Daily Riches: Practicing Attentiveness to the Divine Presence Within (Thomas Keating and Gerald May) *

“Contemplative prayer begins to make us aware of the divine presence within us, the source of true happiness. As soon as we begin to taste the peace that comes from the regular practice of contemplative prayer, it relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds,’ of aversions and desires that were based on emotional programs for happiness that might have worked for children, but that are, in fact, killing us.” Thomas Keating

“In one sense, quiet prayer is really nothing other than the practice of faithful attentiveness. I am not speaking here of meditation that in­volves guided imagery or scriptural reflections, but of a more contemplative practice in which one just sits still and stays awake with God. This kind of meditation is extremely difficult, especially in the midst of battles with addiction, because it gives us nothing special to do, no fancy ways to entertain our­selves or to escape from the simple truth of the moment. Attentive meditation can be a true ascetic practice. It is like fasting for the mind. One only sits there, inclined toward God, noticing the thoughts and sensations that come and go, adding nothing to them, subtracting nothing from them. The mind is allowed to be what it is, but it is seen. When properly practiced and truly graced, this kind of meditation—to the extent that we can bear it—can be very powerful in exposing and vaporizing mind tricks.” Gerald May

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me, and I am in you. …
The one who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Jesus in John 14:20-21

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you identify “emotional programs for happiness” in place in your life that are “killing” you instead?
  • Do you believe the words of Jesus that as God’s child, God dwells in you? How often are you aware of this “divine presence within” you? Can you simply be “faithfully attentive” to it?
  • The regular practice of contemplative prayer “relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds’…” and gives us peace. The world’s demands are relentless, so it is any wonder that this relativizing work must also be “regular” or relentless?
  • Is your practice of contemplative prayer helping you find peace, and expose and vaporize “mind tricks?”

Abba, help me to recognize and reject my emotional programs for happiness, as I regularly spend time in your presence and you lovingly put the world’s demands and desires into perspective for me. Help me to grow in my awareness of your divine presence in me, and find my happiness there.

__________

For More: The Human Condition by Thomas Keating

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“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.” (Marie Antionette) , and thus “Men more often require to be reminded than informed.” (Samuel Johnson) The purpose of Daily Riches is to return again and again to a list of critical concepts at the core of the spiritual life. “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you [may] already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.” (2 Peter 1:12)  I appreciate your interest! When you find this helpful, please share! – Bill

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