Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Energy of Prayer and Mindsight

Sometimes when prayers are not answered we hear, “It’s the will of God.” In Buddhism, the “will of God” is identical to the “retribution of karma.” Cause and effect is real, but sometimes the effect doesn’t seem to reflect the cause. If prayer cannot change these apparently wrong circumstances, then why pray?

Let’s consider what we think of as reality. Our physical reality is impermanent. All religions, and science as well, attest to the fragile and fleeting, temporary nature of the physical universe. Matter, and everything concerning matter, from carefully constructed mental plans to the lives of the stars, is constantly changing from its current energy state to another; from what our eye construes as solid to dissipated energy. The physicists notion of atomic particles is just a representation of a particular behavior of energy. The only thing that is the same, changing and unchanging simultaneously, is energy, always. So what if we deal with prayer on an energetic level? How does that look?

The mind is not the same as the brain. The mind (subject) is a regulator for the flow of energy and information (energy with meaning). (1) The brain (object), including all nervous systems, autonomic and central, is like a transistor. The brain is also essentially energy, but we can see it, unlike the mind. The brain is system of cells and pathways that carry, amplify and integrate the minds attention. Psychiatrist, neuro-researcher, and author of the Mindsight concept books, Dan Siegle defines mind as, “an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information.” (1) The mind is in dynamic relationship with the brain. What the mind focuses attention on literally changes the neural pathways of the brain. So, as we look at a person or object or have a thought, our embodied energy and information regulator (mind) is in dynamic relationship with the flow of universal energy (all energies we produce and encounter) in each and every moment. The way we train our attention to our relationship with,

1. our own thoughts and emotions and,
2. their relationship with worldly energies

determines the way we wire and rewire our neural pathways.

The process of prayer, or mindful meditation, or contemplation (the deep and repeated observance of an object) directs energies in ways that create and embed neural circuitry directed toward the attributes of the object. The object our mind creates. If we pray to God, our brain wires toward the attributes we ascribe to Godliness. But we don’t have to pray TO anyone, because what we are really asking for is to embody and express the attributes of such Divinity. And, truly, we are already Divine. Divinity is, like an atomic particle, a representation that we give to a particular notion of information (energy with meaning). We are "made in the image of God." Full of Godly possibility! So, always keep an open mind. As we allow this mental regulator of the flow of energy and information to be aware without attachment and bias, unity becomes the organic nature of our perception.

The relationship between the one who creates and the created are one and the same, the subject (mind) creates the object (God) and the object (God) creates the subject (mind). Stated another way, the artist creates the art, but the art creates the artist. The creator and the created are in dynamic relationship. Each is changed toward a new expression of what they are by the other. In reality, there is no separation. The only reality is in both subject and object.

This is clearly stated in the following scripture:
John 17:20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, The Energy of Prayer, states, “We and God are not two separate existences; therefore the will of God is also our own will. If we want to change, then God will not stop us from changing…. The energy of mindfulness is a real energy, and whenever energy is applied there is a change.

When we sit down to practice unifying our body and mind [through prayer], and we bring our energy of love to our grandmother, to an elder sister, or a younger brother, then we are producing a new energy. That energy immediately opens our heart. When we have the nectar of compassion and have established communication between the one who is praying and the one being prayed to, then the distance between us does not have any meaning. This connection can’t be estimated or described in words; time and space cannot present any obstacles.

In prayer, the electric current [energy] is love, mindfulness and right concentration. Mindfulness is the real presence of our body and our mind, directed toward one point, the present moment. When you have this, you have concentration that leads to prajna, Sanskrit for insight and transcendent wisdom. Without that, our prayer is just superstition.” (2)

The benefits of prayer/meditation are well-documented over many years of study. With the advent of neuroimaging and advanced EEG technologies, we are able to locate activity associated with certain behaviors in the brain and measure subtle changes in activity resulting from external stimuli. Most importantly, we are learning that interdisciplinary collaboration and study massively increases our understanding of the human mind-body experience.

May your mind-body experience be expanded and enhanced by the reading of this article. May your prayer open your mind to the beautiful Divinity of Life and lead you forward with wisdom and compassion for the world.

_/\_Peggy @ Ecumenicus


  1. Dan Siegle, Practicing Mindsight, (Sounds True, Boulder, 2015).
  2. Thich Nhat Hanh, The Energy of Prayer, (Parallax Press, Berkley, 2006)


  1. Thank you for the most mature and cogent explanation I have ever read on this topic.

    1. Thank you Marva!! I appreciate your time to read and your comment!!