Search Weekly Wisdom
Insights at the Edge
Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interviews with leading spiritual teachers and luminaries.
Listen in as they explore their latest challenges and breakthroughs—the leading edge of their work.
Inviting the Presence of the Divine, Part One
Tami Simon speaks with Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk in the Cistercian Order who has served as abbot of Saint Joseph’s Abbey Monastery in Spencer, MA, for 20 years. He now resides at Saint Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, CO. He is the author 20 books, as well as the Sounds True audio-learning course The Contemplative Journey. Father Keating is one of the architects of the contemporary Centering Prayer movement. In the first of a two-part series, Father Keating discusses his personal monastic path, prayer, doubt, and how he has dealt with both little deaths and big deaths in his own life. (28 minutes)
You are listening to Insights at the Edge.Today I speak with Father Thomas Keating. Father Keating is a Trappist monk in the Cistercian Order. He served as abbot of St. Joseph's Monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts for twenty years and now resides at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. He's the author of over thirty-five books, as well as the Sounds True audio learning course, "The Contemplative Journey: Contemplation and Transformation from Christianity's Mystical Tradition."
Father Keating is one of the architects of the contemporary centering prayer movement a Christian contemplative practice in which practitioners invite and receive the presence of the divine. Recently Sounds True recorded a complete home study course on centering prayer. This is a course that we have also developed into an online learning course that will begin on January 20, 2010, at soundstrue.com. During the recording of this centering prayer course, we recorded most of the material on video and then some of the guided meditations on audio. I had the chance to interview Father Thomas Keating. He was eighty-five at the time of this interview and we'll listen to it now on Insights at the Edge in two parts. In Part one I talk with Father Thomas Keating about his personal monastic path about prayer and doubt, and about how he has dealt with both little deaths and big deaths in this own life.
Tami Simon: Thank you Father Thomas for being willing to have this conversation with me. Thank you.
Father Thomas Keating: You're welcome.
Tami Simon: What I really want to know about is more about your life story. Part of it is, what I've found, is that in the actual life story of someone who has given themselves so completely to God, there are all kinds of interesting twists and turns that are incredibly illuminating to look at them and understand them. So I'm really curious, even if we go back, why you became a monk, and of all things a Trappist monk. What was happening for you in your early life that that motivation emerged?
Father Thomas Keating: Well, I'll try to make some observations. You're dealing with an old gentleman of eighty-five and a half, whose memory is not too good and who also is making a special effort to forget himself anyway [laughter]. So an exercise of trying to remember is not immediately attractive. So it takes a little effort to get back into those attitudes by which God seems to have led me or put up with me, depending upon how you look at it.
So . . . I was brought up in a family that was fairly well off and had an outstanding father who was a graduate of Harvard Law School and very intelligent person. And his roommate at Harvard law School was Joseph P. Kennedy. So his father had started a company called the Yale Lock and Safe Company. He might have been a very wealthy man except that he got into financial troubles or someone went off with the funds or some tragedy that he wasn't responsible for. So my father's ideal was somewhat similar to that of many Irish folks who were coming into their own in those years from the two world wars and who were climbing the social ladder and becoming significant people or professional people whether doctors or politicians in some cases. But who were climbing the social ladder, let us say, and whose great perspective was to make a contribution to one's generation and to give the best education possible to the children. In other words they were outstanding human values or social values that many immigrants imbibed in that period of American history.
So I came into the world and was named after my grandfather who was the head of this maritime legal firm in New York, and so I was more or less expected from the word go to be the successor of my father. My father, incidentally, after he got out of Harvard Law School had gone to try to find a job in New York and he came to this firm—I don't know why he chose the maritime law—but he presented his credentials to my Grandpa, and Grandpa said, "You know we don't take Roman Catholics into this firm." And Dad, who wasn't that devout a Roman Catholic at that time said, "Well don't you have any clients who are Catholics?" and Grandpa said, "Well, now that I think of it, we have the United States Lines and Grace Company." Peter Grace was a Catholic, so he finally got the job. And then he was such a good lawyer that my grandpa started talking him up when he came home at dinner. And my mother said, "Why don't you bring this young man down so that we can see him." And so he came down, and apparently made quite an impression on this daughter of my grandpa, so she decided to marry him.
He had already a son whose mother had died in the flu epidemic of 1918. So he was a great friend of mine as I got older, even though he was seven years older than I, and he was very devout, but in the way that some Catholics were devout in those days, which was to make good use of the sacrament of confession. I'd hope that would take care of any details. Wonderful person and the life of any party he attended. So he was all social and outgoing. He was not a candidate to be head of this legal firm. I was blissfully unaware of these expectations because I wasn't told about them.
But as I got interested in—especially when I went to Yale—I got interested in the contemporary philosophers and these challenged my faith, and I decided I had to take time to resolve these doubts as to whether I should continue as a Catholic and with the practices of that religion. So it was in reading Tolstoy and his book on the commentary on the Sermon on the Mount convinced me that Christianity required a nonpossessive attitude and preference for the poor. So I conceived the idea of leaving home and living in a down-at-the-heel apartment in Harlem or someplace like that. Well, this didn't go down too well. The folks at home couldn't understand what happened to me. I imagine they thought I was losing my mind or something. But with the help of some clerical guidance and their refusal to give permission for me to enter any religious life—I was only eighteen at that time—this gave me time to make use of the Yale Library, and there I discovered the fathers of the church and I realized that Christianity was a contemplative religion and that's what I began to see as the goal of my commitment to Christ.
So I used to hang out in church a lot to the amazed dismay of some of my friends at Yale. Sometimes went a couple of times a day and I prayed in private and hung out with the old ladies at the novenas and toured the side altars in honor of the various saints. So I was prepared to do just about anything to establish a relationship with Jesus as I was beginning to understand him through the eyes and hearts of the fathers of the church, like Origin and Agustin and Gregory of Misa and Basil and Cyril of Alexandria and the shining luminaries of the early centuries of Christianity.
Tami Simon: Would you say that it was primarily a longing that you felt or a distaste, or were you avoiding something? Were you being called to something? Was it a combination?
Father Thomas Keating: Well, as far as I understood it—of course we can be deceived at that age and with the alternatives. Remember now, the war was beginning about that time, and having read Tolstoy was a pacifist I had questions in my mind to whether that war was a just war and whether some of my friends had chosen to go to jail rather than be drafted. But I decided, as the Holocaust was becoming better known that it was uncertain whether it was a just war or not, at the very least, so I decided that I would just wait to be drafted. And if I was drafted I'd just be killed because I couldn't conceive of shooting anybody. Of course your mind might change when you're on a battlefield. But his teaching—he was in correspondence with Gandhi—is very powerful in regard to violence and the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount. So it deeply, deeply impressed me.
So I was completely sold on pursing the spiritual life and it was understood in those days that if you wanted to be a contemplative you would have to go to a cloister in order to have the kind of environment that would support it, which is what monastic life is all about anyway. So I looked around for the hardest life I could find in order to gain the precious goal that was presented as available only in those circumstances.
Now, I no longer think that at all, as a result of my experience both as a monk and in the spiritual life itself. But it's normal for an institution to over-institutionalize its charisms, and so it was thought that to be a contemplative, which was very rare, you had to be in an environment that was totally in the service of that project, and it was somewhat opposed to an active work in the world of some kind. So it meant, really in the very strict sense of the word, separation from the world, so it implied that you could do more for the world by leaving it than by entering it and serving it. So those were ideas that I imbibed. I hadn't a judgment or any advice at the time.
Tami Simon: Now you mentioned that you no longer believe that those monastic hardships are necessary to have this infinitely deep relationship with God.
Father Thomas Keating: Exactly.
Tami Simon: So how do you think monastic life might need to be revisioned in light of that discovery for future generations?
Father Thomas Keating: Well, I think it's in the process of considering those opportunities. The life that I entered was extremely strict. You got up at 2 a.m. and we had nine different offices in the choir every day, and you sang the office on feast days. Silence was strict. You could only speak to two people, the abbot and the office master, both of whom could throw you out. So they're not exactly candidates for friendship. But they were wonderful people. But the experience of silence was very valuable—there's no doubt about that—that you spend five or six years in silence that profound.
Since Vatican II the silence has been adjusted to times and places, and the interaction between monks has been softened or humanized, you might say, so that the life is more accessible. Oddly enough there are less vocations today than when it was almost inaccessible. There's a tendency of generous people like I guess I was to choose the hardest life you can find as a symbol of your intention and generosity and love, but there's an awful lot of ego in this, and unfortunately in all religion it starts when you're in the egoic level of consciousness. So it's bound to be mixed up with the best intentions and this is part of the experience of monastic life in finding that your best efforts and the heroic aspirations at least in your own mind that you set for yourselves is not the way that the path unfolds. And so you have a lot of bitter disappointments in yourself that challenges one to persevere in a lifestyle in which you are very insignificant and hidden. And those are real values, but they're not the same as what is deeper in human nature—this capacity for divine union, which is the capacity for contemplative life.
Like in the Christian tradition, contemplation over the years has been looked on as something that is pure gift. Yes, it is a pure gift, but the clarification that is usually not added to it is that it's a gift that's already been given. It comes with life. And it's not so much a question of going out looking for it as it is accepting it and awakening to it, which is very much the insight of most of the great spiritual traditions of other religions, including as I mentioned earlier today, the experience of the Buddha. I sympathize with him completely. I went into this monastery hoping to find the circumstances that would lead me as quickly as possible into the heights of contemplation. I now think that it probably was an expression of my native ambitious character. Who knows? What I do know is that contemplation is a gift—to me it's an innate gift of which every human being is capable and possible and which they need in order to fulfill the human destiny of union with God and each other and all the cosmic oneness that is described in all the traditions as the gradual unfolding of the interior life.
Tami Simon: So here's my core question about monasticism. We're now in a very different time than when you entered the monastery, and a young person who might have a deep ambition or call to pursue the contemplative life might say, "Monasticism, that's kind of dead, that's previous century's work. Now to really express that divine union right in the middle of dealing with money and a relationship and children, that's much more challenging and difficult, so I'm going to choose that route. There's no blockage to me of how deep I can go in my prayer life." So I'm curious how, if you're talking to a new generation of people who feel a deep sense of calling what you might say about the monastic option?
Father Thomas Keating: Well, I think the essence of monastic life remains how you express this essence, and needs to be adjusted to different times and places and cultures. I would say about the young men that you describe—I was something of that ilk—and my experience is you need a certain amount of solitude and silence to be able to balance the intense noise or stress or speed or expectations or intrusion of the mass media into every aspect of one's life. Because we already have this susceptibility or vulnerability to stimulation to seek security and power control, so there's no greater security than to think one is on the right spiritual path or has the right religion.
This is a neurotic way of being religious. But it's normal for most people to start out that way. You have to start somewhere. The problem is that once you start, unless you have enough discipline to balance off the amount of needless activity or to help discern what is important or less important, this is something where you need help, and that means a community of experience and support, and I don't know where you'd find this except in a group of committed people. But it's also true that young people are not coming to the religious life or monastic life in any significant numbers, and so the communities are in an aging process and many worried about the future and whether their way of life can be sustained.
So this is not a judgment on the motive of people. But I'm not sure that the motive is as noble as you imply, where their reason for not entering the monastery is for a more involved or committed life. I think there are some communities that have done this, like Mother Teresa's order. But many, many other forms of religions life are not into that level of involvement or commitment or identification with the poor in the sense of living with them, which is the kind of witness that Jesus seems to recommend.
Tami Simon: Do you feel any concern that people's interest in monasticism is on the wane. That not many people are drawn to that? Does that concern you?
Father Thomas Keating: No it doesn't. I think the value of monasticism is incredible and that's its invisible influence—and this is the conviction of all monastic forms in all the other religions, too—that in the lifestyle itself, in the total commitment to the absolute or to God, that it imbibes is itself one of the greatest ways of serving God, and that the prayer or meditation or service in whatever limited way is in honor in a particular community is affecting the whole of humanity in a way that would not be so nearly effective if they had gone to an active ministry without the interior development that the monastic lifestyle fosters. So really the question is not what lifestyle you enter, but how committed one is to the transformative process whatever one's style of life is. Laypeople, this is what prompted us to want to share the essence of monastic prayer with people outside because we felt that they needed it more than we did. And it was an essential part of the grace of Christian baptism and that without it they would not be able to fully live out their particular vocations whether this be married, family, professional, single or some committed lifestyle. There is a tendency in recent generations to find commitment extremely difficult especially permanent commitment. It's awesome, I mean I don't know if many of the folks here have been married, but in the excitement of the wedding and especially in trying to pay for the expenses of it you might forget what a huge commitment this is to another person if you take the permanent, monogamous ideal of marriage to heart. Fifty percent of people in this country do not.
Tami Simon: It's interesting using this term "permanent commitment." Do you feel you've made a permanent commitment in your life, and if so, what is that?
Father Thomas Keating: Yes, What is comparable I suppose is the marriage contract and life in the world [to] life in the monastery as solitary profession, which is commitment to stay in the community of one's profession for life. So whatever that community does or wherever it goes you commit yourself. You're really taking it for better or for worse. So it's like being in fifteen or twenty bad marriages at the same time [uproarious laughter]. That's meant to be a little sarcastic; actually, the brethren are wonderful. But an intense community life brings out the elements of the false self almost as well as the contemplative divine therapy that I described.
Tami Simon: Now you mentioned, though, that if we seek security in our religious identity, that that's a false kind of security that that's a false idea.
Father Thomas Keating: It can be.
Tami Simon: So what I'm curious about is have you ever had a point where you really doubted your monastic path? You really thought, "I don't know." And what did you do?
Father Thomas Keating: Well I had those doubts during the period of formation, when you are supposed to be evaluating whether this is your vocation or not. And it's discerned not only by you, but also by the community and the people appointed in the community to try to discern this. What has happened to me, which may not be characteristic of all vocations is that as a result of circumstances and what I consider the divine way in which God brings one to a certain place or prepares one for a certain kind of ministry, I reached a point where I recognized that it doesn't really matter what kind of role you have as long as you're prepared to relinquish it at God's request. So it's a question of being totally committed and totally detached from the commitment at the same time. And that, it seems to me is one of the fruits of the prayer and the consequences of relating to God, everything is a means and can be changed, and gets changed by circumstances, historical or otherwise, so that the genuineness of one's commitment can be as real as real can be and yet it can in the course of circumstances be changed.
For instance it doesn't mean you'd necessarily leave your commitment, but you'd be willing to if God asked you to do so. So it's part of the detachment process that goes with contemplation. However much you love your spouse you have to accept the fact that they may die, or you may die, so you have to give everything back to God that God has given you in some way, and we'll be detached from all our roles in the process of dying. So it must be that contemplative life is a death and resurrection indeed and dying into by accepting the circumstances of the present moment and rising again. So death and resurrection is the warp and woof of the Christian life. So in the monastery this tends to be emphasized or kind of up front. And so if one is attached to the monastic observances, it doesn't mean you should leave, but that you experience circumstances that little by little will challenge you to let go of certain aspects of it that you had found helpful in the beginning or were overly dependent on.
So it's simply the process of letting go, of interior freedom, that is this central point of everybody's commitment. So in marriage the children grow up and leave and go someplace else. You have to move sometimes. You get sick or your loved one gets sick. That doesn't mean it's time to start a new career, but that it is time to accept the circumstances of life as it's unfolding in one's particular vocation and to adjust to that even though you're giving up something you love. In the scriptures there's a marvelous paradigm of that, which is the sacrifice of Isaac, which in a literal sense is somewhat horrendous, but in a spiritual sense of that passage in which Abraham believed God so much he thought God would raise his son from the dead. What it symbolizes spiritually is an experience that confronts us again and again in the spiritual journey, which is that letting go of what you most love for the love of God, and that is going to happen in everybody's experience of the spiritual journey whichever particular form it takes.
It happens in the family, in married life. It happens in the cloister. It happens, I'm sure, in the life of single persons, and that's why the spiritual life is superior to any form of particular lifestyle. They're all serving this greater purpose, and it takes sometimes a long time for us to perceive this and perhaps it takes longer in lifestyles that are kind of ends in themselves, like a very noble lifestyle like the religious life or priesthood or something similar. It doesn't occur to you that they're might be something better that God might call you to, or that he might call you to let go of all expression like you might get sick or you might get fired from a diocese, or you might get rejected by the people. Anything can happen in the spiritual journey, and it will happen if you need it to help you let go of some exaggerated dependency on anything.
Tami Simon: Have there been times in your life where God has asked you to let go of something or make a change or just do something and you just thought, "What!?"
Father Thomas Keating: Yes. Though this happens a lot. I can't remember. I've had so many deaths and resurrections, spiritually speaking, that I kind of got used to it and I really like it. Because it's much more exciting and it moves the spiritual journey. You look at that spiral a couple of times; there's a lot of wisdom in that thing. It's accumulated wisdom of many traditions. No matter where you are on that spiral you can still move on, and in fact, that's what life is about, otherwise you might as well fold your tent and silently slip away like the Arabs in that song.
Tami Simon: But I'm wondering if there were any dramatic examples where real shifts happened, great shifts in your life where you were asked to . . .
Father Thomas Keating: Well, Vatican II occurred when I was the abbot of a large monastery with several dependant monasteries in Spenser, Massachusetts, and this was a traumatic experience, the end of the Council for many in the community because reforms or changes were made an object of choice for each monastery that involved greater changes in a few months or years at the most, than in 1500 years of monastic experience. So it meant that those who had committed themselves to this lifestyle, like perhaps the older monks, felt that the rug was being pulled out from under them, because more contemporary changes were suggested. Like after the Vatican all the orders were ordered to study the teaching of their founder and the gospel in the light of contemporary circumstances and the signs of the times. So in view of the psychological development of human beings from the Middle Ages it was felt by many leaders in the monastic life—just to limit myself to the group I know best—and we felt that certain changes had to be made to make the life accessible to the actual human condition of people today.
I speak from the aspect of fasting, to some degree of privacy because we lived an intensely common life, even sleeping in a common dormitory and so on. So there was also a question of education and human development, which was a large subject even in society at that time. But it seemed that young people coming in too young would not have the occasions in the monastery to develop their human side and would later raise questions that would question whether they had made the right decision of staying in the monastery.
So there were many poignant situations and you found a certain group of young people and middle-aged folks who were eager and saw the necessity of these changes in order to humanize the life, and those who felt that the life was being taken away from them without their being consulted in a serious way. So the abbot in this situation was in a no-win position. Whatever was decided would distress maybe half of the community, and profoundly, and some as a result left the order and some in a state of rather serious disappointment or disillusion and even feeling betrayed. Others stayed on with those feelings, and naturally they were not too warmly disposed to the people who brought this about. So it created a great deal of tension in many areas of religious life and monasteries.
So living as for twenty years, more or less in that situation, because Vatican II began just as I was elected abbot of this traditional monastery, so whatever I did would not succeed. So it was like dying every day, and it was also a question of wondering what to do in a particular situation because my training, which I completely bought as an ardent follower of the rule of St. Benedict, was shredded by some people—even by some of the abbots. It was not the secure situation or the clear path of transformation that I had envisioned after reading the early monastic fathers and their ideal way of explaining the situation. It was soul-searching, and then add to that a few of the usual troubles of monastic life like lawsuits.
Tami Simon: Were there any, either prayers or stories from the lives of saints that became your touchstone through those kinds of challenges?
Father Thomas Keating: Oh they were very helpful. I had read them before I even entered, like St. John of the Cross and all the primary mystics. But reading something about something is not quite the same as going through it yourself, so in the monastery you were living these issues that some of the great monastic writers wrote about. And so you knew what the ideal was and you also recognized how much you failed. So it was an exercise in the diminutions of self. Very welcome. I'm sold out on this dying and living again, but it didn't come easily, and you feel wiped out sometimes.
We had some other difficulties like a fire that destroyed the monastery and I remember coming out of this fire trap, which is a dormitory on the top floor of this old building and starting to be overcome by the smoke from the tarpaper of the floors and I certainly would have died except that someone of the community off to the side of where the fire was rising, called out to us and said come this way, because we couldn't see a thing, and when I jumped out of the first-floor window after having passed through a wall of flame—lost my hair, by the way—I remember landing in this snow bank and saying to myself, "Maybe God isn't as interested in this lifestyle as I am." So if you've ever been thrown out of a restaurant or a hotel or a bar or something, believe me this was a more vigorous evacuation.[laughter]
But actually it took me twenty years to understand that insight, because I was so wedded to the strict interpretation of the rule that it didn't dawn on me that maybe there should be changes. But then the changes happened anyway, and went through Vatican II. And certain changes totally out of my control. And so at a certain point after I had been abbot twenty years it seemed time for me to resign. Now after twenty years to see that it's time to resign is kind of a death, too. All the labors that you've put into a job as demanding as the abbot of a monastery doesn't mean anything. So it's a role-changing situation, but everybody's going to be asked to let go of their roles at some time.
So part of the disidentification activity of the divine therapy is to invite us to let go of whatever role we have. So if you're a mother you have to let the children grow up. If you're a teacher you have to face retirement, and the students forget you. I guess it happens in the military and in all the professional lifestyles. It's not the end, but the beginning of a new life, free of an unconscious attachment that one might have had. So the divine expertise or wisdom or intelligence is relentlessly sifting our motivation, which in Christianity, love is everything. So wherever there is self-love in our service, God brings that to our attention and invites us to let go and let God act.
So in my experience, the intimacy and skill and consideration and patience and forgiveness and encouragement— consolation— that God offers at every moment and gradually brings one into a situation that one has a big death, not just a little daily one, this is what leads to, in my view, the greatest freedom: contentment and trust in God, and yet at the same time a sense that one is capable of any evil and cannot judge oneself as better than anyone else, but rather is the recipient of the compassion and mercy of everyone else.
So I don't make any demands on anybody anymore. I regard any kind of acceptance as a gift and a great kindness. I don't regard this work that we call contemplative outreach as mine. It was entrusted to me chiefly because God chooses usually the worst of instruments because he likes to exercise his skill in difficult situations as far as I can see.
Tami Simon: This is the one point I might have to disagree with you on. I'm not convinced of this one.
Father Thomas Keating: So I am greatly enamored of one of Jesus's sayings that it seems to me is very profound. It goes like this: If you want to save your life, that is if you want to pursue the false-self expectation, you will bring yourself to ruin. But anyone—notice, anyone—who brings himself/herself to nothing will find out who they are. So who are you? And who am I? This is the great question. It's not our resume. It's not our ego. It's not even the true self. To be no thing is to have no attachment to anything. To have no attachment to anything is to possess everything, because that's the way God functions. To be nothing is to be everything—without wanting to be. It just happens.
Tami Simon: Now you said these little deaths, leading to a big death, but we're distinguishing that from a physical death. So I'm curious about that.
Father Thomas Keating: Like the sacrifice of Isaac. Like when I had to leave the community at Spenser, where I spent most of my life after twenty years of going through this excruciating readjustment of monastic values and bearing the trials and problems of others who were going through the same. It felt like rejections. Here I was—notice the self, reflective apparatus going off. No matter how advanced you are God can put you in a situation that activates any shred of self-confidence—I don't know the right word. It is the experience of nothingness, the sense of having nothing to stand on, nothing to depend on—even God—while having boundless confidence that this is another side of God, that we need to go through this in order to learn. So it's the commitment or the love of God that keeps you dying and rising again, and I think you begin to get better at it with time. Although when you're just beginning to think you know how to do it you get another little invitation to go deeper.
Tami Simon: But that's a strange paradox, that I have nothing to stand on—even God. I have nothing to stand on yet a boundless confidence in this process.
Father Thomas Keating: It is a paradox, because you can't say it in one sentence. You have to say one aspect or another so it sounds like paradox. But what it really is is an insight into the oneness of experience, which is both humbling and exalting at the same time; which is both death and resurrection. So pain is joy and joy is pain. That's a Buddhist saying, by the way. So they understand that.
Tami Simon: I know you know a lot about Eastern spiritual paths. So I'm curious if—do you think there's some parallel to the concept of enlightenment in Eastern traditions . . .
Father Thomas Keating: Oh, sure they're just different terms but the same general experience.
Tami Simon: What would be the term in the spiritual journey as you've outlined it?
Father Thomas Keating: Transforming union, which is the term of the extended death, so to speak, of the dark night of the soul, in which one feels abandoned by God. One can even feel like one is an atheist because the dark night of the spirit heals our mistaken ideas of God that we might have brought with us from early childhood or interpreted the teachings of our particular denomination. So what contribution atheists make, perhaps without intending to do so, is that there is no God, at least the one we thought we knew. So in the dark night people sometimes feel that they've lost their faith in God because everything has disintegrated that supported them. But in actual fact the true God has just been born and the God of our childhood, who might have been a monster or some co-dependent personality is the only thing that dies, but he never existed anyway. So there's no real loss except that one's attachment to that god has been shredded and one is left, for the moment at least, in tatters, like death or worse than death. But it passes. And the acceptance of it is the resurrection. And those supernatural gifts begin to manifest in direct proportion to that death. Dying and rising again. Death is resurrection, perhaps in the paradoxical understanding that Jesus presents, because on the cross in much of the gospel of John, he's reigning as if he was the king of the universe even in the depths of his rejection and degradation and identification with sin.
Tami Simon: You've been listening to Insights at the Edge, Part I, of an interview with Father Thomas Keating. Sounds True has developed a new online course on centering prayer with Father Thomas Keating. This course goes live at soundstrue.com on January 20th and is an opportunity to learn in depth the practice of centering prayer. For Sounds True I'm Tami Simon. Thanks for listening. Soundstrue.com. Many voices, one journey.