The Second Joy

If you have now or previously experienced the wonder of the first awakening, of Christian rebirth and what Buddhism terms satori, you must know that its intenser levels are likely to last a span of time, different for everyone, a day or several days, weeks or even months (and in some fortunate few it will never fade away).

But for most it will diminish imperceptibly until one is left with just the edge of its impression, and thoughts of its beauty have become a cherished memory, almost a dream.

And in fact it will be for some that they will have, in the New Testament’s words, “fallen asleep again,” and the wonder of the experience will be deemed a thing imagined, or which occurred but held no alteration for them or import of change. Life will return to normal, to what was known and believed before, uninspired by the event.

Towards Enlightenment

But for we who wish to proceed along this road and sense this moment’s Grace is precursor to something more, a deeper choice obtains: to fan the spark inside that now has brightened in intensity and will lead, sometimes through arid stretches with only glimpses of movement forward, to the Second Joy – that state, more exquisite than the first, whose fullness once achieved will never leave again.

My first experience with the Presence I now believe came out of sequence and was a glimpse, the edge, of this Second Joy. Emerging from deep inside, it seemed my heart literally opened, was cleft in two, as from it poured the sensation of living water like from a brook’s cascade.

And I remember thinking in that moment this must have been what Christian martyrs felt as imminent death was faced, as is reported in historic texts, with no hint of fear about them and with a surety of destiny impervious to what awaited.

Yet this sweet experience did not arrive without desire, and was the result of a simple prayer learned in a book recommended by a Buddhist teacher.

A Buddhist Friend

“If you’re serious about the Christian faith,” this eloquent Jewish woman and the Zen instructor of a dear friend said, “there is a book you must read, The Way of the Pilgrim. It has a prayer in it one repeats as a mantra, which Christian mystics have practiced for centuries and has led some to enlightenment.”

Days after this encounter and without time to secure the book I traveled to visit my lovely sister, in Hawaii, whom I’d not seen in several years. As I walked into the living room of her home I saw a paperback on her table still on the bag it was pulled from, its receipt on top. It was The Way of the Pilgrim.

“When did you get this book?” I asked.

“Yesterday,” she said. “I was in a bookstore and it looked interesting so I bought it. I haven’t started it yet.”

“Mind if I read it?” “No, be my guest.”

And so at different times the next few days, and in the unlikeliest of places to be reading a book about a Russian pilgrim’s quest (as on Waikiki Beach, surely a Zen moment), I read this Christian work recommended by my Jewish friend’s Buddhist instructor.

A Powerful Mantra,  Powerful Prayer

As in that discipline, whose goal is to experience the higher consciousness that is all around and inside us through a quieting of the mind, the encouragement in The Way of the Pilgrim was to the practice of ceaseless prayer, a seemingly impossible condition urged explicitly in Thessalonians, as a means of achieving the same goal: through the interior repetition of seven words which would, in time and with effort, descend into the heart and ultimately become self-repeating, without further trial, and lead its practitioner to the state known as the Second Joy.

“Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.”

As soon as this prayer was revealed in The Way of the Pilgrim, I began its sometimes frustrating practice, such is the mind’s ability to divert our attention, as many meditators will attest. Early each morning, before going to sleep at night, and whenever the occasion arose during that week when I was alone I would repeat the words silently inside, at times breathing them in and out with a concentration on the breath.

Then it transpired on the last day of our stay as I was riding in the car with my family, that they were engaged in a conversation about my sister’s work which left me free to practice the prayer. And it was just a few moments then before the wonder of its efficacy surfaced in this way: suddenly I felt my heart literally open in my chest, as the sensation of a sweet water poured from it as from a gentle waterfall.

The experience was overwhelming in its beauty and in the awe it bestowed, possessing every cell with a feeling of love and ecstasy I will never forget. Though the experience lasted less than a minute, like the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the experience in the breakfast shop, these three events have pointed to a wonder of being that I know is our ultimate destiny in consciousness, outside of time, as the very children of God.

Works That Secure the First Awakening

This prayer of the heart requires diligence and a focused desire that not all will be attracted to as a means of securing the energy of the first awakening. But there are books one can read, inspired by the Holy Spirit, which when read will help (beyond the Peace they bestow) nurture the sensations that are the threshold of the experience: of the brightened colors, of the breathed air’s sweetness and the vibrant tactile world.

My first-tier favorites among these are God Calling and God at Eventide, penned anonymously, which are Christ’s own words as given in the 20th century. From Spire Books.

Genesis and the Prophets, Psalms and Proverbs,  the New Testament in the KJV.

Others include the works of Dr. David R. Hawkins, the Eye of the I, I : Reality and Subjectivity, and Discovering the Presence my favorites among these. From Veritas Publishing.

Savitri, by Sri Aurobindo.

The Oversoul, by R. W. Emerson.

There are many others.

To gain insight into the conceptual reality of “one life, many embodiments,” the works of and about Edgar Cayce, a Sunday School Teacher and Bible scholar who came to believe in reincarnation, provide a sure footing.

The Purposed Goal»