The complexity of the current world has created spiritual practices, philosophies and rituals that no longer honor the beautiful simplicity of a perfect prayer.
Though often guided and instructed by modern-day spiritual teachers, time has not diminished the valuable and succinct lessons of age-old Masters.
One such great teacher, who lived his teachings masterfully in his own life, is St. Benedict.
Born in 480 AD in Norcia, Italy, he spent early years learning philosophy in Rome but was discouraged by the indulgence and corruption of the city and his associates. Preferring to study the life and works of early Christian Holy Men instead, and following their example, Benedict began a life of ascetism and deep personal holiness as a reclusive, solitary monk, whose miracles of healing soon drew attention.
When other men began to follow his way of life, he established twelve communities of monks in Subiaco and finally his most famous monastery in Montecassino. His instruction to the monks was extensive and deeply spiritual; he wrote the “Rule” as a basis for all to follow on the difficult path of personal wholeness, or “Holiness”.
The following is a synopsis of instruction on prayer, taken from Benedict’s Rule:
He instructed that the aspirant first clear the mind of earthly thoughts, freeing oneself from the distractions of “Earth Mind”; especially with no thoughts of anger toward another, as this emotion disturbs prayer.
With the mind focused on the perfection of God, the goal is a constant and uninterrupted tranquility of mind and a perpetual purity of thought (as much as human frailty allows).
The effect is that this learned, and consistently practiced, state of mind starts working by itself; the result of continual perseverance and dedication to a new way of “thinking”
This state is an ideal; whose ultimate goal is perfect prayer.
One strives for an unchanging inner sense of God, achieved amid the distractions and requirements of daily life.
This is not simply a technique, it becomes a state of prayer so that every thought, every desire, every effort, every undertaking, every love, every understanding, everything that we live, breathe and speak will be of God.
And this unity, this synchronicity we now have with God, will be carried over into our human understanding and mind as God’s perfect love, and we are then so joined with Him in a perpetual unity of spirit, that when we call upon Him as a help in every need, we discover astounding, often unbelievable experiences.
This is a cultivated state of mind; learning to direct the thoughts that are continually jumping around and disturbing our mind with the disquieting and poisonous emotions of rage, anger, guilt and sadness. These emotions create the “hopelessness” that separates us from positive thoughts of joy, gratitude, hope AND the sudden illumination of Sacred and holy Ideas.
You will discover that achieving this state will do wonderful things in every situation; often what the world calls “miracles”.
The “one-word” prayer of Jesus was just a “state of prayer”; achieved and manifested in the life of this great Master Teacher, Jesus of Nazareth; belonging not to a certain religion or belief, but to all His fellow humans, showing the way to spiritual grow and perfection. Jesus achieved the state of prayer as described by Benedict in his Rule to his monks, which means we don’t have to actually say the words; used consistently, daily, this state of prayer begins to pray WITHIN you, without effort.