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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sitting in Samadhi

Be still, and know that I [ am ] God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
Psalm 46:10


According to the Wikipedia article on the subject, 'Samādhi, also called samāpatti, in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is the last stage or ultimate stage of meditation, when the person is out of physical consciousness. In samādhi the mind and soul are in equal balance. It is meditative absorption, attained by the practice of dhyāna. In samādhi the mind becomes still.' This definition sounds almost surprisingly similar to the Christian prayer. Not what we know as 'The Lord's Prayer', surely, but like deep, heartfelt prayer nonetheless ( more on this later ).

We, in the Christian tradition, have been instructed that Christianity is THE Way, that other paths may travel, for a time, somewhat parallel, but that ultimately, unless one accepts Jesus as Lord ( the Christ ), he or she has no real hope. Jesus DID say, according to Scripture ( John 14:6 ), 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'. For the first half or so of my short life in this biology, I received these words as gospel. However, in the past few years, I have come to see that, though there are universal truths in Scripture, the volume is, first & foremost ( primarily ), a history of Israel. Not only is it written to a completely different culture, it was written in differing languages, to an ancient culture. That's a lot to swallow!

Here in the gloried West, we think we're pretty hot stuff, not unlike our western ( European ) forbears that thought the earth was at the center of it all! One must acknowledge here, though, that as far as their limited abilities allow, many scholars have deeply researched the idiosyncrasies of the original languages, the culture of the day ( audience relevance ), etc, though obviously, not without prejudice. Despite this fact, which should be comforting, we are yet faced with a multitude of Christian denominations, some of which are saying basically the same thing & an equal amount, if not more, of versions of these precious Scriptures. The Story in these pages has been handed down from generation to generation ( roughly 6,000 years of history, based on a literal reading of the text ) & while it is ENTIRELY possible, as we were taught from childhood, that 'the Holy Spirit preserved the Scriptures'; the question then becomes; 'which version? which text?' Well,. the obvious answer, according to some, is 'the KJV & the Textus Receptus!'

The problem with this theory, that 'the Holy Spirit preserved the Scriptures', is that 'they ALL say that!' They all say the same thing about their precious versions & while it is fairly clear that the same Story is recognizable throughout most of these, the interpretations vary fairly widely in some areas. It is self-evident that, though the Story of Scripture, the Story of Israel, has survived the ages, more or less intact, it has not emerged from the battle unscathed: with many & differing translations, to say nothing of interpretations, it should not be difficult to understand that the prejudice of man has tainted our understanding of its hallowed words.

As we have seen. the main difference between the majority of the texts, including the oldest manuscripts we have available, is semantical. One can read through most of the versions out there & though the words may be slightly different, or appear in a slightly different order, the main theme of redemption & reconciliation is found throughout. The Scriptures, as originally given, or written down, according to internal evidence, tell the Story of how the Creator of Heaven & Earth ( 'God', as Christians call Him ), or 'YHWH', made Himself known to a certain family/tribe in the Middle East, in order that they in turn might spread that knowledge to the nations around them. Through their supposed failure, the knowledge of the Living God, as opposed to the false deities these nations tended to worship, spread like wildfire & ended up turning the world ( a very limited perspective ) upside down.

At this point, most of my readers are probably thinking something like, 'I thought this post was supposed to be about Samadhi?' Well, it is; I said all that, to say this: 'you can all go Home now!' No; quite seriously, the only difference between deep prayer & deep meditation is that prayer is focused outwardly & meditation is focused inwardly. Samadhi, in Christian terminology, might be rendered as 'peaceful bliss', or something to that effect. Whether or not one goes into all the Eastern Mysticism normally associated with 'Samadhi', the general theme is not so different than what Jesus taught His followers; to love ones God, their neighbor as themselves ( 'how are we supposed to do that unless we see them as ourselves?' ) & to treat others as we want to be treated. For that matter, whatever your personal belief  ( religion ), these are universal truths, acknowledged worldwide as the way of lasting peace.

One may read stories of gurus/yogis, however they're named, who simply sit in a sort of perpetual Samadhi, not eating or drinking ( very little, if they do ) & while this may be very beneficial, both to them & to those around them, even far away, it is not necessary! To sit in Samadhi, one need not be actually sitting. To my limited understanding, Samadhi is more an inner peace than an outer silence, even lack of motion. Christians love to quote, 'the peace of God, which passes all understanding': much like Samadhi, I believe we can say, it is something we carry with us, another dimension, if you will, in which we reside, apart from the necessary evils that we must endure bodily. Does this not sound very similar, if not identical, to our Christian walk? Are we not to distance ourselves, in a manner of speaking, from the evils of this world, in order that we might enjoy the Peace of Heaven?

Any readers of this blog of late may realize that I have begun to focus more on the Chrism than the Christ, on the Story of Scripture as relating to the physiology of humanity than a historical narrative of the journey of a fairly obscure nomadic tribe, from rags to riches, as it were. The Christ Consciousness, I believe, resides in all human beings, though some have almost totally managed to obliterate it, or at least deface it beyond human recognition. The Christ Consciousness, or the Chrism, from which the word 'Christ' ( 'anointed' ) comes, is a part of the human physiology, again, to my limited understanding & can be 'awakened' through deep prayer/meditation. As Christians, we must realize that the Spirit of the Creator God, as His Kingdom ( 'Heaven'-Luke 17:21 ) is within us! So, when we pray, it should be more an inward meditation than a prayer to 'someone out there'. Or rather, maybe it should be to 'someone out there' in the sense that we often receive aid, physically speaking, from those who hear our prayers on this physical plane.

It is through deep prayer/meditation that we experience this Samadhi, or inner peace. Maybe this is why we are instructed to be constantly in an attitude of prayer ( I Thessalonians 5:17 )! Is it really necessary to go through all the steps of transcendental meditation in order to achieve Samadhi? Many would certainly tell you so, but more to the point, 'YES'! To truly be at peace in the midst of the evil that surrounds us, whether one believes in the Christian God or simply a Higher Power, call it the Christ Consciousness, or what you will. one must first still their mind, realizing there is a Oneness; that It simply IS, no matter the evil that we perceive.

One final note; what we call the Lord's Prayer, the prayer that Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, was a specific prayer for their specific time. I've covered this in previous posts, but the prayer He taught His disciples was relative to the ever-worsening situation they faced in the first century. Even in this prayer, though, we can see universal truth, for He taught them how to find peace in the midst of turmoil ( tribulation ). So whether one finds more comfort in laying their cares at the feet of the Christian God or in meditating within themselves, relying on their Higher Power, we find our rest in An Attitude of Samadhi!

Charles Haddon Shank

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