Medieval Christian Prayer Was Actually Just A Form of Meditation ... In Case You Were Wondering "What were those medieval Christian monks and nuns doing with their thoughts when praying for hours on end? "
Since God is formless, to become in tune with God, medieval Christian monks would engage in "centered" or "silent prayer" to give away everything -- even their thoughts -- because thoughts stood in the way of experiencing that perfect union with God. That's basically Christian meditation. After all, God is the formlessness that contains no forms, so by holding onto the form of thoughts they would be holding onto something that separated them from the Supreme. The virtues of humility, selflessness, charity and renunciation all had spiritual interpretations in terms of abandoning thoughts that stood in the way of perfect union with the formless divine.
Humility was humbleness and non-ego (thoughtlessness), charity was giving away even your thoughts to become pure and clean, renunciation meant renouncing thoughts (as well as thoughts of the self), seclusion meant having no thoughts in the mind, ...
Okay, if we replace the word "God" with "Tao" and "prayer" with "meditation" then you basically have these monks practicing very same spiritual techniques used in every religion --emptiness meditation to realize your original nature (God, Tao, Buddhanature, etc.).
Giving away thoughts -- giving them over to God -- is a meditation you can try, but let's call it "prayer" instead.
To pray this way, simply close your eyes and offer away whatever arises in your mind so that you do not attach or hold onto anything personal that stands in the way of your perfect union with God, your original nature.
Only you know what "offering away" means, but basically it's the same old principle of detaching from discriminative thought. Don't push them away or suppress them, but try to find the meaning of offering them that coincides with emptiness. That's no-effort, get it?
Don't ever think of God as a person with this meditation. None of the Early Church Fathers did and they were adamant about that fact ... make no image of the divine. Jewish theology says the same thing.
Concentrate, rather, on offering away your thoughts, and figure out yourself how to do it. Try it this way, try it that way. When you really let go your chi will change instantly and then you'll know you are on the right track.
Whether you subscribe to Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism and soon, all the saints and sages of these groups will tell you that "God" is not a person and is not to be thought of as a person. Formless, unmoving, empty, never changing -- these are all descriptions of the Tao but the West calls it "God," thinks of a person, people start clinging and no one makes any spiritual progress. If God is not a person, then how did everything happen, appear, etc.? You'll have to read lesson 6 of my STAGES course for that one or head on into the Buddhist Surangama Sutra.
If you get rid of this image of God as a person promoted by the Sistine Chapel, and pray in accordance with the principles of emptiness cultivation, then you can indeed make spiritual progress. Don't make the errors other Christians do in not getting down to the fundamental basics, and going off into sectarianism.
Now you know another way to describe the basic technique of meditation, for it's always the same principle nonetheless.
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