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La Experiencia Psicológica de la Oración Centrante, parte 3

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>> I'd like to present this spiral staircase as a model of the spiritual journey that includes the paradigm of the divine therapist and suggests how the therapy progresses again from a psychological perspective. So how will we put together a vertical and a horizontal diagram? Well, as far as I can see, it might look something like this. Okay. And this would be the moment of conversion from the previous diagram. And notice on a spiral staircase when you go downstairs, whether use an elevator or the stairs, it's a fairly confining situation, and you lose everything you had on the previous floor, and so this corresponds well to the Night of Sense. Then there's a kind of plateau and then when the Lord thinks that's long enough, he moves to the next level. Now, the problem with this is that he doesn't always make it clear he's moving to the next level, he just moves. And so many people will say after the Night of Sense and still more in the Night of Spirit, "God has abandoned me." And this is especially poignant for those who have suffered a lot of rejection in early childhood because here... Now this is the ultimate rejection. I thought God and I were friends, on the level of our first conversion things went well, and now He seems to have disappeared, He seems to have taken a trip to the farthest end of the universe. When I go to the blessed sacrament, He seems to withdraw into the inner recesses of earth. When I try to talk to Him, nothing, there's no response, my emotions are dead. I can't read and bored to tears, I have temptations galore, I've recycled all the things I thought had been resolved when I made my first conversion and made a good confession as suggested in the cloud. So everything is falling apart, but the most poignant aspect of what John of the Cross calls the First Night is the sense that God has gone away, has left us, so He doesn't care anymore. The friendship has come to an end in other words, the most wonderful friendship we ever had, and hence, one goes into a mourning period and this is very characteristic of the Night of Sense, that one feels the sense of loss and doesn't know what to do about it and no amount of praying, reading, even liturgy, or even ministry does any good, the ministry, usually the difficulties, it falls apart. Everything goes wrong. Our best friends get into an altercation. And so there are external difficulties on top of the interior sense of loneliness and abandonment that occurs there. And this can last quite a while, actually. And so it's important to realize that this is part of a process as we showed in the other two diagrams. It's not true that something isn't happening, but that this experience is part of the divine therapy and is necessary to bring us little by little to the full realization of our incredible capacity for evil, or I'll put it our incredible capacity for weakness and powerlessness. And this can be especially difficult with people with psychological difficulties or problems, since they are already suffering from those. And so, it needs a delicate discernment to know when someone is both in a depression for instance and in the Night of Sense. The difference perhaps is, in the Night of Sense and still more in the Night of Spirit, there is a sense at times, not always, of going someplace, in other words there's a sign of some fruit like more humility, less judgment about this, greater love of God, or at least a greater submission to God's will in our life, a greater willingness to serve. Whereas in the depression, it doesn't go anywhere, it's just a loss of time, one is paralyzed, one doesn't want to do anything, one wants to sleep all the time, and it doesn't have any relationship to going someplace. Now, it's especially difficult when both are going on at the same time. But it's important for therapists to recognize that in the Night of Sense a person is going to have depressed feelings, but they may not be clinically depressed. The depressed feelings are automatic because they've lost something that was... It's like losing your best friend, it's like losing God, you've lost God and all the things that took you or reinforced that sense of relationship. In other words, the sense of relating to God happily ceases more or less. And so, as always happens, when you lose something you love, you go into a grieving or mourning process, and that mourning process looks like a depression, but it isn't. The reason you go into mourning is an enormous gift, the gift of knowledge to be theologically exact, which is an infused gift of the spirit that impresses upon you through the intuitive faculties, not through reason that God alone can satisfy. Now this is a tremendous gift because all the energy centers were rooted in the fact that you thought you could find happiness as of the child in power control symbols in the culture, affection, esteem, and pleasure or in security symbols. Now, you know without it going through a rational process at a deep level that none of those things are going to work. And so, your hope to find happiness in those things is another cause for grief because now you don't know where you're gonna find it. But the gift of knowledge as it grows gives you a true view of creatures, so that you can see there's nothing wrong with creatures, it's your attitude towards them that was wrong. You wanted to draw out of them a kind of... A kind of Godlike kind of happiness. In actual fact it was idolatry, you made these symbols of power or security or affection, esteem into substitutes for God. Now you know that's not gonna work, and so you're much closer to reality, open to reality and it's just a matter of time to finish the grieving process when you begin to see that you're much closer to God than you were before, but not through the senses and the imagination so much as through being much closer to him, being at the spiritual level of your being where God is much closer, although he you haven't reached him yet because beyond the spiritual level is the true self and ultimately the peak of the spirit or the substance of our being which is the place where the divine indwelling is waiting for us and gently inviting us into that place. So, the right attitude then, when God disappears, it is not that I'm through, I'll have to leave this to contemplatives or professional people, or people who have... I have a family to raise, I have the business to work at, and I don't have time for this thing, and so, I guess it's not for me, all that is a lot of baloney. [laughter] The real fact is that God hasn't gone anywhere. He simply went downstairs, so he's just as close as ever closer because you're closer to the point where he's most present. And so, these people who have been on the journey a long time... Should not be surprised if they experience perhaps long periods of God's absence and... But it's our interpretation of it that has to be adjusted. Human nature thinks if your best friend doesn't call you on the phone or write you or visit you anymore, that's the end of that relationship. Not so with God. When he doesn't seem to be present in the old ways, he's present in a new way that is closer and you have to believe that that's where growth of faith, pure faith is so important. And so, after you've been through a few of these staircases, it begins to dawn on you when you found him in a more intimate level again that this is just a process and that it's nonsense that he how could he go away, since he's present everywhere, he couldn't. If he did, we just turn into a grease spot. [laughter] So we... Here we just have to sit there and say, "I don't know where you've gone, but if you keep quiet," and this is St. John of the Cross's advice for those in the Night of Sense of passage from discursive meditation to contemplation in the strict sense, he simply said, "Well, just relax, don't do anything, just wait on God, just sit there and wait for God in your usual time for prayer," and if you do you begin, this is now my interpretation, to hear him rolling over or sneezing or blowing his nose or something, there will be little signs that he's down there and all you have do is to be willing to take that transitional period which takes time, in fact you don't have to climb downstairs, you just have to be willing to be taken there almost on an elevator and then you find that God was there waiting for you with open arms. Now you have a much more spiritual relationship with him in which he's closer, morning, noon, and night, and even sleeps with you. He's always your first thought when you wake up in the morning and he begins to be apparent in the events of daily life and in other people, so that this... It's immensely enriching to submit to this process. All of our faculties in their relation to God are limited. When we pass beyond the faculties, the ordinary awareness into the spiritual level of intuition and the will to God, then we begin to sense the spiritual presence of God and the divine energy in new ways and the enlightenment, various little kinds of enlightenment in which God shows himself to be present, in creatures, in nature, in art, in relationships, in other people. In other words, you're beginning to find God everywhere instead of just in yourself and more everywhere. Now, one of the classical breakthroughs of course is the transforming union in which St. John of the Cross says God then always becomes present, not as a particular experience, but as a overall presence all the time that too goes through some vicissitudes and deeper purification, so that at times there may be one may have a period of a few weeks or a few days of loss of God or more deeper trials than one has ever had, but they're brief and they don't last long and they always have a tremendous reward when the beloved shows up again. And this process then of further development of the state of transforming union can go on I suppose for the rest of your life with further nuances and is about as close to heaven as you'll come to with the limitations of this life. Now a very important point to add to this presentation is that every step down is a step up. So, there's a corresponding like a descant you might say in music, every time one is humbled to a new plateau in which one accepts one's limitations with the love of God, and finds God's mercy at this new level and at that level and at that level, one also resurrects at the same time. There's an inner resurrection that is correlative with every humiliation. That's why St. Bernard says, "The path to humility is humiliation, but it's also the path to divine love," so that at the bottom of his pile we might say is purity of heart, which is what perfect humility is. In other words, the heart referring to our inmost being, our whole being therefore is integrated and united... And open to God as a kind of second nature, so that there's no plans of our own that interfere with God's plan, we may have a few ideas, but they're easy to drop if there's indication that they're not appropriate. But these are... And how do these manifest themselves? These manifest themselves theologically first by the gifts of the spirit, charity, joy, peace, the ones that are listed in Galatians, these begin to appear in daily life and in prayer, and after them, after one has gone down through the... The beatitude, through the Night of Spirit, then seven or eight beatitudes begin to emerge which is the fullness of the Christian life. So, as our own ego begins to diminish as a manifestation of ourselves in daily life, the new manifestation is the spirit and the beatitudes or the mind of Christ which is another word for the gifts of the spirit. And so this heads for purity of love and whichever one you want to emphasize, they both terminate in the transforming union which means that you have finally emptied out all the obstacles from the whole of your life to divine union. So that it's in letting go of what shouldn't be there that one finds God. And as we know in... In the eastern religions the same intuition is somehow present, like in Zen you wait for the Buddha nature to reveal itself which is another word for the true self. The Buddha nature is simply the divine life that has been given to each of us before it has been manipulated by the process of the development of the separate self-sense. So the full self is really an illusion, the unique self is the true-self which is the gifts the person that God originally intended us to be and this is what is gradually recovered through the divine therapy. Obviously, this therapy business needs to be emphasized just a bit in these concluding moments. As this spiral staircase continues, you find yourself sometimes in a plateau and sometimes in a transitional period, doesn't matter. I personally hesitate very much to follow too closely the traditional stages or ladders of perfection, like even John of the Cross says the Night of Sense, Night of Spirit are longer or shorter in different people and sometimes are reversed. So, they're only guidelines and they can be useful because they give certain signs of these particular states... But it seems to me more and more as I work with people who are advancing in the spiritual journey... That you should forget about perfection. Perfection is almost a neurosis in our culture, it has nothing to do with the true perfection. If Jesus said, "You should be perfect like your Heavenly Father," this only means you should love the way he does. It doesn't mean you're going to be, you know, a paragon, a piety or something. So, perfection is love and this may mean the love of your own powerlessness or weakness or the vices that you can't eradicate. It's you whoever you are that God is after and that God loves. And the acceptance of that is incredibly difficult apparently. Because of all our cultural conditioning and religious conditioning, we want to be something else or better and God seems to ask us just to be who the hell we are. And he can work with that and bring that to redemption and to transformation and to interior freedom and to true humility and to purity of heart and to purity of love which is the most important, which is the fruit of the Christian life. I don't think higher states of consciousness are the fruit of Christian life, they might accompany it, but the heart of it is love and love that is not just some feeling you have, but that manifests itself... In service, in endless service, in the forgetfulness of self... In serving the needs of other people, 'cause this is really what Jesus did. And in allowing our sufferings whatever these are to be joined to Christ and to be redemptive, so that a toothache or a sore toe becomes a divine manifestation of God's love for the world. And so, there's no one left out of the redemptive process 'cause everybody can love and everybody can suffer, and those are the only two conditions for saving the world as far as I can see. Meanwhile, we do what we can to enter into the divine therapy and see how far we'll go. So, once you've been through a few of these processes, I think you are no longer scared, you it no longer surprises you, no matter how primitive the emotion, again, oh, what a surprise, you welcome it. It's great to know that... That all these things are possible for us to do, even the worst of things, I don't recommend doing them, but to be aware that... We have this healthy dependence, granted there can be a neurotic dependence on God which is, you know, a kind of dysfunctional projection of a dysfunctional family on to God. But God himself can handle that if you... We submit to this process our dysfunctions, our family difficulties one by one are brought to our attention and we are invited to let go of our attachment or aversion to them, and perhaps interior freedom is the most important thing. Also, once this bottom of this pile, or close to it, an interesting thing happens. That the spirit seems to give us back or to lead us through all the stages of our life, not chronologically, but kind of morally so that we relive our infancy and puberty and early adolescence and adult life, midlife crisis, and so on. This time, with this Holy Spirit guiding us, so that everything that was a value in each one of those levels, the adventurous spirit of the adolescence or the awesome character of the infant discovering new reality, all of these wonderful qualities of each stage of human nature are recovered and sometimes some of the things we repress for ascetical reasons, we are asked to re-evaluate and restore, I mean, we may have abandoned music or beautiful sides or sports or something. God seems to say, well, take another look at that and he gives us back everything that was good at each stage of our live. And it's only what was limiting or distorted by our mistaken value system that has tossed into the rubbish heap, so that everything in human nature becomes transfigured and transformed. I think of Mary here, our beloved companion without whom I couldn't have started contemplative outreach, and who's been a great supporter to us all, and she sort of developed this welcoming process which includes every damn thing you could possibly not want. The welcoming... She in her last six or seven months, you could see her mellowing and she became irradiant right in front of our eyes. I should have known that she was getting ready for heaven, but it didn't occur to me, I was expecting to die first. [laughter] I'm two years older. But she was so happy, so happy person in the last few months of her life, it just wasn't real, at least for this world. And when she came back from her trip to Italy, she was just all aglow and I saw her couple of times at the board meeting and she went into these retreats just gung-ho. I mean she was just roaring with energy, and enthusiasm, and joy which was catching. As one lady said, "I never thought I'd see God with a New York accent." [laughter] That was... But that's the kind of impression she made in her last retreat. And as you know she just... She died, she didn't have time to do anything, she just welcomed and that was it. She got a little too good at welcoming. [laughter] So it never occurred to her to call 911, but Bernadette was there. But she is kind of a sort of at this stage in our humble development in contemplative outreach she represents to me at least a contemplative lay person who was a marvelous woman, fully alive, fully integrated, full of fun, knew how to dress properly... And who loved everybody, and wanted to share what she had been given, and which she did right up to the last minute. And tonight you'll hear our lament, our funeral oration, I guess you call it. Nothing can bring her back, but the thought of her is enough to make us happy and to make us think that maybe there's something in this stuff after all. [laughter] Thank you. [applause] >> Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 25 minutes and 6 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Producer: Contemplative Outreach Ltd./Extensión Contemplativa Internacional
Director: Contemplative Outreach Ltd.
Views: 166
Posted by: castella on Dec 6, 2016

El Padre Thomas Keating, OCSO concluye su presentación acerca de la experiencia psicológica de la práctica diaria de la Oración Centrante.

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