In this post, I will define several terms and discuss some religious beliefs which are definitely influencing mainstream “Christianity” today, and were practiced in the first few centuries AD by some who have been called “Christian.” God’s Word is not the basis of these beliefs. Jesus Christ and Him crucified is NOT the focus and there is NO need for repentance or a Saviour.
People, thinking they know the way to have oneness with (a) god or how to reach some sort of enlightenment are being deceived by the god of this world (the father of lies), and are actually in Satan’s kingdom of darkness.
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
—2 Corinthians 4:4
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
—1 John 1:5
What a wonderful God and Saviour we have and what wonderful promises he gives us.
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
—Hebrews 13:20, 21
Ascetics and Asceticism
Ascetic, an ancient Greek word, means to abstain from worldly pleasures to achieve what is perceived as spiritual enlightenment. It is believed that by purifying the body, the soul is purified and one can then connect more easily with the divine.
Self-mortification is practiced by those who realize the self is wicked and deserving of punishment, but their goal is what they term, the transcendent true self. They don’t realize Jesus already took the punishment for us, and that there are no good works or no masochistic practices that can be done to absolve us of our sins. Jesus is our Righteousness; there is NO good in us.
Asceticism is most commonly associated with monks, yogis or priests. Some individuals choose to lead an ascetic life and leave their families, possessions, and homes to live a mendicant life. Their followers believe this demonstrates great spiritual attainment, or enlightenment.
A monk or monastic, is a person who practices religious asceticism—the conditioning of mind and body in favor of the spirit… The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.
Yogis are advanced practicers of yoga bound by a code of moral conduct and restraint (including celibacy), with a view to unite with the divine.
Yoga, a group of ancient spiritual practices originating in India, means to yoke in Sanskrit, and is translated as union as in union with the Divine.
A priest or priestess is a person having the authority or power to perform and administer religious rites and exists in some branches of “Christianity”, Shintoism, Hinduism, and many other religions.
Mendicant means religious followers or ascetics who rely exclusively on charity to survive. Those in a mendicant order usually do not own property and have taken a vow of poverty…Many religious orders follow a mendicant way of life, including the Catholic mendicant orders, Hindu ascetics, some dervishes of Sufi Islam, and the monastic orders of Buddhism.
In Hinduism, a sadhu is an ascetic or practitioner of yoga (yogi) who has given up pursuit of the first three Hindu goals of life: kama (enjoyment), artha (practical objectives) and even dharma (duty). Solely dedicated to achieving moksha (liberation) through meditation and contemplation of God, Sadhus are believed to be holy and known for the extreme forms of self-denial they occasionally practice to a deity or principle.
Jainism uses an intense form of asceticism encouraging fasting, yoga practices, meditation in difficult postures, and other austerities. The origin of which can be traced back to the 24th fordmaker or Tirthankara— a human who achieves enlightenment (perfect knowledge), through asceticism. A Tirthankar becomes a Jina (after totally conquering anger, pride, deceit, desire, etc.). A Tirthankar is the founder of a “Tirth”, a Jain community which acts as a “ford” across the “river of human misery.”
Zuhd is the Islamic word for asceticism.
Sufism developed as an ascetic movement; sufi refers to a rough woolen robe of the ascetic. Asceticism naturally goes to mysticism. The Muslim ascetic believes that he draws near to Allah by leading an ascetic life…the Sufi way to salvation.
Mysticism is the attempt by an individual to achieve a personal union with a god or with some other divine being or principle. A common theme in mysticism is that the mystic and all of reality are One. The purpose of mystical practices is to achieve that oneness in experience,to achieve a larger identity and re-identify with the all that is. The state of oneness has many names depending on the mystical system: Illumination, Union, Irfan (Islam), Nirvana (Buddhism), Moksha (Jainism), Samadhi (Hinduism), etc.
Whether it is the the inner light of the Quakers or the Atman of the Hindu or Buddhist, the center focus is on the essential essence within themselves. Strong elements of mysticism are a part of a number of major traditions and philosophies: Hindu, Chinese, Islamic, Jewish, Mormon, so called “Christian” mystics, and others.
Mystical theology or direct experience of God is defined as experiential knowledge of God by Thomas Aquinas. MT includes all extraordinary forms of prayer, “the higher forms of contemplation in all their varieties or gradations, private revelations, visions, and the union growing out of these between god and the soul, known as the mystical union“— the mystical state in which an individual becomes united with god.
A soul must be purified to reach the mystical union. [If you click on the mystical theology link, you will see the requirements to reach this mystical union.] This is an experience-based belief system rather than faith in God’s Word. Who or what does the individual actually unite with? It’s not the God of the Bible. God doesn’t give us steps and disciplines to get to him. Jesus has done everything. Repent and take His robe of Righteousness, just as Adam and Eve put on the animal skins God gave them in the garden.
WORD of GOD
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.”—Acts 17:27
“Now the just shall live by faith…”—Hebrews 10:38
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”—Hebrews 11:6
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”—Matthew 23:4
Our word hermit is from the Greek word erimites meaning person of the desert. In the ascetic eremitic life, the hermit seeks solitude for meditation, contemplation, and prayer without the distractions of society to become closer to the deity or deities they worship and revere.
For those in the Roman tradition, eremitic life was a strict separation from the world, and included the silence of solitude and prayer and penance—a life supposedly given entirely to the praise of God and the love and the service of humanity. The ermitic life is also in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufism. Anthony of Egypt is the best known of the early Western hermits.
Buddha and Buddhism
Siddhartha Gautama lived in the sixth century BC and left home at 29 to seek the meaning of the suffering he saw around him. Gautama abandoned the way of self-mortification—his six years of arduous yogic training—and instead sat in mindful meditation beneath a bodhi tree and somehow, became Buddha, the enlightened one. For the next 45 years, he wandered the plains of northeastern India teaching the path or Dharma he thought he had found. Buddha died 486 BC, at the age of 80.—http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/buddhaintro.html
Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development thought to lead to Enlightenment or Buddhahood. Buddhist practices such as meditation are the means of changing oneself. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhist thinking start with the idea that suffering exists and ends with freedom from suffering by practicing the Eightfold plan, the third step of which is meditation including contemplation.
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism which emphasizes practice and experiential wisdom along with intensive periods of meditation in the attainment of awakening. [I’m not sure what that means] It emphasizes direct individual experience of one’s own true nature. Zen, in China social circumstances, led to the development of a temple and training-center system in which the abbot and the monks had jobs of making food, gardening or farming, carpentry, architecture, housekeeping, administration, and the practice of folk medicine. A practice in many Zen monasteries and centers is a daily liturgy service where major sutras such as the Heart Sutra, etc. are chanted; chanting being an important part of the belief system.
The ultimate goal of all Hindus is release (moksha) from the cycle of rebirth (samsara). “…those of a philosophical persuasion look forward to uniting with god as a drop of rain merges with the sea.
Most Hindus venerate one or more deities, but regard these as manifestations of Ultimate Reality which is referred to as “the One,” “Purusha,” and “Brahman,” and several other names. Most modern Hindus refer to the Ultimate Reality as Brahman. Brahman is impersonal Being in itself, but it can be known through the many gods and goddesses that are manifestations of Brahman.—http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/beliefs.htm
In Hinduism, there are four main ways to reach towards the divine reality, whether the ultimate goal is a better life, union with the divine, or a release from life. The ways are called yoga, a word similar to the English term “yoke.” And, just as yoke implies a burden or a discipline of actions, so too does yoga. Each yoga puts on its followers a set of actions that help lead the practitioner towards their goal. The four yogas are all spiritual approaches to understanding the divine world.
From the BOOK
“Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.”
“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.”
“… the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.”—Jeremiah 23:16
“The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.”—Jeremiah 2:8
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, … among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life…”
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”—Ephesians 5:8