The Seeking of Union
"Faith - Perceiving as real fact that which is invisible to the senses." St. Paul (The Amplified Bible)
While the vast majority of religious practices remain stuck in the bronze age, some have managed to shake off the dust of the superstitious past and emerge in new and relevant forms.
This has always been the case really. Those who elevated and contradicted the dogma of the day were called mystics. Some were honored, like the Sufi mystics Rumi and Balyani or the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart. Others had a far less pleasant experience. Even Meister Eckhart, extremely popular in his day, was put on trial for heresy... after his death.
These visionaries shifted the perception of God away from the aloof creator, living completely separate from his creation, yet monitoring every thought and action for disobedience, to that of a transcendent essence, immanent in every being. This was the very ground of their vision. God and I are One.
Balyani went to so far as to say...
"What the Prophet pointed out by that is that you are not you but you are Him and there is no you. It is not that He enters into you or that you enter into Him, or that He comes out of you or that you come out of Him. It does not mean that you have being and you are qualified by this or that attribute.
What is meant is that you never were and never will be, whether through yourself or through Him or in Him or with Him. You have neither ceased to be nor are you existent. You are Him and He is you, without any of these imperfections. If you know your existence in this way, then you know God..."
And Meister Eckhart said simply that the essence of you and the essence of God are the same essence, the "ground of being". If he hadn't been so popular and well known (and male) he would have been "purified by fire" like many of his contemporaries..
This thread of the mystical has run in the background of mainstream cultural thought since religion's inception. In fact, it was the mystical experience that gave birth to religion in the first place. It was always someone, having a direct experience of the sublime, that started the wheel turning that would later be reduced to religious sectarianism, cultural self-justification and self-preserving dogma (woof).
In this regard prayer is the practice of seeking the ultimate experience of direct union with the ultimate, called God.
This makes prayer, not a supplication but a deep seeing. It is the desire to be one with the Godhead. "Lord, replace me with you" is the prayer of the mystic seeker. "Whoever knows their self, knows their Lord." So spoke the Prophet Mohammed.
And so prayer is the seeking of union. It is the heart yearning to merge with the beloved. It is the moth gladly losing themselves and becoming the flame. It is the nirvana (the extinction) of me into the "I"
Elevated thus, prayer is glimpse of the Allness of God and the nothingness of the human personality. Actually ti goes even further. It glimpses the sublime fact that the human personality IS GOD, the way the song is music.
Again from my favorite Sift mystic Balyani, "You will see your attributes to be His attributes and your essence to be His essence, without you becoming Him and without Him becoming you in the least degree. Nothing exists except His face, both outwardly and inwardly. Nothing other than Him has ever had being, and there is nothing that needs to pass away so that His face remains. There is nothing except His face."
But prayer serves another function. Anyone who has entered into this path and has had even a slight taste of the promise it holds, knows full well that all of the personal, limiting, self-judging and painful thoughts and feelings do not simply disappear. So a post-awakening sadhana (spiritual practice) is required.
In the next installment I will address this aspect of prayer becoming life.
GP offers dozens of workshops, meditations and courses on his learning platform, The OM School
Check out GP's podcast on Spotify and other media outlets
Watch GP Live Every Tuesday at noon Eastern and Every Sunday at 8pm Eastern or catch his hundreds of vides on Youtube.