Search of the Spiritual
"Move over, politics. Americans are looking for personal,
ecstatic experiences of God, and, according to our poll, they
don't much care what the neighbors are doing"
. By Jerry Adler
Newsweek Aug. 29, 2005 Issue
"The 1960s did not penetrate very deeply into the small towns
of the Quaboag Valley of central Massachusetts. Even so, Father
Thomas Keating, the abbot of St. Joseph's Abbey, couldn't help
noticing the attraction that the exotic religious practices of
the East held for many young Roman Catholics. To him, as a Trappist
monk, meditation was second nature. He invited the great Zen master
Roshi Sasaki to lead retreats at the abbey. And surely, he thought,
there must be a precedent within the church for making such simple
but powerful spiritual techniques available to lay people. His
Trappist brother Father William Meninger found it in one day in
1974, in a dusty copy of a 14th-century guide to contemplative
meditation, "The Cloud of Unknowing."
Drawing on that work, as well as the writings of the contemplatives
Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila, the two monks
began teaching a form of Christian meditation that grew into the
worldwide phenomenon known as centering prayer.
Twice a day for 20 minutes, practitioners find a quiet place to
sit with their eyes closed and surrender their minds to God. In
more than a dozen books and in speeches and retreats that have
attracted tens of thousands, Keating has spread the word to a
world of "hungry people, looking for a deeper relationship with
God." Read all of "In
Search of the Spiritual"
Thomas Keating teaches on centering prayer who tells us contemplative
prayer is a way of tuning into a fuller level of reality that
is always present
"(Open mind, Open heart p.37).
He explains "My acquaintance with eastern methods of meditation
has convinced me that
there are ways of calming the mind
in the spiritual disciplines of both the east and the west
Many serious seekers of truth study the eastern religions,
he is promoting is the concept of God permeating the air as
Us Reason Ministries
the late 1960s and early 1970s, Father Keating and two other monks
met with Buddhist and Hindu teachers
in an effort to understand the mass defection of young Catholics at the time, people drawn in part to the East's meditation practices.
Their research led Keating, then an abbot at a Massachusetts monastery,
to begin unearthing a
similar meditative method based on the Christian tradition."
are already a number of Christians who are practicing the various
types of contemplative prayer promoted by Richard Foster, Thomas
Merton, Thomas Keating, and others. A good portion is being promoted
through the Catholic contemplative prayer movement. Many of these
same people are open to or already doing labyrinth walks as a
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