Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law. (Psalm 94: 12)
In his book, Contemplative Prayer, Thomas Merton writes, “In true contemplation, there is no ‘reason why’ emptiness should bring us face to face with God. Emptiness might just as well bring us face to face with the devil, and as a matter of fact, it sometimes does. This is part of the peril in this spiritual wilderness. The only guarantee against meeting the devil in the dark (if there can be said to be a guarantee at all) is simply our hope in God: our trust in his voice, our confidence in his mercy.” (pg. 92)
But is it God’s voice? Merton has just acknowledged the contemplative practice “might just as well bring us face to face with the devil…”
In Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster warns, “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. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know… there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection… ‘All dark and evil spirits must now leave.’” (pg.157)
Let us also consider what the third giant of contemplative spirituality has to say on this issue. In Can You Drink This Cup, contemplative darling Henri Nouwen claims, “We may find silence in nature, in our own houses, in a church or meditation hall. But wherever we find it, we should cherish it. Because it is in silence that we can truly acknowledge who we are and gradually claim ourselves as a gift from God.” (pg. 95)
Actually, we know who we are through God’s Holy Word. And the gift was given to us by the Lord Himself. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6: 23)
The contemplatives consistently glorify and magnify the silence of the meditative state, as if every spiritual solution awaits therein.
Nouwen continues, “At first silence might only frighten us. In silence we start hearing the voices of darkness: our jealousy and anger, our resentment and desire for revenge, our lust and greed, and our pain over losses, abuses, and rejections. These voices are often noisy and boisterous. They may even deafen us. …But if we have the discipline to stay put and not let these dark voices intimidate us, they will gradually lose their strength and recede into the background, creating space for the softer, gentler voices of the light.” (pg. 95)
What softer, gentler voices of the light?
According to Nouwen, “These voices speak of peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, joy, hope, forgiveness, and, most of all, love. They might at first seem small and insignificant, and we may have a hard time trusting them. However, they are very persistent and they will grow stronger if we keep listening. They come from a very deep place and from very far. They have been speaking to us since before we were born, and they reveal to us that there is no darkness in the One who sent us into the world, only light.” (pg. 95) (Bold mine)
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (2nd Corinthians 11: 14)
Please carefully read the following words of Pastor Ken Silva, who has also experienced this meditative darkness before coming to Salvation.
Silva writes, “What Nouwen is describing above is what mystics who practice transcendental meditation call ‘the dark night of the soul'; but having once had a similar experience when I tried practicing meditation many years ago, before I was a Christian, I’ll tell you this is God’s warning system to stop this mind-numbing practice. Nouwen has it backward; God is the One attempting to disturb us out of the practice, and what Nouwen thinks was ‘God’ after the inner turmoil receded is actually God giving one over to this deception. I will be eternally grateful that, during the experience I told you about, I ‘decended’ down inside myself until I came to what appeared to be a dark and smoky curtain. I then became very scared and sensed that if I went through that smoky curtain something very bad awaited me there. The Lord be praised, that was the last time I attempted that foolish practice.” (Bold mine) –From KAY WARREN, HENRI NOUWEN, AND CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY by Ken Silva 9/14/2010
Once past God’s warnings, there are changes in those whom continue this practice. It is no coincidence that advocates of this trance-religion have rejected (either openly or evidentially) Sola Scriptura–and it is undeniable that these practices are being welcomed as “Spiritual Formation” into seminaries, Christian colleges, and throughout the very Body of Christ.