What is meditation? There is a greater emphasis lately in the secular world on meditation. There has been a rise in this spiritual exercise whether this is through yoga, nebulous eastern new age religion, or one of the many meditation clubs that are popping up all over the country. It is promoted as a stress reliever, and is even claimed to promote good health. As is always is the case for Christians, the question becomes not necessarily “what is meditation?”, but rather, “how should a Christians meditate?”
The traditional eastern idea of meditation is generally based on Hindu or Buddhist traditions. In most cases this is where the world gains their understanding of “meditation” as it is seen by the public. These traditions are an attempt to empty your mind in order to experience some type of transcendent reality. This is seen all throughout the primary Hindu and Buddhist texts. The following is an example of this;
“All objects are worldly because ‘seeking’ is the world. So you cannot seek anything non-worldly. The moment you seek, it becomes the world. If you are seeking God, your God is part of the world. If you are seeking MOKSHA -- liberation -- NIRVANA, your liberation is part of the world, your liberation is not something that transcends the world, because seeking is the world, desiring is the world. So you cannot desire nirvana, you cannot desire non-desire.” -Vigyan Bhairav Tantra by Osho
There is the element of emptying your mind so that you can experience a completely transcendental state of being. The goal according to this mindset is to achieve a “god consciences”. The problem with this is that it is contrary to everything that the Bible teaches. Firstly, we are never to empty our minds. In fact, we are rather encouraged to constantly be “…sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” ( 1 Peter 5:8). To empty your mind biblically speaking is to leave yourself vulnerable to sin and Satanic attack. This is not how a Christian should meditate. All throughout the Bible we are told to be sober minded and self-controlled. This is because if we empty our minds of all else, we are still nothing more than depraved human beings with hearts that are desperately wicked. Secondly, this idea of attaining a “god consciousness” is not a product of biblical spiritual life, but rather, it is the essential fallen nature exhibited in Genesis in which Adam and Eve desired to be like God. The idea that one could in any way become the essence of God is the greatest manifestation of the fallen nature of man. Eastern meditation is completely incompatible with Scriptures and thus also completely incompatible with Christian life.
So then, what does meditation mean in the Christian life? If the broken method of meditation is to empty your mind, the Bible not unexpectedly calls us to the opposite. Colossians speaks of this very thing when it says…
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Col 3:16–17
We are to fill our mind constantly and consistently with Scripture, or let it “dwell in you richly”. Certainly, there should be an effort in Christian meditation to remove the distractions of life, but we are to remove them for the sake of focusing on the Word of God and experiencing God as He reveals Himself in His Word. That means being daily engaged with the Bible in the morning and having it on your mind until you lay down at night. Not only does Colossians instruct us to meditate on Scripture, but we are also to spend our day meditating by worshipping God. Christian meditation begins with seeking to understand God’s Word, and this will inevitably lead us to a heart of worship. When we understand God as He represents Himself in the Bible, the only natural reaction is to worship Him with thanksgiving. This in turn changes our heart and our life follows suit. The greatest struggle with Christians is that all too often they feel that their Christian life is stale or ineffectual. They feel that it is hollow and habit rather than a meaningful relationship with God. This is often due to a lack of value placed on God’s Word. If we want a living and vibrant spiritual life, we will pursue God through an earnest passion for Scripture.
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. -Psalm 1:1–3