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.