Just that title is a mouthful. The idea of this is simple, though. Instead of saying the Jesus Prayer in the first person singular, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner; this post is a suggestion to say it in the first person plural, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us, sinners. Saying the prayer for the entire Body of Christ can be a powerful thing. Furthermore, in our private prayer life, the more inclusive we can be about the body of Christ, the better. The more our scope expands, the more Grace we allow in. And by inclusive, I am talking beyond the human race, to animals, to nature, to all matter and all Spirit everywhere for all-time. Including an expansive awareness of the metaphysics of our universe in our prayer process can be liberating. Process and practice, of course, are neither a replacement for a substitution of theology and tradition. St. Ignatius showed us in his Spiritual Exercises how imagination in our prayer lives takes us deeper into the heart of God. These diagrams are meant to be imaginative maps that, hopefully, linger somewhere near the higher Truths of our Christian saints and heroes.
Buddhism reduces all existence to emptiness and form, which correspond to the Christian notion of matter and Spirit – especially as seen in the writings of St. Paul. Indeed, Paul’s epistles oscillate between dualism and unitive vision, in at least in tone. A popular Buddhist phrase, “emptiness is form, and form is emptiness,” intends to shift the seeker into a state of unitive non-dualism, where opposites join. Joseph Campbell, in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, calls this ‘apotheosis,’ placing it somewhere near the end of part 2 in the three part heroic mono-myth. In the Integral Jesus Prayer, we ask Christ to do the unifying for us: unifying both our own dual awareness of creation (matter and spirit) and also unifying the matter and spirit of other living and nonliving things. Most especially, we pray for ourselves as a collective body, and as any prayer warrior will tell you: praying for others tremendously helps you, too. You will feel the heart expanding, deepening, broadening, when the prayer of the heart encompasses The Body of Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy On Us, Sinners.
I often hear people use terms like “soul” and “spirit” to simply refer to the parts of our consciousness that go on after death. Or, maybe some of us use them even more casually, to mean “our true selves” or “our personality.” Soul often refers to a sense of passion and gravitas, mixed in tune with a higher power. One might see a female blues vocalist and think: “She has lots of soul.” Below is an example that may resonate with your own journey, as you get closer to God in life and prayer. Matter, Soul, and Spirit are all parts of us, all the time. We didn’t create them, God did. But it often helps to recognize the territory of the Sacred Depths.
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