What is called “centering prayer” is in fact a form of meditation or contemplation. It has become known to the public through the writings of people like Father Wayne Tysdale, the untiring promoter of what is called interreligious dialogue between the main religions, Cynthia Bourgeault, author of the most beautiful biography of Jesus I have read (The Wisdom Jesus), Father Thomas Keating, the founder of Contemplative Outreach, and especially Basil Pennington, author of the international best-seller Centering Prayer.
During my African years, I once spent an evening on the banks of the Niger River in Segou, Mali. Everything breathed peace and an unhurried pace: the fishermen throwing their nets in the river, the women walking home and joking with one another other, the rhythmic, slow pace of the cows with their huge horns … The very atmosphere exuded gentleness and serenity. It brought to mind the title of the book by American writer Barry Stevens: Don’t Push the River, it Flows by Itself.
Only recently have we been discovering the extent to which we are all connected through a network which is infinitely more efficient and far-reaching that the entire world’s social media and all the Facebook pages all put together: namely, an infinite Mind. One of the fathers of alternative medicine in the USA, who is also one of the great contemporary American thinkers, wrote a book simply called One Mind. He promotes a notion that is not really new since it was already put forward by an American metaphysician, Mary Baker Eddy, in the mid-19th century – except that the concept was at the time too advanced for many people to grasp.
Occasionally one meets in the course of one’s life people who leave a deep imprint on you. Last month I spoke about French spiritual teacher Alyna Rouelle. Today I would like to write about another such teacher I met on … death row Texas !
Roger W. Mc Gowen and I have been corresponding for almost 20 years now and through his books he has become a spiritual guide for hundreds around the world, especially in Europe and the USA. In the spiritual texts section you will find a quite remarkable text of his and there are of course many more in the book I wrote about him, MESSAGES OF LIFE FROM DEATH ROW (only available on Amazon, and in England also from http://cygnus-books.co.uk/).
From time to time we have encounters in our lives which will have a lasting impact on us for years, sometimes even for life. At the end of April I had such a contact which I know will influence the rest of my days.
It was a one-day workshop in France with Alyna Rouelle, a woman emanating such spirituality as I have rarely come across in my life – and I have had the privilege of knowing personally some highly spiritual people on several continents. Most of them, though, were in their fifties or sixties. Alyna is merely 25. However, when she speaks, there is a clarity and a depth in her comments which are the hallmark of an exceptional spiritual vision. For seven hours she simply answered questions and at no time did I perceive a wrong note. The fact that she feeds herself only with light (thousands of people throughout the world live on prana (see the documentary “In the Beginning there was Light” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EsS4aUARhw) is not what struck me as most remarkable about her; instead it was her sense of the unity of all things. As far as Alyna is concerned, everything is the Divine expressing Itself, which is actually the essence of all nondualist spiritualties such as Advaita (the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi being one of its most brilliant teachers in the last century) and some of the Sufi masters such as Rumi or Hafiz and the great American mystic Joel Goldsmith, etc. (In contrast, Christian theology and spirituality are fundamentally dualist with the exception of a few great mystics such as Master Eckhard or Jacob Boehme, Christian Science or Goldsmith)
Many years ago I was attending the board meeting of the largest grass roots peasant-farmer movement in Africa, in Ouhigouya (Burkina-Faso in the Sahel).
The last day of the meeting I contracted dysentery and as at the time I was following a path of pure spiritual healing (no medicine) I worked on it spiritually. On the plane the next day I was still working on the issue with my spiritual texts, affirmations, prayers and the like. Next to me was an unaccompanied young boy, and the stewardess caring for him was incredibly loving. At one moment she spoke to him with such kindness I was suddenly overwhelmed by what I can only describe as a sort of cosmic gratitude which enveloped her and everything.
More and more these days one hears from all sides very striking accounts of healings using amazing non-medical approaches. I was told the following story by a very dear Belgian friend, and I can vouch for its authenticity. Increasingly, in years to come, this type of totally unorthodox healings (according to the prevailing materialistic medical orthodoxy) will multiply until one day, they will become the new norm.
In 2001, a biopsy reveals that I have prostate cancer. The doctor recommends removing the prostate as quickly as possible. I, however, take some time to think about it and tell him that I prefer to wait before deciding to have surgery and taking a series of medications.
Too easily we forget that Jesus was not a Christian! Jesus was an itinerant Jewish rabbi whom some link to the Essenes, a Jewish splinter group with extremely demanding spiritual practices. His words were not recorded until 70 to 100 years after his death, with all the inevitable distortions this implies. Historians of the New Testament estimate that only about one fifth of the affirmations attributed to Jesus are really his own words. All the statements concerning the Last Judgement, Peter being established as the supreme authority of the Church, the fire of hell and many others were created by the Church to establish its authority.
Guest blogger : Jelaluddin Rumi
The dissolving of the ego is probably the key challenge of the spiritual path. Until one has really faced this daunting task, one is playing dice, maybe having a nice time, but not doing anything really serious. All those who embark as serious students on the road to true reality (the essence of the spiritual path) which culminates in unconditional love and forgiveness (I now always link the two – more on that in another blog) have to face this challenge. Very often this happens through the most intense suffering and radical pruning of every human attachment. The following poem of Rumi is one of the most powerful descriptions of this purification I have ever come across.
(Our New Year’s blog needs to confer hope and expectation. I hope this one does!)
This is a question that I am sure many of us have asked ourselves at one time or another.
My dear friend Téo from Toulouse (France), with whom I have exciting spiritual exchanges, recently sent me a text which has since stimulated my spiritual work for others, be it blessing, giving spiritual treatments or whatever.