The Essence Of Christian Spirituality ~January 13th.

Via Benjamin Riggs
on Jan 13, 2011
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“Being precedes the entities which participate in it!” ~Pseudo Dionysus

“Christian Spirituality and Theology cannot be separated. God has joined them together in an insoluble bond. The liturgy enshrines and manifests this vital unity. It is designed above all to transmit “the mind of Christ” the consciousness that Jesus manifested of the Ultimate Reality as “Abba,” the God of infinite compassion.” ~from The Mystery Of Christ by Thomas Keating

“Our intention and our prayer can be summed up in eight words: May I know you, may I know myself.” ~ St. Augustine

“Contemplative Meditation, as opposed to discursive meditation, is concerned not with philosophy, thought, or ideas, but with grasping our true nature in God.” ~ Thomas Merton

“To get to the core of God, in His greatest, one must first find the core of oneself in his least. True religion is growth by subtraction.” ~Meister Eckhart

I Am That I Am.

~Exodus 3:14

Elephant 365 is an example of Elephant Journal’s commitment to the Mindful Life. Everyday we will offer a new reading regarding meditation practice and the spiritual path, all infused with a fresh perspective on traditional spirituality. If you would like to follow Elephant 365 on FaceBook click here and become a fan of Elephant Meditation by clicking the “Like” tab at the top of the page.


About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the author of Finding God in the Body: A Spiritual Path for the Modern West. He is also the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA and a teacher at Explore Yoga. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist and Christian spirituality on Elephant Journal, and his blog. Click here to listen to the Finding God in the Body Podcast. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter.


11 Responses to “The Essence Of Christian Spirituality ~January 13th.”

  1. yogiclarebear says:

    Ben, thank you for your lately postigs on Christian spirituality.

  2. Roger Wolsey says:

    Padma, both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church claim unbroken lineage from the historical Christ. BTW, I'd say that Buddhism is arguably becoming Christianized and/or Americanized (increased focus on social justice and proactive loving).

  3. YesuDas says:

    Padma: The mystical stream is Christianity has always been there; sometimes it has flown underground. (It's startling how much Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection's 17th-century treatise, "The Practice of the Presence of God", is redolent of "mindfulness," for instance.) It emerges now and again, as it did with the Carmelite mystics, the Beguines, etc. The difference now, I think, is that we have access to a broader palette of words and images.

    It's also important to specify which Christians you are talking about; most Anglicans would have been comfortable with this language generations ago. Most contemporary evangelicals would be skeptical of it.

  4. YesuDas says:

    I like Fr. Keating's books; his recovery, along with Basil Pennington, of what is now called "Centering Prayer" is one of the milestones of modern Christian spirituality, if you ask me.

    You might like to read Russill Paul's "Jesus in the Lotus." Paul was a disciple of Fr. Bede Griffiths, who established a Catholic Yogi ashram in India. A fascinating book.

    I've recently enrolled in the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation's "Group Direction and Retreat Leading" program, so I will be immersed in this sort of thought for the next couple of years; thanks for helping me get into the right frame of mind!

  5. Padma Kadag says:

    Well of course one would think that Buddhism is being "westernized". It is becoming "westernized" only with the intellectualization of the Sutra path. Because we love to analize and not give ourselves up to a practice heart and soul…so to speak. Publishing books and workshops have given a new look to Buddhism only in name. "(increased focus on social justice and proactive loving" this so called 'engaged' Buddhism, to me, is "engaged", but not sure how it is Buddhism. An individual as a Buddhist does practice to become enlightened and in the process strives to engage every being into enlightenment as in the Vajrayana and Mahayana…not one being left out. So…this engaged Buddhism really is nothing new. I do not see that there is any "more" focus on "proative loving"…..Are you suggesting that the Buddha was not Loving? That organized "social justice" and the like are farther reaching than one that attains enlightenment only through the realization of ultimate bodhicitta? Why would a Buddhist knowingly "dumb" the teachings down? Please tell me

  6. Padma Kadag says:

    YesDas…yes ..very good. I wrote what I did because it struck me that the language which is being used is steeped in psychology and secular new age jargon. Please take a look at the book "Welcoming Flowers" by Thinley Norbu Rinpoche. I am aware of the mystical aspects of Christianity. I would be interested in a christian lineage which has been handed down from teacher to student directly from Christ….historical Christ.

  7. BenRiggs says:

    I would also add that two of the quotes above are hundreds of years old! Safe and protected from an so called new-age approach to Christianity…

  8. Padma Kadag says:

    Yes you are right. Those quotes, I assume, are authentic. Ben..I have no desire nor leg to stand on to discount Christian Spirituality. That is not my reason for commentary. In our rush to merge spiritualities, to which I am not interested, to say that all paths have the same goal, we are secularizing and whitewashing spiritual traditions. It is my humble opinion that new psychology has a hold on the intellectualization of paths which require very little intellect to practice but require growth of faith nurtured by experience of selflessness. This is happening in Buddhism as well. At least the western notion of buddhism. In our race to meld all traditions together because we are assuming the end result or journey is the same we are making a very dangerous assumption about the motivation of each spiritual path being identical. I believe they are not. Somehow psychologists are wearing the robes of the ordained and now psychology is the new spirituality

  9. TamingAuthor says:

    Padma, as others have noted there is an unbroken lineage from Christ through the early Church Fathers and up to the present, mainly in the Catholic and Eastern Church.

    One can return to the early Church Fathers and find the mystical thread and then follow it up to the present. The Desert Fathers, for example, were one movement known for their mystical focus and this was strong in the early Church. One of my favorite early theologians with a mystical understanding is Origen. All of these threads have been maintained in the teaching of the Church.

    Augustine was one of the more articulate of the early Church. His writings show a profound understanding of the mystical nature of the faith. An introduction to his thought is important.

    This lineage continues through St. Francis of Assisi who is known for his love of nature and his peacemaking but who also was a dedicated mystic. The cross pictured above is the cross from the church at San Damiano where Francis experienced his conversion. It is a cross that brings in the Eastern tradition, which has maintained its mystical roots as well.

    When one reads the stories of Francis, for example in The Little Flowers, at times one has the feeling that one has read something very similar in the Buddhist literature. His emphasis on poverty and humility parallel Buddhist thought in many ways.

    A powerful testament to Franciscan mysticism can be found in St. Bonaventure's work The Soul's Journey Into God. He lays out a six step program of mystical union with Christ that a Buddhist would recognize and appreciate. For more on Francis see my site…

    And then one goes on to the Benedictines, the Trappists, such as Merton, St. John of the Cross and many others. These threads are very much respected and very much alive in the modern Catholic Church.

    A wonderful work on the mysticism of the Mass is The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn. The idea that one is bringing heaven to earth during the Mass takes one into some powerful mystical concepts. This powerful mystical tradition finds expression every day is a well-kept secret.

    I agree with you that Keating's language begins to incorporate pieces of western psychology lingo and, like yourself I find it objectionable. As you note, the same has occurred with Buddhism.

    When I met Trungpa many years ago he was staying with friends who were CU psych dept grad students… that, unfortunately, ended up tainting the Naropa curriculum with western psychology. The corruption of the Christian church by psychology is particularly strong in Protestant sects, which do not have the strong mystical tradition, but it has also wounded the Catholic Church.

    It may be natural that Christianity and Buddhism manifest similar truths. They tap into the same history and same Truth. It would actually be strange if they did not mirror each other. I see them as different efforts to bring about awareness of our spiritual nature, our true essence, and our relationship to the transcendent. In a "pop" sense they are parallel efforts to rescue those trapped in quasi hell realms of unconsciousness and unawareness and delusion and ignorance.

    Ben, thanks for posting great material!

  10. "Psychology is the new spirituality" and success is the new salvation. I am interested at developments the other edge, namely, assisting persons in getting to know their own tradition. For example, I notice that offers activities for persons to become acquainted with Christian spirituality.

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