Useful Concepts

I remember reading somewhere that a saint ( Saint Augustine of Hippo? ) had wrote that it’s okay to adopt non Christian concepts as long as they help you be a better Christian. I hope I understood that saint right.

Bearing that in mind, I’m wondering if anyone else here has done something similar.

For myself, here’s a list of non Christian concepts I’ve adopted over the years.

1: From the Tao Te Ching, I’ve found a passage in which the author recommended delving into the roots of things in meditation. I’ve found it useful to do this delving in order to discover the root causes of my interior problems.

2: The Zen Buddhist practice of shikantaza; in which a meditator allows the free flow of thoughts and emotions to rise and fall within the mind without chasing after them, getting caught up in them or judging them. It’s proven useful to discern what my mind is preoccupied with.

3: From the Platonist tradition, a certain meditative exercise in which the meditator focuses on, identifies with and silences the physical world, the random thoughts, conscious thought and the mind itself. Using this technique, I had an interesting vision in which I discerned the beautiful and benevolent interconnectedness of God’s Creation. This unified my fragmented mind at the time.

4: Also from the Platonist tradition, the visual of looking up out of the earthliness of the world and focusing on God in the heavens.

5: From Japanese Shinto, I’ve adopted the practice of clasping my hands together and bowing toward Jesus as I pass by the remonstrance in church and when I pray before an icon of Our Lady Of Perpetual Help. As a form of respect.

6: The Filipino concept of kapwa. Kapwa is a precolonial concept that has the individual as a part of the larger community; not as an atomistic individual. As a part of a greater whole of which he is a part; taking on the interests of the community as his own. I’ve found this very appealing and helpful in how I relate to others. Personally, I think Western culture could benefit from adopting this concept.

Beyond these concepts, I pretty much am a faithful Catholic and I practice Ignatian spirituality.

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I somehow feel that everything you’ve said, ending with the “Ignatian spirituality”, is going to be pretty controversial among a number of people here who don’t approve of Catholics importing concepts from non-Christian religions.

I won’t comment myself on that part, but it seems to me like the stuff you have listed from 1-6 are actually Catholic practices or perhaps universal spiritual practices, and I’m not sure why you had to frame them as being adopted from some other tradition. They aren’t unusual. I have seen Asian Catholics, and non-Asians who cannot genuflect, do the bow towards Jesus, for example. I myself probably look at “God in the heavens” several times a week since I was a child and never once thought of Plato while doing it. The first three techniques also seem to me to be pretty basic, Meditation 101.

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Do you think there is total equivalency between kapwa and the commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself?

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I believe in jinns, which are creatures that the Qur’an talks about. I know that they exist because they speak to me. Some jinns just want to harm you, but I’ve had some experiences with jinns that are loving and polite. One time, I was at a hospital and I felt the presence of a jinn. She was peeking inside the room I was in. She was concerned about my mental health, so she came to check on me.

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Thank you for your post, Tis. As always, I appreciate your opinions and insights.

I feel embarrassed; to be honest and I certainly don’t want to create controversy.

Hahahahaha I’m not sure what to say.

First off, allow me to say this: I didn’t lay out some details about these concepts when I posted. The detail is that, except for kapwa and the bowing thing; I really haven’t practiced the other concepts for quite a while. They served useful purposes in my transition from Wicca and Protestantism on my way to the Church.

In my adoption of Ignatian spirituality and praying the Rosary, I found a spiritual pathway that fits my temperament very well. I’m a visual person, so Ignatian imaginative prayer serves the roles that Buddhist and Taoist meditation once did. Not to mention, the graces I’ve thankfully received far outdo the benefits of the other concepts.

What I find appealing in Ignatian spirituality is that it employs the imagination, visual exercises; brings God into my decision making and is a spirituality of the heart. Ignatian spirituality, in my view; is about effectual love and living from the heart. Something I’ve greatly lacked in my past, as I’ve been overly intellectual and overly reliant on the mind.

Speaking of spirituality of the heart, there was a moment that greatly changed me. I prayed to Our Lady and contemplated her interior life and how she lived it. I was granted a re connection to my heart and realized that true spirituality rests in the heart; not the mind.

Something else that just came into my mind. Lately, I’ve come to center myself on my heart; rather than the mind. Resting there, than on the busy ebb and flow of my mind. I can rest on some spiritual constants affording me great rest.

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The ones you mentioned number12345 are “enlightenment” religions. They are lookling for wisdom in humans enlightened minds.

Our Christianity does not looking for mere wisdom within human enlightened mind. We believe in a God who reach out to us by Divine Revelation and speak to our reasoning mind through out human history.

When we pray, we are not suppose to repeat the same thing over and over in order to acheive undrestanding (enlightenment). Instead, we say our prayer once, and believe that Somebody (God) hears it.

I am not sure about number 6, it looks like it is a mere way of community life.

I agree. When Tis replied, she caused me to reflect on what I was saying and I felt uneasy and embarrassed. Once I started back into the Ignatian spirituality, I realized that’s the proper path for me.

There is certainly a connection, but I am not sure about equivalency, partly because I do not know the precise sense of community in kapwa.

Jesus prayed that we would be one. Paul wrote that we are one body through Christ. Even so, Christianity respects and dignifies the individual person. Each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, each of us has a unique, personal relationship with God, and each of us walks our own path on our spiritual journey (though we may travel with companions).

What we must avoid is the idea that the community, or society, or the common good is of primary importance. Community should be a union (or communion?) of persons, respecting the freedom and dignity of each person.

Thus, while a person may give of himself for the sake of others, and even give his life, he should do it freely and with love (as Jesus did).

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:thinking: You have a good point. I didn’t think of that. Thanks!

I hope I didn’t minimize the importance of community. It is an essential and vital part of our human nature. While we are not merely a community or a society, neither are we merely a collection of individuals. I think many of the problems of the world today are the consequence of individualism. When we neglect cooperation with and service to others, we all suffer.

So true, so true. I personally believe in a balance between the individual and the community. Society shouldn’t stifle the individual; neither should the individual run rampant over society.

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In my humble opinion, ecumenical gathering to share thoughts about God is good, to understand each others teachings/ philosophy, praying together in silence before sharing a meal would be fine for me. However, in my humble opinion, not more than these.

Especially we should not pray the prayers of those who are searching for enlightenments. The reason is, we worship God whom we know. This God reach out to us to make Himself known. We are not looking for any kinds of enlightenments. God Himself has come to us in flesh and make Himself known.

Similar format of meditation, but mentioning “Jesus” repeatedly, I have done this. I have done lectio divina, silent meditation too. Not in ecumene but in catholic retreats. It was okay.
Did not really understand why. But probably it could be useful if one is extremely busy and need some inner silence from the noisy world outside.

I prefer praise & worship bible reading and singing and pray in tounge, just exactly like what the disciples/ apostles did. “Emptying mind”, I don’t really fancy it. I prefer to fill it with Jesus up to the brim.

People who do not know Jesus, they have to keep on searching. One way to do that is by meditation in silence. Sometimes they hear God in this way, I suppose.

Actually I live a very silent life at home when my hubby & son are out whole day. Sometimes I hear Jesus speak to me in my heart. I am not sure if that’s the reason of silent meditation is for. In my case, I don’t really do meditation in the sense sitting in certain posture reciting certain words. No. But I read the bible. Then this bible speak to me even when I watch news or even movies or doing chores. Sometimes it makes me lose focus on the stories/ the news because my mind wanders to what came to my mind from the bible/ something I remember from it. So yes, God speak to me in silence.

But if a person do not read the bible, I am not sure how he knows whether it is God’s voice. Especially if one empty his mind, how does he know it is not his own thoughts or even something else come in. I fill my thoughts with God in Jesus. The wonderful things He has done.

I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I myself used to find some parallels between Zen and Catholicism. That wasn’t a new concept since Thomas Merton and others already went over that ground and it’s not uncommon to hear a priest tell a “Zen monk story” in a homily (sometimes with the monks changed to Catholic monks).

I also found some parallels in new age stuff by Alice Bailey, but it seemed to me that the Bailey stuff was just ersatz Catholicism. I’d rather practice the concept from a strictly Catholic perspective which is probably where it came from anyway.

In the end, there isn’t much useful in other religions that a Catholic at some point didn’t also come up with on their own in some remote monastery. I just chalk it up to God universally reaching out to people.

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I’d be careful if I were you. Jinns are basically equivalent to the Christian concept of demons. Demons can present as friendly, but there is always another motive that is detrimental to us and our salvation. Demons should never be trusted.

No. Jinns (according to Arab mythology) are divided into three classes: good, evil, and neutral. Only malevolent jinn are considered demons.

I tried but couldn’t find that quote from St. Augustine of Hippo. The context in which he said it might be important, since it’s at the top of your argument.
The pre-Christian Pagan ideas that Augustine studied are different than just concepts from other religions, after Christ Resurrected. I wonder if St. Augustine did not argue that those concepts were more in the sense of the nations looking for the “Unknown God” that St. Paul refers to as well. But being in the presence of such a vast Christian culture and suddenly choose to go to other religions and get concepts from there, I seriously doubt that the man who had Arius convicted for heresy ever encouraged us to do. But I need the quote.

Sure. However, from a Christian perspective, the idea that they could ever be “good” or “neutral” would be considered a misunderstanding of their true motives and a dangerous one at that.

Since the subject of the thread is useful concepts for Christians I think it is important to bear in mind our theological principles, and to make sure that whatever concepts we adopt are not contradictory to our own faith.

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True. Which is why I don’t see the point in someone adopting a belief in jinn. They’re mythological creatures. To believe in them as a Christian would mean having to tear them out of the mythology that created them, downgrade them to the rank of demons, and just go about calling demons “jinn” . It’s kinda pointless, in my opinion.

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It’s okay, Tis. No worries as I know you mean well.

I’ve found some interesting parallels between Zen and Catholicism myself. Except for the No Self concept. If there’s no self; then what keeps reincarnating in their tradition?

I’m a little familiar with Alice Bailey; though I’m leery of Theosophy and the New Age. H. P. Blavatsky was very hostile to Christianity if I recall correctly. I do find Jung’s analytical psychology fascinating and occasionally useful. But, I understand that there’s some issue between a Catholic Priest and his Answer to Job. I think the issue is Jung’s view of the devil supposedly being a psychological metaphor.

I’ve encountered the devil and his angels. They’re implacably evil and as real as a gunshot.

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