Thomas Keating Quotes
“St. Teresa of Avila wrote: 'All difficulties in prayer can be traced to one cause: praying as if God were absent.' This is the conviction that we bring with us from early childhood and apply to everyday life and to our lives in general. It gets stronger as we grow up, unless we are touched by the Gospel and begin the spiritual journey. This journey is a process of dismantling the monumental illusion that God is distant or absent.”
“The false self is deeply entrenched. You can change your name and address, religion, country, and clothes. But as long as you don’t ask it to change, the false self simply adjusts to the new environment. For example, instead of drinking your friends under the table as a significant sign of self-worth and esteem, if you enter a monastery, as I did, fasting the other monks under the table could become your new path to glory.”
“Hence, it's obvious to see why in AA the community is so important; we are powerless over ourselves. Since we don't have immediate awareness of the Higher Power and how it works, we need to be constantly reminded of our commitment to freedom and liberation. The old patterns are so seductive that as they go off, they set off the association of ideas and the desire to give in to our addiction with an enormous force that we can't handle. The renewal of defeat often leads to despair. At the same time, it's a source of hope for those who have a spiritual view of the process. Because it reminds us that we have to renew once again our total dependence on the Higher Power. This is not just a notional acknowledgment of our need. We feel it from the very depths of our being. Something in us causes our whole being to cry out, “Help!” That's when the steps begin to work. And that, I might add, is when the spiritual journey begins to work. A lot of activities that people in that category regard as spiritual are not communicating to them experientially their profound dependence on the grace of God to go anywhere with their spiritual practices or observances. That's why religious practice can be so ineffective. The real spiritual journey depends on our acknowledging the unmanageability of our lives. The love of God or the Higher Power is what heals us. Nobody becomes a full human being without love. It brings to life people who are most damaged. The steps are really an engagement in an ever-deepening relationship with God. Divine love picks us up when we sincerely believe nobody else will. We then begin to experience freedom, peace, calm, equanimity, and liberation from cravings for what we have come to know are damaging—cravings that cannot bring happiness, but at best only momentary relief that makes the real problem worse.”
“Don’t judge centering prayer on the basis of how many thoughts come or how much peace you enjoy. The only way to judge this prayer is by its long-range fruits: whether in daily life you enjoy greater peace, humility and charity. Having come to deep interior silence, you begin to relate to others beyond the superficial aspects of social status, race, nationality, religion, and personal characteristics. (OM, 114)”
“the deeper one's awareness of one's powerlessness and the more desperate, the more willing one is to reach out for help. This help is offered in the next two steps. You turn yourself over to a Higher Power who you believe can heal you and work with you in the long journey of dismantling the emotional programs for happiness. They are the root causes of all our problems. We try to squeeze gratification or satisfaction out of the symbols of those three emotional programs in the culture to which we belong.”
“The striking discoveries of contemporary science are continually telling us new things about how material creation came to be and how it continues to evolve. Although we do not have all the answers, we are clearly going in a direction that transcends the cosmology in which the great world religions came into existence. Our vision, understanding, and our attitudes about God inevitably must change.”
“The Kingdom is most powerful where we least expect to find it. God does not take away our problems and trials but rather joins us in them. Such is the profound meaning of the incarnation: God becoming a human being. The Kingdom will manifest itself, not because of our efforts to keep trying, even when all effort seems hopeless, but because God loves us so much that God won't be able to stand seeing us struggle and always failing. God will do the impossible. He will give us a new attitude toward suffering. Such is the heart of the Christian ascesis, or self-discipline, and the mystery of transformation. It is the meaning of the Gospel as Therese perceived it.”
“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. When we bring this value system into the domain of prayer, we can never enjoy God. As soon as we start enjoying Him, we have to reflect, "Oh boy, I'm enjoying God!" And as soon as we do that, we are taking a photograph of the experience. Every reflection is like a photograph of reality. It isn't our original experience; it is a commentary on it.”
- Date of birth: March 07, 1923
- Died: October 26, 2018
- Born: in New York City, The United States.
- Description: Keating entered the Cistercian Order in Valley Falls, Rhode Island in January, 1944. He was appointed Superior of St. Benedict's Monastery, Snowmass, 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 is one of three architects of Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of contemplative prayer, that emerged from St. Joseph's Abbey in 1975. Frs. William Menninger and Basil Pennington, also Cistercian monks, were the other architects.
n 1984, Fr. Thomas Keating along with Gustave Reininger and Edward Bednar, co-founded Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., an international, 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.
Fr. Keating currently lives at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.