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Image by Julita from Pixabay

To make our state of mind more important than what we are doing is to walk a spiritual path. That’s pretty basic. But it all becomes a little more complicated when we recognize how often we fall short of our goal and so turn to one or more spiritual methods, religions, systems, and teachings to help us progress more rapidly. Once we discover that there is no end to possible approaches, even within the same path, we can get entangled in questions of form over substance.

If you, like me, believe that consistency is the measure of spiritual progress, you can now relax. Because if you have doubts about your personal strength, determination, or ability to walk your talk, without ever meeting you, I can assure you that your capacity to be consistent is more than adequate.

Increasingly, our spiritual journey is to recognize the importance of our mental state, but what is the nature of the state we seek? It has been described in countless ways. Love, acceptance, joy, stillness, charity, understanding, oneness, selflessness, and happiness are only a few. Note that all of them are forms of connection.

The Connected Mind

On a spiritual path we want our connected mind more than our judgmental mind. And we want this connected mind to expand throughout our experience until it encompasses everyone.

The state of mind we have chosen to learn can be called anything one wishes, but it must be understood as profound, complete, all-encompassing, and allowing for no exceptions. I personally use and deeply love the word God. Often, I simply repeat that word as my sole meditation. So, the mindset I ultimately seek is the peace of God.

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When I think of ??Truth, of what is ultimately true here and now, it is that God is love, that God is peace. I have come to believe that what prevents me from experiencing the peace of God at any given moment is my focus on something quite different. In short, I have become preoccupied with some random incident of worldly chaos. And each day provides a lot of those.

 A World of Division

I recognize that the word God can be considered divisive; we live in a world of division, so this should not be surprising. After all, religions fight against each other and/or insist that they are the one true faith and that all others are heresy. And having faith in God and religion does not automatically make an individual peaceful or loving, which means that even those who do not believe in God or religion and consider themselves atheists can be more loving and spiritual than those who do if they practice kindness, forgiveness, and love.

It is my choice alone to focus on whatever “the problem” is. And the problem can be, and often is, not an outward circumstance but a memory, a worry, or an emotion. Yet once I choose to lose my focus, it can stay lost for many minutes, hours, sometimes days.

A part of me always becomes aware of what I am doing, but I tell myself that I just don’t have time to turn to God’s peace right now. Or I will make some half-hearted spiritual effort, but my mind is still giving priority to the problem.

Awake in the Present

Awakening is a matter of persistence and starting over. Awakening is also a present, not a future, state. Anyone who is peaceful, happy, and loving in the present is awake in the present. To reach a prolonged awakened state requires a speedup of focus corrections. It must become like breathing. The ego presents; the peaceful mind says, No, thanks. The ego presents; the peaceful mind says, No, thanks. And over and over again.

I believe this is possible, and Gayle and I know one person who we know for certain attained just such a state. But he got there through many years of persistence and starting over.

It all boils down to, first, recognizing the signs that we are getting caught up in the world and, second, immediately turning the mind to peace. And we do this without condemnation of ourselves or anyone else.

Copyright ©2023. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission from New World Library.

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BOOK: Gently Down This Dream

Gently Down This Dream: Notes on My Sudden Departure 
by Hugh and Gayle Prather

book cover of: Gently Down This Dream by Hugh and Gayle PratherGently Down This Dream is a book for those who are tired of striving and suffering and want to awaken to the peace and love that are within us all.

When bestselling author Hugh Prather completed this book in 2010, he gave it to his wife and writing partner, Gayle, to shape and edit. He died the next day. The book’s essays, poems, and aphorisms are bravely self-revelatory, relentlessly compassionate, and born out of a lifetime of contemplative practice and counseling work.

The Prathers’ authentic humor, comfort, and spiritual insights are perfect for the divisive times we live in, offering a way through what can often seem the prison of the self, a reliable means for navigating a world that sometimes feels out of control, and a path to love.

Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Authors

photo of Hugh and Gayle PratherIn 1970, Hugh Prather turned his diary into self-help guide called Notes to Myself, which went on to sell nearly 8 million copies worldwide. His work inspired thousands of people to become diarists and start examining their own loves.

Hugh and his wife, Gayle Prather, later cowrote a series of advice books for couples. Hugh died in 2010 at age 72.

 More Books by the authors.