One Word Prayer: Part 4: Light

Let’s admit that our culture is basically atheistic, even though a recent Gallop survey found that 89% of Americans say they believe in God.  Another poll estimated believers at 79%, with 10% saying they don’t know.

lighthouse on rocky point clipart

Still, it seems to me that our culture, contrary to these self-reports, is basically atheistic. Or at best imperialistically  agnostic. (Imperialistically agnostic means, “I don’t know if there is a God and neither do you!”)

By “our culture” I refer to our stand-up comics, our movies, our television shows, our judicial system, our novels and music and national pastimes (NFL, NASCAR and The Bachlerette, to name a few.) Our primary medical, economic and educational systems are likewise “atheistic,” or at best agnostic both in their daily functioning and philosophical underpinnings.

Our politicians, of course, both locally and on the national and international scale, use the spiritual traditions as part of their story telling, appealing to something very deep and real in the population. And individuals, obviously, have not lost their yearning for a deeper understanding of themselves and what is going on (WIGO.)

But the proof is in the pudding. The reality of the philosophy one is following is not in the story being told but in the actions being carried out. In that regard, by the evidence of our actions, we have an agnostic or atheistic political system, and an agnostic or atheistic culture.

Spiritual evolution and awakening occurs, for the individual and species, over many millennia and in this one moment.  For me, spiritual evolution means the progressive understanding of both what is going on (WIGO), accompanied by an understanding of the potential for what is going on. The urge for this understanding, both individually and as a culture, waxes and wanes.

Here’s one part of what is going on: Inspiration and exhalation– expansion and contraction—appears to be the natural rhythm of the universe, at least on the surface, on the appearance level. (There may be an inner stillness, a deep silence that neither expands nor contracts, that acts as the fulcrum for the expansion and contraction.)

The spiritual traditions, and the public, societal influence of these spiritual traditions, likewise expand and contract. For convenience, we might suggest that the spiritual traditions have been — or more particularly the influence of spiritual traditions— has been,  in general, contracting for the last five hundred years or so, since the renaissance, since the ascendency of the scientific method and materialist explanations for WIGO. This is natural; this has been part of the evolution of our consciousness. This as it should be. This is the universe breathing in and out, and we humans mirroring in our consciousness, in our personal and cultural life the expansion and contraction that is here going on.

With the relatively recent scientific breakthroughs in quantum mechanics, consciousness itself is now being recognized as the fundamental determining (causative)  factor in WIGO.  (To simplify, perhaps overly so: In hundreds of double-blind experiments it has been shown that, looked at in one way, light presents itself as a particle.  Looked at in another way, light functions, performs as a wave. The consciousness, the intention of the researcher determines the outcome of the experiment! This is now an accepted scientific principle.)

Point being: it occurs to me that the pendulum has swung about as far as it can swing, at least for this millennium, in the direction of scientific materialism, which has resulted in our atheistic/agnostic culture.

All of which is to say, that when it comes to moving in the other direction– back toward a more subtle, more enlightened understanding of WIGO, both in our personal lives  and in the culture as a whole– we need to take baby steps.  We have 500 years of momentum going on in the scientific materialism of our every day walk around consciousness. — our cultural consciousness.

The baby step that I find myself taking is the one word prayer.  I personally need to build up a new infrastructure. The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Jewish Shema Yisrael, The Muslim  shahada,  The Buddhist Four Noble Truths and Eightfold path may all be well and good, and perfectly reflective of the deeper reality. the essence of WIGO. But I’m not there yet. I need to take it slow, a step at a time.

Thus, this morning, the word of the day– the prayer of the day– was/is “Light.”   A prayer is meant to (if I may be so bold as to posit) help tune us to the full mystery and wonder and power of WIGO, and potential of WIGO.  A  good prayer, in my view, functions as a tuning fork– where, when struck, the mind and emotions and body “resonate” with the tone being struck, align with, move with the tone being struck.

At its highest level (or at least at one of its highest levels) a prayer resonates intellectually, mentally, emotionally and physically. So that when I say the prayer, my attention  ascends to that place where I literally am the prayer.

This one word prayer, “Light,” can and does function at that level, at least on occasion, if I allow myself to be patient and welcoming. In this sense prayer becomes simply a reminder of what is true, what is here, what is happening. And such a reminder, such a prayer if it is a true prayer, is always, always, always, comforting and burden-lifting.

When I think of my friends today, I can pray, and see, simply, “light.”  When I see the grocery clerk, I can pray, and see: light. When I think of the President: light. When I think of those who struggle against the president: light. When I see my dog: light. My wife: light. My neighborhood: light. My body: light. My kids: light. My grandkids: light.

Will this one word prayer be sufficient for the rest of my life, the rest of this pilgrimage, whether this pilgrimage  lasts another day or another  decade? Probably not.

Is this one word prayer sufficient for this moment? Yes, of course, especially, if light is all there is. Nothing exists outside of light. I recognize that the word light and the word love are two words pointing to the same ineffable Life Presence.

I woke this morning with the one word prayer: Light.  Seemed like a good place to start my day. Thought I’d share it, with those who might see it (see the light, that is.)

May you walk in light — may you feel light, may light lift your burdens. May you be light!  In this atheistic and agnostic culture, we can all agree that light is nice, and in our agreement we can all lighten up!  At least for a moment.

Let’s let our little light shine.


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