I’m considering asking if there’s still room left in your next centering prayer retreat, March 24-29. I’m very attracted to silence, although my mind is very noisy. I have some experience in silent prayer; in fact it has been the center of my life at certain points, though I am by no means proficient. I continue to be a beginner after half a lifetime of trying/wishing for union. The problem is that I no longer can form a clear intention because my concept of “God” has changed so much. I continue to search for a “Thou”, while not believing that god is a separate entity. Can centering prayer “work” for an almost non-believer in a traditional Christian god?
Yes, indeed, Elaine, come on down to the Garrison retreat; it will be just the right place for you, I suspect. The “concept of God” question is really not a big deal. God as “thou,” God as “it,” and God as “I” (i.e., “light within,” “atman is brahmin,” etc.), are simply complementary angles of vision for expressing the sensation of intimacy that the heart knows from within. “Thouness” doesn’t necessarily imply “distant” and “other”; it simply allows the language of devotion and eros to flow more fully. All the problems with God really derive from turning God into a concept. The whole thing calms down when your intention becomes simply dwelling in that heart intimacy and letting it lead. Intense meditation retreats are good for pushing beyond the concepts and mind chatter, and the more Buddhist ambience of Garrison should make these other windows into divine beingness much more accessible. See you there, I hope!