Emptiness and Non-Attachment

Contemplation: It's Not What You Think (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Last week I wrote about the difference between how Catholics understand meditation and contemplation, based on material found in the Catholic Catechism. A reader left the following comment on that post: We rest in God. But we do not empty our minds. We are always in communication with God. Prayer is focusing on God and we praise him for who He is, we intercede for others, and we put our requests to Him. We align our wills with His in prayer. Never do we make our minds a 'spiritual vacuum' for … [Read more...]

Catholic Meditation and Contemplative Prayer: What’s the Difference?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock, used by permission.

A reader of my blog wrote to me and asked this question: What do you see is the difference between Catholic meditation and contemplative prayer?  It's a great question, made complicated by the fact that words like meditation and contemplation can be used in a variety of ways, especially in society at large.For example, many people may associate "meditation" with eastern or secular practices such as zen or mindfulness meditation, exercises that are primarily a form of self-knowledge or self- … [Read more...]

Five Things Christian Contemplatives can learn from Buddhists

The Meditation Hall, Dharma Jewel Monastery

Last night I attended a Beginner's Meditation Class at the Dharma Jewel Monastery in Atlanta. Dharma Jewel is the home to several Chan Buddhist nuns from Taiwan.Recently, two friends of mine — one a Zen Buddhist priest, the other a Catholic theologian — suggested within 24 hours of each other that I would enjoy exploring Chan (the Chinese form of what in Japan is called Zen). So I signed up for this class, figuring it would be a way for me to connect with the nuns here in Atlanta.I was bl … [Read more...]

Chaos, Crisis, and the Pursuit of the Vision of God (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Seven)

This is part of a series on "Why Contemplation is Revolutionary." If you want to start at the beginning, follow this link: The Archbishop and the Community Theologian.The other day, I wrote this about contemplation:It’s really just practice in a new way of seeing. ”Simply seeing things in a new light — this is what contemplation is,” remarked Brian D. McLaren in his book A Generous Orthodoxy. He’s right. Then there’s Richard Rohr, who describes contemplation as “learning to see as the … [Read more...]

Following the Path

I think a lot about the trend toward more and more people identifying themselves as "spiritual but not religious." I know this polarizes a lot of people — some churchgoers, even liberal ones like UCC Minister Lillian Daniel, dismiss this kind of spirituality as symptomatic of our culture of narcissism; while other folks, like Rabbi Rami Shapiro, see it as a positive sign: a sign of being (in Rabbi Rami's words) "spiritually independent." Here's another way to look at it: some folks blame the S … [Read more...]

Meditation with Liquid Mind

As a general rule, I believe that meditation or contemplative prayer are best practiced in silence — which means no TV blaring in the background, no MP3 player churning out sound, no computer or stereo making noise within earshot. Even using a so-called white noise machine is, to me, at best a necessary evil: perhaps required to mask the normal distracting sounds of children playing or whatever else might be happening in an adjacent room or apartment: but far less desirable than the pure absence … [Read more...]

How to Grow a Mandala

My wife pointed me to this video. Well worth watching — and trying out.  … [Read more...]


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