Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

On Death and Resurrection

There is a thread you follow. It goes among
Things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread. 

—William Stafford [1]

My words for the thread that Stafford speaks of are the True Self. Your True Self is who you are, and always have been, created in the image and likeness of God who is love (1 John 4:8, 16). Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming, like a sunflower seed that becomes its own sunflower. Most of human history has called the True Self your “soul” or your participation in the eternal life of God.

The great surprise and irony is that “you,” or who you think you are, have nothing to do with your True Self’s original creation, and you can never get rid of it. It’s sort of disempowering and utterly empowering at the same time, isn’t it? All you can do is nurture your True Self, which is saying quite a lot. It is love becoming love in this unique form called “me.”

The dying process at every stage of life is a natural opportunity to let go of the small, separate self and return to the fullness of True Self. Kathleen Dowling Singh, who spent hundreds of hours contemplatively ministering to dying people, wrote:

As we return and/or are returned to our Original Nature, virtues that we have acquired, usually through deliberate cultivation, flow naturally as water from a spring. The qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, presence, centeredness, spaciousness, mercy, and confidence all radiate naturally forth from our transformed being as we come closer to death. . . . Many a time I have seen the dying comfort those in pain around them. . . .

Love appears to be the last connection the dying have with the world of form. We become expressive vehicles for the power of the Ground of Being [i.e., God], inhabited and vitalized by far greater Being. . . . The Ground of Being is, in a very real sense, Love. As we merge with it, self-consciousness and all questions of self-worth and previous psychological issues of lovability spontaneously melt. Love simultaneously pours into and pours out of us. . . .

With this basic change in identity, in the sense of who we are, death is no longer seen through the peephole of the mental ego. It ceases being a frightening enemy, a defeat, an unfortunate error in the universe and becomes, instead, an incredible moment of growth and transformation. It is a graduation into a previously unimaginable scale of being. [2]

 

[1] William Stafford, “The Way It Is,” Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems (Graywolf Press: 1977; © 1998, 2014 by William Stafford and the Estate of William Stafford), 42. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, graywolfpress.org.

[2] Kathleen Dowling Singh, The Grace in Dying: A Message of Hope, Comfort, and Spiritual Transformation (HarperOne: 2000), 211-212.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self(Jossey-Bass: 2013), 176-177.

Thomas Keating On Death & Dying

Death & Dying, Life & Living

„When Centering Prayer reaches the full consent to our nothingness, and when the closeness of God becomes a permanent experience, it is, of course, the perfect preparation for death, because it is death.

One has already died to the false self in the Night of Sense, and in the Night of Spirit has died to the ego – and so, is there any self at all left? Nothing remains of the false self and the ego. And the True Self has been transcended.

So death is not the end of anything but the final completion of this process of becoming fully alive and manifesting the triumph of the grace of God in us.

Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, Lord, God of truth. I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy. You will not abandon me. I trust in you, O Lord; you are my God. My destiny is in your hands. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”

Psalm 31: 6, 8, 15-17

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Wikipedia

Keating was born in New York City and attended Deerfield AcademyYale University, and Fordham University, graduating in December 1943.

Keating entered the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance in Valley Falls, Rhode Island, in January 1944. He was appointed Superior of St. Benedict’s MonasterySnowmass, Colorado, in 1958, and was elected abbot of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1961. He returned to Snowmass after retiring as abbot of Spencer in 1981, where he established a program of ten-day intensive retreats in the practice of Centering Prayer, a contemporary form of the Christian contemplative tradition.

He was one of three principal developers of Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of contemplative prayer that emerged from St. Joseph’s Abbey in 1975. William Meninger and Basil Pennington, also Cistercianmonks, were the method’s other principal developers. When the concept was first proposed by Keating, Meninger started teaching a method based on the 14th century spiritual classic The Cloud of Unknowing. Meninger referred to this as the „Prayer of the Cloud” and taught it to priests at the retreat house. Pennington gave the first retreat to a lay audience in Connecticut where the participants suggested the term „Centering Prayer”. Since Thomas Merton had been known to use the term prior to this, it has been suggested the phrase may have originated from him.

In 1984, Keating along with Gustave Reininger and Edward Bednar, co-founded Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., an international and ecumenical spiritual network that teaches the practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, a method of prayer drawn from the Christian contemplative tradition. Contemplative Outreach provides a support system for those on the contemplative path through a wide variety of resources, workshops, and retreats.

Keating also helped found the Snowmass Interreligious Conference in 1982 and was a past president of the Temple of Understanding and of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue among other interreligious activities.

Bibliography

Silence is the language God speaks, and everything else a bad translation, Fr. Thomas Keating

Books

  • Crisis of Faith (1979) ISBN 0-932506-05-4
  • Finding Grace at the Center (1979) ISBN 0-932506-00-3
  • Heart of the World (1981) ISBN 0-8245-0014-8
  • And the Word Was Made Flesh (1982) ISBN 0-8245-0505-0
  • Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel (1986) ISBN 0-8264-0696-3
  • The Mystery of Christ: The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience (1987) ISBN 0-8264-0697-1
  • Heart of the World: Spiritual Catechism (1988) ISBN 0-8245-0903-X
  • Mystery of Christ (1988) ISBN 0-916349-41-1
  • Awakenings (1990) ISBN 0-8245-1044-5
  • Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality: A Pathway to Growth and Healing, by Philip St Romain, illus. Intro. by Thomas Keating (1991) ISBN 0-8245-1062-3
  • Reawakenings (1991) ISBN 0-8245-1149-2
  • Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian Contemplation (1992) ISBN 0-8264-0698-X
  • Intimacy with God (1994) ISBN 0-8245-1588-9
  • Loving Search for God: Contemplative Prayer and „The Cloud of Unknowing,”, with William A. Meninger (1994) ISBN 0-8264-0682-3
  • Crisis of Faith, Crisis of Love (1995) ISBN 0-8264-0805-2
  • Active Meditations for Contemplative Prayer (1997) ISBN 0-8264-1061-8
  • The Kingdom of God is Like… (1997) ISBN 0-8245-1659-1
  • Centering Prayer in Daily Life and Ministry, co-edited with Gustave Reininger (1998) ISBN 0-8264-1041-3
  • The Diversity of Centering Prayer (1998) ISBN 0-8264-1115-0
  • The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation (Wit Lectures) (1999) ISBN 0-8091-3882-4
  • Journey to the Center: A Lenten Passage (1999) ISBN 0-8245-1895-0
  • The Better Part: Stages of Contemplative Living (2000) ISBN 0-8264-1229-7
  • Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit (2000) ISBN 1-930051-21-2
  • St. Therese of Lisieux: A Transformation in Christ (2000) ISBN 1-930051-20-4
  • Divine Indwelling: Centering Prayer and Its Development, with George F. Cairns, Thomas R. Ward, Sarah A. Butler, Fitzpatrick-Hopler (2001) ISBN 1-930051-79-4
  • Sundays at the Magic Monastery: Homilies from the Trappists of St. Benedict’s Monastery with William Meninger, Joseph Boyle, and Theophane Boyd (2002) ISBN 1-59056-033-7
  • Transformation of Suffering: Reflections on September 11 and the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee (2002) ISBN 1-59056-036-1
  • The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living: Excerpts from the Works of Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. : Sacred Scripture, and Other Spiritual Writings (2003) ISBN 0-8264-1515-6
  • Foundations for Centering Prayer and the Christian Contemplative Life: Open Mind, Open Heart, Invitation to Love, Mystery of Christ (2003) ISBN 0-8264-1397-8
  • Manifesting God (2005) ISBN 1-59056-085-X
  • Active Prayer: On Retreat with Father Thomas Keating (2005) ISBN 0-8264-1783-3
  • Centering Prayer: On Retreat with Father Thomas Keating (2005) ISBN 0-8264-1780-9
  • Lectio Divina: On Retreat with Father Thomas Keating (2005) ISBN 0-8264-1782-5
  • Welcoming Prayer: On Retreat with Father Thomas Keating (2005) ISBN 0-8264-1781-7
  • Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps (2009) ISBN 978-1-59056-144-7
  • Reflections on the Unknowable (2014) ISBN 978-1590564370

Audio and video