also see the divinity in you”. Eastern pides are clearly divine whilst the “immortality” of Christian pides imply a form of divinity.
2] Initially eastern
meditator’s practices were to journey from the personal to the impersonal, to lose self and become one with the energy/essence that pervades all of nature. Even their personal peak-experience was previously described in impersonal
terms like “ cosmic consciousness” and “universal oneness”. Much as they believed in pide ( personal ), the meditative journey was towards the impersonal which is regarded as purer and self-less. Hence non-dual
is their ultimate state when 2 or more persons can become as one in a “ not-you-not -I “ non-dual state of consciousness. However, the application of non-dual went far beyond human relationships but was ultimately applied to free them
from the duality of good/evil ( karma ) and life/death ( suffering ), thus liberating them into the realm of not-good-not-evil ( no karma) and not-life-not-death ( no reincarnation ). In its early stages, eastern meditation deemphasized the
elements in pide of “personal” ( d) and “ entity”( e) and promoted imagery of liberation as selfless impersonal and cosmic . In the last 30 years, instead of emphasizing oneness with the cosmos, they began
emphasizing a state of “being“ which is equated with personal “ divinity”. Modern Zen as taught by Tich Naht Han, personified man's state of being as gods. So does TM and New Age.
3] Much as the western Christian
contemplative tradition believed in their form of pide, which was initially different from the eastern pide. The “divine” aspect of the Christian pide did not feature centrally, it was sublimely implied. They knew that Biblically that from birth
that there is nothing good in man, and that the Divinity from without would work within only after they share in the death and resurrection of Christ. That their
pide cannot die even in supernatural everlasting fire clearly characterized only its commonly accepted immortality and not its implied divinity. That their pide may enter upon death immediately into the inner realms of heaven without further transformation implied
the quality of divinity. Christianity emphasized the “pie” whilst daring to only casually imply the “d” ( divine ). This protected Christianity for a while from eastern contemplatives until Father Thomas Merton and Keating moved
“divinity” to the “center” of pide .
contemplative prayer :
“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin
and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives,
which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will ….Because when you die, that is all that is left. When we die, everything is destroyed except this one thing, which is our reality that
God preserves forever. He will not permit its final destruction. And the thing is, that we know this. This is built into that particular little grain of gold, this spark of the soul, or whatever it is. It knows this. And the
freedom that matters is the capacity to be in contact with that center. For it is from that center that everything else comes.….contemplative prayer is nothing other than ‘coming into consciousness’ of what is already
Keating on Centering Prayer :
“…. the spiritual journey is… the realization, not just the information, but the real interior conviction that…there is a higher power
or God. Or to make it as easy as possible for everybody, there is an Other…. Capital O. Second step…. To try to become the Other….still a capital
O ….And Finally the realization that there is no Other. You and the Other are One, always have been, always will be.You just think that you aren’t….”
Father Richard Rohr said that Jesus was fully divine and fully human
( and this is true ), that He is our example of how we need to “realize/know” our own divinity through non-dual contemplation. In this short talk, he attributes it to none other than the eastern
understanding of non-duality that can give Christianity the ability to grasp the meaning that Jesus is “fully divine and fully human” which is how man is constituted….. and Richard Rohr said that eastern non-dual is
the only way to discover that living truth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvg2DgjVgbE&list=PLP2XaTWy_kBwb8gWZTqmb0rT7ncq6iy1I
4] The interconnectedness of the “immortality” and “divinity” components between eastern and Christian contemplative have evolved to be almost interchangeable. If the belief of “divinity” was removed entirely, modern
eastern meditation will have to regress back to its k to its pantheistic state of being merely energy, essence and nature. Its bridging capability will be completely destroyed because Christianity would regard such regression as primitive and
5] If Christianity maintained its Biblical position that fallen and unconverted man was divested of the privilege of “immortality” (Genesis 3:24, Rev 22:2 ) and of any “divinity” as
in the form of an implied, Christians will look to Christ as the only Way and the only Door and to our sharing in His death and resurrection as the only way back to immortality and our progressive partaking of His divine nature (2
Peter 1:4) in sanctification . The Biblical position contrasts sharply against eastern contemplation which will then look pagan and Christians will have no desire to cross over that bridge.
The correct understanding of the Biblical perspective of immortality and divinity is paramount to our battle against contemplative spirituality. I attach this link to Oscar Cullman’s excellent article “Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of
the Dead?” . http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/death/immortality-resurrection/cullmann_immort-res.pdf
Cullman’s credentials are here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Cullmann. I believe that he has set out the accurate Biblical position which will cut at the root of contemplative spirituality and the emerging church movement.
- Eastern meditation
has matured from pantheism ( energy) to panentheism, the state of being one with the Personal Divine as divine-god-being (s). Modern Christian contemplatives have wrongly added divinity to immortality as in-born
in man at birth.... hence both the east and Christianity unite on the speculation and claim that God’s presence is a birthright waiting to be discovered in meditation.
- A contemplative bridge is built between eastern and Christian
contemplatives based on pide.
- Biblically … prgressive partaking of Divinity only happens when one is born again. This is accompanied by powerful authentic life experience of sanctification ie partaking of the divine nature. Contemplative
spirituality counterfeits authentic transformation with the neural phenomena/euphoria of contemplative highs and claims 100% divinity in their possession of the god within.
- If the Biblical truth of immortality, soul and spirit is correctly
understood, it will cut at the very root of contemplative spirituality.
Contemplative spirituality is the ultimate danger that will sweep away the very foundation of Christianity and unite all religion into one.
This is evident in Pope Francis’ speech to US Congress in Sept 2015 when he held up Father Thomas Merton's "contemplative style" which foundation is based upon the in-born possession of divinity. Click here to read blog article. Achive A #01