One of our family members was a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation for a season. Seeking solace and peace, he would go in his room to meditate and chant the mantra assigned to him by the group leader. Thankfully, this practice is not enjoying a widespread popularity, as it did back in the 60’s and 70’s, as it clearly contains “dark” spiritual connotations, despite it’s being billed as “safe” and “accommodating” to all religious beliefs. The aforementioned family member was severely affected and to our relief, he was later set free from this practice, into the lifestyle of meditation on the Word of God and the worship of Jesus.
Today, I would like to consider a wider application of the word “mantra”, and its definition as a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs. What is the belief system that you daily reference, and from where is it sourced? Who or what defined you in your early, formative years, and who or what defines you now? What is the “tagline” that describes your inner life?
I’ve done a fair amount of pastoral counseling over the past 35 years, being privileged to journey with many people in their search to discover what makes them tick. Or, to discover what is going off like a time bomb in their emotions, spreading havoc and unrest, and threatening their future hopes and dreams. Unraveling this puzzle, as I have discovered in my own personal life, is challenging at times. I liken it to a plate of spaghetti, all the noodles having their individual definition but also interlocked with one another. While the strands were in the box it was one thing, but when I remove 20 or 30 of them, to cook for my dinner, the hot water merges them into an indistinguishable mass. This is negotiable for pasta but not for my emotional state.
Moving on from the food metaphor, let me share a “mantra” that I came across, which painfully revealed an error in my thinking. My dad was a hard worker and great provider. If I as a young boy, was able to grasp the importance of paying off a mortgage quickly and buying your vehicles for cash, I would be rejoicing at the wonderful job my dad was doing. But as I shared in a recent post, we are all created with designer cravings. We were created with an intrinsic longing for intimacy, chiefly with God Himself and also within our families. Everyone desires to know that they are enjoyed and treasured. Due to the manner in which my dad invested his time and energies, the “mantra”, or false belief, that was anchored in my soul, was this: You are not worth the investment of your father’s time. It was a grievous error, infringing upon my young soul over the years, driving me to ease the ache for belonging in harmful ways.
As I have matured through the seasons of life, I endeavor to be a man of perspective. Now 64 years of age, with three adult children, and two grandchildren, I can look in retrospect, understand the fact that my dad was busy with his primary job, side jobs, and true to his extrovert personality, an assortment of social activities. He in no way consciously plotted, to convey a message of rejection to me. Yet it became a core belief, around which many other lies began to congregate. Many of them sit as relics in a display case, having been overcome and replaced by God’s truth. Some are still stubbornly attempting a resurgence, to find a place of expression. Some examples: You are not enough. You don’t belong. You will never achieve greatness in God. You’re a loser at the core. Such is life on a contested planet, a light versus darkness battle raging daily, and our calling is to shine like the stars, adhering to words of truth. Phil. 2:15-16
On a bright note, we are carriers of God’s DNA, “fearfully and wonderfully made” from the get-go. Subsequent downloads from God, combined with times of consecration and refreshing, insure that the mind of Christ and activity of Holy Spirit will be ongoing. I can’t resist using a movie metaphor here. Remember the futuristic, sci-fi film, The Matrix, and the computer screen with scrolling lines of code? (featured image for this blog) It conveys a complex, mysterious system at work. To summarize the plot, machine overlords have enslaved humanity in an extremely sophisticated virtual reality system. The “resistance” are a remnant of freedom fighters determined to overcome the evil. Rabbit trails of spiritual allegory are plentiful here, but allow me to focus on the “lines of code.”
Lines of code are a long series of text commands that source a computer program. For an example of size, the average iPhone app runs on 50,000 lines of code. The control software for a U.S. military drone, contains 3.5 million. Google Chrome, 5 million. Facebook, 60 million lines of code. In my mind, these enormously intricate systems cannot compare to the human brain. I picture God at the keyboard in a sense, inputting truth with Presence and power, garnering my surrender and cooperation along the way, enabling me to trump every false mantra, every line of code that misrepresents God, or that causes me to wrongly view myself.
There is both a positional and practical element to the process of being newly “coded” by the Word of God, unto the removal and replacement of every resistant force. I have been raised with Christ. My life is hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:1-4 Yet the efficacy of this truth is reliant upon my setting my heart and mind on things above, where Christ is. My identity is set in stone, secure and established in heaven. My walking it out must be daily inscribed upon my life’s path, a willful choice for truth. Col. 3:10
This is to be our aspiration, abiding in a place of transcendent meditation, the gateway into authentic renewal and transformation.
“Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind–permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Col. 3:16 (AMP)
Bible verses related to meditation: