|The Power of Aspiration to God or Prayer|
Aspiration or prayer to the Absolute is essentially a simultaneous focus of mind and orientation of soul that opens the access to the spirit and makes us be into an ineffable inner resonance with the ultimate immaterial substratum of the world. They generally consist in an honest calling, in a complaint and a silent cry for help carried in a state of humility. Sometimes they are a serene contemplation of the Absolute, immanent and transcendent principle of all things and beings. Aspiration to the Absolute or prayer can also be defined as an instantaneous heightening of the mind and soul to God, as an immediate act of evocation of prevailing love and adoration to the Absolute and eternal One, from where this miracle of life proceeds. In fact, prayer or aspiration towards God represents the simple human effort to communicate directly with the Absolute invisible Being, the creator of all that exists, which in reality is the ultimate wisdom, strength and beauty, loving father and savior of all of us. Far from a simple recitation of dry formulations, the true aspiration to the Absolute or prayer is a sublime state of spiritual communion in which consciousness is gradually absorbed in God. This ineffable state of inner harmony with the Absolute is not only intellectual in nature and for this reason it remains generally inaccessible to philosophers, scholars and scientists.
How we aspire to the Absolute? How do we pray? We learned the technique of aspiration to the Absolute or prayer, from the great Christian saints, beginning with St. Paul and St. Benedict and reaching up to the anonymous apostles, which tirelessly for twenty centuries initiated Western nations in the spiritual and religious life. Plato's God was generally intangible and inaccessible in His greatness; the one of Epictetus was the ultimate essence of macrocosmic soul; Yahweh was almost an Oriental despot inspiring fear and terror rather than divine love and compassion.
Christianity brought an intimate God right into the heart of people, with a perceivable reality and considered Him our loving father, advisor and Absolute guide. In order to reach God is no longer necessary a non-sense complicated ritual with the sacrifice of blood; the aspiration to God or prayer became an easy access and its technique can be done by anybody. In order for us to aspire to the Absolute or pray, we must do a simultaneous effort with the heart and mind frenetically inclining only towards God. This double effort done with the souls and mind must be intensely felt with affectivity and not only intellect. A deep meditation on the greatness of God becomes a prayer only if accompanied by an intense inner experience of the love for and faith in God. According to the method of La Salle, the prayer starts from a deep intellectual admiration in order to immediately reach a sublime affective experience. Short or prolonged, silent or out loud the aspiration to God or prayer must resemble the communion and dialog between a loving and humble child and his loving and All-Powerful parent. With an open heart you present simply as you are and then aspire to God – used to say a humble nun that for 30 years she dedicated her life to the helpless and poor ones. In fact you always pray and aspire to God the way you love in reality; you pray and aspire to God with focused mind and soul, with all your being.
The form of aspiration to God or prayer varies from the brief and frenetic hope to God up to the deep contemplation; from the simple words felt from the entire being of a peasant woman to the ecstatic greatness of Gregorian songs accompanied by an inspired music into the cathedrals vault.
Solemnity, grandeur, encysted seriousness and beauty are not necessary for the efficiency of the aspiration to the Absolute or prayer. Few people knew to pray to God the way St. John of the Cross or St. Bernard de Claivaux, yet we all know we don’t need to be eloquent in order to be heard by God. Analyzing the results of the aspiration to God or prayer we easily notice that both most humble words of hope, prayer and praising and the most beautiful invocations seem to be accepted by the Absolute Master of all beings, with the condition for them to be pure and sincere. Even the daily praying routine is a prayer and also is the flame of a candle light for God with love.
It is enough if for us the material flame and our simple words to God symbolize the ardor and honest aspiration to God or prayer. It is very good to know that the aspiration to the Absolute or prayer can be an action done in a godly spirit. St. Ludovic de Gonzague said that the correct accomplishment of our duty while being completely detached from its fruits is equivalent with an intensely and profound prayer. The best means to communicate with God is of course, the integral fulfillment of His Will due to the inspiration which we receive (let’s remember here the prayer Our Father). To fully make the Will of God means to observe and permanently follow the laws of life as they are deeply and enigmatically written into our flesh, blood, mind, soul and spirit.
The aspirations to God or prayers differ from one another like the personalities of the people praying. Regardless of their varied forms, prayers have 3 essential themes: frenetic aspiration to God, hopelessness and love. It is legitimate to beg God from the bottom of our heart to help us easily receive that which we need. Yet it is absurd to ask as a gift of Him the fulfillment of an aberrant caprice or something which we could accomplish by personal effort. TO THE FOOLISH OR ABERRANT REQUESTS GOD RESPONDS WITH SILENCE. The just, benefic, continuous, persuasive and determined prayer succeeds. A blind man sited on the side of the road and said out loud his ardent prayer in spite of all the bothered pedestrians trying to shut him up. “Your faith healed you”, said the Savior that was passing by. In its highest form, the aspiration to God or prayer ceases to be a common request. Then the man shows to the Absolute Master of all beings and things his love, gratitude for the gifts he received and also manifests his deep humility to fulfill the Will of God. Then the aspiration to God or prayer becomes a deep contemplation: an old peasant was sitting meditatively and alone on the last bench from a completely empty church. He was asked “What are you waiting for?” And he answered: “I watch Him with love and I am happy that He watches me back.” The real value of the prayer technique can be measured by its results. Any technique of prayer either Christian, yogi, Sufi or Buddhist is good when it helps man get in a deep and real contact with God.
You can do that anywhere: on the streets, in the bus, train, at the office, while you work, at school etc. But you can better pray and aspire to God out in nature, in the mountains, fields, and forests or exactly in the center of your room, in solitude. We should also consider the church community prayers and we shouldn’t marginalize the value of the traditional yoga techniques that often can help us extraordinary much too for deep and complete merging with God in an ecstatic experience. It is important for us to remember that fact that regardless of the place or moment of the prayer, God speaks only to the man that placed in his heart the silence and love for God. Our inner silence depends on our organic state of the psyche and mind, but also on the favoring elements from the outer environment. The peace of the body, mind and spirit is hard to get when living in the confusion, stress, noise, agitation and chaotic scattering from a modern city. Today people need more than ever places for prayer, churches, yoga centers and ashrams in which the citizens can find even if just for a short moment – the harmonious physical, psychological and mental conditions necessary for their inner peace and spiritual flourishing. It wouldn’t be hard and not even expansive to build such islands of spirituality and quietness in the middle of the cities and villages.
In the silence of these paradisiacal refuge people can unite their thoughts and elevate them to God by focusing them in an impetuous ardor. Thus they can relax the mind, clear their thinking, rest their bodies and receive the endurance for a hard life imposed by the present civilization.
The aspiration to the Absolute or prayer deeply and beneficially acts upon the character of a person only if it became a habit to pray. We must aspire to God as often as possible. “Think and aspire to God more often than you breathe” said Epictetus long time ago. It is absurd to pray in the morning to God and for the rest of the day behave like a savage, selfish and pagan. Very short thoughts of aspiration to God or intense mental evocations can keep a person almost always in the presence of God. Understood from this point of view of consistent practice, the aspiration to God or prayer becomes an ideal and divine lifestyle full of happiness.
If perseveringly done in good conditions, the aspiration to God or prayer is always followed by a result sooner or later. “No human ever prayed to God without noticing the amazing inner transformations or at least to learn something.”- R. W. Emerson
Yet, the prayer is often considered by the modern people as an unfashionable subject or it is regarded like a hopeless superstition or a remnant of barbarism. In spite of these strange and unconscious rejections, it can be said that most of people don’t know at all the effects and complex phenomena involved in prayer.
Which are the causes of such ignorance? First of all, at the base of ignorance is the rarity of aspiration to God or prayer. The sense of sacredness is almost perished for the civilized people. Probably that the number of the people praying from a country doesn’t go higher than 4 – 5 % of the population. Then, sometimes the prayer is sterile if the majority of people praying are selfish, liars, proud, Pharisees and almost completely incapable of faith and love. And finally we often miss or disregard the effects of a prayer due to our lack of attention and incapacity to fully perceive what is going on. The answer to our hope, aspiration, love and prayer is usually given slowly, unnoticeable and almost ineffable. The tiny voice of divine inspiration is easily succumbed by the big noise and agitation of this world. The materialized results of the aspiration to the Absolute are sometimes mysterious and they generally can get confused with other phenomena due to our ignorance. Few people, even among priests or yogi beginners already had the chance to notice them profoundly and with precision. Medical doctors in their turn, out of lack of interest or obtuseness, often let prayers results pass by without studying them. The prayer response is almost always far from what we’ve expected. For instance someone wishes to be quickly healed from a somatic disorder, his health improves but the disease is not totally cured, yet the person gets an extraordinary moral transformation in good. For studying the effects of prayers we should go inside spiritual communities.
The aspiration to God or prayer acts upon the psyche, mind and body in a specific manner which seems to greatly depend on its quality, intensity and frequency. The quality of a prayer usually remains unknown because, with the exception of clairvoyants, we don’t have the means to measure the aura, faith and capacity to love of a person. Yet the way in which a human is touched by the prayer can enlighten us upon the quality of the invocations done by him to God.
The habit of praying strengthens the moral sense and the sense of sacredness. The trams used for prayer generate through perseverance, the amplification of the sense of duty and responsibility doubled by a greater kindness in the interaction with other people.
It was demonstrated that the mental and intellectual development, character, inner elevation and the moral values of the ones who pray to God constantly, are much higher than in the case of people who never pray. This fact clearly proves that in the case of the aspiration to God or prayer happen ineffable and complex phenomena of merging and resonance with sublime divine energies.
When praying becomes a habit on a daily basis its beneficial influence becomes very clear. It triggers effects somewhat similar to the ones of an endocrine gland like the thyroid or adrenals; for instance, such complex processes are a gradual transformation on a psychological, mental and somatic level. This transformation becomes pretty obvious for the other people and is done progressively. The man who prays experiences a state of spiritual detachment and can see himself exactly as he is. Then he discovers with an extraordinary lucidity his selfishness, greed, malice, judgment errors, perversities and ego; then the man who prays becomes more able to fulfill his moral duty and can spontaneously reach ecstatic states of humility. Thus, slowly, the all-powerful kingdom of divine gifts opens up to him and gives him inner euphoric peace, harmony, happiness, better endurance of poverty, stress, worries, calumny and the loss of dear ones, better endurance of pain, disease and imminence of death. Thus the medical doctor noticing his patient started to pray can be happy. The calm triggered by the aspiration to God or prayer is a powerful support in healing.
Yet the prayer must not be considered like morphine because it generates at the same time inner euphoric peace and superior integration of mental activities, an accelerated flourishing of personality and sometimes the awakening and amplification of heroism. The prayers effects mark with a special seal the believers unshaken in their faith. The presence of this hidden treasure into our organs, soul, mind and spirit is often translated into the amazing power of sight, radiant calm outlook, mysterious joy, serene expression, ideal courageous behavior and, when necessary, the detached acceptance of death. Under this enigmatical and sublime influence even the ones not so endowed mentally, intellectually and morally can make better use of their potential. For the one who prays it is obvious that the aspiration to God heightens the man way above the moral, psychological and mental level gained through heredity and education. This ineffable contact with God makes the one who pray to be touched by divine peace and this peace emanates from them onto the others that begin to feel its benefits. The people who pray to God keep with them all over the divine peace and quietness like a sublime subtle field of beneficial influence. Unfortunately only a small number of people nowadays know how to aspire to God or pray. The ones who perseveringly practice succeed to understand through direct spiritual experience the mysteries of the aspiration to God or prayer and use them with faith and thus have excellent results.
Healing by the means of the aspiration to God or prayer draw the attention of people and amazed them. Even today, in the communities where people constantly aspire to God or pray, it is often met the phenomenon of healing with the fervent prayers to God or the saints. The skeptical ones object to a miraculous healing when it is the case of an easier disease susceptible to be cured spontaneously or with ordinary medication. The results of prayers are fully accepted only in the cases where the medical doctors have no solution. The medical office from Lourdes for the study of miraculous healings made a great service to science by proving beyond any doubt that the reality of healing due to the aspiration to God or prayer.
Fervent aspiration to God or prayer can sometimes have an instant and explosive effect. There were countless cases of patients that healed almost instantly from diseases such as: facial lupus, cancer, kidney infection, ulcers, pulmonary and bone tuberculosis or peritonitis. The phenomenon almost always happens in the same way: first a great pain, then the immediate feeling of being totally healed. In a few seconds or hours the symptoms disappear and the anatomical lesions fix by magic. The miracle of healing through prayer is characterized by a great acceleration of the healing process.
It is not always necessary for the sick one to fervently aspire to God for this miraculous phenomenon to take place. Even the small children that didn’t know to speak and pray and even the curious unbelievers were instantly cured at Lourdes if next to them was someone fervently praying for them. The ardent prayer done for another is always more fruitful than the one for ourselves because the ego is diminished due to the detachment of the situation. Its effect is directly proportional with its intensity and quality. Presently, at Lourdes, the miracles are rarer than they used to be 40 – 50 years ago because the intensity of the spiritual aspiration to God and the faith diminished. Now the sick ones can’t find over there the intense and sublimely deep internalization and transfiguration which were ruling once over Lourdes. If the essay about the physiological effects of prayer was written after 1944, Dr. Alexis Carrel considers that the miraculous healings from Lourdes picked in the last century of the XIX century. The pilgrims nowadays became simple curious tourists and their generally superficial and selfish prayers have smaller effects due to their lack of faith and diminished aspiration to God.
Besides the prayers effects presented so far, are a multitude of other complex effects hard to define. The history of saints and advanced yogis even from the modern era mention a lot of wonderful facts about the effects of prayers. There is no doubt that the majority of wonders attributed to the priest from Ars or to Padre Pio are true. This assembly of phenomena introduces us into a new world, fascinating by its aspects that keep a lot of surprises for the future research. That which we certainly know is that the fervent aspiration to God or prayer produces complex and tangible effects. No matter how strange this fact may seem at first sight, we must regard it as a fundamental truth confirming once again the ancient Biblical wisdom: “Only the one that asks will receive and only the one who knocks the doors will open to him.”
Alexis Carrel is known mostly as a French physiologist and surgeon, a great specialist in histology. He was born in Sainte-Foy, near Lyon, on 28 June 1873 and died in Paris on November 5, 1944. He was educated in Lyon and received his medical degree in 1900. For two years, until 1902, with further studies in the knowledge of anatomy he was an assistant professor, author of the famous Treaty of anatomy. In 1904 he went to America where he worked tirelessly at the Physiology Institute of Chicago under the scholarly leadership of Stewart. Having gained expertise in these areas that would be essential for him later, was called to the Rockefeller Institute in New York which he soon became a part of that organization. His name began to be increasingly better known. His reputation and having enjoyed the work, with research and discoveries was so great that eventually he won the Nobel Prize for physiology and physiological surgery.
Alexis Carrel has spent almost his entire life in America, returning to France only in 1940. Given that he received a post from the Vichy government was unfairly accused of collaborating with the Nazis. However, he was not involved in any process. His name is known worldwide for the experiences that made tissue culture, a personal technique of "three-wire suture, anastomosis of vascular grafts and for the study of organics. All of them are due to the achievement of the artificial heart which he conceived and built it with aviator Charles Lindbergh.
In December 1940, the author of these lines, written in English, for a famous American publication "Readers Digest article about the extraordinary power of prayer or aspiration to the Absolute. The article was finally published in early 1941, abridged and revised by one of the editors. Then it appeared in the Journal de Geneve ", translated into French in Switzerland perhaps. "Week of religion" was published in France, a little later. The author is not satisfied with this translation, in early January 1944, he decided to write a new essay on something deeper, prayer or aspiration to the Absolute. Although the author is neither a theologian nor a philosopher, however, he realizes something higher. Expressing it in plainest language of all, he uses words in their ordinary meaning and other times in the scientific. He calls for theologians but for him to have the same indulgence as a specialist he would have for them if they would impetus to treat a subject that would achieve physiology. Absolutely it the aspiration to study or prayer is a very brief summary, comprising a number of direct observations collected during a long career, besides the more different people: Western and Eastern Christians and yogis, sick and healthy, priests Catholic monks and nuns of all orders, ascetics, anchorites, Protestant pastors of all denominations, Zen practitioners, rabbis, doctors and nurses, men and women of all professions and all social classes.
In addition, his experience as a surgeon, physician, physiology, laboratory studies which were devoted for several years, possibly in tissue regeneration and accelerated the healing of wounds and were eventually allowed to appreciate their true value certain complex curative effects of prayer or aspiration to the Absolute.
He says the only honest things and issues that he has checked himself or that he has heard comments from people capable of accurate and precise, sometimes preferring to be incomplete rather than to cite the facts and circumstances proved insufficient. Above all, the author has endeavored to remain on the solid ground of reality in treating the subject with good sense.
Speaking of aspiration or absolute prayer to modern humans, it appears at first glance, a totally useless effort. However, despite their reluctance, it is not absolutely necessary to know how much better potentially all human activity state we are? for we cannot let any of them, asleep or not, without great danger that it will show sooner or later to us or our successors. Atrophy of the sense of divine and moral sense turns out to be just as damaging and as generators of suffering for some atrophy intelligence. Inspired by the love among these people is for all: both unbelievers, believers as well. They will hopefully be very useful, because all life requires more or less, achieving the same obligations. It essentially asks us to conduct such as our physical structure, physical, mental and spiritual dictates.
More on Alexis Carrel
Article translated by Virginia Marginean and Bernie Jenkins from http://www.angelinspir.ro/