The Secret of Prayer
Listed below are some simple steps to help you in doing a prayer or reading. We don’t presume to tell anyone how to perform his or her spiritual practice. That is a personal matter left to the individual. What we present here are some techniques that we hope will help you in your practice.
Doing a spiritual reading or a prayer is fairly straightforward. The most important factor is your intention. If you want to help someone that’s the most important thing. That’s the big secret. All you really have to do is want to help! Your good wishes will be conveyed with the prayer. The form of the prayer and the way you perform it are not as important as your good intention.
The second important thing is focus. Try to keep your attention strong and don’t get too distracted. You might want to find a quiet place where you won’t be bothered for a few minutes.
We have provided ten simple steps that should help you perform a good effective prayer or reading. This practice can be used with any prayer or a reading from a sacred text such as the Bible, a book of prayer, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Upanishads, Bahai prayers, the American Book of the Dead, the Koran, the Torah. A book of verse that you find moving or that your loved one liked can also be read in this way. You convey your loving intention by your attention and care.
- Confirm your intention to do a Reading. You may do this as an inner affirmation or perhaps simply state aloud: “Yes, doing this Reading for (insert name here) is something that I want to do.”
- Find a place to do the Reading. This should be a location where you will be undisturbed for fifteen to twenty minutes. This does not need to be a private space — just one where you will not be required to move or interact with others during the course of the Reading.
- Assemble the few materials you will need for the Reading.
Name (full) of the individual for whom you are Reading. (You may also wish to write birth date, time and location of passing on the same slip of paper.)
Whatever text you are using
Picture of the individual for whom you are reading
Matches (box of wooden safety matches preferred)
Small bowl of water
Small bowl of grain such as rice or barley
Small empty dish (this will be used for the burnt match)
- Prepare the Reading Space. Set up your altar table. A candle should be placed in the center of the table toward the back, leaving room for you to rest the book on the table. Place the photograph (if you have one) and the name on a slip of paper in front of the candle. Place the small bowl with rice to the right. Lay the stick incense to the right of the bowl of rice. Place the small bowl of water to the left of the candle. The small dish can be placed to the left and slightly in front of the water. This is where the burnt match will be placed. Place the box of matches in this dish. Each of the items on the altar are used to help create a reading space conducive to assist your focus on the Reading.
- Sit comfortably but attentively in your space. It is best to keep the back relatively straight with both feet placed on the floor at about shoulder-width apart. Relax the body – especially the facial mask. The relaxation of the facial muscles will bring about relaxation of the whole body. Take a few deep cleansing breaths. A cleansing breath can be performed by inhaling deeply through the nostrils, then exhaling sharply (without strain) through the mouth.
Make sure that everything is at hand. You are ready to start the Reading.
- Begin by establishing simple presence. Look at the picture. While the picture may begin as a proxy for the individual, very quickly you will establish a direct immediate contact, as if the individual is right there in the Reading Space with you.If you do not happen to have a photograph, do not worry. You may use a paper with the written name for focus. A photograph is much preferred, but in its absence, the individual’s name on a slip of paper is an adequate substitute.
- Open the Reading Space.
Say aloud: “I wish for this effort to be used for the benefit of all beings everywhere.”
Light the Reading candle.
Light the stick of incense and stand it in the bowl of rice.
Place the burnt match in the empty dish along with the box of matches.
Ring the bell three times.
After ringing the bell three times, speak the following aloud: “This Reading is addressed to the being of (insert name of individual here).”
Read (once only) the “Obligatory Reader’s Invocation”, or opening prayer.
The space is now fully prepared for the Reading.
- Deliver the appropriate Reading for that day. This may either be the Clear Light Reading or one of the Readings for the forty-nine days. This will depend upon where you are in the Reading cycle and which text you are using. There are three basic types of Readings. If you are doing a “Clear Light Reading” or “Sitting Vigil,” then the Reading will be “Confronting the Clear Light.”
If, however, you are doing a Reading from the “The Forty-Nine Day Cycle,” then you will do the Reading scheduled for the day. Keep in mind that each day’s Reading is performed twice – once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Close the reading space. When the Reading is complete, declare: “This completes the reading of (insert name of Reading such as ‘Clear Light’) addressed to the being(s) of (insert name of individual here).”
Ring the bell three times.
Turn the stick incense upside-down in the bowl of rice to snuff it out.
Gently snuff the candle flame.
Wrap the photograph and the person’s name in a piece of aluminum foil to be put away until the next Reading.
Clear the altar items.
Declare quietly: “I wish for the results of this reading to be used for the benefit of all beings everywhere.”
- The space is closed and you are ready to resume your other activities.
If you are keeping a journal or log of the Readings, now would be a good time to do some writing.
As a final note, some people measure the success of a Reading in terms of the phenomena that happen during the Reading. These might be sights, sounds, feelings, sudden insights or realizations. These are just phenomena. Whether the room opens onto vast fields of illumination, or you hear celestial choirs, does not matter. All phenomena is illusion. Let the phenomena pass by you the way a bamboo lets the wind pass by. Concentrate on the simple things such as enunciation, focus of attention, relaxation of your facial mask, and reading each word without skipping. Keep it simple.
For more information see the Clearlight website.
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