As a follow up to our recent posting about a new film, The Men Who Stare at Goats, we are issuing this special news report about a project currently underway with US Military Chaplains and other military personnel to receive ongoing training in contemplative mysticism. Those who understand the serious implications of the contemplative/emerging spirituality will likely be quite troubled by this report.
The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society was founded in 1991 and was inspired by retreats led by Thich Nhat Hanh (a Buddhist) and Ram Dass (a Hindu). The Center states that its “intention is ‘not to isolate meditation, but to reflect on the contemplative traditions as powerful techniques that have potential for beneficial change in American society.'” 1 The Center’s objective is to bring meditation into all facets, both religious and secular, of society.
Over the past decade or so, some of those involved with the work at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society include a number of eastern meditation advocates, some of whom are Daniel Goleman (The Meditative Mind), the Dalai Lama, Charlie Halpern, Thomas Keating, and Dr. Dean Ornish. The Center’s targeted areas in society to bring “awareness” in the role of eastern meditation have included education, medicine, environmental, business, law, prisons, economics, youth, philosophy, psychology, and religion.
The Center now has added a relatively new project, one that is geared toward training those in the military in contemplative/mindfulness meditation. The project is called the Military Care Providers Project. The Center says it is “working with the US Army to explore the uses of meditation to restore resiliency in chaplains and medical caregivers.” Chaplains and caregivers would then be able to pass on their newly-learned meditation practices to soldiers, other military personnel, and even families:
The project includes a research report on The Use of Meditation and Mindfulness Practices to Support Military Care Providers. That report will be the basis of a meeting at the National Cathedral in Washington DC … a one-day dialogue between mindfulness [New Age] meditation and contemplative neuroscience subject matter experts (practitioners and scientists) and Army leaders. The symposium will focus on research related to the use of mindfulness training and contemplative practices with caregivers, soldiers, and family members.2
In the Center’s 57-page report (written by Maia Duerr, Chaplaincy Coordinator for the Upaya Zen Center) on bringing eastern-style meditation into the military on a large scale, a wide range of meditative practices are discussed. Interestingly, the report kicks off with a quote by emerging church author Tony Jones from his book The Sacred Way. In his book, Jones makes an appeal for contemplative mysticism. Clearly, the eastern mystics of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society resonate with someone presenting “Christian” contemplative prayer for the reason, as Lighthouse Trails has been stating for years, they are the same thing, and this report does not hide that fact, even though the majority of “Christian” contemplative advocates try incessantly to convince Christians that contemplative prayer and eastern meditation are two completely different belief systems.
The Preface of the research report is written by a US Army Chaplain and a US Army Major. They discuss practices such as The Jesus Prayer and Centering Prayer, saying such practices are “the foundation of this study.” Other meditative practices that are talked about in the report are: “T.M., contemplative prayer, lectio divina, mindfulness meditation, insight meditation (also called vipassana), Zen meditation (also called zazen), and movement meditations such as yoga and qigong” (p. 9). The Center’s Tree of Contemplative Practices illustrates the variety of meditative practices that can be incorporated. The project’s objective is to use meditation in various trauma and stress related scenarios for those in the military and for their families.
The report acknowledges that contemplative prayer has its “roots in early Christian monasticism” and that Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, William Menninger, and Thomas Keating were instrumental in bringing the contemplative tradition to the forefront and “distill[ing] the practices and teachings of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and other Christian contemplatives into the discipline of centering prayer [mantra meditation]” (p.11). The report also acknowledges that these meditative practices are mind-altering techniques used to change one’s thinking patterns.
The report says that a similar program in Canada uses meditation techniques after deployment but states it would be advisable to teach meditation before, during, and after deployment (p. 31). Thus, if all goes according to the Center’s plans, soldiers would receive training throughout their entire military service. It is determined by the Center that “it is probable that Soldiers will benefit by receiving improved care from military care providers who have been supported to develop greater skills in self-care and self-awareness [through meditation] (p. 33).
To further along the research of the Center’s plans for the military, in April 2009, the Symposium on Contemplative Practices for Army Care Providers was held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Representatives from across Army organizations attended:
The one-day symposium was a formal way to bring proponents from the Army medical community, Army Training & Doctrine Command’s Human Dimension, Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, Army Chaplains, DOD’s Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, Army research labs, civilian neuroscientists, scholars, and experienced contemplatives/mindfulness trainers into a dialogue with each other about the research and science related to contemplative practices/mindfulness and care providers.4
It is important to understand that the Center’s studies and efforts to incorporate eastern meditation into the military is not an isolated event, and the implications are serious. For instance, in a November 2008 Lighthouse Trails article titled Will Department of Defense Turn to Meditation to Bring World Peace?, it was revealed that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that “[e]nlightened counter-measures … will bolster the internal strength of vulnerable states so they will not harbor violent networks seeking to launch the next attack.” It was suggested that in the Department of Defense’s “struggle to eliminate violent extremism,” eastern-style meditation techniques should be used.
The Lighthouse Trails article pointed out that Dr. David Leffler, an eight-year US Air Force veteran, now the Executive Director at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) explained in his article titled “A proven enlightened counter-measure”:
Extensive scientific research indicates that the best way to reduce collective societal stress, eliminate extremism and thereby snuff out war and terrorism, is to adopt an ancient strategy. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has revived the ancient Vedic technology of Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) in a non-religious manner. It has been quietly and successfully used by members of many faiths to eliminate conflict in the past.5
We feel we need to reiterate some of the information that was pointed out in our own article last year. According to research, special units would be trained using Transcendental Meditation (TM) and TM-Sidhi (psychic powers) programs.
In the Leffler article, it states that for this “Maharishi Effect” (ME) to take place, a certain percentage of the population would have to practice this joint-efforted meditation: “Extensive research shows that the group size needed to reduce social stress depends on population size. It needs to be at least the square root of 1% of the population.” Leffler says that based on research, crime drops and quality of life goes up when the ME takes place.
Leffler states that the ME could take place around the world if each country’s military would establish what he calls Prevention Wings of the Military. This group would make up for the percentage supposedly needed to meditate for world peace. As for the US military, Leffler says, “Ultimately, it is the DoD’s duty to build a Prevention Wing of the Military.”
According to New Age teachings, Leffler’s proposition that a certain percentage of meditators will rid the world of terrorism, crime, and even poverty could work. New Agers say that a “critical mass” of meditators is needed to bring the ME about. While critical mass is a scientific term, it is used here to refer to “an explosion in global consciousness capable of ‘touching’ or transforming all of humankind.” The idea is that when a certain critical number of people all share the same awareness, then change can come to all people’s thinking because of the critical mass. This critical mass would bring about a global paradigm shift.
As Lighthouse Trails has documented for several years now, the number of people practicing eastern meditation is quickly increasing. From babies being taught to meditate to a huge infiltration of meditation in all sectors of society, and finally through the contemplative (i.e., spiritual formation) movement in the evangelical church, meditation practice is overwhelmingly accepted and embraced in the world today. Leaders of meditation believe that it is through meditation that the world will finally experience true peace and unity.
While the Bible says that the world will at some point reach a momentary, false global peace (through occultic practices, we believe), it will be short lived and demonically inspired. Ray Yungen discusses the false sense of unity and oneness that is achieved through meditation and why it is spiritually dangerous:
Dr. Rodney R. Romney, former Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Seattle, is a person frequently quoted as an example of a New Age Christian. He very candidly revealed what was conveyed to him in his contemplative prayer periods. The ’source of wisdom’ he was in contact with told him the following:
I want you to preach this oneness, to hold it up before the world as my call to unity and togetherness. In the end this witness to the oneness of all people will undermine any barriers that presently exist (Romney, Journey to Inner Space, p. 132).
Could this be a familiar spirit speaking [to Romney] here? Jesus Christ did not teach that all people are one [spiritually speaking]. There are the saved and the unsaved. And Jesus Christ is the catalyst for this distinction. (from A Time of Departing, chapter 4)
We have established in previous articles and reports that contemplative spirituality is a New Age belief system with which meditation is implemented and altered states of consciousness are reached. We have also shown how New Agers believe that the one common factor that unites all religious traditions is the metaphysical (i.e., mystical meditation). Yungen elaborates:
But the spirit who spoke to Dr. Romney also revealed something else of vital importance. It declared, “Silence is that place, that environment where I work.” Please pay attention to this! God does not work in the silence — but familiar spirits do. Moreover, what makes it so dangerous is that they are very clever. One well-known New Ager revealed what his guiding (familiar) spirit candidly disclosed: “We work with all who are vibrationally [meditationally] sympathetic; simple and sincere people who feel our spirit moving, but for the most part, only within the context of their current belief system” (Carey, The Starseed Transmissions, p. 33).
Some may think our suggesting that the US Department of Defense would turn to meditation techniques is absurd. Perhaps the DOD would never consider taking Leffler’s advice to use eastern mystical practices. But consider this: In October 2008, the Department of Defense awarded a $411,000 grant to the Center for Mind-Body Medicine to study the effectiveness of a non-drug approach for brain-injured soldiers who are suffering from depression. 6 The Center for Mind-Body Medicine uses various forms of eastern-style practices including guided imagery, meditation, and has an advisory board that includes New Age sympathizer Dean Ornish (also involved with the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society ). Out of India discusses Ornish:
In the 1970s, Ornish met Sri Swami Satchidananda (who was teaching Ornish’s sister meditation techniques at the time) and told the guru he wanted to learn from him too. Today, he credits Satchidananda for inspiring his heart disease program. His book, Program for Reversing Heart Disease, became a New York Times best-seller and is a product of the swami’s advice. Ornish says:
Swami Satchidananda began teaching me in 1972 the meditation and Yoga techniques that evolved into the stress management program described [in this book]. Since then, he has remained my teacher and close friend (Ornish, p. xvii).
Ornish devotes two chapters in his book to Yoga and other meditative techniques, explaining that “Yoga is a system of powerful tools for achieving union . . . with a higher force,” and through meditation, the higher self can be experienced. Quoting Swami Vivekananda, he states:
In one word, this ideal is that you are divine . . . All the powers in the universe are already ours (Ornish, p. 21).
Ornish was appointed to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy by former President Clinton and also served as a physician consultant to Clinton and several bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress. (from Out of India, pp. 165-166)
It is Swami Vivekananda’s spirituality to which the Department of Defense is giving nearly 1/2 million dollars! So Leffler’s hope that the Department of Defense will incorporate meditation will most likely become a reality.
It is tragic to watch the futile efforts of the world seeking so desperately after peace in all the wrong places. The world has rejected Jesus Christ as the only Prince of Peace and has turned to the prince of this world (Satan) and his methods instead. Those methods convince humanity that it has the capability within itself to mend, heal, and save. Those methods, in particular meditation, convince man that he is divine and he needs no savior because salvation comes not from one person but from humanity itself.
What is equally tragic is that those calling themselves Christian leaders have turned to these methods as well, and now instead of being the salt of the earth and a light shining on the hill (always pointing to Jesus Christ), they have joined forces with the world to bring about peace through meditation. The fact that Henri Nouwen believed in “reconciliation” and peace through meditation and is touted by countless Christian ministries, organizations, schools, and churches is astounding.
Contemplative spirituality is of the same spirit as the Maharishi Effect. That silent sacred space that Christian contemplatives promote is the same silent space that is promoted by Hindu yogis, Buddhist monks, and New Age leaders. It is interspiritual, interfaith, and recognizes no single savior.
We beseech Christian figures and ministries to turn away from contemplative spirituality and return to the pure, simple and saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, offering that to the world of lost humanity. Many of these Christians leaders talk about Jesus through one side of their mouths while declaring the spirituality of Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, and Richard Foster out of the other side. It cannot work. It never will. The very nature of contemplative rejects man’s sinful nature and his need for a savior.
The peace that Jesus Christ offers is to individual men, women, and children, one soul at a time. This is why the preaching of the Gospel is so vital. It is indeed a Gospel of peace but not the peace the world gives, yet it is the only eternal peace there is. Jesus Himself explained this:
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me… Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. (from John 14)
The true peace of God can never be reached through meditative practices but comes only to the repentant heart who accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Peace plans, peace coalitions, three-legged stools, mystical reformations, man-induced awakenings, enlightened counter-measures will never accomplish what only Christ can do.