The American Jewish Buddhist Stephen Levine, (Who Dies?), used to say that although he'd been a Buddhist for 40 years, when the shit hit the fan he would pray.
But what is prayer?
Kuehlewind had an interesting distinction between meditation and prayer. He said that in prayer you start with the assumption of an invisible being to whom you address yourself, while in meditation you do not start with such an assumption. If you go deeply enough into meditation though, you end up at some point in an encounter with a person -- a being, an entity, someone.
And then, what is the content of the prayer? We might ask for a spiritual good, like peace or understanding, for ourselves or another; or for a physical good, like health of a body or an enterprise. But is prayer always asking for stuff?
The picture above was taken on Monument Mountain, Great Barrington, MA, by my nephew Joshua Morse. Look how nourished everything is by water and light! We want to practice prayer that will do the same for us -- relationship to other subjects being the food and substance of human existence.
So in coming weeks we will take up ancient prayers and blessings and graces, but also invent our own. We can start them at a faithful maximum, addressing the God of our fathers and mothers, or at an agnostic minimum ("May such and such happen") -- but any prayer tends toward meeting, and even toward meeting some divinity.
Let's start, though, with something that isn't actually a prayer at all, but that hints toward what might be called The God Diet, the life nourished by sacred relationship. I mean that lovely poem from Angelus Silesius (1624-1677), which is often transformed anthroposophically into a "we"-based table grace:
The bread does not nourish me.
What feeds me in the bread
is God's eternal Word,
is life and is spirit.
all blessings to all,