Into this name the Christian can pour all of his faith, with nothing whatsoever left over, for to be a Christian is to rest all of your faith on Christ, with nothing left over. It is not only the shortest prayer but also the shortest and earliest creed. Twice the New Testament mentions this most basic of all the Christian creeds: It is also the most distinctively Christian creed, for "Lord" Kyrios means "God", and Christ's divinity and lordship over one's life is the distinctive, essential faith of Christians: What it is not: Magic Like any prayer, it "works", not by the power of some impersonal magic but by the power of personal faith and hope and love.
It is like a sacrament in that way: It is like turning on a hose: The mere pronunciation of the name "Jesus" is not invoking him and is not prayer. A parrot could do that. God does not deal in magic, because magic bypasses the soul, especially the heart; it is like a machine. But God is a lover, and he wants our hearts, wants to transform our hearts, wants to live in our hearts. Love is its own end. Magic, like technology, is always used as a means to some greater end.
If you pray this prayer as a means, as a kind of magic or spiritual technology, then you are using it as you would use a machine or magic spell. What you love and desire is the higher end, the thing that the machine or magic spell gets you. So using this prayer as a kind of magic does exactly the opposite of what prayer is supposed to do.
When you pray this prayer, do not concentrate on the name, the word, the sound, or the letters. Do not think of the name but of Jesus. And do not try to meditate on scenes from the Gospels or truths from theology, or to imagine what Jesus looks like, as you do in some other forms of prayer. Just reach out to Jesus in blind faith. The Jesus Prayer in Orthodox Spirituality.
Psychology This prayer is not merely subjective, like a psychological device, any more than it is merely objective, like magic. It is not a sort of Christian yoga. It is not meditation. Its purpose is not to transform our consciousness and make us mystics, or to bring inner peace, or to center on our own heart.
"Jesus": The Shortest, Simplest, and Most Powerful Prayer in the World by Peter Kreeft
Whether these things are good or bad, these things are not what this prayer is for. For all these things are subjective, inside the human soul; but this prayer is dialogue, relationship, reaching out to another person, to Jesus, God made man, invoking him as your savior, lover, lord, and God. You have faith and hope in him as your savior; you love him as your lover; you obey him as your lord; you adore him as your God.
In this prayer our attention is not directed inward, into our own consciousness, but only out onto Jesus. Even when we address Jesus living in our own soul, he is not self but other; he is Lord of the self. Yet, although our intention in this prayer is not to transform our consciousness, this prayer does transform our consciousness.
Our usual consciousness is like an unruly, stormy sea, or like a flock of chattering monkeys, or a cage of butterflies, or a hundred little bouncing balls of mercury spilled from a fever thermometer. We cannot gather it together. Only God can, for God is the Logos. One of the meanings of this incredibly rich word in ancient Greek, the word given to the eternal, divine, pre-incarnate Christ, is "gathering-into-one".
When we pray this prayer and invoke Jesus the Logos, Jesus the Logos acts and does in fact unify our consciousness. But this is not what we aim at; we aim at him.
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The unification of our consciousness happens in us slowly and subtly and sweetly only when we forget ourselves in him. This is one of the ways "he who loses his self shall find it. Do we train our dogs but not our own unconscious minds? You may object, "But this sounds like a magic spell or a mantra: Do you not know that black magic can be overcome only by white magic, not by reason? And our culture's secularism and materialism is a powerful spell of black magic. It makes us judge Jesus by its standards instead of judging it by his standards, because it makes us see Jesus as abnormal and our culture as normal; to see Jesus as a questionable, tiny thing surrounded by an unquestionable, greater thing, namely, our culture.
This is a cosmic illusion! Invoking the holy name builds up resistance to that illusion. That is not black magic; it is not itself an illusion but sheer realism. Jesus is everywhere and everywhen and the ultimate meaning of everything. This prayer in deed conditions us, but it conditions us to know reality. Visions, Tongues, Healing, etc. The reason this prayer is so powerful is that the name of Jesus is not just a set of letters or sounds. It is not a passive word but a creative word, like the word by which God created the universe. He is the Word by which God created the universe!
Every time we receive Christ in the Eucharist, we are instructed by the liturgy to pray, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. That word is so powerful that by it God made the universe out of nothing, and by it he is doing the even greater deed of making saints out of sinners. That word is Jesus Christ. In most ancient societies, a person's name was treated, not as a mere artificial label for pragmatic purposes of human communication, but as a truth, a sign of the person's unique identity.
Revealing your name was thus an act of intimate personal trust, like a handshake. A handshake originally meant: I bear no weapon. You can trust me. This name was the secret no philosopher or mystic had ever attained, the very essence of God, the nature of ultimate reality: This is now the most precious name in the world.
It is a golden key. It opens all doors, transforms all corners of our lives. But we do not use this golden key, and doors remain locked. In fact, our society is dying because it has turned the most precious name in the world, the name of its Savior, into a casual curse word. Even Muslims respect the holy name of Jesus more than Christians do, in practice: In the Acts of the Apostles 3: Exorcisms are performed "in his name".
The name of Jesus is so powerful that it can knock the devil out of a soul! The name of Jesus is our salvation. John ends his Gospel with this summary: So we had better understand it! What does the phrase "in the name of Jesus Christ" mean? Suppose you are poor, but your father is rich. When you try to cash a check for half a million dollars in your own name, you will get only a laugh from the bank. But if the check is in your father's name, you will get the money. Our Father in Heaven gave us unlimited grace in the "account" of Jesus Christ and then put us "into Christ", inserted us into his family, so that we can use the family name, so to speak, to cash checks on the account of divine grace.
Saint Paul tells us that our account is unlimited: Jesus himself first assured us of this wonderful truth, which we find hard to believe because it seems too good to be true, and then he explained why it is true: Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! If even we love our children so much that we do not settle for anything less than the very best for them, why do we think God loves his children less? Real presence It is probably a very good exercise to practice "the imitation of Christ", to walk "in his steps", to ask "What would Jesus do?
But the prayer we are teaching now is even better, for two reasons. First, invoking his name invokes his real presence, not mental imitation; something objective, not subjective; between us and him, not just in us. Second, it is actual, not potential; indicative, not subjunctive; "What is Jesus doing? He is always present in some way, since he knows and loves each one of us at every moment; but he is not present to those who do not pray as intimately as he is present to those who do.
Prayer makes a difference; "prayer changes things. It does if God sees that that change is good for us; it does not if God sees that it is not. But it always changes our relationship to God, which is infinitely more important than external circumstances, however pressing they may seem, because it is eternal but they are temporary, and because it is our very self but they are not. Grace In saying it brings God closer, I do not mean to say that it changes God.
But it does not just make a change within us, a psychological change; it makes a change between us and God, a real, objective change. It changes the real relationship; it increases the intimacy. It is as real as changing your relationship to the sun by going outdoors. When we go outdoors into the sun, we do not move the sun closer to us, we move ourselves closer to the sun. But the difference it makes is real: When this happens, it is not merely something we do but something God does in us.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
It is grace, it is his action; our action is to enter into his action, as a tiny stream flows into a great river. His coming is, of course, his gift, his grace. The vehicle by which he comes is also his grace: And the gift he gives us in giving us his blessed name to invoke is also his grace. So, therefore, his coming to us in power on this vehicle, this name, is also pure grace. Even our remembering to use this vehicle, this name, is his grace. As Saint Therese said, "Everything is a grace.
Sacramental The Catechism says: His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies" CCC In other words, it is sacramental. God comes to us on his name like a king on his stallion. We do not initiate, we respond; we respond to his grace by using the gift of his name that he gave us and told us to use; and he responds to our obedience by doing what he promised: This is the definition of a sacrament: Jesus himself is the primary sacrament.
So the believing Christian's use of Jesus' name is sacramental. The very act of praying "Jesus" effects what it signifies, brings about what the name "Jesus" signifies, which is "Savior", or "God saves". That is the literal meaning, in Hebrew, of the name God commanded Joseph to give to Mary's son: A name is not a machine , for a person is not a machine. The name of a person must be personally "involved" that is, called upon in faith and hope and love, as a human father is "invoked" by his son in Jesus' parable in Matthew 7.
But though it is not a machine, it really "works": Suppose we were to ask the father. The will is in this sense comparable with spirit man; the kingdom, or will's reflected image, with life spirit. The kingdom, in turn, reproduces the being of the Divine in infinite variety. Observe it fully, at least to the extent to which it is our kingdom, our multiplicity, or universe.
Observe its visible manifestations in minerals, plants, animals and human beings. The kingdom is all these; each of these in turn, is a kingdom, and if we observe the mass of details involved, we find the nature of all to be divine. In all of them the divine being is reflected, just as the central being is reflected in a hollow globe. So an observer, looking at the world in the sense of spiritual research, sees God reflected in every human being as an expression and image of the Divine. In a graded series of beings, in infinite diversity, the Godhead appears in the kingdom, and the separate entities are distinguished from one another in the sense of spiritual science by their names.
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Of all beings in the universe, only man thinks the name of each of the separate members of the great multiplicity of the kingdom, distinguishing each from all the others. The third of the three highest human principles that emanate from the Divine, by which the separate members of the great multiplicity of the kingdom are distinguished from one another and separately named, is comparable with spirit self.
The occult science of the different religions has thus simply taught what it was that emanated from the Godhead and flowed into a person to become his eternal image or archetype. If you would rise to penetrate what the names, or conceptions or ideas of things really signify in spirit, you would see that it is the name that represents this wisdom in the divine sphere.
So does ancient teaching reveal that the emanation of Divinity, which has flowed into human nature to form its eternal part, consists of name , of kingdom , of will. Thus what is called the higher triad in man is recognizable as part of the Divine. To complete this picture, think of the four lower principles of perishable human nature. The three higher principles may be thought of, we know, as principles of the Godhead. Similarly, the four lower principles may be considered as of the perishable world, as human principles.
Think of the physical body, composed as it is of the same substances and Forces as is the seemingly lifeless world around it. The physical body could not go on existing without the inflow into it of matter and force from the surrounding world. The physical body, in a strict sense, is a continual thoroughfare for all that is in it. Into it and out of it again the substances continuously flow that are at one time of the outer world and at another time within us. In the course of seven years, as we have mentioned in other connections, the entire material composition of the human body is renewed.
In none of you are the substances that were in you ten years ago. We are perpetually renewing the substances of our physical body. What was formerly in us is now somewhere else, distributed outside us in nature; something else has replaced it inside of us. The body's life depends upon this continual inflow and outflow of matter. Just as we have considered the three higher human principles as parts of Divinity, we may observe the four principles of our lower nature as parts of Divine Nature. The physical body may be seen as part of the physical substance of our planet.
Its substance is taken from the material planet, then is returned to it. The etheric body likewise may be considered a part of the environment surrounding us here, and so also the astral body. Think of the etheric body and the astral body together. The astral body, as you know, is the vehicle of all that lives in man as impulse, desire and passion, all that surges up and down in the soul as joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. The etheric body, on the contrary, is the vehicle that represents and bears within it the more lasting qualities of soul.
Often I have compared the development of the etheric body and astral body with the hour-hand and the minute-hand of a clock. A great difference is observable between what you knew and experienced as an eight-year-old child and what you now know and have experienced, as I have also reminded you on other occasions.
You have learned so much, gained so many concepts, in the intervening period. Much that your soul has taken in of joy and sorrow has left it again, actually has passed through it. How different are these relatively ephemeral experiences from such human elements as temperament, character and tendencies that are persisting and continuing. You will find, for instance, that if you were passionately inclined as a child, you are probably still so in later years. Most people keep throughout their lives such basic elements in their natures. It is to overcome this relatively stationary quality of the etheric organism that spiritual training and development are instituted; for, as has often been emphasized, such training is no matter of mere theoretical knowledge.
The student has accomplished a great deal, indeed, if he has changed one quality of temperament to which he is predisposed, so speeding up the hour-hand of the clock even a little. Applying these facts practically to the human being in his environment, to life in the external world, the observer notices a person's connections with the epoch in which he lives, with a nation, with a family, all of which are revealed in his habits, temperament and enduring inclinations.
A nation's separate individuals are recognizable through their common habits and temperament. An individual who is to achieve a higher spiritual development, to unfold his higher nature, must change his disposition and basic habits. Life in one's native community reveals, too, that the qualities linking one to a family or nation, stirring one to feel relationships with individual people of the nation, are similar also to qualities widely discernible in one's era.
If an ancient Greek should walk into your life, you would have little in common with him. His etheric body would be so unlike yours. Human beings understand one another through common qualities in their etheric bodies. In the astral body, however, is rooted a man's ability to lift himself more readily out of certain qualities binding him to a common life with others, and to establish himself as a separate individual in his family, in his folk, so that he is not a mere Frenchman nor a mere German nor a member of a family, but stands out as a special individuality within the folk, the family, etc.
Thus he can outgrow the totality of characteristics of his nation. Those qualities that he transcends are rooted in the astral body. The astral body is their bearer.
The astral body is thus seen to bear more of what is individual and personal in man. So it is that faults committed through the etheric body render a man more a sinner toward his fellow men through neglect of those obligations and conditions making social life possible among them, between one man and the next. On the other hand, faults of a more individual nature, a man's wrong-doings as a separate personality, result from qualities in the astral body.
The ego, or true personality, too, can commit faults. The Paradise story indicates the kind of fault through which an ego may fall. The human being's higher soul became an ego when it descended from the bosom of the Godhead and entered an earthly body for the first time. It was taken up by the earthly body like a drop of water by a sponge. The higher soul, or individuality, can commit faults within the ego. These ego-failures, which are different from those stemming from faulty qualities of the etheric and astral bodies, occur through the very fact of a man's attaining independence.
To rise gradually, in full consciousness, to freedom and independence, man had to pass through selfishness and egotism.
As a soul, he is descended from the Godhead, which is incapable of egotism. A member of an organism never imagines itself independent; if a finger were to imagine itself independent, it would fall away from the rest of the hand and wither. The self-dependence that is so necessary to human development, and that will attain its full meaning when its fundamental nature is unselfishness, could originate only from selfishness. It was when this selfishness entered the human body that man became a self-seeking, egotistic being.
The ego naturally follows the body's inclinations. Man devours his fellow man, follows selfish impulses and desires, is completely entangled in his earthly receptacle as the drop of water in the sponge. The Paradise story shows the individual placed in a position to sin just by having become an individual, a really independent being. Whereas formerly he drew in what he needed from the universe, as a single drop in a mass of water derives its force from the mass, his impulses as a fully independent individuality derive wholly from himself.
The eating of the apple in Paradise signifies this kind of error stemming from independence.
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Evil is thus the fault proceeding from the ego. Trespass, or guilt, is the fault proceeding from the etheric body of a man in social relationships with his fellow men. Temptation may assail the astral body in any respect in which it is individually and personally at fault. The fault of the etheric body: Debts , or Guilt.
The fault of the astral body: The fault of the ego: Consider the relation of the four lower principles of human nature to their environment, that is, the planetary conditions surrounding them. The physical body continually takes in physical substance as nourishment; so it maintains its existence. The etheric body's life in a finite condition is possible only by maintenance of fellowship with people into whose community one has grown. The astral body is maintained by overcoming temptation. In individual man there lives a drop of Divinity; he is evolving to the Divine through the expression of his deepest, innermost nature.
One wishing to attain that degree of development must be capable of bringing his higher triad and lower quaternary to the point at which they can maintain the physical body adequately. The Name must be felt in such a way that it becomes hallowed. All things in their diversity express the Godhead. In calling each thing by its name, you make it a member of the divine order of the world.
By beholding in every single thing or being that you name in your environment some element that reveals in it a principle of Divine Being, you help make each part of your environment sacred. You hallow each part. How will he pray? To express the aim of the prayer, he will have to begin, before he utters the seven petitions:.
In this form of salutation, man concerns himself with the deepest foundation of the human soul, the inmost element of the human being, which Christian esoteric teaching characterizes as of the kingdom of spirit. The link of the first three petitions, which follow this exalted salutation, is with the three higher principles of human nature, with the divine substance within man:. The four last petitions are linked with the four lower principles of human nature.
What appeal is the supplicant to make with reference to the physical body that it be sustained within the planetary life? The adjustment of what takes place through the transgressions of the etheric body is what he asks for here. The seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer are thus seen to express the fact that the human soul, when it aspires rightly, implores the Divine Will for a development of the seven elements in human nature that will enable a man to find his right course of life in the universe, a development of all these seven elements in the right way.
Through the Lord's Prayer, the petitioner, at the time when he uses it, may rise to understand the full meaning of the development of his seven-principled human nature. It follows that even when the users of these seven petitions are the simplest people, who do not necessarily at all understand them, these petitions express for them, too, the spiritual-scientific view of human nature.
All formulas for meditation in the world's great religious societies throughout history have had their origins in spiritual science. Never has a mere blind impulse been followed to string together so many beautiful words. Not at all; rather, the great wise men have adopted these prayer forms from the wisdom teaching that is now called spiritual science.
So are all prayers arranged. If it were not so, their power could not have continued to be exercised for thousands of years. Only this manner of arrangement is effective, even among simple people who do not in the least understand the deep meaning of the words.
Related Meditation on The Lords Prayer (The Call of Christ Book 1)
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