Re: MD Meditation/prayer

From: Dan Glover (
Date: Wed Apr 09 2003 - 21:11:58 BST

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    Hello everyone

    >From: "Elizaphanian" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: MD Meditation/prayer
    >Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 11:01:52 +0100
    >Hi Dan,
    >This is a response to your "If you care to share, I would be interested in
    >knowing how prayer and meditation are different for you."

    Hi Sam

    Thank you for your reply.

    >Firstly - I'm not an expert at either; I've got just far enough to know how
    >little I know. Secondly, I would want to emphasise that, as I understand
    >the two overlap and are strongly compatible (ie I see the Buddhist state of
    >'non-attachment' as the equivalent of Christian 'apatheia').

    I recall reading an interview with Robert Pirsig
    where he described his work in establishing a Zen center in Minnesota. He
    even persuaded
    a Zen master to come and teach for a bit though the master ended up leaving
    and going
    back to his home. Mr. Pirsig said that in his country the master was
    considered a
    living god while in Minnesota, people wondered why he didn't have a job. So
    though 'non-attachment' and 'apatheia' are equivalent, culturally they are
    viewed a bit differently?

    >Having said that, two images, then a more philosophical summary. I haven't
    >thrashed this out systematically before, so I'd be interested in any
    >comments you might have.
    >Meditation: a glass of muddy water allowed to settle, so that the water
    >Prayer: a decision to go sunbathing, so various actions taken in order to
    >expose yourself to the Sun.
    >In other words, I understand meditation as something autonomous, whereas I
    >understand prayer as other-directed. I don't think prayer can be understood
    >apart from a faith tradition, ie it involves worship and praise.
    >What do you think?

    Well, I would say this is about right on the surface but I have to add that
    no one I know just falls into a meditation autonomously. A decision is made
    to meditate and steps are taken to expose oneself as it were to the sun. I
    can understand prayer as being 'other-directed' and have read of the power
    of prayer in healing, still I cannot help feeling somewhat skeptical of this
    action-at-a-distance. Yet I pray every morning and every night. So I suppose
    that's the faith tradition you speak of. I like to think of prayer and
    meditation as the same at deeper levels since both involve maintaining a
    profound silence while focusing on an image or a word or a sequence of
    words. The silence itself betokes a sort of worship and praise, sure, but
    undirected and purposeless. In other words, a person doesn't have to believe
    in God to pray any more than they have to be a Buddhist to meditate, though
    culturally it certainly does seem to help.

    Any thoughts?


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