Lions and Tigers and Prayer, Oh My...

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W4TVQ
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Lions and Tigers and Prayer, Oh My...

Post by W4TVQ »

I just had the eerie experience of reading my own comments in a thread dated February 2005 on a subject I've been bothered by lately, the subject of prayer. I was in that thread defending duality, and in hindsight see that I was hovering at the cusp of a journey into evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity. It was like sitting down as a senior and reading my freshman essays on What I Did Last Summer.

Now having come through that "stay in another country" I have been led past the idea of duality -- that there could be that which is not God, but opposes God. Of course, such a state of affairs could not be.

So another question arises. Prayer. What does one do about prayer? ACIM contains prayers, addressed always to "Father." Ruby Nelson advises prayer. Yet I wonder, to Whom? What could the wave have to say to the ocean? I am concerned about some health issues, and I have heard all the advice such as "Let Go and Let God" and "Put it in His hands," all of which sounds like a jolly good idea, but then I feel silly addressing God as if He were "out there" and needed to be encouraged to do something nice for me. If the indicated "treatment" for these health issues is realization of who and what I really am -- beyond the mere intellectual assent to the proposition -- then "prayer" consists not in addressing Father or Mother but in realizing Father/Mother.

Perhaps Mark Twain was right when he said that God has appointed an angel to take all the Sunday School prayers, stuff them in a big bag and use them for wind to drive the ships at sea. Maybe that extends to all prayers. But there's still the beautiful collection of prayers in ACIM, which I find myself memorizing and repeating often, and they are very helpful and edifying. Maybe we pray, not to "reach" God, but to "reach" ourselves.

Egad, I think I have created a semantic labyrinth to wander around in. And maybe that is not a bad thing. Like the Minotaur, the answers may be at the center of the labyrinth. Or not. Sure makes the journey interesting, though.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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anna
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Post by anna »

You write : “Maybe we pray, not to "reach" God, but to "reach" ourselves.”

Yes, I would agree with that, only I would amend that to read " "reach" the God within ourselves". Prayer is a kind of strong meditation – its quiets the monkey mind and focuses it directly into the heart, to whomever the prayer is addressed. As God resides in the heart of each of us, prayer is effective whether or not God is “out there” or “in here”, and in no way is conditioned upon whether we approach God “out there” or “in here”. That is why it is effective, and that is why it is also ineffective, if done by individuals who cannot focus, or who have an unopened heart. All prayer, I believe, is simply an enforced method of silence and centering, using the normally chattering mind to focus its chatter, and eventually, ideally, to bring it to its knees. It is this latter part which makes prayer effective, I believe.

That said, technically, it seems to me that you are accurate when you wonder to “whom” you are praying, if duality is just a device of the mind, a necessity of the dual universe. On the other hand, so long as we live in a dual universe, and we do all live in a dual universe, then an external God to whom we pray is every bit as real as we are, after all. This is a paradox of the spiritual process – we can have, and do have, both a unified “universe”, as well as a dual one, both at the same time, it is simply a case of position in consciousness, and neither is better or worse than the other, just different. And both co-exist at the same time. So, in prayer, to the extent that we release willfulness and sit in God’s lap, so to speak – surrender ourselves to God or to whatever expresses infinity and omnipotence for us – to that extent prayer will work. In that very act, we are becoming infinite ourselves, and at the same time, God embraces us in her infinity.

Thus, the advice to let go and let God is another expression of surrender, and from that perspective, it is not in any way easy, or a cliché, as it has unfortunately become; indeed, it is one of the most difficult exercises for any human being with an ego, which ego has set conditions, desires, and needs that seem irreversible and non-negotiable. And in surrender, the outcome may or may not result in improved conditions, be it health, or whatever else in a material world needs improvement. In some cases, indeed, the health may NOT improve, in some cases, it may even decrease, but the individual who has surrendered, transforms by means of this surrender, and thus approaches the issue of health, or whatever, in a new state of being, and THAT state itself, can have enormous transformational powers. In other words, I believe the issue is not one’s state of health, the issue is one’s relationship to God, and ultimately, one’s sense of one’s position with respect to God. It seems to me that the ultimate outcome, therefore, of all prayer, is not negotiation with God, nor begging, nor compromise, but abject surrender to a will more infinite, more powerful, more transformational, more loving, more omnipotent, than that of my own, small, limited ego centric will. It’s a great trade, all things considered. But I tell you, that small, limited ego will struggle, fight, obstruct, bargain, undermine, and even, in some cases, destroy its home, in its efforts to maintain its dominance. It is the ultimate battle, indeed, it is really the only battle worth waging – all the other battles, “out there” are externalizations of this inner heroic battle.

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Post by jenjulian »

What has struck me as not right with prayer, especially when I attempted church attendence a few years back is that it seemed backwards in the way it was approached. I don't think we should pray for God to do something for us or to change things or to somehow come to us. I think Anna said it so well, that it is about what prayer does to us. The centering and turning ourselves inwards or outwards, towards God. If this is recognizing the God in us or whatever realization it brings, it is about the work we need to do. I can see in the past how I wanted God to do the work, I can see it in my relationship with teachers also, wanting them to do the work. I am coming to the realization that surrender is what it is about. A level of surrender past what I ever envisioned.

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W4TVQ
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Post by W4TVQ »

Thank you both ... these responses are extremely helpful! Perhaps I am making too complicated what is in fact too simple to be easy. In any case, now I feel I can "address" Mother by whatever name is working at the moment (currently, Rama expresses what I am learning about God at the moment).

Anyhow, thanks.

I'm having problems with this computer so if I disappear for a day or so it means the thing crashed all the way and I'm waiting for the repairman.

Jai Ram
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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phyllis
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Post by phyllis »

This is a favorite quotation of mine from Rumi which may have a proper place in this thread.
I tried to find Him on the Christian cross, but He was not there; I went to the temple of the Hindus and to the old pagodas, but I could not find a trace of Him anywhere. I searched on the mountains and in the valleys, but neither in the heights nor in the depths was I able to find Him. I went to the Kaaba in Mecca, but He was not there either. I questioned the scholars and philosophers, but He was beyond their understanding. I then looked into my heart, and it was there where He dwelled that I saw Him; He was nowhere else to be found.

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W4TVQ
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Post by W4TVQ »

Nice quote. True, in the sense that trying to "locate" God anywhere in "the world we see" is trying kto localize what is infinite.

Yet I think that in another sense He most assurdly IS on the Cross, and in the Hindu temple, and in the Kaaba, because He must be: He cannot be "here" and not "there." Ruby Nelson, in The Door of Everything, says this:

If you would become conscious of my presence, look squarely in my face ... I will be everywhere staring back at you. If you look at the sky you will know that I am blue, if you look at the night you will know that I am black, if you look at a leaf you will know that I am green. If you look at the midday sun I will dazzle you with my brightness. If you look into they eyes of your husband or wife you will see me twinkle. ...every particle of dirt under your feet is a manifestation of my consciousness expressing in matter, and in the microcosmic structure of the dirt exists the unchallenged pattern of my universal perfection.

I understnd Rumi's point, and can relate to it well, because I too have tried to "locate" God in one place -- "Christianity is the only Truth" -- only to find Him sneaking into Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries and crowded Honolulu busses. And there He/She was, calling Him/Herelf Krishna or Rama or Kali or Diana or Buddha or Jesus or Peggy or Phyllis. Or Rumi. He is (to quote Butterworth) "in us as the ocean is in a wave." It follows that He is as much in the man on the Cross and the monk in the temple as in you or me, for all waves are manifestations of the same ocean; but He is not exclusively present in this wave or that one.

Granted, sometimes it is extremely hard to accept that this or that person is a manifestation of God. Like the three Haitian women who entered the store where I volunteer, got both of us who work Wednesday occupied answering questions while the third went into the back room to steal the manager's wallet, and possibly her identity as well. Just a look at the headlines on any day can wreck one's confidence in the divinity of humankind. I am still struggling to "see God" in these thieves and in the 9/11 terrorists and in men who defile and destroy little girls and young boys. I know He's there. It's tough. We cannot look at one wave and say, "there's the ocean," and not see another wave and try to see the ocean there too. So far, I fail to see it in some waves around me ... which means, no doubt, that I do not really see it in myself either.

Sorry for all this rambling. I'm not trying to nay-say Rumi, just following thought lines he got me started on.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

jenjulian
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Post by jenjulian »

I like the quote a lot. Up 'till now, I would have read what Rumi was saying is that we have to uncover our true selves to find God, and once we find that God is there, then we can see God everywhere.

I don't know how I see things right now, because I'm changing in many ways. When you speak of the struggle in seeing God in many around us, I am at this same challenge. I was thinking this morning about Spinoza, and something he wrote about that God was everything, but we cannot see the whole picture only a piece of God---we do not see the entire tapestry and so we cannot see the perfection. (I think seeing with our souls eyes is when we start to see the beauty of the picture or I love how Anna said elsewhere 'the dance'

This applies quite well to the two gals I'm working with that our being poops and making my life challenging, only to find out that they are God pointing me back to school to do my masters.

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Gulliver
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Post by Gulliver »

How about "pleochroic" as a word to help illustrate this thread's topic? It means "exhibiting different colors when viewed from different directions." Or, where you are looking from determines what you see.

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anna
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Post by anna »

It may be relevant to inquire just who or what we consider God to be. Most of the struggles we are expressing here, and that seem to be also the prime struggles of most human beings, seem to be due to a restricted or limited view of what God is, and by extension, what we are. Or perhaps put another way; a view that is comforting and consoling, but may not be realistic because of that preference. Why can’t God be obnoxious, why can’t God even be cruel? Why would God create a world of simply “good” – how would God know what was “good” without the comparison to “bad”? Why was the world created dual, of not for this reason? Who or what is it that has burdened us with this constant striving to be “better” than what we are right now, this moment? Why is there guilt when we feel anger toward someone or something who infringes upon our comfort level, or threatens us? And who says that the “better” of tomorrow is actually better, as opposed to just different? And what is it that is inside of each of us that refuses to acknowledge this possibility?

A pro pos to this concept, there is an old hindu story about a dangerous snake who was plagued with neighborhood boys who were looking for him, and trying to catch him, presumably to beat him up, or even to kill him. Being a devout hindu, and trying to adhere to non-violence, this snake lived quietly, without provoking others, knowing that to have bitten these boys with his venomous bite might easily kill them, end his anxiety, and he knew, based on all the scriptures, that it would incur a great karmic debt to kill even one of these children, even though it would be an easy thing to do. So the snake lived as best he could in his hole, trying to avoid the boys repeated efforts to ensnare and damage him. And of course, the boys found him, caught him, and beat him up near to death. The snake lay there in misery and pain, and wailed to his God, asking him how could a merciful God have made a world which allowed such unjust behavior. God’s response was “I admonished you not to kill them, but I did NOT tell you not to hiss!” 8)

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Post by W4TVQ »

Indeed, with reference to the struggles we endure, it certainly matters "just who or what we consider God to be." From an "othodox" Christian point of view the struggles are an aspect of the duality that is perceived to exist separating God from man or man from God, a laboring to cross the bridge from "here" (bad) to "there" (good).

There may be some truth in that, though: we perceive a duality, even though ACIM and Krishna and Jesus and all the other Teachers tell us that what we perceive and what is True are not the same thing at all ... that in fact what we perceive cannot be True, so there Is no struggle except in our perception.

All of which is very nice, but hard to deal with. I'm reminded of the little poem:
There was a faith healer from Deal
Who said, "Although pain is not real,
When I sit on a pin
and it punctures my skin,
I dislike what I fancy I feel.


I'm reminded also of something Nancy posted long ago: In the final analysis, only those who are weary of dual living take up the road toward non-duality. And of those, very few ever truly get very far up the road, because the cards are all stacked against one's progress on that road. We carry with us the mechanism called the devil by some, and the ego by others, both of which obstruct the dissolution that is required to perceive non-duality. Ah. I can relate.

Para sam gaté
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Post by jenjulian »

I like what you said Gulliver. I watched The Peaceful Warrior the other night and the one thing that stuck with me the most is when the teacher tells the kid that he needs to stop listening to what everyone else says is truth. The kid has the great comeback of ...and what, listen to your answers? The teacher says no, start listening inside.

After my recent experience with my past teacher, I am keeping this most forefront in my mind, the answers are inside and not what someone elses finds. In the spirit of widening our view of what Truth and God may be, maybe it is as Gulliver says and the view of God being us is different for each of us. I start having twisted mind syndrome trying to fit together what everyone's view is and I have to start being quiet again and feel my inner self, whether that is God or whether that is where God can be found doesn't really matter to me right now, only being able to feel that one Truth that is guiding me. It is the only thing that is an absolute Truth for me and I want to tune into that more than I want anything else in the world. Maybe that is my answer from a previous post, I don't need to figure out what I'm to be doing, I just need to stay open and follow each day as it comes.When I read St John of the Cross, my insides feel like someone is telling it's story, that is why I find it valid and true.
I guess this is what Phyllis was saying in the quote she shared.

I do know that an inner strength is presenting itself and when it says no more, that is it, not the wishy washy gal I used to be. Or maybe it is midlife attitude, I don't have time for what isn't right for me.

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Lions and Tigers and Prayer, Oh My...

Post by Ihavesayso »

Joel Goldsmith, said in "The Infinite Way," I think it was, that we should, "...pray without ceasing." Although my concept of God does not need, or want to be prayed to, nor worshiped (see my essay "Worhip, Who Needs It" at Open Space) for that matter...but, isn't that what we all are doing, no matter what we're doing, although, most of the time, unknownst to us?
If God is not your ventriloquist, you're just another "dummy!" - ihavesayso

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W4TVQ
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Post by W4TVQ »

Of course, we are "worshiping" at al times, in some manner. Not in the traditional/orthodox sense -- you know, shouting hallelujah, "praise God" and groveling in supplication; rather in the sense that the word itself means, ascribing worth to what is worthwhile instead of to what is not. It seems, as one reads the "news" and sees what is important to the populace in general, that "worship" is directed towards "celebrities" and towards "things." There is crisis in world afairs, war on the horizon, a geometric increase in vicious crimes and violence ... but let's talk about "O.J." or Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, and buy a new car.

The challenge to the seeker is to see that these things are worthless, and become devoted to seing what is worthy. I agree, that is not accomplished necessarily by just sitting down with a group of people and singing "How Great Thou Art" (though I admit I love that hymn). Maybe that IS the right path for some; it just isn't for me. God is too big to demand that we feed His ego with compliments, beg for handouts and "convert" everyone. How can we "bring them into the kingdom" when the kingdom is within them already?

Jai Ram
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Post by Ihavesayso »

I do so very much enjoy, Art, your word-smithing abilities to seperate the "wheat from the chaff." Your conclusions are (usually) so well reasoned, that it is a treat to read the words that lead to them...

But, I do wish you would explain, for the benefit of we "unknowers," the meaning of the foreign looking (and undoubtdly, sounding) short phrases you sometimes use as signature lines, as in this instance, "Jai Ram."

When I skip over words and phrases I don't know, it nags at me because I am not being honest with myself, or the author, if I don't fully understand his/her true meaning!

Arlo R. Hansen, B.O.T.O.
If God is not your ventriloquist, you're just another "dummy!" - ihavesayso

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Post by W4TVQ »

Actually, those phrases are sinmply chants from various religious traditions. I have recordings of them which I use for centering as I go to sleep at night.

Jai Ram is a salute to Rama; it just means "honor to Rama." So likewise does "Hare Rama."
Om Namaha Shiva is likewise a salute to Shiva (OM is considered by Hindo mysticism to be the syllable that incorporates al the reality of the One, by chanting which we blend with him).
The Buddhist chant frm the Heart Sutra is Gaté. Gaté, Paragaté, Parasamgaté, Bodhi svaha -- meaning "Gone, Gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the beyond, hail to the anointee one."
Namaste is a Hindu salute to a friend (or anyone one meets, for that matter), meaning basically "I see the Christ in you." It is an acknowledgement that, as Stefan often reminds us, you are I and I am you and we two are He.
Pax Domini is from the Latin Mass, meaning "the peace of God."
Shalom or Shalom aleichem are Hebrew greetings, meaning Peace" or "Peace be with you."

All of these things, of course, are simply "religion" and are useful only if they provide a contact point with the One in, with and under Whom we live, move and have our being. If all of the "religion" vanished from the earth next hour, the One would still be the One and we would still be He manifesting as We. As long as we still perceive separation and duality, we will need and will continue to create those touch points; religion kindly provides them for us; science provides them for others who may be repelled by religion.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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