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Not a Christian book
on 12 June 2014
The Bible tells us many things about prayer and meditation:
- Blessed is the man ... whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1)
- Love the Lord your God [...] with all your mind (Matthew 22)
- When you pray, do not keep babbling like pagans (Matthew 6)
Incongruently, John Main's book describes meditation as reciting a mantra over and over again, trying not to think about anything, for 20-30 minutes.
The rough idea of the book is that by reciting a mantra over and over again, you will silence the voices in your head, and discover your inner self. Which - because we're created in the image of God - is how to know God. This could be quite a dangerous thing to do, since you're not really knowing God but your own nature, which is fallen and contaminated by sin.
It extols the benefits of meditation - some of which might be true - backing it up with ostensibly vaguely supportive verses from the Bible and from other contemplative writers such as John Cassian. Almost(?) every chapter returns to what feels like the central theme of the book - the mantra - and ascribes to it all the benefits it talks about.
Completely and notably absent from the book are important Christian themes, such as sin, forgiveness, the Cross, repentance, sharing the Gospel and studying the written word of God.
Part of me was left wondering what the author supposed would happen if a non-Christian started meditating in this way. Would he also come to know the Christian God? That would suggest the best way of growing the Kingdom of God is not to evangelise, but to teach everyone this neat method of meditation.
It is very tempting, when reading this book, to think that you have found a shortcut for knowing God and loving others, that isn't founded in praying to God, studying the Bible, preaching the Gospel and repenting of sin. But I fear that this may actually be a very dangerous and misleading idea, leading you away from the one true God, and in towards yourself.