Tremendous Courage – 8 quotes from Cynthia Bourgeault’s book – Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening

by Mark Votava

41K4qxzIdbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Intentional silence is a non-negotiable

“Virtually every spiritual tradition that holds a vision of human transformation at its heart also claims that a practice of intentional silence is a non-negotiable…”

2. Jesus was a contemplative

“It seems safe to assume that Jesus was a contemplative, by which I mean that the intentional alteration between contemplation and action is one of the… rhythms of his being.  At all the great junctures of his life – in the first temptations in the wilderness, in his withdrawal to the far shores of Lake Galilee immediately preceding the miracle of the loaves and fishes, at his transfiguration on Mt. Tabor and at the final anguish in the garden of Gethsemane – his pattern is to withdraw into solitude to listen more deeply…  and unite his being to the divine Will…”

3. The history of Western Christendom

“And of course, this is the history of Western Christendom in a nutshell.  As the age of scholasticism advanced and the Church gradually lost the capacity to read its own mystical roadmaps, both its theology and institutional life grew more dogmatic and contentious…”

4. Seeing from the perspective of oneness

“Contemplation, understood in the light of a hologram universe, is not a special gift.  It is simply seeing from the perspective of oneness…  It can indeed be practiced, and over time, with sincerity and persistence, it becomes an abiding state of consciousness.  At times this unitive seeing may sweep you up into rapt adoration; at other times it simply deposits you powerfully and nakedly in the present moment.  Either form is an expression of the same underlying consciousness.  It is this consciousness itself that is the attained state of contemplation, and it is neither infused or acquired, because it was never absent – only unrecognized.”

5. Requires tremendous courage

“It is the false self that we bring to the spiritual journey; our ‘true self’ lies buried beneath the accretions and defenses.  In all of us there is a huge amount of healing that has to take place before our deep and authentic quest for union with God – which requires tremendous courage and inner presence to sustain – escapes the gravitational pull of our psychological woundedness and self-justification.  This, in essence, constitutes the spiritual journey.”

6. Totally and predictably mechanical

“…human beings in the grip of their false self programs are totally and predictably mechanical…”

7. A false self system

“A false self system is a system working at a low level of being, which is why it remains so mechanical and viciously self-reinforcing.  With its vital energy largely locked up in its defenses and neurotic programming, there is little left over to reach escape velocity into real awakened consciousness, which both requires and produces a higher level of spiritual vibrancy than we are used to.”

8. We are the ones who are absent

“The reality is that God is always present, and we are the ones who are absent!  We hide in the cataphatic: in our noise, our stories, our self-talk, our busyness.  Silence is useful in that it takes away the evasions; it forces us to befriend our own consciousness and stop running from our own shadows.  Once that willingness has been found – the willingness simply to endure ourselves in the present moment – then the external conditions of silence become much less important…  On the other hand, without that consent to fully inhabit ourselves, even silence itself will soon get piled high with rules, self-definitions, rigidity, and piety; it becomes itself a form of evasion.”

Which quotes do you like the best?