Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > the silence of Grace


the Joy of nothing happening ~ the silent Work

on Passive Prayer

Jun 23, 2020

Pink Dogwood Flower

Brian Wilcox 'Pink Dogwood Flower'

A follower, who had been meditating for many years, sought the Sage for advice. "Sir," she said, "a lot used to happen in my times of meditation. Now, nothing is happening. What would you recommend?" The Sage said, "Enjoy nothing happening."

* * *

Several days ago, I shared Teresa of Avila's image of watering a garden for stages of prayer - see "Resting in the Downpour," June 20, 2020. Her fourth and last is: The garden is watered by downpours of heavy rain. I wrote:

Here, the self feels only effortless joy in prayer. ... The joy has no object: God has ceased to be an object, and the self enjoys unmediated, pure union with Spirit. No longer can one distinguish between "mind," "soul," and "spirit." Here, this silent prayer has been called the Prayer of Passive Love and Pure Prayer.

Teresa's final movement in prayer corresponds to "Union" in the classical Christian teaching on the stages of prayer. The movements are Purgative, we undergo a moral cleansing, the Illuminative, we receive spiritual insight, and Union, we are graced with a communion of love with the Divine.

The challenge in the movement to Passive Prayer, or Union, is two-fold. First, one remains attracted to prior experience, which appears more pleasurable to the senses. Second, one fears the heightened vulnerability in the more subtle experience of union with the Divine. The vulnerability is for one is releasing more control of means and outcomes. The self, or ego, has lived engaging life, including prayer, with a sense of I-can-do-it; even if by grace one does it, he or she still claims to do it. In Passive Love, there is no I to claim to pray. Prayer happens, no one prays.

* * *

In some paths, prayer is seen as an accomplishment. We are to do prayer or prayers. Dropping this idea of doing prayer, including the thought that you are saying, or praying, a prayer, can assist in welcoming this Passive Prayer.

Chan Master Sheng, in the The Method of No-Method, writing on this passive heart-posture in Zen Buddhism and regarding the Buddha Teaching [Dharma], writes:

To the extent that I practice and know the Dharma, it is because I do not think about them as accomplishments.

In theistic terms, prayer is the doing of Grace. The most that could be said might be, "God prayed with God." So, when one is ready, she or he needs to drop the I as a doer of prayer. This includes the thought "I meditate" or "I am meditating" or "I am a meditator." The idea of personal accomplishment will block the motions of universal Grace. Better drop it sooner, than later; it will drop, anyway, in the passive Quiet.


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Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > the silence of Grace

©Brian Wilcox 2020