Somehow, this post got lost in the WordPress database. I have no idea what I wrote, but I found some notes. It was the third in a 3-part series on what is difficult about prayer, and why prayer is important. The first was about Pain. The second addressed Change. This third was about being Insubstantial, the quite reasonable sense that I am not real.
Here were my key texts. Make if that what you will.
The mother of all lies is the lie we persist in telling ourselves about ourselves. And since we are not brazen enough liars to make ourselves believe in our own lie individually, we pool all our lies together, and believe them because they have become the big lie uttered by the vox populi – and this kind we accept as ultimate truth.
Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p.84
Our worst problem is not death, a fear which still keeps the feared thing at a distance by projecting it into the future, but the more immediate and terrifying (because quite valid) suspicion each of us has that “I” am not real right now.
The sense-of-self is not self-existing but a mental construction which experiences its own groundlessness as a lack. This sense-of-lack is consistent with what psychotherapy has discovered about ontological guilt and basic anxiety. We usually cope with this lack by objectifying it in various ways and try to resolve it through projects which cannot succeed because they do not address the fundamental issue.
So our most problematic dualism is not life fearing death but a fragile sense-of-self dreading its own groundlessness. By accepting and yielding to that groundlessness, I can discover that I have always been grounded, not as a self-contained being but as one manifestation of a web of relationships which encompasses everything. This solves the problem of desire by transforming it. As long as we are driven by lack, every desire becomes a sticky attachment that tries to fill up a bottomless pit. Without lack, the serenity of our no-thing-ness, i.e., the absence of any fixed nature, grants the freedom to become anything.
David R Loy, Avoiding the Void: The Lack of Self in Psychotherapy and Buddhism
2 thoughts on “3 reasons to pray: 3”
Julian I am loving these blogs and I think this is the journey I am on too. this is helpful in welcoming the stranger ( both the other and in ourself) and our scirptures also say much about justice, about feeding the hungry and protecting the vulnerable so after praying there does also need to be some action?, something does come out of the nothing, not to earn, not to prove anything but our world needs change that necessarily begin with myself but works out to others?
please keep writing, I am waiting for the book!
Thank you, Ali. I hope that praying does lead naturally to action, if only in little, everyday acts of kindness.