It was pointed out in
section 3.3.2 that praying may be a
that the act of addressing oneself to the
all-nanaic could have a profound
symbolic and/or psychosocial influence even for non-supernaturalistic
In this respect it is no different from expressing a hope, a wish or
thanks; and in this respect it is no different from meditation or
contemplation, especially when engaged in together with other people.
The significance of all such activities is first of all psychosocial:
they do not have any physically caused effect on the present,
Meditation or contemplation are nothing supernatural in
themselves, just as wishing another person a good time is nothing
supernatural in itself. Meditation is both a 'natural' way of
thinking and a 'natural' way of not thinking. As a way of
thinking it is the deep thought of someone engaged in
contemplation or reflection; as a way of not thinking it is the mental
tranquillity of someone endeavoring to realize 'emptiness' or
perfect harmony of the mind.
Meditation can also be a temporary or periodic activity or —as has
been said— aim at being 'a constant background in the midst of other
material and mental activities'.
Hence, there are several forms of meditation ranging from 'nonthought' to
And even as nonthought, meditation is not meant to actively suppress
thoughts, but —as has been said as well— to be 'a complete
response' to external conditions.
Meditative thought thus differs from nonmeditative thought in that it does
not respond to external conditions in a partial way, and in that it is not
swayed one way or another by emotions. This, however, is not
what distinguishes it from inclusive thought (or nonthought).
That is why it cannot only be the content of the thought which counts.
To be meditative there is the experience of the thought process itself,
as something purging or elevating 'the mind' — which presupposes
that meditation must be an activity amidst other mental or nonmental
Moreover, to become an observance, whether
denominational or not,
it has to be practised as a constant or periodic activity.
Insofar as the content or purpose of meditative thought are
inclusivistic or neutralistic, meditation is acceptable both as
a one-time activity and as a denominational observance.
But whether it concerns the 'complete response' of the inclusive variant,
or the 'one-pointed concentration' of the neutral one, in both cases
meditation is more symbolic of
neutral-inclusivism than of
Also historically meditation is an activity engaged in by people with a
Therefore, every precaution should be taken that neutral-inclusivists who
regard meditation as a denominational observance will not drift from
nonactive adherence towards nonadherence, that is, the nonadherence of
those who entertain protoneutralist, protorelevantist or supernaturalist