I was fascinated by the implications and description of the art of prayer in the book "The Isaiah Effect" by Gregg Braden (an ex - astrophysicist and now a visionary). The main implication is that prayer works when we carry the feeling of the outcome that we want in our bodies.
In this book Gregg Braden describes how he, along with some other Westeners, watched through a window as three doctors worked with a patient in China, somewhere near Beijing. On the bed in the room was a woman who had a cancerous tumour in her bladder - 3 inches long. The onlookers, from behind the windows, could see it on the video, there was an internal camera in the woman's body. Then the doctors start waving their hands and said, in Chinese; something like: "Already gone, already accomplished" and on the internal video in the woman's body they saw how the tumour 3 inches long, got smaller and smaller and disappeared within 2 minutes 40 seconds! They were stunned! There was a complete silence and then they all clapped hands - they witnessed a miracle. The doctors had wished for a different outcome and they had got it. Each one of us, also can steer our future by the feelings and emotions that we carry; we can either portray a love chemistry or a hate chemistry in our bodies.
Some of our scriptures have lost their real meaning because of translation. In the modern condensed version of scripture as quoted in "The Isaiah Effect"(page 170) the power of prayer is referred to in the following way: "Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you. Hitherto ye asked nothing in my name: Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." The original retranslated Aramaic version, however, reads: "All things that you ask straightly, directly - from inside my name you will be given. So far you have not done this. Ask without hidden motive and be surrounded by your answer. Be enveloped by what you desire, that your gladness be full."
So when we pray, we must already carry the FEELING of the outcome of what we want and be thankful for it! This means we have to pray with faith and also with a genuine voice, we must be natural and connected with nature. A Native American Indian story illustrates this statement. One of the villages in North America was experiencing extreme drought, so when the shortage of water got really bad, they decided to call in a rainmaker to make rain. The rainmaker came and the people were quite curious to see what will he do: dance around a fire, or chant or throw stones? The rainmaker was given a house, on the first day he worked in the garden, he went to buy food, in the evening he sat on the veranda, he watched the sun go down. The people saw how he made food. And on the fifth day the rain came down, it rained in torrents. The Native Rainmaker had simply stayed in tune with nature and done normal things and he carried the feeling of the rain to come already in his mind and his emotions. He was just himself.
To be authentic, requires of one to be simple and honest. In the art movie "Forever Callas", directed by Franco Zeffirelli, the powerful message is about honesty. The movie was as passionate as Maria Callas herself, a diva with an immortal voice. The story revolves around Larry King, a producer, (played by Jeremy Irons) who wants to restore Callas (played by Fanny Ardent), who is now past her prime vocally, to her former glory. By using her old recordings and blending them, into scenes of the movie, King hopes to return Callas to stardom! They took the glorious opera of Bizet, Carmen, with its provocative Spanish scenes of the gypsies and all the wonderful familiar beautiful music scores. Callas agrees and the movie revolves around the filming of the scenes out of Carmen. The scenes and the music are glorious, but at the very end of the movie, she calls Larry in and at a meeting in the woods near Paris she says: "Larry I want you to destroy the movie, because it is not honest! - it is not really me singing, that is not the sound of my own voice currently". Larry was mortified having put in half of the money to set up the movie, eventually he cries and says: "Integrity is good for those who have it but it is not so good for the people and friends around those with integrity". However, he promised her that he will not release the movie! The message is that we can only really expect to get answers to our prayers if we are ourselves. We should be free of affectations and be living and speaking our truth wholeheartedly and honestly.
Another requirement of prayer is to feel connected; to not let the ego separate you from the rest of mankind; rather to embrace all of life around you with love and appreciation. I enjoyed reading the following story told by Alberto Villoldo, an American psychiatrist, who worked with the shamans of the Amazon. These medicine people who work in the forest also inspire respect and awe for their ancient knowledge. The Amazon forest, its vastness and its mysteriousness fascinates people. Alberto was told by an old medicine woman to walk into the Forest. As soon as he stepped into the forest, the birds and the insects stopped singing. There was a dead silence! The medicine woman said to Alberto that this silence was because he believed (as our Western culture teaches) that we were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and in this way we are isolated, and feel separated from God and nature. To counteract this Alberto decided to cover himself with boa fat: maybe this time the forest animals and insects will think it is a snake sailing in. No luck! As he walked back in again there was just a dead silence. He said it took him ten years before he could walk into the forest and the birds and insects kept on singing. Only after then had he finally learnt to appreciate the beauty of all around him and to feel at one with nature. Our new knowledge about Quantum theory re -enforces these ancient native beliefs that we are all alive and connected. The truth is that the Universe is one vast whirling dance of energy. Contrary to the theories of Newton, Descartes and Bacon who said we function as a maschine with different parts, we are actually all inter-connected. Our well-being is dependant on the well-being of nature.
So all of us, as part of the collective human race, should aim to feel more connected. In the book, The God Code, also by Gregg Braden, he describes how he discovered that in our DNA we all have the same code - it spells Yahwe, the Hebrew word for God. This discovery was found by decoding many of the ancient scriptures such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essene Gospels. This means we are all the same, we have the same origin and are all part of a greater existence.
In England in July 2004, I listened to a talk by Tim Freke (author of "The Jesus Mysteries" and "Jesus and the Goddess"). His topic, at the Quest Show in Newton Abbott, Devon, was called Experiencing Gnosis (The Knowing). He said that as long as we see ourselves as separate from other human beings, we are really in hell. When we see ourselves as part of everybody - we will experience heaven on earth; we will feel love; an overwhelming love for everything.
Thich Nhat Hahn, Zen Buddhist Master, who has a Retreat Centre in Bordeaux, France (which I visited in May 2004), often writes in his books about interbeing and interdependence. He says we meditate so we can feel more connected with everything living, also with nature.
Once we are in touch with our essential selves, once we are connected with everything and feel at one with the beauty of nature surrounding us, we can start to carry the feeling of love in our body. This is when prayer can start creating a new life for us. There is so much evidence around that prayer is effective. It is also of no consequence on which deity or power we call on. In the book, "The Field" by Lynne McTaggart, she talks of the proof, with statistical significance, that twenty Aids patients who were each prayed for by a "different" healer, had improved health. Whether the healer was a Catholic nun, a Buddhist or a Shaman or of any other religion, the patients that were prayed for all got significantly better.
Living life in a spiritual way is an occasion to be celebrated, because once we live our lives simply, in tune with the rhythm of the universe and connected with everything, we should not be surprised if we see small and large miracles happening around us all the time!
Gregg Braden. 2000. The Isaiah Effect.
Alberto Villoldo. 2001. Shaman, Healer, Sage.
Gregg Braden. 2004. The God Code
Tim Freke & Peter Gandy. 1999. The Jesus Mysteries.
Tim Freke & Peter Gandy. 2001. Jesus and the Goddess.
Thich Nhat Hahn. 1988. The Sun, my Heart.
Lynne Mc Taggart. 2001. The Field.
Dr Sibis Mouton is the facilitator of the ZEST4LIFE weekend courses in Hermanus, South Africa; in Totnes, England and on Praslin island in the Seychelles.