Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Meditatio - Natural Healing Modality

When you bring the 4 corners of yourself together as one, you may then you can proclaim God one. Every word of your prayer should be filled with light, and when you pray, you should contain worlds. ~Baal Shem Tov

Prayer develops our psyche from active to receptive, from outward towards inward. Through silent, receptive prayer (meditation) we integrate the mind-body as we learn to yield our will and need to the sacred flow of Eternal Truth.

F. Scott Peck said, “everyone has a spiritual life, whether they acknowledge it or not.”[1] And spirituality, or essential being, takes the entire self into account. Spirituality is the eros, the relational energy that enlivens us, holds us together and integrates our thoughts and emotions with our actions on all levels of being and doing.[2] While spirituality often evokes religious ideology, psychologists tend to view spirituality as a “universal human phenomenon, largely independent of concrete confessions or religious organizations or movements.”[3]

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”[4]  These supposed words of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas imply the necessity of giving attention to the inner self, both its essential loving nature and its [naïve] errancy. In fact, this statement reflects the same idea of death or destruction as a result of failing metanoia as indicated by Paul, Origen and Philo, mentioned above.* Spiritual wholeness or healing is the balance of Mind:Body:Spirit. And because the body is an expression of the Mind and Spirit, physical healing can also be augmented through spiritual well-being. We are healed and whole when the energies of our thinking and our behavior are tempered, guided, and integrated by a Spirit of love. The fully integrated human being (using both factual and intuitive/emotional memory) and doing (applying that “wisdom” in purpose) is a person reconciled through the Spirit.

In the 6th century BCE, the Buddha taught meditation as part of the Eight-fold Path of spirituality, a mechanism by which suffering could be overcome and the practitioner could become aware or enlightened.[5]  Saul was also relieved of the emotional suffering that motivated him to slay Christians, and it was simply by realizing the love of Christ and his participation in that relationship.  There are two things that cause us to suffer: one is not knowing who we are (Olendzki 2005) and the other is the tension of what is and how it should be (Siegel 2007).[6],[7]  We can resolve both these stressors through contemplative mind, a perspective which is cultivated through prayer practice or mediation. This is not a new concept; in fact it actually predates the Buddha. Meditation or contemplative prayer has been the foundation of religious (including Christian) spirituality for hundreds of years. But, at least since the Age of Enlightenment (17th century), it has been buried under our Western cultural bias towards rationalism.

The Hindu Vedas, the oldest sacred texts in existence (1500-1000 BCE), the Buddhist and Taoist texts (500-400 BCE) speak of meditation as a practice to cultivate mental balance, enlightened consciousness, encourage wisdom, calmness and inner peace. In the Eastern traditions, meditation was referred to as a “salvation path,” leading to serenity, insight, and wisdom.[8],[9] The Tibetan word for meditation is “gom,” meaning familiarity or habitual.[10] In Alexandria, Philo (20 BCE – 40 CE), the Jewish philosopher, is credited as the first to notate a contemplative prayer path leading to Godliness in the Western traditions.[11]

To pray, or meditate in Hebrew was called hāgâ, meaning to sigh or murmur, and also, to meditate.[12] The Greek translation of hāgâ was melete, which became the Latin, meditatio.[13] The use of the term meditatio as part of a formal, stepwise process of meditation goes back to the 12th-century Carthusian monk, Guigo II.[14] The Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 4th century practiced contemplative prayer, wishing to remove the onus of vice (ego) such that the true nature of self (Godliness) was revealed through continued experiences of God in silence and self reflection. John Climacus (7th c) (Ladder of Perfection) in the Eastern church and John Cassian (435) (Conferences) in the Western church wrote of the desert dwellers as deeply in love with God and fiercely committed to humility.[15] Cassian’s writings were incorporated into the Rule of St Benedict, the founding precepts of Western Monasticism, and further developed by an unknown writer in the 14th century in the classic, Cloud of Unknowing. A contemporary Christian contemplative practice that grew out of the “Cloud” is centering prayer, revived as such in the 1960s by Benedictines, Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington. Simultaneously, British Benedictine, John Main was originating what would become the World Community for Christian Meditation. Christian contemplative practices are numerous and varied, active and passive to suit many personalities and spiritual types.

Inner well-being as critical for physiological health is very old wisdom and the Mind: Body balance is infused into many ancient terms which apply to both outer and inner realities, as we’ve already discussed. Another example is shalom, meaning “peace” is from the Hebrew, “shalam,” to be “complete” or “whole.” Shalom, spiritually interpreted, is the integrated state of a person in a right relationship with God, with others, and within self. Shalom is reconciled being healed and at peace within and without.[16] Over the past 40-50 years, secular meditation has been widely employed in clinical psychology practice and has shown benefits for autistic and attention deficit disorder in children. In the last ten years much has been learned about the neurophysiology of the brain during and after meditation, due in large part to medical professionals who are also Buddhist meditation practitioners. The wellness benefits of meditation practice are well established.[17], [18]

Peggy Beatty, Promoting Reconciliation Through Contemplative Christian Prayer Formation (excerpt)

Peace of reconciling oneness to all of you! Peggy @ Ecumenicus

* (From a previous section) The more challenging life becomes, the greater emotional stability required. Not by denial or distraction, which is often the way we cope, but by what is referred to in the Bible as “healing.” Indeed, this “suffering” we do is profoundly implied in the paschal mystery, wherein the suffering of Jesus the Christ results in “healing” for the world. When faith heals us, it is through our renewed realization that suffering can be overcome by love. We, in a very deep intuitive, not intellectual, way undergo what the Greeks called, metanoia, metá, meaning "beyond" or "after" and noeō,” meaning "perception" or "understanding" or "mind". Metanoia is a change of perception that allows us to overcome any and all psychological obstacles to our essence in love, which is our Imago Dei. Metanoia is related to gnosis or wisdom, which is inner knowing, intuition, insight. A Hellenistic understanding was the “Spirit of God in the mind of humanity.”[1]  Strong’s concordance defines metanoia as repentance, a change of mind, a change in the inner man.[2] Philo, Origen and Paul make use of metanoia to refer to the response to death that occurs as a result of the life of misguided passions.[3] In this case, death does not mean end of life, but the psychospiritual “deaths” which are concept and behavioral barriers to realizing ourselves as true loving self, the Imago Dei. This is psychospiritual “death” that wanes as metanoia allows wisdom to rise. All behavior is reflective of a psychological state of mind. Suffering or woundedness arises as both external circumstance and internal response, not necessarily in that order.

[1] Holmes, 18.
[2] Strong’s Concordance Online @ (, Accessed April 20, 2014.
[3] John T. Conroy, Jr., “The Wages of Sin is Death” the Death of the Soul in Greek, Second Temple Jewish and Early Christian Authors., PhD diss., Notre Dame University, April 2008.

[1] Corinne Ware, Discover your Spiritual Type. (Alban Institute Publications, Inc., 1995), 10.
[2] Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing, the Search for a Christian Spirituality (New York, NY: Doubledday/Random House, 1999), 22.
[3] Pavel Rican and Pavlina Janosova, “Spiriutality as a Basic Aspect of Personality: A Cross-Cultural Verification of Peidmont’s Model,” The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 20;2010:2-13.
[4] (Meyer, M. The Nag Hamadi Scriptures: Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts(New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2007), 148.
[5] Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion, translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, 1993, Online @, (Accessed April 17, 2014).
[6] Olendzki A. “The Roots of Mindfulness.” In Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, ed. K. G. Germer, R. D. Seigel, and P.R. Fulton (New York: Guilford, 2005), 241-261.
[7] Siegel, DJ. The Mindful Brain (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2007).

[8]Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter, Zen Buddhism : a History: India and China (Bloomington, IN : World Wisdom 2005), 15.
[9] Bhikkhu Bodhi, In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha) (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications 2005), 267-70.
[10]Rudy Harderwijk, A View on Buddhism, What is Meditation, Online @, Accessed April 20, 2014.
[11] Holmes, 17.
[12] Terje Stordalen, "Ancient Hebrew Meditative Recitation", in Halvor Eifring (ed.), Meditation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Cultural Histories, (London, 2013), 17-31.
[13] Lawrence S. Cunningham, and Keith J. Egan. Christian Spirituality: Themes From the Tradition (New York : Paulist Press, 1996), 88.    
[14] Ibid., 38.
[15] Carmody, Denise Lardner and John Tully. Mysticism Holiness East and West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 198.
[16] C.W. Ellison and J. Smith, “Toward an Integrative Measure of Health and Well-Being,” Journal of Psychology and Theology Vol 19, Spring 1991:35-48.
[17] Brandon L.Whittington and Steven J. Scher, “Prayer and Subjective Well-Being: An Examination of Six Different Types of Prayer,” The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 20,2010;59-68.
[18] P. Gregg Blanton, The Other Mindful Practice: Centering Prayer & Psycholtherapy, Pastoral Psychol 60, 2011:133-147.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Clinging to Concepts and Resurrection: Jesus and Mary Magdala in the Garden

When Jesus appears to Mary Magdala in the garden he asks her not to touch him -

I never suspected
to be so painful...
to leave me weeping
With joy
to have met you, alive and smiling, outside an empty tomb
With regret
not because I've lost you
but because I've lost you in how I had you --
in understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable
not as fully Lord, but as graspably human.

I want to cling, despite your protest
cling to your body
cling to your, and my, clingable humanity
cling to what we had, our past.
But I know that...if I cling
you cannot ascend and

I will be left clinging to your former self
...unable to receive your present spirit.

Fr Ronald Rolheiser, Mary Magdala's Easter Prayer in Forgotten Among the Lillies, p176.
Art: St John's Bible

One of the most significant revelations in my journey was the definitive change from flesh human having a spiritual experience to spiritual human having an enfleshed experience...I really already knew this from science classes - that matter is really tiny "particles" (not really particles, but we have created a particulate model) of energy, and mostly space between said "particles." My amazing optic brain mechanisms create a vision of solid form where there is, on a different level of observation, jiggling dancing energy.

Perhaps the other significant factor that I became aware of was that thoughts have power....and they can limit my understanding, create delusion and keep me from loving peace. Like words, thoughts reduce anything that exists before the thought. This is why the Israelites would not say the name of Yahweh. In fact Yahweh and Allah are both descriptions of breath moving through the lips, not definitive names for Ultimate Reality.

When my father died, I was forced to change my relationship with him from one in matter to one in spirit. I need him to be here, so I am willing to change the way I understand my reality so that he is as close as ever. Through meditation, I have cultivated a very peaceful and real spiritual reality, which gives me increasingly profound reverence for all of life. Oh, its continuing work! I live in the tension between what can be and what is - possibility(spiritual) and concept (matter or thought). I am most certainly not the only one! My peace in this place of unseen reality is reflected to me in scripture, where Jesus and Paul constantly attempt to change people's perspective to emphasize the spirit. Metanoia - think again....

Just as the Buddhists, Hindus and ancient philosophers espouse, it is our attachment to material reality, conceptual reality, a reality based on form as the predominant nature of everything, that causes us to suffer and to remain unenlightened. And if we are a Pastor and we are teaching a solely material reality, then we, like Mary Magdala cries in this beautiful poem, are keeping each other from ascending and we are keeping our selves in darkness. Or put another way, our attachments to what we think is true can keep us from gaining a more expansive perspective of truth. One point of truth can be bisected by an infinite number of lines; lines being perspectives.

Religion, from re-ligare, means to bind back, which is to say, return to your spiritual Oneness in the Divine essence. You are made in the image of God, sacred, priestly, holy. ALL religious texts and practices are designed to draw you away from matter and its hold on you and give you an experience of Spirit. Matter is context. Matter is where spirit finds purpose or action. Matter causes struggle and forces us to rise above it! When the Spirit is changed, when it is given priority, then purpose flows from Oneness and benevolence, rather than defensiveness. That's called transformation or in the case of Paul, conversion. Metanoia - think again. When we "have the Mind of Christ" we are awake, enlightened, can see truth from many perspectives (called nondual perspective), and we can hold the tension of living as spiritual beings enfleshed, we can temper and be mindful of the power of our thoughts and words.

To live in the Spirit. This is what it means to be resurrected. This is what it means to be enlightened or awake. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus the Christ.

Easter blessings! Be still. And know that I AM.

_/\_Peggy @ ECUMENICUS

Artwork: St John's Bible