Blog Post

Is Jappa Meditation Okay for Catholics?

MH asks: “A friend asked me about Jappa meditation and if it’s okay for Catholics to be involved in. What should I tell her?”

My recommendation is to tell her not to become involved in this practice.

Jappa meditation is a mantra-based meditation method used by Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. The practice is considered to be a form of worship and involves the repetition of a mantra that is usually the name of a deity which is spoken over and over. This repetition induces an altered state wherein the practitioner can experience "enlightenment."

As this site explains, “With prolonged and constant practice, the inherent power of the Mantra-Shakti will be awakened, which will fill your very existence with the Divinity of the Mantra.”

The most oft-repeated mantra in the Hindu tradition is the OM mantra. OM is the sound believed to be made by Brahman in every creative act so that everyone actually contains this original sound in their memory. The repetition of this sound is meant to invite Brahman and all of the Hindu gods into the practitioner to speed up the process of enlightenment.

For obvious reasons, Jappa meditation is not compatible with Christianity; however, there are some who argue that because the Rosary is a repetitious prayer, they should be able to adapt Jappa meditation to a suitable Christian form, perhaps by substituting the name Jesus in the place of a Hindu deity.

While it would be perfectly fine to use prayer beads to repeat the name of Jesus, the intent of this practice is what would need to be analyzed. If the person is reciting Jesus’ name over and over again for the purpose of praising and worshiping Him, then this would not be Jappa meditation and would simply be a form of Christian prayer.

However, if we are repeating the name of Jesus over and over again in order to induce an altered mental state, or as some kind of psychological activity to de-stress, then we are engaging in what the Catechism refers to as an “erroneous notion of prayer" [No. 2726]. Christian prayer is always a two-way dialogue with God. There is no need for mind-blanking, strict focusing, or interior bliss states. These motives are all about the “self” rather than about God, who is always the object of Christian prayer.

Many Catholics also subscribe to a particular interpretation of the Vatican II document, Nostra Aetate, The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, which they claim allows us to adopt what is good from other religions. However, as this blog, written by author Connie Rossini, explains, this is an erroneous interpretation.

It could be that your friend is just looking for a closer connection with God, or is going through a dry spell in her prayer life and feels as if she needs a "pick-me-up."

You might suggest that she read an excellent book by Father Thomas Dubay entitled, Fire Within, which will open her eyes to the glories of authentic Catholic mysticism. This book is a real eye-opener, especially for folks who think vocal prayer is the only option for Catholics. Vocal prayer is just the beginning! Reading this book is like stepping into a whole new world. When she gets done with it, Jappa meditation will be the last thing on her mind.

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