Prayer (2)

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From lecture 43, THREE BASIC PERSONALITY TYPES: REASON, WILL, EMOTION:

Many of my friends have prayed for help and strength on this path, but most of you do not recognize when your prayer is answered. The prayer is often answered in a form that seems unpleasant to you — a conflict, or a friction, or something that induces you to feel unjustly treated. You do not realize that the very event that causes you temporary pain is an answer to your own prayer — the prayer in which you ask for help to recognize yourself and your conflicts so that you can purify yourself.

How can you recognize your inner conflict unless it manifests outwardly? Only then can you become aware of the hidden part in you that deviates from divine law. Because the deviation is negative, it must materialize as something you feel in a disharmonious way. You often overlook this simple logic, and persistently take the frictions in your life as though they had nothing to do with you. So I beg of you, my dear friends, consider the outer conflicts that come to you as answers to your prayer. Turn in the other direction. Instead of becoming defiant and hurt, turn inside, turn around, no matter how wrong you think others may be. Ask yourself, ask God: “Isn’t there some grain of truth somewhere in this painful conflict? By recognizing it I will continue to learn and develop.” A wealth of further recognition must come to you that will cancel out all the disharmony, all the feeling of injustice or sadness, defiance or misery. Just turn your attention to your own inner reactions, my friends, when you feel unjustly treated or hurt, and you will see that your very own prayer was answered. When you see your inner error, all the friction between you and your brothers and sisters will disappear like snow in the sun. You will be able to unite with understanding and love.

From lecture 105, HUMANITY’S RELATIONSHIP TO GOD IN VARIOUS STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT:

QUESTION: Will you please elaborate on the meaning of prayer in the different stages?

ANSWER: I believe it is rather evident from the lecture itself. Prayer will be adapted to the conscious attitude and concept of any given phase. In the very first stage, when man is still almost in the stage of being without awareness, there is no prayer, because there is no God-concept. In the next stage, when man begins to ask questions and wonder, and in this spontaneous experience of wondering and allowing new considerations to fill him, this, in itself, is prayer or meditation. The next stage may be the realization of a Supreme Intelligence. In this stage, prayer takes the form of admiration of the marvel of the universe and nature. It is worship. In the next stage, when the confusion of the mind, the immaturity and inadequacy cause fear, clinging, helplessness, dependence; when wishful-thinking and greed, unacceptance of reality causes supplication, prayer will be expressed accordingly. When prayers seem to be answered in this state, it is not because God acts, but because, in some way, man is sincere in spite of all his self-deceptions and evasions and has thus opened a channel within through which laws of being can penetrate to him. This is an important distinction that will only be perceived at a later stage. When man realizes his own participation in whether or not a prayer is answered, he will lose the sense of helplessness and of the arbitrariness of a willful God he has to appease by man-made and superimposed rules. But I might also add that what often appears like an answered prayer is the strength of an unconflicted mind in the particular area where the prayer is answered, at least at that time.

When man comes into the state of independence, when he lets go of this imaginary God who punishes, rewards, and leads life for him, when he finds himself in the state of atheism, of denial of any higher being, he does not pray, of course. At least not in the conventional sense. He may meditate on himself, he may look at himself in sincerity, and this, as you all know by now, is the best prayer in the true sense. But it may also be that man, in the atheistic state, is completely irresponsible, and fails to think and look at himself. He may escape from himself the same way as the person who uses God as an escape from himself.

When man reaches the stage of active pursuit of self-awareness, of facing himself as he really is, he may, at the beginning, still be accustomed to the old prayer of begging for help, asking God to do for him what he used to shy away from doing himself. Yet, in spite of this habit in prayer, he begins to face himself. Only after reaching deeper levels of such self-facing, will he gradually avoid the kind of prayer he was used to. He may even go through a stage of not actively praying at all, in the usual sense. But he meditates — and that is often the best prayer! He meditates by looking at his real motivations; by allowing his actual feelings to come to the surface; by questioning them as to their reason for being. In this kind of activity, prayer in the old sense becomes more and more meaningless, contradictory. His prayer is the action of self-awareness and of looking at himself in truth. His prayer is his sincere intent to face what may be most unpleasant. It is prayer because it contains the attitude that truth for the sake of truth is the threshold to love. Without truth and without love, there can be no God-experience. Love cannot grow out of trying to pretend a truth that is not felt. But love can grow out of facing a truth, no matter how imperfect it is. This attitude IS prayer. Candor with oneself IS prayer; alertness to one’s resistance is prayer; owning up to something that one has hidden from in shame is prayer. When this proceeds, the state of being gradually comes into existence, little by little, with interruptions. Then, in the state of being, prayer is no longer an action of uttered words or thoughts. It is a feeling of being in the eternal now; of flowing in a current of love with all beings; of understanding and perception; of being alive. It is impossible to convey that these few aspects I mentioned here, in addition to many more indescribable feelings, comprise prayer in the highest sense. It is awareness of God in His Reality. But this kind of prayer cannot be imitated or learned through any teachings, prescribed practices, or disciplines. It is the natural outcome of the courage and humility to face oneself completely and without reservation. Before you have reached this highest state of relating to God, of being, where prayer and being are one, all you can do, the best prayer in the world, is the renewed constant intent to face yourself without any reservation; to remove all pretenses between your conscious mind and that which is in you; and then, to remove the pretense between what is in you, and others. This is the pathway, my friends.

From lecture 92, REPRESSED NEEDS — RELINQUISHING BLIND NEEDS — PRIMARY AND SECONDARY REACTIONS:

QUESTION: Besides the psychological approach, is it not true that prayer and turning to God, asking for help, is of great assistance to us?

ANSWER: The psychological approach is actually prayer in action. If you really analyze what happens here, you will find that as you acknowledge and understand all distortions — without self-moralizing — you do the best to purify yourself. As discussed in a few recent lectures, the so-called psychological approach is not in contradiction to the spiritual one. Of course, prayer is of help and is recommended. But I have to give you more than advocate prayer. And you have to do more than merely pray for help. You have to observe your attitude in prayer. This is a very deep and subtle thing. If you pray and find the hidden attitude that you expect God to do it for you, then your approach is not only destructive, but it also indicates a more deeply rooted wrong attitude about life and your role in it. If you pray for help, but with the full intent and realization that you have to face and eventually change, that you want to see the truth, that it depends on your efforts and willingness, then prayer is very useful. There is a fine distinction between such healthy and right attitude and the idea that you should sit and wait for God to hand it to you. The latter kind of prayer will do no good whatsoever.

From lecture 50, THE VICIOUS CIRCLE:

QUESTION: Another spirit told me once that it is good to have a very long prayer and meditation. After some years this became very much a habit. Some time ago, when I asked you about it, you said that this may not be good because there is a rigidity and a habit in such prayer and that we should try to unlearn what we did at that time. I was wondering why was it that we were told by a supposedly developed spirit to fall into this habit-pattern?

ANSWER: When a person first comes to a spiritual path of development and is not used to prayer or concentration at all, such meditation is a good discipline. It is favorable to learn concentration through prayer and meditation, since your thoughts go through a certain cleansing process and you build a certain consciousness. You learn to cultivate unselfish thoughts. Your thoughts are elevated in prayer, thus clearing the way for a later stage of your development. So the power to concentrate can be combined with cultivating constructive and unselfish thoughts, as in prayer. Certainly, concentration could be learned in connection with any subject, but it is better to learn it in this way than in mundane matters. So you see, both the cleansing of the thought process as it happens in prayer, and concentration is necessary on this path. Both could be learned separately, but it is just as well to combine them. Once the discipline is learned, one has to guard against the routine of prayer which makes it rigid and devoid of aliveness.

Different activities and attitudes apply to different phases of one’s development. Once you have reached a certain point, it would be harmful in many respects to remain in a rigid routine. If your prayer does not vibrate any more, it is better to have short prayers that change according to your needs at any stage of your present development, also paying attention to your present difficulties and inner obstacles. The power of concentration you have learned can then be used for the purpose of self-finding in all the work you do on this path. That is much more productive than rattling off in one’s mind the same thing over and over again. Children in first grade learn something different than what they learn later.

From lecture 65, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

QUESTION: In a recent discussion in our group, one of our friends expressed the thought that prayer was indicative of weakness and he was therefore opposed to it. I was taught that prayer is the means by which God’s power is released onto human life. Perhaps you would be willing to tell us about prayer in general, and I have also three specific questions. One: is it valid for us to pray for others?

ANSWER: Yes, certainly, it is valid to pray for others. But the question may arise in some of you, “What if I pray for something for another person that this other person cannot receive due to his own inner obstructions?” This is a valid question. Nevertheless, prayer is good, right and beneficial. But the prayer is not necessarily answered exactly in the way you thought, or as the person involved may desire it. This may not be possible. But it certainly brings out harmonious currents and forces. That takes effect. It is like your love touching the heart of another person. When you pray and wish well to another person, it generates a pure strength, a pure effect that produces results around you. Let us suppose that this cannot affect the person involved because he or she is so cut off from reality, from the spiritual forces. This strength nevertheless works and takes effect in the universe and therefore benefits many, including yourself and even the particular person who is in darkness, but at a later time. For the love and goodwill you generate by praying for another person definitely makes an imprint on the cosmic forces, and, it also has a definite effect on your own soul by the unselfish love and well-wishing, by the constructive desires that have nothing to do with your selfish aims. The best prayer for another person can be formulated in words asking that the other person receive guidance, inspiration, and insight most necessary at the particular time. That includes everything.

What you said about a friend who feels prayer to be a weakness is, of course, an emotional, subconscious and illogical reaction that has probably nothing to do with his conscious ideas on the subject. I believe that the person in question is well aware of the fact that this is one of those typical wrong conclusions you will often find in the unconscious. It is of tremendous importance to find such wrong conclusions in the unconscious mind. Many of you have similar unconscious misconceptions without being aware of them. To find these illogical conclusions is the first step toward creating order in your inner universe, your soul. In truth, it is actually a sign of strength if you can ask for something. Not being able to ask because of pride is nothing but weakness. But to find out where and in what way this element of error exists — and it exists in all of you to some extent — is the basis for correcting such misconceptions which may lie only in your emotions and not in your thoughts at all. Then, and then only can you replace the misconception with the right concept. But find out where you feel that way, even if you do not think you do. Not everyone may feel it about prayer. But many of you may feel it about asking another human being for a favor. Basically it is the same thing.

QUESTION: These are merely extensions, but I will present them anyway. Will praying for others be productive of constructive results in securing peace.

ANSWER: Oh yes, indeed. If prayer has effect, sooner or later, on one individual, it certainly has effect on humankind as a whole. I do not mean that the desired result manifests immediately. But I would like to add something more. Prayer is most constructive if one also gains a bit of insight about one’s own inner errors. How can this be combined with the prayer for peace? It can be done in the following way: What goes on in your world is exactly the same thing on a larger scale as what goes on between two or three or four human beings. From the point of view of spiritual truth and spiritual reality, there are no big and little issues. The tiniest issue in a domestic quarrel, for example, is of exactly the same impact and importance as big international issues. This may sound fantastic to you. Nevertheless it is so, my friends. You think that because many lives are involved, the larger issues are more important. Little do you realize that, in truth and reality, your inner deviations and errors affect and involve just as many lives in the long run. You think that because the question of life or death exists in international quarrels, it is more important than the little, inner, subtle rights or wrongs in your private lives. But you ignore that with these subtle private undercurrents you contribute to the so-called big and important issues. In fact, the former are the cause of the latter.

I can very well understand your difficulty in grasping what I say here. To be able to understand what I say calls for your innermost depth. In creation there is only one question: right or wrong, truth or untruth, light or darkness. From our view it makes no difference whether such conflict exists in one soul or involves many. One causes the other and it is therefore the same. If you deceive yourself and your motives and thereby create a confused and disharmonious situation — for your self-deceptions and confusions are bound to negatively affect other people — you, together with the other people involved, create very unfavorable chain reactions and vicious circles. Not only does the very same principle underlie what manifests in world politics, but is partly responsible for it. Each emotion, each attitude, each current of the soul leaves an imprint on the cosmic forces and consequently returns to you, often in a roundabout way, until these negative forces are exhausted.

If you try to comprehend the thought I present here, you will gain a great deal of insight and understanding. In your prayer for peace, try to find where, in your own surroundings, you act in ways that are similar to the actions and reactions of nations. By such discoveries, you will contribute more to peace than through other approaches. Find the similarity, then you will gain the insight and understanding that it is all one and the same. The so-called big issues could not exist if the many little issues in thousands of individual cases were not a precedent to the creation of the same situation on a larger scale.

This contemplation should help in a double way. One: it would contribute to your personal insights. Your philosophical understanding would increase and thus facilitate your incentive for purification. Two: you would recognize, without the slightest trace of guilt, how you personally contribute to and are in a small measure responsible for the world’s unrest. Not in the sense, as many people would believe, of not participating in political activities, but in the sense that your personal conflicts add to the general world conflict. Try to see this, and if you really try, you will find it.

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To my teacher Marieke Mars who taught me self-honesty. To my courageous and loving pathwork helper Dottie Titus.

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