Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Universal Action of Prayer

As I have already mentioned on a number of occasions, it's impossible to understand inner work, in the end, without understanding prayer.

Prayer is a universal action. That is to say, it takes place on a very high level, and every being that participates in it is participating in the highest level of service to God.

It's well known that Gurdjieff explained that church services contain ancient esoteric teachings. Some of them may be obscure to us; more often, they aren't. Sometimes sacred truths hide in plain sight, where no one notices them. And sometimes, paradoxically, ordinary Christians and Buddhists seem to understand this better than students of Gurdjieff, who are so intent on looking for secret things that they walk right past the obvious.

The action of prayer is a universal action. It belongs to the level of starry worlds. We know this quite definitely, because in the Christian service, we are repeatedly reminded that Angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven constantly praise and glorify God's name. The action of prayer, in other words, increases in both quality and intensity as it moves into the higher levels of the universe. It's the action of beings at lower levels that make this possible. It becomes, consequently, the absolute duty of every human being engaged in any spiritual or inner work, esoteric or exoteric, to constantly pray. The Buddhists have a pretty good idea of this; they see it as so important that they have even invented prayer wheels, which turn constantly in order to deliver the action of prayer to higher levels.

 This creative (yet probably somewhat ineffective) methodology very nearly eclipses the average understanding of prayer in the West. Yet certain students of the Gurdjieff method, in particular Michel Conge (who wrote the Gurdjieff work's single most indispensable piece on prayer in the book Inner Octaves, which is not currently available to the public) had an excellent understanding of this question.

 Because the action of prayer belongs to the level of starry worlds, to pray is to gradually raise the level of one's effort to correspond to this type of vibration. This is a completely different influence than the influences we are generally exposed to, even those of a higher level than our own. And constant irradiation of Being by this action has the most extraordinary effect on a man or woman's relationship to their life.

Of course, as Gurdjieff so emphatically pointed out, a man must know how to pray; and he left his work with perhaps one of the most excellent methods ever passed on by any group, by any group of seekers, the Prayer of the Heart — Lord have Mercy — which originated with the Hesychasts, an early Christian sect.

 Every human being who prays raises his action at that moment to a level of consonance with this activity, taking place all across the universe at every moment. The vibrations of that action, which is universal, permeate all of material reality, and those vibrations are constantly available to help souls elevate themselves in their effort to reach God.

This prayer is an action of community, not just a community of mankind, but a community of planets, suns, and beings all across the universe, acting in concert together — exactly as the Christian liturgy and hymns of praise indicate. This is no different in Islam and Buddhism. So the traditions have kept alive a very vital understanding of both the role of prayer and its significance.

 To practice self remembering or any other spiritual discipline without understanding its relationship to prayer, and without linking that discipline unerringly to the action of prayer, is to mistake the practice. If a human being does not learn how to pray, learn it until it is in the very marrow of the bones, all other inner effort will eventually turn out to be useless.

Those who study this question from an inner point of view, rather than psychologically, will undoubtedly begin to see that the ego is fundamentally opposed to the action of prayer.

It is, however, more than willing to adopt the techniques of prayer as camouflage, an action every seeker should be aware of.

 I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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