Friday, February 12, 2016

Christians Learning From Buddhists: Another Post For Lent

I hadn't known who Susan Stabile was before listening to this video yesterday,  I will be ordering her book.   The path she talks about sounded so familiar to me.  I also have used Buddhist techniques with Jewish-Christian "objects" for meditation instead of the neutral ones that I was taught to use by a Buddhist practitioner.  For me that has made all the difference.

Recently someone who read a passing reference I made to that asked me what I did.  Well, to start with I've never found sitting meditation does much but make me either fall asleep or concentrate on the discomfort and boredom of sitting down - as if we don't all do too much of that anyway.  I use a form of walking meditation taught by a student of Titch Nhat Hanh.  You coordinate your walking pace with your natural breathing rate and you either concentrate on the experience of breathing or on some "object" of meditation, a word, an experience, an idea.  And I found that was useful but it wasn't until I started using passages from the scriptures or paraphrases of those that I felt like I was getting anywhere.  The current one I'm using now is from the Letter of John, "Whoever loves God must also love his brother."  Especially since he's been living with me, it's kept me from wringing my brother's neck any number of times in the past year.   You would not believe how annoying a dying alcoholic can get even when he's trying to be good.   I'd better order the book as soon as I'm done with this.

Another thing I've done is to slow down the Lord's Prayer, phrase by phrase, coordinating it with breathing in and breathing out.  It makes it an entirely different experience.  I might try slowing it down more.   I'd rather be mindful of those things than the self-generated objects of "mindfulness"as seen in the Hollywood school of Buddhism.


  1. Sounds like lectio divina to me. The center of lectio is meditation on scripture (a passage, a word). The mechanics of it (walking, breathing, etc.) are more variable.

    It's an ancient practice in Xianity, unfortunately not widely known, although it should be.

  2. I tried lectio divinia, the Spiritual Exercises, maybe if I did it on my feet instead of sitting down. Or maybe my attention span is too challenged or something. Maybe later in the year I'll get another copy of those and try it again while walking.

    I've used other phrases from scripture, either directly or in a paraphrase that is more suited to the rhythm of breathing in and out. It has made it ever more beneficial than thinking about my breathing in and out or counting breaths or some meaningless mantra or staring at a spot on the wall. I don't think I'd bother going back to those forms, they aren't connected to reality. I think that's one of the things I'm learning from studying Brueggemann's book, that trying to transcend reality isn't where real salvation is to be found.

  3. "I think that's one of the things I'm learning from studying Brueggemann's book, that trying to transcend reality isn't where real salvation is to be found."

    The Desert Fathers would agree with you.