This is part two of a column I originally referred to as a crisis of faith, but which now seems to be more accurately described as a re-examination of hope and a reassessment of prayer.
It’s part of some work I’m doing involving observation of self and surroundings, in which I am attempting to stand on a rock of my own experiential wisdom, and not be held captive by opinion, subjectivity or second-hand beliefs. I think there’s great value in conducting an internal audit every now and then, subjecting ourselves to rigorous inspection of our spiritual homes and structures.
After I had written the first piece, which called into question whether my thoughts, words, actions and intentions could have any bearing on outcomes, an interesting twist occurred that would have further effect on my approach to prayer, visualization and conscious projection.
I was in Italy with my daughter, who was about to begin a semester of study abroad. During the first night in her new apartment, she encountered a pest problem, which over the next few days caused an intense amount of grief. As my main reason for being there was to get her set up in her new surroundings, it was up to me to deal with the matter and get it resolved.
First thing in the morning I went to the rental agency, which was staffed by people who spoke very little English. As I was walking, there arose within me an impulse to say a prayer, hoping the situation would be resolved satisfactorily. But as soon as I found myself saying, “Please let this work out,” I caught myself and said, “No! I’m not doing that right now,” referring to praying for a result.
The idea of the exercise I had pledged myself to through the writing of my previous column was to be in the present, do my best, and let the chips fall where they may. It took an act of will and resistance, but I suppressed the prayer.
I’m going through a crisis of faith, not having to do with God but with any primal force, power or pervading energy that might have any intere…
I arrived at the rental office to a client-services representative who was much friendlier than she was two days earlier, when I arrived to sign the lease and pay for the apartment. To my great relief, she scheduled professional services to correct the problem in the apartment, and arranged for my daughter to stay in a hotel at their expense.
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After thanking her profusely, I left the office, stepped out to the crowded street, and said, “Thank you,” to whomever such expressions of gratitude are directed. It struck me as ironic that I wasn’t willing to say “please,” yet here I was saying “thank you.”
I realized my saying “thank you” was automatic, not conscious. I didn’t say that worked out well, so I shall give thanks. I just automatically said “thank you.”
On the surface, that could appear to run contrary to my goal of becoming more conscious, yet through my work with skill development and habit formation, I know that through repetition, actions which at first require thought, effort and focused attention become natural, automatic and effortless. To say the action was automatic was simply the product of my practice of gratitude over many years, and not necessarily a negative.
I acknowledged that, in this case, the practice of not projecting, praying or hoping-for yielded a good result. I’m not saying they’re connected/ I’m not jumping to conclusions. I’m noting the result as I endeavor to arrive at a newly-formulated and consciously-chosen attitude and relationship with reality, and forces seen and unseen.
So where does that leave me, after another morning of work, observation and interpretation? Apparently in a place where you ask for nothing and are grateful for every little thing that goes your way. I offer this not as some grand testimony of truth or wisdom, but merely as a summarization of the result of the study thus far.
Fewer things make a teacher happier than running into a former student and learning how successful they have become since you saw them last.