Informal Prayer

Krishnamurti had a helpful phrase – “premeditated meditation,” by which he meant reliance on rituals in order to meditate. Sit in this position, do this with your breath, focus your mind on that image. True meditation, he said, was a “psychological revolution” that could be neither contained nor induced by ritual.

Meditation in daily life is the transformation of the mind    . . . not in theory, not as an ideal, but in every moment of that life (This Light in Oneself, 8).

Thomas Merton moves in this direction as well, when he taught that “[M]editation is really very simple and there is not much need of elaborate techniques to teach us how to go about it . . . the necessity for discipline does not imply the obligation for all men to follow one identical and rigid system (Spiritual Direction and Meditation, 77).

Later in that work, Merton observes that those who wish to meditate should “try to set apart some part of the day in which he can pray under conditions which seem to be most favorable for himself (83).

Though both men were intense and devoted to the awakened life, albeit in different traditions, they saw in meditation and prayer something that was deeply personal which pervaded the whole of life and was not – on its own – impossible to achieve.

Because I spent many many years in the Catholic church, a part of me is wedded to ritual and form. I also spent a fair amount of time studying and practicing Buddhism (in, I must say, a very half-assed sort of way) and that, too, was invested in form and ritual.

But A Course in Miracles makes very few prescriptions for how to pray. Lesson 125, for example, asks that we give ten minutes three times that day to choose “a gentle listening to the Word of God (W-pI.125.7:1).

My first ten minutes (actually closer to twenty) I was sitting on a zafu in the bedroom, the lights dimmed, a tea candle burning. But the second session I did while baking bread. I am making a yeasted cinnamon raisin bread which starts with a sponge – water, yeast, honey and flour. I worked slowly and quietly – giving attention to what I was doing, my mind open to God’s word.

Though both meditations were different in form, they shared a similar content: silence, attention, willingness, diligence. I’m not saying a master meditator – I am not. Rather, I am saying that our prayer need not be limited by form when it is infused by love – a sincere desire to remember God so far as is possible at this moment in time.

Only be quiet. You will need no rule but this, to let your practicing today lift you above the thinking of the world, and free your vision from the body’s eyes. Only be still and listen (Wp-I.125.9:1-3).

More and more I value A Course in Miracles for its practicality. It is not not aim to entangle us in rituals or ideology. God longs to be remembered, and that longing is not separate from our longing to remember God. The more I give my life to this learning, the more I receive, and the easier it becomes to give yet more energy and attention.

This makes sense. Prayer is the “means of communication of the created with the Creator” (T-1.I.11:2). Through it, we receive love which, through miracles, we are able to express (T-1.I.11:3). This happens in simple ways and in the normal routines of which our lives are apparently composed. Go for a walk, find God. Pray on your knees, find God. Bake bread, find God.

There is nothing wrong with formal meditation techniques. They can be very helpful. But A Course in Miracles offers us something different – not a rigorous ritualistic practice but a chance to see the divine in each moment, and in each moment to awaken to reality.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Topi January 21, 2014, 11:26 pm

    Sean,
    I love your posts. I have the same experiences of meditating. A long walk can result to very alert and quiet mind. I used to bake this may inspire me to bake more often.
    Topi

    • Sean Reagan January 22, 2014, 9:02 am

      Thanks for the kind words, Topi! Yeah, baking does it for me too so long as it’s relatively quiet. But walking is very much my practice. Thank you for reading.

      ~ Sean

  • debbie mcdougall January 22, 2014, 1:45 am

    Hear hear Sean!

    Wonderfully put, and this is why i, for one, love the big blue book! Or more correctly put, the content behind the words in the BBB 🙂

    It doesn’t demand ritual and slowly, but surely, with the required practice, brings you to that place of peace where communication with God/Love is possible no matter where you are or what you do. Simple!

    Along with all the practice we put into our recipe for everlasting peace we should also remember to add the ‘gentle laughter’ which is part of the important ingredients needed to make that raisin bread taste really good!

    With much Love, Light and Gratitude for your inspiring writing!
    Debbie x

    • Sean Reagan January 22, 2014, 9:04 am

      Thank you Debbie! Yes – the content behind the words. I like that, always looking beyond the form for the love/light inspiring it. And you are right – gentle laughter is essential, too. Not taking it all so seriously has definitely been a challenge for me – but I do love me some good raisin bread, so I keep trying!

      Thank you for reading –

      Sean

  • Aleta January 22, 2014, 4:33 pm

    Hi, Sean –
    I love your blog and your writings and have been following it faithfully for some time now, but lately I have been overwhelmed with books I am reading (two of them on the pile are, for example: The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, and Beyond the Dream, Awakening to Reality, by Thomas Hora., M.D., plus I’ve discovered “The Way of Mastery” which takes the Course in Miracles to another level). I just can’t seem to find the time to read the plus do the other things I want to do – quilting, exercising, walking the cats when the weather cooperates, cleaning the house!!, etc.) I have a folder in my e-mail where I’ve been moving your e-mail notifications until I get a chance to read them and it is getting pretty crowded in there! That being said, I just want you to know that I have unsubscribed to your blog FOR NOW – only temporarily until I can get caught up.
    Plus I’m kind of going through a “thing” right now, so I need all the inspiration I can get. I’ll still be going to your website to read your latest entries when I get the chance.
    I just wanted you to know that.
    I’ll be back! 🙂
    Love ya –
    Aleta

    • Sean Reagan January 22, 2014, 5:33 pm

      No worries Aleta!

      I understand entirely the sense of overwhelm with respect to balancing reading and life . . .

      Love,
      Sean

  • Chad January 23, 2014, 10:56 am

    It’s difficult for me to adequately express how much I am getting out of your posts, Sean. It’s a like a cool, fresh spring. Thank you.

    • Sean Reagan January 23, 2014, 12:23 pm

      Thank you, Chad. I appreciate those kind words & I am glad it is helpful. Thank you for being here!

      ~ Sean

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