(Thanks again to Sister Anonymous who patiently does my proof reading for me. I often get a draft posted before she gets to it, so any mistakes are mine.)
Those who are familiar with my writing know I am just as glad to teach meditation to people who believe in God, those who do not, and those who are just plain confused.
I remain committed to this approach to teaching meditation for several reasons.
The first is, no one can prove through reason or science that God does exist or that God does not exist. So why should a meditation teacher proceed as though they somehow know for sure one way or the other?
Another reason I work with people of all manners of belief is this:
It is better to help a person find out what they do believe rather than to try to convince them what they should believe or that they should agree with what you believe.
It always takes a while, but if you keep asking someone what they do believe is the truth of this life, you will help them discover some very important things about themselves. Some will realize their faith in God is nowhere near as certain as they first said it was. Some will realize they really don’t know what to believe. Others will tell you they no longer believe in “The Old Man in the sky with a beard”, but neither are they atheists either. This helps them discern what they do not believe so they can clear the ground to discover what it is they do believe. Some will tell you they are atheists or agnostics but upon further questioning you will often find they are no more certain about this than those who say they believe in God.
Many will tell you they feel God exists but because of their sins they feel God wants nothing to do with them. Many others will tell you of complex imagery they have of Jesus or Buddha, Allah or Krishna or some other manifestation of God or some great teacher. Another popular response is that many people will tell you about Reincarnation and how the soul decided or was directed to their present life and path. Many will talk of heaven and hell, many will go into vivid images of purgatory, or that life is a class room where our trials are the teachers presenting us with critical lessons we need to learn in this life before we can go on to some other more exalted realm or heaven. For others they do not want to use the “God” word but prefer “energy” or “universal spirit” to describe their “higher power”.
Many will say there is no God and that once you are dead, that is it. They will say the universe is some big place without any reason or purpose for existing and that our life in suburbia or some academic sinscure or lab is all we really have to work with.
What is important is to give people the freedom to discover what it is they do believe without telling them what they are supposed to believe is true. Once a person has articulated either their faith or their doubts, their answers or their questions, the images of angels or demons they have, that God exists or does not exist, then they are primed for further study. They can reflect on their beliefs as they turn to more basic issues of working with anger, guilt, fear, excessive desire, or vanity and see how to work with these issues in the context of the primary truths or doubts they have.
I am not saying all paths are true. I am saying that the first effort, other than to bind up bleeding wounds or to feed the starving, is to help a person discover what path they are on and to help them to more clearly describe the destination they hope to reach.
What do you believe is the truth of this life? If you believe in God, then how do you describe the way God created the universe? If you are a total atheist then how do you describe who or what created the material that exploded in the “Big Bang?”
Checkout the free workshop on this web site “What Do I Believe”
Or, send in a comment. Tell me the story of your beliefs. Tell me this, “What are you looking for?” “How can we create a more peaceful and just world?”
Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness” host of MeditationPractice.com