Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: Thomas Keating

A New Depth – 5 quotes from Thomas Keating’s book – Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel

51XJ05B0NVL._AC_UL320_SR212,320_1. Acceptance and peace

“To sum up, the best response to the ordinary wanderings of the imagination is to ignore them; not, however, with a feeling of annoyance or anxiety, but with one of acceptance and peace. Every response to God, whatever it is, must begin with the full acceptance of reality as it actually is at the moment. Since it is part of our nature to have a wandering imagination, however much you might want to be quiet, accept the fact that thoughts are certain to come. The solution is not to try to make the mind a blank. That is not what interior silence is.”

2. Our instinct to possess

“The attitude that reinforces the false self more than anything else is our instinct to possess something, including our own thoughts and feelings. This instinct has to be relinquished. Most of us are starved for spiritual experience. When it begins to happen, everything in us reaches out for it. We can’t help ourselves at first. As we learn through bitter experience that grasping for spiritual experience gets us thrown out on the banks, it dawns on us that this is not the way to proceed. If we can let go of our clinging attitude toward this deep peace, we will move into a refined joy and an inner freedom where spiritual experience no longer looms so large. We can have all we want of divine consolation if we don’t try to possess it. As soon as we want to possess it, it is gone… Once we know that our destination lies beyond any kind of spiritual experience, we realize that it is useless to hang onto anything along the way…”

3. A new depth

“Sometimes all you need is to wait and not lose heart. When that oil well runs dry, you will move to a new depth. Or again, it is like being in an elevator that gets stuck between floors. You just have to wait until whatever it is that is an obstacle has been removed.”

4. In the present moment

“Divine love is not an attitude that one puts on like a cloak. It is rather the right way to respond to reality. It is the right relationship to being, including our own being. And that relationship is primarily one of receiving. No one has any degree of divine love except what one has received. An important part of the response to divine love, once it has been received, is to pass it on to our neighbors in a way that is appropriate in the present moment.”

5. Christ dwelling in every person

“The insight into Christ dwelling in every person enables one to express charity toward others with greater spontaneity. Instead of seeing only someone’s personality, race, nationality, gender, status, or characteristics (which you like or do not like), you see what is deepest… This Christ-centered love takes us out of ourselves and brings our newly found sense of independence into relationships that are not based on dependency, as many relationships tend to be, but are based on Christ as their center. It enables one to work for others with great liberty of spirit because one is no longer seeking one’s own ego-centered goals but responding to reality as it is.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“So much of the new locality movement is about strategy, rhetoric and technique. In contrast, Mark Votava offers a soulful path for living locally in community with others for the good of the world. He is a masterful compiler of the best wisdom of the mystical Christian tradition and writes with honesty and characteristic intensity. This is a serious book for people who want to live awake to the sacred in all of life.” Mark Scandrette, activist, founder of ReIMAGINE and author of FREE, Practicing the Way of Jesus and SOUL GRAFFITI

The Beauty of Life – 10 quotes from Thomas Keating’s book – Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel

51XJ05B0NVL._AC_UL320_SR212,320_1. Let go of spiritual consolations

“The attraction to let go of spiritual consolation in order to let God act with complete freedom is the persistent attraction of the Spirit…”

2. Not take ourselves too seriously

“There is something playful about God… The playfulness of God is a profound part of reality. It warns us to not take ourselves too seriously, to realize that God created us with a certain sense of humor.”

3. The false self is an illusion

“Only God can bring our false self to an end. The false self is an illusion…”

4. The beauty of life

“…we shouldn’t lose the enjoyment of reality as it is, the value of just being and just doing. In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to become like little children, to imitate their innocence, confidence, and direct contact with reality… If our value system doesn’t allow us to enjoy anything without putting a price on it, we miss a great part of the beauty of life…”

5. The value systems by which you have always lived

“When you withdraw from your ordinary flow of superficial thoughts on a regular basis, you get a sharper perspective on your motivation, and you begin to see that the value systems by which you have always lived have their roots in prerational attitudes that have never been honestly and fully confronted…”

6. Reality will tend to become more transparent

“As the unconscious empties out, the fruits of an integrated human nature and the resulting free flow of grace will manifest themselves by a significant change of attitude… Moments of silence will overtake you in the course of daily life. Reality will tend to become more transparent. Its divine Source will shine through it.”

7. An attitude of total commitment

“Solitude is not primarily a place but an attitude of total commitment to God. When one belongs completely to God, the sharing of one’s life and gifts continually increases.”

8. Poverty of spirit

“The Beauty of poverty of spirit springs from the increasing awareness of our true Self. It is a nonpossessive attitude toward everything and a sense of unity with everything at the same time. The interior freedom to have much or to have little, and the simplifying of one’s life-style are signs of the presence of poverty of spirit.”

9. Spiritual disciplines, both East and West

“Spiritual disciplines, both East and West, are based on the hypothesis that there is something that we can do to enter upon the journey to divine union once we have been touched by the realization that such a state exists…”

10. The contemplative dimension of the Gospel

“If there were a widespread renewal of the… practice of the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, the reunion of the Christian churches would become a real possibility, dialogue with the other world religions would have a firm basis in spiritual experience, and the religions of the world would bear a clearer witness to the human values they hold in common.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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Growing in love – 11 quotes from Thomas Keating book – Intimacy With God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer

7244521. The present moment

“We must seek God more and more in the present moment, which is in fact the only place where God can be found…”

2. God is present to everything

“God is present to everything… Yet we, in our turn, may not be present to God…”

3. Disintegration, distress, confusion, and darkness

“Every time we move to a new level of faith, there is an initial experience of disintegration, distress, confusion, and darkness. If we are not forewarned about the spiritual journey, it feels like something has gone wrong… This is the normal way that the present level of our understanding – our attitude toward ourselves, other people, and God – experiences that our life just does not work any more at that level. We are challenged or forced to move to a deeper level.”

4. Growing in love

“What moves us from one level to another? That is the question… We just keep listening, growing in trust, and growing in love…”

5. The great unknown

“A trip into the unconscious is a passage into the great unknown…”

6. Fall into silence

“As our idea of God expands, there is no word, no way, no gesture, that can articulate it anymore. Hence we fall into silence, the place we should have been in the first place.”

7. Affirms selfishness as the ultimate value

“We are living in a world that rejects love and that affirms selfishness as the ultimate value. The pressure from society is constantly insinuating itself through our upbringing, education, and culture…”

8. The divine life becoming healthy, strong, and powerful within us

“Our best criteria for judging whether our faith experience is really bearing fruit is in the growth of our desire for God – not a particular desire for this or that experience, but a general loving hunger for God. This is the most certain sign that the divine life is becoming healthy, strong, and powerful within us.”

9. Influenced by the false self

“…our ways of relating to God continue to be influenced by the false self…”

10. As we journey more deeply inward

“…as we journey more deeply inward… its effects lead us powerfully outward, toward… the capacity to relate to one another with the unconditional love with which Christ relates to us.”

11. Personal responsibility for our emotional life

“…one can’t do the spiritual life nowadays without some working knowledge of one’s own psychology. Unless one develops a healthy self-identity, the psychological resources for the journey are lacking. People who have been injured in early childhood and do not have a strong ego because they were oppressed or abused do not have a self to give to God. They do not have a self to relate either to God or to anybody else… They don’t want to take responsibility for themselves and the damage that was done to them early in life. They prefer external obedience to inner transformation. But without personal responsibility for our emotional life, however wounded it is, the journey will never really get off the ground. Our conscious life has to be our starting point, of course, but the biggest problem is our unconscious motivation. But have to be changed.”

What quotes do you like the best?

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A Playful Spirit – 5 quotes from Thomas Keating’s book – Reflections on the Unknowable

41-YNDn2WOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Control, pleasure, and security

“In regards to the development of consciousness from the infant, everyone starts out with almost zero self-consciousness, and begins to build a self that is dependent on parents, teachers, and its culture, along with its experience, temperament, and limitations. The world that we see, and that we are judging all the time, is very prejudiced. We see it through our tinted glasses. In that sense, the world is unreal – not because it is unreal, but because our view of it is. It is built on our desires of what we want it to be and our appetite for control, pleasure, and security. The spiritual life involves recognizing these appetites as illusions of our false self and detaching ourselves from them, without expecting that these problems are going to go away or that suffering is going to disappear. The spiritual life is precisely to lead this divine life in human circumstances that involve both suffering and great joy, which is continuing to evolve. We don’t know where it’s going. We have to learn to take responsibility for the world that we are in. And this we are reluctant to do because it limits some of our desired freedoms.”

2. The true source of human happiness

“The false self manifests itself in the emotional programs for happiness built upon the instinctual needs of human nature for survival and security, affection and esteem, and power and control, as well as over-identification with the social group to which we belong. The latter takes place during our socialization period from about four to eight years of age. The primary activity of the false self is the gratification of its instinctual needs and the acceptance by our social group. The true source of human happiness, which is the experience of God’s living presence, is unknown to it.”

3. The highest experience of God

“The highest experience of God is no experience. It just is. We no longer see the face of Christ because we have in some way become that face. Or more exactly, Christ has become our particular form…”

4. The attitude of listening

“Contemplation may arise from reflection… There remains the attitude of listening: alertness without effort. This kind of contemplation is completely receptive. But it is not just passive. It is an affective kind of receptivity, a peaceful and sometimes delightful being with the silence, presence, or stillness… There are no words, no thoughts, just pure awareness with perhaps the sense of loving or being loved, and the longing for oneness.”

5. Taking part in a playful spirit

“Is life as serious as it looks or feels like much of the time? Or is it more a game in which God invites us to take part in a playful spirit? Sometimes, we seem to be winning; at other times, we seem to have lost everything. God at times embraces us tenderly, and a little later seems to reject us. At times, God may seem both close and far away…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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To Hug One’s Wounds  – 13 quotes from Thomas Keating’s book – Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian Contemplation

51keqNbVq1L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_1. The maximum amount of divine life

“God wants to share with us even in this life the maximum amount of divine life that we can possibly contain…”

2. Prepackaged value systems

“Our preconceived ideas and prepackaged value systems are obstacles to grace…”

3. True humility

“The spiritual journey is a training in consent to God’s presence and to all of reality. Basically this is what true humility is…”

4. The fruit of the night of sense

“The principle fruit of the night of sense is humility…”

5. The monumental illusion of the human condition

“The divine presence has always been with us, but we think it is absent. That thought is the monumental illusion of the human condition. The spiritual journey is designed to heal it.”

6. The growth of inner freedom

“The beatitudes are directed to the growth of inner freedom…”

7. From selfishness to divine union

“The invitation to allow God to change our motivation from selfishness to divine love is the call to transforming union.”

8. Our greatest gift from God

“Thus the person who gives us the most trouble may be our greatest gift from God…”

9. To hug one’s wounds

“Apathy is the opting out of the flow of life in order to hug one’s wounds, real or imaginary.”

10. Refuse to be upset

“There is no commandment that says we have to be upset by the way other people treat us. The reason we are upset is because we have an emotional program that says, ‘If someone is nasty to me, I cannot be happy or feel good about myself.’ It is true that there is psychological and sometimes physical pain involved in not being treated as a human being. In such situations, we have every right to be indignant and to take steps to remedy them. But apart from such circumstances, instead of reacting compulsively and retaliating, we could enjoy our freedom as human beings and refuse to be upset.”

11. The mystery of God’s presence

“We want to grasp or be grasped by the mystery of God’s presence that opens endlessly in every direction.”

12. Allowing the true self to emerge

“By consenting to God’s creation, to our basic goodness as human beings, and to let go of what we love in this world, we are brought to the final surrender, which is to allow the false self to die and the true self to emerge. The true self might be described as our participation in the divine life manifesting in our uniqueness…”

13. The acceptance of everything that is good, beautiful, and true

“True asceticism is not the rejection of the world, but the acceptance of everything that is good, beautiful, and true. It is learning how to use our faculties and the good things of this world as God’s gifts rather than expressions of selfishness. The basic ascesis is the appreciation of all that is good on each level of our developing humanity and the integration of the genuine values of each level into the next one…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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The Greatest Creativity – 13 quotes from Thomas Keating’s book – Reflections on the Unknowable

41-YNDn2WOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Becoming fully human

“Thus one of the main breakthroughs of the spiritual journey is to perceive that God is manifesting in us and inviting us to become fully human because that is the way to become as fully divine as humans can be in this evolutionary process. We don’t know the end, but there’s no reason that the process should stop…”  

2. Human consciousness

“Out of that immense chaos ultimately emerges human consciousness, which is the greatest masterpiece of creation. That is still going on. If we could collaborate with it, we have no idea what wonderful things the human race might be capable of in the next millennium.”

3. The possibility of further consciousness

“But there’s a certain progression of intimacy and transformation that takes place in human development that involves a communion with God that is permanent and signals the possibility of further consciousness.”

4. The greatest creativity

“Inner freedom is the source of the greatest creativity…”

5. God is present in everything

“God is present in everything, but not limited by anything…”

6. The humility of God has no limits

“Divine love has to give itself away in the most absolute manner in order to bear witness to the fact that the humility of God has no limits. Humility has to take the lowest place.”

7. Waking up to contemplation

“Contemplation is a gift we have already received. Waking up to it is a good metaphor because one wakes up from sleep to whatever one’s level of consciousness normally is.”

8. Sharing the divine life with us

“God proposes to effect our complete transformation into interior freedom by sharing the divine life with us.”

9. God manifesting God-self in us

“The true self, who we really are, is created in the image and likeness of God. Our true nature is God manifesting God-self in us.”

10. Every nanosecond of time

“The Ultimate Reality is manifesting infinite goodness, compassion, tenderness, and humility in every nanosecond of time…”

11. We are to become truly free

“We are to become truly free, or rather Freedom itself…”

12. A giant paradigm of the spiritual journey

“The universe seems to be a giant paradigm of the spiritual journey…”

13. Chaos is our home

“We try so hard to put order into our lives and into the cosmos. There is none: instead, there are lots of comings and goings, ups and downs. In fact, everything at the subatomic level is chaos. Moments of perfect order coalesce only to dissolve again into the thrilling immensity of infinite possibilities. Love is all because it is nowhere, not in one place, but everyplace. Every form is teeming with life and with various forms of consciousness or no consciousness. Like bees swarming or in a hive, or ants on an anthill, life on every level is busy. Yet it’s doing nothing – remaining for a moment and then quickly passing away, only to be back in another form, in another kind of community, in another chaos. Chaos is our home. It is always becoming, ending, and starting anew.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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The Attitude of Listening – 9 quotes from Thomas Keating’s book – Reflections on the Unknowable

41-YNDn2WOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. To be powerless

“To be powerless is to accept and welcome all the consequences of being powerless.  It is to feel oneself to be weakness itself, unable to practice even the smallest virtue, and to be always failing in one’s good intentions and resolutions.  It is to die at every moment into utter spiritual destitution.  It is to be nailed to the cross in union with Christ.  It is to live in Christ and let Christ live in us…”

2. Not ideas but intuitions

“What maintains normal speed on the spiritual journey are not ideas but intuitions.  Such are the inspirations of the fruits and gifts of the Spirit…”

3. The attitude of listening

“There remains the attitude of listening: alertness without effort.  This kind of contemplation is completely receptive.  But it is not just passive.  It is an affective kind of receptivity, a peaceful and sometimes delightful being with the silence, presence, or stillness…  There are no words, no thoughts, just pure awareness with perhaps the sense of loving or being loved, and the longing for oneness.”

4. To be, to live, and to act

In oneness, there is not more or less; there is only oneness…  One-ing is to be, to live, and to act…”

5. The capacity for intimacy with God

“The Spirit is the love of everything according to its nature.  The capacity for intimacy with God is in proportion to our consent to be a creature and our willingness to remain so.  The acceptance of powerlessness is the path to becoming everything and to be truly like God, equal to God in every way that is possible for a creature.”

6. The sense of serving every living thing

“If people would put their minds on becoming God – not in the sense of power, but in the sense of serving every living thing as far as they have the strength and talents to do so – then the world would become the Garden of Eden.  In fact, we have to make it the Garden of Eden or we will make it into a kind of hell.  The false self has the tendency to create its own hell and which can start in this life.”

7. The game of life is designed for us to enjoy fun

“There is so much to learn, and one of the great things to learn is that the game of life is designed for us to enjoy fun, not to accomplish something.  As soon as you want to win, you’ve lost the pleasure of playing.  A certain amount of competition is not bad, but the fun is over once you make the game a career.”

8. To forgive, to show compassion, to respect everyone

“The promise is that we are developing our capacity as human beings to do the things that God does with the greatest of ease: to forgive, to show compassion, to respect everyone, and to experience oneness with everyone.”

9. Human consciousness

“Out of that immense chaos ultimately emerges human consciousness, which is the greatest masterpiece of creation.  That is still going on.  If we could collaborate with it, we have no idea what wonderful things the human race might be capable of in the next millennium.”  

Which quote do you like the best?

 

Book Review – Reflections on the Unknowable by Thomas Keating

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After practicing a monastic life for over seventy years, Thomas Keating has written a wonderful book about his wisdom on what it means to seek God.  A strong theme that really stood out to me was that God lives within us through the process of our lives.  The incarnation has always been a mysterious sign of God’s understanding and care within the world.  How can Jesus actually become human at one point in history and now manifest love in humanity through our ordinary lives?

Thomas Keating places this mystery before us as we wrestle with what this paradox means today.  I loved the theme that God is looking for experiencers not theorists.  So much of theology is based on the intellect (ideas about God) and not on experiential knowing.  We are called to be contemplatives who seek God through the evolution of our consciousness, enlightenment and interior growth.

This constitutes a way of life where we value silence, solitude, listening and rest.  Christ lives through us in every moment of our existence through our ordinary daily lives.  As we imitate Christ, we become the other.  We start to incarnate compassion and love.  We open up to a process of deep listening.

Reflections on the Unknowable brings to light that we need to embrace the humility of God where God gives up being God.  We embrace powerlessness in order to find enlightenment toward humility, love and compassion.  As we explore what is means to have divine life within us, we discover our true self over our false self.  This is a revolutionary idea that is not taught very much.

I highly recommend this book if one is wanting to experience and seek God in deeper ways.  From one of the wisest people alive today, Thomas Keating is a prophetic voice in the role of the contemplative life of silence and solitude in the twenty-first century.  This is essential to cultivate as we need to find a balance between contemplation and action in our world today.  It is too easy to just focus on doing and forget our being.

  • One with us in the events and experiences of ordinary daily life

“Jesus Christ in his teaching seems less interested in raising us to enlightened states of consciousness than in becoming one with us in the events and experiences of ordinary daily life.  To relive the sacred mysteries of his earthly life in each of us is his plan and desire; to share every moment of our lives with him is the practical living out of divine union.  His presence in us is our deepest self manifesting in every action, however trivial from our point of view.  We are invited to have no movement of body, mind, and heart except from the Spirit, who wishes to inspire all our thoughts, words, and actions.”

  • To become the other

“To become the other is to imitate Christ…”

  • The attitude of listening

“There remains the attitude of listening: alertness without effort.  This kind of contemplation is completely receptive.  But it is not just passive.  It is an affective kind of receptivity, a peaceful and sometimes delightful being with the silence, presence, or stillness… There are no words, no thoughts, just pure awareness with perhaps the sense of loving or being loved, and longing for oneness.”

  • Our true nature is God manifesting God-self in us

“The false self creates our own personalized hell…  The true self, who we really are, is created in the image and likeness of God.  Our true nature is God manifesting God-self in us.”

  • Resting and listening

“Resting and listening feed into each other.  Resting, means above all, rest from compulsive activity, mixed motives, and emotional excesses.”

  • Silence is the greatest teacher

“Silence is the greatest teacher there is…”

  • The authenticity of our spiritual journey

“Daily life tests the sincerity and authenticity of our spiritual journey…”

  • God’s willingness not to be God

“Each human person manifests God’s infinite humility, God’s willingness not to be God…”

  • Moments of awareness can become every moment

“Moments of awareness of the divine goodness can become every moment.  God is always present: always at rest and always active at the same time.”

  • Evolving into a state of permanent freedom

“We are to become truly free, or rather Freedom itself.  To evolve into that state as permanent is our destiny…”

  • Letting God act through us at every moment

“Unity consciousness is to let God act through us at every moment without resistance.”

  • The human consciousness in each of us

“God is manifesting in each moment as the human consciousness in each of us…”

  • God looks for experiencers more than theorists

“God looks for experiencers more than theorists.  In our culture we tend to want to be the latter and to avoid the former, especially when life is painful.  Thinking is normally a lot easier than being.  It is our predominant cultural conditioning in a time of rapidly developing technological skills and massive scientific information.  The cybernetic age is primarily about information, not experience, understanding, and love.  These spiritual values need to be infused into it.”

  • God incarnating in our humanity with all its circumstances

“For Christ to be ‘us’ – to take over every aspect of our life in space and time and to experience our human existence in this present moment – that’s what the latter days of life are aimed at.  The goal is not just union, or even unity with God, but God incarnating in our humanity with all its circumstances.  Christ renewing the sacred mysteries of his human life in our humanity is one way of describing his incarnation in each of us.”

  • The mother of everyone in the human family

“Compassion is to be, and even feel ourselves to be, the mother of everyone in the human family.”

  • May feel like losing one’s mind

“On the human level, this process of death and resurrection may feel like losing one’s mind…  The dying may be sheer terror, powerlessness, and apparent annihilation of the individual self, without any possible escape or place to hide.  One feels at times ripped apart, squashed, paralyzed, indifferent to living or dying.”

  • The common bond of love

“The Spirit is the common bond of love…”

  • Powerlessness is our greatest treasure

“Powerlessness is our greatest treasure.  Don’t try to get rid of it.  Everything in us wants to get rid of it…”

  • Who we really are

“Enlightenment is the inward realization and consciousness of being identified with who we really are.  We are not our false selves or egos…”

In what ways have you learned to seek God in your life?

http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Unknowable-Thomas-Keating/dp/1590564375/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419731854&sr=8-1&keywords=reflections+on+the+unknowable

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419729513&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination