Saturday, April 27, 2013

The structure of prayer, part 3

Every action aimed at inhabiting the attention is an action aimed at awakening prayer.

One could say that the whole aim of inner work is to awaken prayer within every moment. The three centers we are privileged to enjoy, the sensory apparatus we take impressions in through, are designed for prayer. And it's only in the conjunction of the three, as prayer gently and gradually awakens within the mind, the body, and then within the feelings, all in relationship with one another, that we discover a new and perpetually renewed meaning in life.

The essential meaning of life is in prayer; prayer is no dry, repetitive engagement with words, but a living and tactile encounter with the world around us.

The prayer of the mind, using words, perpetually turns us back towards an understanding that God exists and is with us at all times.

The prayer of the body, consistently receiving the grace and the blessing of God through every sensory impression that it takes in, speaks to us in a language that deepens our relationship to the world and to life.

The prayer of the feelings enhances our understanding that the experiences we have are sacred and consist of blessing after blessing.

I was speaking to a friend in the work over a month ago when she pointed out that every day brings blessings of this kind. This is what becomes possible when the centers work together. And this is just the beginning, as a study of it in the context of the enneagram reveals.

Three-centered prayer occupies the note fa on the enneagram, the position of power. It is the third iteration of prayer in the inner evolution of man, and confers — if it arises — the necessary force which must work in conjunction with Being to produce a higher level of prayer and understanding. But all three of the kinds of prayers are needed: the foundational and gravitational one-centered prayer of instinctive materiality, the generative two-centered prayer of emotion and desire, and the intelligible three-centered prayer of power informed by consciousness.

All three of these kinds of prayer together form a re-mi-fa triad that serves as the precursor for a passage into the realm of Being. This work, characterized by the shock of conscious labor, serves as a preparation for passage from the natural, or ordinary material realm of prayer, into the spiritual, or divinely informed, realm of prayer. These two domains are vastly different. One is under largely mechanical influences; the other, Heavenly ones. I have deliberately chosen to describe the diagram in Swedenborgian terms, since his conceptualization of the two sides of the diagram suits the situation best.

 One of the interesting things about three-centered prayer is that it represents the triad that provides the conscious shocks at the note fa. That is to say, the prayer of the mind, the body, and the feelings form the holy affirming, holy denying, and holy reconciling forces in the single note fa. There are relationships like this within every note on the enneagram, which one could spend a good deal of time contemplating. The point is, overall, that forces massed one within the other in an intricate blend of interactions that reminds us of neurological and cellular structures — which is exactly what they are. Swedenborg understood this quite fully, and blended his accomplished understanding of neurology as a mirror of heaven intimately with his understanding of  Divine love and Wisdom, Grace, and Prayer.

The action of prayer is the supremely transformational action. This is a central esoteric understanding in the Gurdjieff work, and, indeed, in every other legitimate spiritual practice. The understanding can't possibly be approached through any of the humanities or the ordinary sciences, and none of the results obtained by it have anything to do with the reductionist analysis of the world or the material interests of human beings. This is not a work for people interested in, as Ibn Arabi would call it, "worldly rubble." It benefits the soul alone.

 It's important to keep this understanding in mind when working. Inner work cannot develop without right action of prayer.

 May your soul be filled with light.


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