Thursday, April 25, 2013

The structure of prayer, part 2

The reason Buddhists invented prayer wheels was probably from an original understanding that all movement, all turning—in tantric practice, the whole universe and all the material in it is perpetually engaged in turning—is a sacred action, a form of prayer, in which all movement ultimately seeks a return to the transcendent source of arising. The centers in man are, like everything else in the universe, machines designed to form and re-create a relationship with the higher, in an ascending path towards the transcendent. This is what prayer, in its essence, is: the conscious effort to collect energy and return it to the source of its arising in God.

Man, because of his potential for consciousness, has a unique responsibility in this regard, but it can't be fulfilled without conscious participation in the form of prayer. Because man is iterated (created and expressed... or, so to speak, extruded) as a three-brained (and seven-centered) Being, he has not one but five total forms of physical prayer, or prayer-engines, active within his lower Being-parts. (Hence the probable origin of the five-chakra systems of Tibetan Buddhist doctrines.)

They are nested within one another like Russian dolls; two of them (the foundational efforts at prayer) are automatic, and three of them require conscious participation.

If you refer to the first diagram of prayer, you'll see how prayer is structured and layered in man.

First of all, we have instinctive prayer, that is, automatic prayer regulated by the instinctive center. This kind of prayer, common to all one-centered beings, fulfills all the automatic being-functions necessary for the existence of life. It corresponds to materiality on the basic enneagram of prayer, that is, to the note re in the octave. This type of prayer needs no assistance from the conscious mind in order to function. I have personally verified that it is possible, under certain circumstances, for a yogi or yogin to develop a specific connection to this level of prayer, at which point one will understand automatically functioning sacred actions as exclusive entities, that is, without the interference of the ordinary mind or, indeed, any of the other functions.

Under these conditions one becomes the prayer or sacred action, so, if the example we take is breathing, one becomes the breathing, and there is no other existence, reality, or entity other than the breathing. At this fundamental level of Reality one sees the "subjectively-absolute" nature of each level of action when taken unto itself, so that levels of prayer, while functioning parts of a fractal whole, can also be seen to exist as whole entities within themselves; hence the perfection of existence is completely contained and entirely reflected within each apparently disparate element.

This is, admittedly, an exotic experience, revealing the underpinnings of functions that we pay very little attention to and have almost no understanding of. (For example, with all the emphasis on attention to breathing in this, that or the other manner one encounters in pranayama, how many understand that the critical element in all of this is not how much one breathes, but how little one actually needs to breathe?) The bliss that Gurdjieff claims every three-brained Being ought to experience when taking in the second Being-food of air is related to the sacred action of prayer at the instinctive level. The satisfaction we feel when we eat is also related to this function; it easily becomes a vice.

An element that almost everyone is familiar with, however, is two-centered prayer, conducted by the conjunction of instinctive and sex center. The ultimate result of this much higher and more powerful level of prayer is orgasm. Gurdjieff called it "palpitating Self-oblivion;" and indeed, the action of orgasm produces a unique ecstasy which is entirely comparable to the "perfect oneness of being" I describe above as consequent to a whole experience of instinctive prayer. Two-centered prayer is a function of materiality plus desire, represented by the note mi on the octave. Sex itself represents the culmination of automatic prayer, which is why very nearly the entire animal kingdom engages in sexual congress of one kind or another. Although, as biologists have puzzled over for over a century, sexual reproduction isn't necessary, (leaving the strictly evolutionary explanations for it somewhat wanting) it is most desirable from a sacred point of view; and the universe naturally produces what is most desirable to God.

Man has these one-centered and two-centered functions combined in him because they are foundational; one cannot construct a three-brained or three-centered being without the underpinnings of the one-and-two centered actions of prayer. Some of the "secret" reasons the yogic chakras exist and relate to one another in the first place are subtly related to this question, which has universal implications, but that is another issue which can't possibly be covered in this series.

In the next essay, we'll examine the nature and consequences of three-centered prayer.

may your sould be filled with light.

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