Monday, April 19, 2010

The Calculated Risks of Prayer – Part 2: Seeing Ourselves as We Really Are

In the first “risk” of prayer I wrote about beating ourselves up for not getting what we want; or feeling that we’ve done something wrong, which is why our prayers are not answered. The remedy to that is to take it a little easier on ourselves when things don’t work out to our liking and re-evaluate why it is we think we want what we wanted in the first place!

The second risk has to do with what can be revealed to us as a result of our prayers. The inscription at the oracle of Delphi reads, “Know Thyself”. Being honest with ourselves about who we are and what we believe can be a daunting undertaking. We often think of ourselves as we wish we were – or as we hope others see us! – not as we really are.

Human beings seem to have an innate ability to use numerous devises to escape the facts, many of which are very creative. “I’m just a little tired” could really mean, “I’ve been working myself to death”. “I guess I should lose a few pounds” sounds a lot different when it comes from our physician when she says, “You are obese”.

We have to strike a balance between “Truth” and “truth”. The “Truth” is that in Divine Mind we are whole complete and perfect. But the “truth” we demonstrate in our lives may not always reflect that perfection. For example, we know the universe is abundant, but we can get into a feeling of lack if we are without funds or without an appreciation of the blessings we already have in our life. Sometimes in metaphysics we can get so caught up in the perfection of the universe that we forget we chose a corporeal form this time around. I’ve often called this “blithering metaphysical blindness”. Being human comes with a few rules on the physical plane, like not jumping off a cliff even though we know we are spirit having a human experience. The risk in our prayers is that if we are honest with ourselves and our higher power, we may have to admit a few “issues”.

In the teachings of the Science of Mind we do not deny problems, as do some spiritual paths. One of the major differences between Christian Science and the Science of Mind (or Religious Science) is that Christian Science views what we know as the physical world to be an illusion. I am not saying that notion is right or wrong; it’s simply their belief. Dr. Ernest Homes, the founder of the Science of Mind philosophy wrote about problems on page 100 of the Science of Mind textbook. He said, “Our problems are not an illusion. They are as real as we need them to be."

This begs the question, How real do we need our problems to be? Sometimes we are so stuck in the problem that we hold onto that which we say we want to discard by using all those “reasons” why our lives can’t change. Often these are not reasons. They are excuses. Think of a problem or challenge that you are currently having in your life. Got it? Okay…how hard do you fight to defend the notion that your situation cannot change? That’s how real you want the problem to be.

Seeing ourselves as we really are requires that we voluntarily face the truth about ourselves. We have to ask the hard questions: What are my motives? What is the payoff for keeping this situation around, the one I can’t stop complaining about? What are my dominate desires and why am I not moving forward to fulfill them? What are my weaknesses? What is my attitude toward others – do I rejoice in their success or wallow in jealousy? Do I want to change, or am I just into complaining and being a martyr?

The success we have in life and in the answers to our prayers must not be held to the standards of others. We must measure our success by our own ideals, ethics and principles. When we are willing to see ourselves as we really are all the flimsy excuses that hide our inner spiritual poverty come down. Once we have faced the truth we can then turn to prayer for spiritual guidance. The universe will lead us to our next step on the path to what we wish to become. This process is a pre-requisite to moral progress, hard our pride, but necessary nonetheless.

Until next time, when we will look at Risk #3 – We Can Become More Christlike

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