Monday, 30 November 2015

Can WCCM act as an international association ? - read yourself ...

Letter to the Vatican about The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM)

Cardinal Prefect
His Excellency William Joseph Levada
Palace of the Holy Office
Vatican City

London, 28 April 2011
His Excellence William Joseph Levada
We are writing to you with a question regarding the alarming spread of so called “Christian Meditation” promoted by The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) and its director Fr Laurence Freeman, OSB.
We encountered the WCCM for the first time during the Lenten Talk at the Our Lady of Victories, London Parish in March 2011. During the series of talks run by Fr Freeman, Stefan Reynolds and Kim Nataraja introduced parishioners to the style of prayer closer to the Centering Prayer than Christian meditation itself.
In fact, Kim Nataraja when questioned how different it was from the centering prayer, admitted that quote “they are like brothers, very similar”. When we expressed our concern to the Parish priest, Monsignor James Curry, by letter – his response was very vague, suggesting we should attend more of those talks for a better understanding. He did invite us for a clarification talk but never responded to our proposal to meet. Hence, left in limbo, we raise our serious concerns.
The WCCM is very active in spreading the so-called “Christian Meditation” (please see attached the copy of Retreat Booklet for 2011) and enters now the domain of mental health. Quote “A seminar on meditation and mental health, drawing together speakers from different religious traditions and contemporary psychology will take place in London on 4 - 5 May 2011. This seminar will look at how the spiritual dimension and meditation in particular, can offer a new and stimulating perspective on this topic. There will be a range of presentations – talks, discussions and interactive workshops. Speakers and workshop leaders include: Fr Laurence Freeman OSB, Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation; Revd Christopher MacKenna, Director of St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre; Revd Carol Morrison, Curate with a special interest in mental health and Christian spirituality; Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and Abbot of Samye Ling Monastery; Dr Norman Rosenthal, Psychiatrist, researcher, author and discoverer of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) syndrome; Don Boyle, Social Inclusion and Employment Co-ordinator of NHS Foundation Trust and others.”[1]
Fr Freeman has recently started a new initiative called Meditatio. Quote: “This is the outreach and sharing of the fruits of meditation with the wider world and with the problems and crises of our times. The three-year programme includes a series of seminars and workshops on the themes of Education, Business and Finance, Mental Health, the Environment, Inter-Religious Dialogue and Citizenship.”
All that is very alarming and confusing to many devout Catholics that are in search of God’s presence in daily life.
“The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation” says: Christian prayer is not an exercise in (…) stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love, one which “implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from 'self' to the 'You' of God”. It leads to an increasingly complete surrender to God's will, whereby we are invited to a deep, genuine solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”
While Fr Freeman (WCCM) tells us in his introduction that “Meditation is the way of self knowledge, prayer in silence, letting go. Prayer is not about getting benefits from God but becoming like god. Capacity of letting go everything, receiving, humbly and simply. Not to acquire but to let go. All forms of prayer converge in the hub of a wheel of prayer. In the center of prayer we enter into the prayer of Jesus (Christ prays in you).[2]
His constantly refers to John Cassian and Desert Fathers and Mothers as well as to the mysterious book “The Cloud of Unknowing” (the base for the Centering Prayer as thought by Father William Meninger, Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington). He constantly repeats “let go” and quotes Jesus saying “Be still know that I am God”). He proposes to meditate on the world “Maranatha” which is another wonder why specifically that word (even though it means “Lord Come”, why specifically that one should be used ?).
More importantly, as the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states in paragraph 23: “Genuine Christian mysticism has nothing to do with technique: it is always a gift of God, and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy (cf St. Teresa of Jesus, Castillo Interior IV)”. St Teresa of Avila also tells us in The Interior Castle that more harm than good can from trying to stop the mind, but we should rather without any effort or noise, strive to cut down the rambling of the intellect – but not suspend either it or the mind; it is good to be aware that one is in God’s presence and of who God is when in prayer. Also, one can't use technique as a substitute for spiritual growth to suddenly arrive at "contemplation" or Unitio. One may "blank" one’s mind or use a mantra to somehow hypnotize oneself, but this will bring an empty calmness more akin to transcendental meditation than any true contemplation. Let us not forget what the Great Pope John Paul II reminded us that St Teresa opposed the books of her day which presented  contemplation as thinking about nothing or an assimilation into some vague divinity.
We would be so grateful for your reflection and guidance regarding the mentioned community and the type of prayer they are proposing.
With our prayers
Que le Dieu vous benisse

Ø  Vincent Gerard Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
Archbishop’s House, Ambrosden Avenue, London SW1P 1QJ

[2] The talk was recorded, this is a transcript from the video recording that can be sent if requested.

Swami Vivekananda - first yoga ambassador in the West

Swami Vivekananda was the disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He founded the Ramakrishna mission to spread the teachings of his Guru throughout the world. One of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of India, he sought to promote the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga. Swami Vivekananda was the first spiritual leader of India who introduced Hinduism, Yoga and Vedanta at the World's Parliament of Religions.

Swami Vivekananda's Speeches
The World Parliament of Religions, Chicago

CONCLUDING ADDRESS - Chicago, Sept 27, 1893

The World's Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who laboured to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labour. My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realized it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.
Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, "Brother, yours is an impossible hope." Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.
The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.
Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.
If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: "Help and not fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."