Pray without Ceasing
The Way of Invocation in World Religions
Edited by Patrick Laude
Whole book online: Scribd
Why and how should one pray? This anthology is an attempt at answering this question in the most essential and direct way. The treasury of spiritual texts that have been collected in this volume is focused on the way of the invocation of divine Names, or sacred formulae.
Its main objective is to suggest how this universal way, beyond the diversity of its modalities throughout the great religions, is both a quintessence of religious virtues and ritual practices, and a spiritual path that responds to the particular needs and conditions of our time.
RECITE THE NAME OF THE LORD
Kabīr was born around 1440. He was—and still is—widely recognized as a saint among Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims alike. According to hagiographic accounts his mother became pregnant aft er visiting a Hindu shrine. Upon delivery the child was given up for adoption and Kabīr was raised among a Muslim community of weavers. It is said that the only word that he ever learned to write was “Rāma.” Th e spiritual perspective of Kabīr belongs to bhakti, the devotional longing for union with God. His poetry is written in a fresh, vernacular style and it is this quality which has made his philosophy accessible to generations of Indians for whom he has remained, beyond confessional boundaries, one of the main sources of religious inspiration.
1. The true Name is like none other name!
The distinction of the Conditioned from the Unconditioned is but a word:
The Unconditioned is the seed, the Conditioned is the flower and the fruit.
Knowledge is the branch, and the Name is the root. Look, and see where the root is: Happiness shall be yours when you come to the root.
The root will lead you to the branch, the leaf, the flower, and the fruit.
It is the encounter with the Lord, it is the attainment of bliss, it is the reconciliation of the Conditioned and the Unconditioned.
2. Of what use is your study and refl ection; of what use your reading and
If one has not the experience of the Absolute, if you do not call on the Name of Hari, O stupid one, of what use is all your reflecting and thinking?
3. Today you say, “tomorrow I shall repeat His Name” and when dawns the morrow you say “the following day I shall repeat it.”
Thus todays and tomorrows pass away and you lose the golden opportunity.
4. Utter thou the Name of the Creator.
When you lay in the womb you promised to the Lord you would remember Him
And day and night you would recite His Name if He would take you out of the misery of the womb.
You promised to fix all attention on His feet and attach yourself to His Name
And not for an instant to forsake Him whether the body remained happy or suffered.
Dwell upon the feet of the True Teacher,
Hold on to the Name of the Lord fearlessly.
Recite the Name of the Lord, O mind, or else thou shalt have to repent.
Damned be the joy which expels the Name out of the heart.
All praises to pain: that moment by moment compels us to repeat the Name.
The True Name is the only thing to repeat. It is the best gift to make.
You are counting the beads with the hand and with the lips you are repeating the Name; whilst your mind is wandering on all sides.
This is not remembrance of God.
The Philokalia (literally “Love of the Beautiful”) is a collection of texts written between the fourth and fi ft eenth centuries by Hesychast spiritual masters of the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Although these texts were widely known prior to their publication as the Philokalia , their influence grew considerably aft er they appeared as a compilation in Greek in Venice in 1782. They were then translated into Church Slavonic by Paissy Velichovsky, and later into Russian by St. Theophan the Recluse. The Philokalia has exercised an influence far greater than any book, other than the Bible, in the recent history of the Orthodox Church. Th e following excerpts are from St. Philotheos of Sinai (ninth century), Ilias the Presbyter (early twelfth century), St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022), and St. Gregory of Sinai (thirteenth century.)
St. Philotheos of Sinai
The blessed remembrance of God—which is the very presence of Jesus—with a heart full of wrath and a saving animosity against the demons, dissolves all trickeries of thought, plots, argumentation, fantasies, obscure conjectures and, in short, everything with which the destroyer arms himself and which he insolently deploys in his attempt to swallow our souls. When Jesus is invoked, He promptly burns up everything. For our salvation lies in Christ Jesus alone. Th e Savior Himself made this clear when He said: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Ilias the Presbyter
96. Not all have the same purpose in prayer: one man has one purpose, another has another. One prays that, if possible, his heart may always be absorbed in prayer; another, that he may even transcend prayer; and a third, that he may not be hindered by thoughts during prayer. But all pray either tobe preserved in what is good, or not to be carried away by evil.
97. If everyone is humbled by prayer—for he who prays with humility is brought to compunction—it follows that anyone outwardly boastful is not praying in a state of humility.
98. Bearing in mind the widow who persuaded the cruel judge to avenge her (cf. Luke 18: 2-5), the man who prays will never lose heart because the blessings to be gained through prayer are slow in arriving.
99. Prayer deserts you if you give attention to thoughts within and to conversations without. But if you largely ignore both in order to concentrate on it, it will return to you.
100. Unless the words of prayer penetrate to the soul’s depths no tears will moisten your cheeks.
101. Corn will spring up for the farmer who has hidden seed in the earth; tears will flow for the monk who diligently attends to the words of prayer.
102. The key to the kingdom of heaven is prayer. He who uses this key as he should sees what blessings the kingdom holds in store for those who love it. He who has no communion with the kingdom gives his attention merely to worldly matters.
103. The intellect cannot say boldly to God at the time of prayer: “Thou hast burst my bonds asunder; I will offer to Thee the sacrifi ce of praise” (Psalm 116:16-17. LXX), unless out of a desire for higher things it frees itself from cowardice, indolence, excessive sleep, and gluttony, all of which lead it to sin.
104. He who is distracted during prayer stands outside the first veil. He who undistractedly off ers the single-phrased Jesus Prayer is within the veil. But he alone has glimpsed the holy of holies who, with his natural thoughts at rest, contemplates that which transcends every intellect, and who has in this way been granted to some extent a vision of the divine light.