The Cloud is the irreducible communication gap built into human experience by the fact of infinitude and finitude trying to relate.

Only in the West and post-John of the Cross does the emphasis on contemplation being a gift ever show up. This emphasis reflects Western Christianity’s control issues. We developed this whole dichotomy between acquired and infused contemplation and we’re trying to say that contemplation is a gift which means we can’t get our hands on it. I think that teaching is wrong. Actually, they are two separate tracks. And one of the mistakes we made along with making contemplation the pinnacle of our prayer is that we also developed this developmental thing that first you have to go through the prayer of the tongue and then the heart, seer, master, conscious presence, and then you may fall into contemplation. In fact they are two different operations and we need to be working on them all the time simultaneously.

Centering Prayer (CP) works along the path of surrender. And surrender if you trust it, connects you instantly with that place at the heart of the secret. It takes you beyond presence.

The thing about contemplation being a gift clearly emerges from a kataphatic level of consciousness which is fully related to giver and receiver. In other words that kind of teaching is not at the level it is describing. And it’s what’s dogged the path of Western Christianity. Through surrender you go directly into the prayer of total cognitive silence. This is one track. The other track is the track of attention, of conscious presence, of moving from personal self to transpersonal self. They are separate tracks. We need to be fluent in both of them. But the mistake is putting prayer in as the apotheosis of what really is a different track which is the surrender track.

Suppose that from the beginning we started with the deep contemplative self that always from beginning to end was perfect, was full, was beyond and that the real problem was that we didn’t have a bridge to it. So the real goal is not so much melting the false self as strengthening and tempering the finite being so that it can bear the beams of love.

We need to move from epicenter out. Centre is the holy of holies which you live in in complete cognitive silence to your self. Around that is this level of the transpersonal self, the “I am,” not what you are but that you are, that you sound in yourself and use to be present and use to relativize that next one which is that affective terribly immature self that’s yearning and seeking but is so intent on its own agendas and its own woundedness. We can flow out from the centre of our self to humanize all those levels of being and bring them into relationship with each other. That is the spiritual journey.

The problem of the apparent dichotomy between contemplation and action – How do we narrow the gap?

There is something in you that should be able to flow out in all directions so that life is not an interruption of your silence but a chance to practice it in a different art form more and more deeply.

Silence is not an external state but an internal state. And it is possible to hold very deeply an interior state of silence in the midst of activity. You are not dependent upon an external state of silence.

You say “yes those are the conditions, yes I embrace them.” So you are no longer fighting against the conditions. The conditions are as they are. What I can do is choose to place myself within them. This is the attitude which allows us to go back into life.