Saying For Today: Prayerfulness means not prayer, not in the usual sense, but that one is oneed so with the inner posture of prayer, the attitude of prayer, that we could say he or she is a walking prayer, without a word of prayer being spoken.
*Brian Wilcox. 'Visions of Blue'.
A continuation of the series "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
Silence is the matrix from which word is born, the home to which word returns through understanding.... For those who know only the world of words, silence is mere emptiness. But our silent heart knows the paradox: the emptiness of silence is inexhaustibly rich; all the words in the world are merely a trickle of its fullness.
*David Steindl-Rast. The Way of Silence.
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Spoke the sage, "A man visited a woman known for her spiritual devotion and wise guidance. He asked, 'How can I approach God?' She replied, 'Be silent for a moment.' Before he could get a word out, as his mouth began to move to speak, she said, 'Now.' Closing her eyes, this invited the man to do the same. After a short time, she spoke from the silence, 'What did you hear?' 'Nothing,' said the man. She instructed, 'Always start from there.'"
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So, silence is the starting place for prayer?
Yes. You meet God when not looking for God. And to hear the inner Voice begins with the absence of hearing anything. This means, the Word precedes words; words, at best, partially communicate the mind of the Word. This is implied in the Christian Scriptures, "And the Word became flesh." God births God through words, meaning images, words, feelings, thoughts, ... Any form can be God giving birth to God, or God taking shape, being in-fleshed in the body of Nature through a particular form. So, said Buddha in the Heart Sutra, "Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form." The nonspecific Quality wherein there is no particular form, only the potential of form, becomes form, while there is no separation between formless and form. So, when words flow from silence, words bear the imprint of the Silence, are a continuation of the Silence. This is one reason contemplatives, who live from silence, generally do not speak rapidly, but you will notice there are gaps that permeate their speech. Those gaps represent interludes of silence, while the Silence is the ground of even their common speech.
Why can't words return us to silence, so be the starting of prayer?
There is no word without the Word. The Word first speaks Itself by saying nothing. The Word, then, speaks out of the fullness of Its silent being. Silence is the ground of words. Surrounding words is silence. Silence does not return to words, words do not surround silence. While words, being from silence, can return us to silence, beginning with silence, we begin from the fount of words. Silence is the most natural posture of prayer.
When I began in prayer, silence was the exception, now often I cannot pray verbally from the silence.
When one becomes grounded in Silence, eventually he or she will observe how often trying to utter prayerful words from the Silence will not happen, the words begin being swallowed up by, or dissolving back into, the Silence. Yet, recall, the Silence is even the ground of the duality of silence and sound. Hence, being quiet is not the same as being silent in the Silence. Persons could sit in a group and not speak for an hour, observing quiet, maybe even doing something they might call meditation, this does not mean all present, or anyone present, would have surrendered passively, receptively in the Silence. And turning this into an effort of acquisitiveness, so to get something, negates the purity of that arising from the Silence, this subtle aggression negates the natural heart-posture of receptivity.
Does this happen often to you, this inability to pray verbally in silence?
What do you do then?
I relax and realize nothing need be said, silence itself is prayer; the Silence is prayer happening in timelessness. In the Silence itself, there is no duration, prayer is united in the eternal Now. The happening of prayer, then, is not sequential, as in spoken prayer. I would agree with those mystics who have taught that prayer is already being uttered silently in the heart; that is, for the person of prayerfulness, prayer is never ceasing within. Some have interpreted a teaching in the Christian Scriptures in this manner ~ "Pray without ceasing."
Sometimes, as just then, you use the word "prayerfulness." What's meant?
Here, one is clothed, or filled, with the spirit of prayer. Persons always jealous, we could say, are filled with the spirit of jealousy. A person always angry, around that one, you can feel a spirit of anger. We hear of persons having a "kind spirit."
Like an aura?
Yes. A distinctive atmosphere, or energy quality. Prayerfulness means not prayer, not in the usual sense, but that one is oneed so with the inner posture of prayer, the attitude of prayer, that we could say he or she is a walking prayer, without a word of prayer being spoken. Another metaphor is of perfume, one carries the perfume of prayer. So, one is being prayer. This will usually arise from returning to silence often, spending much time in the quiet, and without filling prayer time with prayers.
This doesn't make sense to me?
You know it, when you become it. When you become it, traditional prayers will recede in priority and use, while silence, both in time set aside and the quality of your presence at all times, will move to the forefront. And, then, you can sense spoken prayer is surrounded by the silence, robed in it, not apart from it.
Is it possible to move beyond spoken prayer altogether?
I find no logic to that needing to happen. My experience is that there are times, even when silent, that bliss of the quiet arises in a subtle sense of desire to express that in words, sometimes even in song. This is alike your love for a lover, for that love naturally wishes to take shape to express "I love you." So, spoken prayers, chants, song lyrics, ... can arise when in quiet prayerfulness. To remain grounded in silence, it is best not to vocalize outwardly, however, but to let the form remain in silence in the Silence, only expressed, or given a shape, inwardly.
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*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.