The Jesus Prayer has long served mystics as a one-ticket route to Divine Union on The Christian Mystical Path. However, the territory one travels in consistent, disciplined use of the prayer can seem vague and nebulous at times, even when God’s brilliant Light is shining the fiercest. It helps my own journey tremendously to make use of the hidden maps and patterns that Ken Wilber, Carl Jung, and other great minds have described for us in their work. What Wilber calls the Witnessing stage of the mystical path (Dark Night of the Spirit in St. John of the Cross lingo) is actually a simple and transcendent “resting in God,” as Christian contemplatives like to say. It is simply the silent Observer (Tolle) behind our thoughts and feelings. As Wilber writes in Integral Meditation:
“I have sensations, but am not those sensations.
I have feelings, but am not those feelings.
I have thoughts, but am not thoughts.”
I discuss in more depth my own experiences with this state in my brief memoir, Preparation For Great Light, where I began to first embody and integrate the Witnessing stage of Christian mysticism and learn to rest in God as the Unique Soul he made me (and everyone else, too) to be. But living outside cloistered walls and scrambling in an increasingly hyper-stimulated, commercially-driven collective landscape is a thing unto itself. And often, we must find the contemplative practices that work best in our immediate environment. All that said, I’ve found the Integral Jesus Prayer as a welcome revelation and valuable practice for those of us lost in the whirlwind of 21st century life.
Constantly repeating The Jesus Prayer ensures authenticity. Jesus Christ becomes the Keeper who holds us within the realm of conscience and what is often called (quite inaccurately) Judeo-Christian morality. If we contemplate the Cross from a psychological perspective, what is it? Most psychologically-savvy Christian writers will mention authenticity at some point as an essential component (or result) of the Christian transformation process, having arrived at that conclusion somewhat independently of one another.
Jungians who love Jesus seem to point at the necessity of the Cross as a psycho-spiritual transformation vehicle from brokenness to authentic wholeness. It is the great reconciler and unifier of opposites in the path of individuation. Campbell refers to it as a unitive process called Apotheosis that occurs towards the end of Part 2 (of 3) of the heroic journey. We are left, then, with an Authentic Self and deeper vantage point of that authenticity that merely Witnesses all of Creation. But if we have come there by the Jesus Prayer, we are sure to have arrived with an Ethical Compassion that invites (or is it luck?) God’s Divine Grace And Providential Victory. The Authentic Self continues to embrace and love the broken world, and The Witness watches as all the forms arise in the field of this Dance.
The Integral Jesus Prayer is a plural (though not pluralistic) version of the Jesus Prayer:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy On All Of Us, Sinners.”
A. Sin, here, is recognized more like what we think of as original sin: a profound, individual and collective brokenness. (Sin is often talked about more as individual actions that separate us from God, a view point which is equally true).
B. The “Us” includes both the concept of all human beings on earth but also all patterns of matter and spirit on earth. In other words, The Body of Christ.
Saying this prayer over and over and journeying in this prayer, one’s experience is, of course, uniquely personal. However, I like to keep an awareness and recollection of two particular ways of experiencing Christ that I hope will resonate with your own experience.
A. Christ-Consciousness: This is the opening and total freedom that exists when one realizes, in contemplation, that there is a deeper Awareness behind their physical and social self. Often, the release of this new-found consciousness can catapult the contemplative into opening spaces, the air stretching on forever and us stretching on with it. This profound opening, unconfined to physical form has often been identified as Christ-consciousness, or, even, The Cosmic Christ. One might even think of Jesus holding his hands up and outstretched, proclaiming his Sovereignty as rays of Endless Love through the seen and unseen worlds. While Christ-consciousness rings too New Agey in lingo for some people, it is essentially the same thing as the Presence of Christ.
B. The Inner Christ: Yet, there is also a deep sense of an Inner Christ, a backbone of sorts, an imprint of the Divine Image residing deep within in us and forever resting in the Eternal Now, whether we want it to be there or not. We cannot avoid the deep vantage point that is the Inner Christ. As devotionals might put it: I do nothing. It is Christ working within me. Or: As I strengthen my authentic self, I am strengthening the Christ within me.