Quotes from Fr. Thomas Keating

I was first introduced to the practice of Centering Prayer by Fr. Keith Hosey and Sr. Maureen Mangen.  They led me to Keating’s amazing book, OPEN MIND OPEN HEART which became my daily and only mentor for more than a year when I first became a serious daily meditator.  Nearly 25 years later I find the daily practice of Centering Prayer to be a veritable life-line to the experience of Divine presence within me and in our world.  I am delighted to share a few selected quotes from Fr. Keating, hoping they will be an open door for you as you quest your Way into a more meaningful way of life. -Hal Edwards

Visit the Contemplative Outreach website and gain much more guidance and support available to you where you live:  contemplativeoutreach.org


What is Centering Prayer and how does one “do” it?  “Centering prayer is a contemporary name for the practice that Jesus refers to as ‘prayer in secret’ in the Sermon on the Mount.  In the course of time this prayer has been given other names such as ‘pure prayer,’ ‘prayer of faith,’ ‘prayer of the heart,’ and ‘prayer of simplicity.'”   p. 4, Open Mind Open Heart, OMOH, Thomas Keating.

What can this way of prayer do for a person?  “Contemplative prayer is the world in which God can do anything.  To move into that realm is the greatest adventure.  It is to be open to the Infinite and hence to infinite possibilities.  Our private, self-made worlds come to an end; a new world appears within and around us and the impossible becomes an everyday experience.  Yet the world that prayer reveals is barely noticeable in the ordinary course of events..”  OMOH, p. 11. 

This practice is a way to consent to our awakening in the Spirit- “Christian life and growth are founded on faith in our own basic goodness, in the being that God has given us with its transcendent potential.  This gift of being is our true Self.  Through our consent by faith, Christ is born in us and the Risen Christ and our true Self become one.  Our awakening to the presence and action of the Spirit is the unfolding of Christ’s resurrection in us.”  OMOH, p. 11.

How does this method of silent prayer relate to all our thoughts?  “The root of prayer is interior silence.  We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words, but this is only one of its forms.  ‘Prayer,’ according to (Church Father) Evagrius, ‘is the laying aside of thoughts.’  This definition presupposes that there are thoughts.  Centering prayer is not so much the absence of thoughts as detachment from them.  It is the opening of mind and heart, body and emotions–our whole being–to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond words, thoughts, and emotions–beyond, in other words, the psychological content of the present moment.  In centering prayer we do not deny or repress what is in our (conscious thinking process).  We simply accept the fact of whatever is there and go beyond it, not by effort, but by letting go of whatever is there.”  OMOH, p. 12

Going into a deeper part of ourselves– “CP is not just a method.  It is true prayer at the same time, a prayer of consenting to God’s presence and action within…In CP we withdraw our attention from the ordinary flow of thoughts.  We tend to identify ourselves with that flow.  But there is a deeper part of ourselves, the spiritual level.  CP opens our awareness to this deep level of our being…Practicing this prayer…is not doing nothing.   It is a very gentle kind of activity.”  OMOH, p. 19ff.



Quotes and Reflections on the Insights of CG Jung

Quotes and Reflections on the Insights of CG Jung

A Life without Inner Contradiction-
“It is conflicts of duty that make endurance and action so difficult….The one must exist and so must the other.  There can be no resolution, only patient endurance of the opposites, which ultimately springs from your own nature.  You yourself are a conflict that rages in and against itself in order to melt its incompatible substances…in the fire of suffering, and thus create that fixed and unalterable form which is the goal of life.  Everyone goes through this mill, consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or forcibly.  We are curcified between the opposites and delivered up to the torture until the ‘reconciling third’ takes shape.  Do not doubt the rightness of these two sides within you, and let whatever may happen, happen….A life without inner contradiction is either only half a life or else a life in the Beyond, which is destined only for angels.  But God loves human beings more than angels.”  p. 375, C G JUNG Letters 1, 1906-1950.

Doing your work truly and conscientiously- “Thus an old chemist gave the following consolation to one of his disciples: ‘No matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you do your work truly and conscientiously, unknown friends will come and seek you.'”  p. 595, CG JUNG LETTERS 1951-1961.

Getting into Life- “By bearing the opposites we can expose ourselves to life in our humanity….We have to realize the evil is in us; we have to risk life to get into life, then it takes on color, otherwise we might as well read a book….”  C G Jung, Emma Jung, Toni Wolff, by The Analytic Psychology Club of San Francisco, Inc., pp. 111-112. “

God Rules the World– “Clement of Rome taught that God rules with a right and a left hand, the right being Christ, the left Satan.  Clement’s view is clearly monotheistic as it unites the opposites as being contained in God….Later Christianity, however, is dualistic, inasmuch as it splits off one half of the opposites, personified in Satan, and he is eternal in his state of damnation….If Christianity claims to be monotheism, it becomes unavoidable to assume the opposites as being contained in God.”  p. 357, C G Jung, Collective Works 11, “Answer to Job.”

Good from Evil?  “Out of evil, so much good has come to me.  By keeping quiet, repressing nothing, remaining attentive, and by accepting reality–taking things as they are, and not as I wanted them to be–by doing all this, unusual knowledge has come to me and unusual powers as well, such as I could never have imagined before.  I always thought that when we accepted things they overpowered us in some way or other.  This turns out not to be true at all, and it is only by accepting them that one can assume an attitude towards them.  So now I intend to play the game of life, being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow that are forever alternating, and in this way, also accepting my own nature with its negative and positive sides.  Thus everything becomes more alive to me.  What a fool I was!  How I tried to force everything to go according to the way I thought it ought to.”  CG JUNG to a client.

Imitation of Christ- “We Protestants must sooner or later face this question: Are we to understand the ‘imitation of Christ’ in the sense that we should copy his life and, if I may use the expression, ape his stigmata; or, in the deeper sense, that we are to live our own proper lives as truly as Christ lived his in all its implications?  It is no easy matter to live a life that is modeled on Christ’s; but it is unspeakably harder to live one’s own life as truly as Christ lived his.  Anyone who did this would run counter to the forces of the past, and though he might thus be fulfilling his destiny, would none the less be misjudged, derided, tortured and crucified.”  Modern Man in Search of a Soul, (MMSS), p. 236.

Letter to Bil W. from Jung (excerpts)- “….his craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God….You see, alcohol in Latin is spiritus and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula, therefore, is spiritus contra spiritum.” p. 623-625, CG JUNG Letters 2, 1951-1961.

Living Life Completely- “There is no place where those striving after consciousness could find absolutely safety.  Doubt and insecurity are indispensable components of a complete life.  Only those who can lose this life really can gain it.  A complete life does not consist in a theoretical completeness, but in the fact that one accepts, without reservation, the particular fatal issue in which one finds oneself embedded, and that one tries to make sense of it or to create a cosmos from the chaotic mess into which one is born.  If one lives properly and completely, time and again one will be confronted with a situation of which one will say, ‘This is too much.  I cannot bear it any more.’  Then the question must be answered, ‘Can one really not bear it?'”  pp. 163-174, CG JUNG Letters 2, 1951-1961

Loneliness– “Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”  Memories, Dreams & Reflections (MDR), p. 356.

Loving and accepting One’s Self- “Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult.  In actual life it requires the greatest discipline to be simple, and the acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook upon life.  That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ–all these are undoubtedly great virtues.  What I do unto the lease of my brethren, that I do unto Christ.  But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, the very enemy himself–that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness–that I myself am the enemy who must be loved–what then?  As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother (or sister) within us, ‘Raca,’ and condemn and rage against ourselves.  We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.  Had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.”  Modern Man in Search of His Soul  (MMSS), p. 235.

Mistakes are inevitable– “When one follows the path of individuation (journey towards wholeness), when one lives one’s own life, one must take mistakes into the bargain; life would be incomplete without them.  There is no guarantee–not for a single moment–that we will not fall into error or stumble into deadly peril.  We may think there is a sure road.  But that would be the road of death.  Then nothing happens any longer–at any rate, not the right things.  ANYONE WHO TAKES THE SURE ROAD IS AS GOOD AS DEAD.”  MDR, p. 297

Observing one’s conscious and rational mind-  “It is under all conditions a most advisable thing to keep to the conscious and rational side, i.e., to maintain that side.  One never should lose sight of it.  It is the safeguard without which you would lose yourself on unknown seas.  You would invite illness, indeed, if you should give up your conscious and rational orientation.  On the other hand, it is equally true that life is not only rational.  You are not fully adapted to life by a merely rational attitude.  To a certain extent you have to keep your senses open to the non-rational aspects of existence.  Among the latter is the unconscious.  Such a non-rational factor has to be carefully observed….If you observe the unconscious at all you are instantly drawn to it, and if you haven’t sufficient foothold in your real conscious life the dragon of the unconscious will swallow you.  You know what they means!  Only if you maintain your consciousness with all its power of criticism can you observe the unconscious.”  pp. 108-109, C G JUNG Letters 1, 1906-1950. 

Reaching Utmost Poverty (Jung’s response to a letter from Rev. Mother Prioress)- “I am very grateful for the spiritual help you extend to me.  I am in need of it with this gigantic misunderstanding which surrounds me (the global reaction to his book, GOD”S ANSWER TO JOB).  All the riches I seem to possess are also my poverty, my lonesomeness in the world.  The more I seem to possess, the more I stand to lose, when I get ready to approach the dark gate.  I did not seek my life with its failures and accomplishments.  It came to me with a power not my own.  Whatever I have acquired serves a purpose I have not foreseen.  Everything had to be shed and nothing remains my own.  I quite agree with you: it is not easy to reach utmost poverty and simplicity.  But it meets you, unbidden, on the way to the end of this existence….Thank you for the un-asked for kindness of your letter.  There is so much evil and bitterness in this world that one cannot be too grateful for the one good thing which happens from time to time.”  p. 516, C G JUNG Letters 2, 1951-1961. 

Satisfied with life- “I am satisfied with the course my life has taken.  It has been bountiful, and has given me a great deal.  How could I have ever expected so much?  Nothing but unexpected things kept happening to me.  Much might have been different if I myself had been different.  But it was as it had to be; for all came about because I am what I am.  Many things worked out as I planned them to, but that did not always prove of benefit to me.  But almost everything developed naturally and by destiny.  I regret many follies which sprang from my obstinacy; but without that trait I would not have reached my goal.  And so I am disappointed and I am not disappointed with myself.  I have learned amazing things from people, and have accomplished more than I expected of myself…The older I have become, the less I have understood or had insight into or known about myself.”  MDR, p. 358.

Who is really cured?  “Of all my patients past middle life, that is, past thirty-five, there is not one whose ultimate problem is not one of religious attitude (ie., spiritual worldview).  Indeed, in the end every one suffered from having lost that which living religions of every age have given to their believers, and none is really cured who has not regained his (or her) religious attitude, which naturally has nothing to do with creeds or belonging to a church.”  C G Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul (MMSS).

A Parent’s Unlived Life– “Nothing exerts a stronger psychic effect upon the human environment, and especially upon children, than the life which the parents have not lived.”  Jung, Collected Works, Vol. # 14, par. 21.



Morton T Kelsey was my teacher, mentor, spiritual director and friend from 1974, when I first studied under him in graduate school at Notre Dame University, until his death in 2001. Morton Kelsey bequeathed me his unpublished writings, lectures and notes, including his personal correspondence with C G Jung, letters including dreams that determined the future direction of his vocation.

MUSINGS contains selected insights, stories and data that focus on the importance of our encounters within the spiritual realm, specifically through the practicality, mystery and guidance one may gain in various ways through dream work.


Morton T Kelsey

Morton T Kelsey, image source: Dale Matson



1.  TRADITION– Build upon the foundations laid by others who came before us: cultural realities, roots that shaped those times, the life and teaching of spiritual leaders through the centuries, historic documents, historical human development, religious traditions, creeds, historical religion.

2.  MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE– Direct encounter with Divine Presence; symbols, active imagination, sacraments, deep rooted and ancient rituals, personal numinous experience of Divine Presence, prayer with and without images, transpersonal encounters.

3.  HONEST SCIENTIFIC REASONING– The scientific method is one valid way for accumulating knowledge.  Spirituality need never be mindless or superstitious.  When new data emerges, we must find a new hypothesis, always leaving room for new truth to emerge.  Even so, nothing is more sterile than pure thinking void of spiritual experience combined with psychological insight, an awareness of tradition and genuine compassion for other people.

4.  PSYCHOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE– There must be a balance of interrelatedness between psychology (who I am) and spirituality (Whose I am).  While psychology by itself is not enough, faith without self-knowledge is also inadequate for modern humanity in search of one’s soul and psyche.

5.  A CIVILITY THAT GENUINELY CARES– To love and care for others we must first take good care of ourselves.  In the words of Jesus of Nazareth, “Love others as you love yourself.”  It is impossible to love other people if we do not love and care for ourselves.  We cannot give what we do not receive.  We cannot reproduce what we do not model.  Our primary prerequisite is to grow and heal and serve out of the overflow.  We cannot guide others further than we are willing to grow ourselves.  Out of such responsible, accountable, conscious and proactively healthy self-caring we can then reach out and connect with others who may eventually choose to benefit from our hospitality, generosity and consciousness.  In this way we build more reliable networks of compassion and a depth of loyalty that withstands every storm that will come.

(Hal Edwards has paraphrased and updated Kelsey’s Five Essentials To Mature Spirituality, found in his book, Companions on the Inner Way, Crossroad, NY, 1983, p. 43ff.)



“Real listening is a kind of prayer, for as we listen, we penetrate through the human ego and hear the Spirit of God, which dwells in the heart of everyone. Real listening is a religious experience. Often, when I have listened deeply to another, I have the same sense of awe as when I have entered into a holy place and communed with the heart of being itself.”


“It is impossible for us to love other people unless we listen to them.”

 (Excerpts) Page 67ff.,

CARING: How Can We Love One Another?

by Morton T. Kelsey

1. CEASE TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF AND BE SILENT: Obviously, we cannot listen until we stop talking.

2. BE SILENT WITH THE OTHER PERSON IN AN ACTIVE WAY: open, active, receptive, alive, without letting your mind wander or daydream. Keep eye contact, let your body language tell the person you care.

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