by Rhonda Jones
The word meditation is a derivative of the Latin word meditar?, which means to reflect on, to study or to practice. This is the general definition of the word. In Christianity, meditation is a form of prayer where Christians reflect upon the word of God. This definition is derived from the Bible, specifically Joshua 1:8, where the Lord says to meditate on his word Day and Night. Contrastingly, meditation, in most Eastern Religions, is a way of emptying and transforming the mind. This is the main difference between meditation in Christianity and meditation in Buddhism and other Eastern religions. Below are the seven main differences between the two forms of meditation.
1. Emptying the mind versus reflecting on God’s word
Meditation, according to Buddhist teachings and the teachings of other Eastern religions, is supposed to free the mind from anxiety, stress, anger and other such emotions. Thus the main purpose of meditation is to free the mind. In contrast, the purpose of meditation in Christianity is to bring Christians closer to God and enrich the soul, mind and body with God’s truth. In deed in Psalms 1:2 it is written; “his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law he meditates Day and Night”.
2. God is in control as opposed to self control
Eastern meditation is based on the belief that human beings have the power to control and change their circumstances and situations. This is done through chanting and visualization, which are the two key elements of Eastern meditation. Christian meditation on the other hand is based on the idea of God’s superiority over Human Beings. In this regard, God is all powerful and all knowing, and therefore God’s word is the unchangeable truth. Human beings have to accept that God is in control of all circumstances and situations.
3. Christian meditation is based on the Power of resurrection
Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as contemplated in the Holy Bible. It is on the resurrection of Christ that Christian meditation is based. In this respect, Christians rely on the power of Christ to raise them from the bondage of sin and darkness. Eastern meditation does not recognize the power of Resurrection nor Jesus Christ as being the key to inner peace.
4. Christian meditation brings Christians closer to God
The purpose of Christian meditation is to bring Christians closer to God. However, Eastern meditation considers this to be a limiting factor on the journey towards self realization. Most eastern religions advocate for freedom from everything, spiritual things included. Therefore, the perception that human beings should obey God’s commandment is limiting and not real.
5. Christian meditation is purely for spiritual purposes
Christians meditate as it is a command from God elaborated in the Holy Bible. Therefore the sole reason why Christians meditate is to obey God’s commandments and be closer to Him. Eastern meditation practices serve a wide array of purposes. Some meditation practices are used for exercise, a good example being the Chinese form of meditation known as Tai Chi. This form of meditation is used by athletes and bodybuilders as a means of maintaining fitness. Other forms of Eastern meditation are used to relieve stress and anxiety.
6. The material world is illusory
In Eastern meditation the material world is viewed as being illusory. Therefore, the main goal of meditation is to be free of all senses and the material world in search of the divine. In contrast, Christian meditation teaches that God reveals Himself in the material world. Therefore, Christian meditation begins in the material world, where Christians are able to reflect on the word of God.
7. The redundancy of relationships
Certain forms of Eastern meditation such as Zen lean toward monism, which basically refers to reality being one. Zen seeks to eliminate all distinctions and relationships and advocates against logical thought. In this regard Zen involves meditating on impossibilities in the hope of overcoming the restrictions of the logical thought. Christian meditation is based on the Christian principle of distinctions and relationship. In deed the Christian aspect of God is that of three separate entities united in to one. This is the principle of the Holy Trinity, which consists of God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit. In Christian meditation, the union of separate beings or relationship, in particular between God and humans, cannot be severed through enlightenment.
As you can seen, there is a vast difference between Christian and eastern meditation practices!