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Posted October 26, 2012

Book: Growing in Love and Wisdom: Tibetan Buddhist Sources for Christian Meditation
Author: Susan J. Stabile
Oxford University Press. New York. 2012. pp. 260

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In Growing in Love and Wisdom, Susan Stabile draws on a unique dual perspective to explore the value of interreligious dialogue, the essential spiritual dynamics that operate across faith traditions, and the many fruitful ways Buddhist meditation practices can deepen Christian prayer.

. . . Both traditions seek to effect a fundamental transformation in the lives of believers, and both stress the need for experiences that have deep emotional resonance, that go beyond the level of concepts to touch the heart. Stabile illuminates the similarities between Tibetan Buddhist meditations and Christian forms of prayer such as Ignatian Contemplatin and Lectio Divina; she explores as well such guided Buddhist practices as Metta and Tonglen, which cultivate and find echoes in Jesus' teachings about loving one's enemies and transcending self-cherishing.

An Excerpt from the Book:

There are two basic categories of Tibetan Buddhist meditation: stabilization, or concentrative, meditation and analytical meditation. The aim of the former is to combat the mind's usual practice of jumping from one object of attention to another. Concentration is necessary for any form of meditation, and so stabilization techniques seek to calm the mind and help us develop the ability to focus single-pointedly on an object until the mind can rest effortlessly on that object for significant periods of time. There are various stabilization methods, many of which use the breath as an object of concentration.

The second category is analytical meditation, which makes use of our faculties of intellect and imagination. The goal is to come to a clear and unshakable conclusion as to the truth of Buddhist teachings and how thing truly exist. This is achieved by an active process of investigating the object of attention of the mediation session. The imagination often comes into play, as the mediator visualizes certain scenarios and situations as a means of investigation. Powers of logical reasoning are also brought into play as a means of exploring the relevant aspects of the subject of meditation in order t develop a clear understanding of the subject.

. . .This description of a Buddhist meditative process combining analytical and stabilization mediation is quite similar to descriptions of the Christian practice of Lectio Divina. In that prayer practice, after pondering a word or phrase of scripture, savoring the reading, listening, and then dialoguing with God about the ideas the reflection on the scripture has generated, the invitation is to rest in silence, letting go of words. When we have an apprehension of truth, the idea is to simply sit in the apprehension without engaging in further thought.

Table of Contents:

1. How we think about other faith traditions

The value of interreligious dialogue

Core truths that operate across faith traditions

2. Adapting prayer practices from another faith tradition

The importance of contemplation and affective experience

Why look to Tibetan Buddhism?

3. Analytical meditations and commentary

Friend, enemy, stranger

Sending and taking (Tong-len)

The kindness of others

Exchanging self and others

The four immeasurables

Inexhaustible love

Giving the four elements

Appreciating the gifts of our birth



Overcoming anger and developing patience

Eight worldly concerns

Taking refuge

Seeing ourselves as Christ

Mediating on the "I"

4. Other meditations and practices

Meditations to develop concentration and mindfulness

Other practices