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Christian Disciplines
for a World Infatuated with Buddhism

Wellbeing with its mindfulness and other disciplines are in. Articles about these disciplines fill pages and pages of newspapers and magazines. And it’s everywhere on digital media. I tire of the incessant (claiming of) sourcing these disciplines in Buddhism (and occasionally Hinduism). It’s not that I have anything against other world religions – anyone who knows me knows I’m quite the opposite: I am so enriched by people and practices of other faiths. But, what is normally described can be just as well sourced in the Christianity that is foundational to the West rather than drawing from a romanticised, glamorised esoteric East.

There is a plethora of inner disciplines resourced on this site – the search box works very well for you to find more – but here are four highlighted for a start (and you can follow threads from there, if you find something touches your heart):

Silent Prayer – in the newspapers/magazines/media, this would be referred to as “meditation”
Examen of Consciousness – gratitude; journaling…
Lectio Divina – mindful reading…
Daily Office – learning to live in a poetic meta-narrative

Lent is an appropriate time to (re)discover/grow in inner disciplines.

Let me stress: it is our fault – it is the fault of Christians – that (Western) society is unaware of the rich tradition of Christian disciplines that encourage wellbeing (and mindfulness…). Jesus came that we may have life, and have it abundantly. And it is the fault of Christian leadership (and their formation, training, and study) that Christians are unaware of our own rich spirituality heritage.

Maybe Buddhism (and Hinduism) is seemingly less averse to sieving out deities and spirit entities (a reality in the actual Buddhism encountered in Asia) to end up with “secular” and “non-religious” wellbeing/mindfulness/meditation disciplines.

I actually exult in the understanding that the point of the Christian spiritual disciplines (exemplified above) is growing union with God, BUT I think that the concept of “God” has been SO degraded (and, again, we Christians are at fault). “God” (the Christian version) regularly comes across as some sort of weather-controlling, easily-annoyable deity. But God is not “a being”, God is Being.

Often, people will speak in terms of “the Universe arranged…” or “…the Universe has your back…” or “the Universe always has a plan…”. I regularly tell people, in different ways, that if the word “god” does not connect for them, if if the word “god” is toxic for them, translate it in your mind to a more helpful word (“love” or “purpose” or “meaning”…). In the examples at the start of this paragraph (try me for pantheistic heresy!), the use of the word “Universe” is closer to the reality of God than the too-often-met weather-controlling, easily-annoyable deity.

I regularly see that people who claim to believe in nothing often end up believing in anything! The same newspapers and magazines pressing wellbeing/mindfulness/meditation disciplines have full page articles on tarot, or being “protected” by turning an article of clothing inside out, or by wearing an evil-eye ring, or on crystals, or the zodiac…

In conclusion: having started working on this blog post, I wandered into the library and spotted a newish book: The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction. The historian, Jamie Kreiner, applies Christian monastic theories into our digital era beset by distractions. I have begun reading the book. The index indicates a couple of mentions of Buddhism – at a quick glance, she seems to see these disciplines as having a more strongly Christian source and that Buddhism drew on this through contact via the Silk Road. That certainly might turn the romanticising of the East, for wellbeing marketing, on its head.

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4 thoughts on “Christian Disciplines <br>for a World Infatuated with Buddhism”

  1. I agree: ‘the use of the word “Universe” is closer to the reality of God than the too-often-met weather-controlling, easily-annoyable deity.’ Just as ‘…belief in a cruel God results in a cruel man’ when the Bible is misused (from Thomas Paine)

    Someone came up to me last week and said ‘do your have a personal relationship with Our Saviour’? I can answer sincerely, partly out of compassion for the speaker but also because I am aware of and confident with many expressions of faiths by now, I translate and move between them. But language can be confusing or scary for people, ‘No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous….’ wrote Henry Adams, speaking of Karl Pearson…!

    My enthusiastic proselytizer said ‘then I’ll see you at the rapture’ and we smiled and went about our day.

    ‘Can two walk together, unless they be agreed?’

    Or is that ‘Can two walk together without agreeing where to go?’

    : ) Love and blessings Bosco.

  2. This is an excellent article, Bosco. We share this frustration. There’s so much richness in the history of the West that can easily meet the hunger of those searching for deeper ways of being in our current culture of information saturation and busyness that leaves the mind, heart, and soul fatigued… and we Christians need to rediscover what it means to offer the riches of our faith as a gift rather than flattening it out as a marketing ploy.

  3. The University of Vermont gave me a grant to study end of life care, the tutor just sent an email with this:

    ‘A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness

    If I have harmed anyone in any way either knowingly or unknowingly

    through my own confusions I ask their forgiveness.

    If anyone has harmed me in any way either knowingly or unknowingly

    through their own confusions I forgive them.

    And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive

    I forgive myself for that.

    For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself,

    judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions

    I forgive myself.

    Forgiveness means giving up all thoughts for a better past.


    I do think all religions can and should inform each other. In the Unitarian Universalist Church (but not, to my knowledge, the Catholic Church) we read a book to children ‘Old Turtle and the Broken Truth.’

    1. Thanks, Tracy – these are such important truths to grow into. I will look out for the book – I don’t think I know it. Holy Week blessings.

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