Listen With Your Heart

My mouth shall speak wisdom;  the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

Psalm 49:3

Dear members and friends,

There are many places in the Bible, especially in Psalms, where we find the word “meditation.” The Hebrew word translated as mediation is higgayon, meaning resounding music, whisper, or meditation. The root word of  higgayon is hagah, meaning to moan, growl, utter, speak, muse. Thus, meditation for the ancient people in the biblical time might have meant to utter sound from one’s inner thoughts, meaning from a deeper side of oneself. Consequently, “the meditation of my heart” in Psalm 49 could be understood as the sound that my heart makes, meaning a truer intention of my mind. What is significant and clear in the use of the word meditation is that the ancient people in the Bible acknowledged the difference between words and intention, or outer thoughts and inner thoughts.   

Meditation has become quite a popular practice for many these days. The way of practicing meditation in the US was introduced by Japanese Buddhist monks, and adopted and developed by many practitioners ever since. The very original form of meditation was founded and taught by Buddha after obtaining his enlightenment. For Buddha, the pathway to enlightenment is by means of one’s mental cultivation, which could only be done in the form of meditation. Yet, it was Zen Buddhism, born in China late 600 A.D., that developed and popularized the practise of meditation as we know today. In Chinese, the word meditation is written as 瞑想. The first word, 瞑, means “to make eyes dark,” or closing one’s eyes. The second word, 想, means to think. So together, meditation – 瞑想 – means to think with your eyes closed. Why would it be helpful to think with one’s eyes closed? The hopeful expectation is that one might be able to see what is in one’s heart, because seeing the physical and materialistic reality has been limited by closing one’s eyes. Without seeing what is truly within oneself, according to Buddha, one could not even begin the cultivation toward enlightenment. 

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment of meditation this week. Have a quiet moment to look inward and see what is within our hearts. Without bringing any judgment to our thoughts, let us simply acknowledge them as they appear to be. Next, let us lift them up to our loving and wise God, may the Divine help us in our cultivation of  them.    

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee