"There will be no peace on earth unless there is first peace among the religions."
Hans Kung (Swiss Catholic Priest)
The purpose of meditation is to find peace in the present moment.
On this great Earth we share, there is so much variety among species, climates, human cultures, religions and ways of being. More and more of our children are being introduced to belief systems and ideas from around the world that their parents and grandparents never heard of.
Just a few generations ago, people had to travel vast distances to learn something about another culture or foreign religion. Today, use of the Internet makes information from the far reaches of the globe available at the click of a button.
How do we make sense of the enormous diversity in beliefs and religions?
I suggest that if we try to make sense through belief systems we may find some similarities, but we most likely will find justifications for differences.
However, if we look beyond beliefs and into practices, we will find universal commonality that binds us all. One of those universal threads that can be found in all religions is the practice of meditation.
Meditation is not confined to one religion but can be found in all religious scriptures in one form or another.
There are many ways of meditating, and what works for one kind of person may not for another. For some people, sitting in silence and being totally still, as in Zen meditation, is nearly unbearable, while for others it is bliss.
Some people require more active methods of meditation such as repeating a prayer over and over or a kind of meditation that incorporates body awareness such as sacred dance or yoga.
Others do well through more intellectual approaches such as the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
The form meditation practice takes is not as important as the context in which it is done.
Meditation practices that isolate you from others, that close you off from social interaction, that move you in a direction of self-centered concern, should be questioned. They may not be appropriate or healthy ways to meditate.
One of the purposes of meditation is to open us to a place of greater concern for others (including non-humans), help us to see ourselves in others (even people we do not get along well with), and bring us at ease right into the middle of the busyness and noise of everyday life.
Good meditation should help us be more of what we are already. If we are a Christian, we become a clearer Christian. If we are a Jew, we become a clearer Jew.
The purpose of meditation is to give you the energy you need to clarify your purpose in life. Meditation is food for the soul.
In my own practice of meditation, I have learned ways to slow down, relax, remain centered and, most importantly, to care about the concerns of others.
The Buddha said, "Many do not know that we are here in this world to live in harmony. Those who know this do not fight against each other" (Dhammapada 1:6).
My prayer is that all people, religious or not, learn ways to better understand each other and find peace, harmony and well being in their lives.
Meditative disciplines, I am convinced, when done under the guidance of someone with many years of training and experience, have the ability to help take us in this direction.
McCabe is the assistant pastor at Mt. Equity Zendo in Pennsdale.