Deepening the Practice of Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault

Notes #8 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 (#6 and #7).

Wednesday Afternoon 

Christianity, Islam, Judaism, the Semitic traditions all talk about something happening to the heart.  Eastern Orthodox talks about the burning of the heart.  Sufis about the spinning of the heart.  CP the magnetization of the heart.

Once we find centre, we have a sonar system for moving out into the world.  When you lose touch with centre, you lose your lifeline.

What is the best food for nurturing the heart?  The best heart food is surrender.  CP won’t do it by itself if you are not practicing the surrender in daily life that CP practice is patterning into you.

Wisdom comes from opening your heart and tuning your heart so that you can hear it and receive it.

When the Jesus event fell into the epicenter of world time and place, the concentric rings of the impact of this event went out in all directions geographically.  It traveled West, East, and South down into Africa.  And each line of development along these shock waves took on slightly different forms.  What we are used to in the West, and what we used to think was the only Christianity that existed, was a particular line of development which is Roman.  Christianity went East into countries which are now Islamic.  But Islam took shape in the 6/7th c. and for many centuries these were Christian lands which had preserved an understanding of Jesus’ message which was far more intimate than the one that went West.  The East recognized Jesus more clearly within the cultural context that he operated in. Early Oriental, non-Byzantine Orthodoxy was from the start much more pluralistic, much more open to diversity of expression and became an underground conduit of some of the oral transmission of Christ much more accurately than a lot of the stuff that went West.

When we look at Sufism, we are coming back to some of the transformational wisdom of Jesus.  Sufism is not to go away from Christianity, but is to come back to it far more intimately.

Once the heart begins to open and once you have begun to establish this tether of obedience by which you can align with the Divine, the other gifts begin to unfold in their time, as needed and as is compatible with your own personality, lighting up the beauty of your own finite being with the qualities of the Divine and Infinite which will express themselves in your finite being like light shining through cut glass.

Dare to trust what begins to emerge.  We know but we back off from what we know.  We can’t stay present to that level of truth that we really recognize as the core of our being.  If we could, we could flow as our true self which only exists as it flows beautifully and gracefully.  It is the pattern of your own being that flows out from the alignment of the heart toward God.  But we fall off that, because we need to bring our false self along with us.  We forget that we know that we know how to know what we know.  But it comes back.  It doesn’t matter how many times you fall off.  Something is sustained and it will carry you.


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