Thomas Keating
Thomas Keating
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What Contemplation is not?

1. It is not a relaxation exercise.  Whilst it may contribute to one becoming relaxed, this is simply a side effect.  Contemplation is therefore not a technique but instead, prayer.  When we say, “let us pray”, we are saying “let us enter into a relationship with God”.  Centering prayer is a method of moving this developing relationship with God beyond words, beyond thoughts to the level of pure faith.

2. Contemplative prayer is not a charismatic gift.  The charismatic gifts as described by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 are designed for the building up of the community and may be given to one who may not necessarily be advanced in the spiritual journey.

3. Contemplative prayer is not a Para psychological phenomenon such as precognition, out of body experiences, levitation or other extraordinary sensory or psychic phenomena.

Contemplative prayer is a calling and so may not be for everyone.  The contemplative person may still use the many other forms of prayer such as the prayer of petition, they may still get angry with God, confess and ask for forgiveness as well as trying to listen and discern how God may be speaking to them.  However, the root of their prayer life is contemplation.

In the Christian tradition and in modern times contemplative prayer has largely been forgotten.  However, for some unknown reason the urge for and within many people, often without ever understanding why, is to gravitate towards stillness, solitude, silence and its mysteries within.