Archive for August, 2006

Meditation Part 3 – Infant or Adult?

Monday, August 21st, 2006
Once again thinking about meditation brings up an issue that is relevant to all spirituality: the issue of adult v infant. I think that this is best illustrated by the story of the fall. Having made the transition from an angst-free infant state, to a shame-filled self-awareness, man and woman seek to re-enter the garden of innocence, only to find the way blocked by an angel with a flaming sword.    

The implication is clear: the way forward lies not back to the womb, but forward to maturity.

Maturity is a goal that the New Testament points us to: where we make the hard decisions and do not give in to escapism. When our spirituality becomes an escape from the real world, look out!

Another problem I have with charismatic, transcendental worship is that I believe that the mind state sought is a womb state, where ego-barriers and self-consciousness break down and the mind enters a suggestible state, where it absolves itself of responsibility for making a sound decision. In my experience, churches that see this type of worship as central tend to have a membership that see maturity as a low priority and tend to place value on harmonious living and a shared dogma.

But maybe we do need periods in our spiritual rhythm when we return to the womb for a period of safety and comfort. Maybe I need to acknowledge that just because some churches have made the mistake of pursuing the womb in all of their worship, does not mean that their is not a legitimate need for the odd womb experience for those pursuing maturity.

Churches have tended to be home to two groups of people: those desperately pursuing reality and those desperately seeking to avoid reality.

Meditation Part 2 – Writing Meditations

Sunday, August 20th, 2006
In the previous post, I highlighted some issues surrounding the practice of meditation: issues of immanence and trancendence, reality and story. I concluded by saying that it is important what kind of stories we tell.Of course this is not only true of meditation, but of all our communications. So what is it about meditation that influences the kind of stories we might use? 

We are envisioning a scenario where a group of people will relax and imagine a story that is fed to them. The fact that the audience will be passively receiving the story puts a great responsibility on those writing such meditations. There is a temptation to write something acceptable to all: a fake, fluffy puppy faith of the sort that we are all familiar with.

The writing of meditations is thus an art form. Here are some of the factors that I think are involved:

  • Beauty of language. The use of poetic devices, rhythm and alliteration
  • Poetic and metaphoric language also allows each individual to take something different from it within the bounds of the overall message. This gives space for profound effects while lowering the risk of condemnatory effects.
  • It is a good idea to have an ‘edge’: some sort of shock element or surprise perspective that holds interest and sheds new light
  • Performance: The fact that meditations are word-based, does not mean the method of transmitting those words is irrelevent. A good vocal performance is important.
  • Environment: the setting for the meditation, including lighting and ambient sound/music will also enhance the experience.