A few days ago a friend of mine forwarded me a link for a blog he thought I might like. In it, the author was posing a question regarding the rising trend for people to make statements such as they will “pray for you” or “you are in their thoughts and prayers”. Her question was – has this language of prayer simply become the generic way in which we show compassion? Here’s the link to her full article.
I’ve certainly noticed this rising trend of people using references to “prayer” and “holding thoughts” as a means of showing care and concern. However, I thought it was just my circle of friends. After all, as a New Thought minister, the philosophy I teach (as well as everyone in my organization) is that thoughts are things which have power. Prayer is a means of directing conscious intention for a specific purpose. In the spiritual circles I travel, everyone naturally uses these phrases!
But what’s going on here with the so-called secular crowd? Have they become quietly indoctrinated by “The Secret” and perhaps hedging their bets on the possibility that the “law of attraction” might really work? Or, is it as this blog author offers – these are simply phrases which have entered the common vernacular in absence of any other decent phrases to express our feelings?
Here’s my take –
First, most people in our society tend to approach things such as prayer as an “either-or” kind of thing where on one side is “religion” and on the other is “science”. If you are religious, then you fall into some sort of “denominational category”, believe a whole set of dogma which comes with your faith, and you “pray” to the deity that your religion believes in. If you’re secular, then you place your belief in science and rational thought leading you to think that everyone who is religious and prays is ignorant or misguided. This leaves no room for prayer in the secular mind.
So what happens when the nonreligious person wants to show compassion? I can express my regret and sorrow about the events surrounding you. But what about if I want to “do something” for you? Outside of sending you cards or flowers, the only thing I might be able “to do” is to offer specific tangible advice about what you can do next to make things better. Yet we know, an individual in the middle of grief doesn’t want to hear such things. Hence, we can feel helpless. Similarly, in moments of vast tragedy (such as earthquakes and tsunami in Japan or the tornadoes that hit the South recently) we can also feel extremely helpless. We send money to disasters like we send cards and flowers to our friends – yet something in us calls us to do more.
So when a secular person says they will pray for you or hold you in their thoughts and prayers, what exactly do they mean? Is it simply language offered to show compassion with no real intent to pray or think on their behalf? Or, has the secular person slipped back over into the religious realm of superstitious faith?
Although either of these possibilities could be at play in specific people, I believe the trend to use such language is pointing at something else going on here. By the way, I can’t stress enough the importance of when you see something as an “either-or” situation to look for a third option which transcends and includes the two options that are in your current awareness.
So what is that “something else” – a third possibility? I believe this compassionate language trend relates to our evolutionary path. Humanity is evolving in its consciousness. This is playing out both at the individual level as well as the collective level.
Many social scientists and philosophers have pointed at evidence that our values are tied to our worldview. More so, if we look back through history we can track a series of world views (each with their own value system) through which humanity has evolved. Some of these earlier ways of seeing things such as archaic and magic worldviews still exist today in certain pre-modern societies. However for those of us who live in modern society, we are faced with three predominant viewpoints which arose later in humanity’s evolution – traditional/mythic, rational/scientific, pluralistic/cultural creatives. And interestingly, many people in our society only acknowledge the first two – you are either an individual tied to traditional values and religion or you believe in a materialistic world where science and rational thought offer us the tools for success.
This dualistic thinking is fascinating to observe. The religious person thinks that the “nonbeliever” is so seduced by the pleasures of the evil material world that they have no room for seeing the truth. They try to save the nonbeliever so that they will not be doomed to an eternal life of damnation. The secular person thinks that the religious “believer” is simply a superstitious fool not smart enough to see through their ignorant beliefs. They try to save the believer by explaining through logical explanations and scientific evidence why they are wrong. Both sides see the other as holding a “wrong belief” that can be rectified simply by believing as they do.
This is not an “either-or” situation. Neither is it a matter of one side being “right” and the other side being “wrong”. The beliefs of the devoutly religious as well as the beliefs of the secular materialist are each correct for their specific worldview. What both sides fail to see is that individuals move and evolve through life and settle into a specific worldview – one generally driven by the culture around them.
They also fail to realize that each level has served humanity. Our collective movement out of tribal/magical views of the world into the orderly/traditional/religious viewpoint has served us. Similarly, our evolving beyond that level to the rational/scientific worldview has given us great gifts. Each level of awareness has offered us it’s specific benefits and prepared humanity for its next evolutionary level.
Yet, many who see the “religious” or “scientific” as the only way of looking at life forget that the process continues even beyond their current evolutionary viewpoint. Even higher in the turn of the spiral of humanity’s evolution in consciousness is the pluralistic/cultural creative worldview. Here we open to the wisdom of realizing the value of every person and their viewpoint. With this comes an expanding circle of care and concern for more and more people. Our intentions becomes less centered around “me and my people” and more directed towards everyone everywhere.
Even this worldview of expanding care and concern and pluralism continues to evolve to higher levels. Social scientist Claire Graves was one of the first to point out that at this next step in our evolution we make the great leap into what he called “tier two consciousness” that allows us to look back at all of the levels of awareness through which humanity has evolved and acknowledge the benefit of each. In other models this is called “integral awareness” – where we begin to integrate all of the wisdom that humanity has gathered.
Other characteristics of this integral worldview is a growing melding of science and spirituality and the development of practical applications of the interaction between the mind and the body. Here, the “mind” and “consciousness” are not simply seen as some byproduct of the firing of neurons in the human brain, but rather as energetic fields of intelligence that are embedded in everything – our brain being an organ that has evolved in its ability to use these fields. Intuition now becomes a valuable skill as it is recognized as one way we can tap into this vast knowledge. Prayer and thoughts are now acknowledged as the way we can direct the power within this infinite ground of all being.
The original concept of prayer did had its beginnings in religion where it was humanity’s way of talking to an external God. Science and rational thought recognized that there was not an external God listening to our prayers. Yet science through quantum physics has pointed to the creative power of conscious thought. Evolutionary thought has brought the application of scientific testing to the power of thoughts and prayers. Many tests have validated this power although some have not. I believe, in the near future, its truth will be widely accepted.
So these people who are more and more using phrases such as “I will hold you in my thoughts and prayers” while having long ago left behind the old myth of God may possibly be showing evidence that they are also leaving behind the old myth of science – that everything can be seen as only physical matter subject to the laws of physics. It could be that their consciousness is evolving to those higher levels where their care and concern fans out in a wider circle to include all humanity. It could be that their consciousness is evolving into a recognition that science and spirituality cannot be separated. It could be that their consciousness is evolving to where they are now beginning to trust their intuition that is telling them that their thoughts really do contain a power that might help those they care about.
So who is in your thoughts and prayers this day? Please know that all of you and your continued growth in peace, prosperity and love are in my thoughts.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!