Learning to Fish

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By Cynthia Bourgeault

There’s an old saying, “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a meal. If you teach him how to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” When most of us begin the journey with Centering Prayer, it’s like being given a fish — “a small vacation from yourself,” as Thomas Keating humorously puts it. It feels like a place you go to — “my place of quiet refreshment” — and you tank up consciously in the face of life’s inevitable tendency to draw you down. But as you really begin to allow the letting go to work in you, you discover that it becomes “a place you come from“: a quiet knack for living in the flow, so that life itself no longer draws you down, but simply offers continuous opportunities to manifest the fruits of your practice. Then you’ve learned to fish, and you discover that the river, no matter what your outward circumstances may be, is always flowing and inexhaustible.

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