The classical relationship we experience in prayer is between him and us: The big dude in the heavens and us, here on Earth.
So we sit and close our eyes and do a mental chat with the man upstairs. Either we complain about something. Or we ask for something. Or even affirm something. However said prayer manifests, it’s typically seen as being a mental conversation or petition to a God ‘out there’ somewhere.
And it’s beautiful. It really is. Shaking our fists or shedding tears of joy towards God is a uniquely human gesture. However, the classical notion of prayer is dualistic. Him and us. As close as we feel to the divine when doing this, there’s still an imagined sense of separateness.
This is a fine place to start. As young people, we’re developmentally in a place where duality is the only thing that makes sense. We’re in the first part of our lives. We’re building our identity and our structures of defense. The goal is to fortify the human ego so it can survive in this dangerous world. And it totally makes sense.
But we typically reach a point in life where this dualistic relationship with God just isn’t… enough.
If you happen to be in this place, I invite you to a new kind of prayer. Contemplative prayer.
No, this is not a new age 7-step process. Contemplative prayer is an ancient tradition. You might be familiar with those really confusing passages in the Bible, like…
“He who loses his life shall find it”
Yyyyeah, Jesus was talking about this non-dualistic type of prayer there. The thing is, when we’re mired in the first part of life — the ego-building part of this human experience — it’s impossible to wrap our heads around this kind of non-dualistic thinking.
Contemplative prayer is when the small ego-self falls away and all that becomes present is the Presence of the Divine.
It typically happens unexpectedly when sitting in silence with an open mind. No agenda. No affirmations. No words. Just the backdrop of fullness that’s present in a quiet mind.
The place of contemplative prayer leads to the falling away of the subject/object relationship between us and God. Suddenly, it’s just God living in God.
Terrifying, right? What happens when we lose our sense of self?
I’ll tell you what happens…
We find our Self.
When we allow the ego to be quiet (and yes, it wants to be quiet and take this ride with you, trust me), we find perfect union between our humanity and our divinity. Our false self falls away for the real.
Now that thing that Jesus said makes better sense, right?
From this place, we see that the ego-self is merely a developmental construct. A practical part of this life as a human. The problem arises when the ego fixates on itself.
The ego is dysfunctional as its own center. It takes on its proper role in union with God.
This is what lies waiting for us in contemplative prayer: the Christ consciousness. Heaven and Earth, coming together to make for a deeply meaningful and fulfilling (note: I didn’t say ‘constantly cheery’ or even ‘always easy’) life.
I start this prayer seated with God.
But as I deepen into this divine moment, I see that I can hear this voice in my head. Which means I am not it. And I can surrender it for something new. Something fresh. Something potentially mind blowing and awe inspiring. Something that may truly bring me home.
At the end of these words I’m reading, I’ll fall into the quietude that acts as a constant undertone behind the chatter of my ego-self. In that quietude is not merely closeness to God. But radical oneness with God.
And so I empty the contents of my ego-self so I can become a void for the bigger Me to shine through. For the infinite reality of God’s love to express through my life.
And so it is.