Q. Recently, I heard a preacher describe meditation as being occultic. But, isn't meditation encouraged in the Bible??
A. The preacher you heard was most probably talking about Eastern meditation. There is a profound difference between this occult practice and Biblical meditation.
The Bible does urge Christians to meditate, but on three specific items: God's Word (Ps. 119:48), God's Law (Josh. 1:8), and God's instruction (1 Tim. 4:5). The original Hebrew and Greek words for meditation ( siyach, hagah, meletao, respectively) are all translated "to ponder" or "to revolve in the mind." By this quiet contemplation of spiritual truth, we gain understanding (Ps. 49:3), spiritual satisfaction (63:5,6) and superior knowledge (119:99).
This is not at all to say that the Bible encourages Christians to participate in the dangerously passive practice known as Eastern meditation, which doesn't encourage active contemplation, but rather discourages the individual from using their mental abilities in any way. It begins with clearing the mind of all conscious thought.
After this dismissal of stimuli is achieved, a special word or phrase called a mantra is chanted. A mantra can usually be purchased from an instructor, and is usually the name of an Eastern "deity"). Do-it-yourselfers sometimes choose a peaceful word on which to concentrate. Some Christians wrongly believe that by choosing Jesus, lord, God or some other Christian term for their mantra, they "Christianize" the practice.This chanting will eventually transport the individual into a trance state, where demonic suggestion and possession is easily achieved. Once in the trance state, the individual is sometimes unable to easily return to a focused state of mind, and therefore, is susceptible to physical, spiritual and emotional harm.
This form of meditation is also known as an altered state of consciousness, and is commonly part of mediumship, channeling, yoga, visualization, psychic abilities, and other questionable practices, such as some forms of the martial arts.
While New Agers and Bible-believing Christians both advocate the practice of meditation, the key lies in knowing that, like so many other terms common to both beliefs, their definitions are diametrically opposed. Before participating in any New Age activity which claims similarities to the Biblical way of life, make certain you claify exactly what is meant by the New Age term.(c) 1994, Valerie Duffy. All rights reserved.