Advancing Selflessness

Prayer

For the past few months, my spiritual practice has been uneven and degenerate. That’s not to say that I wasn’t meditating daily and consistently striving to purify my mind – but rather that I seemed to lack the energy and strength to do so as deeply and effectively as I had done before.

The reason for this was largely seasonal. In Spring and Summer, Yang – the quality of light, strength, and independence – is ascending and dominant. In Winter, this energy recedes into the Earth, and Yin takes over – the quality of darkness, weakness, flexibility, receptivity, and dependence becomes ascendant.

This rise in Yin scattered my wholeness, and made me increasingly feel like I could not rely solely on my own strength. This was very far removed from how I had felt during the summer, when I felt completely enmeshed with the Tao, and capable of doing anything. Recently, this degeneration reached its nadir, as Yin culminated in a feeling a complete helplessness.

But this reversal was teaching me an important lesson. While I had made tremendous spiritual advancement during the summer, my obsession with self-strengthening had made me insular, selfish, and disinterested in others – three qualities that can undercut even the greatest of attainments.

So, once I reached my nadir of weakness and helplessness, I really only had one choice – to reach out, and ask the divine to help me, through prayers and mantras, and through the fellowship of my fellow creatures.I also realized, in my suffering, that while peace is my basic state of being, for most, suffering is still their default mode of consciousness. I knew I was well-equipped to overcome mine, and would shortly do so; but, for many, the process would be much longer, perhaps necessitating multiple rebirths and hardships.

This realization made me feel tremendous compassion for my fellow beings. So, instead of focusing on my own suffering, I turned my attention to others, and began to pray and meditate for their happiness, inner peace, health, wholeness, and freedom from suffering.

Once I shifted my attention from my own suffering to the suffering of others, miraculously, my own suffering began to wane. Because I was projecting my consciousness beyond my self, it enabled me to free myself from self-centredness, which is ultimately the source of all suffering.

It is for its ability to foster selflessness that the power of prayer for others has so long been extolled by every religion. Enlightenment is freedom from the self. It is good to be independent and to recognize one’s strength; but unless you can also be interdependent, and be humble enough to recognize that all of your own strength ultimately comes from the Tao or the Divine, then you will only be half a person. Think about others. Pray for others. Understand their plight, and wish for them all the happiness and joy you would wish for yourself. When you are able to marry self-attainment with the attainment of selflessness, then you will have covered all the bases, and become truly whole. Many of you know this far better than myself. But, still, I come to you in humility, hoping to help those, like myself, who have forgotten.

 

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