Giving up and still finding God, the breath is the key
I gave up on the church and God as a child, even hating religions for years. In the end I found (felt) “God” in deep meditation, using my breath.
Expectations and hate
Grown up catholically, I have never really understood the Church, not the texts and not the worship services. I can remember that I prayed as a child, but it was more like I asked God for things and then I was disappointed when they didn’t come true. I felt abandoned and could not even enjoy the time of the first communion, by then I had nightmares, many fears and refused to confess to the priest.
These disappointments and misunderstandings built up, I started to condemn church and bible and rebelled against it and did not want to have anything to do with it. I did not miss it. I even tried to bring faithful people around me to discuss their faith. It was all wrong for me, especially all the rules they felt repulsive to me. At school, I remember switching to philosophy, but still attending a weekend of religious orientation, it was nice, but did not bring me deeper to any faith. I went to the catholic confirmation to give the whole thing again a chance, but still nothing made sense to me.
Breathing and God
Looking back, I realize that I have never learned to pray. I have never felt one with “God” or anything. Only when I got to know deep meditation (trance?) in a meditation retreat, suddenly everything made sense for me. This must have been what Jesus was talking about! I was wrong all the time, my condemnations were childish, I tried to rationally search for God with the mind and there was never an answer. As soon as I went down a level in my consciousness (behind the thoughts), the answer came immediately, even if it took three days of painful meditation. In this meditation retreat, the teacher Sahaja shared with us the “Jesus Prayer” (“Lord Jesus Christ” – with the inspiration – “have mercey on me” – with the exhalation, in inner prayer), and my resistances sat so deeply, I could not pray it. In the second retreat then, it suddenly sparked and since then I pray it regularly, sometimes while walking, sometimes meditating. It is for me a profound mantra, which fills me with deep ease and love. The connection of breath and praying was very important for me in the beginning!
I’m sorry about how I’ve judged religions in the past, but I did not know better. Today I see a lot of good things in all religions, even though some rules are difficult for me to understand, but that is not the main thing. I have read a few books about Jesus and looked a bit into the Bible, still finding it quite confusing. I am very interested in Sufism, Islam, Buddhism, Shambala and other (especially Asian) religions. I no longer feel aversion to Christianity, I only wish I had learned meditation and (deep) praying earlier, I think it would help a lot of young people. I have decided that it makes no sense for me to condemn religions, I would rather explore them more deeply, their origins and deep wisdom.
After my meditation teacher Sahaja mentioned it, I searched for an old Christian book about a so called Jesus Prayer, courious about deep prayer traditions in the Catholic Church. On ebay I found the german old book “The little Secret – The Key to Inwardness” by P. Cassian Karg, edition from 1924 so in quite old language. I wanted to explore where this Jesus prayer comes from and how it was practiced. I would like to understand why it is very rarely practiced today, at least I have never learned it in Germany … I think it is very difficult to suggest this to young people, but I find it very inspiring, so here are a few quotes (I translated them):
My favourite quotes
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for great, deeper, pure love for the Savior." There is something big about our inner life. Happy, whoever is able to find a glorious, sublime line in his spiritual peace. (Preface) Since the Middle Ages deep spiritualists (mystics), one has often forgotten the proper religious breathing of the soul, believing that one lives anyway as a Christian and a Catholic in the oxygen atmosphere of religion. (Chapter 1, Matter of the Heart) It is necessary to get the deepest out of the depths again and to show how the breathing of the soul - we call it "the little secret" - deeply religiously grasps the human being, transforms, teaches, fills with joy(..). (Chapter 1, Matter of the Heart) The little secret is the breathing of the soul. One chooses one thought as brief as possible, intimately, as so closely, as Klein-Marga chose her "Jesus, I love you" - and makes it the fundamental tone of the soul. Through frequent repetition during the day, not by mechanical or compulsive means, but through loving perseverance, it shall gradually pass into flesh and blood. (Chapter 2, In the great School) Everyone who starts with this exercise might have hours of slackness, the mental tiredness - called crises - and that is sure. Then the exercise seems difficult, if not impossible, to us. A direct disgust can take us (through examination). And yet we can not and will not let go. Then it is: persevere and fight! Now it is apparent whether our secret is worth something, or not. One no longer dare say: "Jesus, I love you." You feel the inner unworthiness and inadequacy. One struggles for another expression and changes it into "Savior, I want to love you." After all, this is no longer the case, and there remains at times (in the dark night of the soul) only a mystery for a longer or shorter time, the secret of resignation: "Savior, you know it." And yet there is in this word an extraordinary consolation, such a tremendous power and strength. (Chapter 4, School of the Victim Souls) Desperate situations in which I find myself wanting to blackmail my tears. Disregarded by my surroundings, slandered and suspected by others, mentally mistreated by my closest relatives, I sometimes feel the rage to come down, to destroy everything. I do not. I am silent and suffer - not in rage, but in love. But only since I know the strong Secret of Suffering: "Savior, you know it." These confessions of great souls (victims = souls) could also show us the ways. (Chapter 4, School of the Victim Souls) There she is, the edurer. The doctors have just punctured the 12th time - a pain for the poor body. How will she receive us? The head turns to us and the eyes assume a supernatural, radiant glow. No doubt. She has emerged from the School of the Secret. She takes the offered hand, and answers the question "How are you?" quietly, but very clearly, if more often interrupted by fatigue: "I am happy, the love which the Savior breathes into me, I can exhale. Therefore the suffering… Often the thought comes to my head when I see a cross: Savior, you show me there your wounds, my wounds are here... And my secret makes me happy in a sea of suffering." "What is the secret, can I know?" "Oh, yes, priest" ... "Savior, I want to be completely sacrificed to you." (Chapter 4, School of the Victim Souls) The little mystery does not educate, but forms true, deep, inner Christians, whose prayer becomes ever easier, until it opens into the prayer of silence (the great Mystery), where the soul only says: "Jesus, Jesus." All the species mentioned are justified, but not with every Christian all of them, as Father Mar Huber proves in his "Imitation of the Saints". The most intimate secret of each one must go personal ways of filling the soul completely, representing the result of all the prayers, filling one with a deep love for God and making him a fine character who is inwardly happy and gives the world a glorious testimony for Christ. (Chapter 5, all marian, all eucharistic) St. Getrud went for a walk in the monastery garden. Her eye shone as always when she saw all the beauties of God in nature. What was she thinking? What did her heart say? - That was her secret. Like fire-flames, it broke forth from her loving heart, when she saw the flowers, the birds, all these dear messengers of divine love: "O Savior, how beautiful, how beautiful, I am united with the love with which you have created all this." She bent down to a simple, white flower, and she could not push back the inner jubilation: "How beautiful is this margarita, but a pure heart is much more beautiful." Rose petals fell to the ground, a blackbird sang. "Oh, how beautiful, how lovely," she thought, "but your love, Savior, is much more precious, much more splendid than the smell of roses and birds singing. I thank you, thank you." So St. Gertrude said in a thousand other cases, and she always would discover a bright envoy of divine love in everything. So she always went through the world with glowing eyes. (Chapter 6, From inner Joy) Thus unimagined beauties open up in the analysis of deep personal Secrets, beauties, of which the "banal average christian" knows nothing. (Chapter 6, From inner Joy) Mystic area is now almost what we enter. If the little mystery has been established in a soul, or even transcended into flesh and blood, this soul, of course, does not remain at this stage. As a matter of fact - if it has quite liberated herself from prevailing passions, sacrificed, humble, and modest enough - it comes to the great secret. This stage begins with a certain great grasping, being deeply moved, being entranced of the love of the Savior. (Chapter 7, New Life and Apostleship) Now all the crises that have been passed through are transfigured and you do not want to miss them. I have deliberately not spoken in any of the preceding chapters of "numerical techniques", writings, etc.. If love does not drive us, all numerical techniques do not help. For young beginners and novices of inner life it may be good - and there are excellent methods for this (eg, in the book "In the School of the Savior, publisher of the School Brothers." Better is a love without number than a number without love. (Chapter 7, New Life and Apostleship)
Here the german whole text of the little book: Das kleine Geheimnis – Der Schlüssel zur Innerlichkeit – von P. Cassian Karg 19241