by Thomas Keating
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
According to the author, this book came out of interviews conducted for a series of videos on centering prayer and AA. The interview questions are not meant to be all-inclusive. Many came to mind shortly before or during each interview. The twelve Steps are reprinted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World services, Inc. Permission to reprint the Twelve Steps does not mean that AAWS has reviewed or approved the contexts of this publication, or that AAWS necessarily agrees with the views expressed herein. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism only.
Most people are not spiritually awakened. That’s why they’re looking for happiness in the wrong places, doing great injury to their relationships with the Higher Power, themselves and other people. That’s why the experience of God even though awesome and overwhelming is the ultimate source of true humility which is to reality as it is. But we normally cannot do that until we have relativized our emotional expectations of what life can give us by way of happiness. Our cultural conditioning and all forms of institutions can offer us only external forms of happiness.
I venture to say that a merely external working of the Twelve Steps will not bring about this transformation either. Hence, as a practical point, prayerful and attentive reading of the traditional texts of AA and impressing upon AA members the importance of the assimilation of the wisdom of the founders, is crucial for achieving emotional sobriety, which is the most certain support for recovery, insofar as that is possible in this world.
The author, Thomas Keating, OCSO, is one of the founders of the centering prayer movement and Contemplative Outreach, a spiritual network that teaches centering prayer and provides a support system for those who practice it. He is the author of many books and recorded presentations on contemplative prayer to people in all Twelve Step fellowships as an eleventh step prayer/meditation practice. We help individuals and groups establish contemplative prayer practices through workshops, retreats, and formation programs.
The practice of centering prayer, and the spiritual, historical, and psychological basis of it, are described and elaborated in several of Thomas Keating’s works, including Open Mind, Open Heart, and Invitation to Love. The practice of centering prayer has parallels with other traditional practices, and a simple and easy to do. Centering prayer can help deepen our application of the Twelve Steps generally, and the eleventh step specifically, through daily immersion in prayer and meditation. We believe that, when applied as a daily supplement to the Twelve Steps, centering prayer opens us to the deepest dimensions of spirituality. This is a book that should be read by those addicted and really all others for nourishment in the spiritual life.