TAG | T.M.Brain Flynn
The following is part of an article by Brian Flynn, former New Age practitioner. He knows what he is talking about.http://onetruthministries.com/commonground.htm
Contemplative prayer is designed to alter one’s consciousness. When this happens, one’s view of the nature of God, the nature of the universe,and the nature of man are also altered.Read on to find out how this happens.
ONE TRUTH MINISTRIES
Where Does Mysticism Take Us?
The Pursuit of Common Ground
By Brian Flynn
[R]eality itself is one, an integral whole, just as the cosmos and nature are one.… The Hindu, the Buddhist, the Muslim, the Jew, the Jain, the Sikh, the Christian and the agnostic all belong to the same planetary environment … It has to be accepted that we all share in the same system of reality, while our views on its nature may differ. It is essential for the future for all the religious traditions to recognize this underlying unity.–Wayne Teasdale
As I walked into the sanctuary of a local Lutheran church with a few friends of mine one Sunday evening, I realized we should have come a little earlier. The place was filling up quickly. The special guest speaker was Thomas Keating, a Catholic monk considered one of the main individuals responsible for introducing contemplative prayer into the mainstream. While I knew quite a bit about Thomas Keating’s beliefs and teachings, I was not prepared that evening to hear the disturbing and haunting remarks made by this priest in an evangelical church.
The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Contemplative Outreach. Their newsletter states that over a recent twelve-month period, they have:
• Served over 44,000 people through 3000 programs.
• Supported over 120 Chapters in 30 countries.
• Reached 12,000 people through Centering Prayer Introductory programs.
In Keating’s “Transforming the Heart of the World” brochure, he states, “Contemplative Outreach aims to transmit the experience of Divine Love to the global community.”
Keating began the evening’s service by leading the more than 300 in attendance through a twenty-minute centering prayer meditation.
When the meditation time ended Keating proceeded to share his views on contemplative prayer. He said that by practicing this mantra-style prayer on a regular basis, the practitioner can erase the causes that affect unwanted, negative behavior.
Quoting Sigmund Freud and espousing the philosophies of Carl Jung to support his views, Keating stated that our psychological unconsciousness drives our behavior based upon influences from childhood, which he said is what causes sin. He claimed that contemplative prayer can cleanse wounded people from repressed self-knowledge and childhood trauma. In a kind of out-with-the-bad and in-with-the-good mode, Keating said that contemplative prayer was the vehicle to wholeness. Not surprisingly he offered no scriptural references to back this.
From such remarks as “we are the fruit of thirteen and a half billion years of evolution” to “contemplation is the heart and soul of the Gospel” I shuddered to think that this man considered himself to be a spokesman for God. Yet, as I glanced around the room, sure that many others in the room would look as shocked as I know I must have looked, the majority of people sitting there that night smiled, gazed admiringly, and even laughed. I had to remind myself that I was not sitting in a New Age meeting but was actually in an evangelical church. The words apostasy and paradigm shift flashed across my mind. When Keating said, “God is not the fearful God in the Old Testament,” I remembered the words of David the psalmist who said: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).
Keating described contemplative prayer this way:
Contemplative prayer is the opening of mind and heart, our whole being, to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. It is a process of interior purification that leads, if we consent, to divine union.
Divine union, according to Keating, means not simply that we have fellowship with the Father through Jesus Christ, which we do have, but that we actually share God’s divinity. According to the Bible, Jesus has bridged the gap between man and God, but we remain human and not divine. Keating suggests that in the silence of contemplative prayer we actually get in touch with our divinity, thus divine union.
Christian theologian Robert Dabney describes the problem of unification this way:
The Christian believer, after he or she has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is “still a separate person, a responsible free agent, and a man, not a God. The idea of a personal or substantial union would imply the deification of man, which is profane and unmeaning.”
Unity of Experience
Is the Christian contemplative prayer experience similar to Eastern transcendental meditation? In an article in Newsweek magazine, “Religion and the Brain,” the author describes how our brain functions in relation to meditative spiritual experiences:
Although the field is brand new and the answers only tentative, one thing is clear. Spiritual experiences are so consistent across cultures, across time and across faiths, … that it “suggest[s] a common core.”
These studies go beyond the research by Herbert Benson mentioned earlier in this book where he proves that a repetitive process brings one into an altered state of consciousness. These researchers actually locate the brain waves that prove a real biologically-based event.
In Why God Won’t Go Away written by Dr. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania and the late Eugene d’Aquil, the authors use brain-imaging data they collected from Tibetan Buddhists who were in trance-like meditative states and from Franciscan nuns deep in contemplative prayer.
One of the Buddhist monks described his “moment of peak transcendence” (which he has practiced since he was fourteen) this way:
A feeling of energy centered within me … going out to infinite space and returning … a relaxing of the dualistic mind.… I felt a deep and profound sense of connection to everything, recognizing that there never was a true separation at all.
One Franciscan nun described her moments of ecstasy:
I felt communion, peace, openness to experience … [There was] an awareness and responsiveness to God’s presence around me, and a feeling of centering, quieting, nothingness, [as well as] moments of fullness of the presence of God. [God was] permeating my being.
Although the article suggests that the experiences are not really spiritual but merely a brain function brought about by a repetitive meditative process, they do conclude like Benson that the experiences are similar.
They describe the nun’s experience this way:
During her most intensely religious moments, when she felt a palpable sense of God’s presence and an absorption of her self into his being, her brain displayed changes like those in the Tibetan Buddhist meditator.… The fact that spiritual contemplation affects brain activity gives the experience a reality that psychologists and neuroscientists had long denied it, and explains why people experience ineffable, transcendent events as equally real as seeing a wondrous sunset or stubbing their toes.
Their conclusion of a similarity of experiences is correct, but their summation is wrong. The feelings that the Buddhists and the contemplatives share is the immersion into the same spiritual realm. They think this realm is God, but I propose that this is not the realm of God but rather a demonic one, thus a realm that no Christian should ever enter.
Wayne Teasdale was a lay monk who coined the term interspirituality, a uniting of the world’s religions through common ground. In an article titled, “Mysticism as the Crossing of Ultimate Boundaries,” he describes interspirituality as:
• A crossing-over boundaries that mysticism makes possible and concrete.
• The spiritual common ground which exists among the world’s religions.
The term means to break down the barriers that separate religions. Through what means does Teasdale believe this breaking down and merging of religions occurs? None other than mysticism ( i.e., contemplative prayer):
All these religious traditions [Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, etc.] emerge out of mystical experience, and mystical experience means a direct knowledge of and relationship with the Divine, God, or boundless consciousness. One can almost say that the real religion of humankind isn’t religion at all, but rather it is mystical spirituality.
All traditions emphasize the deep interiority of the contemplative vision.
Is contemplative prayer more than just an individual experience for unity or communication with God? When Keating spoke about contemplative prayer he stated that we could achieve unity of knowledge, Oneness with God and Oneness of all man. He believes that if we are all practicing contemplative prayer we will create a unity of the cosmic consciousness of all people. According to Keating, it is through this process we can create world peace.