I just want to clarify that I do not think centering prayer is evil or the eastern meditative traditions some of it draws from (like Zen or whatever) are evil. From my limited historical knowledge though, I realize that early Sts. like Basil the Great recognized there were virtuous pagan Greeks (Plato etc.) who were naturally inclined towards future reception of the Gospel. St. Justin the Martyr also recognized virtue in the eastern traditions like Buddhism but much of those traditions were not known by the Gentiles of the Roman world who received the Gospel so apparently little interface developed and what traditions proceeded from their original inceptions seem to be incompatible with Christianity. I once heard Fr. John Damascene (pupil of Fr. Seraphim Rose) speak and he mentioned that the original basis of Taoism expresses a natural inclination towards the Gospel which interfaces, "In the beginning was the Tao (Word) and the Tao (Word) was God." (John 1:1) although Taoism apparently morphed into other manifestations of tradition (according to the Fr as best I recall) that would be incompatible with Christianity. So (for ex.) I would think that Tibetan Buddhism which emerged centuries after the death of Buddha & interfaced with its indigineous Bam religion would be highly incompatible with Christian tradition (and Centering Prayer clerics have had much counsel with Tibetan & other Buddhists). Hope this makes sense & I want also to clarify that my post was meant to be succinct & hope it did not convey any agitation.
Grace and Peace,
Clarification is a good and helpful thing, especially on the internet...
We should recognize distinctions between 'technique' (the actual prayer practice... for example sitting quietly saying the Jesus Prayer audibly while counting them with a chokti), and 'method' (cataphatic prayer type... for example audible rote prayer) and 'motive' (seeking spiritual experience, contemplation, or actual interior preparation for such activities). We can discuss these three elements of 'any' prayer practice without getting into a discussion about a faiths theology per se, particularly with regards to the 'method'. If we are speaking specifically about apophatic prayer methods we ultimately need to understand the 'motive' of that particular practitioner to understand if such would be effective for our own personal practice. We are not speaking about a Christian entering into another religious practice whole-cloth but we know, at least historical scholars know, that early Christians studied and prayed in the same techniques and methods and with the same motives as their pagan spiritual contemporaries (stoics, Neo and Middle-Platonists and other Sophist Hermits of the Desert). Just as their Philosophy was used to express the mysteries of the Christian Faith so too were their prayer practices and even much of their motives for such activities. We must remember that the virtues were known and taught by the Pagans, first. We must remember that it was among the Greek Pagans that the Gospel was received, perhaps for good reason? The Prayer of the Publican was, in time, amended with the truths of the Christian revelation first voiced by St. Peter and eventually by everyone who professed the Christian Faith... O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a Sinner! I believe if our faith would have not solidified we might have seen this further amended to say O Lord Jesus Christ, Our God... as we see in the Divine Liturgy.
The point I would continue to make is that apophatic prayer isn't bad... Centering Prayer may be a novelty among Catholics, it's underpinnings may very well be syncretistic, philosophically speaking. I've heard Fr. Thomas Keating speak on more than one occation and he seems to lack a firm Christology and perhaps a firm Christian Theology but that shouldn't cause us to flee from Hesychia
(the Greek Goddress/spirit of Quiet and Silence), she is also the daughter of Dice ;-)
Our entire Faith is rich in such interconnections with Pagan Spirituality and we must not reject such 'natural' fusion but be careful of 'unatural' ones. Which begs the question, what is natural and unnatural fusion? Clearly the Protestants have rejected both as 'yeast' to a more purely Semetic interpretation of the Gospel.