Behind Yourself

You speak of occasionally having the sense that something within you, which is “more than you”, is always praying, even in the moments when you are feeling the most distracted and spiritually indolent; and when you have this experience, you say, it’s as if you were positioned in some way “behind” yourself.

This is a not uncommon sensation for someone who is engaged in a disciplined life of prayer. One thinks of the words of Solomon: “I sleep, but my heart waketh” (Canticles 5:2). It should be accepted with gratitude, certainly—as a “consolation”, to use Roman Catholic parlance, and as an encouragement toward further spiritual effort. But I would not recommend that you attempt to “make something of it” or to “do” something with it.

As Schuon wisely pointed out, “Instead of being governed by phenomena or following inspirations, we should submit to principles and accomplish actions. What God wants of us or what He wishes us to know is to be found in things that are certain and necessary, not in things that are probable and moreover conjectural”—things, precisely, like the meanings or messages that we might otherwise be tempted to suppose lie hidden in unusual states of consciousness. This is clearly excellent advice, and applicable on numerous levels.

Perhaps I should add, however, that what you describe does amount to an experiential confirmation of the fact—were confirmation needed—that duo sunt in homine (“there are two [selves] in man”): namely, the psycho-somatic individuality, on the one hand, and the transpersonal Spirit or Intellect, which is increatus et increabile, on the other. It’s in the nature of things that the created should sometimes “sense” the Uncreated, but it would be a mistake to try to magnify or manipulate this sensation, or to lay in wait for an encore.

One is grateful for the warmth of the sun, especially after days and days of cloudy weather, and one may enjoy seeing its image on the surface of a calm pool of water. But concentrating too exclusively on the warmth or the reflection can easily lead away from the sun itself.

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