Meditation in All Religions

Interfaith Tree

Meditation is a natural practice of connecting with our innermost selves and in doing so, connecting with God or the world of Spirit.  Some form of meditation can be found in almost every spiritual tradition or religion around the world.  Here is just some of what can easily be found on Wikipedia.

 

Some of the earliest references to meditation are found in the Hindu Vedas from over 6000 years ago. Meditation was originally called Dhyana. There are many schools and styles of meditation within Hinduism. Meditation is done to realize union of one’s self, one’s ātman (or soul), with the omnipresent and non-dual Brahman. The earliest clear references to meditation in Hindu literature are in the middle Upanishads and the Mahabharata, which includes the Bhagavad Gita.

Buddha was a Hindu prince in India who attained wisdom through meditation under a Peepal tree and core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward enlightenment and nirvana.642614_orig

Taoist meditation has developed various techniques including concentration, visualization, qi cultivation, contemplation, and mindfulness meditations. Traditional Taoist meditative practices were influenced by Chinese Buddhism beginning around the 5th century, and later had influence upon Traditional Chinese medicine and the Chinese martial arts.

In Sikhism, meditation and good deeds are both necessary to achieve the devotees Spiritual goals, without good deeds meditation is futile. Followers of the Sikh religion also believe that love comes through meditation on the Lord’s name since meditation only conjures up positive emotions in oneself which are portrayed through our actions. The first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached the equality of all humankind and that we can obtain liberation from life and death by living a totally normal family life and by spreading love amongst every human being regardless of religion. In the Sikh religion, kirtan, otherwise known as singing the hymns of God is seen as one of the most beneficial ways of aiding meditation, and it too in some ways is believed to be a meditation of one kind.

There is evidence that Judaism has had meditative practices that go back thousands of years. For instance, in the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going “לשוח” (lasuach) in the field—a term understood by all commentators as some type of meditative practice. Some meditative traditions have been encouraged in the school of Judaism known as Kabbalah, and some Jews have described Kabbalah as an inherently meditative field of study. For the Kabbalist, the ultimate purpose of meditative practice is to understand and cleave to the Divine. One of the best known types of meditation in early Jewish mysticism was the work of the Merkabah, from the root /R-K-B/ meaning “chariot” (of God).

The Islamic practice of Dhikr had involved the repetition of the 99 Names of God since the 8th or 9th century. By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques, and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words

jesus meditating 2Western Christian meditation progressed from the 6th century practice of Bible reading among Benedictine monks called Lectio Divina, i.e. divine reading. Its four formal steps as a “ladder” were defined by the monk Guigo II in the 12th century with the Latin terms lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio (i.e. read, ponder, pray, contemplate). Meditation is parallel to the term “contemplation” in Christianity, but in many cases, practices similar to modern forms of meditation were simply called ‘prayer’.

In the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, meditation is seen as a communion with one’s self where one focuses on the divine.

Secular forms of meditation were introduced in India in the 1950s as a Westernized form of Hindu meditative techniques and arrived in the United States and Europe in the 1960s. Rather than focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and self-improvement, but sometimes spiritual growth is a beneficial side effect.

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