Search me, O God

I am presenting here a text excerpted from the Christian Old Testament, in the Bible. It is commonly known as Psalm 139, and belongs to the Book of Psalms. ’Psalm’ in Greek means ‘instrumental music’ and is by extension, a hymn. These hymns are mostly praises to God. This particular Psalm was brought to my knowledge by Rupert Spira. This is certainly one of the richest for it expresses the all knowing and pervasiveness of God, of that deep presence that is the nature and heart of our utmost self. It also stresses that this presence shines in all circumstances, including in our darkest hours. The psalm seems to hold in itself the soft power of a prayer, which is the ability to make us aware of our true self. For this is the function of a prayer, to throw us back into our self, into the deep silence that is the core of our being. As Stephen Mitchell wrote in ‘A Book of Psalms’, “Pure prayer begins at the threshold of silence. It says nothing, asks for nothing. It is a kind of listening. The deeper the listening, the less we listen for, until silence itself becomes the voice of God.” Listen to the depth of this poem. As its promise reads, you may be led “in the way everlasting”.

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O lord, thou hast searched me, 
     and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, 
     thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down, 
     and art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue, 
     but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before, 
     and laid thine hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; 
      it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? 
     or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: 
     if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, 
     and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, 
     and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; 
     even the night shall be light about me.
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; 
     but the night shineth as the day: 
     the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

For thou hast possessed my reins: 
     thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: 
     marvellous are thy works; 
     and that my soul knoweth right well.
My substance was not hid from thee, 
     when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought 
     in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book 
     all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, 
     when as yet there was none of them.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! 
     how great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, 
     they are more in number than the sand: 
     when I awake, I am still with thee.

[…]

Search me, O God, and know my heart: 
     try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, 
     and lead me in the way everlasting.

~ Psalm 139 (King James Version)

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Psalm from the Holy Bible (King James Version)

Photo by Alain Joly

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Bibliography:
– ‘The Book of Psalms: King James Version’ – (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
– ‘A Book of Psalms: Selected and Adapted from the Hebrew’ – by Stephen Mitchell – (Harper Perennial)

Websites:
The Bible (Wikipedia)
King James Version (Wikipedia)
Psalms (Wikipedia)
Psalm 139 (Wikipedia)

Suggestion:
Other prayers from the blog at Fragrance of Love

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A Prayerful Mind

When I pray for aught my prayer goes for naught; 
when I pray for naught I pray as I ought
.”
~ Meister Eckhart

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This prayer is borrowed from a treatise allegedly attributed to Meister Eckhart, ‘The Rank and Nature of the Soul’, in the translation of Miss C. de B. Evans, 1924. The authenticity of these treatises is discussed, but it appeared to me like a beautiful prayer well worth sharing here. I have adapted it in a more modern English, sometimes taking some liberty with the original, and other times leaving it as it is. Its authenticity goes inasmuch as it is speaks to our hearts and reveals the fragrance of the divine presence it prays…

Meister Eckhart was a Christian theologian and mystic born in 13th century Germany. He is nowadays appreciated for the universal qualities of his message. For Meister Eckhart, the most powerful form of prayer is “the outcome of a quiet mind” where there should only be “a pure going out of what is our own”. Such a mind, in his own words, is one that “is forever immersed in God’s most precious will, having left its own.” A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being, it is “the practice of pure being”. I hope this prayer will find a resting place in your heart…

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O divine presence, supreme fragrance,
Show me the way to your most precious nature
That in your wisdom you have sent my way
To be seen and recognised as my own self;
To be loved as my being beyond earthly manners;
To be enjoyed in this new birth as happiness.
To be owned in thy perfect wisdom.

Preserve me from all separation, for you have raised me above myself;
You have exalted my soul beyond the grasp of ego;
You have sealed me with the seal of your eternal image;
Have made nothing more like yourself than a man in his soul.

Teach me to live so that I may never want you; 
So as never to hinder the working of your love-stream in me; 
So as never to lend myself to any outward pleasure without you;
Nor occupy my mind with any creature other than you. 

You are that pure consciousness incomprehensible by ego,
Inspiring the soul and raising her above entanglement
So that she can do thy will only, O Eternal Wisdom;
So that in grace she can be freed from all that comes uninvited.

You have made the soul to suit yourself in her nature and her laws
And she maintains she has no room for anyone but you.
O Almighty! Most Merciful Creator!  Dear Lord!
Help me to overcome the pitfalls of my egoistic tendencies.

Help me to believe, to hope, to love; to live and feel exactly as you will,
And as much as you will and what you will. Lord, grant me 
The sorrow of the humble; a mind escaped from mortal body; 
To love, to laud and to behold you and cherish every act and thought that is toward you. 

Grant me a clear, sober and genuinely prayerful mind 
With real intuition of thy will, together with the love and joy 
Which make it easy to perform. Lord, grant me always modest progress 
Towards better things and never to backslide in any harmful way. 

And, O my Lord, condemn me not, as I deserve, 
To rely on my own powers, or my human weakness and foolishness,
But on your good providence alone. Direct me Lord to the Good itself;
Command my every thought and act to your own liking.

Make so happen that on my part, in me, your will is always being done,
And that I can be saved from evil and brought to the eternal life.
Make me be one where thou are three in Person, in the essence of thy divine nature: 
Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the ever blessed almighty God. 

Amen. 

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~~~

Prayer by Meister Eckhart
(adapted from a translation by Miss C. de B. Evans)

Photo by Elsebet Barner

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The photo represents a painting by Joakim Frederik Skovgaard (1856-1933)

Bibliography :
– ‘Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings’ – by Meister Eckhart – (Penguin Classics)
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)

Website:
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)
Joakim Skovgaard (Wikipedia)

Suggestions:
This is Meister Eckhart (Homage to Meister Eckhart)
The Poor Man (a Sermon by Meister Eckhart)
– The Quiet Mind (a quote by Meister Eckhart)

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The Slow Path

A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being. So it is something like an intimation, a subtle realisation of something that may take the form of a longing, or wishing, but is in fact already here, subtly present if not yet realised. I loved this humble prayer by Michael Leunig, so I share it here with you…

 

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Dear God,

We pray for another way of being:
another way of knowing.

Across the difficult terrain of our existence
we have attempted to build a highway
and in so doing have lost our footpath.

God lead us to our footpath:
Lead us there where in simplicity
we may move at the speed of natural creatures
and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet.

Lead us there where step-by-step we may feel
the movement of creation in our hearts.

And lead us there where side-by-side
we may feel the embrace of the common soul.
Nothing can be loved at speed.

God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights
of the pilgrim; another way of knowing: another way of being.

Amen.

 

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Payer and cartoon by Michael Leunig

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0526BD00-7BB3-43AD-BE57-E91737A198CCMichael Leunig is an Australian cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet. He describes his approach as regressive, humorous, messy, mystical, primal and vaudevillian – producing work which is open to many interpretations and has been widely adapted in education, music, theatre, psychotherapy and spiritual life. His work reflects, in his own words, “the fragile ecosystem of human nature and its relationship to the wider natural world.” He was declared a national living treasure by the National Trust for his unique contribution to Australian culture.

Read this article about Michael Leunig in Miriam Louisa Simon’s blog ‘The Awakened Eye’.

Bibliography:
– ‘The Penguin Leunig’ – by Michael Leunig – (Penguin Random House Australia)

Websites:
Michael Leunig
Michael Leunig Appreciation Page (on Facebook)

 

Naked Presence

A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being. I have tried here to express my own version of a prayer:

 

I don’t know, sweet beloved, 
what to do with my fear, my anger,
all my overwhelming feelings
and the limits I impose on myself.

So please take them into your loving lap,
tender them till they melt 
and are taken away to be
one with your infinite being.

It is my plea and my wanting,
rather my offering – for I’m asking nothing,
to be rid of all my clothes and be seen 
naked in front of your most naked presence.

Let your constant outpouring of love
be my daily inescapable anchor,
let me I be you and you I
and feel no more the pain of separation.

You were so unnoticed,
at best visited from time to time,
let me now be the absent, unnoticed one.

Let me be whole and one with all things,
let me find in the pain, in the ache,
your most gracious presence,

my heart!

 

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Suggestion:
Fragrance (on the role and nature of prayer)

 

My Beloved

A prayer comes from the heart, and points to something that is beyond words and meaning. Its only function is to throw you back to yourself, to silence. It must be devoid of demands, which can only be objective and an expression of separation. In prayer, the result precedes the wish. Uma Gautam has written a lovely prayer that I’m happy to share here with you:

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My Beloved ~ I pray to you 

Grant us an exhaustion so deep
every cell in the body bows and accepts defeat.

Take away from us
the arrogance of guilt and judgement we don’t even recognise.

Help us move
as  leaves move, free-floating in the breeze
all hidden controls thrown away like muslin in the wind.

Make us so alone
we find we are our own best friend, lover and beloved.

Help us look every belief in the eye and keep it down gently. 

Let every idea we have of ourselves be given a quiet burial. 

Make our every thought word action
harmless as a rose and
sharp shiny and clear as a sword

Suffuse us with a Love so vast 
no sea, no rock, no tree, nothing is safe
from this love anymore.”

 

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Text and Painting by Uma Gautam

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7F5817A8-A1AC-4C8B-9BF7-CC52B4759526Uma Gautam paints and writes from the heart, playing and experimenting. She has published a book of poems, ‘Inner Weather’. Uma currently lives in Bangalore, India.

Website:
– ART BY UMA Gautam (Facebook Page)

 

Suggestion:
Fragrance (on the role and nature of prayer)

 

Dear God

A prayer comes from the heart, and points to something that is beyond words and meaning. Its only function is to throw you back to yourself, to silence. It must be devoid of demands, which can only be objective and an expression of separation. In prayer, the result precedes the wish. Tiger Singleton gives us here two different versions of a prayer:

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The confused prayer

Dear God, please help me put my illusions back together. All this uncertainty of tomorrow really makes it difficult to hide, and pretend to know what I’m doing.

Dear God, help me hold on, and please make other people change so I don’t have to see the truth I’m afraid of. If you would just give me what I want, it would be so much easier to love and trust you.

Dear God, how can I still protect the image of myself and worship you in everything? They say you are everywhere all the time, but that makes it really difficult to find myself.

Dear God, everything I trust in that’s not you, keeps failing. Why? Wouldn’t life be easier if everything just did what I wanted? By the way, I have plans this weekend so it’s better for all (really for myself) if it doesn’t rain.

Dear God, mosquitoes are stupid, please kill them all. It would be much better for everyone (really myself). Except maybe for nature, clearly though nature is confused about how to do things.

Dear God!! Hello?! Are you listening?! I want to be God. It’s not going so well. Please help.

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The Sincere Prayer

Dear God, thank you. May you continue to help me see what actually is, rather than looking for what I want.

Dear God, thank you. Your ways are mysterious, yet it’s because of your ways, that this breath flows. I may not always understand, but I always end up seeing a gratitude.

Dear God, thank you. Somehow the rain falls perfectly on time, Im so grateful it’s not up to me. I have a hard enough time managing my own calendar.

Dear God, thank you. You keep showing me it’s okay to let go, no matter how stubborn I might be. Your patience is infinite, and in this I feel your Love.

Dear God, thank you. I feel in some way you are always smiling, not laughing at me, but comforting my impossible fears. As if the sun only pretends not to shine.

Dear God, thank you. I’m so humbled by you. I see it’s a constant invitation for me to relax and let you do what you do. Allowing me an opportunity to return to love.

Dear God, thank you; not for this or for that, but for everything. I see your fingerprints everywhere.”

 

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Text by Tigmonk

Mandala by Elsebet Barner

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Tiger Singleton (Tigmonk), founder of InLight Connect, is an inspirational public speaker, satsang facilitator, and author who shares wisdom and insight from the heart. With an open heart, Tiger holds space for a profound exploration into the art of being (you). 

Bibliography:
– ‘An Explosion of Love: The Color of All Things Beautiful’ – by Tigmonk – (The Blooming Heart Center)
– ‘Intimacy, with the Silent Nothing that is Everything’ – by Tigmonk – (The Blooming Heart Center)

Websites:
Inlight Connect (the art of being)
Tigmonk (All… is Incredibly Well)
Already Done (The Poetic Life of Being)

Suggestion:
Fragrance (on the role and nature of prayer)

 

Fragrance

Prayer is our one link with the real 
– if by ‘prayer’ we mean simply an attention 
both extreme and careless of any result, 
an attention so pure that the one who practises it 
is not even aware of doing so
.”
~ Christian Bobin

 

The other day, I found the old, beautifully handmade prayer book of my grandmother, and skimmed through it. Prayer has always been to me something of a difficulty and I think the time has come to seriously address it. I’m intending to share prayers on this blog, making it the subject of a new category. 

There seems to be two habitual ways of praying. The main one is to beg, implore, request – positively or negatively, asking for something objective, however refined this object can be. The second way is devotional, contemplative, but often turns out to be a repetitive, compelled form of recitation. Both forms are unsatisfactory, ranging from being naive, belief-based, self-concerned, to just lacking efficacy. 

A good prayer is a totally non-objective one, at least in spirit if not in words. Rupert Spira says: “The turning of the mind away from the objective content of experience towards the source or essence from which it has arisen is the essence of meditation or prayer.” And Meister Eckhart says nothing different when stressing that the most powerful form of prayer is “the outcome of a quiet mind” or that there should only be “a pure going out of what is our own.” And such a mind, in his own words, is one that “is forever immersed in God’s most precious will, having left its own.” A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being, and in that it can be equated with meditation, which is originally the Hindu or Buddhist form of prayer, or with the koan of zen. 

A prayer comes from the heart, and points to something that is beyond words and meaning. Its only function is to throw you back to yourself, to silence. It must be devoid of demands, which can only be objective and an expression of separation. In prayer, the result precedes the wish. Rupert Spira sums it up in a beautiful way: “Let what you become be an expression of the source.” Love is all, and love is prayer.

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In the existence of your love, 
I become non-existent. 
This non-existence linked to you 
is better than anything 
I ever found in existence.

~ Rumi

~

 

Here is a beautiful prayer that I heard from Francis Bennett. It was originally composed by John Henry Newman, a 19th century poet and theologian, and is known as the ‘Fragrance Prayer’:

Dear Presence so divine 
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me 
That every soul I come in contact with 
May feel your presence in my soul 
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only You!

Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Lord, will be all from You; none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me.

Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
By the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.

Amen.

 

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Introductory text and photo by Alain Joly

Prayer by John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
(Adapted by Francis Bennett)

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This article is the first that appears in a new category called ‘Fragrance of Love’. This is the place to share a prayer or meditation – this fragrance of ourselves – as the main feature.

Suggestion:
The Quiet Mind (Meister Eckhart)
– Watch Francis Bennett’s video on YouTube: Integrating Humanity with Divinity, a Science and Nonduality Conference…

Bibliography:
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)
– ‘The Very Lowly: A Meditation on Francis of Assisi’ – by Christian Bobin – (New Seeds)

Websites:
John Henry Newman (Wikipedia)
Francis Bennett (finding grace at the center)
Rupert Spira
Meister Eckhart (Wikipedia)
Rumi (Wikipedia)
Christian Bobin (Wikipedia)