Monday, December 12, 2011

Transcendental Meditation vs Contemplative/Centering Prayer: A Comparison

Centering Prayer is often incorporated into Catholic retreats and worship services.

The practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) has been growing rapidly since its arrival in the late '50s to the U.S., and it was characterized as a new religious movement. Since this point in time, studies have been done to support the benefits of TM, which has helped to create more teaching centers. According to the movement, four to six million people have been trained in TM technique since 1959.[1]

Fast forward to the year 2003. David Lynch started a fundraising project to raise $1 billion on behalf of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who brought TM to the U.S.. His plan was to build a meditation center large enough to hold 8,000 skilled practitioners. David Lynch's foundation also funds university and medical school research to assess the effects of the program on academic performance, ADHD and other learning disorders, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and diabetes.. TM in at-risk patients was shown to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by 47%. In this news article,  just by continually repeating a mantra, it has been found to reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol and thickening of the arteries.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr got top billing for the "Change Begins Within" benefit concert held at Radio City Music Hall in NY City in 2009. As part of their publicity for the event, several celebrity advocates of TM attended the press conference. The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace has an integral part of advancing TM into every aspect of society, as you will see in his website and this video.

(YouTube link)

Schools, the military, homeless shelters, American Indians, prisons, and global outreach projects are being taught TM to control difficult aspects of their lives. It is not by coincidence then that TM has been showing up in human potential seminars, some alternative holistic health practices, and certain curriculum in public and private schools.

David Lynch believes that, “Every child traumatized by violence should be given this tool to find peace within. The research is compelling and the benefits are real.” In the following video, David Lynch will show you how children are being trained TM to deal with the negative aspects of living in a lost world.

(YouTube link) 

Is there an agenda?
Does this organization have genuine concern for the welfare of these social groups, or do they have an agenda? TM helps the practitioner to enter altered states of consciousness, which enables them to cope with life. As the practitioner tries to find help for their ailments, they are actually using the world's therapy. It is a big hook that reels its practitioner in and slowly changes their attitudes and creates tolerance where there once was none.

As the practitioner is seeking a "higher self," also known as the "divine-within," he is being conditioned to accept the coming Aquarian age and their philosophy that "all is One." As the population is in an altered state of consciousness, the New Age movement is making inroads into messing them up spiritually and creating an age of occultic mysticism.

This wave of the future was planned by New Agers to assist in bringing in their New Age "christ" and a one world government. Alice Bailey, a Theosophist/occultist, desired the time when the 'Christian churches' would embrace the New Age concepts of illumination and self-realization. She knew it would make the Church ripe for the Aquarian Age. She said:
"The Christian church, in its many branches, can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished." 
The ultimate goal of Transcendental Meditation is peace. Peace within ones self and peace around the globe.[2]  One of the organizations Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded before his death was the Global Country of World Peace (GCWP). He started "to create global world peace by unifying all nations in happiness, prosperity, invincibility and perfect health, while supporting the rich diversity of our world family."[2] Sounds great, but it's a counterfeit. Peace only comes through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the following video, John Hagelin from the Maharishi University of Management, claims that research hypothesis states that by the use of TM, it could radiate the influence of peace. This training could affect overall society and bring peace in the Middle East.

(YouTube link)

Contemplative Prayer
As TM makes its way into the workplace and schools, Christians have come in contact with it too. TM has also shown up in the Church and is considered as a wave of the future - but it's now called Contemplative/Centering prayer. Now being accepted by many megachurches, local pastors have begun accepting Contemplative/Centering prayer as a lost art of the early Church. But is there a reason why it became a lost/hidden art?

Let's look at this subject more closely. Is TM really being repackaged as Contemplative Prayer/Centering prayer, as many say it is? Has the terminology from TM been Christianized and modified to fool the Church? In order to provide these people a fair shake, we'll do a comparative study of both. Since I encourage everyone to test everything for truth, and to assure us that the information and cautions being disseminated by discernment ministries is valid, let's check it out.

One View of Christian Meditation
Those who practice Christian meditation often issue warnings on differences, and potential incompatibilities, between genuine Christian meditation and the styles of meditation used in eastern religions. These warnings point to fundamental errors when combining Christian and non-Christian styles of meditation.

It is presented that Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion with Him. The focus for many is primarily on the Holy Spirit inhabiting the Christian, which is the divine-within, and tries to place credibility on the meditative practice.

All of this sounds great, but after being in the Pentecostal and Charismatic for most of my Christian walk, it makes me wonder if it is just another bait and switch. Just as Christians have been fooled for generations with the second-filling experience of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost encouraged by Christian Gnostics, perhaps we should carefully compare the actual process.

Steps to Christian Meditation
There are different forms of Christian meditation, and I will focus on Centering prayer. Centering prayer is when you silently repeat a word and it places a strong emphasis on interior silence.[2]  According to Basil Pennington, a Trappist monk, you should follow this process:
  1. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself as you listen to music. Be in love and faith to God.
  2. Although not mentioned in every source, it is recommended that you place the tongue to the roof of your mouth. (Note that the tongue activates the pineal gland.)
  3. Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you (i.e. "Jesus", "Lord," "God," "Savior," "Abba," "Shalom," "Spirit," etc.).
  4. Let that word be gently present a sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you. (Thomas Keating advises that the word remain unspoken.)
  5. Use the word forcefully to eliminate thoughts. Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, associations, etc.), simply return to your sacred word, using it as your anchor. Progress in intimacy with God means progress in silence. [3]
  6. Experience the divine presence of God.
Ideally, the prayer will reach the point where the person is not engaged in their thoughts as they arrive on their stream of consciousness. This is the "cloud of unknowing" referenced in the books of Christian mystics of the 14th century book. It involves heartfelt spiritual union with God, and it is an experience of God's presence.

To make it clearer to exactly what Centering prayer is, these short statements are all based on the thoughts of Father Thomas Keating. He is a writer, teacher and founding member of the Spirituality branch of Integral Institute. Centering prayer is the movement toward the center of our being. [4] It is a process of emptying and surrendering, which makes room for God's infinite love. [5] According to the video, Father Keating, in order to reach the final goal, "you must pass through the spiritual level to awaken to the true self, and to whatever the divine presence God wants to share with us....It is the same union and unity that Jesus experiences with the Father and the Holy Spirit. What is brought about through centering prayer is the mystical depth, which can't be attained through conventional prayer."[6

Those who practice centering prayer are advised to do it twice a day for 20 minute sessions.

Health Benefits of Centering Prayer
Since TM has health benefits, let's compare it with the benefits of Centering prayer. 
  • The relaxation response - prayer elicits the relaxation response, which lowers blood pressure and other factors heightened by stress
  • Secondary control - prayer releases control to something greater than oneself, which can reduce the stress of needing to be in charge
  • The placebo response - prayer can enhance a person's hopes and expectations and that in turn can positively impact health
  • Healing presence - prayer can bring a sense of a spiritual or loving presence and alignment with God or an immersion into a universal unconsciousness 
  • Positive feelings - prayer can elicit feelings of gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and hope, all of which are associated with healing and wellness.  
  • Mind-body-spirit connection - when prayer uplifts or calms, it inhibits the release of cortisol and other hormones, thus reducing the negative impact of stress on the immune system and promoting healing.     

Transcendental Meditation
To do it correctly, it is advised that you learn from a trained instructor.
  1. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself as you listen to music. 
  2. Although not mentioned in every source, it is recommended that you place the tongue to the roof of your mouth - and activates the pineal gland.
  3. The mantra is a sound or word that has no meaning, and is thought (but not spoken) during meditation. For example, you might repeat the sacred mantra AUM a certain number of times. Repeating a mantra forces the mind to focus on a single thought. The mantra is repeated mentally, to help keep focus, and it is used as a vehicle that allows the individual's attention to travel naturally to a less active, quieter style of mental functioning. 
  4. The object of the exercise it to eliminate thoughts and transcend consciousness, continuing to use the sacred word forcefully to eliminate thoughts.
  5. The mind is left fully awake with no boundaries. This is the silent state of the mind and it is supposed to be fulfilling. It uses the natural tendency of the mind to go toward greater happiness, so the mind effortlessly transcends to its most silent state. 
  6. There are several levels of consciousness, with Infinite intelligence (christ consciousness) being the highest level of awareness.
After learning the proper methods of TM, it is recommended that you meditate twice a day for twenty minutes each session.

Additional Info
As stated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1955 in The Beacon Light of the Himalayas: "For purpose we select only the suitable mantras of personal gods. Such mantras fetch to us the grace of personal gods and make us happier in every walk of life."[7]

In this natural state, which Maharishi describes as “the simplest form of human awareness,” the mind has settled inward, beyond all perception, thought, and feeling. The mind becomes restful yet remains fully awake and alert. What is consciousness aware of in this state? Itself alone — one experiences consciousness in its pure state, silent and unbounded. Consciousness becomes its own object. In Transcendental Consciousness, “the subject and the object are one.”[8][9][10][11]

All of the information I found on TM was taken directly from the masters and TM sites. The information I obtained for Centering prayer was taken directly from the experts, not from the discernment ministries. I have made this research and conclusions as unbiased as possible.

Based upon information in this TM blog, not all meditation is the same, therefore not all meditation is transcendental. It states:
"During TM practice, one experiences that it is the mind's 'nature' to settle inward and experience the state of pure awareness. Because transcending is a natural process, it's possible to transcend during any form of meditation if the right conditions are present. However, practices such as mindfulness, guided meditation, "Christian centering prayer" or common "mantra" meditation — which have their own valuable benefits — typically engage the mind within the realm of thought, sensation or emotion and are not designed for automatic self-transcending. Such practices tend to keep the mind active and do not spontaneously induce the deep, inward settling associated with transcendental consciousness."

Therefore, in spite of the distinct similarities between Transcendental Meditation and Contemplative/Centering prayer, I believe they are not entirely the same, though they are very close. They borrow terminology and the step-by-step descent into the meditative state, but Centering prayer stops at a given point where TM continues the descent.

Does this mean that Centering prayer is completely safe? Absolutely not! The origin of the practice is from Mystics and Contemplatives from the Kabbalah. Since the the foundational teachings of the Kabbalah system are a complete departure from what is written and understood by Christendom, I believe there is some price to pay for practicing it. 

Contemplatives claim that while they use Centering prayer, they feel closeness to God. Well, I believe that whatever they sense as closeness to God is the same false phenomena similar to that of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This provided a definite sense of cleansing, happiness, and closeness to God that anyone could possibly experience, but it is also shared with the Pagan religions - and straight from the Kabbalah. Since Pagans use Centering prayer to get close to god, I believe Centering prayer is Pagan also.

One definite risk with Centering prayer is taking it too far. Ray Yungen and the Lighthouse Trails website have stories about Christians who started to use the practice of Centering prayer and they are now fully involved in the New Age movement. There is a hook Satan uses to reel in unsuspecting Christians.

Biblical meditation involves meditating on the Word of God consciously vs. emptying the mind. We are not told in Scripture to "experience" God or his "presence." His presence is a reality within us through "faith" - not an experience. If you recall, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He used "words" and then commanded against vain repetition as the heathen do (Matt. 6:7).

If you listen to TM and Contemplative practitioners on YouTube who have used these techniques for any length of time, they sound like dopers who have used marijuana and drugs way too long. They speak slowly, softly, and they seem like their mind is on another planet. If the Contemplatives sound this way, then it is having the same effect on this group.

Is Transcendental Meditation and Centering prayer being used by the Illuminati to take the fight out of the masses, thus giving them the edge to control the population? Yes, I'm convinced that it is.

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils..." 1 Timothy 4:1

Added 2/29/2012
If you still aren't convinced that these spiritual exercises could be dangerous, listen to some history about its beginnings in the Roman Catholic church.