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The Question of Prayer December 2, 2010

Posted by ekarlpierson in 13) The Question of Prayer.
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PARTICIPANT: Does prayer fit into this?

WW: Excellent. One of these times I’m going to surprise all of you and answer a question with one sentence.

(Participant laughter.)

You know what I’m going to do here is to dive into this, break it down, figure it out, and see if we can come up with a clear picture of prayer. This is really a quite serious matter because I’m sure most of us have participated in this activity, and some of us have probably been very devout about it. I didn’t say we’ve been serious about it. To be devout about it and to be serious about it are two entirely different matters. To be devout about it is to accept what we have been taught about prayer and then to jump off of that lily pad and go on for the rest of our lives without a really looking seriously at what prayer means and what we’re doing with it. After all, nearly everyone prays with the same basic elements of prayer, and if everyone is doing it, who are we to question?

So, there are two basic aspects of prayer, four if you count the introduction and ending, and there are two schools of prayer. For some reason people think they need an introduction to make sure the deity is listening, as well as an ending to sign off and let the deity know that we’re done. It’s almost as if someone was on a radio call and made initial contact, gave a message, and then signed off. That’s the idea that people seem to have; that God is only going to be listening at a certain time according to our schedule. What would you think if our every feeling, drive, and idea with which we are identified goes straight to God? Wouldn’t that mean we are, in effect, praying all day long? If all of that information is getting through, all day long, then most of us are in deep shit. It would be as if we accidentally called God on a cell phone when we got up in the morning, then unknowingly left the call open all day long.

I’m acquainted with a fellow who accidentally bumped the call button on his cell phone while it was in his pocket. Unfortunately for him, he was going into a strip club. And to his misfortune, the call just happened to be to his wife.

(Participant laughter.)

Do you think, perhaps, that’s what we’ve been doing for all these years?

PARTICIPANT: If that really is the case, I gotta’ get out there and make some serious amends. There’s been some pretty wild stuff at the other end of the phone. Lucky for me the Good Lord doesn’t expect perfection or I’d be doomed for hell, right now!

(Participants’ laughter).

WW: The idea of perfection is something that we can address later in the weekend if time permits.
In the case of Delta, all of that with which we are identified goes through. All of that talk from the trolls, all of those emotions, all of this fallacy—that is the message that’s getting through to Delta. That is the reason I keep hammering away at the idea of dis-identification. If we can stand back and covertly look over the shoulder of self, those ideas then become inert, having no chemistry. The part that does the looking is the part that’s being looked at. Then we will have taken control of the cell phone.

According to Mr. Webster, the origin of the word “pray” means to request or ask. This basic aspect of prayer is used in entirely different ways by the world school or exoteric school, versus the esoteric school. Quite naturally, those who teach the world school ideas don’t see themselves as teaching an exoteric teaching. When they pray or speak of prayer, they see their teaching as a seriously esoteric or spiritual matter. It may seem like an inconsequential matter or an argument about the meaning of words, but I would argue that there is a huge difference between the teachings of these two schools. Let’s look seriously at the intent and meaning of the two schools of prayer and then I think it will become evident that the two meanings of prayer are quite incompatible with one another.

Let’s look first at exoteric prayer. According to the world school, which is used at virtually every church, mosque, and temple, a fickle god is asked to remove resistance. Isn’t that the real content of asking? Haven’t we been asking God to remove resistance? I won’t go through resistance in detail again because we pretty well covered that, but isn’t that the essence of prayer to ask God to remove the very thing that makes life possible? If I recall correctly, we established that the element of resistance must be a part of every event. You can check this out. There may be varying degrees and types of resistance, but it is there with us always. Are we going to ask our god to change the rules of the universe and delete the element of resistance for a particular event because we don’t like it or don’t understand it? It’s more likely that God would temporarily remove gravity from the earth than to remove resistance from an event that we don’t understand!

How about our lack of humility before God, or whatever our vision of god may be? Are we so brazen and shameless that we would fancy ourselves able to better know what we need than does God? Don’t we say that we have a loving and caring god, then turn around and pray as though God is paying no attention at all?

PARTICIPANT: But we do have needs. I need food, clothing, and shelter.

WW: I’m going to give you something to work on. You can check this out further for yourself. You don’t look to be malnourished. Those are very nice clothes. We’re in a sheltered building with air conditioning. Why do you say that you have needs?

PARTICIPANT; Because I still need to obtain those things.

WW: When?

PARTICIPANT: Well, tomorrow or next month.

WW: So then, you have a projected image of insufficiency in material things. You’ve probably never suffered from the lack of food, never gone naked, never been without shelter. I saw you parking your very fine car. How much do you want? I’m not picking on you! We all do this! We’re all projecting to something else. We’re living in Tokyo time or Paris time. Rather than living with grace, we’re telling God that life is insufficient and that he needs to get on the stick and take care of us. We see life as a negative value.

How about our disrespectful picture of God? Is our god so fickle that he would have a master process for the way life must operate, then turn around and throw a brick at us just for the hell of it?

PARTICIPANT: But he does throw bricks at us!

WW: How so?

PARTICIPANT: I was in a car wreck a couple of weeks ago that was completely out of my control.

WW: People also get killed in car wrecks.

PARTICIPANT: Isn’t that a brick?

WW: Now we’re back to the question of resistance. Okay, let’s look at potential. In physics we have the potential of energy of mass. It doesn’t mean that the mass will explode, it just means that it has a potential of energy. We have the potential of charge in an electric field. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to use that potential, but the potential is there. We have the potential to get killed in a car wreck. It doesn’t mean that we will get killed, but we could. That would be extreme resistance. Our drive to travel safely requires corresponding and extreme levels of awareness. If we didn’t have the potential to have a serious collision, we could just lay back, close our eyes, and let happen what does. It is the potential of resistance that requires the level of awareness. You must know that God didn’t make automobiles. The traffic game is a man-made game and you’re not required to play it. I’ve met several people who choose not to play that game because of the risks involved.

Now for the esoteric idea. The esoteric school has a different view of asking in prayer. This asking isn’t just a cheap request, but instead requires effort from the person who is doing the asking. If a person asks for a degree in electronic engineering, that person will have to do a great deal of work to make it happen. It will take a lot of drive and a lot of resistance. If a person asks for knowledge regarding spiritual matters it will, in the same way, require drive and resistance. The person asking for knowledge would take on the unpleasant task of recognizing that his objective is to observe an idea. Asking, in this regard, would involve a degree of initiative on the part of the asking party. The more a person works, the greater is his asking. This type of asking is not a freebee. Asking for a freebee isn’t really asking at all, is it? That type of prayer is only a wish.

What about the other aspect of prayer, which would be to give thanks? Similarly to asking in prayer, giving thanks in the world school means to be thankful that resistance didn’t come along in a big way and cause us to have so-called “problems.” Anyone can do that. It’s much more difficult to be thankful for resistance. Very few people are thankful for resistance.

PARTICIPANT: How about when people say they’re thankful for food at their table?

WW: I’m sure I sound like a cynic, and in fact, I could be called a cynic by the literal definition of the word, but look at what we’re really being thankful for. Aren’t we thankful that resistance didn’t come along and make it difficult to put food on the table? I’m not saying that this is not being thankful and it certainly is better than nothing at all. However, do we really see that the value in physical goods is because of a spiritual occurrence?

Maybe I can more simply state my case. The worldly man, or the natural man, is thankful for worldly things. I know what you’re thinking. Fine food, automobiles, a beautiful home, a new ski boat. Isn’t this what we think of when we talk about worldly things or worldly possessions? Let me list some more worldly things. How about attention from other people? How about being recognized for our contribution in some field? How about getting other people to behave the way we want them to? How about seeing resistance as a negative value? How about seeing resistance as coming from the devil? These are the types of “things,” which I’ll put in quotation marks, because these “things” are every bit as real as the things of the strictly physical sense. The worldly man or natural man will shape the thanks he makes around these worldly “things.”

Let’s try a different angle on this. There are plenty of guys out there like me. I’ve worked hard for a living, I ride horses and a motorcycle, I like to hunt dove and quail, fish for trout. We don’t like to talk about feelings, but the fact is, we operate on them, regardless of whether we’re worldly types or spiritual types, regardless of whether our interests are, for the moment, exoteric or esoteric. When I catch a trout I get a feeling. When my horse performs well I get a feeling. When I get a new worldly possession I get a feeling. It’s all about feeling. Feelings and worldliness cannot be separated. When someone thinks they are praying about spiritual matters, they really are praying in regard to a feeling that is gratifying. They’re just kidding themselves.

So what might thankfulness in prayer be, according to the esoteric school? How about this definition? When a person is being thankful that he is recognizing his hopelessly worldly state, he is then involved in a spiritual act, a thankful prayer. That is his only chance. Does that make sense? Recognition of what one is doing. Recognizing that one cannot force an escape from this by thought; the recognition that one cannot force the control of thought, desire, the basic urges, with intellect. “A man’s got to know his limitations.” You can find something worthwhile in the darnedest places.

PARTICIPANT: If what you speak about—the views that you have—are true, then you are saying …all of my effort, my spiritual effort, if that’s the right word, has been futile. My pastor and friends have unintentionally sent me in the wrong direction; that they are going in the wrong direction, that after all of this effort my inner man is just a mess.

WW: You obviously read the bible then?

PARTICIPANT: I’m not a bible scholar but I do read it.

WW: And I too am not a scholar, but have done some Bible reading. Paul was someone I would rate as a most articulate and spiritual person, yet even he said that no good dwelled within him. He didn’t say that he may have a little bit of good in him; he said he had none! That’s a very serious statement. When bible believers read the bible, they sometimes just ignore statements like this or think that the statement doesn’t apply to them. I assert that Paul was talking about all of us. If that’s a good enough statement for Paul, isn’t it good enough for you and I? Do you think that maybe you and I are better than Paul? Do you think maybe you and I are 50% good or 20% good or even 5% good when Paul had 0% good in him? Hell, if I’m in the same condition as Paul, then that makes me as happy as a lark!

Do we want to struggle with every brand and type of self-improvement or do we want to dis-identify from self and move on?

It may be interesting to try reading the works of Paul next time in the context of the picture of man that we have drawn. Listen to what he says about not having the ability to control the trolls. He has to turn the whole thing over to a higher idea.

ED: I can respect your take on things, but you seem to have a negative perspective on every philosophy out there except your own. Is there any philosophy that you recommend or subscribe to? Is every philosophy out there wrong except your own?

WW: And what philosophy is it that I have promoted?

ED: Well …your picture of man and …the rest that goes with it.

WW: How much is two plus two?

ED: Four, of course.

WW: What are the oceans made of?

ED: Salt water, of course.

WW: And what powers the light bulbs in your home?

ED: Electricity.

WW: Your answers are concise and comprehensive …factual …without doubts. So, were your answers factual observations or were they a philosophy?

ED: Fact!

WW: Then we have our answer! And I don’t want to subscribe to anyone’s philosophy.

ED: But you subscribe to your own philosophy, your own ideology. When you say that other ideologies are wrong, that’s an ideology in itself.

WW: No, Ed. That is an observation. For you, it’s an ideology because you haven’t made the observations …yet. The things I’ve spoken of are just ideology for anyone in this room who hasn’t yet checked it out. That’s the reason I urge you to check it out. If everyone just accepts or rejects the observations we’ve talked about, as you do, then it’s all just another ideology to be believed or disbelieved like the rest of the world.

ED: All right, you say that you make observations. I know how you like to do things in a scientific way. In the scientific community, you make observations, then someone else repeats the experiments to verify the observations. You’re like the Lone Ranger out there with nobody to back you up.

WW: Well Ed, that’s the reason you are here. Why don’t you do the experiments, make the observations, then you can be the one to back up the observations for yourself?

ED: Well, who has time to go out and research every ideology that’s out there?

WW: I’ve punched holes in a lot of ideologies, but I don’t think you’re getting it. My point here is that methodology, which is made up of ideologies, is little more than a means by which to be get away from the things in life that disturb us. It isn’t so much the individual methods or ideologies that I am indicting, but rather the idea of methodology as a way of living. The indictment is against the idea of running away from disturbance and the methods that ensue. It just so happens that everyone and their dogs have methods.

Another question?

PARTICIPANT: Do you do private counseling?

WW: Counseling? No. I occasionally have discussions that are best carried on in private. I wouldn’t call it counseling.


PARTICIPANT: What about sacred texts? Islam, Hindu …other Eastern texts.

WW: You can take college level classes on comparative religion. There’s enough information out there to consume a lifetime if you like. Personally, I care to only pick up some basic ideas of what the various religions have to offer. It’s the same story in every country and every religion. They are taught and consumed by literalist believers with little regard to the possible esoteric values. We may talk a little bit about Buddhist practices if we have time to fit it into an appropriate theme.

What do we mean by sacred texts and how do the texts become sacred? I have a sacred saddle. My father custom ordered the saddle about 70 years ago and rode it on the cattle ranch where he grew up. I used the saddle, retired it, disassembled it, carefully cleaned it, had someone make leather repairs made to it, oiled it, reassembled it, and set it up on a saddle stand. It’s quite the collector’s item. It has become sacred. There really isn’t any difference between a sacred text and a sacred saddle, is there? Don’t we get a feeling that something is sacred? That’s what it’s really all about. I get a sacred feeling when I see that saddle and someone else gets a sacred feeling from a religious artifact. Are these writings, icons, ideas, places, or anything inherently sacred, or does man make things sacred? To whom are these things sacred? Is that saddle sacred to anyone but me?

How about conflicting texts? If one religion has a text that conflicts with another text from another religion, then how could both texts be inherently sacred? You see, if we really look at it and can admit to it, nothing is sacred except to those who have chosen to make it that way.

PARTICIPANT: Even with all of the faults with religion, don’t you still think children should be raised in a church, just for the training and experience and life lessons?

WW: Parents can decide for themselves as to the type of authoritarian indoctrination that will be imposed on their children. I really don’t think that’s the real reason people send their children to church, for the most part. If that were the case you would see Hindus sending their children down to the nearest Catholic Church or we would see Catholics sending their children to a mosque. Of course, people don’t often do that. What’s really going on here? Is it perhaps that people are trying to create little clones?