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Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening Paperback – June 25, 2004
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This book will be inspiring, clear, and helpful to those who look well into it. -- Philip C. Fischer ― Review For Religious
Every page of this book contains profound but accessible spiritual teaching and wisdom for living. ― The Anglican Journal
Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening is a superb book, a wonderfully accessible introduction to Centering Prayer and the role it can play in your own ‘salvation unto eternity.' Highly recommended for all who are on a spiritual path of any sort. -- Ken Wilber, author of The Eye of Spirit
Bourgeault's prophetic voice points the way to restore harmony, dignity, and depth to our lived Christian community. ― The Anglican Journal
Cynthia Bourgeault's book is a must-read. . . . Her simple and clear explanations of the contemplative process so apparently based in her own experience re-ignited my own yearning to live a deeply God-centered life and renewed my commitment to the practice. -- Anne Simpkinson, co-author, Soul Work: A Field Guide for Spiritual Seekers
About the Author
- Publisher : Cowley Publications; 1st edition (June 25, 2004)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1561012629
- ISBN-13 : 978-1561012626
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.59 x 0.45 x 8.72 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #51,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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I take slight issue with her insistence the Centering Prayer is essentially Christian - that it applies to the Christian understanding of kenosis (essentially renunciation of everything other than “God” ) more than to the renunciation concepts found in other religions. All meditation techniques, whether concentrative, observational or receptive, involve kenosis - you must let go of your self when you return to a mantra in Hindu mantra meditation just as much as when you return to the sacred word in CP. Or at least I don’t see the difference Bourgeault does.
Also, CP does not need ultimately to refer to anything Christian at all. The fundamentalists who object to CP are quite right to point this out. Orthodox defenders of CP don’t really have a leg to stand on here. In CP we let go of all “ideas” of God, all forms of God, to connect with the essence of God. We experience God beyond form. If anything, it’s closer to the formless Jewish conception of God than the Trinity of Christian Faith. CP can be Christian, or can apply equally to any religion, even the impersonal ideas of Brahman in Vedanta and Nirvana or pure consciousness in Buddhism. CP is a huge tent. To say it is only Christian is to limit it in a way that excludes many.
In Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, Cynthia Bourgeault covers the standard topics to introduce this practice: an overview of the method, a survey of it's history and development, etc. Similar discussions can be found in the works of Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington among others. What Bourgeault adds is a much deeper analysis of the practice from a psychological perspective.
Keating is certainly the most famous author associated with the Centering Prayer movement, and his presentation of Centering Prayer as "Divine Therapy" has brought many to the practice. Keating's analysis, however, sometimes lacks nuance. This is where Bourgeault steps in. She engages Keating, but takes his teachings further - especially in her analysis of his False Self/True Self language. Centering prayer is not simply about "healing the ego" as Keating's writings sometimes imply, it is about transcending the ego. Bourgeault's discussion of cataphatic vs. apophatic prayer is also particularly helpful in moving beyond the idea that Centering Prayer is simply "listening to God." Something much deeper than that is going on.
This book is clearly written by someone deeply familiar with the Christian tradition and this practice. It's not simply theory, it's theory in practice. Her analysis has helped me greatly in my own practice of Centering Prayer.
Read Keating, but then read Bourgeault.
Sorry that this review is sorely lacking in detail and perhaps not useful to you, but I just wanted to say that I doubt it's possible to find a better written book on the subject. Again, even if you are not not a Christian, this book might help one resolve any confusion that may have formed around the different types of meditation and contemplative practices. I am buying all of Ms. Bourgeault's books "sight unseen." What a talent for writing, inspiring and clarifying ! Thank you very much.