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« on: September 22, 2011, 03:57:04 PM »

I have often encountered articles which talks about meditation in the orthodox church, but they never seem to explain what exactly orthodox meditation is. They always mention the Jesus prayer and hesychasm but thats about it. Can any of you help? What is orthodox meditation?

Thanks.  Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2011, 04:45:56 PM »

Yes, it is probably in reference to the Jesus Prayer, combined with breathing techniques to help the person focus more deeply on the prayer. You're right, it's part of hesychasm and deepening the prayer of the heart.

If you want to learn more about this, look for the book "On the Prayer of Jesus" by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov. It's kind of the standard introductory book to the Jesus Prayer.

(Caveat for those who are not aware: This technique is basically only used by very advanced monks. It is universally recommended that people not attempt this without spiritual direction from an experienced practitioner. If you want to reach that point eventually, start with prayer of the lips and prayer of the mind. That by itself takes many years of consistent practice for even monks to master.)
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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2011, 08:46:13 AM »

I just wanted to mention that in the Orthodox Church the word "meditation" is never used to refer to saying the Jesus Prayer, though you may find non-Orthodox with a superficial understanding of the tradition of the Jesus Prayer likening it to Hindu mantra meditation or something.  Today there are Benedictine and Cistercian Roman Catholic monks who teach forms of meditation, usually called “Centering Prayer” or “Christian Meditation”, which are inspired by and taken directly from Hindu mantra meditation, and while they wrongly claim that the Orthodox tradition of the Jesus Prayer is similar, in actual fact they are spiritually opposites.  I say this as one who learned to "meditate" from a Benedictine Roman Catholic monk before becoming Orthodox.  I was very involved with this practice for several years, starting groups, leading retreats, etc., until I came to realize it was non-Christian in spiritual orientation, and incompatible with the ancient Christian tradition of prayer.

St. Ignatius' book on the Jesus Prayer recommended by Bogdan is a very good one.  Just to be clear, any Orthodox Christian can and should say the Jesus Prayer, whether monk or layperson.  It is simply the physical techniques which some saints have recommended when saying the Jesus Prayer (control of breathing in particular) which should not be undertaken without careful instruction from a skilled spiritual father.  In his book, St. Ignatius covers the subject of the physical accompaniments of prayer very well. 

The word “meditate” in the Orthodox Church is used in the sense of “I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways (Psalm 119/118:5).”  That is, to reflect, ponder, etc. 
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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2011, 08:56:40 AM »

There are certain "meditations" which do have long tradition in Orthodoxy, such as the contemplation of death, of creation, etc. St. Nikodemus outlines some of these in his Handbook of Spiritual Counsel.
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2011, 09:03:16 AM »

I just wanted to mention that in the Orthodox Church the word "meditation" is never used to refer to saying the Jesus Prayer, though you may find non-Orthodox with a superficial understanding of the tradition of the Jesus Prayer likening it to Hindu mantra meditation or something.  Today there are Benedictine and Cistercian Roman Catholic monks who teach forms of meditation, usually called “Centering Prayer” or “Christian Meditation”, which are inspired by and taken directly from Hindu mantra meditation, and while they wrongly claim that the Orthodox tradition of the Jesus Prayer is similar, in actual fact they are spiritually opposites.  I say this as one who learned to "meditate" from a Benedictine Roman Catholic monk before becoming Orthodox.  I was very involved with this practice for several years, starting groups, leading retreats, etc., until I came to realize it was non-Christian in spiritual orientation, and incompatible with the ancient Christian tradition of prayer.
What about the claim that Centering Prayer developed as a Christian alternative to Asian meditative practices, and that Centering Prayer is actually based upon the practices mentioned in the medieval book on Christian mysticism entitled The Cloud of Unknowing?
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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2011, 10:05:08 AM »

An article from an RCC priest discussing the problem of centering prayer:

  Centering prayer is often offered to large groups, where there is no way of
knowing the psychological and spiritual problems some people may have. And
this ...

www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0005.html - Cached - Similar

The Danger of Centering Prayer
REV. JOHN D. DREHER
In order to see clearly that New Age practices, like Transcendental Meditation and centering prayer, depart from the Catholic tradition, Father Dreher outlines the differences between Christian spirituality and Eastern spirituality.
 
In the mid-seventies, Trappist Abbot Thomas Keating asked the monks, "'Could we put the Christian tradition into a form that would be accessible to people...who have been instructed in an Eastern technique and might be inspired to return to their Christian roots if they knew there was something similar in the Christian tradition?'"(Intimacy with God, 15). Centering prayer originated in St Joseph's Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts. During the twenty years (1961-1981) when Keating was abbot, St Joseph's held dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu representatives, and a Zen master gave a week-long retreat to the monks. A former Trappist monk who had become a Transcendental Meditation teacher also gave a session to the monks.
Many people assume centering prayer is compatible with Catholic tradition, but in fact the techniques of centering prayer are neither Christian nor prayer. They are at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.

Centering prayer differs from Christian prayer in that the intent of the technique is to bring the practitioner to the center of his own being. There he is, supposedly, to experience the presence of the God who indwells him. Christian prayer, on the contrary, centers upon God in a relational way, as someone apart from oneself. The Christian knows a God who is personal, yet who, as Creator, infinitely transcends his creature. God is wholly other than man. It is also crucial to Christian prayer that God engages man's whole being in response, not just his interior life. In the view of centering prayer, the immanence of God somehow makes the transcendence of God available to human techniques and experience.

Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a "mantra," a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one's will to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion. After reading a published description of centering prayer, a psychology professor said, "Your question is, is this hypnosis? Sure it is." He said the state can be verified physiologically by the drop in blood pressure, respiratory rate, lactic acid level in the blood, and the galvanic conductivity of the skin. Abbot Keating relates that, when they began doing the centering prayer workshops in the guest house, some of the monks and guests "complained that it was spooky seeing people walking around the guest house like 'zombies.'" They recognized the symptoms but could not diagnose the illness.

In order to see clearly that centering prayer departs from Catholic tradition, let us review the differences between Christian spirituality and that of Eastern religions. These differences flow, above all, from their concepts of God, of man, and of their relationship. In light of this contrast, we should be able to see more clearly from which of these centering prayer draws its approach and techniques.

In Catholic teaching, all men are creatures, called out of nothingness to know God. All men are also sinners, cut off from God and destined to death. A Christian is one whose life has been reconstituted in Christ. He is no longer in the place and stance of a sinner, that is, apart from God, acting as if he were the ultimate source, measure, and goal of his own behavior. He is in Christ. Henceforth, his life is supposed to originate in Christ and to be directed to God the Father. I say "supposed to" for it is a possibility that must be acted upon. It is not automatic. The grace of baptism must be incarnated in obedience, and, even after baptism, the Christian can choose to conform to Christ or to his fallen nature, that is, to sin.

Eastern religions, in contrast, lack revelation of God as a personal Creator who radically transcends his creatures. Though possessing many praiseworthy elements, they nonetheless seek God as if he were part of the universe, rather than its Creator. This is because they are monistic, seeing all reality as one. Thus, God is a dimension, though hidden, of the same reality of which man is a part. The goal therefore is to peel away the exterior world to get to the spiritual reality beneath it. God is conceived of as an impersonal state of being. In contrast, for Christians, God is the Real, and the whole of the universe exists by God's free choice; creation is a second, contingent reality – and, in Christian thought, did not need to exist. Moreover, this contingent universe is the result of a God who is vastly more than mere being; he is a loving Father.

These differing conceptions of God issue in different approaches to God. In the East, human means are necessarily relied upon to come to God. The goal is not to seek God as an Other, but to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Where a Christian seeks dialogue and interaction with God and, with his help, the "restoration of all things in Christ," by a certain "participation in the divine nature" (2 Peter 4:4), the East seeks God in the self and seeks escape from the distractions of the outer world. The "experience of God" is essentially achieved by psychological and physiological technique rather than by encounter.

The confusion of technique over encounter arises from a misunderstanding of the indwelling of God. The fact that God indwells us does not mean that we can capture him by techniques. Nor does it mean that we are identical with him in our deepest self. Rather, God indwells us by grace which does not blend human and divine natures. On the contrary, it perfects and empowers our limited human faculties, so that we can relate to him. We can no more manipulate this indwelling of grace by psychological techniques than we can manipulate our existence.

Analogously, children do not come to know the parents who gave them existence by going deep inside themselves or back to the moment of their conception. They come to know their parents by interaction with them. As children use the faculties given them at conception to grow and become like their parents, so we use the faculties given us by the indwelling Spirit to interact with God and to put on Jesus Christ. As children speak to their parents, so we speak to God by the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

This is what the Catholic tradition means by the term "sanctifying grace." Sanctifying grace is the grace of union with God. By it, we are given a share in the very holiness of God. Sanctifying grace is God's communication of himself to man. As such, it cannot be experienced by human faculties. However, Sanctifying Grace gives us the "faculties" to relate to God. By it, we are given a new and additional "divine nature" and are made "sons and daughters" of God. With childlike simplicity, we can say "our Father." By incarnating this grace through acts of obedience to God (what the Church calls "actual graces") we are progressively converted from our sinful nature and "put on Jesus Christ," participating in the life of Jesus Christ as members of his Body. In the religion of Christ, the Incarnate Lord, there is no disengagement from the external, but rather a dedication of one's life and the world to God. The goal is not merely a deep inner peace but a sanctification of body, mind, and heart – indeed, of the whole world.

Centering prayer claims for itself the experience of God, while setting aside external realities and overcoming the "otherness" of God. It takes these characteristics not from Christian tradition but from Hinduism, through the medium of Transcendental Meditation. TM is Hinduism adapted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Hindu guru, for use in a Western cultural setting. Fr. Pennington, one of the authors of centering prayer and an ardent supporter of TM, says, "Mahesh Yogi, employing the terminology of the ancient Vedic tradition, speaks of this (practice of TM) 'to plunge into deep, deep rest for fifteen or twenty minutes twice a day' as experiencing the Absolute. The Christian knows by faith that this Absolute is our God of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. When he goes to his deepest self, he finds in himself an image and participation of God, and he finds God himself."

Fr. Pennington approves a Christian's participation in TM, despite the fact that the introductory ceremony to TM, the Puja, involves worship of a dead Hindu guru and that the mantras given those being initiated are in fact the names of Hindu gods. For a Christian knowingly to participate in TM is a violation of the Second Commandment against false worship.

What is to be said of this claim? Archimandrite Sophrony of Mount Athos and an authority in Orthodox spirituality, speaks from his own personal story. He was for years involved in Eastern religions, before he returned to the Orthodox faith of his youth. I quote him at length, for he speaks with clarity and power:

In advising against being carried away by artificial practices such as Transcendental Meditation I am but repeating the age-old message of the Church...The way of the Fathers requires firm faith and long patience, whereas our contemporaries want to seize every spiritual gift, including even direct contemplation of the Absolute God, by force and speedily, and will often draw a parallel between prayer in the name of Jesus and yoga or Transcendental Meditation and the like. I must stress the danger of such errors...He is deluded who endeavors to divest himself mentally of all that is transitory and relative in order to cross some invisible threshold, to realize his eternal origin, his identity with the Source of all that exists, in order to return and merge with him, the nameless transpersonal Absolute. Such exercises have enabled many to rise to suprarational contemplation of being, to experience a certain mystical trepidation, to know the state of silence of mind, when mind goes beyond the boundaries of time and space. In such like states man may feel the peacefulness of being withdrawn from the continually changing phenomena of the visible world, may even have a certain experience of eternity. But the God of Truth, the Living God, is not in all this.
"It is man's own beauty, created in the image of God, that is contemplated and seen as divinity, whereas he himself still continues within the confines of his creatureliness. This is a vastly important concern. The tragedy of the matter lies in the fact that man sees a mirage which, in his longing for eternal life, he mistakes for a genuine oasis. This impersonal form of ascetics leads finally to an assertion of the divine principle in the very nature of man. Man is then drawn to the idea of self-deification – the cause of the original Fall. The man who is blinded by the imaginary majesty of what he contemplates has in fact set his foot on the path to self-destruction. He has discarded the revelation of a personal God...The movement into the depths of his own being is nothing else but attraction towards the non-being from which we were called by the will of the Creator" (His Life is Mine, 115-116).

In short, true prayer goes to God from the center of one's being, not in the center of one's being. In authentic contemplation, our faculties are brought to God, not disengaged as they are in TM. Christianity seeks to redeem and restore man and the world in Christ. To seek escape from rather than to redeem the world is to set oneself against the mission of Christ. That is why even the Jesus Prayer and the rosary (often cited as Christian "mantras") are deeply charged with basic Christian theological content; they are used to relate in an interactive and personal way to the Lord and to the virgin Mary. For a similar reason, Catholic spiritual writers consistently insist a person must have a moral life and spiritual maturity before entering upon a life dedicated to contemplation. A person who seeks contemplation must first steep his mind in the word of God, conform his behavior to the moral law, submit his body to the spirit by asceticism, subjugate his will in humility to the will of God, and take on a heart given over to the love of God and neighbor. These means are incarnational and redemptive.

The book often claimed as a precedent for centering prayer is The Cloud of Unknowing, by an unknown fourteenth-century English author. But the claim is in vain, for The Cloud of Unknowing clearly repudiates the emphasis given in centering prayer to techniques: "I am trying to make clear with words what experience teaches more convincingly, that techniques and methods are ultimately useless for awakening contemplative love." The Cloud must be seen in its historic context Though its emphasis is on the "negative way," we must remember that it presupposes its reader is well grounded in the "positive way" to God by means of the word of God, creation, and sacramental means. When this prerequisite is met a book like this can help prayer to go beyond creatures to the uncreated God. But to see The Cloud as pointing us to technique (as centering prayer does) is profoundly to misread the text.

Some of those who promote centering prayer employ questionable practices. For exampIe, I first experienced centering prayer during a retreat whose announced topic and method had nothing to do with it. Without explanation, the director conducted us into centering prayer. At first I followed the instructions, but, not liking the feel of it, I made the decision to ignore the instructions. The retreat master, even by secular standards, acted unethically in not giving us an understanding and choice in the matter.

Nor is this uncommon. I know of an incident where several thousand people attending a charismatic conference were brought into centering prayer; again without explanation or choice. This incident was particularly objectionable, because the priest who was leading the session did not even bother with a Christian "mantra" but used an explicit hypnotic technique (e.g., "Imagine you are on an elevator. You begin going down, down inside yourself. The twenty-first floor, the twentieth floor," etc.). In many Catholic schools, teachers and officials have made centering prayer part of religious exercises without parental notice, understanding, or choice. Equally questionable is the setting aside of traditional safeguards. Centering prayer is often offered to large groups, where there is no way of knowing the psychological and spiritual problems some people may have. And this can be very dangerous indeed, leading to any of the following: (1) The delusion that one has found and pleased God, when in fact he has not. God is not part of the universe. The attempt to reach God by human technique is not only futile, but objectively sinful. (2) A self-absorption which forgets that life in the Triune God is relationships and that we have been inserted into these relationships through Christ. People who come out of this type of prayer often express it as coming into a freedom they did not know that they had lost. (3) The danger of opening oneself to evil spirits. Such techniques can bring people in touch with the spiritual realm. But the spiritual realm includes not only God but human and angelic spirits. A person with a problem in a moral or psychological area can open himself to some degree of demonic influence.

A mother wrote to ask me for advice: "In the Catholic school in (name of town), Sister has been using this (centering prayer and use of the Jesus Prayer) in the religion classes. My ten-year-old daughter took to it right away. This was about two-and-a-half years ago. The things she shared with me that Jesus had told her didn't appear to me to be imagination. They made her feel very close to Jesus. About six weeks ago, Kristy started having difficulty going to sleep. She didn't want to stay in her own room and would lie there afraid to close her eyes, until I would let her go into her sister's room and sleep with her. Finally she confided in me that she would see something scary if she closed her eyes. A few days ago, she confided that it laughed. Kristy had used the centering prayer on her own at bedtime for sometime before this fear started."

What happened to Kristy? The laughter is very characteristic of evil spirits. It would have taken personal contact and prayerful discernment to know for sure. From the description, I would suspect an evil spirit is harassing her. I would doubt that it has any serious hold on her, unless there was immoral behavior or a special vulnerability in her psychological state. I suspect that her use of centering prayer opened her to evil spirits and such harassments.

The past several decades have seen an explosion of groups and movements involved in spiritual and psychic pursuits. Some of these no doubt are of God; some clearly are not. The New Age Movement, which is actually as ancient as the Eastern religions from which it draws its resources, has shown a phenomenal growth. A materialistic civilization is trying to find what it threw away. I believe that the interest is more than a sociological phenomenon and that it is part of a conflict of the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness.

I see the springing up of so many spiritual and psychic movements as part of the rebellion of man and evil spirits against God. The totalitarian movements of the twentieth century managed to capture the major sectors of society, and what destruction they brought on the world! But they fell short of total possession of man. In his interior life, man remained free. Nazism and Communism had some success in penetrating the interior life of man by persuasion, by socioeconomic pressures, and even by the violence of brainwashing.

But the vulnerability of man today to manipulation is much greater than it was even a half-century ago. The moral order and faith in God have drastically declined. Man's technology and managerial abilities have increased. Tyranny has better tools to dominate others and, more and more, a ripe situation in which to do so. The restraining influences on the work of evil spirits are being stripped away: loss of moral standards, breakup of family life, uprootedness, merely-functional relationships, emptiness of meaning. In this context, what centering prayer does, at a minimum, is make respectable the false spiritualities that are rushing in to fill the spiritual void.

My hypothesis is that it is Satan's strategy, in all these things, to strip away the physiological and psychological forces that, in our fallen state, are a fail-safe protection for the human spirit. (This is a possible interpretation of Paul's words in 2 Thessalonians 2: 6-10 about the lawless one and the force that restrains him.) Thus, he can hope to capture the spirit of man worldwide and establish a kingdom of darkness.

The Catholic Church is the major obstacle to the Devil's plan – and the Lord of it is the only hope of mankind. Hence the Church has been the special target of today, as indeed it has been since Pentecost. The rapid spread of centering prayer in the past decade into so many areas which are at the very heart of Catholic faith is, I believe, part of the Devil's strategy against the Church.

Yet none of this has escaped God's hand. As I see it, he has given us the modern world's problems right in the very heart of the Church, so that, when we get our own house in order, we will be in very good shape to bring the gospel to every nation. No Christian can read the Great Commission and fail to have hope for the future. "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. And behold I am with you always" (Mat 28: l8-20).



Centering Prayer continued. . .

In the spirit of dialogue, especially with those who have had some involvement with centering prayer, let me highlight the crucial issue: Is centering prayer traditional Catholic contemplative prayer or is it New Age in Christian dress – or, at least, heavily influenced by the New Age? Some correspondents make reference to the "method" of centering prayer, so I will begin my response in that area. But first let me say that I believe in contemplative prayer. I practice it every day, and I am reasonably well read in Catholic mystical theology.

Method.  The guidelines for centering prayer bear similarities to traditional contemplation, enough to package it as Catholic contemplation, but are essentially different.

Guideline 1:  "Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within." The "sacred word" has an indispensable place within centering prayer (and in Transcendental Meditation, where it is called a "mantra") but is not the heart of the Catholic contemplative tradition. Centering prayer uses the "sacred word" as a focusing device for psychic energies. In Catholic contemplation, when I say or think "Jesus," I intend to relate in a personal way to Jesus. I do not say "love, peace, mercy, silence, stillness, calm, faith, trust," though centering prayer commends them as "sacred words," because these qualities or attributes are not persons. The rosary and the Jesus Prayer, though they undeniably have a calming effect, have a personal and relational content that is primary.

Guideline 2:  "Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within." What is the nature of "God's presence and action within"? I reiterate two points I made in the article about the indwelling of God: that it does not reduce his transcendence or make him accessible by any technique or method, and that we are not to go to God deep within but from deep within.

Guideline 3:  "When you become aware of thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word." Distractions are a problem not only in contemplative prayer but in daily life as well. A good spiritual director, in Catholic tradition, might offer one of, say, ten different ways to deal with it, depending on the situation. Guideline 3 is a means of deepening the focus of psychic energies and is a hypnotic technique.

What about centering prayer's fruitfulness in dissipating stress and bringing peace? Many report this outcome. I do not dispute the effect, just the cause. The medieval Flemish mystic Ruysbroeck said there is a form of peace that is purely natural: "When a man is bare and imageless in his senses and empty and idle in his higher powers, he enters into a rest through mere nature . . . without the grace of God. These people err gravely. They immerse themselves in an absolute silence that is purely natural, and a false liberty of spirit is born from this. Having drawn the body in upon itself, they are mute, unmoving. . . . They mistake these types of simplicity for those which are reached through God. In reality they have lost God" (John Ruysbroeck, Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage).

Guideline 4:  "At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes." I am not aware of such an instruction in the Catholic contemplative tradition. It is, however, a common place for emerging from a hypnotic state. The examples of St. Teresa, St. Bernadette, the children of Fatima, Padre Pio, and many others who have experienced states of "trance" are not the same, for these are not "acquired contemplation" (accomplished by human effort) but "infused contemplation" in which God has taken the full initiative.




New Age?  The similarities between centering prayer and Transcendental Meditation are striking. "As an ex-TM mediator," says Fr. Finbarr Flanagan, O.F.M., "I find it hard to see any differences between centering prayer and Transcendental Meditation." Frs. Keating, Menninger, and Pennington authored centering prayer at a time when St. Joseph Abbey had received several retreats involving Eastern religions, including Transcendental Meditation. I cited Fr. Pennington's praise for the Hindu guru and author of Transcendental Meditation. This involvement in eclecticism has continued. Fr. Pennington has not just attended an e.s.t (Erhard Sensitivity Training) session but has served on its board. Frs. Keating and Pennington gave endorsements, appearing on the dust jacket, for Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey in Christian Hermeticism. The tarot is a deck of cards used in fortune telling. Fr. Keating calls the book "the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition." Fr. Pennington says it is "without doubt the most extraordinary work I have ever read." Amity House, the publisher, is heavily New Age. The Library of Congress has classified the book under "occult sciences" and "cartomancy."
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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2011, 10:27:43 AM »


The book often claimed as a precedent for centering prayer is The Cloud of Unknowing, by an unknown fourteenth-century English author. But the claim is in vain, for The Cloud of Unknowing clearly repudiates the emphasis given in centering prayer to techniques: "I am trying to make clear with words what experience teaches more convincingly, that techniques and methods are ultimately useless for awakening contemplative love."

To say that techniques and methods are "ultimately useless" is not to negate their relative usefulness. Zen teachers say something similar, yet without giving up the very strict Zen methods of meditation. Even the Jesus Prayer is a "method", which doesn't negate that fact that it points beyond "method".

 
Quote
The Cloud must be seen in its historic context Though its emphasis is on the "negative way," we must remember that it presupposes its reader is well grounded in the "positive way" to God by means of the word of God, creation, and sacramental means. When this prerequisite is met a book like this can help prayer to go beyond creatures to the uncreated God. But to see The Cloud as pointing us to technique (as centering prayer does) is profoundly to misread the text.

From The Cloud:

If you like, you can have this reaching out, wrapped up and enfolded in a single word. So as to have a better grasp of it, take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two; for the shorter it is the better it is in agreement with this exercise of the spirit. Such a one is the word "God" or the word "love." Choose which one you prefer, or any other according to your liking--the word of one syllable that you like best.... With this word you are to beat upon this cloud and this darkness above you. With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting; so that if any thought should press upon you and ask you what you would have, answer it with no other word but with this one....

So The Cloud does give an example of at least one "method", which is, of course, different from stating that God can be communed with, if you simply perform the right steps of the right "method".
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« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2011, 11:11:35 AM »

What about the claim that Centering Prayer developed as a Christian alternative to Asian meditative practices, and that Centering Prayer is actually based upon the practices mentioned in the medieval book on Christian mysticism entitled The Cloud of Unknowing?

Yes, there is some truth to this.  The contemplative prayer movement (Centering Prayer, Christian Meditation, etc.) developed in the 1970s on the heels of Thomas Merton’s embrace of Zen and the Vatican’s embrace of Interreligious dialogue following the Second Vatican Council.  Centering Prayer in particular was an attempt to make a “Christian form” of the “Transcendental Meditation” of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  The “Christian Meditation” taught by Benedictine monk Dom John Main he learned from Swami Satyananda.  In these cases, the inspiration came from the non-Christian East, after which was followed an attempt to “Christianize” them using primarily the Cloud of Unknowing and the Conferences of St. John Cassian.  These two pillars (the Cloud and the Conferences) are referenced as being the two historical Christian texts which emphasize a practice similar to Centering Prayer/Christian Meditation.  However, does the Centering Prayer practice really reflect the teaching found in the Conferences of St. John Cassian or in the Cloud?  Is the Cloud an acceptable text from an Orthodox perspective?  I would say that the Conferences do not teach anything similar to Christian Meditation.  Regarding the Cloud of Unknowing, this is a post-Schism Roman Catholic text so its acceptability from an Orthodox standpoint has to be examined, which I can’t take the time to do at the moment.  However, I will say that in the Cloud there is the reference to using “one word at the time of prayer”, a teaching not found in the Orthodox tradition of the Jesus Prayer but which does find affinity with Hindu mantra meditation.

From my experience, both practices (Centering Prayer and Christian Meditation) are Hindu mantra meditation in Christian dress, and the fruits of these practices reveal their spiritual foundations.  Those who engage in these practices often report that they feel much closer spiritually to “meditators” in other religions than they do to other Christians who do not “meditate”.  The “experience” of meditation/centering prayer becomes pre-eminent for such practitioners, along with the strong sense that all religions are complementary and share the same basic “mystical core”.  Dogma becomes relativized and trivialized as the practitioner of these methods attempts to rise above all thought to have a pure experience of the “Absolute” that is beyond the conceptual.  In this context, since all theology deals with the conceptual, all of it fails to reveal the mystery of God and is therefore relative.  Now, from an Orthodox perspective we may agree that the language of the Scriptures and of theology fails to embrace and fully represent the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, but the dogmatic language in the Orthodox Church is used precisely because it is the best possible language to safeguard the truths which have been revealed.  In Orthodoxy, one’s faith and understanding of God from the Ecumenical Councils, the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Symbol of Faith, etc.; as well as one’s full participation in the Church’s Mysteries; form a necessary foundation for any progress in prayer.  In Centering Prayer and Christian Meditation, however, the absolute emphasis is on “transcending thought” to experience the Aboslute.  A person is led thereby to experience the expanse and glory of his own created nature and is misled into thinking that he is thereby experiencing God.  This is the same delusion that a person is led to in Hinduism, which is why practitioners of “contemplative prayer” feel such spiritual kinship with Hindu and Buddhist meditators and believe that they are “all saying the same thing but in different words”.  As Elder Sophrony of Essex states in the quote below, this mistaking of one’s own created nature for the Infinite God is the greatest delusion, and takes a person further from God than the grossest passions. 

Elder Sophrony of Essex, quoted in Christ the Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene

"since those who enter for the first time into the sphere of the
'silence of the mind' experience a certain mystic awe, they mistake
their contemplation for mystical communion with the Divine, whereas in
reality they are still within the confines of created human nature.
The mind, it is true, here passes beyond the frontiers of time and
space, and it is this that gives it a sense of grasping eternal
wisdom.  This is as far as human intelligence can go along the path of
natural development and self-contemplation...

"Dwelling in the darkness of divestiture, the mind knows a peculiar
delight and sense of peace...  Clearing the frontiers of time, such
contemplation approaches the mind to knowledge of the intransitory,
thereby possessing man of new but still abstract cognition.  Woe to
him who mistakes this wisdom for knowledge of the true God, and this
contemplation for a communion in Divine Being.  Woe to him because the
darkness of divestiture on the borders of true vision becomes an
impenetrable pass and a stronger barrier between himself and God than
the darkness due to the uprising of gross passion, or the darkness of
obviously demonic instigations, or the darkness which results from
loss of Grace and abandonment by God.  Woe to him, for he will have
gone astray and fallen into delusion, since God is not in the darkness
of divestiture." 

"The mental light, which excels every other light of empirical knowledge, might still just as well be called darkness, since it is the darkness of divestiture and God is not in it.  And perhaps in this instance more than any other we should listen to the Lord's warning, 'Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness.'  The first prehistoric, cosmic catastrophe - the fall of Lucifer, son of the morning, who became the prince of darkness - was due to his enamored contemplation of his own beauty, which ended up in his self-deification."
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« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2011, 11:17:14 AM »

What about the claim that Centering Prayer developed as a Christian alternative to Asian meditative practices, and that Centering Prayer is actually based upon the practices mentioned in the medieval book on Christian mysticism entitled The Cloud of Unknowing?

Yes, there is some truth to this.  The contemplative prayer movement (Centering Prayer, Christian Meditation, etc.) developed in the 1970s on the heels of Thomas Merton’s embrace of Zen and the Vatican’s embrace of Interreligious dialogue following the Second Vatican Council.  Centering Prayer in particular was an attempt to make a “Christian form” of the “Transcendental Meditation” of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  The “Christian Meditation” taught by Benedictine monk Dom John Main he learned from Swami Satyananda.  In these cases, the inspiration came from the non-Christian East, after which was followed an attempt to “Christianize” them using primarily the Cloud of Unknowing and the Conferences of St. John Cassian.  These two pillars (the Cloud and the Conferences) are referenced as being the two historical Christian texts which emphasize a practice similar to Centering Prayer/Christian Meditation.  However, does the Centering Prayer practice really reflect the teaching found in the Conferences of St. John Cassian or in the Cloud?  Is the Cloud an acceptable text from an Orthodox perspective?  I would say that the Conferences do not teach anything similar to Christian Meditation.  Regarding the Cloud of Unknowing, this is a post-Schism Roman Catholic text so its acceptability from an Orthodox standpoint has to be examined, which I can’t take the time to do at the moment.  However, I will say that in the Cloud there is the reference to using “one word at the time of prayer”, a teaching not found in the Orthodox tradition of the Jesus Prayer but which does find affinity with Hindu mantra meditation.
So, you're saying that The Cloud of Unknowing was somehow influenced by Hinduism?

I don't think you're saying that, but I want to make clear. If you're not saying that, then I don't see how you can imply that the practice of using "one word at the time of prayer" is somehow distinctively "Hindu", when The Cloud teaches just that sort of practice.

To say that The Cloud is "un-Orthodox", I can understand. But to say that it, and its practices and methods, are "un-Christian", seems to be less convincing.
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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2011, 11:27:27 AM »

I think we can use the Beatitudes in light of other religions & see them to varying degrees there without having to delve into the inner practices of those faiths. I would think one can use St. Paul's instruction in Phillipians 4:8 in balance with St. John's instruction in 1st John 4:1-3 or vice versa for guidance, discernment, and to avoid severity towards other faiths etc. I have walked through a Buddhist sanga & later briefly met my friends' kempo (spiritual advisor of some sort) & felt general good will & also no need to ponder anything further there.
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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2011, 11:58:04 AM »

So, you're saying that The Cloud of Unknowing was somehow influenced by Hinduism?

No, I am saying that in its reference to using “one word” at time of prayer, the Cloud lends itself well to being used in contemporary times for advocating Hindu mantra meditation within a "Christian" context.

I don't think you're saying that, but I want to make clear. If you're not saying that, then I don't see how you can imply that the practice of using "one word at the time of prayer" is somehow distinctively "Hindu", when The Cloud teaches just that sort of practice.

To say that The Cloud is "un-Orthodox", I can understand. But to say that it, and its practices and methods, are "un-Christian", seems to be less convincing.
 

It is not exclusively the *method* of Centering Prayer which is Hindu in spiritual orientation, but the overall context in which it is taught, what is said about it, the way the experience of God’s presence is referred to, etc.  The practice leads to the spiritual delusion described by Elder Sophrony not merely because one word is used at the time of prayer rather than an entire sentence (the Jesus Prayer, for instance), but because of how the practitioner is led approach this way of “prayer”, and how the practitioner is led to interpret what he experiences through this way of “prayer”. 

In the Orthodox Church, the tradition of the Jesus Prayer has been continuous from apostolic times.  We have countless saints who wrote about its practice in detail, providing for us continuous testimony regarding this way of prayer and its place in the life of the Orthodox Christian.  By contrast, in Centering Prayer a Hindu practice is adopted (TM) in the 1970s, and a single text by an anonymous author from the 13th century is the only thing in the Roman Catholic tradition that they can find to support a similar practice in Christianity.  It is revived and taught on the heels of Thomas Merton’s infatuation with Buddhism and in the movement of Roman Catholic monastics after Vatican 2 to discover a common spiritual ground with other religions through dialogue, “meditating” together, going to each other’s places of pilgrimage (meditating together under the Bodhi tree, for instance), etc.  Orthodox Christians do not need Centering Prayer, and while a non-Orthodox Christian who practices Centering Prayer may learn about the Jesus Prayer and eventually join the Orthodox Church as a result, the practice itself by virtue of the syncretistic, relativistic, and ecumenistic context in which it is taught does not lead a person to greater communion with the God of the Orthodox Christian faith, but rather to spiritual delusion. 
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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2011, 01:51:53 PM »

"The person should sit alone and still in silence for at least a half hour each day. They should watch their thoughts, but not engage them. They should say a very short prayer while doing them, to avoid engaging their thoughts." -Fr. Thomas Hopko
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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2011, 02:35:52 PM »

Did someone say Centering Prayer?  Angry

Jetavan, The Cloud of Unknowing is an interesting work, and I'm admittedly no expert on it.  That said, it was written in the 14th century West (clearly post-schism and subsequent developments).  Even with that, if I understand correctly, The Cloud of Unknowing discourages people from thinking and imagining during contemplation, much like our tradition.  Centering Prayer recommends the exact opposite.  Basically, it's a dangerous prescription for prelest.  

People claim that Centering Prayer and The Cloud of Unknowing were influenced by Pseudo-Dionysius, but if so, why was this tradition not continuous? Why do we not have this tradition in the East?  Why did it develop much much later?  My opinion is that this Cistercian ("Hindu" derived) practice is very new, i.e. Thomas Merton influenced, and that they are attempting to legitimize its lineage by spuriously claiming Christian origins.

I will stick with our established contemplative tradition, The Jesus Prayer (which is, as others pointed out, not actually meditation).  Until proven otherwise, Centering Prayer has no history or rightful place in Orthodoxy.  A couple of misguided, "innovative" parishes showing DVDs of Cistercians teaching Centering Prayer does not make it Orthodox.
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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2011, 02:55:38 PM »

Did someone say Centering Prayer?  Angry

Jetavan, The Cloud of Unknowing is an interesting work, and I'm admittedly no expert on it.  That said, it was written in the 14th century West (clearly post-schism and subsequent developments).  Even with that, if I understand correctly, The Cloud of Unknowing discourages people from thinking and imagining during contemplation, much like our tradition.  Centering Prayer recommends the exact opposite.
Doesn't Centering prayer discourage thinking and imagining by having the contemplative return his/her attention to the chosen word?

From a previous post:

Guideline 3:  "When you become aware of thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word."

Quote
My opinion is that this Cistercian ("Hindu" derived) practice is very new, i.e. Thomas Merton influenced, and that they are attempting to legitimize its lineage by spuriously claiming Christian origins.
What exactly about this practice seems specifically "Hindu" derived?

Quote
I will stick with our established contemplative tradition, The Jesus Prayer (which is, as others pointed out, not actually meditation).  Until proven otherwise, Centering Prayer has no history or rightful place in Orthodoxy.  A couple of misguided, "innovative" parishes showing DVDs of Cistercians teaching Centering Prayer does not make it Orthodox.
I'm not claiming Centering prayer has any place in Orthodoxy. I wanted, though, to note that Centering prayer claims to be based on practices discussed in The Cloud; the fact that it's development was also inspired by Asian practices, is pretty obvious, and, really, almost inevitable given the growing popularity of Asian practices starting in the 1960s and the Vatican II encouragement to appreciate the seeds of Truth in other religions.
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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2011, 09:10:03 PM »

Doesn't Centering prayer discourage thinking and imagining by having the contemplative return his/her attention to the chosen word?
From a previous post:
Guideline 3:  "When you become aware of thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word."

Perhaps in some guidelines, but some appear to be experience/calmness fishing.  Also, I'm not sure what a sacred word is.  I'm sure some restrict "sacred words," but I'm equally sure that some don't.  Are "love" (frequently see that one listed) "butterfly," "lullaby," etc. sacred words?  

Quote
What exactly about this practice seems specifically "Hindu" derived?
1. That it popped up after Thomas Merton's expeditions to the East and
2. Maybe it's not a proper mantra, but it appears quite similar.  
Quote
I'm not claiming Centering prayer has any place in Orthodoxy. I wanted, though, to note that Centering prayer claims to be based on practices discussed in The Cloud; the fact that it's development was also inspired by Asian practices, is pretty obvious, and, really, almost inevitable given the growing popularity of Asian practices starting in the 1960s and the Vatican II encouragement to appreciate the seeds of Truth in other religions.

Nothing for me to argue with here.   Angry
 Smiley

Edit: Messed up the quote boxes something fierce.
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« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2011, 12:39:08 AM »

Meditation is certainly not without precedent in Orthodoxy.

Try to know yourself, your own wickedness. Think on the greatness of God and your wretchedness. Meditate on the suffering of Christ, the magnitude of Whose love and suffering surpass our understanding.
— St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

[L]et us not merely read of these things, but bear them in our mind; the crown of thorns, the robe, the reed, the blows, the smiting on the cheek, the spittings, the irony. These things, if continually meditated on, are sufficient to take down all anger.
— St. John Chrysostom

Draw near all of you, children of the Church,
bought with the precious and holy blood of the most pure Master.

Come, let us meditate on his sufferings with tears,
thinking on fear, meditating with trembling,
saying to ourselves,
‘Christ our Saviour for us the impious was given over to death’.

Learn well, brother, what it is you hear:
God who is without sin, Son of the Most High,
for you was given up.

Open your heart, learn in details His sufferings and say to yourself:
God who is without sin
today was given up,
today was mocked,
today was abused,
today was struck,
today was scourged,
today wore a crown of thorns,
today was crucified,
he, the heavenly Lamb.

Your heart will tremble, your soul will shudder.
Shed tears everyday by this meditation on the Master's sufferings.
Tears become sweet (for) the soul is enlightened that always meditates on Christ's sufferings.

Always meditating thus, shedding tears every day,
giving thanks to the Master for the sufferings that he suffered for you,
so that in the day of his Coming your tears may become your boast and exaltation before the judgment seat.

Endure as you meditate on the loving Master’s sufferings,
endure temptations, give thanks from your soul.

Blessed is the one who has before his eyes
the heavenly Master and his sufferings,
and has crucified himself from all the passions
and earthly deeds,
who has become an imitator
of his own Master.

-St. Ephraim the Syrian

Regarding the use of "imagination" these are some wise words from Abp. HILARION (Alfeyev):

"The contextual method may help in studying Catholic mysticism itself as well. Not infrequently, Orthodox readers are shocked by recipes in books of Western Renaissance mystics prescribing the use of the human imagination to visualize the passions of Christ, or other events of the gospel. It is correct to point out that traditional Orthodox mysticism demands control of the imagination, and warns about the dangers of imaginative representations in prayer. But in considering Western Renaissance mysticism, the cultural specificity of the times cannot be ignored: mediaeval theocentric culture was being replaced by a totally different, anthropocentric culture where imagination was given a near-central role. The task facing spiritual teachers of the time, then, was not to force people to renounce their imagination altogether, but to teach them how to direct their imagination towards matters from which spiritual benefit could be gained, in particular towards the events of sacred history. It is evident that, were the criterion of Byzantine ascetic literature to be applied to such mysticism, it would not meet its requirements. But, to repeat John Meyendorff’s question, is the Byzantine criterion the only just criterion according to which non-Byzantine phenomena are to be judged, or are other approaches possible? I shall state once again my belief that the universal Orthodox tradition is wider than Byzantinism, that not all that lies outside is either heresy or spiritual delusion. Otherwise not only Western mystics should be declared to have fallen in spiritual delusion, but also Dimitri of Rostov, Tikhon of Zadonsk and many other pious Russian ascetics."
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« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2011, 03:08:57 AM »

To me this contrasts heavily with centering prayer which is about emptying your mind and accepting what comes. To me that's just a recipe for disaster. And sorry nm, but I still think Fr. Hopko is just wrong on that.
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« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2011, 10:47:58 AM »

In this thread was discussed differences between the Orthodox practice of the Jesus Prayer and non-Christian Eastern meditation practices that Roman Catholics and Protestants have adopted under the terms "Centering Prayer", "Christian Meditation", "Christian Zen", etc.  I thought this would be an appropriate thread to place the following discussion between the eminent hierarch Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and a hermit on Mt. Athos concerning the Jesus Prayer and non-Christian Eastern meditation practices.

From “A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain”
by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

http://www.pelagia.org/htm/b01.en.a_night_in_the_desert_of_the_holy_mountain.05.htm

Question:I would also, Gerondas, like you to explain to me and expand more on what I was saying earlier, on the differences between the Jesus prayer and yoga, and for you to show me its superiority over the other eastern religions, since you offer great experience.

Reply:The subject is very big, my son, and one could say many things about it. From what I said previously the following stand out:

Firstly: In the Jesus prayer faith in God, Who created the world and Who governs it and loves it, is expressed strongly. He is an affectionate Father who cares about saving His mortal creation. Salvation is attained "in God". For this reason when we pray we implore Him by saying: "Have mercy on me". Self-redemption and self-divinization are far from the athlete of noetic prayer,* because this is the sin of Adam, the sin of the Fall. He wanted to become God outside God's plan for him. Salvation is not attained "through ourselves and does not emanate from ourselves", as the human philosophical systems claim, but is attained "in God".

Secondly: We are not struggling to meet an impersonal God through the "Jesus prayer". We do not seek our elevation to "absolute nothingness". Our prayer focuses on the personal God, the Godman Jesus, for this reason we say "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God". Divine and human nature meet in Christ, in other words in the fullness of the divine Word and all of humanity the perfection of divinity dwells in him in the flesh". (Col. 2. 9) Therefore, anthropology and soteriology (teaching about man and his salvation) in Orthodox monasticism are closely connected with Christology. We love Christ and keep His commandments. We place great importance on this matter. We insist on the keeping of the commandments of Christ. He Himself said: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments". (John 14. 15) By loving Christ and by keeping his commandments we are united with the entire Holy Trinity.

Thirdly: We do not reach a state of pride through unceasing prayer. The philosophical systems you mentioned before are possessed by pride. We acquire the blessed state of humility through the Jesus prayer. We say "Have mercy on me", and we consider ourselves the worst of all. We despise none of our brothers. The athlete of the Jesus prayer is a stranger to every sort of pride. And whoever has pride is foolish.

Fourthly: Salvation, as we said before, is not an abstract notion but union with God, the Holy Trinity in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. This union, however, does not efface the human factor. We are not assimilated, since we are ourselves also persons.

Fifthly: As prayer develops we acquire the ability to discern error. We can see and distinguish the movements of the devil but at the same time the energies of Christ. We recognise the deceit of the devil who, many times, changes his form even into an angel of light. We distinguish, therefore, good from evil, the uncreated from the created.

Sixthly: The struggle for the "Jesus prayer" is connected with the cleansing of soul and body from the corrupting effect of passions. We do not aim at reaching Stoic apathy but we strive to attain the dynamic state of dispassion,* which means that we do not aim at the mortification of passions but at their transformation. Without dispassion one cannot love God and be saved, but because this love has been corrupted and distorted, we strive for its transformation. We fight to transform the distorted states that the devil created in us. We cannot be saved without this personal struggle which is achieved with the help of the grace of Christ. According to St. Maximos, "Spiritual Knowledge without practical life (purification of heart) is the theology of the demons".

Seventhly: We do not try to guide the nous noetic faculty to absolute nothingness through the "Jesus prayer", but to turn it to the heart and bring the grace of God into the soul, from where it will spread to the body also. "The kingdom of God is within us" (Lk. 17. 21). According to the teaching of our Church, it is our way of thinking, according to the flesh, which is bad and not our body. We must not try to get rid of "the garment of the soul", as the philosophical systems claim, but we must try to save it. Additionally, salvation means redemption of the whole of man (of the soul and the body). We do not aim, therefore, at the destruction of the body, but we fight the worship of it. Neither do we want the destruction of life. We do not aspire to reach a point where we do not desire life so that suffering ceases. We practise the Jesus prayer because we thirst for life and we want to live with God eternally.

Eighthly: We are not indifferent to the world around us. The various systems you mentioned before avoid facing people's problems, so that peace and impassibility can be maintained. We have in mind the opposite: we pray unceasingly for all. We are suppliants for the whole world. Moreover, salvation is union with Christ while we are in communion with other persons. We cannot be saved just by ourselves. A joy which is only ours, without being joy for other people as well, is not true joy.

Ninthly: We do not place great importance on psychosomatic techniques and on the various postures of the body. We consider some of them as assisting the concentration of the nous on the heart, i.e. which in essence do away with all of this. I repeat, we do not strive for impassibility, a negative state, but for the acquisition of divine grace...


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« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2011, 04:51:15 PM »

To me this contrasts heavily with centering prayer which is about emptying your mind and accepting what comes. To me that's just a recipe for disaster. And sorry nm, but I still think Fr. Hopko is just wrong on that.

Blasphemer.
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« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2011, 07:48:53 PM »

To me this contrasts heavily with centering prayer which is about emptying your mind and accepting what comes. To me that's just a recipe for disaster. And sorry nm, but I still think Fr. Hopko is just wrong on that.
Fr. Hopko does not say to accept what comes. He specifically warns against that, and advises that one prays to avoid engaging thoughts that come. Read my quote.
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« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2011, 10:47:17 PM »

To me this contrasts heavily with centering prayer which is about emptying your mind and accepting what comes. To me that's just a recipe for disaster. And sorry nm, but I still think Fr. Hopko is just wrong on that.
Fr. Hopko does not say to accept what comes. He specifically warns against that, and advises that one prays to avoid engaging thoughts that come. Read my quote.
Yeah, I suppose I've softened toward his position since I posted that. Thanks.
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2012, 09:10:51 AM »

Your brain on prayer.

This isn't new news, but Newberg's research is very interesting.
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« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2013, 10:12:38 AM »

Orthodox Meditation

"The east meditates without images, even against images, more so it even rejects real visions -- not because they are bad or an antagonistic spirit, but out of the care of not making mistakes by receiving anything. And, it is known that God doesn't get upset because of being set on this point of view.

Orthodox meditation is through the "terms that don't put a matrix on the mind", as one of the saints says, terms that don't cause any imagination. Here are a few terms without form: "I am The Truth", "God is Love", God is Spirit", "Knowledge of God is eternal life", etc. "


Source, my blog: http://romanianorthodoxyinenglish.blogspot.ro/2013/11/orthodox-meditation.html
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« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2013, 04:44:17 PM »

I have often encountered articles which talks about meditation in the orthodox church, but they never seem to explain what exactly orthodox meditation is. They always mention the Jesus prayer and hesychasm but thats about it. Can any of you help? What is orthodox meditation?

Thanks.  Smiley

Its when you set aside time everyday to relax,concentrate,and focus on yourself. (Meditation)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 04:44:46 PM by WPM » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2013, 11:56:58 AM »

I have often encountered articles which talks about meditation in the orthodox church, but they never seem to explain what exactly orthodox meditation is. They always mention the Jesus prayer and hesychasm but thats about it. Can any of you help? What is orthodox meditation?

Thanks.  Smiley

Its when you set aside time everyday to relax,concentrate,and focus on yourself. (Meditation)


Personally, I take some time everyday for prayer & meditation while walking for exercise on a local trail. Before or after work are the usual times & in thought I recite the Trinity, the golden rule (Matthew 7:12), the 2 great commands (Matthew 22:36-40), the prayer for the Lord of the harvest (Luke 10:2, Matthew (9:36-38). Lastly, I say the Jesus Prayer for mercy to myself & then for mercy for others in varying repetitions repeating this process as I walk.

We are already working out our salvation so we need to focus on God & neighbor as we do.
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« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2013, 01:23:16 AM »

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