The Prayer of Jesus
Let’s take Christianity, the Orthodoxy for example. In its spiritual practice, to achieve the sanctity state they use an ancient inward prayer called in Christianity “the incessant prayer”, “the sensible prayer” or “the hearty prayer”, but it’s more famous as “the Prayer of Jesus”. It consists of just several words: “Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy upon me”. Or a short version: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me”. What this prayer basically does is that a person, continually repeating it with “the mouth, then the mind and then the heart”, gradually plunges into the same state as achieved in the Lotus Flower. Many people achieved the soul awakening with the help of this prayer.
The prayer is very powerful and efficient. It’s described in detail in the ancient book of “the Good Nature”. This book for people who are clever and versed in spiritual sacraments is the second important after the Gospel. There are advises and instructions of twenty-five monks describing practices under this prayer. And, though they all were recognized as “saints”, only few of them had really achieved sanctity having perceived the inward prayer sacrament. These old men described the three keys of this prayer: frequent repetition of Christ’s name and addressing to him, attention to the prayer or, more simply, full concentration on it without any other thoughts, and, finally, immersion in oneself which churchmen considered a great sacrament of this prayer and called “mind joining the heart”.
In principle, it’s a religious, longer way to the pure knowledge that is to awakening in the Lotus Flower, to opening of the soul. Yet, in Christianity, for beginners and not for people who already follow this prayer, there are certain religious rules applied. The beginners are forbidden to practice it without proper guidance, i.e. without a living instructor. This rule is reasoned in such a way that, without an instructor, people uttering this prayer might “suddenly get under grip of uncontrollable mental states”.
Whereas, in fact, there’s nothing terrible there because a beginner simply practices an ordinary auto-training, self-disciplining oneself, passes the very first meditation steps, learns to concentrate his or her attention on the prayer, removing all outside thoughts and gradually increasing the time of prayer performance. Thus, these stages when a beginner utters the prayer “with mouth and then with mind” is a plain hammering of it into the subconscious in order to facilitate fighting against one’s animal nature through concentration on the very prayer and thereby achieving “the purity of intentions”.
Many people start performing this inward prayer either over a fear of “hell torments” or because of personal self-interest for the future. Although the saint men whom the prayer had really lead to opening of their own inner soul temple, warned that “fearing hell torments was the way of a slave, and desiring a reward in the Kingdom was the way of a mercenary”, — saying the latter words, Sensei glanced at Max with such an unusual, penetrating look that a shiver went up and down Max’s spine. – “Whereas God wants people to go to him along a filial path, i.e. to behave honestly out of love and eagerness for Him and to enjoy the salutary joining with Him in their souls and hearts”. God may be perceived only through internal pure Love. In St. John’s chapter 4, verse 18 it is mentioned: “In love there is no fear, yet perfect love banishes fear for in fear there’s tormenting; who fears is imperfect in love”. As St. Gregory the Sinaite wrote in his instructions to the Good Nature, in part 1, on page, — Sensei softly closed his eyes, recalling, — on page 119, about the Prayer of Jesus: “Love this one prayer and strive to acquire it in your heart, keep your mind not dreamy. Don’t be afraid of anything with it; for the One Who said: dare, I am, don’t fear, — is with us Himself”. “Who will be in Me, and I will be in him, will create a great fruit”, — as stated in the New Testament, in St. John’s chapter 15, verse 5.
Thus, the first two stages of the prayer “with mouth and mind” are only a prelude, while the greatest sacrament, in churchmen’s opinion, is when “mind joins the heart”, when “the name of Jesus Christ, descending to the depth of one’s heart, will subdue the pernicious serpent and revive the soul”, when “mind puts the prayer into heart, and the heart begins to utter it”. This is actually the transfer from the verbal to the sensual, more simply — the meditation beginning. For meditation is nothing, but working at the sensual level without any words.
A versed person reading the Good Nature, rejecting all religious rubbish, will understand the core of this way, and his or her eye will find the necessary. For instance, Simeon the New Theologian, describing the methods of “joining the heart” in Word 68 of the Good Nature, wrote: “You should obey the three things above all: unconcern with anything, even with blessed, and not only with unblessed and vain, or in other words – disregard of everything, pure conscience in everything so as it would not condemn itself of anything, and complete impartiality so as your intention would not tend to anything”. This is the first-rate basis for opening one’s soul.
In the Good Nature, there can be found description of different ways how people who had perceived the inward prayer sacrament achieved the stage of “mind joining the heart”.
— Why different? — Max wondered.
— Well, each person is special in his or her own way, each one, say, has his or her own step length... Thus, some concentrated on their heart, trying to mentally imagine how the prayer was being uttered with each heart beat. Others exercised in breathing, on the inhale pronouncing: “Lord Jesus Christ”, and on the exhale — “have mercy upon me!”, again concentrating these words on the heart. Still others practiced self-contemplation. For example, St, Gregory the Sinaite mentions the following: “...bring mind from your head down to your heart and hold it there, and from there appeal with your mind and heart jointly: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me!” Hold your breath as well so as to breathe without impudence for it disperses your thoughts. If you see thoughts appearing, don’t heed them even if they are simple and kind, not only empty and impure”. Or, for instance, in the second part of the Good Nature Nikiphoros the Monk recommends, in case one fails in such inward breathing, “... to force oneself to yell this only prayer inside instead of any other words (thoughts). Patiently remain in such deed for just some time, and an entrance to the heart will open for you through this without any doubt as we have perceived from our own experience”.
It’s splendid, of course. However, they were concentrating on the heart. Therefore, those who practiced the inward prayer soon started feeling pain in this body organ. And many fell into this dangerous trap. What do I mean? Heart is a muscle, an organism engine, the soul was never inside it. Heart should work autonomously. And concentrating on this organ is a tremendous risk. What kind of risk? If a person has even slightest doubts during such concentration, if he performs this prayer as an idle experiment, not changing his inner life holistically, not having made a firm decision to follow his soul, i.e. not awakening the genuine faith in God inside himself, but simply playing with it by whim of his good mood, he can easily get a nice heart attack. Nonetheless, truly spiritual people possessing steady faith, sincere, pure love for God, successfully passed even such stage, although it wasn’t painless for the heart, until they got deep inside their soul, to the solar plexus area. They felt as if their mind was descending there. And exactly from there they started to fell warmth spreading from chest all over the body and causing pleasant sensations. As saints wrote, “a light flares up which embraces you from inside with the fire of God’s Love”. More simply, the solar plexus chakran started to work, and such person felt a vibration coming out of the chest, a warm wave carrying those words from the soul depth: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. The person felt the God’s Love emanation inside and amplified this Love with subsequent concentration on it. “Blessed are those pure in heart for they will view God”. According Pheolipth’s the Metropolitan dicta written in part two of the Good Nature: “Having secluded externally, dare to get further inside the most internal watchtower of the soul which is the house of Christ where there’s always peace, joy and silence. Christ, the mental sun, emanates these gifts like some rays out of Him and gives them like a recompense to the soul which accepts Him with faith and good nature”.
— I haven’t quite understood about the heart, — Max said. — How those spiritually advanced could avoid heart attacks? If they also concentrated attention on the heart, why did their solar plexus snap into action?
— Because, if a person opens with Love for God, the God’s Love will safeguard him or her, no matter which way he or she is going. The main thing is aspiration on the way. In such case, sooner or later the searcher will arrive at the needed result. At bottom, if a person is steadfast in one’s spiritual zeal and does not assume any doubts even in thinking, everything works just like it should.
Extracts from the book by Anastasia Novykh «Birds and a Stone»sensei.org.ua 18-12-2016