This is the first teaching in the Cafh course “Nuances of Prayer.” In our prayers we invoke the divine presence, which members of Cafh traditionally call the Divine Mother. The teaching opens with a powerful symbolic image of an individual seeking the Divine Mother in her own heart. It then discusses our need for prayer and how it benefits us and those around us, and it ends with a practical example of how we can use prayer to help us create positive habits.
“ ‘Let us enter the cell of self-knowledge,’ repeated ceaselessly the mystic Catherine Benincasa of Siena. May the Son of the Flame thus penetrate his own heart. It is the Divine Mother’s mysterious sepulcher. There She awaits the kiss of the true lover, who will awaken Her and oblige Her to reveal the eternal secrets to him. There he will learn the Great Alchemy, which transmutes the harsh metal of sorrow into the pure gold of peace and happiness.”
“Spiritual Unfolding,” 2nd Teaching
Inner life teaches us to pray and use our energy in an integral and spiritual way of life, which is centered in the Divine Mother of the Universe.
Certainly, intellectual training, material progress, and technological advancements help us develop, but they also tend to distract us from our true purpose, which is to expand our consciousness until we achieve union with cosmic consciousness: the Divine Mother.
There are times we are blinded by our power, and we forget the Divine Mother. When we do remember her, we equate her with ourselves, worshiping her in attributes which are the extrapolation of what we would like for ourselves, by turning the divine into a projection of ourselves—more powerful, more perfect—but in our image and likeness.
The Divine Mother is present in all creation, but before we can recognize her we must transform our bodies, minds and energy into instruments for unfolding our consciousness.
In the beginning, intellectual adherence to spirituality helps us, for at that point we are starting to understand the need to give a deeper and more universal dimension to our lives. The idea of connecting with the divine attracts us and gives us a good feeling. But if we stop there, at intellectual adherence, we soon lose our enthusiasm, or else we deceive ourselves into thinking we have achieved an expanded consciousness—while what we have really done is to fabricate an ideal world.
Daily life is a school, and experience is the environment in which we can learn and unfold. A method of life, persistent effort and love for our fellow human beings and the Divine Mother are the basic pillars of our learning.
Prayer plays a basic role in our unfolding by gathering our energy into a unifying force which enables us to fulfill our aim. It helps us keep alive our love for the Divine Mother. It helps us not to turn means into ends. And it helps us develop the necessary willpower to methodize our daily life to be in accord with our ideal.
Prayer has as many nuances, levels of profundity and variations as there are moments of prayer. It is good for us to cultivate a love for prayer from the beginning, giving ourselves to prayer without fears or impediments, without preconceived ideas which might inhibit the search for our own way of praying. The important thing at the beginning is to become conscious of ourselves and our essential need to communicate with the divine.
A mind without a clear objective gets easily lost in a fruitless inner dialogue. But when we understand that we have a basic need for union with the Divine Mother, it becomes easy for us to speak to her of our love and deepest longings.
The practice of prayer intensifies our faith, nourishes our hope, and trains us to center ourselves in our relationship with the divine.
Teresa of Avila said that to pray is to fill oneself with God and give it to others. Praying not only benefits us, it also benefits the people we relate with and for whom we pray. We often despair at so much suffering and misery in the world. It is fine for us to think deeply about and work to find material solutions for all the things which human beings lack. But we also need to remember that, if those solutions are to be real and lasting, they must be based on the love and compassion we develop in ourselves. There is where we learn to assist, to share, to work impartially, to use no more than what’s necessary, to discover the divine spark in each soul.
Let us take an example: with the practice of prayer we can find a way to transform a critical attitude into one of acceptance. When we happen to be with someone whom we tend to judge, we try to avoid freely criticizing her by nourishing the idea that the way she acts (which bothers or displeases us) is her particular and personal way of expressing herself. Another example: we might feel badly about the injustice in the world without realizing how often we are unjust to those around us. In many cases, we are unjust to people we don’t even know. We might be angry at economic systems, governments, at the injustice arising from social and economic differences, at everyone we think is wrong. But do we ever ask ourselves what we do, individually, in our own particular situation, to alleviate the injustice in the world? Prayer can be the fertile ground in which these small seeds of reflection are transmuted within us into concrete behavior which reflects our love and concern for the world.
Our love for the Divine Mother is expressed in the value we give prayer and the amount of time we dedicate to it. That is why we apply ourselves to practice prayer and nourish it with our love and effort.