Thursday, April 19, 2012

Zen for High Schoolers? Why Not the Jesus Prayer?


Reading the paper this morning I was awakened by an article titled "Zen for Highschoolers." The subtitle was , "Notice the Anxiety. Notice the Fear." Here was an article in a major national publication, The New York Times, with large photograph of students meditating and almost a full page dedicated to this topic. I wondered why is that we do not have such publicity about the Christain traditions that truly lead us to life that relives us of anxiety and fear? Why do we not teach the ascetic practices of fasting and prayer that lead us to an ability to know God and to control our passions, anxieties and fears?

Why not have programs for Highschoolers who are given detention and suspension for fighting and othe disruptive behaviors to teach them the ancient Christian truths and how to pray using the Jesus Prayer? How is it that a religious practice like Buddhist Zen meditation is OK in public schools but a Christian practice like the Jesus Prayer is not?

Here are some guidelines for the price of the Jesus Prayer:

The Jesus Prayer is very simple:

"Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,"
(For different languages)

The Jesus Prayer according to numerous Church Fathers is "essential" to our spiritual growth. The Jesus Prayer proclaims our faith and humbles us by asking mercy for our sinfulness. The Jesus Prayer is thought to be as old as the Church itself.


The Jesus Prayer, says Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, “more than any other,” helps us to be able to “stand in God’s presence.” This means that the Jesus Prayer helps us to focus our mind exclusively on God with “no other thought” occupying our mind but the thought of God. At this moment when our mind is totally concentrated on God, we discover a very personal and direct relationship with Him.

Jesus Christ - the Power In the Name
The Jesus Prayer's power comes from the use of our Lord's Name, Jesus Christ, Son of God. It is a confession of our faith.
...read more about the power of the name Jesus Christ

Jesus Prayer requires Humility
The Jesus Prayer in its practice assumes you are a regular participant in the worship services of the Church, in her Sacraments and aware of your sinfulness. Be sure to consult with and follow the advice of your spiritual Father. Humility is a prerequisite for all prayer, especially the Jesus Prayer.
...read more about role of humility in practicing the Jesus Prayer

Jesus Prayer Has Two Functions
The Jesus Prayer has two important purposes. The first is worship as with all prayer. The second is a discipline to help our soul gain control our overactive brains and create stillness so the Holy Spirit can work through us and help us live the virtues in union with God.
...read more about the two functions of the Jesus Prayer

Jesus Prayer Has Three Stages in Practice
The Jesus Prayer involves three stages of progress in its practice. You begin praying the Jesus Prayer by repeating the words of the prayer out loud or at least moving the lips. This is called verbal prayer. After some time saying of the Jesus Prayer becomes silent or mental and is repeated only in the mind. This is mental prayer. Finally, the Jesus Prayer becomes a continuous prayer in the heart, the inner core of our being. We begin with vocal prayer and do not force the move to mental prayer. This will happen naturally when you are ready.
... read more about the three stages of the Jesus Prayer

Jesus Prayer in Practice
In praying the Jesus Prayer, our holy Fathers tell us, we say it over and over hundreds of times as part of our daily prayer rule. It is best to add the Jesus Prayer to your morning prayers as this is when the mind is the quietest. Begin by saying the Jesus Prayer verbally focusing on each word. Repeat the Jesus Prayer continually for 15 minutes at first and then expand to 30 minutes. You will experience the challenge of dealing with your thoughts, the tendency for you mind to wander. Attention when praying the Jesus Prayer is important. Be sincere in your prayer and repeat it with contrition. Praying the Jesus Prayer is that simple!
... read more about how to practice the Jesus Prayer

6 comments:

  1. Buddhism and Zen in general have been pretty much reduced to pop psychology and stress relief by todays secular humanist elites who are in charge of the education system. Because of this they can talk about "mindfulness", "peace" and all that without any mention of the Buddha or what he taught. Take it from me as a former Buddhist turned traditional Catholic. I saw firsthand how many Westerners pretty much in their utter arrogance and lack of respect for tradition turned Buddhism into nothing more than pop psychology. Now they are pushing it in the schools. And I think you and I both know that while "mindfulness" and even "Zen" are benign to todays education elites the very name Jesus Christ is divisive and they will hear nothing of it.

    Another thing is Western designer Buddhism and even real Buddhism in general plays well to the Pelagian ideals of the current culture, a sort of "do it yourself" enlightenment with no reference to God or grace.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't want to get in the debate since its a website dedicated to your views, but take this opinion as just what it is , an opinion.
    The only reason that the Jesus prayer is not being recognized by these institutions is because in meditation and in the core of all religious teachings, they tried teach us how to "dis identified" from form, meditation only requires your mind to be silent. if you are repeating words whatever these words mean they still are "form" because words are content, how possible is to describe something so profound with simple sounds that we make with our mouth by compressing air in our diaphragm that you for sheer coincidence happened to understand, Buddha, Jesus, and all the other teachers explained this and should be very clear to everybody, and with this I answer to Justin saying that the teachings of Buddha and Jesus were reduced to religion either Christianity or Buddhism, did Jesus started Christianity? or did Buddha started Buddhism? off course not , their teaching were convey into religion and people kill each other for these religions, did they want that ? off course not. meditation teach us to find what Jesus called salvation , what Buddha called awakening by re attaching ourselves with our human spirit that goes beyond "form" words or whatever you people believe now days.
    in this way, trying to pursuit one's approach by calling it the correct one ! is just arrogant and again your mind is identifying with form, Jesus did not want this, he didn't want you to believe in him, he wanted you to awaken, to be saved, that in reality means being in one with oneself and dis identified with form or to put it in simple terms: dis identified with materialism which includes even our senses and perceptions and meditation is teaching us to find salvation in ourselves just like he said it, "the kingdom of god lives within ourselves", right ? if you want to repeat some verse to get yourself closer to god , in reality you are not feeling nothing different from when we listen a song that we really like and takes us somewhere else in space and time. I hope I didn't offend anybody

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds like a good idea but I would rather not have our children taught the Jesus Prayer in a public school setting as I am sure it would not be taught in the Orthodox Christian Tradition and experience. On the other hand we should as parents and in our Orthodox Church school teach this prayer to our children. As for the salvation of rest of the world, we should also practice the Jesus prayer and live as Saint Seraphim of Sarov taught, (Attain to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and a thousand people around you will be saved.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with you in principle but to allow Buddhista practices to be taught at the exclusion of ancient Christian ones is also not a very good idea.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I suppose schools are able to embrace Buddhist practice because buddhism is silent about God. As Christians who say Christ is God, this is a double mistake. First, that we boldly proclaim there is a God and second that we can be intimate with Him because He is like us. Western culture has succumbed to ideas, and life as an endless symphony of ideas. We are comfortable with the idea of God, but not God in the flesh, someone we can know intimately. So, I don't know. If Buddhist meditation helps schools be a more welcoming place, I guess that's good, but yet I wonder if it isn't dangerous, at least if we consider America to still be a Christian culture. As a 50 year old who went back to college, I find the university campus filled with very good people with good ideas, but very ignorant about who God is, especially the God-man Jesus Christ. So many say He and the Church are bad. I believe this is a consequence of the fear and hate message of so many churches. We have a lot of praying to do...and listening and teaching....

    ReplyDelete
  6. Martin Luther said: "I am much afraid that schools will prove to be great gates of Hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt."

    I recommend the following link: http://effectualgrace.com/2012/02/21/reality-check-america-under-the-wrath-of-god/

    ReplyDelete