- Sep 3, 2019
In some Eastern meditation, there is not a focus on emptying the mind so much as bringing the mind into observation. A person meditates on the body (that is, sensual: listening to sounds, like a river... or visual meditation, gazing upon a candle), meditates on feelings, meditates on thoughts (watching thoughts come and go in pure observation), or meditates on phenomena. You can also be in samatha meditation with just a peaceful open awareness, as you might feel as a child laying down on a grassy bank after a long run with friends.. not thinking anything in particular, just resting. The focus of Eastern meditations are more often thus, rather than emptying the mind and trying to force an unnatural blank state. Why focus on these meditation points? These categories (above) exercise and develop our capacity to correctly observe the turnings of the mind. As we further our accuracy in observation, we can find useful ways to step back and see the mind's workings with objectivity. Such objectivity can be useful. As Christians, we can see turns of the mind which might lead us away from God's law more readily. For instance, if every time I run out of peanut butter, I get grumpy and ill tempered... then I come to observe this. I realize the mind's tendency when I first think "I think I will look for some peanut butter and make a sandwich." If we know our mind we can then make the mental correction- "...I will look, but if I am out of peanut butter, my mind becomes grumpy. Instead of becoming grumpy with my housemate, I am going to be charitable and cultivate joy that s/he must have enjoyed a nice sandwich. I will wish them well and extend charity." In this way, Eastern meditation can be also used to further our Christian goals with no faith impediment.
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