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True Activity and True Passivity - Johannes Aagaard

Creation Meditation

We have argued for a Christian Meditation, which is solidly based on reality of creation and faith in the creator. Thereby Christian meditation is defined as a meditation which is affirmative in relation to the senses. We affirm the reality of the sense-organs, the reality of the process of sensing and the reality of the sense-objects.

We do know of course that reality in this sense is our reality, i.e. reality as it is experienced by our bodies with their sense organs. Reality as such is an abstract with which we cannot deal.

When during our meditative exercises we affirm the senses and train them in order to see, hear, smell, touch, taste - in short in order to sense more, we are in that process not doing something purely quantatively, even if there is a necessary quantative element in the exercise. There is, however, first of all a qualitative difference, with which we shall deal in some detail.

We will see the qualitative difference clearly if we compare Christian Meditation with the yogic techniques. The general difference between the two approaches to meditation is absolute. Yoga and Christian meditation is like water and fire, mutually exclusive. If you go for yoga, you cannot have Christian Meditation, and vice versa.
Karma-samsara as the Basis of All Yoga

The basic reason for the absolute qualitative difference between Yoga and Christian Meditation is found in the fact that all yoga is based on the karma-samsara syndrome, while Christian Meditation is based on the God's grace / Christ's resurrection syndrome.

There are various yoga-margas, i.e. various roads which are marked off as yogic avenues, but all the yogic margas are understood as ways out of samsara, the transmigration-circle, reincarnation. "If there were no reincarnation, why should we do yoga? since yoga is the way out of reincarnation" is one guru-citation out of many, confirming the intimate relationship between yoga and reincarnation.

The motor of the reincarnation-circle is karma, i.e. "that which has been done." On the basis of performance in past lives the present life has got its form and content. You have earned what you receive. No one but your own past has made you. You reap what you sow.

Karma-samsara thus is the basis of all yoga. So-called yoga which denies this karma-samsara context is only yoga by name.
The Basis of Christian Meditation (CM)

The basis of Christian Meditation is strictly theological, not anthropological as in the case of yoga. It is Gods grace which is the vision behind CM and it is Christ's resurrection and our participation in Christ as the risen and present master that set the horizon for all CM.

To enter into CM is to enter into the discipline of discipleship. CM is an exercise in being a Christian. One does not, however, become a Christian by CM, but by faith and baptism, an one is not keeping oneself Christian by CM. Gods grace did it and does it. As Christians we know that we cannot and need not do anything to become Christians or remain Christians.

There is therefore a genuine Christian "nothingness" in our attitude to God. We cannot perform and we should not perform in relation to God. God alone does it and continues to do it.

But Gods action does not happen without us. We are drawn into Gods action, God is acting with us and through us, and in this dimension we can and must understand our cooperation with God, a cooperation which takes place both in the secular realities and in the kingdom of God.

CM is an expression of this genuine cooperation with God. We are consequently not the subject, and we have to be liberated from the fixation that we are acting subjects in CM. God alone is the acting subject, even when he draws us into his actions in true cooperation.
Cooperation and Meditation:

"Work for Your Salvation With Fear and Trembling"

The nature of this cooperation is expressed by St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians with exact precision, when he states:

"So then my dear friends, continue to do as I tell you... and work for your salvation in fear and trembling." "It is God, for his own loving purpose, who puts both the will and the action into you." (Phil. 2:12-13)

We have to work - and CM is part of that work - for our salvation, even with fear and trembling, not as a substitute for Gods saving act, but as a result of Gods saving act, God "who puts both the will and the action into us"... (with the translation of the Jerusalem Bible.)

This could be heard as a contradiction and it is often understood as such, but it is not at all contradictory. What is rejected is that we have to do our part of salvation, and then God will do the rest. We have - simply - to work for our salvation with fear and trembling. Salvation is no tea-party! And we can work like that - because God "puts both the will and the action for salvation into us."

This sort of cooperation is not a partim-partim (partly-partly) but is a both-and, a simul-simul. Cooperation is not on the one side us and on the other side God, but expresses the nature of "God in us".

Martin Luther has expressed this interpretation in a marvelous way in his master-piece "De servo arbitrio" (1525):

[754] What I have to say on this point is as follows: Man, before he is created to be man does and endeavors nothing toward his being made a creature. And after he is made and created, he does and endeavors nothing toward his preservation as a creature. Both his creation and his preservation come to pass by the sole will of the omnipotent power and goodness of God, who creates and preserves us without ourselves. Yet, God does not work in us without us, because He creates and preserves us for the very purpose that He might work in us and we might cooperate with Him, whether that occurs outside His kingdom and under His general omnipotence, or within His kingdom and under the special power of His Spirit. So I say that man, before he is regenerated into the new creation of the Spirit's kingdom does and endeavors nothing to prepare himself, and when he is regenerated he does and endeavors nothing toward his perseverance in that kingdom. The Spirit alone, without ourselves, works both blessings in us, regenerating us and preserving us when regenerated ...

In some translations of this decisive statement of Luther the culmination and conclusion is, however, cut out. One may wonder why, since the conclusion interprets the whole statement and makes it valid while the omission makes it invalid!

The vital conclusion runs like this:

"But still God does not work without us, since He has re-created us and upholds us (as the new creation) in order that He can work in us, and we can cooperate with him. In this way He preaches through us has mercy on the poor, consoles the sad and downtrodden." (WA 18,754)