Forms of prayer

 

Any tool is fair game, as long as it works and seems appropriate to the situation.

Many nondual folks are familiar with contemplative prayer, visualizations, heart prayer, Christ meditation and similar forms on prayer where a receptivity to and invitation in of the soul level is the main emphasis, possibly shifting into realized selflessness in glimpses or more thoroughly.

The more common forms of prayer, those where we ask about something specific, also have their place. They are a part of any comprehensive toolbox. They can be used as in Buddhism, to ask for awakening for the benefit of all beings. This sets a clear intention, which in turn helps reorganize and align our human self with this path and may even have effects beyond that.

And of course, prayers for the health and well-being of ourselves and others have their place. Again, they help realign ourselves with that intention. And it opens our heart. It opens for a sincere well-wishing for ourselves and others. And both of those spill over into our actions.

As with visualizations, these forms of prayer may (or may not) have an effect beyond how it works on us, in how the world shows up on its own.

In either case, the effect it has on us is more than enough reason to sometimes engage in them.

They set a clear intention for ourselves. They help realign us with that intention. They open our heart. They open for sincere well-wishing for ourselves and others.

And sometimes, especially in extreme situations, they may be comforting if that is what we need.

(And if not, if we are invited into being wholeheartedly with what is coming up and we use these forms of prayers as an escape, they – and anything else we do to try to escape – are likely to not work.)

Differentiating allowing

 

The process of deepening into who we are, and awakening to what we are, involves an ongoing process of differentiation.

One of the most basic (and common-sense) differentiations is between ways of allowing.

Allowing as a practice

The basic way of allowing, as a practice, is to allow the content of our experiences, as they are. To allow everything, including any resistance to content and to allowing certain content.

Not allowing certain content is suffering, and creates a great deal of struggle and drama. It comes from an identification with a region of content, creating the appearance of other regions of content as other. It comes from an identification with beliefs, thoughts, ideas and identities.

Allowing it releases our identification with content, and allows the ground of this content to come more into the foreground – this ground of awake emptiness that already allows it all, that has no inherent boundaries and no inherent separate self anywhere.

This is the practice we do for ourselves, to reduce suffering, burn through habitual patterns of identification, find clarity, and find ourselves as what we already are.

We allow a full experience of what is, independent of its particulars.

Allowing (or not) in the world

The other form of allowing (or not) relates to our live as an individual in the world. Here, it is just common sense. If someone inflicts suffering on someone else, and I am in a position to change it, I will. I am not going to allow it, if I can prevent it.

Allowing experiences, but not allowing whatever to happen to myself or others

So there is a full allowing of any content of awareness, of any experiences. This brings a reduction of a sense of struggle and drama, and of the confusion that goes along with the struggle and drama. Instead, there is a sense of the stillness, quietness and clarity inherent in the ground.

At the same time, I am not going to allow certain things to happen to myself or others if I can prevent it. And independent of what unfolds, I can fully be with my experiences of it – as it is.

Fully allowing a sense of a separate self

 

Any sense of a separate self comes from resistance to experience.

Through resistance to experience, we identify with an aspect of the content of awareness, and we split the content into I and Other, which in turns creates a sense of struggle, drama, and wanting something else than what is.

When we realize this, it is easy to start resist the sense of a separate self, of wanting that one to go away, of hoping for something better just on the other side of this. And this is just another way to identify with an aspect of content of awareness and pitting it against other aspects of the content. There is an identification with wanting the content to be different from what it is.

(In this case, an identification with wanting of this sense of a separate self to go away, an identification with the corresponding belief that it would be better if it wasn’t there, and an identification as someone who wants it to go away – all of which places our identification firmly within one part of the content of awareness, pitted against other parts of the content.)

The trick here is to allow it all: the sense of a separate self, any resistance to it, any wanting of it to be different, any strategies to change it, and anything else. To allow it, embrace, see it, feel it, and then to love it, as it is. This shifts the identification out of content and into its ground of awake emptiness.

In this, there is indeed a release from being caught up in any sense of a separate self – even when it is there.

We find ourselves as the ground allowing it all, as it already does.

As long as there is identification with particular content of awareness, there is a split and we don’t notice this ground, or ourselves as this ground. We find ourselves as a region of the content, pitted against other regions of the content, and in the ensuing drama the ground is not noticed. As soon as there is a being with what arises, a full allowing of it, identification goes out of content and we find this ground of awake emptiness allowing it all.

Vulcans, and walling and allowing experience

 

In watching movies, I cannot help being curious about what processes they may reflect, both within each of us and among us. Often, it is quite simple and basic such as with the Vulcans in Star Trek (I have been watching some of the original episodes for the first time).

Walls

The Vulcans have learned to suppress and control feelings and emotions, and rely on cool intelligence. And this reflects the common view in our culture, at least in the 60s: we either have to act on our feelings and emotions, or we have to suppress them.

Either way, we do battle with them. They are an Other that either controls or is controlled by us. There is a space where I am here and emotions there, and when they get strong, they either flood and overpower me, or I am able to erect and maintain a wall that keeps them in check.

The skill of the Vulcans is to be able to very effectively erect and maintain these walls, although they do break down sometimes (sometimes with scary results, and other times to the glee of Kirk and Bones.)

Trapped in this mode, the sense is that if I allow myself to fully experience something, it will take over, it will overpower me, I will loose control. And this fear is the motivation to keep holding it at bay, whatever it is – grief, sadness, anger, rage, pain, joy, pleasure, love, bliss.

Space

But this is only one option. The other is to allow ourselves to fully experience whatever we experience, to be with it, to allow resistance to the content of our experience to fall away.

Here, there is a sense of spaciousness, of holding and allowing any content. And there is a sense of release, and we realize that the pressure that we thought we were erecting a wall and fighting against, was created by the wall and the fighting itself. Without the wall and the resistance, there is no pressure. There is just whatever is experiences, unfolding within and as awareness and space, and that is it.

There is no sense of being overpowered, because the whole sense of I and Other becomes more transparent and spacious. They are revealed as part of the same space.

Intense experiences may be unfolding, but unfolding within a much larger (actually infinite) space. There is only pressure when the space is walled in. Without walls, no pressure.

And without pressure, any experience is revealed as bliss itself. For me right now, giving a sense of blissful smooth expansive quiet fullness,.