There seems to be ongoing discussion regarding whether or not prayer is helpful.
The Humanist Charity organisation “Responsible Charity” responded to the PrayForNepal post with a critical Facebook post ‘Prayers aren’t helping the Nepal earthquake victims; donations, volunteers and deployment of rescuers and professionals on the ground is what they need!’
The pro prayer group suggest that the key to this idea of prayer is intentionality. By praying we invoke, intend, or otherwise seek to induce an outcome to an event that is different from a passive outlook. If we look at prayer as a subset of intention, we can see that prayer is actually a universal form that is broader than any one religion, or spiritual practise.
I don,t know what the best way is and I am not convinced of others claims that they do. Having been involved in development work I have seen the damage and destruction caused by well intended organizations that claim they know what is needed. And I am not really convinced about research measuring the effects of prayer. I have one prayer that I turn to. I ask that I be shown the way and that I might see the light. I know from this place that I might come to be be whole in my intentions and actions. Maybe that is what the “pro player” side is suggesting in some way.
My wife and I have friends in Nepal and this is very much on our minds these days. I have no prayers to offer. It,s not that I oppose this but more about trusting in where an open heart leads, so I attempt to bring awareness to the things that block the heart. Wendel Berry,s poem expresses my experience.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Only now at 61 years of age am I coming to know myself and to trust in a more authentic unfolding of what I am. It has taken a long time and by no means do I believe that the work has ended but at least I have come to understand my conditioning and to step out from behind it.That is no small step. Some might think it to be a self fixated exercise but how can any one know what is authentic about another if they are not able to discern it in their own lives. In my naive and narcissistic early years there was, now apparent, a significant level of ignorance and presence of brutal and destructive behaviour. The selection of friends and influences was inseparable from what I identified myself to be and by and large it partially served to perpetuate what I had become. Awareness of a need for intimacy, a sense of truth and honesty and openness began only to enter into relationship with myself and others later in life and it has been a significant influence in a change of ways but ultimately it is only now that I feel the freedom and comfort in being what I am and in turn expressing that in a more authentic way beyond the perceived scrutiny and displeasure of others. There is no intent to be hurtful in my pursuit and expression of what is authentic about my being but inevitably the way has been unclear at times complicated by the unsettling adjustment that has come with the loosening of a dependency on not so authentic influences. I realize that I have been in my relationships and friendships somewhat inauthentic, in general, and I am aware of something of that false creation that continues to exist, surfacing at times in ways that interferes with intimacy, all be it in more recent years a consciousness has arisen that is able to witness this in a way that is less invested in it than at other times. Fortunately and with gratitude I embrace being in that place from which there exists a guiding light that more than any other external influence that I have encountered in my life time I trust in and have developed a sense of faith that it leads me to truth, authenticity and openness.
The Following is From Ram Das Website
My friend Anne discovered this and forwarded it to me.
On the spiritual path, we all take on different practices to free ourselves and clear the way to merging with the one, and finding peace and balance in our lives. Of all the practices, discovering an intimacy with unconditional love is the most difficult and important. To be able to act selflessly with our close ones, our neighbors, and even strangers takes enormous courage.
Courage to love starts with a heartful engagement with life. It takes courage to look at ourselves and allow for discovery- for a revealing of our shadows. It takes a basic trust that we are not alone – that we are connected with each other and there is a force of unconditional love that can be a presence in our lives.
Combined with the courage for self revelation is the sense of vulnerability. Vulnerability is being honest, taking emotional risks, and making friends with uncertainty – this fuels our daily lives and is the core of innovation and change.
Humans have come to be deeply conditioned to experience life from their brains cut off from deeper more organic realisations. It’s as if in the development of human life we have excluded all that has come before the brain. The key for me has been through meditation to not exclude the brain but to include in our being that which the brain has forgotten in its extreme focus on rationality and reason. I am talking about a wisdom that arises from other parts of being that is not realized through the processes of the higher brain.
We can become quite attached to our conditioned perceptions of things in life. Awareness for me involves being attentive beyond the cognitively processed perceptions. It requires that I am not so attached to my perceptions or at least being aware of my attachments to them. As postmodern writers remind us we can not understand phenomenon as objectively as we are inclined to believe. The observer is not separate from the observed and as well when I am attached to a perception there is a cognitive process that fixes an experience in place and time and the reality is that nothing remains static in this way.
It seems that there are moments for me that perception does not involve this aspect of cognition and that is more about an experience of involving a connection to the heart; and being. What is experienced in direct awareness is without name or definition and I am not separate from it. It is perception prior to the cognitive processes that sees from a deeper truth.
The world of art is a confusing place. For me the creative process is quite simple. It is not an intellectual affair. There are moments when cognitive process do take over and there are moments of more free expression from places within that are prior to this quality of formulation. Writing can be a similar experience with a further step of formulation to contend with. Language itself involves a representational system that must be mastered. But there can be a free-flowing and creative aspect to the expression that originates from the heart using the brain as a tool but not overly involving it.
I become disinterested in creating when I find myself becoming compromised by these cognitive processes. They seem to exclude so much of what I value in creating. This can occur at a cultural level, subtly or not so subtly as artistic creation is over analyzed, commoditized and assessed and art can become defined in a way that is fixed and elitist. A community and dialect and way of seeing is formulated that reinforces superficial concepts that reinforce an institutionalized approach. Artistic expression is outside of this for me. From this an attachment to a way of seeing that perpetuates rigidly defined and fixed perceptions and impressions that is extended to individuals and self-identification occurs. In turn these norms can be an enormous influence. I think that this can as well occur with religion, culture and anything else that we become attached to. Refining our awareness of how we confine and/or limit our experience through this process can be helpful. This awareness itself allows for a letting go and an unfolding that are at the heart of art and creation and life. Artistic creation is a holistic process and is affected by all else.
Chogyam Trungpa raised the notion of “spiritual materialism” in his book of the same name. We can come to compromise and limit our spirituality through the process of attachment to and pursuit of concepts and in the rigid identification with these concepts. The essence of spiritual awareness and unfolding occurs at a level that is prior to conception and prior to cognition. It is a part of our human development and functioning that we process information through our cerebral processes but something is lost in our conditioning that promotes a cerebral function that dominates all other aspects of our being.
I came across this posting on the Collective Consciousness site today, “Knowing how to live is not something we have to teach children. Knowing how to live is something we have to be careful not to take away from them.” Recently I have been struck with the realization that I am only now waking up to who I am and how to live. This is something that has been taken away from me; that I have forgotten. It’s not any ones fault but more the result of an ignorance inherent in the collective consciousness. And it resulted in my ego.
In my work as a “Social Worker” I often questioned the methods and the overall usefulness of therapy focused on interventions with the ego. I still do but more than ever I realize the significance in seeing the ego for what it is and how it has come to exist in us. We have to be able to understand how we have come to be fragmented and to re-experience in a more whole way all that has become lost and buried as a result of that.
I have lived my life in a fragmented way as result of a conditioning that has fragmented my consciousness and allowed for an ego to become dominant. It has dulled my ability to live. It could have been no other way. At least there has been something about my experience that has enabled me to take responsibility and to wake up. I am now able to see my ego. I am not always able to transcend it but at least I can now see where I have gone astray and where I go astray. Most of all I can be forgiving of myself and the folly of a life I have led. In some ways I am still finding my way back from all of that. In my new awareness there is a movement to integrate all that has been separated and to come to live in a whole way. I find that old habits still surface and the influence of others can still trigger them and as well the world itself can be influential in that it is in general not yet awake.
Most of all I can see how others are acting from the influence of the ego and in that I can realize that they have forgotten who they truly are and in so being they are distant from a truth of being. There is so much of our actions on this planet that is without compassion and a genuine care that are a consequence of this separation. It is clear to see that brutality and hate still dominate at times and in situations. So we can see what it has done to forget who we are and how to live and yes we have to be more careful than we have been not to take away children’s awareness of how to live.
I have recently read the book “The Untethered Soul” “http://untetheredsoul.com by Michael Singer and found it to be an excellent resource for understanding the dynamics that lead to and that may contribute to a liberation from our conditioning.
Here are some references from the book.
In the book, The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer takes you step-by-step through the process of Gyana, the Yoga of the Intellect, to the Source. Moreover, he does it with elegant simplicity. Read this book carefully and you will get more than a glimpse of eternity.
– Deepak Chopra Author Life After Death: The Burden of Proof
In lucid, unadorned prose, Michael Singer delivers the essence of the great spiritual teachings of the Ages. Each chapter of The Untethered Soul is an instructive meditation on the binds of the human condition and how each and every knot can be gracefully untied so that our souls may fly. The accuracy and simplicity of this work is a measure of its pure mastery.
– James O’Dea President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS)
East is East and West is West, but Michael Singer bridges these two great traditions in a radiant treatise on how to succeed in life from our spiritual quest to our everyday tribulations. Freud said that life was composed of love and work. With great eloquence, wit, and compelling logic, Singer’s brilliant book completes this thought by showing them to be two poles of the same selfless devotion.
– Ray Kurzweil inventor National Medal of Technology recipient and author of The Age of Spiritual Machines The Singularity is Near and other books