“We have been so persistently taught that prayer consists in asking God for some human need that we have lost sight of our spiritual identity and have become a race of praying beggars.”
~ Charles Fillmore
“Prayer doesn’t change things for us, it changes us for things.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale
What showed up in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend was a consciousness of ignorance and fear, one that many of us thought long dead (but many others know better). It is a consciousness which has been encouraged by many aspects of our society, not just the right-wing media, but they bear a great share of the responsibility for fanning the flames of ignorance and fear. Like an iceberg, what we see above the surface is only a small percentage of this consciousness – it exists in various degrees in many people as a dominant way of thinking, and many more as secondary elements of their worldviews. To deny this is to make a grave mistake.
This consciousness is so pervasive that it exists in barely cloaked forms at the highest levels of our government – to deny this is to make another grave mistake.
Like any consciousness that leads to a worldview, it is self-justifying in that it alters perception to make the world look as if this consciousness is both reasonable and necessary. In that regard, it is no different from any other type of consciousness.
In fact, this element that surfaces as white supremacy is only one aspect of a much larger consciousness of ignorance and fear. It shows up as every human failing, every criminal and unethical act, every failure to act from a compassionate heart and the wisdom that emerges from a heart fully opened to compassion. You might say that it shows up in every opportunity for human learning and spiritual growth – it is not alien to us, it is part of our nature, a part that is to be gradually transcended as we deepen and grow.
So, what we see in Charlottesville is like one lesion on a body with many lesions, all arising from the same disease – a sense of separation from Good, from Love, and from Wisdom. Every lesion is a symptom of something deeper, there are no exceptions. Thinking that removing the most currently painful lesion will heal the body is magical thinking. We must get to cause – we know that, right?
If I were speaking to a spiritual community today, Sunday, I would make mention of this consciousness of ignorance and fear urging everyone present to look for evidence of its many tendrils within themselves. For when the consciousness of ignorance and fear is present beneath our awareness, we are helpless to do anything but be carried along by it, acting as though it were a justifiable way to see the world. Those of us who were not part of the mob in Charlottesville may well be part of the same root system which produced it. We believe in separation, we blame, we hate – but we are reasonable whereas they are not.
Have I ever blamed? Have I ever made another wrong in such a way as to accuse them of committing wrongful acts from a level of awareness that they had not attained? Have I ever projected my own unhealed issues onto others because I had not done my deep personal spiritual work? Of course I have – I still do, don’t you?
But ours is not to get stuck in self-criticism either – that is not productive. Ours is to find the Compassionate Heart which lies beneath the crazy, sad, false ideas that we have all accepted to one degree or another. Ours is to do our spiritual work to heal those aspects of ourselves that still give energy to the consciousness of ignorance and fear.
If you are a student of New Thought, as I am, you already know how to do this. You can tell you are doing it well when your first reaction to the actions of ignorance and fear is compassion, the sadness of a broken heart, rather than anger. That is when we will co-create The Beloved Community and your “thoughts and prayers” will be powerful enough to influence the world around you in a larger more positive way. That is what we are called to develop in ourselves.
“May this suffering serve to awaken compassion.”
~ A traditional prayer to Kwan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion
“Our prayers are answered not when we are given what we ask, but when we are challenged to be what we can be.”
~ Morris Adlier
The Prayer of the Heart
To deliver oneself up,
to hand oneself over,
entrust oneself completely to the silence
of a wide landscape of woods and hills,
or sea and desert; to sit still while
the sun comes up over the land
and fills its silences with light.
…few are willing to belong completely
to such silence, to let it soak into their bones,
to breathe nothing but silence, to feed
on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life
into a living and vigilant silence.
~ Thomas Merton, from Thoughts in Solitude
Don’t surrender your grief so quickly,
let it pierce the soul
Let it wail and crack open wide the disbelief
allowing its searing tears to stain your face
Something is missing in my heart tonight,
it has made my gentle eyes soft with sorrow
while my angry voice turns into a whispered prayer
and my tender need of absolution so clear.
~ Joseph Francis Argazzi
“We can be certain that there is an Intelligence in the Universe to which we may come, that will guide and inspire us, a love which overshadows. God is real to the one who believes in the Supreme Spirit, real to the soul that senses its unity with the Whole.
Every day and every hour we are meeting the eternal realities of life, and in such degree as we cooperate with these eternal realities in love, in peace, in wisdom, and in joy—believing and receiving—we are automatically blessed. Our prayer is answered before it is uttered.
Wake up! Your word is all powerful. Your consciousness is one with Omnipotence. Your thought is infinite. Your destiny is eternal and your home is everlasting heaven.”
~ Ernest Holmes
Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard