I’m tired of not knowing who to trust in God’s holy church.
I practiced Zen before my conversion a few years ago. I gave up zazen practice now that I’m Catholic, and my heart is on fire for our Lord, but the absence of that daily silent, freedom-from-thought that zazen used to provide me has left a void. I no longer subscribe to any buddhist ideologies, I just can’t function as well mentally anymore or focus and I can’t seem to find a holy way to practice still, silent meditation for extended periods of time that isn’t derived from the new age, or isn’t utilizing our Lord as a relaxation technique.
“The Cloud of Unknowing” was pivotal in my conversion, and I still love it and believe it’s very orthodox. I’d love to meet other Catholics who practice it’s teachings, but the only people I’ve come across who even talk about “Cloud” are centering prayer people.
That being said, I’ve had serious reservations about centering prayer since my conversion, as what I’ve read about its methods seem to be ripped straight out of Zen, just with “Christianized” wording. 20 minute sitting sessions minding or counting the breath, walking meditation, etc. Sorry guys, thats just Zen. As a former Zen buddhist I can tell you the teachings in “Cloud” in no way resemble Zen, nor the method of centering prayer.
But alas my mind is restless, so I decided to purchase Thomas Keating’s “Open Mind, Open Heart”, giving it the benefit of the doubt.
Not 20 minutes into reading it, on page 13 Keating misquotes our Lord in Mark 8:34 as “Unless you deny your inmost self and take up the cross, you cannot be my disciple”. I searched through several Bible translations, looking for this version, as I’d never heard it quoted with the word “inmost” before, and lo and behold, there is no such translation! Then in the next sentence he focuses in on this word he added, saying " denial of our inmost self includes detachment from the habitual functioning of our intellect and will, which are our inmost faculties." Did he add this word just to go on a tangent about what he wished Jesus has said here? Who is this guy?
Needless to say, 13 pages in and I already can’t trust the author to provide truthful information. Done with this book!
There are lots of centering prayer practitioners out there who swear up and down that it’s orthodox. I’d love to hear someone offer an explanation, and how you defend this blunder, or why you trust Thomas Keating. Chapter 1 and the guy who gave the world centering prayer (don’t tell me it’s from the 4th century without specific evidence; this stuff is just straight up Zen with Jesus thrown in the mix) is screwing around with scripture. I honestly want to hear a good explanation, please.
Also, if anyone can recommend good, Catholic silent meditation that isn’t just using our Lord as a tool to relax I really could use your input. I don’t need to relax, I just want to give our Lord my undivided attention.
And why do centering prayer groups seem to have a monopoly on “Cloud”? Anyone know of an organization that studies “Cloud”, and actually practices it’s teachings?
Thanks, sorry for the rant.