Ok. We SynchroBloggers have been blogging about alternate states of consciousness and here is where I lay it on the line. I actively explore trance states as part of my prayer life.
When I say I meditate, I am not merely talking about reflecting on art displays and other practices in vogue within the emerging church, I am talking deep shifts in consciousness. Trance, or ekstasis as the ancient Greeks called it.
Why do I do this? Same reason as I practice other spiritual disciplines – to grow in faith, hope and love. I use ritual trance as an aid to deeper worship in the knowledge that we become like that which we worship. I simply find that meditative trances are a powerful aid to opening my awareness to God’s presence.
You see, it’s not as if I do this for the same reason as Buddhists. I seek no nirvana here as I already have unity with God through Christ Jesus. What I do seek though is to raise my awareness of that unity which I already have.
Now, most Christians that admit to this usually justify it on the basis of Church tradition, especially the practices of mystics both ancient and contemporary. But I want to draw people’s attention to our deepest traditions, the Bible. Here are some verses to reflect on:
He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. (Acts 10:10)
“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.” (Acts 11:5)
“When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance” (Acts 22:17)
Who are these heretical people, engaging in visionary trances? None other than the apostles Peter and Paul themselves. And where does this occur in the Biblical story? At pivotal turning points; as through these experiences the gospel is opened up to the gentiles.
It’s as though Christians read over these words. For few register their import even though they are popular stories within the Bible. It suggests that very effective filters are in operation. So much so that even few Christian mystics make the connection back to these examples of listening prayer in scripture. There are even more verses on meditation for those who care to look. So here is what I say – ecstatic trance is not incompatable with evangelicalism – for the word itself affirms it’s value and efficacy.
I will repeat what I said in my earlier comments – God created all of our mind, God called all of it good, none of us are perfect, but nothing God created in us is irredeemable. That includes our unconscious and transconscious capabilities. We are called to worship God with all of our mind, with all of our bodies, with all that we are. So be wary of uncritically accepting something is demonic which everything in scripture affirms God created for good.
When Christians critique Buddhist or Yogic or Tantric or Pagan or Secular forms of meditation, the onus on us is to, not run away, but to teach a better way.