*Brian Wilcox. 'Shekinah! (Glory!)'. Flickr
A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
* * *
Yesterday, you talked about prayer as being unique to each person. You said it would be shown. How?
When you yield to Spirit, and you listen, remaining in effortless, wakeful receptivity, answers come to you spontaneously. That is why I say, you will be shown. Too often, however, we have our head so filled with what others say is right for us or what we think is right for us, we cannot hear and receive what is shown us, being given us. We have stuffed our ears with ideas. When you are ready, truly prepared, exhausted with your effort, relax and see what happens. And listen, feel. Drop every idea of "I should" and "I shouldn't" and see. What is given you will usually be communicated through a subtle bodily sense. While many treat the body as the foe of Grace, the body, when attuned to Grace, becomes the means of Grace. The Lord of Love dwells in the Temple. That Temple is the body.
How can one pray verbally within nonduality?
One can only pray within oneness, for oneness is the ground of prayer to an object of devotion, say God or Krishna or Allah or the one Self ..., that is still happening within oneness. The Supreme being objectifies to create a duality of connection. You cannot pray outside of oneness, even if you were to believe you were separate from all. This, for you cannot not be with and in all, as all is with and in you. I recall being trained and, later, teaching others in Contemplative Prayer. The goal is union with the Divine, I was told. My idea, based on the teachings received, was a union with God, one in which the thought of God remains. But notice that word with. No one prepared me for forgetting God in God. That came one day when spontaneous gratitude arose. The words flowed out, in silence, "Thank You, for Your love." This continued over time. I had to integrate this, for no one had prepared me to pray to a non-object. This was the threshold to the dropping of even "with."
That sounds, well odd, praying to a non-object.
The churches have called the prayer of oneness Pure Prayer. In Pure Prayer there is no idea of the Supreme Being to which the prayer is going. Only the idea of God keeps God in the head. Those in the church struggle, however, to receive the blessing of Pure Prayer, for the God-idea is so entrenched in its consciousness. It fears the dissolution of God as object in God. God wants to swallow God.
Interesting way of saying it! Is this what many have called the Prayer of the Heart?
I choose not to say what others mean by that. What I mean, is when the thought is captured by the heart, thought dissolves in purity, or innocence. Thought, even the God-idea, returns to the Source of gestation of all. This is a purity before the idea of pure or impure, so innocence. Yet, in the prayer to a nonobject, the idea of separation remains, the sense of a prayer going out to the unidentified, nameless Other, so there is still a subtle sense of duality, or separation. Even this unnamed Otherness is destined to be swallowed up.
This, then, isn't yet Pure Prayer?
Prayer that goes anywhere is not Pure Prayer; in Pure Prayer, prayer does not go anywhere. The self is praying within the one Self, the Supreme One, and as the Supreme One. Yet, as I have said, God likes to dance.
So, different ways of prayer and worship are ways God dances, it seems.
I, finally, realized one way wholeheartedly to engage in worship is not try to make sense of it. This is like chanting a mantra and not thinking about what it means ~ the Universe already knows. Even creeds can be recited as poetry, as fluid intimations of the Unspeakable. Creeds can be dance; dance is poetry in motion. So, if you want to dance, dance, dance with and in the Absolute. And, too, do not define prayer as a self-conscious act, or something that is principally viewed as religious or spiritual.
I thought that's what prayer is.
Prayer arises in the act one gives oneself wholeheartedly to.
And what's that act?
When I write or give guidance, that act becomes prayer in the act, the acting, itself; the acting becomes praying, is praying. When I am sharing in conversation with others, fully present with them, prayer arises in the act of that communion. If a swimmer gives her whole self, wholeheartedly, to her swimming, that act becomes a prayer. So with a poet writing poetry, a dancer dancing, a mechanic repairing a vehicle, a mother nursing a baby, a surgeon doing surgery, ... Even crying in sorrow is prayer, when self is expressed wholeheartedly through that action. Many persons are praying and do not know it. We pray through the things we do, the things we create.
Wholeheartedness seems important. You keep using that.
The late Soto Zen teacher Dainin Katagiri alerted me to the centrality of wholeheartedness in the path, through his teachings. He referred once, in his The Light that Shines through Infinity, to Zen teacher Tozan. Tozan was asked, "What is real Buddha beyond three categories of Buddha?" ~ this refers to the three Buddha-bodies, or expressions of Buddha, dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, and sambhogakaya. Tozan replied, "Now, here am I, wholehearted." Here, as Katagiri remarks, is seriousness and flexibility. Even if you are laughing your head off, there is a seriousness, but a light, flexible seriousness, not the morbid kind so prevalent. There is a real humor about this, but not a frivolousness. So, prayer cannot be halfhearted, you give all your being to what is now. This is direct, vivid, sharp. Prayer is like living on the edge of a razor, yet you find you can move about there, as long as you remain humorously serious. Yet, if you become frivolous, rather than humorous, you could be cut in two, mercilessly.
So, prayer is a serious matter.
Life is a serious matter, humorously so. The energy of Grace is powerful, you can be playful with it, but you do not play with it. Prayer is a sacred, holy playfulness, not something to take lightly. So, the need for reverence. True holiness can eat you alive, and spit you out. It, too, is love, joy, peace ~ all good. Holiness is tenderly fierce.
Could we speak more about the difference here between humor and frivolousness, maybe tomorrow? And what you mean by "tenderly fierce," which seems a contradiction to me?
Let us take this up soon. May peace go with us!
*Brian Wilcox. 'tenderness'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.