EASTERN MEDITATION AND ITS STEPCHILDREN
Could the various guises of Eastern meditation, including the “Christianized” ones, play a role in the coming global deception prophesied in the Bible?
By Kok Tho Yip
I am a Chinese who grew up in a traditional Taoist-Buddhist family. At the age of 18, I started practicing Zen Buddhist meditation and continued to do so for 20 years until my conversion to Christianity. Coming from an Asian background, I have been amazed to observe how Eastern meditation has garnered such a gigantic interest in the West. It’s now modern and social and holds center stage in the transformational health movement.
Many celebrities practice and promote transcendental meditation or yoga. Sports coaches and superstars use it. Even evolutionist scientists meditate to activate what they believe is their inborn pre-wired neural network, the “god-consciousness,” and atheists meditate to tune into their spiritual “true self.” International Yoga Day, now in its fourth year, is supported by the United Nations.
A common characteristic among meditators in the East is being reclusive and antisocial. Their philosophy was to renunciate the world. How did a practice associated with such a dominant solitary stance become accepted by the masses in the West?
Meditation takes on nearly infinite forms, depending on whether it is Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, with their myriads of schools; or whether it is more akin to yoga, New Age meditation, or its secular version, mindfulness. At the risk of oversimplifying, these meditation techniques hold common characteristics:
- Looking inward. The meditator tries to get in touch with an inward superior consciousness or soul.
- A physical ritual. Along with the spiritual side, the meditator assumes certain body positions and/or performs breathing techniques.
- Emptying the mind. The goal of meditation is to achieve serenity and mental stillness by escaping conscious thinking.
- Use of mantras. In many types of meditation, repetitive phrases are used to achieve the meditative state.
Many people report that meditation brings them into an incredibly peaceful state of mind. Scientists have dutifully investigated. When leading researcher Dr. Andrew Newberg scanned the brains of nuns and Buddhists undergoing mystical experiences, they reported feelings of timelessness, spacelessness, and self-transcendence. Newberg believes a cause of these feelings is reduced activity in their parietal lobes, the area of the brain responsible for perceiving three-dimensional objects in space. A meditator may experience a sense of oneness with all living things because the reduced activity blurs the perceived lines between the meditator and other objects.
Other brain research reveals additional factors which lead meditators to reduced activity of the parietal lobe and into increasingly deeper meditation: 1. More sleep waves (alpha and theta) in the brain, which trigger the relaxation, inattention, and tranquility (as opposed to alert, fast) beta waves; 2. More internally produced dopamine in the brain, leading to an addiction to meditation; 3. A calmed amygdala (the emergency center of the brain), leading to feelings of bliss; 4. Reduced cerebral blood flow to the frontal cortex (the command center of the brain and the home of your conscience), causing sleep-like relaxation.
YOUR BRAIN ON MEDITATION
The common objective of meditative practices is to achieve “silence” and “nothingness.” Exclusive focus on mantras and/or prolonged staring at the flame of a candle or a spot of light deprives the brain of all thoughts—starving the frontal lobe of all information and taking it “offline.” It also shuts down the parietal lobe (the region responsible for sensation and perception), causing the meditator to achieve a feeling of transcendence. This experience of nothingness is known as “nirvana,” “Buddhahood,” liberation, oneness, or unitized consciousness.
But there is more to the experience than “nothingness,” or “silence.” In reality, the mind in this state is hyper-suggestible—in other words, highly capable of being hypnotized. Researchers who studied subjects who had experienced successful hypnosis found that the anterior cingulate cortex (the seat of one’s will) and the lateral frontal cortex (the center of reality perception) had decoupled. Both “will” and “reality” reside in the frontal lobe, which, when taken “offline” in meditation, opens the meditator to receive suggestions through hypnosis. This is why some scientists say that meditation is self-hypnosis. In this state, the meditator accepts the suggestion that his or her mind is at oneness, being one with the universe and with God.
According to Dr. Newberg, it is when the parietal lobe is deactivated that meditators “experience” their oneness as God. Does this sound like pantheism? In Greek, pan means “all” and theos means “god.” Pantheism claims that there is no personal God; instead, the combined substance, the forces, and the laws of the universe as a whole are God. By seeking oneness with God or the divine soul in one’s self, meditators perpetuate the age-old pantheistic deception that everything around us is part of this god-consciousness, including ourselves.
CHRISTIANIZED EASTERN MEDITATION
Today, unfortunately, Christians from many denominations also use hybrids of Eastern meditation. The instructions are often very similar to those given in Eastern meditation: sit comfortably, use your breathing in the prayer ritual, repeat a sacred word, clear your mind, do not judge any thoughts that come to you. These Christian meditators believe that an inherent immortal soul, or the inner divine, is the way we bear “God’s image” and through this means we enter into God’s “presence.” The argument is made that everyone has a higher spiritual self, often regarded as divine.
By silencing the mind of all distractions, Christians who practice Eastern meditation seek to experience God by coming in touch with the divine within.
In his 2015 address to the US Congress, the first by a bishop of Rome, Pope Francis promoted the “contemplative style of Thomas Merton,” a 20th-century American Cistercian monk. Merton’s ideas have been developed into spiritual techniques such as contemplative prayer and meditation, and are used by Christians the world over who are hungry to feel God’s presence more deeply.
Merton explored the spiritual exercises of the Desert Fathers and on the basis of these exercises entered into dialogue with Zen Buddhism. He came to accept views so close to Buddhism as to be hard to distinguish them. In Hinduism, the “immortal soul” is presented as one’s in-born Inner Divine from God. In Merton’s words: “The distinction between Creator and creature does not alter the fact that there is also a basic unity within ourselves at the summit of our being where we are ‘one with God.’” Merton believed that the goal of spirituality is “the purification and expansion of the moral and religious consciousness until it reaches a state of superconscious or metaconscious realization in which subject [man] and object [God] become one.”
Is this not the pantheism of Eastern origins? On the other hand, the Bible says that our natural heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. 17:9. There is nothing divine in us. Our only hope of attaining to the divine nature is through God’s gift and promise of being purified from sin by the blood of Jesus. See 2 Peter 1:4; Eph. 2:13. But the allure of getting in touch with the divine within does ring a bell, a very ancient one.
A TALE OF TWO TREES AND ONE SERPENT
Growing up, the central feature in our Taoist home was the family altar of my father’s deceased ancestors, whose souls were venerated with daily offerings of incense and food. Our belief in a deathless soul with attributes of divinity was the basis for meditation to discover the “divine” within.
The presumption of an immortal divine soul has become a common denominator of religions across ages, geography, language, sectarian and dogmatic barriers. It has swept past the after-effects of the Fall, ignoring that humanity is now tainted with a fallen nature and maintaining that it is still somehow divine. Consequently, just like in the yin and yang of Taoism, spiritual contradictions are brought together, as if they belong together without differentiation: fallen as unfallen, death as life, man as God, evil as good. All these were seductively offered by the serpent to Eve in Eden.
God could not have given Adam and Eve a simpler warning than not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He warned that if they ate of its fruit, they would “surely die.” Gen. 2:17. The serpent’s lie to Adam and Eve was that God was keeping something good from them, that in eating of the fruit of the tree, not only would they “not surely die,” but their eyes would “be opened,” and they would “be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen. 3:4. In one breath, the serpent offered a seductive new enlightened consciousness, that it was needless to differentiate between the trees, God and the serpent, God and man, life and death, or good and evil.
The utterance that man possessed a divine immortal soul was not made by God, but by the serpent. The Bible states of God that He “only has immortality.” See 1 Tim. 6:16. The serpent’s lies were exposed forcibly to Adam and Eve when they became aware of their mortality after they ate of the forbidden fruit. They were kept from the tree of life and thus became mortal. See Gen. 3:24. Eternal life will not be available to humanity again until the new heaven and earth when the tree of life will be accessible once more. See Rev. 22:2.
The foundation of Satan’s deception was laid in Eden—the promise of being God. Yet, instead of attaining to divinity, Eve, through her conversation with the serpent medium, had the first ever spiritualistic experience. Eastern meditation and their Christianized versions are the methods by which people seek the “immortal divine.” Yet, at their core, these are nothing else than spiritualistic practices, the serpent’s lies parading as experiential “truth.”
Revelation, the last book of the Bible, in the context of end-time events, describes “three unclean spirits like frogs” and explains that “they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Rev. 16:13, 14. In other words, spiritualism in its various guises, even in its “Christianized” ones, will play a decided role in uniting people in a coalition against God.
In the words of India’s Prime Minister, “Yoga has become one of the most powerful unifying forces in the world.” “Yoga unites individuals, families, societies, countries and the world and it unites the entire humanity.” Could it be that the old Serpent, the Devil, is using the pantheistic spiritualism of Eastern mediation to unite the world against God?
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
- For a deeper understanding of the dangers of Eastern meditation and their Christianized hybrids, visit Kok Tho Yip’s website, www.meditation-mindyourbrain.com.
- To receive information on many other pantheistic forms of alternative medicine and practices, such as acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, martial arts, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong, join the Health and Spirituality Research Network by sending your name to email@example.com.
Reprinted with permission from Last Generation magazine, Volume 29.4, “Mind Your Brain.” Find more articles in this issue on the truth about meditation and safe and unsafe spiritual practices at www.lastgen.net. Kok Tho Yip is a researcher and international speaker on the spiritual dangers of Eastern meditation and its Christianized hybrids.
TRUE CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
The characteristics of authentic Christian meditation, drawn from Scripture.
It recognizes our feeble spiritual condition. The Psalmist asks to be cleansed from secret faults and be kept from presumptuous sins. See Psalm 19:12, 13. Nowhere does Scripture talk about getting in touch with an internal divine spark or with one’s immortal soul—there is no intimation of any divinity to be found within. The hope put forth is in God’s power to cleanse and redeem and the victory He provides through His work in us. See Psalm 19:13, 14.
It can take place anytime, anywhere. While some texts talk of meditating in the evening or at night (see Gen. 24:63; Psalm 63:6; 119:48), other passages refer to praying in the morning. See Psalm 5:3; 59:16; 88:13. Indeed, the Psalms admonish us “to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night” and to meditate on His law “day and night.” See Psalm 92:2; 1:2. Finding quietness is mentioned, but the Scripture does not give any other specific instructions on the modality of meditation. See Psalm 4:4. No mention is given to special positions or to breathing techniques.
It involves deliberate and deep cognitive activity. Psalm 77:6 reads: “I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search.” In the overwhelming majority of scriptural instances, the verb “meditate” is immediately followed by a preposition: “meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways” (Psalm 119:15), “meditate on Your statutes” (Psalm 119:23), “meditate on Your word” (Psalm 119:148), “meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty” (Psalm 145:5), “meditate on His name” (Mal. 3:16). Meditating is prefaced by asking God to “make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.” Psalm 119:27. Thus, biblical meditation means ruminating and focused thinking about something specific.
It concentrates strictly on God’s Word and His works. As seen above, that specific “something” is the Scripture and what it reveals about God’s deeds, His character, and His majesty. Meditation is linked inextricably to thoughtful reading of the Bible.
It helps us draw practical applications from Scripture. King David recounts and dwells on various great truths concerning God’s ways: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statues of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Psalm 19:7, 8. While meditating, the Holy Spirit brings home to the mind personal applications on what has just been read from Scripture.
It has an effect on our hearts and minds. As we have seen, the teachings convert, make wise, rejoice the heart, and enlighten the eyes. Through his meditation, the psalmist is “warned” and finds the secret of a “great reward.” See Psalm 19:11.
It leads to action. “The book of the law shall not depart from your mouth; but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” Josh. 1:8. “I will also meditate on all Your work and talk of Your deeds.” Psalm 77:12. Authentic meditation leads to action, a life of obedience lived according to God’s law, and telling others about His redeeming grace.