Christian Meditation: It’s About Relationship, Not Rules

Do you sometimes get frustrated that the Bible has no proscriptions for meditation practice? Here are a few comments from M. Basil Pennington’s article, “A Christian Way to Transformation“:

Periodically there are persons who make the rounds. They go to the ashram and learn what they can of the eight limbs of Yoga. They spend some time at the meditation center learning insight meditation. And then they knock at our door and ask, “What is your method?”

My usual answer is that our whole life is our method. As the early Christians expressed it, we have entered into “The Way.” Our Master and Lord, who spoke of himself as “the Way and the Truth and the Life,” coming from the fullness of the Jewish tradition, summed up his way in the two great commandments: “The first and greatest commandment is this: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole strength. And the second is like unto this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He went on to modify the second, saying: “I give you a new commandment: You shall love one another as I have love

This response, that our whole life is our method, usually does not satisfy insistent inquirers. They have found among the Hindus and Buddhists a seemingly rather concise method or practice and they are looking for the same among the Christians. At this point, insisting always that the practice must nurture a full pursuit of “The Way” and that outside of such a context it may well be fruitless in the deepest sense of that word — we are to judge a tree by its fruit — I tell our inquirers that our method is lectio.

Most striking about this Christian way to transformation is its simplicity. We have but to open ourselves to the revealing and all-powerful Word of God and he will do the rest. It is simple, but not easy. For such openness implies making time and space to hear. Making time is difficult enough in our busy lives. Making space in our cluttered hearts is more difficult, for if each day we do take the next step in faithfulness to his revealing word, in the end we will have to give up everything. But this is only in order to have the space to find everything, with him and in him, in all its potential fullness and magnificence, no longer bound by the confines of our limitations. In this way we come to live the first great commandment to love the Lord our God with our whole mind, our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole strength, and the second, which is like unto it, to love our neighbors and the whole creation as we love ourselves in that first great love. It is to be wholly in “The Way,” identified with the Way, who is the way to the Father in the Holy Spirit of Love.

I think this is very true. Christian meditation is about relationship, not rules; a person, not a practice. We can describe methods, but we can’t proscribe them.

2 thoughts on “Christian Meditation: It’s About Relationship, Not Rules

  1. Proscribe or prescribe?
    Reminds me of a seminarian I met once. He was from Cameroon, but had tried just about every religion under the sun – Hinduism Rosicrucianism, Eckankar, Wicca and more.
    He was complaining because he had expected to learn the really important stuff at the seminary, like which kind of incense was used to drive out which kinds of evil spirits, and thought that this important knowledge was being deliberately withheld from him.


  2. Ha! Did you tell him it was hidden knowledge for initiates? Reminder me of the Matrix, there is no spoon. The technique of learning God is beyond all techniques.


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