A Closer Look
From mindfulness to yoga, everyone these days seems to be seeking a way to achieve inner peace … or at least lower blood pressure. “Meditation” is certainly in vogue — perhaps a response to the spiritual restlessness and disorientation of our times. But Eastern spirituality and Christian prayer are quite different. While Eastern spirituality techniques may offer an experience of silence as well as physical benefits, what our hearts deeply need and desire more than anything is the presence of Love Himself. We find Him in Christian prayer.
Religious Origins: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism
Goal: Seeking harmony with the self or the impersonal “spirit of the universe.”
Self-focused: Quest for mental balance or well-being.
Empty to be empty: Emptiness and detachment for its own sake.
World as impersonal: Views the world as an illusion, with no ultimate personal existence.
Opening up to the darkness: Hinges on mastering techniques such as repetitive phrases (mantras) to focus the mind or achieve a particular mental state. As part of this, practitioners may — knowingly or unknowingly — invoke actual spirits through these religiously charged mantras and postures.
To Learn More:
- Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age, www.vatican.va
- A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness, by Susan Brinkmann
- Catholics and the New Age, by Fr. Mitch Pacwa
- New Age Counterfeit, by Johnette Benkovic
Religious Origins: Christianity
Goal: A personal, intimate communion between you and the Living God.
Relational: Entering into a personal relationship of love with God and others.
Empty to be filled by God: Seeking detachment from sin and the distractions of the world in order to be filled by the rich love of God.
World as gift: Views the world as marred by sin, but fundamentally good and an intentional gift.
Opening up to the gifts of the Holy Spirit: It’s about an active, real relationship with the God of Love — receiving Jesus at the level of the heart. It may use techniques such as repetitive phrases (i.e. the name of Jesus, the Rosary) to focus and dispose the mind to prayer and to open the soul to the gifts of the Holy Spirit — wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe of the Lord.
To Learn More:
- Time for God, by Fr. Jacques Phillipe
- Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel on Prayer, by Fr. Thomas Dubay
Originally printed in IMPRINT Magazine Winter 2019.