I am continuing to question and explore my understanding of some of Unity’s foundational teachings. This week I delve into what I consider the most fundamental of Unity’s teaching – Prayer.
As I contemplated the idea of prayer, I pondered these questions: What is prayer? Why pray? Who prays? How do we pray? What follows is what came to me as I listened to my inner Knower.
Each one in human form has chosen to come into this life to have an objective experience of Source in all Its incarnations. You have chosen to have a physical body because it affords you opportunities to taste, smell, feel, hear and see all that Source is, and all that It can be.
You have come forth to delight in your own creations. The Earth and its atmosphere were formed to support you in your human experience. It is not accidental. Consciousness formed it and it manifested so that you could come forth into this supportive environment and have the experiences that you desire.
You have, however, fallen asleep to the awareness that you are not from this place. You are not of the Earth, but you are in it. Yes, you are not just on the Earth, you are in it. You are actually a part of the Earth. You are integrated into all that you can perceive including the planet upon which you exist. In your true nature, you are not separate from anything that you can perceive. If you were separate from it, you would not be able to perceive it.
You are only perceiving the energy of that which you are. Your senses are attuned to recognize you.
You are a field of energy and your body is a perceiving organism. Your senses are energy receivers and perceivers. Upon receiving an energy signal, your brain translates the impulse of energy into concepts and ideas that you use to make sense of your world. For example, you see a plant and your brain says “plant.” Your brain may have stored other associations with the plant, such as small, beautiful, palm, rhododendron, etc.
You experience your world as you perceive energy and then make sense of it by giving it a name and character. In this way, you form your world. You do this with everything that you perceive. You see it as separate. You observe that there is distance between you and it. You see it as an object which you think is not you. This is the benefit of your objective consciousness. If there were no concept of form in collective consciousness, you would simply perceive energy. There is only energy.
Not only is the perceived object energy, there is also life and energy in what you perceive to be the space between you, your body, your eyes and the plant. Using the example above, if you relax the eyes and soften your focus you will be able to see that what you are perceiving as a plant is actually an energy field. It is alive and moving; it is not solid as you are not solid. It appears because you have chosen for it to appear. It supports you in some meaningful way. It helps you to make sense of space and time. But, you are not separate from it. In the field of all energy that you are, you are oneness. There is only one, not two.
However, the human mind will always perceive itself as separate. Even in those moments of conscious union, there exists an aspect of the mind that is aware of itself. That is the beauty of coming into a human form. You know yourself and you have awareness of yourself through objective consciousness.
In the spiritual realm, you are Consciousness itself where there is only subjective consciousness. There is no way to know yourself or have an awareness of the individuated self in the spiritual realm. That is a gift of the ego as Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore understood it. The ego is the aspect of your consciousness that says, “I am.” It is the aspect of your consciousness mind that makes choices. It is the directive power of your mind.
Contrary to what some spiritual traditions teach, it is important not to demonize the ego. The ego is essential to your functioning in the human form. You have come into human form so that you will have objective consciousness. If you do not have an ego, a healthy ego that is able to recognize itself and know itself in relationship to others, the purpose of coming into human form is meaningless.
The ego is that aspect of you that is able to recognize and say, “I am sad, I am lonely, I am afraid.” Where does the ego go for comfort, companionship and safety? The ego goes to Source for it is in the awareness of Source and only in the awareness of Source that you can truly reclaim and recover that which you desire. Others who are also in form can assist, but it is only, and I say emphatically that it is only in the realization of unity and oneness that the ego can re-member itself and find that which it is seeking.
The ego, that which allows you to know yourself in human form, is the aspect of you who prays. The ego enters into prayer because it is the only aspect of you that can recognize your individuation. The ego gives you the awareness of pain and suffering, thus allows you to recognize the need and your desire to return to conscious unity through prayer.
Prayer is a means of “going into the secret chamber and closing the door” so that you have little or no stimuli from the external world. In doing so you are more likely to be able to realize your unity in and as all.
This remembrance and reclaiming is the purpose of true and honest prayer. The sole purpose of true prayer is to know unity as the One expressing. It is not to get something or beseech God for something. It is not even to “ask” for something. These are efforts of what Charles Fillmore termed the adverse ego.
Prayer is a time of communion (come union) with the self that knows its unity. It is a unique and beautiful gift of being human. Daily and even hourly prayer is important because it connects the ego in conscious unity, thus prayer is a means to the fulfillment of all we truly desire. This is the value of the instruction to “pray without ceasing.” We are encouraged to maintain a healthy ego that remains aware of the true self as well as the world around us.
I am reminded of the lyrics to a song we used to sing in the Baptist church, “prayer is the key to heaven, but faith unlocks the door.” I now realize the truth of that phrase. Prayer is the key to the consciousness of unity. The consciousness of unity in the One is heaven. Faith is our ability to use our ego to perceive ourselves, others and the world around us through the eyes of Oneness. Faith allows us to witness all in divine unity.
The one who prays is the ego who has temporarily forgotten his unity with the One. The one who prays is the one who is willing to have his mind renewed and his life transformed. He is the one who is open and receptive to knowing that he is in oneness with the divine at all times. He is the one who is willing to enter into a time of prayer, communion with his Source, in order that he may remember his true self, the self that chose to come forth and longs for expression in this dimension.
Ultimately, this is the meaning of true prayer and the reason we pray. (For how to pray, you can read my post here.)
Join us on Sunday at 10:00 as we explore further the concept of prayer and why we in Unity believe in the power of prayer.