ROWAN WILLIAMS: HOW BUDDHISM HELPS ME PRAY [Excerpts]
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has disclosed that he spends up to 40 minutes a day squatting and repeating an Eastern Orthodox prayer while performing breathing exercises as part of a routine influenced by Buddhism.
He also spends time pacing slowly and repeatedly prostrating himself as part of an intense early morning ritual of silent meditation and prayer.
The normally private former Archbishop has given a glimpse of his personal devotions in an article explaining the power of religious ritual in an increasingly secular world.
Lord Williams has spoken in the past about how in his youth he contemplated becoming a monk as well as joining the Orthodox church.
He explained that he draws daily inspiration from the practice, common to both the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, of meditating while repeatedly reciting the “Jesus Prayer”, which says: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner”.
“Over the years increasing exposure to and engagement with the Buddhist world in particular has made me aware of practices not unlike the ‘Jesus Prayer’ and introduced me to disciplines that further enforce the stillness and physical focus that the prayer entails,” he explained
Far from it being like a “magical invocation”, he explained that the routine helps him detach himself from “distracted, wandering images and thoughts”, picturing the human body as like a 'cave' through which breath passes.
“If you want to speak theologically about it, it’s a time when you are aware of your body as simply a place where life happens and where, therefore, God ‘happens’: a life lived in you,” he added.
He went on to explain that those who perform such rituals regularly could reach "advanced states" and become aware of an "unbroken inner light".
[TBC: Rowan Williams from the beginning has been content with nearly every departure from Scripture, at one point going through a Druid ceremony in 1996, causing even an atheist to comment, “As an atheist, it ill becomes me to criticise the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury. But as an Englishman who still concedes that the established Church has an important moral and cultural role in my country, it seems that if Archbishop Rowan Williams gets the post, then he is perfectly in tune with the prevailing mood of the Government which appointed him” (http://www.thechristianexpositor.org/page118.html).]