Remember the '70s and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, guru to Mia Farrow, the Beatles, and a couple of million Transcendental Meditators. Well, they're Baaack! Only now, Eastern Transcendentalism is wearing a new face; all things Hindu have been swallowed up by all things Buddhist. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the Hindu high flyer, is back a little feather-draggled, having been run over by the expatriated Dalai Lama and a new crowd of glitzy navel gazers.
Time magazine not only supplied us with the title for this essay; they provided us with the following insights on the new western "stars of the Eastern Front."
Steven Segal, the ever-plumping action hero, has been hailed as the "reincarnated" Fulkie of Nyingrira (an old, old eastern hero). Tina Turner, free of her abusive Ike, chants the songs of Soka Gakkai (a Japanese Buddhist religion). Richard Gere is perhaps the most famous disciple of the Dalai Lama. Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson calls himself "Zen Christian." Two of the biggest movies of 1997 were Seven Years in Tibet and Kundun. Both are purveyors of Buddhist ideas. According to Time magazine (Oct. 13, 1997) one of the big lines from Seven Years in Tibet occurs when a construction worker in the story refuses to dig a foundation because he could injure worms and reasons, "in a past life, this humble worm could have been your mother." The big line from Kundun is "My enemies will be nothing. My friends will be nothing. All will be nothing."
Why are so many Americans going crazy just to be nothing? A groovy nun, Sister Mary Margaret Funk, confesses that in spite of Christ, she just had to have her own mantra because Christianity and Judaism "just don't go deep enough to help people with every day living."
In 1975, I found myself writing a contract book for Zondervan on the Transcendental Meditation movement. I called the book Transcendental Hesitation, and it sold well in its time. My original intent was to write the book from the inside of the meditation movement. I thought at first I would become a meditator myself, just so I could be objective and fair in the writing of the book. I paid my initiation fee and began the process of trying to become a meditator. But at the initiation ceremony, I stopped short of becoming a meditator. I was asked, as an inductee, to present fruit, flowers, and a gift of cloth to Maharishi's deceased teacher, before they could assign me my own mantra. I was asked to genuflect before a picture of the guru Dev. The sheer idolatry of their requirements forced me out. I was reminded that Christ alone was to have adoration in my life. Alas, I was never able to bow at such a shrine and so, I never became a meditator.
Unfortunately, I did meet many Christians who "went all the way" with the initiation rite.
How sad that Christ, who will share His glory with no other gods, is being compromised once more by this new wave of popular Buddhism. The sad cycle is complete.
Lamaism is here and now. People whose lives and fortunes have been blessed by the liberty in this Christian nation are once again passing by the high altar of Christ and genuflecting before the low, low altar of Eastern mysticism. Give me no religion that reincarnates men into worms.
Rather give me that Christ Who rescues worms, transforming them into real human beings.
Christ, who in condescension leaves me singing an old tune (old rendition):
"Alas and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sovereign die.
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?"
To those content with meditating on Zen, I offer this counsel:
"For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles …
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — Who is forever praised. Amen." (Romans 1:21-25)