The Simplest Practice

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The Simplest Practice

Post by Speculum »

This week’s “thought” (at Here’s A Thought) articulates in a few lines what, in my opinion and experience, is the simplest spiritual practice and most powerful path: Remember God.

The quotation is from the Gita, in this case the translation by Swami Nikhilananada of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center. The operative lines are the first and last: “Whatever you do ... do it as an offering to Me”.

Of course, like all scripture, those words can be interpreted, and undoubtedly have been interpreted (probably accompanied by spilled blood), in an infinite number of ways. For me here, what they mean is, Be ever mindful of God, the Infinite One than which there is no other. That is, whatever you do, wherever you are, whatever is happening, be aware of God, YHVH, Allah, Satchitananda, etc. by whatever Name or Namelessness and in whatever Form or Formlessness that works for you. It is our constant awareness of God, or simply our constant awareness of our True Nature and Relationship in, with, and as the Infinite One, that shapes and defines our lives, our attitudes, our health, our relationships, our everything.

In one way or another (sometimes almost synonymously), virtually all the Teachers say it. Ibn Arabi, the wondrous Sufi, repeatedly stresses dhikr (an Arabic word for Remembrance of God). I have read that the Qur’an itself mentions this practice over a hundred times. In Hinduism, repeating and chanting God’s name is a common and commonly recommended practice. Many consider the simplest and most effective prayer to be simply the repetition of God’s Name, something like “Hari Hari” or “Jesus”. In By His Grace, Babaji is reported as saying that “Ram Ram is the be-all and the end-all ... by taking the name of Ram everything is accomplished”. At the so-called “Last Supper” in the Gospels (Luke 22), Jesus shares the bread with his disciples, and instructs them “do this in remembrance of Me”. Although over the centuries institutional Christianity has interpreted these lines of Jesus to refer solely to the Sacrament of Communion, I am convinced by my own personal experience that Jesus means for us to understand him to be speaking of our lives in their every aspect; that is, whatever we eat, whatever we drink, whatever we do, “do this in remembrance of Me”.

This is a practice that could not be more simple. Anyone and everyone can do it, anywhere, anytime. No special training is necessary; no particular diet is required; it can be performed standing, walking, sitting, swimming, jogging, biking, hunting, splitting wood, or while doing nothing; eyes open or eyes closed; in an office, in a garden, in a field, on a sidewalk, in a bus, on an airplane, at sea in a ship; silently or aloud; with or without accompanying music, gestures, or expressions.

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Post by Bhakti »

In the Quiet Room of the Zoofence website, Stefan also has posted a quote from The Cloud of Unknowing, which addresses the simplest way very beautifully, I think. This is a very old text and can be found on the Internet. Here is the quote.
Take But A Little Word

If you would have a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than himself, and if you would have this intent lapped and folded, in one word so that you should more easily keep it in your mind, take but a little word of one syllable: it is better than two for the shorter it is the more it accords with the Spirit. And such a word is this word "God" or this word "love". Choose which you will, or another, whichever appeals to you of one syllable. And fasten this word to your heart, so that it never leaves you whatever befalls.

This word shall be your shield and your spear, whether you ride in peace or in war. With this word you shall beat on this cloud and this darkness above you. With this word you shall smite down all manner of thoughts under the cloud of forgetting. Insomuch, that if any thought presses upon you to ask of you what you are doing, answer with no more words but with just this one word. And if your questioning mind wishes to expand on the meaning of that word or to tell you the conditions of it, answer it that you will have it whole and not broken or undone. And if you will hold fast to this purpose, be sure your thoughts will no longer trouble you. And why? Because you have not allowed them to feed on that sweet meditation of God. The Cloud of Unknowing
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Post by zoofence »

Bhakti, thanks for posting those wonderful lines from The Cloud of Unknowing.

Undoubtedly, everyone here is fully aware of the powerful principle resident in this practice, but if this is a new idea to anyone here, I urge you to try it, even just for a month. The key is (1) to pick a word or short phrase that you like and are comfortable with and that in your mind represents the Divine or the Highest Principle, and (2) to repeat it often, as often as you possibly can, to incorporate it as permanently and indelibly and frequently as possible into your daily life. Our reality (what each of us calls "my life" and "my world") quite literally manifests according to what we put our mind to.

I remember reading that the commanding officer of the 82nd Airborne unit of the US Army at one time (perhaps still) ordered that the word "Yes" be replaced by the word "Airborne", so that throughout that unit, any time a question was asked that generated an affirmative response, the reply was not "Yes" but "Airborne", and it was probably delivered with an exclamation point, as "Airborne!". In this way, the unit and the unit's mission became associated in the minds of its members with the language's most affirmative and positive word.

Similarly, in the last century, Emile Coule, a French psychotherapist, urged his patients to repeat at least five times a day the sentence, "Every day in every way I am getting better and better". I have read that he reported extraordinary results (physical and mental) among those who did as he directed.

Here's the thing: We are Co-Creators, and our mind/heart is the tool.

For a seeker, the practice of repeating (Remembering) the Name of the Divine (again, be it God or Christ or Buddha Mind or Allah or OM or Guru or whatever) offers a real demonstration of commitment and earnestness, particularly if observed with enthusiasm. And, happily, it works wonders.