Welcome to the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons.
June 9th, 2019
I don’t know if you saw my instagram post earlier this week…
I shared about a hard moment transformed by mantra. I was reacting to something difficult and about to spiral into a negative story. But I remembered the hrdayam mantra from last Sunday’s sermon and instead of spiraling, I started chanting!
Mantra is simple. It’s the practice of repeating something (chosen with intention) over and over and over again. Like I said last week, it’s the practice of giving our mind the thought we want to think. It allows us to focus our minds and direct our attention.
And this week I have another mantra for you…
It’s a prayer that asks for clarity of the deepest kind.
In this sermon I hope to inspire you to think about the powerful, always available, probably already happening (maybe without your even knowing it) practice of prayer.
Because I believe that prayer is an innate part of who we are.
I love this sermon. And I hope you do too.
The Asatoma Sadgamaya Mantra
The practice of prayer is alive in all of us. We all send whispered words into the universe.
Sometimes these whispered words arise in response to a feeling of awe. Sometimes they come because we’re confused. Or we need help. Or we need to declare our dreams out loud. Sometimes whispered words arise within us because we need to muster courage and gather hope. Sometimes they arise because we’re terrified. Or we feel stuck. Or lost in grief. And sometimes they arise because we’re struggling to make a hard choice. Or we want to mark an important milestone. Sometimes whispered words arise within us because we’re overwhelmed by feelings of love and gratitude.
Prayer is a practice that’s always available. There’s no right or wrong time to pray. No right or wrong way to pray. Our prayers can be words given to us through tradition. And they can be words that simply pour from our hearts.
Many people struggle with prayer because they can’t easily define who they’re praying to. For those with a clear connection to God, it might feel straightforward. But for those without a clear connection, prayer can feel somewhat strange and inauthentic. But I want to reiterate that the practice of prayer is already alive within every single one of us. Whether or not we have a clear idea of who or what we’re trying to reach out to, we all send whispered words into the universe. Please don’t deny yourself the opportunity to deepen your whispered words into a fuller practice.
Because prayer is a practice that supports us in every moment of life. Through the action and intention of prayer our energy is shifted. And we—as the pray-er—are changed. Divine Mystery can be the hearer of our prayer. And so can our hearts. So can our community. So can the beautiful tree outside our window. When prayers arise within us, they are heard. Our prayers can be silent or loud. They can be whispered, spoken, sung, or screamed. They will be heard. We don’t have to fully understand the hearer. We have to remember that through the action and intention of our praying we are changed.
One of the ways that we can seek change through the practice of prayer is to seek to expand our vision. How do we know what we know? Why do we see the world and ourselves the way that we do? … We must all admit that we see everything through our own foggy vision. Through the ways we’ve been conditioned and habituated. But what if we used the practice of prayer to shift our vision? What if we used the practice of prayer to connect with a vision larger than our own? What if we used the practice of prayer to help us step outside the constant cravings of our small self and into the clarity and truth of our highest Self? What if our prayer sounded like this:
Lead me from untruth to truth
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
This simple prayer is asking that something bigger than me—bigger than my small, ego driven concerns—will help me see what’s real. Will help dispel my ignorance. Will help develop my spiritual awareness.
This prayer is just one example of the treasure trove of prayers found in the Upanishads. I invite you to experiment with it. What could happen if you paused everyday to remember that your vision is foggy and that you need help to see things clearly? This is a prayer that can help us connect with Divine Mystery and our Higher Self. As whispered words pour out of our hearts in response to the ever changing grind of daily life, this is a prayer that can help us expand our vision and root ourselves in something deeper than our ever changing whims… This is a prayer that can help us move in the direction of clarity and illumination.
- Is prayer a regular part of your life?
- Whether or not you think of yourself as a pray-er, have you ever noticed whispered words pouring out of your heart?
- How do you know what you know?
- When things feel murky, what helps you find clarity?
We all benefit from the wisdom of spiritual community. And community means more than one voice, so please add yours to the conversation. What did this week’s sermon and reflection questions spark in you?