The Power of Prayer

1d1e2bb0541f7fcdfdc747b317477299In dark times, when anxiety overwhelms the humane qualities of compassion and kindness, it becomes necessary to seek inside of ourselves for Divine Connection.  This is the power of prayer.

The world would have us believe that the only way to respond to the pain and injustice around us is by social activism or to rely on various governmental or political authorities to take care of the problem.  Yes, non-profit, humanitarian organizations working for mercy and justice deserve our support.  If possible, we can become actively involved or we can donate money to the cause.  We do whatever we can in these arenas.

83c6ac27d8db06e63eaa32562f654f3fBut there is still more that we can do.  Prayer is an unlimited and often underutilized resource.  Each of us can take the time to develop a consciousness of prayer.  Prayer is turning our mind to Divine Truth- compassion, healing, loving kindness, generosity, and seeing others as ourselves.  Prayer is knowing what could be possible if… If we chose love instead of hate.  If we chose hope instead of despair.  If we believe, with Anne Frank, in the goodness in the hearts of most people.  If we stop allowing media saturation to convince us that the hate-filled, angry, and vocal few that spew their hatred and violence in every news program are the majority.

When we pray it’s important to let go of our fears, depression, and concerns of the world.  Prayer is turning our life over to a Higher Power.  Prayer is resting in the arms of Divine Father and Divine Mother.  It is holding awareness of Spirit Truth and finding a way to manifest that Truth in our thoughts, words, and actions.  The formula for success prayer is:

Rest within the Higher Power
Know the Truth of Spirit- Life, Light, Love, Joy, & Peace
Speak words of Faith from this knowing.
Manifest our words into actions throughout the day.

7b993145dc42d360ba3d7399e55179e4Remember, a mind that is focused on anxiety, fear, anger, and despair knows only these things and sees them everywhere.  A mind that is focused on kindness, hope, and compassion knows only these things and sees them everywhere.

The world is filled with complex, confusing, and contradictory problems.  In addition to supporting social activism through time, money, and action, let us also hold and know- through prayer- that seemingly impossible dreams are often made possible by the focused will of Workers of the Light everywhere.  Let us each Pray and Be that Light in this time of evil and darkness!

 

Spiritual Evolution

Everyone has a definition of what it means to be spiritual.  For some it’s following the rituals prescribed by the scriptures and doctrine of their faith, for others it’s spending time in nature, and for still others it’s a statement of belief such as- There is no God but God or Jesus Christ is my savior.  All faiths and spiritual paths have one goal in mind, however, and that is union with the Higher Power.

Let’s examine four ways in which spiritual evolution might be expressed.

God_father_kotarbinski-bThe first of these is the concept of the Higher Power as parental authority, a giver of laws, and the source of reward for good behavior or punishment for undesirable behaviors. This is, perhaps, the most common approach to spirituality.  Probably this is because we have copious examples of how authoritative expectation functions in life- from our parents, teachers, employers, spouses, and even our friends.  Most connections have a set of expectations (laws) that govern the success or failure of that relationship.  When we conform to expectations we receive the reward of being accepted, appreciated, and belonging.  If we transgress those expectations we are likely to experience rejection, admonishment, and possible divorcement.

When Divine Spirit is perceived as parental we believe that everything happens because it’s God’s will.  Everything happens for a reason and it’s all good. We get a job because spirit wants us to have it.  We lose a job because spirit wants us to do something else.  Earthquakes, fires, and floods are sent as messages from the Higher Power. We make decisions and hope our spiritual allies will make it all come out right in the end. So, in this phase it’s not unusual to become dogmatic and even rigid in our expectations of ourselves and others on whatever religious or spiritual path we have chosen.

personal-empowermentIf we make it past the concept that there is only one truth, one way, and one faith we might arrive in the territory of personal empowerment. Personal empowerment is an important psychological development of our personality so that we can make independent and considered decisions, and create our lives in a way that is rewarding and comfortable.  However, personal empowerment it is not the goal of spirituality.

When personal empowerment is made into a spiritual goal it often entails the rejection of all established faiths or any group that appears to have a hierarchy.  There can be, and often is, a rejection of spiritual teachers as well. Everything of Spirit is already inside of usI am my own guru.   However, how will we learn to access this spirit self or tell the difference between wishful imaginings and true spiritual enlightenment?

Sometimes our relationship with the Higher Power may be measured in how successful we are in attaining prestige, wealth, health, and the “right” relationship. There are, of course, a plethora of self-help, and how-to, books that describe in detail ways to bypass a tutor or spiritual mentor and get what we want from life.  Some of this information may actually be helpful on the journey.  But let’s consider that if we want to become proficient at any life skill it’s easier if we work with someone who actually knows what they’re doing and have experience in expressing the skills we hope to attain.

event_221557182Occasionally, personal empowerment becomes a yearning to acquire psychic skills or abilities such as clairvoyance, levitation, channeling, fire-starting, astral traveling, spirit guide acquisition, angelic encounters or visions of being God. Many consider these demonstrations to be evidence of spiritual attainment.  We can even find numerous examples of spiritual masters who demonstrated many or even all of these qualities.  However, they also exhibited loving-kindness, generosity, equanimity, compassion for all life, and a radiant presence that inspired others to find a way to experience divine fullness for themselves.

The third stage of developmental spirituality can take the form of complacency.  We have created a life that works, are engaged in service activities, and comfortable in our psychological understandings of self and spirit.  We are willing to explore possibilities of enlightenment but don’t wish to have our concepts and beliefs questioned or upset.  Spiritual alignment represents the occasional retreat, workshop, or meetings with a trusted mentor who is supportive of our investigative and experiential relationship with the Higher Power.  There is little or no desire to make a major commitment to enlightenment or awakening.  No desire to enter the realms of no self. My life works and I don’t want to mess with it.

GalaticAlignEyeSomeday we will have a profound desire for awakening.  When we are committed to removing anything that stands between us and a full, heartfelt, and impassioned relationship with Divine Spirit- we have reached the fourth stage of our spiritual evolution.  We awaken to the great being within.  This great being accepts life as it is- loss, change, death, old age, and illness. And yet this self knows that we remain woven to the wholeness of all life- that life is really only about loving, sharing, and living enthusiastically for the benefit of others. As long as space and time endure, as long as sentient beings remain-may I too remain to assuage the suffering of the world.

When we have gained skillful means to navigate the difficulties of life- equanimity becomes truly possible.  We have true faith.  This faith remains even if we lose everything we have acquired- money, property, prestige, fulfillment in our career, and even our loved ones. At the center of our existence there will reside a deep and abiding love and communion with Divine Spirit.   We will have merged into the Ocean of Oneness and although waves and storms may rage outwardly, within we are at peace- resting in the tranquil wholeness of Divine Spirit’s grace.  This is the path without delusions.

Creating Tribe

Tribal Values
The energy of tribal being-ness, family, and community is based upon shared and common values.  For thousands of years it was the common values of tribal cultures that contributed to their survival as a people. Their common goal was life, abundant life, the continuation of their people through their children. When a people truly become a tribe or community, there is a common understanding of values. What do tribes or communities value? Men?   Women?   War?   Peace?  Their superiority? Land?  Sacred sites?  Children?  A way of life?  Elders?   The Past?  The Earth?

Dongria-Kondh-tribe-membe-006Most tribes named themselves THE People which usually amounts to “us” and “them” which often results in domination, war, and control. So, it is time to come to a place of creating a new spiritual pathway that is not THE Way, but A Way of understanding values as energy and living a life of wholeness.

Core Values
A core value is a way in which we make decisions in our lives. Core values might shift or evolve but the underlying foundation does not change. Maybe at one time in your life you declared- “I am giving my life to Jesus.” Maybe you still do. But perhaps at some point the religious leadership of your community did not make positive demonstrations of authenticity so you lost faith in that church, but the core values you acquired remained. What are the core values of the Great Master, Jesus? To love one another and do good for others even if they hate you. His message said “Leave the desires of the world and follow the greater good of the Spirit. Optimized-Core-ValuesYour core values did not change if you left a church community but where and how you now express those values may have transformed. Perhaps you have even begun to seek a community that appears to make a greater demonstration of your core values.

Surface Values
There is a whole set of surface values that come into play within communities- dress codes, types of music, who is tithing and who isn’t, declaring what is sacred and what is not, fitting in or being weird, I like you or I don’t like you, socializing or being alone, etc. These values often change. Relationships change: in families, spiritual paths, organizations, and interactions. In our world, one person or group usually needs to be right and another needs to wrong so that we can feel righteous. This is what political parties, sports teams, nations, and various religious dogmas are all about.

A New TribeSS_97340837_Kids3_200_200_all_100_c1
The Path of Spirit (Christ nature, Buddha nature, Light nature, Great Beingness) is beyond right or wrong.  Each of us at some time must choose for the highest values we understand and wish to practice in order to give our lives meaning.  What might we do to create a post-modern tribe?

A tribe needs to have certain core ethics, values, and understandings. Here are a few possibilities upon which we could build a tribe, a community, a new more humane world.

What if-
We remembered we are born from the Mother and are grateful for our gift of life?
We responded to suffering with true compassion instead of pity or sympathy?
We work so every being can have clean water, fresh air, food, and a safe home?
Children have lots of hugs and kisses so they know they are loved?
Women saw themselves and each other as sacred beings?
Men sought for a place to belong and contribute to all life on earth?
LGBT people discovered and celebrated their unique inner beauty in order to create peace for all beings?
Adults listened to children so they could understand and nurture the beauty of their potential and abilities?
Women understood they can only flourish in unity with their sisters?
Men expected themselves to rise to and act from their noble nature?
LGBT let go of the rebellious child to unify as one heart, as one people, for sacred purpose?
We learn to nurture, protect and honor all life as precious?
We remembered that we are spirit beings with the power to make things better for others through our prayers?

One-World-All-Things-Are-Connected-Native-American-Poem-PQ-0128-2012-R

Spiritual Community?

For thousands of years people of faith have gathered together to form a supportive community to pray, discover a deeper relationship with their Higher Power, study and contemplate consciousness, and to perform acts of service for those less fortunate than themselves.  Iraqi Worshippers Pray For Pope John Paul IISometimes these communities were organized around a rule of life, sometimes they were a more spontaneous gathering of like-minded souls wishing to have support in their journey of seeking a deeper meaning to life.

Today many spiritual seekers appear reluctant to commit to a community stating that the expectations of such a group is likely to cramp their freedom of expression and inhibit their exploration of personal truth.  A feeling of entitlement seems to pervade most technologically advanced nations.  People grow up expecting to have leisure time, early retirement, comfort, and praise for any effort, however small, he or she puts into a project.  Individuals don’t expect to put up with the personality quirks of a partner or a friend, instead there is a demand that these others contribute to their well-being and happiness.  “My needs are not being met!” is the cry of the disaffected, disillusioned populace at large.

Having just returned from China where religion has only recently been tolerated again after being all but eliminated in the last century I noticed a dissatisfaction among the youth who were taught that being a good consumer would truly free them from suffering and lead to happiness.  chinese-christians-prayingThey are hungry for something more…but they don’t want the old traditions of spirituality.  What can we tell them?  What can we say to all of the cynical and disappointed multitudes of our own nation?

Perhaps we can start by recognizing that we have a biological imperative to belong, contribute, and share affection with others.  If we understand that it is our personal need for sanctuary, love, and emotional security that are driving us both into and away from interpersonal relationships we can find the inner values that might allow us to have those experiences.  What we value is the very thing we most need to contribute.    

Current wisdom implies that we don’t need teachers anymore, that everything we need to become is already inside of us.  Everything we need to become is inside of us…but transforming that energy from what we expect to get into what we expect to give is a journey that requires a teacher, a guide.  what-if-there-were-no-teachersWhere are the guides who can demonstrate such a treasure?  If books could liberate us this world would be a paradise for there are tens of thousands of books telling us how to be, think, and live.  If movies and Youtube videos could enlighten us into compassionate spiritual beings our world would be unrecognizable today.

 Instead consider this- Everything we believe and know was taught to us by someone.  What do you want a spiritual community to be?  Can you demonstrate that gift?  Can you learn from those Great Beings who have gone before…and if you are fortunate can you learn something from the Great Beings around you?

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Some Possibilities to Consider

Belonging and sharing we accept and forgive
so we can follow hope and have a meaningful life.

Seeking to live selflessly we work together.

We are a collective of embodied souls who seek to share
the sacred song of life and remember ancient wisdom.

With unity and action we take on the responsibility
to share love and goodness in our world.

With common purpose we leave no one
outside of grace.

We are a people who seek to honor and cherish
the sacredness of all life and all beings.

In the Grace of Great Spirit
may it be so!

Being Your Authentic Self

What is Equanimity?
A dictionary will say: equa·nim·i·ty  noun \ˌē-kwə-ˈni-mə-tē, ˌe-kwə-\ : calm emotions when dealing with problems or pressure

But perhaps we can describe equanimity as the ability to compassionately accept where we are and be okay with that – even if we are still crying, shaking or overwhelmed with pain. We become able to say “Yes, this is what I’m feeling.”equanimity

This is not what most of us are taught. We are more likely to hear- “if I do this I will be punished” or “don’t be such a baby!”  or “What’s wrong with you?”  Equanimity is “Oh well, I was overwhelmed with…”  Equanimity_webWith equanimity we’re not living from the point of how much guilt our emotions cause in us, but how we show up in life and navigate all the unpleasant things that happen.

“I know who I am and I am authentic in my being.” If we are questioning and denying the legitimacy of our experiences we are denying the expression of our true self.  It is our experiences that makes us uniquely who we are, that and our ability to decide how we will respond to those experiences.  Animals respond to life by seeking to survive.  They have all the same emotions we do, but they can’t decide to laugh instead of cry or share a blessing instead of biting someone.

Pain, anger, and grief are a natural part of life therefore all beings experience mental/emotional/ physical pain sometimes. Feeling what we feel does not make us spiritual cripples, it allows us to practice compassion.

A Buddhist StoryGolden buddha hands

There once was a woman who lost her son. She was very sad. She went door to door seeking healers of all sorts. We cannot help you they said, “He’s dead.”
“He should not be dead” she cried!
Finally the woman came upon the Buddha and weeping told her sad story begging for the return of her son. The Buddha agreed to help her, “All you have to do,” he said, “is bring me a grain of rice from a household that has escaped the curse of grief.” With great hope, she went through the village, door by door, and through the neighboring villages, only to hear story upon story of suffering and loss. Finally she returned to the Buddha, no less in pain, but far wiser, more compassionate, and willing to accept her human lot. Life holds pain. There is suffering and it is caused by “This should not happen.”

This woman became enlightened by understanding these facts.  When we are flattened by the things life can do to us- let’s remember that there is suffering- we are not going to get a spiritual ticket stamped “Saved from Life”.  But remembering to realign ourselves to the Higher Power and enter the state of equanimity might be enough.  Try it and see!

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Great Spirit,
May I find joy in each moment.
May I find humor in my difficulties and laughter at my mistakes.
Often, Great Spirit, I am striving, trying, seeking, learning,
grasping, working to be good, to be loving, to be kind, to be successful, to be abundant.  Life is exhausting for me when I fall
into those places where I don’t really believe
you can, or will help me.

Teach me to have faith, Great Spirit.
Help me to know that you are there for me.
Help me to stop striving and let you take care of me,
the way you do the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.
I accept your abundant, loving care in my life now.


 

Tranquility

Tranquility is a state of mind cultivated by fully entering into and enjoying what we are doing in the moment.  It can be restful to read, watch television, cook, talk with friends, or go for a walk with the dog.  Those same activities can just as easily be stressful if we are engaging in them unwillingly. Image Most days seem filled with clamoring voices even when we’re alone.  They speak of desire for this or angry tirades that life is unfair.  Sometimes the voices are sad with longing for what used to be or filled with scorn for the choices of others.

Often our mind is engaged in storytelling, a litany of past events, memories, and even fearful imaginings of the future.  So even though most people wish for serenity it remains an elusive, rare event in our lives.  Maybe that happens because we are unwilling to do the things that lead us to equanimity.  In order to have this uncommon treasure we need to do everything with a mind that lets go.

This is a release of clinging: to past stories, future fears, opinions, judgments, desires, attractions and aversions.  So then do we sit around with a blank stare on our faces?   No!  We fill up all the places those things occupy with Great Spirit’s words, creations, and gifts.  We watch carefully what we say and do, intending to please Great Spirit rather than others.  We desire only union with the Beloved Spirit and discard all other desires.  We drop our judgments and cease to meddle in things that do not concern us.  In this way we shall have inner stillness and composure.

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May I cultivate your peace Beloved
that my soul may radiate stillness.
May I cultivate your peace, Beloved
that I may think, act, and speak harmoniously.
May I cultivate your peace, Beloved
that I may be content and thankful for your bountiful gifts.
May I cultivate your peace, Beloved
that amidst worldly strife I may still find joy.
May I cultivate your peace, Beloved
that I may endure all, tolerate all,
with compassion and mercy.
May I cultivate your peace, Beloved
that I may become a channel of hope
that the pain of others may vanish.
And may I cultivate your peace
so that my struggles within the world can come to an end.

More About Prayer

Communicating with Spirit

There are two main ways to communicate with Spirit: one is prayer and the other is affirmation. Affirmation is a repetitive thought, or phrase we focus on to convince ourselves that what we are praying for is possible. Prayer is a space of surrendering to Great Spirit’s loving grace because we don’t know what to do in a challenging time in our lives.

It is important to use both of these spirit communication forms every day.
When will you take the time to pray today?
What thoughts will you allow yourself today?
Why do you say you have no time to pray with The Beloved when all of The Beloved’s attention is always focused on you?

We can learn to pray with our whole heart.
With our whole mind.
prayer_poster_350With our spirit voice.
We can learn to pray unceasingly!

Spirit Talks to Us

Our spiritual teachers and guides in the world can communicate with us when we call upon them.  But in order for Great Spirit to talk to us, in order for us to hear the still small voice within, we must release attention to on pain, anger, fear, grief, and disappointments to place it firmly on Great Spirit’s Blessings.

It is necessary to bring our mind and the emotions to a place of silence even if that silence is only for a few moments. For it is only in that place of quiet that we can hear the inner guidance of Great Spirit.

The key to all of this is the act of surrender.

Surrender is allowing.  5prayerIt is trusting that indeed the Great Father hears us, the Great Mother hears us, the Great Weaver hears us, and will answer our prayer if we are only still enough to listen.

After you have a taste of True Spirit, you will want more and more all the time.
Learn to pray unceasingly!
Strive to pray with devotion-
Prayer is the road to spirit truth-
Good works are the vehicle
Meditation is the food-
Mantra is the conversation.

We usually pray and perform good works of Spirit for two reasons.  One is from fear of punishment and the other is from the hope of reward.  But there is a third reason to walk the path of spirit- to pray with a full heart- to listen with an empty mind- and to give to others kindness and blessings- This reason is because it comes from a heart centered on love, joy, peace, and light.  We do good because it is the only thing we wish to do…and because it is the right thing to do.  We are spiritual from love- not fear- and not from hope of reward.  We become the prayer benefactors for the world- hoping to ease the suffering, even if we cannot eliminate it.

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Speak Beloved-
I am ready to hear you.
I am your servant.
Grant me wisdom and understanding
so I may bring comfort to troubled hearts.
Bend my heart that I might follow you
without hope of reward, or fear of punishment.
Beloved, you are my inspiration
and Giver of Light.
You alone can fully instruct me with your desires.
Speak therefore directly to me,
for I am ready to hear you!

The Beloved Speaks-
Prayer is to rejoice in My loving gift of life.
It is to see the world with the eyes of a child.
It is to dance with gladness,
and take delight in each day.
Discover your ability to be open-hearted.
Understand that your prayers
will result in inner peace
and bring joy to many hearts-
For you are my Beloved Child.