Meditation: A New Way of Being Religious?

On the growing number of Americans running from organized religion.

In this past Sunday’s New York Times, Eric Weiner—the author most recently of “Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine”—wrote about the “growing number of Americans…running from organized religion.”

In an opinion piece entitled “Americans: Undecided About God?” Weiner took note of the growing number of Americans who no longer have a religious affiliation. The “Nones” as he calls them now make up fully 12 percent of the nation’s religious demographic. Amongst young people, that number soars to an astonishing 25 percent.  

But here’s the kicker: only a tiny fraction of these “Nones” consider themselves atheists (7 percent according to a survey by Trinity College). They believe in God (or in some sort of higher power). They just don’t identify with traditional, organized religion. “We need,” Weiner concludes, “…a new way of being religious.”

It’s way too early to tell, but I wonder to what extent meditation is playing and will play a role in that emerging “new way.” Amongst the Abrahamic faiths there seems to be a growing interest in Sufi Islam’s Muraqaba, Christianity’s Centering Prayer and Kabbalistic as well as non-Kabbalistic Jewish Meditation practices.

That’s not to say that meditation alone should (or could) fulfill all of the roles of religion, which include: creating community; providing rituals for celebration and mourning; articulation of a shared narrative that shapes a world view; consideration of and fostering moral and ethical behavior. But meditation may address, at least in part, something the “Nones” say they have found lacking. It all remains to be seen. 

So what do you think? Mindful of our commitment to non-hurtful speech, please LEAVE A COMMENT below and share your thoughts.

Rabbi Mark Sameth is the spiritual leader of Joyful Judaism: Pleasantville Community Synagogue an inclusive, progressive synagogue – with members from twenty towns, villages and cities all across Westchester. Read The New York Times  article. Weekly meditation at the synagogue every Saturday morning at 9 am is open to the public. Everyone is welcome and warmly invited.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Riverhawk December 17, 2011 at 06:32 PM
In my life I have been told by two different people who are no longer with us the following..... Do you know that you are blessed? (my mother), and God must love you.....(my bookie). Those two statements have led me to think about God's love for mankind more and more often, I guess this is a form of meditation. Thank you Rabbi Mark


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