Tuesday, 29 September 2009

intentionally a piece of cake ...

What is the difference between Centering Prayer and other forms of prayer? I continue the struggle of maintaining a clear view of Christian distinctiveness when it comes to the mystical experience and the approach to prayer but I'm getting there. Thomas Keating in his book "Intimacy with God" distinguishes the usage of a sacred word or a sacred symbol from other Eastern Methods. "Rather than paying attention to these symbols we use them to express our intention."... again ...  "It is intentionality that distinguishes Centering Prayer from other forms of prayer" Here we have no attempt to focus attention on an object (like a flame) or to concentrate on a particular word. The usage of a sacred word is not its meaning but a simple stimulus to re-align our wills to the love of God. Here we have not a mental exercise or even an emotional experience but an exercise of the will to consent to the love of God. I find it easy to recognise an emotion and a thought but an act of or 'consent of the will' as something separate from thought, emotion or activity is a hard thing to recognise.
It all makes sense that love is essentially an act of the will. You can feel love, think love, say you love something or someone but wisdom is justified by her actions. We all know how cheap thoughts, feelings and words can be without any action to prove it. However here we are in total stillness so the only expression of the will in love is simply being in God's presence without any action. How can one discern any willfulness without action? Perhaps what is meant is this: I consent to God's love by simply allowing it to be here in this moment and simply availing myself to it as I am in this moment. No other action is suitable but non-action. This submission or consent is the essence of all true forms of Love that will follow.

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