Preface to a book

The ideas I’ve expressed on this site, I want to put into a book. I will probably fall silent for a while, doing so. I’m grateful for being able to talk, into the possibility of being heard, grateful for somebody to express myself to. My preoccupation is the discovery which I have made, by accident and continuous low-intensity search across literature, for a composure of my own mind which raises it to the higher level. I started out in life understanding that humans, and me in particular, are somehow condemned to sin; saw it every moment in myself; and sought release and ascension above it. I find the answer to my preoccupation in the shutting down of my mind by simply letting go of concerns, and watching my mind while sitting in a place reserved, in private, for it. I follow a practice of meditation, and enter into darkness, seeking to be aware finally of myself as completely emptied out. And this happens, because it is a technique. But I always confined this prayer to observation of my own heart, and my own wandering intellect down its pathways, until it fell silent. And then, the concentration and awareness which remains to me, once I am emptied out and bodiless and hollowed out, is a visitation of a higher power and a great mind. Sometimes, back in the world, I am so much healthier and happier, and more indifferent to concerns, more confident. In the giving up of myself, I have been given that higher personality, in moments. And I have been comforted, and given a worthless power, but power nonetheless, from the depths or the heights. When I joined the Church, by accident, and at the prompting of my son, and very much for him, I did so for ever. But, it was not only for him, but with the things we discussed. But just as much, because after any meditation and as the accompanying message and wisdom gained from it, I felt the lack of a tradition and a group where prayer takes place, and where veneration of this higher mind and other place takes place. But, this constitutes a regrettable problem. I have found that the technique and the concentration is only distracted by aiming it at something, making it focused on, say, Christ, or God. I do not think that prayer works if you focus it on anything other than your own self. That is, a person who prays to God, or has God in mind, does not truly pray. But this has theological justification, even though, on the outside, it seems to make my praying seem un-Christian or anti-Christian. Theologically, I assert that you should not pray to God, because this is impossible. It would first require a vision of God – which is absurd, because God is beyond our comprehension. And this would leave us having to pray to Christ, or to Mary. But these are again presumptuous things to do, because it is first necessary to purify our self, before approaching them. And, next, to pray to the Holy Spirit is again wrong, because God gives grace in his own time, to the one who is without presumption, and has emptied himself out. And therefore, it is essential in prayer and meditation, to do it just as I did before joining the Church. That is: by focusing attention only on the self, and finding the darkness and the hollowing out. If Christ did offer anything for us to latch on to in this respect, then it was in his being stripped down to absolute emptiness and nothingness on the Cross. A Christian who prays, becomes indifferent to the world, and yet kindly disposed to other people who are, as I am, captured in it and subject to it. He loves what he calls, and this should be done with the reverence suitable to something which we do not understand, God. And so, I advise that it is necessary only to lower the head and seek out our own heart, and the loss of self and mind in prayer; and from experience, I think that to do so for others, or according to some image of God, or to be distracted by saints, icons, and the like, in private prayer, does not work as prayer. These things are for communal worship, not for private devotion. Because it has taken me so long to find these things out, I will put together my book, vaguely a training manual. Time is short, and want to help anyone else who found himself in my position, who searches about for something in English which will show the way. I myself never found such a thing among literature in philosophy, literature, or theology. But, it will be asked by people who follow my argument, and my biography, doesn’t my private prayer justify me in just doing it alone, and forgetting about the Church? I answer, that the more I have prayed, the more I have seen the justification of the Church, and wanted the currently living people in it, and the dead saints and angels who are no longer around, but preceded me. The demand for a living church, which we consider the body of Christ in our time, grows more urgent the more spiritual and selfless you become, I believe. And, it will be asked: doesn’t prayer of this type belong with any ‘religion’. This is asked with good cause, because I have said that I don’t associate private prayer with any particular image or type of God, or the like. This is my answer: whether chance and accident, or providence brought me to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, in its Orthodox guise, I can’t say. Christ or God did everything possible to make belief unattractive, and obscure; Christ died alone, abandoned, bereft even on his Father. He left no monuments, and no written record. Belief is needed, because evidence is only available from second-hand sources. I decided to believe, and I think that God puts this moment of decision to us. And I said that, yes, I believed in him and wanted to be part of his church. A final word. I don’t think that prayer has any advantage of a direct sort; it will never make anything happen. On the contrary, it is a means of examining the inherent divinity of your own self, given by the Creator. It is not something to make the world do things. The world is a place where we are always disappointed, and praying to God is the means of coming to understand that there are higher things than being happy in the world; higher things than the goods offered by the world. I can speak with practical knowledge of the disappointment, and the way in which joining the church offers no consolation. On the day I myself joined, I lost contact with the one who first took me there; he has objected to seeing me ever since. Time is short, and this is the kind of thing I will write about. Grateful to Friends who have been alive and to whom I have aimed these ideas.

Design Jason Powell, 2020.

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