“Next morning ere the sun had risen Jesus and the twelve went to a mountain near the sea to pray; and Jesus taught the twelve disciples how to pray. He said, Prayer is the deep communion of the soul with God” (Aquarian Gospel 94:1,2).
This is a major principle of the Aquarian Gospel, and is indicated other other places, as well. Prayer in its highest form is not ceremony or words, but direct communication with God–being with Being. This is a transcendental state and not to be equated with anything in ordinary experience. Nor is it experienced through our normal faculties. The initiate of a valid spiritual system is given the power to develop an entirely new level of being, known to the yogis as a “sadhana body.” The Taoists are very insistent on this and refer to the “divine embryo” which evolves into the vehicle through which divine consciousness is perceived and united with. Prayer, then is the path to God. In other words, it is yoga-meditation of some form.
The lesser forms of prayer are not to be disdained, but to be seen as what they are–ultimately only helps to the attainment of real prayer.
“So when you pray do not deceive yourselves as do the hypocrites who love to stand upon the streets and in the synagogues and pour out many words to please the ears of men. And they adorn themselves with pious airs that they may have the praise of men. They seek the praise of men and their reward is sure” (Aquarian Gospel 94:3,4).
One of the problems of public religious exercises is their tendency to turn into crowd-pleasing and theater. I well remember when the Catholic Church was gearing up to commit spiritual suicide (mission accomplished!) there was an avalanche of talk about how the Mass had to be geared for the “needs” of “modern man” and thereby become “meaningful.” “Man” became the center of the (Novus Ordo) Mass and proved the statement of Saint Paul that “by man came death” (I Corinthians 15:21).
“But when you pray, go to the closet of your soul; close all the doors, and in the holy silence, pray. You need not speak a multitude of words, nor yet repeat the words again and then again, as heathen do” (Aquarian Gospel 94:5,6).
Although it is lengthy, I think it would be profitable for us to again look at the fortieth chapter of the Aquarian Gospel which deals in detail with this subject of the Divine Silence that is true prayer.
“Jesus said, There is a Silence where the soul may meet its God, and there the fount of wisdom is, and all who enter are immersed in light, and filled with wisdom, love and power.
“The Silence is not circumscribed; is not a place closed in with wall, or rocky steeps, nor guarded by the sword of man. Men carry with them all the time the secret place where they might meet their God. It matters not where men abide, on mountain top, in deepest vale, in marts of trade, or in the quiet home; they may at once, at any time, fling wide the door, and find the Silence, find the house of God; it is within the soul.
“One may not be so much disturbed by noise of business, and the words and thoughts of men if he goes all alone into the valley or the mountain pass. And when life’s heavy load is pressing hard, it is far better to go out and seek a quiet place to pray and meditate.
“The Silence is the kingdom of the soul, which is not seen by human eyes. When in the Silence, phantom forms may flit before the mind; but they are all subservient to the will; the master soul may speak and they are gone.
“If you would find this Silence of the soul you must yourself prepare the way. None but the pure in heart may enter here. And you must lay aside all tenseness of the mind, all business cares, all fears, all doubts and troubled thoughts. Your human will must be absorbed by the divine; then you will come into a consciousness of holiness.
“You are in the Holy Place, and you will see upon a living shrine the candle of the Lord aflame. And when you see it burning there, look deep into the temple of your brain, and you will see it all aglow. In every part, from head to foot, are candles all in place, just waiting to be lighted by the flaming torch of love. And when you see the candles all aflame, just look, and you will see, with eyes of soul, the waters of the fount of wisdom rushing on; and you may drink, and there abide.
“And then the curtains part, and you are in the Holiest of All, where rests the Ark of God, whose covering is the Mercy Seat. Fear not to lift the sacred board; the Tables of the Law are in the Ark concealed. Take them and read them well; for they contain all precepts and commands that men will ever need. And in the Ark, the magic wand of prophecy lies waiting for your hand; it is the key to all the hidden meanings of the present, future, past.
“And then, behold the manna there, the hidden bread of life; and he who eats shall never die. The cherubim have guarded well for every soul this treasure box, and whosoever will may enter in and find his own” (Aquarian Gospel 40:3-24).
“Just say, Our Father-God who art in heaven; holy is thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Give us this day our needed bread; help us forget the debts that other people owe to us, that all our debts may be discharged. And shield us from the tempter’s snares that are too great for us to bear; and when they come, give us the strength to overcome” (Aquarian Gospel 94:7-11).
The meaning of this is extremely clear, and expresses a perspective far more comprehensible than that of ordinary explanations of the traditional form of the Lord’s Prayer. The last part is especially practical, for there is no doubt that temptations will arise all along the path of our life, since a totally placid existence is impossible in this world. Rather than seeking to avoid the tests (for that is what “temptations” mean), we should strive to strengthen ourselves so that when they do come we can overcome them and be stronger than before. From what has gone before in this chapter, it is obvious that we need to continually draw on our inner, spiritual resources that are opened and cultivated by the practice of meditation.
Remission of debts
“If you would be discharged from all the debts you owe to God and man, the debts you have incurred by willfully transgressing law, You must pass by the debts of every man; for as you deal with other men your God will deal with you” (Aquarian Gospel 94:12, 13).
Ego makes this very hard to do–another reason to practice meditation, for that alone gives us the sensible, practical perspective on our life. What Jesus sets forth is not some high and noble idea, but just the simple facts of the law of karma, of action and reaction. We mirror God and God mirrors us. That is the way things work. There is no way around it.
The rule of all discipline
“And when you fast you may not advertise the deed. When fast the hypocrites they paint their faces, look demure, assume a pious pose, that they may seem to men to fast” (Aquarian Gospel 94:14, 15).
This applies to all spiritual practice. Ostentatious religiosity is a mark of the worst type of person. Sri Ramakrishna said: “A devotee who possesses [true devotion] meditates on God in absolute secret, perhaps inside his mosquito net. Others think he is asleep. Since he is late in getting up, they think perhaps he has not slept well during the night.” “Devotees meditate in a secluded corner or in a forest, or withdraw into the mind.” Yogananda told of meeting a great American saint that no one guessed was even interested in spiritual life. One of the greatest Indian saints I met was actually considered worldly and thoroughly unspiritual. Religious people often shook their heads when speaking of him, commenting on how sad it was that he had not maintained the spiritual ways of his family. (His great-grandfather was a renowned yogi, as were his grandfather and father.) But he was a supreme yogi with many secret disciples who, like him, appeared to be completely uninterested in spiritual life. The life of the spirit is a hidden life, just as God is hidden from the world.
Of the soul
“A fast is deed of soul, and like a prayer, it is a function of the silence of the soul. God never passes by unnoticed any prayer, or fast. He walks within the silence, and his benedictions rest on every effort of the soul” (Aquarian Gospel 94:16, 17).
Again, this is true of all spiritual practices. “Thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6).
“Deception is hypocrisy, and you shall not assume to be what you are not. You may not clothe yourselves in special garb to advertise your piety, nor yet assume the tone of voice that men conceive to be a holy voice” (Aquarian Gospel 94:18, 19).
Indeed so, but what if the person is so deluded as to believe that he is what he pretends to be? Liars often become the victims of their lies. A Methodist minister from my hometown used to speak of ministers who cultivated a “stained glass voice,” and I met a few myself. The idea here is that anything which advertises us as special and spiritual is not just egotism, but something that will make us much worse than we presently are. It really is poison. I saw a lot of this in India during my many visits, and though it was often quite funny, even delightfully so, it was no less deadly.
“And when you give to aid the needy ones, blow not a trumpet in the street, nor synagogue to advertise your gift. He who does alms for praise of men has his reward from men; but God regardeth not. In giving alms do not let the right hand know the secret of the left” (Aquarian Gospel 94:20-22).
This is extremely important for all who would do genuine good deeds our of a genuinely good motivation. Otherwise creeping ego will overwhelm them and they will become a mere husk-appearance of good. Jesus summed it up by saying: “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it?” (Mark 9:50). Then he gives the safeguard in the next sentence: “Have salt in yourselves….”
Inner life is the secret of success in both outer and inner life.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: Divine Laws and Principles for Seekers of the Divine