Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why Practice Meditation?

We understand our lives by analyzing, categorizing and decision-making at three levels. We know things from the perspective of our physical life, our cultural life, and our common universal life. The narrowest view involves our personal bubbles--my body, my feelings, my likes, my dislikes, my fears, my dreams and aspirations. A view larger than ourselves is the one shaped by culture. We tend toward ethno-centrism or the view that our way of life culturally may not always be right, but it is the best to be found. Our commonality with other humans is often not fully developed, but all of the human race has some core motivations centered on the emotions: love, hate, anger, sadness, depression, jealousy, pride, fear. These three levels of understanding are the essence of our natural lives. (Notice the three areas of life susceptible to temptation and expressed by the world fallen man has created? The lust of the flesh--the body, its needs and desires; the pride of life--intellect and cultural structures; the emotions--the lust of the eyes and our hearts' imaginations.)

I believe there is a fourth level of understanding, life according to the spirit-birth in Jesus. Living by the spirit, living in the spirit, being spiritual all receive verbal repetitions in Christian exhortations, but what is it?

It is the level of understanding that is illuminated by God. It is above and beyond the physical, cultural or human experience. However, it releases us from none of these levels. Rather, by learning to abide in the Spirit of Christ through understanding the division between soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12) we become better decision-makers regarding the three natural levels of our experience. Simply, it requires the illumination by God's Spirit within our spirits to develop the fullest maturity and the deepest sense of life as a human. The three levels of understanding that are of the earth only begin to make sense as we approach all levels of earthly knowledge with our knowledge of God in spirit.

Our sense of the Presence of God within us and our ability to live from a position of faith in His divine Presence is the key to maturity as a Christian. I do not propose that meditation is a requirement to facilitate this level of spiritual knowledge and the resulting level of faith. However, I do believe it is a missing element in the lives of many Christians, at least as a deliberate discipline. I think it is useful in developing Christian maturity.

Meditation is a unique Christian discipline which takes place utilizing all three levels of our human experience. Our bodies, our intellect, and our hearts all combine. This unity of being is in itself a strengthening time. As meditation opens one to knowledge of the spirit and of His Spirit, an individual grows in ways teaching alone cannot facilitate.

7 comments:

Josiah said...

Whew, you are quite prolific; I am away from the computer for a while and your blog is full of several new additions. Perhaps you should write a book :)

I think meditation is a type of prayer, and so being is part of the most powerful place in the earth. Considering the way you describe it as taking in the comprehensive person it appears vital to wholeness and maturity.

Craig V. said...

It seems to me, though I haven't done a study, that meditation as presented in the Scriptures is always meditation on something (usually the Law).

Terry said...

Once upon a time (25 years ago) I went to a church that had an interesting traveling pastor. He told us that to meditate was to mutter to oneself. I looked this up to see if he was right. It seems he was and then some.


What is Christian meditation?

Answer: The biblical passages that use the phrase "Christian meditation" are few. Both words "meditate" and "meditation" are found about eighteen times in the Old Testament. There are basically two Hebrew words which are translated "meditate," found in Genesis 24:63; Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; 63:6; 77:12; 119:15, 23, 48, 148; and 143:5. The Hebrew word "hagah" is given the meaning in the context of these verses to "ponder, imagine, meditate, mourn, speak, study, talk, utter, etc." Further meaning of meditation is given in the Hebrew word "aiyach" when it is used to mean "to ponder, to converse with oneself, and hence aloud; to utter or commune, complain, declare, meditate, muse, pray, speak, talk with (God in prayer, etc.) or it could be with another believer or group of believers--speaking one's thoughts about a passage of Scripture or words to a hymn, etc.

I don't know much but I know that I don't meditate enough. I am sure that if I did, the problems of this life would not seem as real.

ded said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ded said...

Hey Terry!

Thanks for the comment. Your last thought is my point exactly. Our experiential lives would improve from the practice of meditation that was appropriately on the Father and His Son.

ded said...

josiah, thanks for stopping by. Yes, I think meditation is a type of prayer, but not in the sense of making our requests known to the Father. I understand it as an interaction between God and supplicant that does not necessarily involve words.

craig v.
I agree completely. Meditation is always on something, though not just the law. I wrote my next post over that issue. I think focusing deeply on the Father and His Son, His nature and attributes, is greatly helpful to growing spiritually.

Jimazing said...

ded - I'd like to know what you mean when you say, "Meditation is a unique Christian discipline". Do you mean that meditation is unique to Christianity? Or that what you are referring to as meditation is "Christian meditation"? Or am I missing it altogether?