The following is an excerpt from Dr. Rick Sheff’s new online course, Prayer, Power and Awakening: Discovering Your Personal Path to Authentic Prayer beginning August 1, 2017.
As we begin exploring prayer and how it can help us connect to “higher” sources of power, it’s appropriate to wonder what we mean by “higher.”
A helpful framework for approaching this question can be called the “spectrum of consciousness.” In this framework, consciousness can be understood as existing along a spectrum from states of consciousness that can be described as “vibrating at a low level or frequency” through a range of states of increasing “vibration” up to the very highest possible consciousness states. Examples of consciousness states in the lowest levels include shame and guilt. Those in the mid levels include pride, courage and neutrality. The highest states of consciousness include love, joy, peace and enlightenment.
Those interested in a more in depth discussion of the “spectrum of consciousness” concept may want to read Power vs. Force by David Hawkins, MD (Hay House Inc., 1995). In this wonderful book Hawkins provides a detailed version of this spectrum he refers to as the Map of Consciousness(TM).
In this “map” each level of consciousness has a corresponding emotion, process, life view and God view. For example, the level of consciousness of anger has a corresponding emotion of hate, a process of aggression, views all of life as antagonistic, and sees God as vengeful. In contrast, the consciousness of love corresponds to an emotion of reverence, a process of revelation, sees life as benign and God as a loving God. The highest level of consciousness in Hawkins’ map is enlightenment, which corresponds to an emotion of ineffable, a process of pure consciousness, a life view that all simply “is”, and a view of God as self, i.e., we already are one with God.
A similar view of a spectrum of consciousness is embedded in the teachings of many spiritual masters across varied religious and spiritual traditions.
Applying this framework to prayer, we recognize that some prayers “vibrate” at a higher level than others. For example, a prayer pleading to a wrathful God to spare you because you are a miserable sinner vibrates at a lower level than a prayer of intention for healing for yourself or a loved one. A prayer of gratitude for all that is vibrates even higher. Throughout the course we will encounter prayers like these and others that can be viewed as fitting somewhere along this spectrum of consciousness.
We share the spectrum of consciousness framework at this stage in the course because our being endowed with the gift of free will means we get to choose in any moment where we want our consciousness to be on this spectrum. Most often it doesn’t feel like a choice, for example when someone does something that “makes” us angry or we experience an uncontrollable fear or dread. But each of these is at some level a moment of choice. More accurately, we are subject to emotions due to our physiology and past experiences, and these arise within us in ways we can only partially control. But how we respond to these emotions, what we do with them and ourselves in each moment, and how we make meaning of our experiences, remains a choice.
This choice has an important impact on your prayers because of the potential for power that prayers carry. We will more fully address sources of power for your prayers in a later lesson. For now, it is helpful to listen to the insight of Hawkins, along with other spiritual teachers including Bhagavan, founder of Oneness University in India, who tell us that higher states of consciousness are characterized by greater power than lower states. This means that one person vibrating at the level of love, joy or enlightenment impacts our world with greater power than thousands vibrating at the level of fear or anger. This, Hawkins says, is what enabled Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to topple systems of allegedly greater force with the power of love. So making the choice to shift your consciousness, and hence your prayers, to states of higher frequency becomes an important path to dramatically enhancing the power of your prayers.
One of the goals of this course is to help you access the capacity to pray at ever higher levels on the spectrum of consciousness. This begins by recognizing the spectrum exists and that you face the choice many times each day regarding where you choose to place yourself, your thoughts, your intentions, and yes your prayers, on this spectrum.