C-A-V-E / Quotes


Enlightenment does not come simply by attaining some truth; it comes mainly by the relentless removal of all the lies.



C-ontemplative A-ction V-ivifying  E-nlightenment


*Explaining the Acronym C.A.V.E.

* Cave Contemplative Quotes [below]


“Grace is always present. You imagine it something somewhere high in the sky that descends, but it is really inside you, as your heart. The moment you merge the mind into its source Grace rushes forth, sprouting as if a spring within you.”


Though it has acquired other meanings and connotations in recent centuries, the word contemplation had a specific meaning for the first 16 centuries of the Christian era. St. Gregory the Great summed up this meaning at the end of the 6th century as the knowledge of God that is impregnated with love. For Gregory, contemplation was both the fruit of reflecting on the Word of God in scripture and a precious gift of God. He referred to contemplation as “resting in God.” In this “resting,” the mind and heart are not so much seeking God, as beginning to experience what they have been seeking. This state is not the suspension of all activity, but the reduction of many acts and reflections to a single act or thought in order to sustain one’s consent to God’s presence and action. It is when we settle our head down into our hearts.

Thomas Keating started a movement in which contemplative prayer was made accessible to people outside of the walls of the Christian monastery. Also, it was an attempt by Fr. Keating and John Main to share meditative practice within the Christian tradition at a time when a lot of people walked away from Christianity, and to Eastern traditions because it spoke to a thirst for a tangible experience that transformed their life.

Centering Prayer, or contemplative prayer, is a receptive method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. This kind of prayer holds love above even one’s faith. We come to God with love in our hearts for him. “If I had faith”, says St. Paul, “that could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.” As the author of the Cloud of Unknowing pointed out, we are to come to God with love, nothing else.

Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer – verbal, mental or effective prayer – into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Christ.

Contemplatives are Christian mystics. Here is were the concern by other Christians comes to play. They do not like the word mystic. Let me give you some clarity on the word and maybe you will have to admit you already are one. 

A Note On Terminology: Contemplative spirituality was once called “Christian mysticism.” The word “mysticism” was intended to convey the sense that humanity cannot fully understand God; God is a “mystery.” Unfortunately, fundamentalists and others have now co-opted the word “mysticism” and use it to describe occult practices. Such things have never been an element of Christian mysticism. The classic tradition of Christian mysticism is unrelated to the paranormal or occult; it involves no secret knowledge, no divination, no special powers, and nothing outside the Bible. It is 100% orthodox Christianity. Christian mysticism, also called contemplative spirituality, is a way of focusing one’s life completely on God, through prayer, living in love, and an awareness of God’s presence. To avoid misunderstanding, what was once called “Christian mysticism” is now more frequently referred to as “contemplative spirituality.”


Mysticism is nothing more or less than a love-driven way of knowing God, that is centered in direct, immediate experience of God’s presence—as contrasted with the efforts of our minds to think through, capture, and describe the object of our belief in clear language, theological subtlety, or scientific precision….

“A mystic,” Peers wrote, “is a person who has fallen in love with God. We are not afraid of lovers—no indeed, all the world loves a lover. They attract us by their ardor, their single-mindedness, their yearning to be one with the object of their love.”

Mysticism is a way of living that makes this consciousness of God’s presence the shaping context, the compelling energy of our lives. – John Kirvan, God Hunger



We in the West, somewhat believe in Karma, we simply have another name for it: the principle of sowing and reaping. Interesting to note Karma is a Sanskrit word in Pali meaning action. Author Joseph Goldstein writes, “The law of karma refers to the law of cause and effect: that every volitional [choice] act brings a certain result. if we act motivated by greed, hatred, or delusion, we are planting the seed of suffering; when our acts are motivated by generosity, love, or wisdom, then we are creating the karmic conditions for abundance and happiness. When we understand karma and live our understanding, when we act on what we know, then we experience a sense of wholeness and peace. If we live in a way that is out of harmony, ignoring the nature of things, then we experience dissonance, pain, and confusion.”

 The action I’m talking of here I call, “Action to non-action“. It is a call to be active in meditation [20 minutes a day] which is really non-action. This meditative action will awaken a person to the true self, who they are when they know they are at one with God, bathed in His love. Meditation, for the believer in Christ, may be defined simply: crawling up into the lap of God.



Vivifying, means “to make more vivid or striking.”  Therefore, by taking the action of contemplation into the practice of a spiritual discipline , called contemplative or Christian meditative prayer; we shall not go back to sleep. 

Contemplative Action is a spiritual discipline that helps to invigorate, vivify, and maintain consistent, subjective awareness of the being part of a human being.  But in this enlightenment one experiences the Greek word, KENOSIS – the self-emptying of Christ, where Paul says, : “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus…who emptied himself…” 

The words of Jesus that we must “die to our very self” — when we first hear that it sounds almost impossible or cruel. It is only later that we realize that it is mercy itself, because the “self” that we cling to doesn’t exist. That’s what zen meditation is all about. Yamada Roshi said to me, ‘I’m not trying to make you a Buddhist, I am trying to empty you in imitation of your Lord Jesus Christ who emptied himself’.– Fr. Robert Kennedy, SJ


Madam Guyon (1648 – 1717) described her mystical awakening as follows:

When my spirit had been enlightened, my soul was placed in an infinite wideness….Past, present, and future are there in the manner of a present and eternal moment, not as prophecy, which regards the future as a thing that is to come, but as everything is seen in the present in the eternal moment, in God himself; without knowing how one sees or knows it.”

“In the future Christians will be mystics, or they will not be anything.” – Karl Rahner. David in Psalms 139 says his mystical experience in God was indescribable. Christians must return to being mystics: “God” must be an experience before ‘God” can be defined by words. Unless God is an experience, whatever words we might use, for the Divine, will be without content, like road signs pointing nowhere, like light bulbs without electricity. If you want to use words for God, make sure that these words are preceded by, or at least coming out of, an experience that is your own. And it will be the kind of experience that, in some way, will touch you deeply, perhaps stop you in your tracks, fill you with wonder and gratitude,and it will be an experience for which you realize there are no adequate words.


“For the Kingdom is not in word, but power.”

– St. Paul [I Cor. 4:20]




God deliver me from god” – Meister Eckart“

“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”― Adyashanti


“You are soul. You can consciously know your soul – your true self – by meditation.

And  when you know yourself as soul you will have have discovered the presence of God within you.” – Yogananda



“God is not a question to be answered, but a Mystery to be experienced.”


“Enlightenment is not the attainment of truth, but the removal of lies.” – “Walk With Me”[2017 documentary: Thich Nhat Hanh]

“Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. – Paul Tillich

“The words of Jesus that we must “die to our very self” — when we first hear that it sounds almost impossible or cruel. It is only later that we realize that it is mercy itself, because the “self” that we cling to doesn’t exist. That’s what zen meditation is all about. Yamada Roshi said to me, ‘I’m not trying to make you a Buddhist, I am trying to empty you in imitation of your Lord Jesus Christ who emptied himself’”.– Fr. Robert Kennedy

“Gautama became Buddha because he woke up.  Jesus, the son of Mary, became Christ, the Son of God,  because he woke up to the divine spirit that was given to him in his very being. What it means to be human is to wake up to, to be open to, the spirit of God that is given to us in our very beings. Our problem is we don’t know it. We don’t trust it.  But when we realize it, it becomes power, energy, transformative, or what Christians call ‘grace’!”– Paul Knitter

“As our idea of God expands, there is no word, no way, no gesture, that can articulate it anymore. Hence we fall into silence, the place we should have been in the first place.” – Thomas Keating “We must seek God more and more in the present moment, which is in fact the only place where God can be found…” – Thomas Keating

 “God’s love does not criticize, but is patient with your shortcomings, and takes every opportunity to lift you up when you fall down and to make your life better. So the more of God’s love you have in your heart, the more patient you will be with your spouse’s, friend’s and neighbor’s shortcomings. And the more you will find opportunity to make their lives better. And then you’ll find they respond to you in the same way. So every time you find yourself criticizing someone else’s behavior, remember God’s patience with you, and just love them. A perfect lover only remembers love.” -Cloud of Unknowing

“A problem cannot be solved by operating out of the same level of consciousness that created it” – Ken Wilbur

“Let everyone beware lest he presume to take it upon himself to criticize and condemn other men’s faults without his having been truly touched within by the Holy Spirit in his work. Otherwise he may very easily err in his judgments. Beware therefore. Judge yourself as seems right to you between yourself and your God, and let other men alone.” – Cloud of Unknowing

“When the search for truth becomes a celebration of BEING, all of life transforms on its own.” – Unknown

“Only in love can I find you, my God. In love the gates of my soul spring open, allowing me to breathe a new air of freedom and forget my own petty self. In love my whole being streams forth out of the rigid confines of narrowness and anxious self-assertion, which make me a prisoner of my own poverty emptiness. In love all the powers of my soul flow out toward you, wanting never more to return, but to lose themselves completely in you, since by your love you are the inmost center of my heart, closer to me than I am to myself.”
―Karl Rahner
“In the ultimate depths of his being man knows nothing more surely than that his knowledge, that is, what is called knowledge in everyday parlance, is only a small island in a vast sea that has not been traveled. It is a floating island, and it might be more familiar to us than the sea, but ultimately it is borne by the sea and only because it is can we be borne by it. Hence the existentiel question for the know’er is this: Which does he love more, the small island of his so-called knowledge or the sea of infinite mystery?” – Karl Rahner
 “In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic (one who has experienced God for real) or nothing at all.” – Karl Rahner
“Christ is returning to the Father in us. He empties himself, giving back to the Father all he has received. In the degree that we let go of the separate –self sense, we enter into the movement of his return to the Father and are drawn by the irresistible attraction of divine love. We long to become one with that love, to be immersed in its infinite flow within the Trinity, fulfilling Jesus’ petition o the Father in his final discourse at the last Supper, “that they may all be one even as we are one” (John 17:21). Christ is returning to the Father in every circumstance, however horrendous, inhuman, or sinful. To want to return to periods of felt union with God and spiritual consolation is natural to us, but it is usually based on an attachment to some spiritual experience that was delightful in the past.To hope for something better in the future is not the theological virtue of hope. Theological hope is based on God alone, who is both infinitely merciful and infinitely powerful right now.” – Thomas Keating
 “Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.”- Teresa of Avila
“The only thing to seek in contemplative prayer is God; and we seek Him successfully when we realize that we cannot find Him unless He shows Himself to us, and yet at the same time that He would not have inspired us to seek Him unless we had already found Him.”- Thomas Merton
“Every man who delights in a multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within. If you love truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sunlight will illuminate you in God and will deliver you from the phantoms of ignorance. Silence will unite you to God himself. … More than all things love silence: it brings you a fruit that tongue cannot describe. In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. But then there is born something that draws us to silence. May God give you an experience of this “something” that is born of silence. If only you practice this, untold light will dawn on you in consequence … after a while a certain sweetness is born in the heart of this exercise and the body is drawn almost by force to remain in silence.” – Thomas Merton
“True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace. It can come to us ONLY as a gift, and not as a result of our own clever use of spiritual techniques.” – Thomas Merton

“Meditation is a way of slowing down so as to descend into the depths of yourself in the present moment, where God lies waiting to grant you a deep experience of your eternal oneness with God.” – James Finley

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
―Jesus, Gospel of Thomas

“Meditation begins with a call that awakes us out of the coma of self-preoccupation. We are called, we are chosen. Meditation is our response to that call from the deepest center of our awakened consciousness…by letting go, in meditation, we learn how to love.” – John Main

“As you expand your meditation practice, in concert with your faith, you will find that these divine moments come more often, until you are finally awakened to your own deepest self, one with Christ.” – James Finley

Certainly, in our Christian faith, we are familiar with the apophatic tradition, the tradition of prayer that is beyond words. That God is unknowable, that knowledge of God is beyond words, beyond discussion, was clearly taught by the Greek Fathers of the Church. Gregory of Nyssa, for example, writes, “The man who thinks that God can be known does not really have life; for he has been diverted from true being, to something devised by his own imagination.” – Fr. Robert Kennedy [not, RFK]
“Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ … Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.” ― Jesus, Gospel of Thomas
Our awareness of the supportive presence of God is outside of and beyond our power to express in
word or conceive in thought.  This gift of contemplative prayer is not a way of thinking.  It’s much more a
way of not thinking.  It’s not a way of talking; it finally moves beyond words into silence.
 It moves into the mystery that is too deep for words.
Everything Belongs, Richard Rohr
“One of the values of centering prayer is that you are not thinking about God during the time of centering prayer so you are giving God a chance to manifest. In centering prayer there are moments of peace that give the psyche a chance to realize that God may not be so bad after all. God has a chance to be himself for a change. – Thomas Keating”

“We shall not cease from exploration,” wrote the Catholic poet T.S. Eliot. “And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

“I think Zen has great resonance with Christianity at the point where Christians realize that all images of God are just our projections, really. We imagine the most beautiful and the best things we can think of, and that of course is not God. Meister Eckhart says, leave God for God. It’s a mistake to talk too quickly about love. The danger is that we imagine what Jesus is, say, and then we try to fall in love with what we’ve just imagined. It’s not a very solid foundation for our life. It’s not only a question of love but of attention, of being present without the distractions of these images, putting ourselves in the presence of a reality that we do not know, being silent but not drifting, trying to be wide awake, not in a “spiritual” world, but in this world. Can we be awake to where we are, where we sit, without giving it a name, or a judgement about it? Zen says do not judge by any standards. And that is a wonderful place. But there’s another step too, when we realize that this eternal truth, in whose presence we are sitting, is not an object in front of our gaze but experienced as our very self. The faithful practitioner must finally stop hero-worshiping and act out of a center of confidence—and live that way, becoming useful. Silence can be tremendously fruitful in bringing us to these different stages of life.” – Fr. Robert Kennedy

“I think the first experience of that is when we give up thinking of God as a gift-giver, separate from ourselves. We discover the great gift of God’s own Self to us. This is one meaning of the Incarnation, the unity of the divine and the human. It doesn’t just apply just to Jesus, it applies to all of us. We are one with this Absolute, one with Christ who was one with the Father. And everything is given to us. At the moment of Creation, everything is poured out. God doesn’t have to tinker with His creation. It is perfect, and it plays itself out in our lives, as we experience it. Everything is a gift. Stop asking for this or that. We have God’s own spirit. Why would we ask for toys or trinkets? And something follows from this: We have no virtue, no merit. Virtue and merit are given to us.”- Fr Robert Kennedy

 “To love is to be transformed into what we love. To love God is therefore to be transformed into God.”- St John of the Cross

“Everyone is born a mystic and a lover who experiences the unity of things and all are called to keep this mystic or lover of life alive.” Matthew Fox


Cynthia Bourgeault comments on the contemplative practice of Centering Prayer:

For nearly thirty years now, the following four guidelines have successfully introduced tens of thousands of people worldwide to Centering Prayer:

  1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
  2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
  3. When engaged with your thoughts [including body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections], return ever so gently to the sacred word.
  4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. [1]

Father Thomas Keating suggests praying for twenty minutes twice a day.

So are we really saying that in Centering Prayer you meditate by simply letting go of one thought after another? That can certainly be our subjective experience of the practice, and this is exactly the frustration expressed by an early practitioner. In one of the very earliest training workshops led by Keating himself, a nun tried out her first twenty-minute taste of Centering Prayer and then lamented, “Oh, Father Thomas, I’m such a failure at this prayer. In twenty minutes I’ve had ten thousand thoughts!”

“How lovely,” responded Keating, without missing a beat. “Ten thousand opportunities to return to God.”

This simple story captures the essence of Centering Prayer. It is quintessentially a pathway of return in which every time the mind is released from engagement with a specific idea or impression, we move from a smaller and more constricted consciousness into that open, diffuse awareness in which our presence to divine reality makes itself known along a whole different pathway of perception.

That’s what the anonymous author of the fourteenth century spiritual classic The Cloud of Unknowing may have had in mind when he wrote, “God can be held fast and loved by means of love, but by thought never.” [2] “Love” is this author’s pet word for that open, diffuse awareness which gradually allows another and deeper way of knowing to pervade one’s entire being.”

“When we go to the center of our being and pass through that center into the very center of God we get in immediate touch with this divine creating energy … that the divine energy may have the freedom to forward the evolution of consciousness in us and through us, as a part of the whole, in the whole of the creation.” M. Basil Pennington



Here is bonus material from another unrelated subject from The Cave:

Here is a wise word from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, from his work Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. It will help to know that the biblical context for what he is writing here is Psalm 4The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhapp10246378_587852291330093_339239394514715153_niness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’. Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have but little experience.

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself,… exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’.


The Cave Group