In the Introduction of Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, The Heart of Centering Prayer, two things stand out for me: 1) the “progressive degrees of union” and how their descriptions are ‘affective,’ not ‘cognitive’ and 2) that attaining higher levels of consciousness is not the path to take.
Pages 3 to 4, “The road map in Christianity is not based on levels of consciousness but on progressive degrees of union whose descriptions are for the most part affective rather than cognitive.” This is a great relief; rather than encouraging others to even be interested in their level of consciousness, I can focus on encouraging a practice of Centering Prayer. That’s all I need to do; God takes it from there.
Before reading and listening to Cynthia, I had incomplete understanding of words like “subtle” and “affective.” But having broadened my ‘lexicon,’ I can identify progressive degrees of union within my own journey and that they are definitely ‘affective,’ as in “relating to moods, feelings, and attitudes.”
In 2014, I recall sharing with my priest that I wasn’t sure I believed in God. In all honesty, at that time, I hated God. All evidence and my perception indicated God had turned His back on me and had turned my life over to ‘the dark side.’ How the hell and why the hell should I love God?
Over these 3 years I have worked through layers and layers of causes for my perception errors. I have dealt with, and tossed, the gobs and gobs of ‘evidence.’ As a result, I have managed to be able to love Jesus. From there I was able to discover Christ presence within myself. Now, from Christ presence, I can truly love the Father. No more black-robed back of hatred….now, Love.
I don’t know if these are the “progressive degrees of union” that Cynthia refers to but this has been and is my experience and it is through Centering Prayer that I have made this progress.
Thanks be to God.