by Michael Maciel
What is prayer? Is it a wishlist to God? Is it adulation, pleading for mercy, demanding justice, or calling for a lifeline? Sure, at times it’s all of those. But that’s not the kind of prayer that will save you from madness.
The saying “we are spiritual beings” is one of those ideas that when heard makes sense but cannot be articulated. Ask a hundred people what spirit is and you will get as many different answers. The same goes for prayer.
The term “spiritual energy” is equally problematic but for a different reason. What kind of energy are we talking about, electromagnetic? Somehow, that just doesn’t satisfy. It’s too mechanical, too impersonal.
There is a word that comes to mind, one that I hesitate to use, but I cannot think of a better one. It’s the word “vibe.” It contains the concept of energy because it’s short for “vibration.” But it’s unmistakably human. People put out vibes, power lines put out energy. And a vibe is personal — each of us has one that is unique.
Vibes are easy to detect. When we meet someone new, we immediately check out their vibe to see if it’s compatible with ours. If it’s not, it’s like trying to force the wrong ends of two magnets together. But if it is compatible with ours, we connect.
Prayer is vibe management. With our thoughts and words, we change the way we vibrate. But just because “prayer” is a religious term doesn’t make it holy. There is, as we all know, such a thing as a negative vibe. And having a negative vibe is textbook for madness.
Whether it’s your bad vibe or a roomful, the energy can only be destructive. Nothing good can come of it. But a good vibe is like fresh air. It’s uplifting, light, and refreshing. Muscles relax, faces smoothe, and breathing becomes easier. Connection is suddenly possible.
To create a positive vibe, our thoughts and words must be positive. But not positive in the sense of “good,” necessarily, but positive in the sense of definite. Because praying is like shooting an arrow — you have to know what you’re aiming at. And, you must be able to summon the willpower to hit the target. A wavering vibe misses the mark every time.
It’s hard, however, to create a good vibe on your own. It’s far easier to attune with one that already exists. That’s when the concept of “God” comes in real handy. No one really knows what God is. As with Spirit, definitions abound. But everyone pretty much knows in what direction to look. We can’t usually pin it down with words, but we all know how to get in touch with the Universal Vibe. It’s like what Krishnamurti said about the unconscious: “It’s not ‘un.’ You’re just not looking in that direction.”
Sometimes, simply getting in touch with the Universal Vibe is all you need to get calm and recentered. We call that “meditation.” But prayer is different because it begins with being centered and moves out from there. It’s like dancing. When you’re in touch with your center of gravity, anything is possible.
Vibes are like musical notes. You can strike a single key, or you can create a fulsome chord. It’s up to you. What kind of vibe do you want to create? Decide before you begin. Search your memory for the vibe you like best, and then use that memory to recreate it. If that doesn’t work, ask the Universal Vibe to provide it for you. That’s usually the best approach anyway.
But whatever vibe you choose, BE WITH IT. Be confident. Don’t waver. If you fall out of your vibe, do whatever it takes to get back in it. The only failure is the failure to begin again.
If you practice this, anger and confusion will go around you. It will be impossible for you to get carried away by the collective madness. Try it. Be precise with it. Outline a strategy and then act on it. Vibe management is like training a dog. It takes patience, consistency, and a good plan. Once it becomes part of you, you will see the world start to change.
As a Zen master once said, “Begin and continue.”