"At the new MARK Centre (MC) on Pender Island in B.C., participants from Mexico, California, India, and Canada gathered in fall for a leaders’ training session on “Listening to God.” Seated next to directors Evy & Steve Klassen (at centre with son Malakai) are (l) Joan Godard with MBMSI in Mexico and (r) Michele Berry. Standing (l–r): Trever Godard (with MBMSI in Mexico), Dorothy Siebert (MC host on Pender Island), Theresa Schroeder (outgoing staff at MC), Rick Berry (MC board member, California), Modam Dini (Baptist missionary in India), Harold Siebert (MC host on Pender Island), four former TREK team workers: Petra & Joel Martin, Steve & Ginny Klassen, and Nadine Frew (former YWAM missionary taking study leave)." 1.The Mark Centre, a spiritual retreat, has two locations: one in Abbotsford, BC and the other on Pender Island, BC. It is described as being "an interdenominational agency with Mennonite Brethren roots" that "partners with MB Mission and Service International (MBMSI) to provide facilities for training young missionaries with the TREK program".
The "Listening Tools" taught at the retreat are practices of contemplative spirituality, cleverly disguised versions of Eastern-type meditation promoted by the Roman Catholic church, listed as: Lectio Divina, (Ignatian) Examin, Spiritual Direction, Community Listening Prayer, and Silent Prayer.
The practice of Silent Prayer is described in the following manner:
• Find a quiet place and sit comfortably.The "meaningful word/phrase" recommended by the Mark Centre is used as a mantra (although they wouldn't dare to call it that), which supposedly helps you focus on "God"; but any word used repeatedly for a length of time (20 minutes) loses its meaning and merely becomes a tool to reach an altered state of consciousness (self-hypnosis), the same goal desired by those practicing Eastern meditation. The practitioner essentially enters the spirit realm, but in this altered state, has no way of discerning what type of spirit they will encounter. The Bible forbids these types of practices in both the Old and New Testaments. We are told to worship in "spirit and in truth" and to engage our mind as well as our spirit in our practices of worship. What the Mark Centre is teaching is therefore contrary to Scripture, and a potential entrance into the occult.
• Review scriptures that invite you to silence before God.
• Choose a meaningful word/phrase that helps you focus on God. (For example, “ABBA Father” or “Creator”)
• Be absolutely still and quiet, focusing on the presence of God.
• As thoughts and concerns come to mind, let them go by mentally reciting your word/phrase.
• Perhaps picture the thoughts/concerns floating by like boats in a river. As they go by, you don’t stop them and analyze them, you simply release them to keep floating down the river.
• Continue this process for about 20 minutes. End with a prayer. 2.
The following quotes are excerpts describing meditation and the use of a mantra from a Yoga website:
- "Meditation is a mental discipline most commonly defined as a self-regulated altered state of consciousness or attention which is primarily directed to self inquiry. The practitioner seeks a deeper state of awareness and relaxation for a variety of purposes: spiritual growth, greater focus, heightened creativity, higher state of consciousness, peaceful frame of mind, and unfolding or expanding inner love, wisdom, power and light." 3.
- "All the components involved in meditation - relaxation, concentration, self-observing attitude, suspension of logical thought and the altered state of awareness - affect the psychological, physiological and spiritual aspects of the practitioner." 4.
- "Spiritually, meditation helps create peace of mind, discovery of the consciousness and power beyond the ego, discovery of a person's true being, heightened awareness of the inner self, self-actualization and ultimately spiritual awakening." 5.
- "Concentrative meditation, used in many spiritual practices and religions, focuses the person's attention on an image, on the breath or on a sound or "mantra". By narrowing the focus in this manner, the mind becomes still allowing greater clarity and awareness to emerge...Using the focus (the breath, an image or a sound), helps the practitioner to remain in the here and now, avoiding cognitive thought." 6.
- "Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is the most widely practiced and most researched form of meditation in the world. Introduced in India in 1955 by Maharishi Mahesh Hogi, it is taught in a seven-step course and involves the use of a mantra practiced for 15-20 minutes twice a day...TM has been shown to produce states that are physiologically different from sleeping, waking and dreaming. It is described as a technology for consciousness. Over time the practice of TM, allowing the mind to experience its deeper level, will allow the practitioner to become aware that thought itself can be transcended and thus will experience the "transcendental being" or "source of thought" - the ultimate reality of life." 7.
Note to Mennonites: Stay away from this practice or you will open yourself up to demonic influence and may very well be deceived by one appearing as an angel of light!
**For further reading: Eastern Meditation Sneaks into the Church by Prof. Johan Malan, University of Limpopo, South Africa