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The Law of Christ

The twelfth century Cistercian reform movement was characterized by both mystical sensibility and practical wisdom. Among its lesser known figures (but one deserving to be better known) is the abbot, Isaac of Stella.

Today's "Office of Readings" offers an example of the concrete teaching he gave to his community:

  This is what the law of Christ is like, the Christ who bore our griefs in his passion and carried our sorrows in his compassion for us, loving those whom he carried and carrying those whom he loved. On the other hand, whoever turns on his brother in the brother’s time of need, who exploits his weakness, whatever that weakness may be – without doubt he has subjected himself to the law of Satan and is carrying it out. Let us have compassion for each other and love the brotherhood we share, bear each other’s weaknesses and fight against each other’s vices.
 
  Whatever religious practice or observance it leads to, any teaching or discipline that fosters a stronger love of God and, through God, of our neighbours, is most acceptable to God for that reason. This love is the reason why things should be or not be, why they should remain the same or be changed. This love should be the reason why things are and the end to which all things are directed. For nothing can be considered wrong that is truly directed towards and according to that love.
A fine presentation of the great Cistercian writers, including Isaac, can be found in volume two of Bernard McGinn's monumental, The Presence of God: A History of Western Mysticism.
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Beautiful!

Fr. imbelli -- Do you know whether the last volume of McGinn's great work -- on contemporary mystics -- will come out any time soon?  I've been waiting for it for years :-(  

Ann,

Alas, I have not yet "cracked" volume five: The Varieties of Vernacular Mysticism: 1350 to 1550, so I need more time before the next volume appears :-)

Seriously, others may have a better idea of the projected volume six. I'm not even sure whether it is intended to be the last. Let's pray McGinn will be able to bring this magnum opus to completion.

 

I wish he'd do a stand-alone book on contemporary mysticism.  He does talk about it in an addendum to one of the volumes.  (He likes R. C. Zaehner :-)  The official Church (well, Pope Benedict, anyway) seems to realize that contemplative prayer is for everyone, not just monks and nuns, but the problem is to find writers who can communicate clearly, authoritatively and invitingly about the subject.  McGinn could do it superbly.

It would be great if he did a work for the young folks who are already inclined towards  "spirituality".  ("Spirituality" is the paradigm of all weasel words -- means anything you want it to mean.)  The book would include some comparisons and contrasts with contemporary contemplative movements -- Christian mystics like Merton and Speyrer, and contemplatives of other traditions, as well as something about the various how-to's of the various sorts of contemplative prayer (different strokes for different folks),  Karl Rahner has a great little book on contemplative prayer for everyone, but it's just about one sort of contemplation.  ("Contemplation" is very ambiguous too.  It also needs clearing up.)  No wonder the general public finds all this horribly confusing!   

This proposed book would also talk about the proper place of ascetic practices in a contemplative's life.  I'm quite sure some young people won't go near the medieval mystics because they're afraid of whips and fasting :-)  

I just checked Amazon for the little book he co-authored with his wife about some Christian mystics which aims at non-scholars, but it seems to be out of print.  See?Some popularization are . . . well, popular.   Or maybe somebody else could do such a work.  (Hint?  Hint?)

I haven't read all of the McGinn volumes either.  Some mystics really turn me off -- they're too sick.  I use McGinn mainly as reference.  But what a reference work!

Lovely. Did you post it because of the Montana school story?

There's a lot of Ignatian contemplative stuff in books and articles.  But that's so different from the kind of contemplation (centering prayer) that Merton and Keating do.

I could only find one book co-authored with Dr. McGinn's wife - it is on Amazon.

Early Christian Mystics - The Divine Vision of Spiritual Masters by Bernard Mcginn and Patricia Ferris McGinn; $17.06 plus used copies elsewhere.

However, since the dozen mystics covered in the book  lived centuries ago and even if those posting here think this is a good book for "non-scholars", it may not  appeal to those who lack background - and thus not really serve as a good intro for the young folks interested in "contemporary" spirituality. Most of the young who are interested in spirituality in the current era tend to either look east (the Dalai Lama, Thich Nacht Hahn, etc) or to more new age authors like Paulo Coehlo and Eckhart Tolle.  If you truly want to reach the "young folks" with classic christian spirituality, it may be best to start with more accessible writers, like Merton.  Books on spirituality by academics don't usually attract the general reader, including the young who are interested in spirituality but not in religion (as they perceive it).

Interesting too are the cross-over mystics who combine eastern and western contemplation, like Bede Griffiths and Robert Kennedy SJ.

Here's an article at America magazine about Robert Kennedy SJ and zen buddhism ... http://americamagazine.org/issue/384/article/gifts-zen-buddhism

 

Anne C. --

Thanks - i must have over-looked it.  I think that's the one I have by them, and I think that the educated reade, including some young ones,  can understand it easily enough.  

To interest the young an introductory book would have to show both the big  likenesses and differences between the typically Christian forms of contemplation and those typical of other traditions, especially the Asian ones.  And it should be made clear that some of the practices and goals overlap, while some don't.  

I also think it's especially important that the book make it clear that the experts in mystical writings no longer agree that all forms of mystical experiences are experiences of God in the classic Christian sense of the term "God".  Further,such a book needs to show why some forms of contemplation are positively harmful spiritually. 

Yes, Merton's works have great contemporary appeal, but they're also quite classic.  Plus his interest in social justice issues would appeal to many young folks, and he doesn't over-emphasize the ascetic aspects that some of the old treatisess do.  

Crystal --

 

I'm sorry, but I find that Fr. Kennedy has both the virtues and the great mental vice of Zen -- he blithely ignores his own obvious self-contradictions.  Compare, for instance, these two statements of his:   "As we know from the work of Simone Weil, prayer is nothing other [!] than paying attention" and "Zen is an active effort to develop the unique and full-bodied contribution to life of which each of us is capable".   Sigh.  And  here are two classic Zen statements from him about the reality and non-reality of the self:  "There is no Zen itself. Zen is always the life of the individual at the highest level of that very life".  

 

This is not to say that no Zen practitioner has ever had a genuine experiences of the presence of God -- in some Zen masters I'll bet it has, though I can't name one.  But the typical Zen experience seems to be of the identity of the self  (a part of the cosmos) with the whole of the cosmos.  And if this is not schizophrenic, what is?  Yes, the ultimate Zen experience is an apparently delightful, even ecstatic experience, and it does typically lead to thinking that there is  a harmony of opposites.  But this is achieved by asserting that all things are identical -- including problems and non-problems.

 

Some of what I read recently about Phillip Hoffman and heroin addiction made me wonder whether panenhenic (Zen) experiences aren't related psychologically to the experiences which heroin addicts have.  Heroin addicts typically say that when drugged their  problems are still real but no longer are problems.   One of my godchildren, who was on heroin,  told me the same thing -- that the turning of problems into non-problems was the reason he loved it.  (He's now clean, but it wrecked his life.) 

 

I REALLY wish you'd read that Zaehner book, Mysticism: Sacred and Profane.  He doesn't get into Ignatius, but Ignatius doesn't present severe theological problems the way so many others (both Catholic and otherwise) do.  (In some ways, Zaehner's book is a fine intro for the well-educated, including the well-educated young.  He also wrote a sort of radical popularization,  Zen, Drugs and Mysticism.)  

 

But this is all a far way from Isaac of Stella, who sounds eminently well-balanced :-)  In Isaac there is no denial of problems, especially spiritual problems, but in Isaac there is hope.  And this, I think, is one of the greatest differences between genuine mysticism and the surrogate kind.

Well said Anne. My graduate research was on spirituality and mental health. I think clarity on spirituality and its purpose is important. It surely has a psychological effect and people who meditate regularly have less incidents of addictions and can cope better. Also, techniques associated with spiritual practice particularly mindfulness have been used in the treatment of PTSD and people with mood disorders.

So of the level of human psychology, spiritual practices are important for flourishing. Usually spirituality, in that sense is interpreted existentially, meaning that which gives purpose and meaning to life. Frankl's logo therapy, could by that definition be considered spiritual.

But Frankly is quick to add that the aims of spirituality and psychotherapy are two different things.

Psychotherapy is involved with psychological equilibrium where spirituality is concerned with salvation. The notion of picking up one's cross in the Christian tradition or acknowledging the reality of suffering as characterizing human life in Buddhism is important.

What I like in the catholic tradition is that we are not overly prescriptive in methods, both apophatic and kataphatic mystical traditions exist. The criteria for authenticity is justice (I.e. Love of neighbour). My criticism of many new age or eastern styled practices is the focus on self, psychological stability to the exclusion of commitment to justice and active engagement in the world. This is not true of all Buddhists and I have a great friend who has been heavily involved in social justice her whole life but the popularizes methods do tend to be solipsistic.

The catholic tradition is so rich in prayer, contemplation, and meditation and we could, as you said, do a much better job of articulating those for a modern audience.

Well said Anne. My graduate research was on spirituality and mental health. I think clarity on spirituality and its purpose is important. It surely has a psychological effect and people who meditate regularly have less incidents of addictions and can cope better. Also, techniques associated with spiritual practice particularly mindfulness have been used in the treatment of PTSD and people with mood disorders.

So of the level of human psychology, spiritual practices are important for flourishing. Usually spirituality, in that sense is interpreted existentially, meaning that which gives purpose and meaning to life. Frankl's logo therapy, could by that definition be considered spiritual.

But Frankly is quick to add that the aims of spirituality and psychotherapy are two different things.

Psychotherapy is involved with psychological equilibrium where spirituality is concerned with salvation. The notion of picking up one's cross in the Christian tradition or acknowledging the reality of suffering as characterizing human life in Buddhism is important.

What I like in the catholic tradition is that we are not overly prescriptive in methods, both apophatic and kataphatic mystical traditions exist. The criteria for authenticity is justice (I.e. Love of neighbour). My criticism of many new age or eastern styled practices is the focus on self, psychological stability to the exclusion of commitment to justice and active engagement in the world. This is not true of all Buddhists and I have a great friend who has been heavily involved in social justice her whole life but the popularizes methods do tend to be solipsistic.

The catholic tradition is so rich in prayer, contemplation, and meditation and we could, as you said, do a much better job of articulating those for a modern audience.

Sorry for the duplicate post and I meant mindfulness has been used in the treatment of personality disorders not mood although it would be good for anxiety I would think

I "dabbled" with Zen Buddhism when in my 20's. I joined the" Zen meditation center" close to where I live  after hearing a radio program about it and Zen hosted by Les Hixon who I perceived at that time as being the most open down to earth real person I had ever heard. He stuttered on the radio a bit but was so real I felt like I was a better person just listening to him.As egoless[egotistical] a person I'd ever heard at that time [to borrow a buddhist concept?]The nun in charge was a Vietnamese nun who was very enlightened, he said on the program.I went there when I realized it happenned to be right  in my neighborhood. She immediately took a personal liking to me and took me under her wing . Even though she was so enlightened, I could not help sensing that there was a profound sadness to her. I could not shake that perception of her. Once she told me how in Viet Nam she was stepping over dead bodies, of men,women and children  killed by  the war. She said this while giggling and I just felt the pang of real sorrow for her  for gliggling to disguise the horror,and  for the situation she had  described.Once we all  went up state to attend a Buddhist event. She chose me to sit with her in the ride to that event.Which was an honor for me.[other people resented me for the attention she lavished on me,as I had just joined and many had been there for years]. We were both in the back seat of the car. It was a dreary day.I was looking out the window at the country side. She was looking out her window too. I could not help thinking how beautiful it all was, yet how we're here today,gone tomorrow. Suddenly she turned to me and said,sighing;it's so beautiful, still we have to die. She said just what I had ben thinking. I had to look away from her because I heard and felt her sorrow  and did not have words of comfort.I looked away and   suddenly in my mind I thought  of glorious Easter Sunday, of Jesus Christ and the resurrection. I wanted to comfort her and say;maybe Jesus is real,maybe we're loved by God.I was about to say it, but then held back thinking that it would be disrespectful, inappropriate. She is a renouned enlightened Zen nun and to suggest another religion[though now I see Zen is not incompatable with Christianity], would be arrogant of me. So I said nothing. but I felt I knew something or had something she did not.Which increased my sorrow for her. Whether it was a crutch  or not I needed it.Then I felt a guilty sense of separateness. There was no way out of that profound sadness  of simply being,except through Christ,but I dared not  say that, out of nothing more then"politeness". Now I would have. I tried to sit zazen but when I tried I would start to faint,She actually told me I did not need to. I stopped going there soon after.I returned to the Church some years later, in my thirties.

Ann,

I'm not a fan of zen meditation myself.  I have tried it and it wasn't for me.  I prefer Ignatian prayer.  I just mentioned Kennedy as someone who combines Christian and Buddhist spirituality, seeing that Anne Chapman had mentioned too some Eastern guys like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nacht Hahn.

But I think zen meditation is very close to what people do when they practices Christian centering prayer (Keating, Pennington, etc.).  I don't really like cnetering prayer, though - Ignatian prayer is very different.  For me, prayer is about relationship with God and Ignatian prayer is all about that.

This article on centering prayer mentions the similarities between centering prayer and zen buddhism ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centering_prayer .... "The Trappist monk and influential writer Thomas Merton was strongly influenced by Buddhist meditation, particularly as found in Zen — he was a lifetime friend of Buddhist meditation master and Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, praised Chogyam Trungpa who founded Shambhala Buddhism in the United States and was also an acquaintance of the current Dalai Lama."

I'd suggest taking a look at Paul Knitter's Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian. 

http://www.amazon.com/Without-Buddha-Could-Not-Christian/dp/185168963X/r...

You can read  part of the first chapter here:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/tract/projects/inter-religious-dialogue/excer...

Here Peter Steinfels reviews it:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/10/us/10beliefs.html
 

Here Tom Fox interviews the author: http://ncronline.org/news/double-belonging-buddhism-and-christian-faith
 

Here's a podcast of the interview:  http://ncronline.org/news/without-buddha-i-could-not-be-christian-paul-k...

Gene P. -

 

Thanks for the Knitter sites.  I'm very surprised at his "classic" concept of God that he seems to have learned at the Gregorian in the mid-60s.  He doesn't seem to realize that the Protestant concepts are not always like the classic Catholic ones.  His "standard concept" is extremely different from the concept of God of Aquinas, which, I think, handle the problems of immanence and transcendence very well. (Not that there aren't problems in Aquinas.)

 

But I give him an A-minus for hinting that Aquinas' use of the theory of participation leads to a kind of pantheism.  Good Buddhist that he is, he says that  reality is  "non-dual" (typical Scholastic, he thinks if you give a problem a name then you've solved it :-).   He says reality is *both* one and not one, and that "God and reality are not two".  He says that's not pantheism, but he sure fooled me. 

 

I wonder if he really understood Rahner, who taught him.  Did he really get some of this from Rahner?  

 

I did find his explanation of sunyata very interesting.  It's a clearer explanation than any I've read so far.   

 

 

George D. -

 

Thanks for telling us of your experiences in spiritual counseling.  You could teach Rome A LOT.  Not that they're ever willing to admit their mistakes.  It's shameful the way they've misrepresented at least some of the New Age people. They just don't want to admit that anybody else knows anything original of spiritual value.   

 

Crystal --

Yes, Centering Prayer is like some Zen practices, but Zen includes many different ones.  Only some of them seek to shut out everything except consciousness of this world and self.  That is, of course, far from Catholic orthodoxy.  But even that sort of practice, if it is recognized as non-ultimate knowledge, shouldn't be rejected on theological grounds, and there's much to recommend it on psychological grounds.

Merton was also great friends with D. T. Suzuki.  I don't think, however, that Merton ever abandoned  the Catholic contemplative tradition.  But that too is a complex matter (as it is with a lot of earlier Catholic mystics if truth be told.)

Crystal -

Here's an article from the New York Review of Books by William Dalrymple  on the history and meaning of yoga,  It shows very clearly the enormous variety in Buddhist/Zen meditative practices over time, both as to methods and goals, even into our own age.  With the Mughal domination of most of India in the 16th century, the Muslims had a lot of influence over the Buddhist meditative practices, so our Zen seems to have some Muslim influence.

(I have never really understood the distinction between Zen and Buddhism, except that maybe Zen is more oriented to the peaceful.) 

http://theam.cn/N5Akzr

Ann, why would a Buddhist practice developed in China in the 6th century CE be affected by Muslim influence in India in the 16th century? 

 

Abe --

This is a complicated history, and I'm certainly no expert, but here's how I understand the basics.

The roots of Zen go all the way back to HInduism and its early practices. The earliest sacred books of India were written maybe 2,000 years ago.  Later Hinduism developed many different practices, and many schools came into existence.  One of them was Buddhism.   Buddha was an Indian, a Hindu who apparently had a somewhat different sort of intuition from other Hindus, or at least his intuition ("Enlightenment")  was produced by somewhat different practice(s).  That was probably between 600-500 BCE.   He wrote nothing down. but the Buddhist  "scriptures", are reports of his teachings. 

Buddhism of various sorts later spread to Nepal, China, then Japan and other Far Eastern countries.  It got to China around the beginning of the first century CE.  There "Chan" Buddhism was developed, and Chan spread to Japan where it was called "Zen".   Eventually Buddhism died out almost entirely in China.

Enter the Muslims.  Back in the 17th century CE, some Muslims (the Mughals) conquered most of India, and they brought Islam and its  mystical practices with them (at least to the upper classes).  However, as I understand it, there was later some cross-pollination of the Zen *back* to Mughal-Muslim India.  So it was the Zen practice that was returned back to the Muslims in India in the 17th century.  

Besides that late cross-pollination in India of the practices of the Islam of India, the Hinduism of India  and Zen Buddhism of Japan, there was *also* some cross -pollination of the Zen *back* to the Muslims in  the Middle East.  (Remember, India has Muslim neighbors.)  At least that's how I understand it.  Extremely complicated historically, and I don't guarantee I have it all straight. 

The Dalrymple article goes into this, but I find that it too isn't entirely clear about dates and names.

Ann, I lived in China for a while--in the city where Chan was developed (the monastary is still functioning). I can assure you that Buddhism is still quite present in China.

I thought that the Dalrymple article was very interesting, but it was about yoga and made only passing reference to the Buddha, and no reference at all to Chan or Zen. I kind of think that you are being too loose in how you use these terms, while also making pretty sweeping observations about them.

Ann, I know almost nothing about Zen, so would like to ask you to clarify something you wrote above - 

Centering Prayer is like some Zen practices, but Zen includes many different ones.  Only some of them seek to shut out everything except consciousness of this world and self.  That is, of course, far from Catholic orthodoxy.

Are you saying that  Zen practices that " shut out everything except consciousness of the world and self....." are like CP or differ from CP?

I know little about Islam also, but had a friend who is a Sufi - the mystical branch of Islam. She was raised Catholic, with Catholic schools all the way through college.   Throughout their history, Sufis have often been attacked by others in Islam. Dozens of Sufis have been killed in recent years in attacks on them and their mosques and shrines, especially in Pakistan.

To continue my litany of a few facts but absence of in-depth knowledge of other religions, I have one more anecdote, The oldest Hindu scriptures (Vedas) date back about 3500 years to about 1500 BCE. I am always interested in religion and spirituality, so I try to learn at least a bit from those I know who have converted from christianity to another religion. A former colleague of mine was a devout, practicing Hindu, a convert from christianity.  We sometimes discussed religion and that led me to dig a little so that my questions would be slightly more intelligent, and so I tried to learn a tiny bit of the history of Hinduism. He was good at explaining things and I would often later google what we had talked about to get at least a tiny sliver of insight and knowledge.

Abe --

It is my understanding that Buddhism did fairly well die out in China, but there has been a resurrection of sorts especially after the demise of classical Communism there.  It didn't survive in India very well either.  

Yes, my use othe terms is not the best, but I warned you that I don't have a clear picture of why Zen is so different from other branches of Buddhism.  

Abe --

It is my understanding that Buddhism did fairly well die out in China, but there has been a resurrection of sorts especially after the demise of classical Communism there.  It didn't survive in India very well either.  

Yes, my use othe terms is not the best, but I warned you that I don't have a clear picture of why Zen is so different from other branches of Buddhism.  

 

Anne C. --

I've done only two kinds of  Zen (concentration meditation and something called "naming"), and I've  only read about the many, many others.  But the ultimate goal for all devotees of  Zen is a kind of Enlightenment, though I'm not sure that the character of that intuition is the same in all the various movements in Zen.  (Buddhism generally aims for Enlightenment, whatever that means in its different movements.)  

There are also many Buddhist practices which prepare the adept to experience Enlightenment.  Some aim at the moral improvement of the practitioner.  Some aim at disciplining the mind.  All Buddhist movements include these two sorts of practices. 

Included in the self-disciplining sort is what is called "concentration" meditation in which the mind focuses on only one thing -- e.g., the breath, the belly button, an apple, a paper clip.  In the process of focusing on the one thing the mind must turn attention away from everything else -- including sensations, feelings, conceptual thought, and everything that is not the one thing focused on.  This is what is analogous in Centering Prayer.  In CP we turn attention away from all sorts of mental content and activities except intending to accept the presence and action of God in the Self. 

As you can see, neither concentration meditation (which simply focuses on one thing) and nor mindfulness meditation (which simply observes whatever mental content flows through the mind) include any religious content (unless a religious thought just happens to pass through), so the Vatican's condemnation of *all* New Age/Buddhist practices was really an unfair one.  Yes, sometimes Catholics do get caught up in the objectionable parts of Buddhism, but not all parts of it are objectionable.  Some Buddhist methods are very valuable for religious development, but not because they're essentially religious.  Rather they're valuable because they help us prepare for the strictly religious kind..

Buddhism and other forms of Hinduism share many of the specific techniques.  All of them include concentration and mindfulness meditation.  The Hindus have some really, really weird ones for self-discipline.  In one the practitioner is actually tied to a corpse and must attempt not to be distracted by it.  In another (nirodh), the meditator eliminates so much from consciousness that his brain waves almost completely stop.  It's been said that  physiologically it's the closest thing to being dead.  One must wonder what sort of experience remains in them and why it is to appealing.  Fascinating, fascinating, fascinating.  

I should perhpas add that some meditative techniques are indeed psychologically dangerous and should not be attempted without the guidance of a spiritual director or guru.  In one book I read, the author said some methods can be so dangerous indeed that he wouldn't even describe what they involve lest someone try them undirected.

"The Meditative Mind:  The Varieties of Meditative Experience", by American psychologist Daniel Goleman, is a fine relatively short intro to the subject. 

Thanks, Ann. I practiced CP for years, but know little about Zen or other meditation techniques.

Anne C. --

Since I seem to have a compulsion to talk about meditative techniques this week, let me say a bit about one technique that I find particularly helpful for religious purposes.  It's called "naming" or "labelling".  Other Commonwealers might findd it helpful.

This method is sort of between a concentration technique and a mindfulness one.  As in mindfulness methods one observes the various sorts of mental content streaming through consciousness, but one also *names* the various sorts of contents., or at least names some of them.  (The content can be sendations, images, ideas, feelings -- any of the data of consciousness.)  For instance, I would start doing mindfulness and notice in particular datum --  that my toe itches.  I would label that data "itch" or "sensation".  Next I might notice that I feel bored, and I would name that  "bored" or  "feeling" or "emotion".   One doesn't pick and choose which datum to label, one just labels whatever catches our attention momentarily.  All the while, lots of other stuff is pouring through, but as in ordinary mindfulness one just lets it flow.

One soon learns that there is a river of stuff going through consciousness, so only a few data can be labelled.  But that's OK.  In the process of noticing a relatively few the meditator comes to realize how very, very complex the "stream of consciousness" is -- how very, very complex the *meditator* is.

What I have found valuable about this sort of meditation is that it has made me aware  -- sometimes painfully aware, though not always --  of my own motivations, both good and bad, and it has made me aware of the fact that usually I have more than one motivation for my choices, even when the decisions are relatively unimportant ones. And sometimes I didn't really realize that I had certain  motivations.   In other words, this method results in a deeper  sort of self-knowledge, a self-knowledge that is particularly useful spiritually when when one is "examining one's conscience" to use the old phrase.  In other words, it's a way of becoming self-critical, which is fine for one's humility.  And our confessions can become more accurate and fuller because we understand our motives better.  And sometimes we even find out something good about ourselves, so it certainly isn't all painful.

Here is a description from a Buddhist site.  The *purpose* of naming for the Buddhist is quite different from a Christian's purpose -- they are aiming at Enlightenment.  We're just aiming at understanding ourselves better for purely moral and/or psychological reasons.  They want to stop the flow, we just want to understand what's in the flow better.

Here is a good explanation of how to do it, not why to do it;

 

file://localhost/Users/annolivier/Desktop/www.insightmeditationcenter.org:books...:mental-n.webloc

 

OOPS -- yet again.

I just read the bottom of the last site I reccommended, and I saw that the method is limited to noting only "thinking".  This is not excatly what I'm recommending -- it's too narrow.  The method I find useful  is noting *all sorts of mental content and activities*.  But that's the only difference, except, of course, that the Buddhist is seeking Enlightenment, while the rest of us can use the method simply for self-knowledge.

Here's an excellent site about noting.  It describes more of how to do the basic method and gives variations for various purposes.  The purposes for the writer are awareness, insight, and liberation.  I recommend it only for  the religious and psychological benefits of being aware of the complexity of one's inner life, but it's very easy to do.

 

www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books.../mental-noting/

 

I'll shut up now.