Robert Monroe queries his out-of-body guide:
“Can we meet again?”
“All you need do is ask for our help.”
“You mean meditating? Saying prayers?”
“The words and rituals are meaningless. It is the thought… the emotion… that is the signal. If the proper signal is given, we are able to help.”*
In this vignette, Robert Monroe is taught that the key to connection with a life-force beyond our physical body lies with the power of our intent. It’s not specifically the words we recite or think but the quality of our feeling and thought behind those worlds that matter.
This quality is characterized by a confidence, a calm knowing, beyond any clouds of doubt, of the existence of a link to a greater mystery that will indeed respond to our innocent asking. It’s not really the technique that matters, but suspending limiting beliefs and opening to the possibility in peace and modesty.
Marie Louise von Franz, Jung’s closest collaborator writes, “Easterners would call that being in Tao. If you are in Tao, that is, if you are in harmony with the deepest layers of your personality, with your totality in the Self, then it acts through you in this way. But you mustn’t have ego intention… with your ego you block this effect. You put yourself between the natural possibility.”**
Transcendental Meditation (TM) has been an effective method to transcend the limits of conventional thought and effect changes in the body not thought possible by mental means. The practice involves a simple relaxation process combined with a special word or mantra assigned to the meditator that is thought to be imbued with spiritual intention.
Many years ago, Dr. Herbert Benson, then a Harvard cardiologist, was able to replicate the effects of TM by utilizing the same relaxation procedure, coupled however with a simple word, like the word “One,” versus a specialized mantra. He titled this method the Relaxation Response. The suggestion here was that results were achieved due to the power of the intent behind the word and not necessarily the word itself.
Many religions suggest the use of codified prayers to connect with saints or the highest deiety. While some individuals may find benefit in such practice, others find the words rote and meaningless, preferring instead to simply talk to God directly, oftentimes getting a direct response!
In the Catholic religion, the ritual of Mass includes the rite of Communion whereby a practitioner is offered direct connection with God through physically consuming a consecrated host. For some this ritual leads to a spiritual connection, for others there is great disappointment as the experience falls short, completely devoid of connection. Perhaps, once again, the key to connection lies not in passive expectation but in active intention.
Years into his apprenticeship, Carlos Castaneda asked his teacher, don Juan Matus, about his extensive use of ritual during Carlos’s early training, with such props as mescalito, “the little smoke;” the wind; the spirits of the river, mountains, and the desert chaparral. Carlos reports that Don Juan said “he had gone into all that pseudo Indian shaman rigamarole for my benefit.”***
Don Juan went on to say, “I knew I was doing it for your benefit… I tricked you by holding your attention on items of your world that held a profound fascination for you… All I needed was to get your undivided attention.” *** And with that undivided attention Carlos was able to transcend the limits of time space reality and interact with a life-force beyond ordinary reality.
Ritual is effective if it serves to gather our attention. Our modern world has lost interest in ritual, however, as it simply doesn’t deliver on-demand, and our scientific minds can’t help but judge its worth in such a manner. However, if we allow our attention to be galvanized, by directing it in the form of a spirited intention, it indeed becomes a pathway to connection.
I recall my own young innocent intent to know God. Simply put, I stated: “I do not believe in you. I have no reason to. Send me a definite sign tonight and I’ll know you exist.”
My final warning here, be careful what you ask for. If the intention is in the right alignment, from an innocent heart, you may be blown away by the response. I still am!
*Quote from Robert Monroe, Ultimate Journey, page 19.
**Quote from Marie Louise von Franz, Shadow and Evil in Fairytales, page 198.
***Quotes from Carlos Castaneda, Wheel of Time, page 23.