Centering Prayer

Kabbalah, Sufism, Gnosticism and other forms of mysticism rooted in Christianity, Judaism, Islam
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Centering Prayer

Post by Herb »

Hi All
Before I became a Christian, I practiced TM for many years. But once I realized the spiritual truths of Christianity, I fell away from my practice of TM and began to only practice discursive prayer.

That was going along nicely, but after I did something I wish I hadn’t(I don’t care to go into it here), my prayer life began to die away and I eventually found myself wanting to take up meditation again. Since my TM practice had grown stale at the end, I decided not to take up the Christian version of that practice, called “Christian Meditation,” and, instead, take up Centering Prayer.

That went nicely until I got deeply into it. Then I found that, by itself, it lacked real depth and substance. Also, the only group I could find to practice with was run by a very superficial practitioner of meditation. He only practiced once in a while and his practice was very very elementary. He was a novice and he really knew almost nothing about meditation. He had recently been handed the leadership of the group by someone I respected, but who had just gotten too old and was not able to come to the meetings any longer.

So, wanting to learn more and wanting to do that from more than just books, I began to explore Hinduism, as a source for information. Also, this time I wanted to explore what I could learn about “objectless” meditation from Hinduism, as Centering Prayer does not depend on a mantra, nearly as much as TM does.

To make a long story shorter, I ended up deciding on the teachings of the great Ramana Maharshi as my source for objectless meditation. Then I spent about four years making an exhaustive study of “Atma-vichara” also called “Self-enquiry.” And I found three world class english speaking teachers to help me.

Then the most amazing thing happened! While at the library one day, an amazing book about Dzogchen all but jumped off the shelf at me. I took it home, reading it cover to cover numerous times, and I was hooked. Dzogchen was exactly what I needed to really learn how to master objectless meditation. Recently I have also discovered Mahamudra and the Vajrayana practice of generation and perfection stage visualization work. This last practice is with an object, but it really appealed to me so I am now practicing it whole heartedly.

All this study and practice of Self-enquiry, Dzogchen and now the generation stage visualization work has really helped my meditation practice. First I practice the visualizations of my chosen yidam or deity, then I dissolve that into the emptiness and luminous clarity of the ground(the true Nature of mind). Then I go directly into Dzogchen practice.

I know that this is quite different from regular Centering Prayer, but I really enjoy it. Amazingly, this form of meditation is, for all intents and purposes, practically identical to how it is explained and practiced by traditional Tibetan Buddhists!

All respectful comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Centering Prayer

Post by Nicholas »

Glad you had this breakthrough, sounds valuable indeed!

What was title of that Dzogchen book that so impressed you?
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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