I have recently been engaging in a conversation about prayer with one of my yoga students. It has evolved from his awakening experiences of peace and blissful energy flowing in his awareness and body through the Tantric Yoga practices I have taught him.
This type of experience necessarily challenges the way we think about ourselves. You learn from your own experience that the more you get out of the way, the more the peace and bliss arise. The currents of ecstatic energy do not flow because you wish them to, but because you are relaxed enough, open enough and able to be present to what is moving.
He is still active within his Presbyterian Church, and as one might expect, he wishes to find a way to reconcile his arising Tantric experience with the religious teachings of the church. He began a search on “Yoga and Christianity” which quickly brought up many fundamentalist ideas suggesting that Yoga was anti-Christian, that it was Hinduism, and even that it was wrong because it taught you that God could be found within your own Self. This last idea of course challenges the structure of the church which in many ways relies on the importance of the church and the priests or preachers as a way to connect to God.
Fortunately, his personal faith and his experience with Yoga allowed him to see through these ideas. He has learned to trust his awakening experience.
The next conversation came from a recent meeting at his church which discussed the nature of prayer. He was delighted that even within his own church, there was a discussion which began to challenge the traditional thinking about what prayer is. For many, prayer is thought of as a way to talk to God, to ask for help, to ask for things you want or desire. That is the traditional idea of prayer. But what if prayer was used to LISTEN instead of talk? What if prayer was a way to open to the presence of God and receive His blessings?
In their conversation, they offered a quote from John the Baptist: “True inner prayer is to stop talking and to listen to the wordless voice of God within our heart; it is to cease doing things on our own, and to enter into the action of God.”
Powerful words from the well known Christian Mystic. He defines prayer as listening to the wordless voice of God. But if there are no words, how do we listen? With our hearts! We connect to God through deeper emotion. We open to feeling the unconditional Love and the Presence of God within our own Being. We come into communion with God in this way. This leads to the experience of Union, which is what Yoga really means. It is the Union of the small individual self, with the large Divine Self or God.
By John the Baptist’s definition, prayer becomes akin to the deep, silent meditation of advanced Yoga, which expands into Samadhi, or a continuous one-pointed stream of awareness back into its own Self. The discovery of God within one’s own Being. The Self identification with that same Divine Consciousness.
Prayer REVEALS the nature of God, if practiced in this way. Currents of bliss, joy, peace and love arise first as the True Nature of the Self is accessed. And over time, it expands, shifting and deepening both your relationship with God, and also your relationship with life. This is the path of the Mystic, and also the path taken in the advanced spiritual practices of Tantra Yoga.