Remembering Thomas Keating
Thomas Keating has been in my awareness in a big way this week. Yesterday morning (Friday, October 26, 2018), I learned of his passing (on Thursday evening) from several members of our community.
I have been sitting and remembering and resonating with Thomas, on an even deeper level since then. Remembering my time with him. And wanting to share some of this with you today.
For me, Keating was a pathway to a deeper connection to God. Although he write and spoke extensively, my relationship with him – at least the part I can put into words – originated from two times that I sat with him in person.
The first time was my first visit to the monastery where he lived from 1981 until earlier this year (St. Benedict’s in Snowmass, Colorado). I wrote briefly about this encounter with Thomas in this blog.
The second time was in August of 2017, when I was on retreat at St. Benedict’s again. This time I asked Brother Chuck (who was involved in his daily care at the time) if it might be possible to interview Father Keating. Chuck asked him, and much to my delight, the answer was yes.
I spent nearly 90-minutes interviewing him in the periodical room of the monastery. It was one of the most extraordinary 90-minutes of my life on so many different levels.
As we sat down, I asked him if I could record the conversation. He agreed, and then proceeded to interview me for the first 10 minutes! He was asking about my background and you and everyone else in our community. It was as if he was wanting to understand how he might answer the questions I was going to ask him, in a way that was particularly meaningful for us.
At one point, I sought to clarify that I was asking about his experience of God (he was using other people’s words, quoting philosophers and theologians) and he said: “I am.”
My experience of our time together during that interview, was that in addition to the words that were being spoken, there was a transmission emanating from him that I was experiencing deeply. At the time, it felt very intimate and personal – as if it were meant only for me. As I reflect back on it now, it was quite intimate, as intimate as my relationship (or yours) with the Divine. It was like any transmission from an Embodied Messenger: a profound opening to a deeper connection to the truth – with something different for each person who hears and receives it, each time they sit with it.
It’s difficult to put into words how meaningful being with Thomas and talking with him was and is for me. I felt like I was at the feet of the master in some sense, and he was giving me a transmission to serve me in my journey to come. Along with this, I had such a deep sense of confirmation and validation of my own understanding and awareness, though I can’t explain why, for there weren’t many words that I spoke. It was as if an entirely different conversation was going on in the silence and consciousness under the words that were being spoken.
My time with Thomas inspired me to continue writing and working on my book, which is now nearly completed. I am confident that I will be unpacking gifts from our time together for decades to come.
One of his many gifts to me during our time last year was this simple statement he made at some point (I actually don’t know if I was able to record him saying this):
“We live in the thinly veiled illusion of free will.”
As I’ve been working on finishing up the raw manuscript my new book, I quoted this statement in the book, along with the following commentary in Chapter 8: Living in the Mirror:
When I’ve shared this in class or one-on-one, the nearly inevitable response has been: “Wait! Are you telling me we don’t have free will?!” Only Keating could have served as the best interpreter of what he meant when he said this to me. Here’s what I heard and saw so clearly as he spoke these words:
In separation, we believe we have free will. We spend the first Stages of Consciousness exploring this powerful illusion – that we can craft and make our lives exactly as we want them to be – all the while more fully uncovering that we are – one of 7 billion plus human expressions of the Divine on the planet right now. When we finally arrive in Stage Three, we discover that indeed, free will is an illusion and through this illusion we have received our greatest gift – the gift of separation. Through this gift we have uncovered and explored all these seemingly disparate experiences – all of which have led us to this singular realization: In God’s will, there is Resonance. In my will, there is suffering. When I surrender my will to God’s, I eventually discover myself once again, for there is only the Divine.
Even this week I have been receiving more at the level of awareness from my time with Thomas Keating. What an extraordinary gift to have had the opportunity to sit with him.
I want to share two gifts with you:
I recorded much of my conversation with Thomas Keating. Today I want to share both recordings with you. The first part I’ve recorded a commentary to introduce what follows. The second part is raw. I’ve never shared the second part with our community. I haven’t been holding it back for any particular reason – it just hasn’t come to the top of my to do list. I’ve been focused on finishing my book.
Until today. I’ve taken the time to put it together in a way that will allow you to listen to both segments. Here’s the link to my interviews with Thomas Keating, so you can listen and receive his transmission for yourself here: https://kenwstone.com/thomas-keating/
Before I wrap up for today, I want to share one last thing with you: I’m hosting a call to discuss my new book on Monday with our community. If you haven’t already signed up to join the call, I want to invite you to do so now here.
We are on a sacred journey to the Truth. We have gathered in this way for a reason. This book feels like a really important part of our time together, to me.
The book has been an invitation to a deep and profound intimacy with God for me, just like my time with Thomas Keating. My focus on finishing the book was powerfully buoyed by my time with Father Keating. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons he was so in my awareness this week. And of course, because of his pending transition.
For we are all connected in such a deep and extraordinary way, it is quite impossible to put into words. Yet we feel and experience this connection all the time, even if our rational minds can’t understand it or why we are thinking or feeling or aware of whatever is coming up for attention and presence right now.
I have written the book for me. I have received and explored and transcribed what God has been saying to me, for me. I have been learning as I have been writing.
And I have written the book for you.
And now it’s time to begin sharing what I have learned and explored with you. This is the same pattern that I have followed my entire career. God opens a door for me and through me, and I immediately want to share it with you. This book is a way that I can share and support a deeper intimacy with the Divine for you – in a way I’ve never been able to before.
I’m looking forward to being with you, and the rest of our community to explore further into the Divine Mystery together.
That’s what Thomas Keating did each step of his life, from my perspective. He explored the Divine Mystery, and then he wrote and spoke about it. He sat in silence with it, for himself. And with others.
I’m grateful beyond words for his presence and time with us. Today I am remembering and celebrating Thomas Keating, an extraordinary Embodied Messenger of God.
Further Into the Mystery – All the More Extraordinary with You.
PS – Listen to both parts of my interview with Thomas Keating here:
PPS – Sign up to hear more about my new book this coming Monday, the 29th of October 2018 by clicking here.