CENTERING PRAYER

http://marcthomasshaw.com/index.php/2017/09/20/secret-weapon-prayer/

Part of the instructions for the practice of Centering Prayeris to find a sacred word that signals a consent for the action and presence of God within. Some practitioners use “love” or “grace” or “light.”

A "Secret Weapon" Of Centering PrayerThe anonymous author of the 13th century classic The Cloud of Unknowing simply uses the word God.

Teachers of the practice instruct students to choose a word that is generally free of emotional charge or baggage because the aim to facilitate the movement into silence.

So you start with these strategies early on in the practice: “ok, I’m gonna enter into silence, and then when my thoughts take over, bump them out with the sacred word, and return to the silence. Lather, rinse, repeat. OK, I got this. Just bump ’em out of the way. I’m gonna be super enlightened in no time.”

While the instructions for the practice are pretty simple, what can be a little more difficult to learn is the how of Centering Prayer that can help make the practice a little more fruitful.

I am careful not to use the word “effective,” because the notion of doing something to achieve a goal or a particular outcome is precisely the kind of logical-linear strategic thinking that the practice itself helps us transcend.

Over the years as I continue my practice the one component that can get easily lost is that of disposition. As with all things, our intention matters. This is one aspect of our lives we bring to every act and interaction.

Intention. Disposition.

We bring it to making breakfast and packing lunches. We bring it to the drive to work. We bring it to the conference call. We bring it in entering a room.

In the contemplative life, each of these acts, however simple, becomes an opportunity for devotion, for receiving or passing on the beauty of the Beloved. This is the awareness or headspace that grows with the practice.

Early on in the practice, I’d introduce or reintroduce the sacred word impatiently, mildly annoyed when I got so far off track with some inner resentment or lingering argument or embarrassing moment from the past.

After several years it became clear that my intention, my disposition, mattered deeply. There is a piece of the Centering Prayer instructions which is easy to gloss over. Step three instructs us to introduce the sacred word ever-so-gently.

This becomes almost like a skill that is sharpened, the ability to introduce gentleness. We speak the word ever so gently. We notice our own missteps throughout the day: anger, annoyance, yelling, guilt, anxiety, whatever, and watch ourselves and then return to the present moment ever so gently.

In our time of strategy and productivity and efficiency, what a profound dimension of our lives to expand, what a quality to bring into the world, what a disposition to grow: gentleness. There is a strength to gentleness that refuses to be pulled this way and that by circumstances. It’s a disposition that requires security and trust to maintain.

In a way, this is the “secret weapon” of Centering Prayer. Bringing this disposition of gentleness, humility, and receptivity both deepens the experience of the practice and expands these capacities throughout the day. It’s like planting a seed.

It becomes a way to respond to stress, to enact forgiveness, to respond to arguments and hostility. In a sense, the mystical path is one that requires us to die to our attachments on a granular level in preparation for the great death to come, that when the time comes to move into the next phase of the great journey home, we can release this one, we can turn the page and let it go ever so gently.

By Marc Thomas Shaw

Going Further

Rich Lewis on the third step of Centering Prayer

Anglican Rector Chris Page on gentleness as strength

Poem: Hagia Sophia by Thomas Merton

Anunțuri

Author: Pema Chödrön

You may have noticed, however, that there is frequently an irritating, if not depressing, discrepancy between our ideas and good intentions and how we act when we are confronted with the nitty-gritty details of real life situations. One afternoon I was riding a bus in San Francisco, reading a very touching article on human suffering and helping others. The idea of being generous and extending myself to those in need became so poignant that I started to cry. People were looking at me as the tears ran down my cheeks. I felt a great tenderness toward everyone, and a commitment to benefit others arose in me. As soon as I got home, feeling pretty exhausted after working all day, the phone rang, and it was someone asking if I could please help her out by taking her position as a meditation leader that night. I said, “No, sorry, I need to rest,” and hung up.

It’s not a matter of the right choice or the wrong choice, but simply that we are often presented with a dilemma about bringing together the inspiration of the teachings with what they mean to us on the spot. There is a perplexing tension between our aspirations and the reality of feeling tired, hungry, stressed-out, afraid, bored, angry, or whatever we experience in any given moment of our life.

Naropa, an eleventh-century Indian yogi, one day unexpectedly met an old hag on the street. She apparently knew he was one of the greatest Buddhist scholars in India and asked him if he understood the words of the large book he was holding. He said he did, and she laughed and danced with glee. Then she asked him if he understood the meaning of the teachings in that book. Thinking to please her even more, he again said yes. At that point she became enraged, yelling at him that he was a hypocrite and a liar. That encounter changed Naropa’s life. He knew she had his number; truthfully, he only understood the words and not the profound inner meaning of all the teachings he could expound so brilliantly.

This is where we also, to one degree or another, find ourselves. We can kid ourselves for a while that we understand meditation and the teachings, but at some point we have to face it. None of what we’ve learned seems very relevant when our lover leaves us, when our child has a tantrum in the supermarket, when we’re insulted by our colleague. How do we work with our resentment when our boss walks into the room and yells at us? How do we reconcile that frustration and humiliation with our longing to be open and compassionate and not to harm ourselves or others? How do we mix our intention to be alert and gentle in meditation with the reality that we sit down and immediately fall asleep? What about when we sit down and spend the entire time thinking about how we crave someone or something we saw on the way to the meditation hall? Or we sit down and squirm the whole morning because our knees hurt and our back hurts and we’re bored and fed up? Instead of calm, wakeful, and egoless, we find ourselves getting more edgy, irritable, and solid.

To be continuedRésultat de recherche d'images

The Jesus story is the universe story

By Richard Rohr

The Mystery of the Cross
Sunday, April 23, 2017

It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. —1 Corinthians 2:8

Jesus’ life, death, and raising up is the whole pattern revealed, named, summed up, and assured for our own lives. It gives us the full trajectory that we might not recognize otherwise. He is the map. The Jesus story is the universe story. The Universal Christ is no threat to anything but separateness, illusion, domination, and the imperial ego. In that sense, Jesus, the Christ, is the ultimate threat, but first of all to Christians. Only when we follow Jesus through his life, death and resurrection will we have any universal and salvific message for the rest of the earth.

The lead up to and the follow up from the cross is the great interpretative key that makes the core pattern clear. It’s no accident that we have made the cross the Christian logo, because in the revelation of the cross, many great truths become obvious and even overwhelming, even though we do not want to see them.

Those who “gaze upon” (John 19:37) the Crucified long enough—with contemplative eyes—are always healed at deep levels of pain, unforgiveness, aggression, and victimhood. Contemplative gazing demands no theological education, just an “inner exchange” by receiving the image within and offering one’s soul back in safe return. C. G. Jung is supposed to have said that a naked man nailed to a cross is perhaps the deepest archetypal symbol in the Western psyche. [1]

The crucified Jesus offers, at a largely unconscious level, a very compassionate meaning system for history. Without such cosmic meaning and soul significance, the agonies and tragedies of Earth feel like Shakespeare’s “sound and fury signifying nothing” or “a tale told by an idiot.” The body can live without food more easily than the soul can live without such transformative meaning.

If all our crucifixions are leading to some possible resurrection, and are not dead-end tragedies, this changes everything. If God is somehow participating in the suffering of humans and creation, instead of just passively tolerating it and observing it, that also changes everything—at least for those who are willing to “gaze” contemplatively.

We Christians are given the privilege to name the mystery rightly and to know it directly and consciously, but in many ways we have not lived it much better than other religions and cultures. All humble, suffering souls can learn this from the flow of life itself, but the Christian Scriptures named it and revealed it to us publicly and dramatically in Jesus. It all depends on whether you have “gazed” long and deep enough at the paradoxical mystery of life and death.

 

Gateway to Silence:
I am crucified with Christ.

References:

[1] See Jerry Wright, “Christ, a Symbol of the Self,” C.G. Jung Society of Atlanta Quarterly News (Fall 2001), 6-8. Jung wrote extensively about Christ as archetype; Wright’s essay offers a brief overview of key ideas and resources. Available at http://www.jungatlanta.com/articles/fall01-crist-symbol-of-self.pdf

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008), 185-187

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "geronda"

Nu putem evita greselile

Oameni fiind, greselile sunt inevitabile. Poate ca am facut pe cineva sa sufere, poate ca am ranit suflete dragi, si ne pare tare rau. Dar putem totdeauna sa o luam de la capat, greselile pot fi puncte de plecare pentru o transformare. Sunt cea mai buna scoala pentru a învata sa fii mai bun, mai sensibil la durerea altcuiva, mai iubitor, mai tolerant. De aceea greselile isi au rolul lor de jucat în evolutia noastra. Sa nu ne lasam prinsi în capcana vinovatiei daca am facut în viata niste greseli. 

Because we are human beings, we cannot avoid making mistakes. We might have caused someone else to suffer, we might have offended our beloved ones, and we feel regret. But it is always possible for us to begin anew, and to transform all these kinds of mistakes. Without making mistakes there is no way to learn, in order to be a better person, to learn how to be tolerant, to be compassionate, to be loving, to be accepting. That is why mistakes play a role in our training, in our learning, and we should not get caught in the prison of culpability just because we have made some mistakes in our life.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

O glorie diferita de ce ne închipuim

„Un lucru e sigur şi se impune cu o evidenţă strigă­toare: istoria omenirii, începând cu vârstele ei cele mai îndepărtate, are un caracter tragic. Nu a rămas nică­ieri vreo urmă a unei vârste de aur, decât, desigur, în imaginarul colectiv al popoarelor.

Istoria omenească, în fond, este Babel. Turnul Babel reprezintă simbolul biblic al unei voinţe prometeice a unei puteri omeneşti unite, care degenerează în confu­zie şi împrăştiere. Uciderea lui Abel şi Turnul Babel sunt două mari imagini profetice ale istoriei omeneşti, a cărei desfăşurare apare ca o suită de lupte fratricide pentru putere între sisteme închise. Totul se petrece ca şi cum capacitatea divină de a iubi, depusă în om de la începuturi, s-ar fi prefăcut într-o forţă monstruoasă, lucrând numai pentru a domina şi a exclude.

Câteodată, e adevărat, intervine câte o surpriză feri­cită: un suflu mesianic se ridică, aducând pace şi fră­ţie, părând a croi o cale de destindere şi de înţelegere. O firavă speranţă se naşte. Se înalţă pe catarge drapele de pace. Apoi vântul îşi schimbă brusc direcţia şi izbuc­neşte o altă furtună. Pacea pe care o crezuserăm veşnică nu fusese decât un somn al conflictelor. Antagonismele reapar, ca şi excluderile. Reîncep ura, sfâşierea, cu ala­iul lor de cruzimi.

Când se porneşte o nouă avalanşă de orori, Dumne­zeu îşi regretă actul creator, ne spune Biblia: „s-a căit pentru că l-a creat pe om pe pământ şi s-a mâhnit în inima lui” (Gen 6,6). Dumnezeu ar fi putut opri trage­dia, renunţând la proiectul său grandios, prefăcând totul în pulbere. Însă Dumnezeu nu este ca omul. Gândurile sale nu sunt ca ale noastre, iar el nu iubeşte distrugerea: „… căci Eu sunt Dumnezeu… iar nu om… nu voi veni să te prăpădesc” (Os 11,9). Iubirea care a plămădit lumea, iubirea care a dorit creaţia pentru a se împărtăşi unor fiinţe distincte de sine, iubirea aceasta nu va renunţa la proiectul la temelia căruia stă venirea „Primului-născut din toată creaţia”. Dum­nezeu a văzut nenorocirea oamenilor, iar priveliştea aceasta a născut în inima lui o iubire nouă, plină de milostivire şi de duioşie. Cine ar putea măsura puterea unei asemenea iubiri? Dumnezeu a luat hotărârea de a salva ceea ce fusese pierdut.

Nu, Ziditorul nu-şi va uita măreţul proiect. Se va revela pe deplin celui pe care l-a voit şi iubit din vecie: omul, dorit ca să-i aducă lui Dumnezeu bucurie, fericire, slavă. Misiunea de a-şi mântui fraţii întru umanitate îi va reveni Fiului cel iubit; el îi va smulge din haos, din ură şi din moarte, cufundându-i în unda iubirii ce zideşte şi îndumnezeieşte: pentru ca şi ei să se poată bucura de viaţa divină, având, de asemenea, parte de plinătatea ei. Dăruindu-se neprecupeţit omului decăzut, Dumne­zeu va revărsa asupra inimii omeneşti dragostea sa milostivă; va dărui propria privire îndurătoare asupra celui rătăcit. Pe scurt, îl va trimite pe Fiul său cel iubit pentru a fi chipul omenesc al Iubirii răscumpărătoare.

De aceea a coborât Fiul unic al lui Dumnezeu în lumea noastră dezbinată şi sfâşiată. Sosirea lui fusese anunţată, însă el a apărut printre oameni fără nimic din strălucirea aşteptată: „într-o asemenea obscuritate (ceea ce lumea numeşte „a fi obscur”), scrie Pascal, încât istoricii, cei ce nu notează decât evenimentele importante ale statelor, abia dacă l-au observat”. „Glo­ria pe care venise s-o arate” era de alt ordin.”

Eloi Leclerc, Chemin de contemplation, în româneste „Cale de îndumnezeire”, ed. Sapientia

Simplicity/Simplitate

Thomas R. Kelly (1893-1941), misionar Quaker, este autorul unui volumas care figureaza printre clasicii literaturii spirituale crestine: A Testament of Devotion. O carte în care straluceste acea întelepciune perena provenita din contactul staruitor cu Duhul. Fiindca, ni se pare evident, Un Spirit Unic ne este învatator. Mai jos, descrierea facuta de Kelly “celei de-a doua simplitati”, care este scopul unei maturitati întru credinta, o credinta pe masura unui adult (adaug: care a înteles ce înseamna sa asculti de Dumnezeu):

“În fine, ultimul rod al sfintei ascultari despre care vreau sa va vorbesc e simplitatea, o simplitate de copil încrezator, cea a copiilor lui Dumnezeu. O afli dincolo de complexitate. E naivitatea care nu are nimic de-a face cu subtilitatile. Cu simplitatea aceasta începe maturizarea spirituala, dupa ce a trecut vârsta în care, cu stângacie, omul cauta Împaratia lui Dumnezeu în activismul religios. Cu toate acestea, destui ramân prinsi într-o asemenea capcana care-i opreste într-o adolescenta a sufletului… Semnul vietii simplificate este o bucurie radioasa. Stiind bine ce înseamna durerea, oamenii ajunsi la acest nivel înceteaza sa se chinuie si sa se zbata, ci îsi parcurg senin, fara graba, timpul de viata ce le e dat, cu bucuria si siguranta vesniciei. Stiind bine cât de complicate sunt problemele oamenilor, ei se îndreaptà cu hotarâre spre dragostea lui Dumnezeu, si se leaga pentru întotdeauna de El… Simplitatea acesta leaga între ele sufletele care traiesc în ascultare smerita si în închinare, stând necontenit în prezenta Celui care este Totul în toate.”

Thomas R. Kelly (1893-1941), a Quaker missionary, wrote a slender spiritual classic called A Testament of Devotion. I will quote him at length, and you will see another example of perennial wisdom. We are obviously being taught by the One Spirit. Here is Kelly’s powerful description of the second simplicity that is the goal of mature adulthood:

The last fruit of holy obedience is the simplicity of the trusting child, the simplicity of the children of God. It is the simplicity which lies beyond complexity. It is the naiveté which is the yonder side of sophistication. It is the beginning of spiritual maturity, which comes after the awkward age of religious busyness for the Kingdom of God—yet how many are caught, and arrested in development, within this adolescent development of the soul’s growth! The mark of this simplified life is radiant joy. . . . Knowing sorrow to the depths it does not agonize and fret and strain, but in serene, unhurried calm it walks in time with the joy and assurance of Eternity. Knowing fully the complexity of men’s problems it cuts through to the Love of God and ever cleaves to Him. . . . It binds all obedient souls together in the fellowship of humility and simple adoration of Him who is all in all”.

This amazing simplification comes when we “center down,” when life is lived with singleness of eye, from a holy Center where the breath and stillness of Eternity are heavy upon us and we are wholly yielded to Him. Some of you know this holy, recreating Center of eternal peace and joy and live in it day and night. Some of you may see it over the margin and wistfully long to slip into that amazing Center where the soul is at home with God. Be very faithful to that wistful longing. It is the Eternal Goodness calling you to return Home, to feed upon green pastures and walk beside still waters and live in the peace of the Shepherd’s presence. It is the life beyond fevered strain. We are called beyond strain, to peace and power and joy and love and thorough abandonment of self. We are called to put our hands trustingly in His hand and walk the holy way, in no anxiety assuredly resting in Him. [1]

Gateway to Silence:
Live simply so that others may simply live.

 

Gateway to Silence

Adapted from Richard Rohr, True Self/ False Self (Franciscan Media: 2013), discs 2 and 4 (CD).

Sharing in God’s One Spirit
Sunday, August 7, 2016
The Holy Spirit is God’s very own life shared with us and residing within us (see John 20:22). When we pray, we are steadfastly refusing to abandon this Presence, this True Self, this place that already knows we are beloved and one with God. But our false „contrived” self is so needy that we must practice living in this presence through conscious choice („prayer”) at least once, but preferably many times, every day. Contemplative prayer is „our daily bread” that keeps us nourished so we can dare to believe the Gospel, to trust the Divine Indwelling, and to remember our God-given identity. Gradually, we learn how to abide in this spacious place more and more, how to draw our strength, dignity, and solace from this Stable Source. When we live from this place of conscious unity, we are indestructible.
 
The True Self cannot really be hurt or offended. The false self–our egoic identity–is offended every few minutes. But if we notice when we take offence, and what part of us is offended (always a provisional identity), this will train us to gradually reside more and more in the Big Truth. (Most of John 14-16 circles around this message.) Thomas Keating charts conversion as a series of necessary humiliations to the false self.
 
In order to fully experience the intrinsic union we already have with God, who is Love, it seems that we need to first be love ourselves in some foundational way. We can only see what we already partly are, which is why I like to call it a mirroring process. Contemplation helps us to rest in this love; as we gradually take on the likeness of love, we will see love over there too. What you see is what you are. That’s why Jesus absolutely commanded us to love. This is necessary for the mirroring process to begin! Our inner state of love is alone able to receive and reflect the ultimate outer Love (2 Corinthians 3:18).
 
Sometimes people will come up to me and say, „Oh, Richard, you’re so loving!” But I know I’m not–and I know they are! They are seeing themselves in me. Spirit recognizes Spirit. To know the Truth, one must somehow be abiding in that Truth, and the deepest Truth of every human is Love, as we are created in the image and likeness of an infinitely Loving God (Genesis 1:26-27), which Christians call Trinity.
 
If we are in a state of negativity, what Julian of Norwich calls „contrariness,” we won’t be love or see love. We must watch for this contrariness–we all experience it quite frequently–and nip it in the bud. This contrary self often takes three forms: comparison (common in the female); competition (common in the male); and contrariness or oppositional energy (common in all of us). Our false self is actually relieved and empowered when it has something to oppose. The clearest identifier of untransformed people is that they are living out of oppositional energy, with various forms of comparing or competing, judging and critiquing. As long as we do this, we never have to grow up; we just show howothers are wrong or inferior.
The True Self needs none of these games to know who it is. It is a child of God, sharing in God’s own Spirit, and its energy is foundationally positive and generative.

 

Gateway to Silence

God in me loves God in everything.