Today at Sarvodaya’s Early Morning meditation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve been thinking about this follow-up to my post about activism since I put it up; it’s taken me a while to pull my thoughts together. In the first post I put an emphasis on prayer, meditation, etc. as my “to do” list for peace. Now I want to ruminate on my idea of how to take action.
“After you pray, then do something” is a frequent piece of advice in the world of metaphysics. I’ve been criticized because some feel my work doesn’t emphasize enough of the “doing”. I think the issue is more about defining what doing is and how we decide on an action plan.
First, I have to say I’ve been startled many times when I bring up praying as a tool, how many spiritually-minded people object, “But you can’t just pray, you have to do something!” And I think, “Wow, when did praying become nothing?” [In fact I wrote about it here and here] While I don’t think prayer is the only thing to do, I think it’s an important thing to do.
I also believe that tuning in as a first step, whether it’s through prayer, meditation, pranayama or … (you fill in the blank), is the most important thing we can do. Because the thing about all those action plans people like to carry out is they come from the brain and not the heart or spirit. They come loaded with all the baggage of fear and anger carried by the people who formulate them. What I find time after time is that the plans I conceive when I tune inward are usually entirely different than the plans I form with my mind.
A very micro-level personal example from long ago: when I did my yoga teacher training at the Temple of Kriya Yoga, getting to the Temple from where I lived seemed like a “no good way to get there from here” dilemma. I used my reasoning powers, based on the roads I knew, to figure out how to get there. Week after week I was late, running into traffic, accidents, construction, etc. on every route I tried. Every week on the way to the garage my inner voice named a route. It wasn’t a route I knew and my mind didn’t even know it could be done so I rejected it every time. Finally one of the teachers gave us quite a scolding about too many being late. So the next week I looked at a map and realized my guidance had been trying to show me a route that was almost direct; straight from Evanston to the Temple from my house–something I didn’t know you could do. I was never late again.
In that example I wasn’t even meditating first, though I think I started tuning in as I prepared for the class, giving my ‘little voice” an opening to keep piping up with what it knew.
At the level of All That Is, higher consciousness, God, the Universe (whatever your favorite name for it is) there is so much more awareness and knowledge–beyond anything our ordinary minds know or can plan. And the answer is often not only far removed from what I “thought” I should do but often the action suggested doesn’t look like action to ordinary mind.
Here in the U.S., we’re doers; we like to be on the go, getting stuff done all the time [purposely not speaking about the rest of the world as I don’t have the hubris to assume I know whether you are or aren’t doers in the same way]. I’ve also noticed that for the most part the majority don’t care whether the action is ultimately the best we could do as long as it seems right at the time and we’re “doing something”.
When it comes to peace, when large groups pray or chant or meditate for peace many studies have shown crime, terrorism, violence and accidents in the area go down dramatically. I’ve seen so many amazing things come from the power of collective meditation and prayer, I believe that they may be the most powerful tools we have. I also think if there IS some action to take, prayer and meditation can provide better answers; ones we would never think of using only our minds.
There’s such widespread belief in the power of prayer for healing people who are ill. Why is it so easy to believe that prayer can heal an ailing person but not an ailing world?
I do believe in action. But I believe that prayer is action. I believe that meditation is action. I believe that the answers we receive in meditation about the next step to take are the answers we really need. I believe prayer is something.