Monday, August 26, 2019

The False Experiment

              In 1984 Father Thomas Keating invited people from various religions to meditate together. Some call this event “the big experiment”. The results from this “experiment” gave birth to what was called the “The Eight Points of Agreement”. Basically, the points state that since they all shared similar experiences in meditation their religious differences are irrelevant. It sounds pretty good. It even proposed a new way of looking at religious experience, as something called the “ultimate reality". However, just as with any type of experiment, results can be manipulated.  

There are two very important people that Father Thomas Keating left out of his experiment, an atheist and a Satanist. These 2 people would have had the same results in meditation just as any other human being would. In fact, there have been many scientific studies that have demonstrated that religion is not necessary to experience something in meditation. Science, of course, dismisses the phenomena of meditation all to chemical reactions in our head. As for myself, I believe “our chemicals” respond naturally to God’s wisdom hidden in creation (Proverbs8-9).

This wisdom is no stranger to us. You don’t have to be a saint to experience it and the simplest among us need only to look within to find her. There is of course a difference between what is naturally known of God and what is revealed. God is indeed in our midst and at the same time, to know him personally it takes revelation. This truth  obviously was missing from the so called “big experiment”.

Briefly, I would like to address the 8 points and show how they error. After all it is an “experiment”. Like with any experiment it deserves proper scrutiny to determine its value.

1. The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality, to which they give various names.

Response: actually,most religions bear witness to a personal reality, be it God or gods. Buddhism is the only exclusion.

2. Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept.

Response: Like a snowman you can make it look any way you want and melt it when it doesn't work out. On the other hand, a personal God or gods have an identity

3. Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization.

Response: So, what happens if you identify your ultimate reality as Yama, the hindu god of death. Personal beings foster personal relationships. There are different levels in which we can relate to other beings and as in every relationship there are rules.

4. Faith is opening, accepting, and responding to Ultimate Reality. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.

Response: Faith in a general sense is a response to a religious truth. It is even an act of faith to accept the idea that the faith in point 4 “precedes every belief system”.

5. The potential for human wholeness—or, in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transcendence, transformation, blessedness—is present in every human being.

Response: This is all true and you also don’t even need a religion to have “human wholeness”.  Its also a completely subjective point.

6. Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but also through nature, art, human relationships, and service to others.

Response: I don’t except the premise of an ultimate reality. Even so, this does prove the point that religion is not necessary. In addition, this point left out peyote and ritualistic drug induced states.

7. As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance and illusion, weakness and suffering.

Response: the 8 points themselves demonstrate that the human condition is a separation from the ultimate reality and that you must follow their rules to have it.  The truth is there is only one reality! We might have an obscured experience of it, but it’s all there.

8. Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one’s own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality. [2]

Response: Yes. You can also be an atheist or Satanist to experience what anyone can find in a so-called spiritual life. Children, the elderly, the mentally infirm, the sinner, the saint, Ext…. and any human being… have them clear their minds, chant the mantra chicken soup, and they will all find what’s common to human nature, God’s wisdom hidden in the created.

        The Church is not like any other religion. She does not offer just another spirituality among others. The Church is the Ark of Salvation. Manifested in this world for the Sake of our Salvation. It’s not enough to know about God. To be aware of him and yet not be in communion with him or even to be just his friend. He wants true sons and daughters. Anyone can look within and see him. It’s a completely different thing when God gives an identity to what is seen. The Church has his identity and offers this identity to the whole world. "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”- John 14:6


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