Better to Study Your Own Tradition Than Shop Around (09/13/06)
I did a search and read some of the material of Thomas Keating, the monk that A____ mentioned.
Pardon me, but for a Vaiṣṇava to think there is something deep in this monk and his technique is a joke! Keating is an elderly Trappist monk (Catholic) and that means that ultimately he answers to the Pope in Rome.
The technique that he has developed (Lectio Divina) is one that Catholic monks have used since 225 CE. The method consists of four steps. Read over this below:
Read the passage several times.
Reflect on the text of the passage, thinking about how to apply to one’s own life. Gravitate to any particular phrase or word that seems to be of particular import. This should not be confused with exegesis, but is a very personal reading of the Scripture and application to one’s own life.
Respond to the passage by opening the heart to God. This is not primarily an intellectual exercise, but more of the beginning of a conversation with God.
Listen to God. This is a freeing oneself from one’s own thoughts, both mundane and holy. It is about hearing God talk to us. Opening our mind, heart and soul to the influence of God. Any conversation must allow for both sides to communicate, and this most unfamiliar act is allowing oneself to be open to hearing God speak.
Compared to meditations recommended in the Bhāgavatam, I think the above process is childish by comparison. Their so-called ‘conversation with God’ is a mental concoction.
I read several of Keating’s articles and the highest point he comes to is the “Peace of Christ entering one’s heart.” I think this is bunk! What Christ? The black Christ? The white Christ with blue eyes? The Christ that went to India? It’s all mental and sentimental speculation.
Keating doesn’t even make it clear that you’re not the body, so how can there be actual meditation? He has no knowledge of God and so puts Jesus in God’s place. What if there is no Jesus? Then what?
Keating is Catholic and therefore he believes in the wine and the bread actually being the BLOOD and BODY of Christ. He is a ritualistic cannibal veiled behind the guise of a sweet old man. He sounds like the Christian answer to H______, but without the beard or the gośālā.
Trappist monks are vegetarian but not completely (whatever that means). It varies from monastery to monastery, but some take fish several times a week and occasionally meat. They sound like Bengalis! Keating however seems to be more of a ‘strict’ vegetarian and is on record as having said that if Jesus were here among us he would be a vegetarian.
Okay, this sounds great – but our kids in the āśrama could have told him that!
When A_____ comes you can have some frank talks with him that if he is serious about ‘techniques’ that he would do better to deeply study our own tradition than to shop elsewhere.