We have already talked about most other religions and philosophies, earlier in the website.
… especially as to how they relate to meditation.
However there are two other religions that we have not discussed –
… Christianity and Sikhism, so that is what we will be talking about now.
As I am sure nearly all of you already know, Christianity is a religion that was started by Jesus Christ, who was born more than 2000 years ago, and most Christians believe that he was God.
The teachings center around the Bible, which is divided into the Old and the New Testaments, and the symbol of Christianity is always one form or another that is based around a cross.
The Old Testament has long been used as a holy book by the Judaic religion, and is also recognized by the Muslim religion and other religions.
Whereas the New Testament is basically a collection of teachings that is uniquely Christian.
Fairly soon after the start of Christianity, there began to be divisions into a few different minor branches, (such as the Gnostic sub-branch) –
…each of which differed slightly in their interpretation of the teachings as laid down previously, but were not ‘other religions’ as such.
Probably the first of the major breakaway groups was the Eastern Orthodox Church in the 11th Century.
Since that time, the basic unity of the Christian Church had remained fairly uniform – in the form of the Catholic Church,
Although there were different branches connected to it – such as the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church, they all shared common basic beliefs and were all recognized as being sub-sects of the same belief system.
This stayed the same up until the 16th Century, until the time of the English King, Henry the 8th, and in that period of history, many other religions were started, such as the Lutheran church, the Protestant church and so on.
Because of arguments with the Pope (the Spiritual head of the Christian Church at that time) –
… (which involved Henry’s somewhat doubtful multiple marriage plans) –
… Henry started an English breakaway Church, which was called The Church of England or Anglican church.
It had fairly large differences from the Catholic Church, and cut itself off from all connections to it, and is really one of the ‘other religions.’
Since then there have been a number of different church systems which have been formed –
… yet all are still considered as Christian Churches in that they worship Jesus Christ.
Meditation in the Christian church
Meditation in the Christian Church usually revolves around one of four systems:-
The First is adoration or veneration of crucifixes, statues, paintings or similar –
… depicting either different episodes of Jesus’ life/death, or else the lives of the saints.
This form of meditation is very similar to the meditations practiced in the Eastern disciplines using Mandalas or Tankas (see the section on these called Mandalas in this website)
… often with a somewhat similarly geometrically arranged painting, such as that on the left.
I think that it is easy to see the same attention to geometric patterns in this example, as one also finds in the Mandalas.
(For example, see the carefully placed triangular form of the positions of the three major heads in the center).
They are used in much the same way as the Mandalas – as a focus for concentration – which can quickly produce a meditative state when done regularly.
The Second is the use of multiple repetitions of prayers, for example the Catholic prayer ‘Hail Mary‘ – which may be repeated fairly rapidly in groups of 10 repetitions at a time.
To keep track of these multiple repetitions, the Catholics use a ‘Rosary‘ – which is basically exactly the same thing as the prayer beads or ‘Mala beads‘ as used in the Eastern religions –
… the only difference being the number of the beads used in each case.
Once again we have a parallel with the Eastern religions –
… the Rosary has similar mental effects as the Mantras –
… (some of which are almost as long as the ‘Hail Mary’) –
… and which have been in use for at least 1000 years before Christianity was even started.
The Third is an actual Christian Mantra, that originated within the last century –
..it was started by a Christian Monk (called John Main), and now is used extensively worldwide.
It is taken directly from the Bible so it can also be classified as a Bible meditation, or Scripture meditation
(See the next web page – on Mantras – for further information on these last two, and instructions how to use this Christian Mantra).
Finally, the Fourth is the use of repetitive, and often fairly monotonous chanting or singing, such as the medieval ‘Plainsong’ – as a form of meditation using sounds.
This is more common in the monasteries and nunneries of the different Christian branches than in everyday use – even though the Catholic church still makes use of old Plainsong chants in Latin for occasional use in the regular churches.
I do not need to give examples of these Christian meditations, firstly because they are generally much better known, and secondly because it is easier to give ‘Do-it-yourself’ examples of the Eastern similar meditation forms.
Our second example of ‘other religions’ is Sikhism
This was started in Northern India in the 15th Century by a sage called Guru Nanak.
On the left is the symbol of Sikhism.
Sikhs believe in the pursuit of salvation through personal disciplined meditation on the name and the messages of God.
These messages or teachings are laid down in the Sikh holy book or scriptures – which is similar in importance to the Bible or the Qu’ran – and is called the Guru Granth Sahib.
This collection of teachings from Guru Nanak and the 10 Sikh Gurus that followed him, together with the teachings of many saints and teachers from assorted backgrounds, – is very fundamental in importance for the Sikhs.
To give an example of how important it is – when a Sikh baby is born, and it is time to choose a name –
… the Guru Granth Sahib is opened at random and the child’s name must be formed using the first letter on the top left hand corner of the left side page.
All Sikh boys have ‘Singh’ as part of their name, and all the girls have ‘Kaur.’
There are more than 23 million Sikhs worldwide, but the majority live in Northern India, in the area of the Punjab, and centered around their most holy site, the Harimandir Sahib – or Golden Temple – at Amritsar. (Picture above)
The Sikhs believe that there are 10 ‘Gates’ to the body – similar to the Chakras in other religions.
They use these for meditation in a very similar way to that of the Yoga Chakra meditations and the same Chakra type meditations in some other religions,
… and in addition Sikhs also use repetitions of the name of God, that supposedly brings positive emotions in oneself that will be reflected in one’s actions.
These can also be compared in effect to that of Mantras – see the next section.
They believe that the important thing is to spread love amongst all people, whatever religion they belong to, and certainly everyone is always welcome at their Gurdwaras (or temples).
Now that we have had a glance at the majority of the world’s religions, both the ones with sections in the website of their own,
… as well as the other religions that we have covered,
… it is time to start to look closer at more actual online meditation techniques.
So let’s get at it !
On some of the pages on the website there is an anonymous Survey form for ideas you may have for further subjects to be included in this website – please give me your thoughts.
Click to go to Yoga and meditation – Active meditation 1
Click to go to Martial Arts – Active meditation 2
Click to go to Dance and meditation – Active meditation 3
Click to go to Pain and meditation – Active meditation 4
Click to go to Buddhism and meditation – Passive meditation 1
Click to go to Tibetan Buddhism and Tantra – Passive meditation 2
Click to go to Zen meditation – Passive meditation 3
Click to go to Jainism and meditation – Passive meditation 4
Click to go to Mantras and meditation – Passive meditation 6
Click to go to Mandalas and Yantras – Passive meditation 7
Click to go to Tai Chi and Chi Gung – In Between meditation 1
Click to go to Taoism – In Between meditation 2
Click to go to Sounds and meditation – Sounds 1