According to Thomas Keating, the father of the modern day centering (contemplative) prayer movement that is sweeping widely within evangelical circles, the silence or sacred space that is reached during contemplative prayer/centering prayer is the same state that is reached during what is called kundalini.
Catholic priest Philip St. Romain wrote a book called Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality. Kundalini is based on the occultic chakra system where a supposed universal energy flows through a human being and through all of creation, uniting all and acknowledging divinity in all things and all people. Ray Yungen says kundalini is a “Hindu term for the mystical power or force that underlies Hindu spirituality” (ATOD, 2nd ed., p.46). In Hinduism, kundalini is called serpent power. Some of these symptoms include:
* Burning hot or ice cold streams moving up the spine.
* Pains in varying locations throughout the body.
* Vibrations, unease, or cramps in legs and other parts of body.
* Fast pulse and increased metabolism.
* Disturbance in the breathing–and/or heart function.
* Sensitivity to sound, light, smell, and proximity of other people.
* Mystical/religious experiences.
* Parapsychological abilities.
* Persistent anxiety or anxiety attacks, confusion
* Insomnia, manic high spirits or deep depression. Energy loss.
* Impaired concentration and memory.
* Total isolation due to inability to communicate inner experiences out.
* Experiences of possession and poltergeist phenomena.
Through practicing meditation, Romain came to depend on what he calls an “inner adviser” (spirit guide). Symptoms during his deep meditative experience included “prickly sensations on the top of his head” that would “fizzle with energy” (ATOD, p. 47).
Thomas Keating, who has inspired many evangelical contemplatives like Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster1, and Brennan Manning, 2 wrote the foreword to Philip St. Romain’s book, and in it, Keating acknowledges that kundalini is the same as Christian contemplation. He states:
Since this energy [kundalini] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition. It will be a great consolation to those who have experienced physical symptoms arising from the awakening of kundalini in the course of their spiritual journey … Most spiritual disciplines world-wide insist on some kind of serious discipline before techniques of awakening kundalini are communicated. In Christian tradition … the regular practice of the stages of Christian prayer … contemplation are the essential disciplines…
Keating explains that the reason spiritual directors are needed is to help guide the Christian contemplative because of the powerful and dangerous nature of kundalini. He says that these “spiritual directors” may need to consult with “Eastern teachers in order to get a fuller understanding.” Keating ends his foreword with:
This book will initiate Christians on the spiritual journey into this important but long neglected dimension of the transforming power of grace.
It is disturbing to know that evangelical leaders, like Beth Moore, are touting Brennan Manning 3 whose spirituality is so influenced by mystics like Thomas Keating. Southern Baptist LifeWay Store Jim Shull said this of Keating when defending their promoting of him in their stores: “He has written books on contemplative prayer, but this does not make him a New Age sympathizer.”4 When we realize that New Age and kundalini have the same premise (God in all, and God is all), then we can see how troublesome LifeWay’s comments are. (Lifeway has since discontinued carrying Keating’s book but to our knowledge has not retracted its statement about him. In addition, they remain in partnership with Leadership Network, which promotes both the contemplative and emerging church movements,5 and they continue offering mystical promoting books like Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson.6
Surely Thomas Keating’s recognition that contemplative and kundalini are one in the same will convince even the most skeptical Christian.