Are you covering all the bases in your relationship with the Divine?
Is there a difference between meditation and prayer? While meditation is the practice of placing your attention in a certain way, with a certain scope, prayer is the reflection on, with and as the Divine. Perhaps an awakened mind is that of an individual who reflects on, with, and as the Divine in each and every moment of his awake or asleep time, and whose every thought, uttered or written word, breath and action is the conscious embodied expression of the Absolute, from this particular perspective of the persona – God looking at itself, and recognizing itself in the act of cutting tomatoes for salad, holding a child’s hand, writing a business proposal, crying over a loss, or scrubbing the floors.
“You are not alone” my first book on spirituality promised; I was some years ago, when I, a skeptical atheist , was beginning to consider different truths than the materialistic philosophy presented to me in the world of my first schooling. “Not alone?!” I panicked: “not even in the bathroom?” For a young woman whose private persona was different than the public one, the thought of being seen, heard and known at all times was highly uncomfortable, leaving no room for appearance; I could present myself the way I would like to be seen by others in society, and keep the rest to myself – but if the world of my thoughts and emotions were always open and available for unseen attention, a presence who knows the bare naked truth of what I think and feel and intend in each moment, then what shall I do? What do you do when all of your thoughts, words and actions are under some scrutiny at all times?
The greatest fear was stemming from my own projection, the transference of my image and memory of my worldly parents unto my Divine parent – but more on this later.
Three Faces of God
Almost all cultures have a look at God in one or two perspectives, but there is no religion (yet!) that integrates three perspectives of God in one’s regular spiritual practice, unless you call your integral practice “ a religion”. Let us explore what it is like to know the three faces of the Absolute.
God in Third Person Perspective – the Object – “It”
This is the perspective which looks at the entire world of form, and recognizes it as a finite, external emanation of the infinite: God appears as this room, these walls, this breath, these eyes moving to read, this computer screen. If you can perceive it with any of your physical senses, it is a finite object, which has a beginning and an end, a birth time and a death time; it is finite and delimited in time and space, it has boundaries, and it is how the Infinite and Eternal presence appears in this moment. The finite object is not identical with the Infinite Ground of Being, but rather it emanates from it, it arises from this vast emptiness.
What you see, hear, touch, feel, smell and taste is the form that the Formless takes; it is how God shows up moment by moment. The world of form is the temporary, finite, transient expression of the permanent, infinite and eternal.
God in Second Person Perspective – Devotion – “You”, or “Thou”
One miraculous thing happens when two individuals meet, joining each other mind to mind, and heart to heart – when “I” am joined by “You”: a “We-space” is created, and this we-space is unique, has its own characteristics, its own life, depth and vibrancy.
God in second person perspective is this “You” that makes your spiritual practice a relationship; it can be a relationship of equals, of lovers, when your worldly beloved is a symbol for your Divine Lover, and your worldly devotion to the beloved becomes your spiritual practice.
More often, the relationship between the finite human and the Infinite Presence, is a child-parent relationship; the Father being the masculine aspect of Spirit, the kind of love and wisdom which gives direction, protection, discipline, and inspiration, while the Mother is the feminine aspect of the Divine, the kind of love that cares, nurtures, supports and heals. This is the kind of relationship that gives birth to petitionary prayer, the child placing requests with his or her parents according to the child’s needs and values, which depends on the individual’s level of development, stage of awakening, and in general, kosmic address; but it can also be a child-to-parent relationship of speaking and listening, of offering and accepting love, blessings, insights and inspiration.
Given the nature of our psyche, and the past conditioning of our mind and emotions, we tend to project our relationship with the worldly parents upon our Divine parents, including our unresolved issues from childhood, thus, our relationship with our worldly parent becomes our relationship with the Divine parent. At the beginning of my Integral spiritual practice, I was unable to talk with the masculine aspect of God, and every time I attempted, a lump formed in my throat, and I was overcome with tears. I expected the Divine Father to be as out of tune with my psyche as my worldly father has been throughout my childhood; I expected the same “Who do you think you are?” response from Him as I had from him, and only in time, with much work and amends I became able to feel love flowing between the Divine masculine and me, and between my worldly father and myself.
God in First Person Perspective: I Am
When the boundaries blur between “I” and “other”, the realization arises that “God and I are not two; I and God are one” and “I am at one with all that”, which becomes, simply the absolute Truth of being: I Am. This is the way of the mystic, of experiencing the self as no-self, a taste of the infinite and eternal Love, Wisdom, Power, Peace, Joy and Freedom. I Am this Love and Wisdom; I am this Is-ness, this Such-ness, I am that which arises moment by moment within the awareness that I am.
Now let’s put it all together in a two-minutes Integral practice:
Integral Prayer Practice
3 – Take a few moments to notice everything you perceive with your sensory acuities: the room, furniture, walls, the sounds in the house; any smells or taste; notice the feelings and sensations arising – and notice that everything you see, hear, feel and sense are external emanations of the Divine. God appears to you as the room, the furniture, the walls, the sounds in the house, the smells and tastes; God appears to you as the computer screen and keyboards, and as the sensations created by your fingers touching the keyboards and mouse. God is everywhere, and has become everything.
2 – Now think of someone you love, and imagine them in front of you. Talk to them in second person: “My beloved! You appear to me as Mike / Emily” “My love for you is infinite – I love you…I adore you.”
“You are kind, wise and powerful; you are peaceful and joyful; your loving kindness, wisdom, power, peace and joy are infinite and eternal.”
1 – Now see the boundaries between you and God blurring, and speak in first person, feeling your words inside and outside your body: “I and God are not two: I Am at one with this infinite, eternal loving kindness, wisdom, power, peace, joy and freedom.” Allow yourself to feel the expansion and lightness of your words, and take a breath, and simply state – and feel: I Am.