Many Christians might have great difficulty accepting
the assessment that what is termed Christian mysticism
is, in truth, not Christian at all. They might feel this
rejection is spawned by a heresy hunting mentality that
completely ignores the love and devotion to God that
also accompanies the mystical life. To those who are
still skeptical, I suggest examining the writings of
Philip St. Romain, who wrote a book about his journey
into contemplative prayer called Kundalini Energy and
Christian Spirituality. This title is revealing
because kundalini is a Hindu term for the mystical power
or force that underlies Hindu spirituality. In Hinduism
it is commonly referred to as the serpent power.
St. Romain, a substance abuse counselor and devout
Catholic lay minister, began his journey while
practicing contemplative prayer or resting in the still
point, as he called it. What happened to him following
this practice should bear the utmost scrutiny from the
evangelical community--especially from its leadership.
The future course of evangelical Christianity rests on
whether St. Romain's path is just a fluke or if it is
the norm for contemplative spirituality.
Having rejected mental prayer as "unproductive,"1
he embraced the prayer form that switches off the mind,
creating what he described as a mental passivity. What
he encountered next underscores my concern with sobering
"Then came the lights! The gold swirls that I had
noted on occasion began to intensify, forming
themselves into patterns that both intrigued and
captivated me ... There were always four or five of
these; as soon as one would fade, another would
appear, even brighter and more intense ... They came
through complete passivity and only after I had been
in the silence for a while."2
After this, St. Romain began to sense "wise sayings"
coming into his mind and felt he was "receiving messages
from another."3 He also had physical developments occur
during his periods in the silence. He would feel
"prickly sensations" on the top of his head and at times
it would "fizzle with energy."4* This sensation would go
on for days. The culmination of St. Romain's mystical
excursion was predictable--when you do Christian yoga or
Christian Zen you end up with Christian samadhi as did
he. He proclaimed:
"No longer is there any sense of alienation, for the
Ground that flows throughout my being is identical
with the Reality of all creation. It seems that the
mystics of all the world's religions know something
St. Romain, logically, passed on to the next stage with:
"[T]he significance of this work, perhaps, lies in
its potential to contribute to the dialogue between
Christianity and Eastern forms of mysticism such as
are promoted in what is called New Age
Many people believe St. Romain is a devout Christian. He
claims he loves Jesus, believes in salvation, and is a
member in good standing within his church. What changed
though were his sensibilities. He says:
"I cannot make any decisions for myself without the
approbation of the inner adviser, whose voice speaks
so clearly in times of need ... there is a distinct
sense of an inner eye of some kind "seeing" with my
two sense eyes."7
St. Romain would probably be astounded that somebody
would question his claims to finding truth because of
the positive nature of his mysticism. But is this "inner
adviser" St. Romain has connected with really God? This
is a fair question to ask especially when this prayer
method has now spread within a broad spectrum of
As articulated earlier in this chapter, this practice
has already spread extensively throughout the Roman
Catholic and Protestant mainline churches. And it has
now crossed over and is manifesting itself in
conservative denominations as well--ones that have
traditionally stood against the New Age.
Just as a tidal
wave of practical mystics has hit secular society, so it
has also in the religious world. St. Romain makes one
observation in his book that I take very seriously. Like
his secular practical mystic brethren, he has a strong
sense of mission and destiny. He predicts:
"Could it be that those who make the journey to the
True Self are, in some ways, demonstrating what lies
in store for the entire race? What a magnificent
world that would be--for the majority of people to
be living out of the True Self state. Such a world
cannot come, however, unless hundreds of thousands
of people experience the regression of the Ego in
the service of transcendence [meditation], and then
restructure the culture to accommodate similar
growth for millions of others. I believe we are only
now beginning to recognize this task."8
A book titled Metaphysical Primer: A Guide to
Understanding Metaphysics outlines the basic laws
and principles of the New Age movement. First and
foremost is the following principle:
"You are one with the Deity, as is all of humanity
... Everything is one with everything else. All that
is on Earth is an expression of the One Deity and is
permeated with Its energies."9
St. Romain's statement was, "[T]he Ground [God] that
flows throughout my being is identical with the Reality
of all creation."10 The two views are identical!
St. Romain came to this view through standard
contemplative prayer, not Zen, not yoga but a Christian
form of these practices. The lights were also a
reoccurring phenomenon as one contemplative author
"Christian literature makes reference to many
episodes that parallel the experiences of those
going a yogic way. Saint Anthony, one of the first
desert mystics, frequently encountered strange and
sometimes terrifying psychophysical forces while at
Unfortunately, this experience was not confined to St.
Anthony alone. This has been the common progression into
mystical awareness throughout the centuries, which also
means many now entering the contemplative path will
follow suit. This is not just empty conjecture. One
mystical trainer wrote:
"[T]he classical experience of enlightenment as
described by Buddhist monks, Hindu gurus, Christian
mystics, Aboriginal shamans, Sufi sheiks and Hebrew
kabalists is characterized by two universal
elements: radiant light and an experience of oneness
Without the mystical connection there can be no oneness.
The second always follows the first. Here lies the heart
This issue is clearly a serious one to contend with.
Many individuals, using terms for themselves like
spiritual director, are showing up more and more in the
evangelical church. Many of them teach the message of
mystical prayer. (for more by Ray Yungen on
contemplative prayer and New Age mysticism, read
A Time of Departing)
1. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian
Spirituality (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing
Company, 1995), p. 24.
2. Ibid., pp. 20-21.
3. Ibid., pp. 22-23.
4. Ibid., pp. 28-29.
5. Ibid., p. 107.
6. Ibid., pp. 48-49.
7. Ibid., p. 39.
8. Ibid., pp. 75-76.
9. Deborah Hughes and Jane Robertson-Boudreaux,
Metaphysical Primer: A Guide to Understanding
Metaphysics (Estes Park, CO: Metagnosis Pub., 1991),
10. St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian
Spirituality, op. cit., p. 107.
11. Willigis Jager, Contemplation: A Christian Path,
op. cit., p. 72.
12. Michael J. Gelb, The How to Think Like Leonardo
da Vinci Workbook (New York, NY: Dell Publishing,
1999), p. 142.