Some Christians today, in their desire to have a closer walk with the Lord or for some health reason, have turned to meditative practices rooted in eastern mysticism such as Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation, Contemplative Prayer, etc. The goal being to reach a passive state of “silence” or “stillness” where all mental thoughts cease and the ‘Lord’ can be heard. While it is noble to want a closer walk with the Lord Jesus, a person must be careful how he goes about seeking this intimacy, because a sincere motive is no protection from deception.
In Watchman Nee’s 1927 book, The Spiritual Man, he discusses how we can discern if the Lord Jesus or evil spirits are communicating with us. Following are some quotes from the section entitled, The Mind A Battlefield, where he compares the different mental conditions through which the Holy Spirit works versus the mental conditions through which evil spirits work.
At the end of his comments, we have quotes from Quaker Richard J. Foster, an advocate of these practices, and a former Yanamamo witchdoctor.
I hope you find the material enlightening. Thank you for your time.
“God creates man with a mind to be used —“he who hears the word and understands it” (Matt. 13:23). God desires man to understand His Word with the intellect, from whence the emotion, will and spirit are reached.”
“In their desire to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit many of the Lord’s people feel they do not need to measure, investigate, and judge by the light of the Bible all thoughts which seemingly come from God. “
“The passivity of the mind is due to a misconception of the meaning of consecration and obedience to the Holy Spirit. Many take for granted that the thoughts in their head hinder their walk. They do not perceive that it is a brain which ceases to function or which functions chaotically that hinders spiritual life, whereas, one which functions properly is not only profitable but also essential. Such a mind as this can alone cooperate with God.”
“Let us pursue one step further this matter of passivity as a condition for the operation of evil spirits. We are aware of one class of people who especially relish communicating with these spirits. People usually do not hanker to be demon possessed, but this special class craves to be so possessed. These are the soothsayers, the augurs, the mediums, the necromancers. By accurately observing the cause of their possession we may come to understand the principle of demon possession. These people tell us that in order to be possessed by what they call gods (who actually are demons) their will must present no resistance whatsoever but be favorably disposed to accept whatever comes upon their bodies. To render their will completely passive their mind must first to be reduced to blankness. A blank brain produces a passive will. These two elements are the basic requisites for demon possession. Hence a necromancer who is waiting for his “god” to come to him lets down his hair and shakes his head for a continued period until it is dizzy and his mind completely out of action. As the latter is turning blank his will naturally becomes immobile. At this point his mouth begins to move unconsciously, his body gradually trembles, and before long his “god” descends upon him. This is one way of becoming possessed. Although there may be others, the principle for the spiritist is the same: to achieve passivity of will through a perfectly blank mind; for all spiritist agree that when spirits or demons alight upon them their heads can no longer think and their wills can no longer act. They are unpossessed until this state of an empty mind and an inert will is reached.
Today’s (1927) so-called scientific hypnotism and religious yogi, which enable people to possess the powers of telepathy, healing, and transforming, are in reality founded upon these two principles. Using the argument that certain methods can be beneficial to mankind, those of this class who perform such techniques as focusing one’s attention, sitting silently, contemplating and meditating, are actually employing these devices to reduce their mind to a blank condition and their will to passivity so as to invite supernatural spirits or demons to supply them with many wonderful experiences. Our purpose here is not to inquire whether or not these people realize they are inviting evil spirits to come; we merely wish to observe that they are fulfilling the requirements for demon possession. The consequence is grave; perhaps later they shall awaken to the fact that what they have welcomed are indeed evil spirits.
Our intention here is not a full treatment of this subject. We simply wish to acquaint the Lord’s children with the principles behind the practice of the black arts: which are a blank and passive mind and will. Evil spirits are overjoyed should these conditions be present, as they can immediately commence to do their dark work.
It is well for every Christian to always bear in mind the one basic and crucially important distinction between the working of evil spirits and that of the Holy Spirit: the Latter works when man fulfills His working conditions, while the former work when man fulfills their working conditions. If man, even though he may appear to be seeking the Holy Spirit, meets the requirements for evil spirits to operate, God’s Spirit will never operate. The wicked spirits wait tirelessly for the opportunity to act. Should anyone be incompetent to distinguish what is truly of God from what is a counterfeit, he need only ask himself one question: what kind of condition was he in when first he experienced such phenomena? If he had fulfilled the prerequisites for the Holy Spirit’s activity, it must have been from God; but had he met the necessary conditions for evil spirits to work, then what he encountered must have been the evil spirit. We do not reject every supernatural phenomenon; what we simply and earnestly desire to do is to separate what is of God from what is of Satan.
The basic distinction between the operating requirements of the Holy Spirit and the wicked spirits can be summarized as follows:
- All supernatural revelations, visions or other strange occurrences which require the total cessation of the function of the mind, or are obtained only after it has ceased working, are not of God.
- All visions which arise from the Holy Spirit are conferred when the believer’s mind is fully active. It necessitates the active engagement of the various functions of the mind to apprehend these visions. The endeavors of evil spirits follow exactly the opposite course.
- All which flows from God agrees with God’s nature and the Bible.”
The Spiritual Man – Watchman Nee ( Part Eight – The Mind A Battlefield – selections from pages 21-27. Emphasis- mine.)
In addition to what Nee said the dangers of a blank mind and passive will, the Quaker Richard J. Foster, an advocate of “Christian” contemplation, expresses his concerns about who is speaking in the “silence” when he says
“I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance…there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home)
In other words, there are other dangerous spirits in this “silence” that can do you harm. Shame on Foster for encouraging innocent people to expose themselves to such danger. In the, Be Still, DVD he offers advice about how to discern who might be communicating in the “silence” or “stillness”:
“Learning to distinguish the voice of God….from just human voices within us…comes in much the same way that we learn any other voice. Satan pushes and condemns. God draws and encourages. And we know the difference.”
He admits to a chorus of voices that might speak in the “solitude” and “silence”: God, satan, or even other human voices. To show how naïve Foster is, in telling people how to discern God’s voice from satan’s, listen to what the former witchdoctor has to say about what he experienced while in the “silence” and focusing.
Chief Shoefoot, a Yanamamo shaman or witchdoctor, in the DVD, I’ll Never Go Back – A Shaman’s Story, describes the multitude of spiritual beings (demons) that are in this “deep spiritual realm” that Foster encourages people to go into, with blank minds and passive wills. The Chief begins by relating his initiation into shamanism. How he, after having drugs blown up his nose, was told by the head witchdoctor to sit in “silence” and “focus” only on him (the witchdoctor). Then the “good” and “bad” spirits materialized, a vast mass swirling around the teacher, beautifully attired in tropical bird feathers, and certain “good” ones entered his chest where, he said, they built their houses and invited other “good” spirts. There were other “bad” spirits that were not to be accepted since they caused jealously, murder, etc.
These evil “good” spirits brought bondage, eventually causing him to think he was losing his mind. He said the spirits were “deceivers and loved to deceive.” It was at this point that he met a missionary who helped him understand why God sent his Son to earth. He was born again and delivered from all of the evil spirits. To the anthropologist’s argument that these primitive tribes should be left alone, Chief Shoefoot says he never wants to go back to living a life dominated by the forces of darkness.
In conclusion, Watchman Nee shares that a blank mind and passive will are a welcome mat for evil spirits to enter a person, that the voice one hears in this “silent” state, which is the goal of all eastern mysticism meditation, is NOT God’s but deceiving, evil spirits. Even the advocates of these practices, like Richard J. Foster, admit that a person is exposing themselves to deception by these evil beings when in this state. Finally, the error of Foster’s advice on how to discern God’s voice from satan is revealed by Chief Shoefoot’s testimony. From this once professional witchdoctor we see that there are “good” spirits that do good things and “bad” spirits that do evil things. So in this meditative state you can have a wide range of feelings, from being “drawn and encouraged” to being “pushed and condemned” depending on the evil spirit. Feelings are a dangerous yardstick for WHO you are hearing in this mentally blank and passive state.
He said these spirits were beautiful in appearance but that they all deceive and love to deceive.
If you are a Christian or a non-Christian who is involved or considering trying these eastern meditation methods, I strongly suggest you stop these practices or never get started. God never asked you to seek Him in such a way that exposes you to demonic possession. Use your mind to meditate on His Word found in the Bible and let the truths therein bring practical righteousness to your daily walk and overflowing joy into your life.
The Lord Jesus said He came so that you could have abundant life. Don’t settle for a counterfeit.
“Now to Him is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 24 -25)