Exhumator Esoterics

Encyclopedia of Spiritual — Letter M - MEDITATION

Exhumator Esoterics
Exhumator Esoterics

The most striking example of this can be found in Pure Land Buddhism, in which Amitabha Buddha offers his name to all sentient beings, so that all they have to do is to utter his name with a pure heart in order to be reborn in his paradise. Western religions also employ meditations on the name or names of God. For Christians, the name of Christ is especially powerful, while Muslims will recite the 1,001 names of God. For Jews, the Tetragrammaton is especially important. In certain Kabbalah texts such as the Sepher Yetzirah, just as in Hinduism, it is the very alphabet itself that emanates from God and forms creation.

When it comes to meditations using language, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the phenomenon of meditation from that of prayer, especially in Western religions. A primary example of this is the Rosary or the Twenty-first Psalm ("The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want . . ."). Many people will recite the Twenty-first Psalm as a kind of prayer, with the exception that it is not a prayer insofar as it does not ask for anything. It is rather a statement of fact that the meditator reflects upon as she or he recites it. Music and Emotion

Related to the meditations that use language are meditations that use music. Here it should be remembered that a meditation is a technique that disciplines the mind toward a religious goal. Here again, there are two ways in which music is used as an aid to disciplining the mind.

There are some religious traditions which hold that certain notes and harmonies actually produce effects on the mind. Pythagoras believed that all things in the universe moved according to certain harmonics. Confucianists held that music was a vehicle through which the gentleman could cultivate his virtues. Some Indian Tantric traditions hold that certain notes can actually awaken the spiritual centers in a yoga practitioner.

More importantly, music connects with our emotions. When we go to the movies, the visual image and the dialogue tell us what is happening, but it is the musical score that tells us how to feel about what we are watching. As human beings we all have emotions. For many traditions, what separates a sinner from a saint is not that the sinner has emotions and the saint does not. The main difference lies in the fact that the saint's emotions are directed toward the ultimate, while the sinner's emotions are directed toward the common. As such, religious music will often try to cultivate certain common emotions (usually love), and direct them toward the uncommon, namely the Divine. Examples abound. Medieval Christian mystics are well known to have written beautiful love poetry with God or Christ as the lover and the singer as the beloved. The Song of Solomon is often interpreted in this light. Love songs are put to similar use in the Ghazzals in Islam and in the many Kirtans and Bhajans dedicated to Hindu gods.

Some traditions combine the belief in the power of the name of the God with the power of music to produce devotion. Some Christian sects will use hymns both to produce the emotions of joy and devotion as well as to utter the name of Jesus. In a similar fashion, Hindus of the Gaudiya sect founded by Caitanya in the 16th century (often referred to as Hari Krishnas) sing the name of God ("Hari Krishna") repeatedly to music, drumming, and sometimes dancing in order to produce a similar feeling of devotion.