In those times when we’re busy dreaming up the next plan, the next love, the next thrill, aren’t we really looking for a way to renew ourselves? Most of us experience “renewal” when some idea or a hope that we have gets fulfilled, filling us in turn with a sense of excitement; and then, in that feeling of being full of ourselves, comes a certain kind of pleasure that we take as being the same as renewal in this life. But there’s a problem with this sense of renewal, isn’t there? As fast as it pours in, it pours out! In fact, no matter how much “good fortune” the world pours into us, there remains an emptiness. Here’s the reason behind this truth.
Our souls are not enlarged through circumstance. As a matter of fact, circumstantial experiences grant us but a temporary sense of being “new” or “going forward.” More often than not, they unconsciously limit us because we live in fear that we’re going to lose them, resulting in no real renewal at all. The little-understood secret of life is that everything we add to our cup to make ourselves greater becomes the very thing that makes us less.
We’re looking to our own best ideas, to those well-preserved images from our own past experiences to guide us to something new, but the word new means nothing was before it. Our present knowledge of life and self doesn’t understand this kind of new. For us “new” is how we look after dieting or plastic surgery, the next series in the line of cars we’d like to drive… if this sounds shallow, it is! Our spiritual lives have been so starved of Reality’s nourishing inflow that almost all of what we now think of as being “new” is little more than an unconscious continuation of some reconfigured past experience. What we’re looking for, unconsciously, is that familiar sense of self-renewal that comes with finding something similar to what we already knew, even though it has never fulfilled us before.
Before something genuinely new can appear in our lives, something old must pass. There must be a discontinuation of our familiar sense of self from which we look out into our world in order to find something we believe will renew us.
Real prayer, the soul-transforming kind, is self-discontinuity. It is a conscious act of self-suspension arising from the wish for something new to occur, an act of higher understanding born from knowing that being wrapped up in the old can only produce more of the old.