Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (1648-1717)

Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717)

I have been enjoying A Short Method of Prayer by Madame Guyon.  She is a 17th century French mystic and Christian contemplative.  In this book she lays out the steps for effective prayer and stresses our role as humans is to become united with God.  In doing so she down plays the benefit of outward acts of charity and the like.  This appears to be a point of contention within the church.  As a result of publishing this book she displeased the Church so much she was imprisoned for eight years.

In the contemplative tradition there is an important milestone on the path to enlightenment (or to no-self) that is called the unitive stage or the union with god.  Much like the arya state in Buddhism this milestone marks an irreversible change in the person.  The instructions to achieve this union are not unlike the instructions for progress in the Buddhist tradition.

The focus is on inner action as opposed to outer action.  Madame Guyon explains the necessary changes that are required in anticipation of unity:

God sends before him His own Wisdom; it consumes all impurity in the creature, to prepare him for divine union.

And what is so impure about us?

This impurity, so opposed to union, is appropriation and activity.

I am not exactly sure what she means by appropriation in this instance.  Appropriation is defined as the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.  I suspect is has something to do with believing we have a self or that our actions come from ourselves as opposed to coming from the divine whole.  However, I am more interested today in what she has to say about activity:

Activity, because God being in an infinite repose, in order that the soul may be united to Him, it must participate in His repose, without which there can be no union, because of the dissemblance; and to unite two things, they must be in a proportionate rest.

It is a very restful thought.  I like the vision of the divine whole as effortlessly shifting and creating.  I further like the idea of being united to this effortless flow.  I vision, myself (or God) lying back into repose with our breath enough to propel change and life.  Quite lovely.  It speaks of some of my favorite slogans:

Easy does it.

I do without doing and it all gets done.

It also reminds me of my ordination name:  Maha Khema meaning “great tranquility”.

May we all labor in peace today.

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Roadside assistance

As I entered the state yesterday afternoon I saw a camper trailer broken down on the side of the road.  I was driving 60 mph up a hill on highway 10.  The vehicle was wedged between the guard rail and the right traffic lane – just barely fitting in the tight space.  As I sped past I notice a small arm and hand waving a jumper cable.  The appendage belonged to a craggy old man that was hiding behind the front of the vehicle out of the way of the oncoming traffic.

My first thought was something like, “Oh shit”.  In an instant I reviewed the reasons I didn’t have to stop:

  • I had already driven past
  • I really wanted to be home.  (I’d been driving for 10 hours.)
  • I couldn’t help.  (Not true, but the idea did pop up.)
  • I did not want to.

I pulled off the road.  It had taken me a bit to get the car slowed and in the shoulder.  Yet, despite the distance I told myself I could back up.  I was scared.  It felt dangerous.  I also was aware that once I got to the vehicle that was back behind the bend, I would need to somehow get my car facing against the traffic, since there was no way to give him a jump unless the vehicles were face to face.

I was scared of the traffic, I was scared of backing up my car in the tiny shoulder, I was scared of the possibility of turning my car around, and I was scared of the legality of what I was doing.  I was also vaguely aware that these people might be poised to mug me and steal my car.  I disregarded that last thought as paranoia.  It was a little hard to tune intuitively into the safety of the situation given my fear, but I am familiar with how my mind acts.  That last thought of the people as a threat didn’t resonate as true.  It was just my analytical mind considering all angles.

I began backing up.  This was a miracle.  Despite the close space I was able to keep the car straight and out of traffic.  Once I was close, the old guy explained that he needed a jump because his alternator was not working.  I would need to turn my vehicle around to face his.

I stalled a moment as I considered the situation.  I know enough about cars for this problem to make sense.  He didn’t seem to be a mugger or a car thief.  His wife was sitting in the front seat of their vehicle.  She seemed to match him in form:  old, thin, tan and wrinkled.

He told me how to back up to turn my car around.  I didn’t immediately respond.  I had survived the backing up, but I needed a minute before I did the next scary thing.  I tried to listen to the instructions he gave me, but couldn’t quite grasp them.  I considered the width of the road, the small shoulder on the other side, and the truck traffic barreling by at 70 to 80 mph.

When it came time to do it, it was surprisingly simple.  The road easily accommodated a U turn and the gap in the traffic was long enough to allow for a misjudge anyway.

I stayed in my car (and began organizing my stuff) while he hooked up the cables and we waited for his battery to charge.  After a while he tried to turn over his engine.  It would not start.  I listened.  It was clear that the problem was not the battery.  He was getting plenty of juice and the starter sounded good too.

I was impatient.  I looked at my clock and said to myself, “I’ll give him two more minutes”.

After four minutes I got out of my vehicle and sat down on the guard rail outside their passenger side window.  The old guy was working on the engine from inside the “cock-pit”.  I was surprised it was so accessible.  He seemed to be putting gasoline into the air filter compartment.  The woman told me, “he’s priming the engine”.

It seemed to work.  The engine almost started with the next attempt.  I sat there, ready to go.  I started to pray Ho’oponopono.  Then I tried a quick ThetaHealing on the car.  My mind was telling me that they needed more than a jump and I should just go.  I think I said something to the effect.

My mind also flashed to what my friend Shawn had told me a couple days prior about how he progressed to the unitive phase.  The unitive phase is an important stage in the steps of enlightenment;  One that I want to get to.  He said that his path was loving God.  In fact, he claimed, it was the only thing one needed to do.

I don’t believe in a creator being called God, but that has never stopped me from applying a spiritual principle.  I thought about what would I do in this situation if I was demonstrating my love of God.  My first thought was it didn’t matter.  I could go or stay.  Then I reflected on the fact that these were God’s children and he would do anything for them.  I really didn’t want to stay especially when it seemed fruitless and when I was still a little upset from the scary things I done to move my vehicle in position.

My reflections continued.  I had just spent 10 hours listening to the audio book “Pay it Forward” which is about doing good things for other people.  In the book the child genius explains to a reluctant man that doing good when you feel like it is not as big a deal as doing good when it is hard or for someone you don’t like.  This reminded my about something that Bernadette Roberts said regarding “doing virtue” being a killer for the ego.

Getting rid of my ego and/or the mindless chatter in my brain and senseless fears is a priority for me.  So, instead of doing what I wanted to do.  I stayed and continued with the Ho’oponopono.  I disregarded my petty wants in lieu of my higher goals.

In another minute the man realized that he was out of gas.  That made sense to me.  He loaded his wife into my car and sent us for gas. I had a momentary wondering if I wanted to do this, but he didn’t even ask.  It was assumed I would.  It meant driving up to the first exit and doubling back to the gas station, but it was over soon enough.

As I waited, curious if the camper/trailer would start now that he had added two gallons to the tank, he flagged me away.  I noticed that I was no longer impatient and wanted to stay, but when he repeated his gesture I drove off.

As I drove on, I reflected on the two people I had just met with an appreciation for their character and their being.  I noted that I just felt a mundane sort of goodness.


Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian shamanic practice for clearing karma especially in relationship to people and personal relationships.  It is based upon the simple awareness that our world comes from us (Ike).

I learned the practice from reading and from a class with Ihaleakala Hew Len.  The simple prayer that I recite as a mantra:

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

I love you

and I thank you.

More information about the practice can be found on Wikipedia.

The longer version I use is:

Divine creator, father, mother, daughter, and son as one.  If I, my family, relatives and ancestors have offended you, your family, relatives and ancestors in thoughts, words, deeds and actions from the beginning of our creation to the present we ask your forgiveness.

Let this cleanse, purify, release, cut all the negative memories, blocks, energies, and vibrations and transmute those unwanted energies into pure light, now.  Thank you.  It is done, it is done, it is done.

You can also read more about Hawaiian Shamanic principles in my related post.