A New Year is upon us, and many of us view this as an opportunity to improve our lives. Some of us will begin diets, others will start jogging or working out, and others among us will begin practices to improve various aspects of our Conscious well being.
As we think about ways to improve different aspects of our lives, we may look to classes, to instruction books, or to our own resources and experience. For many Christians, we look to the Bible for instruction.
In Matt 5:18-19, Jesus speaks about the fulfillment of the Old Testament laws, and begins sharing a set of commandments for living in a way that fulfills the laws. Commandments like avoid anger and sin in our hearts, settle our differences with others, loving our neighbors, and loving our enemies, point us toward living mindful, self controlled, ethical, and compassionate lives.
The core teachings that many Buddhists follow are called the Four Noble Truths. These truths can be summarized as the following:
- All things in this world are temporary.
- Suffering comes from clinging to the things of this world.
- Letting go of the things of this world releases us from suffering.
- We can let go of temporary things by living mindful, self controlled, ethical, compassionate lives.
Critics of Buddhism suggest that Buddhist teachings and practice are invalid because on the surface God does not appear to be part of the Buddhist worldview. This is somewhat like saying that a recipe for apple pie is invalid because it contains no reference to God. Just as a recipe for apple pie focuses on using readily available ingredients, Buddhism focuses on living our lives using resources at hand in this temporary existence.
Christianity describes a Kingdom that is offers permanence in the midst of the things of this world. Christianity also suggests that we can be “delivered from” the suffering of this world through maintaining a relationship with God through Christ.
Some suggest that by abandoning the things of this world, including relationships, pleasure in any form, and even neglecting our basic needs of food and sleep, we can enhance our relationship with God through Christ.
While practicing celibacy, fasting, or vigilance can be very rewarding, the commandments Christ asks us to obey are centered on mindfulness of our own emotions and desires, and having healthy, loving relationships. And by living love centered lives, obedient to Christ’s commandments, we have access to “the Kingdom” here and now.
For many of us, loving our own families, much less our enemies, can be quite challenging. Many of us get wrapped up in our own desires for the impermanent things of this world, and love gets lost and forgotten. We struggle with our habits and obsessions, our resentments and attachments, and our fears and burdens. In all this struggle, we experience disappointment after disappointment as the temporary things we try to connect with disappear one after another.
Also for many of us, hearing from others or even telling ourselves to “just quit smoking” or “just stick to the diet” or “just be more loving, dammit!” only serve to sink us further into a cycle of disappointment and regret.
The fact is, if we want to let go of a bad habit, lose weight, or be more loving, we need to change our priorities, change our attitudes, change our lifestyles, for the long term.
This is where the “recipes” provided in Tantric Buddhist meditation practices can be helpful. Mindfulness and Self Emptying meditation practices can help us to let go of our attachments to temporary things that distract us from loving. Communion oriented Guruyoga practices can help us to connect with Divinity within ourselves, and Compassion oriented practices can help us to become more accepting and loving of ourselves and others.
But meditation isn’t a “magic pill” that can solve all of our problems with one dose. Meditation is more like an exercise that needs to be practiced on a regular basis. Nobody expects to go jogging once and become instantly healthy. In fact, the first time we jog can result in some physical aches and pains as our bodies adjust to new levels of activity.
Meditation is an exercise for our consciousness, and like physical exercise, we may feel some discomfort initially. It takes some effort to let go of our long standing resentments and fears, and it takes some effort to accept the joy and love that God blesses us with every day.
Like a cross training work out, Christian Tantric Meditation provides instructions for self emptying, Divine Communion, and growing Compassion for self and others. These practices are in keeping with Christ’s Commandments and Tantric Buddhist practices.
At Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries, we hope you have a joyful, love filled, healthy, and successful New Year. If you would like assistance in developing a “healthy consciousness exercise” practice, we offer instruction in Christian Tantric Meditation, see our “Workshops” page for more information. Our book “Christian Tantric Meditation Guide” is also available at Amazon.com in paperback and electronic forms.
Have a Blessed Day and a Blessed New Year!