Deepening the Practice of Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault

Notes #6 from Cynthia Bourgeault: Olympic Park Inst. Centering Prayer Retreat – Sept. 1-5, 2003

This post was originally published in Christopher Page’s blog, In A Spacious Place.

Tuesday evening Q. & A. 

Burnout is an ego phenomenon.  At the root of burnout is the phenomenon Gerald May calls “spiritual narcissism,” which feeds on the fact that we don’t know ourselves very well.

Very rarely can we give with purely unmixed motives.  People who burnout are usually responding to programs they don’t know they have.  There is a compulsive quality in some of our efforts to pour ourselves out, that compulsive quality, doing it out of lack and hoping secretly to be recognized, or to be safe, right, virtuous.

We are blind to ourselves so we get tired.

We need to be able to taste the ego-component in things and relax it.

Just do what you do.

“Love your neighbour as yourself” = as your other self, as if your neighbour is you = the kaon of unitive vision.  Egoic seeing translates “as much as you love yourself.”  Unitive seeing knows your neighbour is you.

“The dark night of he spirit” – don’t agree with Thomas that it’s the battle with cultural conditioning.  I believe that it has to do with the letting go and the passage through the last and the scariest of the three relinquishments:  1.  our will  2.  our identity  3.  our vitality.  Usually we assume that we are our energy and that what gives us energy is good and what takes away energy is bad.  Sometimes you have to fall through being in charge of your own energy replenishment.  Passage where you are kept alive, not by your own personal energy (bios) but by zoe, the life force itself that comes from love.  You don’t get this passage without being willing to relinquish your claim to be the source of your own energy.


Full teaching available at: “Deepening The Practice of Centering Prayer”