Most Holy Theotokos intercede for us!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Healing the Soul

Much of this past Lent, I had been agonizing over someone who was dealing with difficult temptations. I had been praying for this person frequently, asking the intercessions of many Saints. I was in a lot of doubt over whether my prayers were being heard. I knew that God listens attentively to every prayer and that His Saints, in immitation of Him, are also quick to hear. But I was still troubled and depressed.

So, on Good Friday, one of my favorite days of the liturgical year, I asked my spiritual father about how to pray for this person. My problem, in general, was that I was needlessly weighing myself down. My spiritual father told me that, when we pray for someone, we should simply commend them to God, Who knows everything and loves each person infinitely. Prayer for specific things can lead us to pride. It is far better (and easier on our souls) to commend one another and ask that God's will be done.

Having quieted my soul upon receiving this bit of instruction, my burden left me. Last night, I read this little passage from a very good book by Hieromonk Damascene of St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in California (Serbian Patriarchate) called "Christ the Eternal Tao." Here is what I read, a section called "Healing Through Non-Action," on pgs. 324-325.
"Lao Tzu [the ancient Chinese philosopher who wrote about the Tao, or the Way] understood that the true healing of our spirits comes not as a result of outside pressures, that is, of being constantly told to be kind, good, generous, etc. Rather, it comes from within--from returning to our true nature by ever returning to our Creator. Therefore he wrote:
When the great Tao [Christ, the Way] is forgotten,
Kindness and morality arise...
When there is no peace withing the family,
Filial piety and devotion arise...
These are outward forms alone; they are not sufficient in themselves.
It is more important
To see simplicity,
To realize one's true nature,
To cast off selfishness
And temper desire.

In practicing non-action, we do not try to heal ourselves; rather, we allow ourselves to be healed by the Way. We do not ambitiously strive to get rid of our problems, for when we return to our original nature by connecting with the Way, we find that our problems find their own solution, spontaneously.

In this way we can also lead others to their original nature--to where they have fallen from. And we will do so without having to apply pressure; we will allow them to find on their own the true Source of the spirits's healing. As Lao Tzu stated:
The sage brings people back to what they have lost.
He helps the ten thousand things find their own nature,
But does not venture to lead them by the nose."

To order "Christ the Eternal Tao" (Valaam Books, Second ed.--2002) from St. Herman of Alaska Press, and to see a brief book description, click here.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of God, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, for thou hast born the Savior of our souls.