Updated: Oct 16, 2022
A Monk's Meditation:
Nonduality, and the Prayer of the Heart
Sowing the Seeds of Enlightenment
All rights reserved by Mario Caputo, 2020.
Bhakti Books, Rockford, Illinois
Table of Contents:
1) Introduction to the Monk’s Meditation Series
2) Introduction to the Jesus Prayer
3) Doing Less and Less by our own Strength
4) Perfect Love Casts Out all Fear
5) Power and Mercy
6) Healing and Stillness
7) The Heart’s Garden Song
8) The Rhythm of Devotion
9) Yogananda and Maharshi: Saints of the One Heart
10) Silent Trust, the Highest Communication
11) Tuning in to God's Blessings
12) “Turn to Me and I Will Heal You”
14) Putting on the Mind of Christ
15) Light From Light: God Gives Himself as a Flame of Light
A solitary monk is seated near a bright, roaring fire studying some leaves that rest, cool, in his right hand; even their denser veins appear almost transparent against the dancing flames. He has come only to sit, to embrace the silence in and around him. The night is dark, and lovely. Stars twinkle above the singing flame—in slow dances, they spin. Monk is absorbed in an inner light which causes him to grow still, like a painted figure. He hears within himself a drone, a Word, and he becomes completely absorbed into It. Our monk enters a door in his heart where fire-light flickers—and the universe becomes hushed. Monk finds himself again in the still potency of the Prayer of the Heart, which is ancient but always new. The Beloved has come to our friend, the Monk, again in order to speak life into his Soul. In the beginning was the Word. Its remembrance signals new beginnings.
1) Introduction to the Monk's Meditation Series:
Sowing the Seeds of Enlightenment
Resting in the light of love, we too become Monks of the Heart. We grow still and learn to step beyond the limitations of fear, and doubt. Through simple meditation, we grow confident, and truly happy, realizing that the monastery (of light) has always been within us. It is like a little spark of fire, a dancing vision all full of grace. The Prayer of the Heart is a supernatural gift; it is a Fire which enlightens and liberates all who approach it.
Yes, the Prayer of the Heart enables us to meet the divine Indweller anew each time we practice. It guards and fortifies us, soothing our anxieties, illuminating our minds, perfecting our souls. It is a deep meditation and a direct path to divine union, to the dissolution of the ego, and to the bliss of holy living. Instead of trying to find happiness outside of ourselves, this simple prayer teaches us to look into our Hearts so deeply that we reach the core where God dwells. Resting here, we realize we are whole—and we become absorbed in the Lord’s most intimate embrace. Through practice, we shall come to know the secrets of the Monks and Saints—of all traditions. We shall grow tender and strong, with them, and illuminated for life's journey. Our daily practice will teach us to receive the gift that is the Indwelling Friend, Himself. When we pause to pray even the humblest prayers with great love, the Lord promises, we will become satisfied, for He will pray in us, and through us.
The Prayer of the Heart is not just a means to an end, it is an end in itself. It is a safe path, and an invitation to live in Love today. Returning to the core of the heart with the first monks, we find peace, prosperity, mercy, friendship, wholeness, healing and supernatural empowerment. Our all-beautiful prayer purifies us, allowing us to understand that we belong to Spirit. It teaches us to laugh and enjoy life without shame or self-consciousness. There is nothing greater for us to achieve than this true, constant prayer. By quieting the mind and leading it, through contemplative prayer, through meditation, into the refuge of the heart, we become absorbed in love and we gain all the innocence of wise children. We learn to love and laugh without fear. The soul is embraced by Christ Himself in this prayer and comes to enjoy the same simplicity and peace that a baby feels as it is lifted high in its Mother's arms—or that our friend, Monk, enjoys absorbed in the Fire of divine Bliss.
Peace comes to us when we rest prayerfully in the beloved Lord’s embrace. We are healed, strengthened, amused. There is nothing finer than the inner apartments of the heart where the Lover and Beloved court each other, enjoying all that is beautiful and holy. The richness of this inner world cannot be compared to any external opulence. Even the most rustic devotee possesses a refinement and beauty that puts the world to shame!
It is true that whatever we are seeking, the divine Prayer of the Heart is able to provide. There is nothing lacking in it! The heart that has returned to its eternal home, to the Kingdom of God, is bestirred by ever-new joy. Wherever we go, if we can remember to pray with our whole being, we will find laughter and luxury and lucidity. We shall discover that even this world of cold and impersonal bricks and mortar tells a brilliant story when we greet it through meditation; yes, even the rocks cry out, rejoicing in Love’s all-powerful Name.
Our prayer is soft, but it yields great strength. It is humble, but all-powerful. It is small, but it carries the Supreme within itself. It allows us to build bridges wherever we go, and between people we would have thought irreconcilable enemies. Because this prayer satisfies us and is soaked with beauty, meaning, power and wisdom, we will find ourselves happy to share it with others. Even people that are not interested in “prayer” will find their conversations with an individual who is deeply practicing the Prayer of the Heart, enlightening. Our practice illuminates the soul on every subject, reaching us in our desire for knowledge, love and satisfaction. This, our holy little prayer, illuminates and perfects everything within its broad circumference!
Meditations, such as the Prayer of the Heart, teach us to trust what is simplest in life. Our practice will enable us to become Monks-of-One-Heart. Meditation silences the mind, enabling the Heart to receive the Gift it has been long sought. Through such meditation, our Guide desires to teach us all, and well. Seeking Love first, we become whole and our life unfolds in the circumference of the light we carry during our prayer-filled activities. The Beloved reminds us that we are the light of the world; our simple openness helps us find Him peeking playfully at us from behind all of life’s events—from the humblest to the highest. Yes, it is the light of God shining within us, as divine love, which guides us in this prayer of simplicity. The Jesus Prayer and the Prayer of the Heart—and other meditation techniques we will explore in this series— teach us that “God is” and “I am” take up the same super-subtle niche inside the Heart’s core, as the Saints of all of the traditions testify.
This book is the first in a series of four which will explore the call to meditation-and-prayer, and to divine union, which is extended to all individuals from every background by the Source of love and power. Returning to that Source within, we will know how to pray without ceasing, how to love our neighbor, and how to recognize God’s Light shining through everything. The Beloved is the real doer—seeking Him, we become caught up into Him; we are much closer to our goal than we think! The Prayer of the Heart is an attitude of humble receptivity to our Source, which is Love. By allowing divine Love to guide us in everything, we will find our work not only pleasant, but perfected, over time.
Love is the ingredient that makes all things possible, and it is the first ingredient in true prayer. As we shall see, there are a few “variations” of the Prayer of the Heart, the prayer of Silence, each with its own flavor, each nuanced by time and clime. But as we practice, say, contemplative prayer, or meditation, or the Prayer of the Heart—as it has been taught by the ancient Desert Fathers and Mothers, and modern sages—we shall discover a common thread running through all of these devotional practices. Meeting the Beloved first, the externals fall away—and we merge with the one light, which is love. One sage stated that our sole sin is that we reject this Fire, this Original Light which is our true identity, beauty and everlasting Form.
Yes, we are much closer to perfection than we think, even as the divine Paul wrote. These pages are meant to guide the reader to deeper states of union, confidence and happiness through gradual absorption into the Source which remains at the heart of all things. Read with devotion and prayerful concentration, these pages will be food for our contemplation, a reminder that our beloved Lord is the nearest of the near, as the saints have promised. I humbly offer this book of meditations on the altar of Devotion to Jesus Christ and the Sages and Saints of all traditions.
Even if our faith (in the Lord, in our self) is small, like an invisible seed, when we plant this seed of faith in the ground of our heart, it will mature quickly. If we trust that the Beloved is within our little devotional seed, we will begin to see Him growing up in the good soil of our heart and stretching out forever into the pure sky of devotion, above. There is no limit to our Beloved's power to heal, nurture, love, purify, enlighten and entertain! We are already united to Him in our soul’s inmost core; remaining still, we will come to recognize Him, plainly.
In practice, our primary duty is to be sincere—to lay our burdens in the Lord’s hands, and settle down to rest with Him. We are living in an exciting time, an era of unifying inquiry; today’s scientific research—via many and varied clinical assays— acknowledges the strength and healing power mediated to us through the practice of meditation and prayer. Author and physicist Amit Goswami suggests, “today, modern science is venturing into realms that for more than four millennia have been the fiefdoms of religion and philosophy,” (The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World, footnote, Gita752). The goal of unification—of disseminating a fully integrated science— is well within reach through inquiry into the nondual, nonlocal Source. Sage-savants and farsighted researchers know that this integration will come through bold inquiry and harmonized experimentation. For some souls, this unification-and-absorption has already taken place. Wisdom means diving deep; it means absorption into the inmost Pattern.
And what is this central pattern? In a word, I would call it Love. When we know that we are loved with a divine love—that we belong to a Source that is full of affection and tenderness—we will find safe passage into the Heart where all is complete. The Prayer of the Heart, and its variations, are potent disciplines which quickly guide brain, body, and soul, to satisfaction and stillness.
There are very many souls, today, who are hungry for direct experiences of this inmost, divine pattern of Love. Such experiences of Divine Union are called by various names in the different traditions. The Eastern Church refers to Divine Union as perfection, transverberation, divinization, theosis, deification, and so on. Eastern meditators may refer to it as nirvana, samadhi, self-realization, turiya-atita, or moksha. Other seekers might refer to this state of perfect Oneness as self-mastery, self-actualization, or nondual absorption. In order to finish the journey we have begun, we must learn to focus all of our energies, fully, upon this all-unifying Pattern, until we merge with It. The satisfaction awaiting us is extraordinary! And the process does not need to be a protracted one considering the tools we have available to us, today—very powerful and safe tools, universal tools, like the Prayer of the Heart, and allied techniques. Such tools, such vehicles, make our journey rapid and safe. Prayerful silence will quickly mature the soul in full.
The term “prayer,” as used in this book, will mean many things, but I will use it mostly in reference to the Prayer of the Heart, which is a universal meditation composed largely of Silence. As you begin to practice for yourself, you will intuitively understand that this prayer is so valued because it is so quick to bring lasting and profound results. It is a prayer of quiet, of total surrender to, and trust in God; it is a holy sighing for the Beloved—such sighs are often sighs of extraordinary delight! During periods of purification and catharsis they can become sighs for liberation. When I use the term “prayer,” I am actually referring to the inborn power we possess to abide in the Heart, remaining fully absorbed in our Beloved. As we get to know our Beloved, we will come to trust Him with everything. When we trust Him, our practice will become easy, fully empowering.
The Prayer of the Heart is a practice which many Christian monks refer to as “contemplation” and which the East has often called pure “meditation.” It is not so important what term we use, but it is important that we practice with deep love and great focus, and that we practice consistently. If we start with ten to twenty minutes a day, preceded by a short period of contemplative reading (such as one page selected from this book of meditations), we will be able to form the habit which will eventually lead us to perfect meditation, and full union. A little bit of disciplined practice will help us grow happy and whole! Then, we will desire to practice each day for we will have found the passageway into the inner Heart, where Love abides in secret.
It is my own experience that many devotional practices can leave the individual feeling quite far from their Goal—far from a sense of belonging. But, the Prayer of the Heart helps us realize that our Beloved is both the nearest of the near, and the dearest of the dear. The heartfelt encomium we practice here, will root us quickly in the knowledge of God’s unconditional Love.
The sages state plainly: there is a power in us that is higher than the Heavens, an identity which is more durable and radiant than any flawless diamond. Meeting the Lord directly, we gain wisdom, growing confident in our own inherent Goodness. Practicing love, we become Love. Opening our hearts directly, the Beloved is able to teach us His sacred secrets—secrets that the humble Monk of monks knows, and is eager to share with us today.
2) Introduction to the Jesus Prayer
There is not much to learn in order to be successful with this simple, meditative prayer. If we take it at face value, recalling that the Name of Jesus Christ is the true presence of the God-man, and we pray with childlike faith and deep devotion, we will not only learn to relish our prayer sessions immensely, but we will mount rapidly toward the highest perfection, for we will fall in love with Love itself! Receiving the Lord’s compassion, we become cleansed of maladaptive behaviors and harmful habits. The sins that prevent us from recognizing the Lord as the Indweller are largely related to self-rejection—of ignoring what is highest and most authentic within our very own Heart.
Fully receiving divine love by abiding in the Heart, we become Whole. If we really knew how compassionate the Lord is, we would not fail to call on Him, and to welcome Him when He comes. Let us call on the Beloved Lord Jesus, today, so that we might receive Him without hesitation. Practicing the Prayer of the Heart, we become aware of the Light that is shining within our souls, coming to rest in our authentic center. It is my sincere prayer that you open comfortably to that Infinite Love, today!
The process of praying supernaturally and of welcoming the Beloved is wonderful in its simplicity. Pure prayer allows us to drop every limitation and doubt. What else could we expect from divine prayer— from the prayer our friend, the Monk, is eager to share with us now? Yes, the Jesus Prayer is, essentially, the fuel for the fire that becomes the Prayer of the Heart, which is a pure meditation. Any prayer offered with devotion will lead us closer.
We can pray a rosary, a simple invocation, a mantra, a short prayer for success, or one for more love and, if we do so with wisdom, we will grow strong. Pure intentions and deep faith are of utmost importance here. If we practice the Jesus Prayer with devotion, daring to receive the Lord into our Hearts, we will be made complete. This Prayer of the Heart will amaze you with its simplicity and efficacy if you practice it with true devotion, and sincere faith.
This is true because the Lord responds to His name, as the Saints attest. Our Friend will come to us when we seek Him sincerely. Purification-and-perfection come through practice. Opening to the Lord, we move beyond the world of things where we imagine ourselves to be stuck in time and space—and often stung by dissatisfaction and fear.
Even if we do not feel we have much faith in the beginning, we can cling to the all-beautiful name of Jesus Christ and find illumination as it enters into us, enthuses us and finally ignites us to burn with a perfect and holy Bliss. The fire of God’s love will consume every last particle of our doubt. Some of the earliest Saints found illumination by clinging to the Name of Love; they rose to the highest perfection through simple, earnest practice. Many souls have found peace, and perfection, using this humble meditation.
A careful reading of the Philokalia—which is a treasure trove of wisdom on the subject of meditation and prayer, especially the Prayer of the Heart, indicates that we mount quickly toward perfection and joy by remembering our Beloved and filling our hearts with His Divine Name. In the Philokalia, the wise Abbot Philemon reminds us that it is love and sincere practice which unite us with Christ, who is eager to purify and Enlighten us. The divine Philemon reminded his disciples that “God created human nature…to participate in every bliss...to see inaccessible light and radiant glory,” (Writings from the Philokalia, 408).
Consider the devotion of a simple youth (whose story was recounted by St. Simeon the New Theologian in the Philokalia) who sought the help of one Saint, who guided him to enlightenment. Though the young man was busy with many worldly obligations, he carefully followed the advice of his staretz (Teacher) and in short order arrived at the assurance of salvation through the presence of the Holy Spirit, which came to illuminate him in full. Reading saint Mark the Wrestler, a book offered by his staretz, praying with the name of Jesus Christ always upon his lips, the devoted youth found illumination when, “a brilliant divine radiance descended on him from above…he became wholly dissolved in this transubstantial light and…he himself became light. Thereupon his mind rose upwards to heaven and there he saw another light, brighter than the light which surrounded him,” in which he saw his staretz.
This youth was “externally a man, but inwardly an angel. Therefore he was given to see the most sweet light of the spiritual sun of truth, our Lord Jesus Christ…God brought him into ecstasy, tore his spirit away from this world, out of his self and all else, and transformed him wholly into the light of the Holy Spirit,” (Writings from the Philokalia, 145-147).
As St. Simeon reminds us in his ever-new theology, every seeking soul can adopt a simple practice by which they will attain enlightenment—even if they are very busy with demanding duties in the world. Allowing ourselves sufficient time for prayer and meditation—daring to pencil in our prayer hours on the family calendar—we will be able to find the enlightenment and divine bliss we have long been seeking.
Let us begin our spiritual practice, together, now, simply by repeating the name of Jesus Christ with devotion, mentally, listening to the sound of His name entering into deeper and deeper places in our souls. Please practice in such a way that you notice how the repetition of the Name affects your heart, brain, body, mind, and soul. Pray the Jesus Prayer for several minutes at a time, offering the Lord your attention and affection, keeping your Heart open to receive the Love and Light He is eager to share with you, today.
Eventually, you may find yourself desiring to pray for longer periods of time. The Jesus Prayer will become a Friend to you, and miracles will begin to take place around you as you pray. First little ones, and then big ones. The Prayer of the Heart, which matures the body and soul by spiritualizing them, will help you find perfect happiness. When you realize that the Lord loves you with an all-enlightening love, your heart will soften. And your mind will begin to fill with spiritual light.
Refreshed and ignited by love, your Heart will want to know more! The Lord is here, now—he desires to heal our wounds and fill us with perfect joy. Living in joy, we are made whole. The Lord teaches the soul, the inmost self, how to rest in the Holy Spirit. Abiding in the inmost core, the soul spontaneously asserts its true power, declaring, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
Take plenty of time simply to allow the name of Jesus Christ to enter into your Heart. Let your very soul be filled to overflowing with devotion and faith by the remembrance of Jesus’ name. If you spend your time with the Lord, He will transfigure you. Trust Him, for He desires to satisfy you in full.
And trust yourself, your higher Self, allowing the Lord to befriend you, to meet you where you are. Initially, you may feel some anxiety as you go into the depths with your Guide—that is only natural. Train yourself to trust while practicing with understanding. Yes, trust Jesus, trust the prayer, and trust yourself. Remember that the Prayer of the Heart (the prayer of inner absorption) is usually preceded by the Jesus Prayer, which protects as it purifies. Praying for illumination, the soul grows still and watchful. Finally, it becomes silent, and is caught up into the Heart, through the spontaneous, wordless prayer which is the true form of the Prayer of the Heart— pure meditation.
The Jesus Prayer is usually prayed mentally as one slowly repeated, simple sentence. There are a few variations. Perhaps the most popular form is, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Sometimes I simply pray, “Jesus, mercy,” “Jesus, come!” or simply intone His name with devotion. After a while, even the name will often become superfluous in the presence of the one who gives meaning to every name, and still requires none.
The deeper prayer of Silence, the “Prayer of the Heart,” is the result of our humble love for God. A sincere practice of the Jesus Prayer takes us beyond the senses, merging us into the Heart of our Beloved, which is an Ocean of Compassion, and Silence.
Many Saints make a distinction between the Jesus Prayer (the short mental prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” or, simply “Jesus”), and the Prayer of the Heart, which is typically a prayer of unity wherein no words need to be spoken—or at least, very few. Surrendering our doubts and fears to the One who loves us perfectly, we awaken to greater wisdom. In time, our soul will begin to stir, growing cleansed as the Lord draws near. Contemplating Perfect Love, our souls will grow earnest, and receptive.
Even when we feel most troubled, we will find solace and satisfaction if we remember to practice the Jesus Prayer with love. The key is to practice consistently, with faith and devotion. When we pray with devotion, our hearts will be filled with the light of Christ’s presence. Each holy recitation will take us a little deeper. Calling to the Lord with great love, He will come to us in order to lead us into silent repose in our Heart, where He dwells as Spirit. Returning deep within, we must shut out the world, and “enter into our prayer closet,” which is the soul, itself. Entering into this inmost place of adoration, we grow quiet, allowing the Lord to speak.
If we become distracted after resting in the silence for a while, one or two recitations of the Jesus Prayer will usually bring us back to the Heart, and pure meditation. In the beginning, we should keep in mind that depth in prayer is less about the words we use than the purity of our intention. The living Word, which is the name of Jesus, has a special power to pull us into the depths, for the name of Jesus is the Lord in all of His purity—as the Saints themselves understand, and teach.
Practice for yourself and you will discover that there are many ways to enter into the silence that is the true and universal Prayer of the Heart. Such silence leads to all-perfecting Absorption.
The Jesus Prayer will be our anchor, here in the beginning. Whether we begin by pursuing truth, beauty, happiness, peace, friendship, knowledge, or holiness, we will find it through right practice. If we want to make the most rapid progress, deep daily practice and silent surrender are necessary, for our Source can be reached only through holy meditative stillness. Our Source, which is Spirit, brings stillness to our souls as we discipline ourselves through deep daily practice.
Omnipotent, the Eternal Spirit has given Jesus Christ and the perfected Saints unlimited spiritual power. Perfected souls possess the ability to heal the sick, raise the dead, and to dissolve, or retain, their bodies of light, at will. In truth, these powers are latent in the Soul itself, where God hides Himself, just as Jesus Christ, Meister Eckhart, Paramahansa Yogananda, and many other spiritual masters, have plainly asserted. Having fully realized that the Divine Power indwelt His Soul, Jesus resurrected Himself after crucifixion, merging body into soul, and soul fully into Spirit. Jesus maintains Himself in incorruptible majesty today, and many Saints, including Francis of Assisi, Theresa of Avila, Paramahansa Yogananda, and Faustina Kowalska have seen the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ, corporeally, many times.
The literature on this subject is vast, and scientifically valid. Perhaps no writer has done more to disseminate the Heart-essence of Christ’s teachings in a nondual, devotional-and-scientific literature, than St. Paramahansa Yogananda who stated, “All things are possible unto God and His great devotees. In the resurrection of Jesus we have the assurance of our Creator that God-realized devotees, if they wish, can find not only immortality of the soul, but also of the body,” (The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You; A Revelatory Commentary on the Original Teachings of Jesus [SCOC], 1499). It is an interesting fact that the master meditators of the East, like Yogananda, have been able to speak intimately with the resurrected Lord Jesus, and were able to see Him in form at will (SCOC, 1541).
It is the revitalizing-resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit with which we align ourselves during the practice of the Prayer of the Heart; here is a true scientific meditation by which the soul becomes merged in its Source. Returning to the Heart in supernatural prayer, we discover the Cosmic Christ within us, and at the Heart of all things. In pure absorption we gain the insight that God indwells us; He offers us protection, peace and empowerment from the beginning.
When we seek lovingly, we will find readily. The power and security we have long sought are available to us through recipiency. Because our prayer is supported by the name and omnipotence of Jesus, the Christ, we know that we are invoking the reality of His limitless compassion, divine authority, and perfect wisdom each time we call on Him.
I am not arguing that other prayers, mantras and meditations are ineffective. In fact, we will return repeatedly to three important techniques in this book series. The three practices we will discuss here are: the Kriya Yoga of Yogananda, the self-inquiry of Ramana Maharshi, and the Prayer of the Heart, which many Saints, including St. Seraphim of Sarov, mastered and taught. Using the Prayer of the Heart as our reference point here in the beginning, I encourage the reader to compare it with the above practices, choosing that path they feel will prove most practicable and expedient for them.
In this early discussion on the Prayer of the Heart, I am simply presenting you, the devoted reader, with one perfect (and very simple) solution to the problem of suffering, one which has illuminated countless faithful souls throughout the centuries—and one which has produced many miraculous results in my own life. Trusting in the healing, enlightening power of Jesus Christ, we are supported by the God-man Himself—and by many sages who have found Union by holding fast to the Lord in His transcendental-and-personal forms through steady practice of the Jesus Prayer. Praying with them, we will find ourselves permeated by divine love and uplifted by a perfect, supernatural joy. And by Christ’s own resurrection power!
Grace abounds to the soul who grows absorbed in the practice of meditation. Our devotion may remain very simple; in fact, that is preferable since it will keep us from becoming entangled in obscuring dogmas, and empty rituals. Practicing our Faith with wisdom-and-love, we will be uplifted by the Lord Himself. His presence unifies the paths of devotion and inquiry, of meditation and prayer, seamlessly. Chapter 30 of Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, “The Law of Miracles,” will help us recognize and acknowledge the singular holy science which is at work at the heart of all the meditative disciplines.
Let us take some time now to pause and practice so that we may be strengthened by the effects of our simple Prayer. Take a few moments now to pray, putting aside every distraction. Remember: you are perfectly loved and supported by Christ, who is full of grace and peace. The Lord adores you; He desires to meet you where you are, and to satisfy the deepest longings of your Heart.
Pray with me a few times, with focus and feeling, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” or, “Lord Jesus Christ, enlighten me.” Or, you may choose to employ a similar prayer, such as “Beloved, protect and enlighten me.”
Let’s go ahead and practice together, now, for a few minutes. As we breathe in, let’s repeat the first part of our little prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ.” By breathing in the Name, we are gradually absorbed into it, coming to enjoy all that it contains. Soothed and strengthened by the Divine Friend, we learn to relax, and trust Him fully. Having opened ourselves to God’s Grace flowing into us in the person of Jesus Christ, we will become inspired to share our lives with the Lord on a deeper level. The early Church Fathers and Mothers taught their spiritual Children that synchronizing the breath with the thought of God purifies and perfects the Soul.
As we breathe out, we repeat the second part of our prayer, “have mercy on me, ” or “enlighten me.” Exhaling, we retain the Light and Love with which the Lord has filled us. He has the power to heal our wounds, and to cleanse and enlighten us, body, mind and soul. The Lord is so kind and merciful that even a few earnest, loving recitations of the Jesus Prayer will help us recognize Him alive and well, deep in the core of our soul, abiding as the Heart itself. The Deity has always been within us.
For best results, practice with a straight spine, closed eyes, keen focus, and attention on the Heart. Focusing on the physical Heart, invite Jesus Christ in, visualizing Him moving in a flame of love into and around the Heart itself. Then visualize that the name of Jesus Christ has not only entered into the core of your being, but is now surrounding the Heart with spiritual light and power. This practice leads to purification and illumination. Receive the Lord with devotion as He enters into you! Feel His divine love radiating to every part of your Body, Mind, Soul and Environment.
The Jesus Prayer is very easy to pray, and it brings lasting peace, and satisfaction. There is not much that must be remembered in this truly powerful meditation practice. The simplicity of the practice makes it accessible—even children can practice it well! I was introduced to a form of the Jesus Prayer as a small child, myself.
Let’s recapitulate now: during inhalation, remember to focus on the first part of the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord will fill us with His light and love as we open up to Him. During exhalation, we mentally repeat, “have mercy on me,” the second half of our divine prayer. During exhalation, we focus on the mercy of God, which fills us, soothing, enlightening and guiding us toward wisdom and compassion. Though simple, our prayer is all-powerful; the name of Jesus Christ carries within it the fullness of the Divine Presence into which we enter as we take Christ into our Heart—our inmost, spiritual Self. Sages like Meister Eckhart taught that the soul who fully welcomes God lacks nothing, not even Divinity.
Now that you have practiced a little bit, with devotion and faith, having invited Christ into your Heart in order to enjoy healing, protection and enlightenment, you have planted divine seeds which will bear their perfect fruit, in time. Even a little bit of soulful practice brings peace and contentment. In order to enjoy the best results, remember to practice every day. It may prove helpful to you to read a page from this book, and then practice for ten to twenty minutes, in the morning (and, evening). If you are open and earnest, the rest will take care of itself. At the end of your practice, take a few minutes to rest in silence, giving thanks to the Lord for His presence. Then, ask the Lord any questions that may have arisen. Seeking the Beloved with devotion, you will be sure to find your answer.
Souls who seek integration and illumination will find that daily, dutiful practice will move them fast toward their goal of freedom, and joy. If you make up your mind to practice every day at the same time, you will be able to form the good and godly habit, quickly. Practicing with an open mind and open heart, you will soon discover that there is a great power within you, in your Soul. Simple daily meditations like the Jesus Prayer will lead the soul to purification, and finally, to perfection. If you persevere, your practice will become permanently rooted in your Heart and you will find yourself meditating on the Divine Presence wherever you go.
Now, if you desire to grow most rapidly, to become a monk-of-the-soul, you will need to practice three things. I strongly recommend these elements to every earnest seeker. First, after a period of study and prayer, please select the meditation practice that you feel most attracted to, and persevere in practicing it every day! Second, find a good spiritual director, someone you can work with at least once a month. Third, begin to practice with other sincere devotees.
The Lord’s mercy comforts the soul—Mercy is one of God’s names! Jesus is a perfect embodiment of God’s Mercy; He is an ocean of love, and sympathy for the whole world. Please understand that God’s mercy is much more than human pity. Christ’s omnipotence is made perfect by His mercy. The Lord desires to soothe us and strengthen us through the power of His mercy so that we may grow wise and strong, with the saints, fully realizing that we belong to the Immutable Spirit. The term “mercy,” in the Jesus Prayer, according to the deified monks and perfected saints, refers to supernatural healing, enlightenment, and anointing with holy, sacramental oils. This mighty little word carries divine power!
In the early church, the balm of holy oil was poured onto the heads of lovers of Christ in order to anoint them to receive, and retain, holiness, love, wisdom and blessings for divine union. Such sacramental, healing and holy oils were also poured onto the body in order to heal and soothe wounds. So mercy is more than pity, though it includes the extreme compassion implied by that word.
Through devotional recitation of the Jesus Prayer, the soul itself becomes baptized and anointed for purification, glorification and, finally, divinization. The pure mercy we invoke through our practice moves us toward understanding, toward healing, and finally, toward perfection. God's Word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Through the potency of our prayer, we, too, become baptized and anointed through the presence of the Beloved Lord. Then, we are offered the privilege of abiding in Union with the Spirit. In this way, we come to partake of the fullness of the privileges and powers Christ enjoys in Himself, realizing that we are children of one God, children of Light, who are loved with the same love Christ has received from our One Father. Our Beloved is eager to share all He has with us so that we can feel comfortable abiding in Union with our God.
The Lord is eager to pour out His perfect mercy so that we may find healing, and illumination. By opening to Him, through trust and love, we become cleansed, glorified, and divinized (fully enlightened) by the action of the Holy Spirit. Opening our Hearts through daily practice, we grow whole, fully unified in body, mind and spirit.
Mercy is all-healing divine love and it allows us to feel comfortable in the presence of God—even though we may initially feel that we could never deserve His full attention. O, how the Lord longs to pour Himself out into our souls so that we might find perfect freedom and peace! God knows our hearts and meets us in our suffering; He desires to lead us to Light, through the action of His all-healing, all-soothing compassion.
Divine mercy is the proof that God's Heart is full of tenderness, and affection. Mercy brings intimacy and unity—it draws the soul into God, who is the eternal strength at our center. Christ's humanity, His humility, is what empowers mercy to touch—and to transform—all human hearts, no matter their past. God-as-mercy is deeper and vaster than any human error; it is an unfathomable Ocean for all souls to enjoy. Even the most broken and wicked personality will grow whole when it turns to the Lord in order to receive correction, forgiveness, grace, mercy and Enlightenment.
Jesus Christ knew all of the agonies of human suffering first hand. He was rejected, mocked, betrayed by one of His own disciples, and brutally murdered. But the Lord continues to pour Himself out for us in an unending font of Love which is drawn from the limitless Ocean of His Divine Mercy. Jesus has risen from the Earth in order to help us rise from the sepulcher of our own limitations. If we turn to Him, He will heal us, and perfect us. Yes! Christ will resurrect Himself within our souls if we allow Him full and perfect access. Seeking Him diligently, we will find Him, and all good with Him.
When we pray, let us remember that our Lord is near—He is the soothing unguent of divine mercy, that holy oil of divine friendship, which heals and gladdens! When we ask the Lord for love and illumination, we will be anointed to receive all that we seek. The Lord is alive and well, abiding in our heart’s core, just waiting for us to acknowledge His presence and trust Him to guide us to safety and satisfaction. He will perfect us when we receive Him with faith. Our recipiency is proven through our love for Him. Christ knows the path to perfection for He has walked it in the lives of many fully Deified Saints. Receiving His love, we will begin to awaken, too. It is true what Jesus said: the kingdom of God is within us!
When we pray, “Lord Jesus Christ,” as we breathe Him in, we invite the God-man to make His home in us, and to fill us with supernatural knowledge and power. Completing our prayer by repeating, “have mercy on me,” as we exhale, we receive Christ as Savior, as Soul-Liberator. And as True Self. The Beloved is alive in our Heart; He is eager to prove Himself to us in a unique, divine friendship. As Maharshi stated, so tenderly, “Heart is thy name, O Lord!” Soothed and cleansed by pure grace, we will leap beyond old insecurities, blind spots, selfishness and pessimism. Every old wound softens and heals at the Lord’s kind touch. The Lord, as Light, is the Essence in the Soul, itself.
Now that you have prayed the Jesus Prayer with me a few times and have come to feel some of the infinite power contained in it, you have begun your journey toward union, and unification. Simply pray, as the Saints have, “Lord Jesus Christ, come into me and give me salvation, purification and enlightenment. Make me complete through the power of your Love!” and He will come. We must continue to stay open, to go a little deeper every day, practicing boldly and compassionately. Love will light our Way—right to the very end. The Lord is eager to help us gain the spiritual vision which will cleanse and calm us. It may take some time for us to understand the depth of the prayer we have prayed, but God’s love will move us deeper as we learn to simply receive Him. In time, we will grow strong as our souls fill with light and understanding, just like the devoted youth about whom St. Simeon wrote so tenderly. If this ordinary, care-worn young man found Enlightenment through the Prayer of the Heart, despite heavy responsibilities in the world, so can we!
Whatever we need to learn, Love is here to teach us—sagely, soothingly. The Lord has great confidence in us; we are made in His Image! He knows that it is only a question of time before our souls will desire to understand their perfect spiritual nature—their nondual Core. Remaining open, and curious, we will know how to ask for what we need, and receive it straightaway. The Prayer of the Heart will guide us to all the way to Divine Union as we learn to practice it with true devotion. The Lord Himself is eager to teach us all that He knows, in Himself. With His assistance, let us choose to plant the seeds of our enlightenment, with Him, today!