Thursday, January 15, 2015

Observations on prayer, part V

 I suppose that what interests people most about this subject is how one ought to "go about it."

And indeed, I believe that the previous four installments have offered some ideas about that. 

Yet we all want specific formulas; and we want exact instructions. We would like so much for prayer, and our understanding of it, to be outward. This is a natural and urgent tendency, and I don’t think we should fault ourselves for it; yet we have to come to a new relationship within ourselves in order to approach prayer, and that relationship has to be one of responsibility.

I need to develop the most intimate kind of contact with myself, which will create an exquisite and unbearable kind of discomfort. That intimacy will, at the same time, be the sweetest taste I have ever discovered. This is because that intimacy consists of the contact between my outward self and my inward relationship with God, which are two very contradictory tendencies I have in me. I have to explore this in the deepest and most natural way — as a human being, willing to touch, to sense, to explore — in order to begin to develop a relationship with myself which may activate this impulse towards prayer I speak of.

 The Hesychasts, those Desert fathers who gave up so much and spent so much time in inward contemplation, realized to the last man... and woman... that one must abandon the most complicated forms of prayer and discover the simplest prayers. The prayer Lord have mercy, which contains a single action, is the most effective, although Lord have mercy — Christ have mercy is the version of this prayer I usually use. 

This, according to the science of the octave, is the prayer of intentional suffering, the second prayer, the prayer of the New Testament. 

The Old Testament prayer is the prayer of Moses: I am — I wish to be, which is at the heart of Gurdjieff’s original practice. 

According to the laws of development, the two prayers ought to be undertaken in an order — the Mosaic prayer, in the effort to establish Being, and the Christian prayer as the response to Being, which is undertaken only after one has developed the capacity for responsibility.

Explaining this system doesn't truly help, because it is only useful from the outside of the practice, and serves no purpose when one is within the effort of inmost prayer. Inmost prayer is guided by higher principles, not by systems;  and it is only the intimate contact with Being, that organic foundation that leads us inwards towards truth, that can uncover the nature of inmost prayer and lead us into it.

It sounds glib, but I would say that in the practice of prayer, one must go with the heart first. Where the heart goes, I think, the mind will follow; and I think we all know that the mind cannot lead the heart where it has no wish to go.

Both these parts ground themselves in sensation. I need to begin within the organic sense of being, and go from there.


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