The Text is not just another thing the Lord flows through- it is THE thing.
The approach to reading the Text is not the same as the way we might approach reading a secular work. In Logopraxis, the Text is everything; it is the Lord’s presence with us. This is meant quite literally, but isn’t meant to imply that the Text is the Lord separate from the influx of His life directly into our mind. It is instead both; both are the Word and both are the Lord, and so form a One.
In Logopraxis work we need to remind ourselves constantly that:
- It is the Word as the Text that serves as the container and foundation for the spiritual sense(DSS 27; TCR 210-214)
- The spiritual sense is the Word understood in terms of its application to the life of the mind (AC 7498)
- Our experiences of spiritual realities, when removed from the light of the Text, becomes highjacked by the imaginings and fantasies of the proprium that has nothing of the Lord in it
- This hellish proprium is constantly at work to derail any genuine attempts to engage with the Word as the basis for our regeneration (see De Verbo 13)
Begin by centering yourself
If possible, spend a little time (5 or 10 minutes) centering yourself before you approach the reading for the session. There is no set way of doing this, but whatever you do, it should be something that steadies the inner activity of your mind, lifts your awareness out of external life concerns and, brings you into a state of openness before the Lord. In Logopraxis work, our reading can be regarded as an act of worship.
Reading spiritual material requires conscious attention. So, if possible, it is extremely helpful to have conditions organised in a way that minimises the potential for distractions.
- Minimise external distractions (ie. quiet room, quiet time of day, give yourself the time required)
- Minimise internal distractions (ie. breathing, mediation, perhaps read Scripture beforehand)
Here is an exercise with breath that you may find helpful to minimise the internal distractions….
It is offered merely as a suggestion for those of you who may find it useful. It is a simple exercise that reigns in the tendency of the mind to follow random thought associations.
Sitting comfortably, in an upright posture, bring your attention to your breath. Breathing normally, count silently, 1 on the first inhalation, 2 on the first exhalation, then 3 on the second inhalation and 4 on the second exhalation and so on, up to 10, returning to 1 again and repeating the count up to 10 before returning to 1 once more. This exercise can very quickly facilitate a settled state of mind, drawing your attention out of the external world, so that it can become focused on the Lord.
If you choose to read a passage of Scripture, with the intention of it assisting a more internal focus on the Lord, then Chapter 1 of John’s Gospel might be a good choice. But you may have other scripture passages that are particularly meaningful for you that you can use.
Reading as an act of worship
Try to be aware that you are bringing yourself before the Lord as you approach the Text. This will help to open up an attitude of worship, within which holiness resides (De Verbo 2). This attitude can have a transformative effect on how we relate to the Word and how it relates to us.
The Lord is only capable of being present to us in what is His own with us (DP 53; AC 9338.6). This is why He has provided His Word in the form of a written text (AE 112.3). This is a profound idea; that the very Text itself, being written in pure correspondences (HH 305), provides us with a memory that is His own in us, yet He offers it in such a way that it always appears to be ours. As we read, the sense impressions left by the written words of the Text upon our memory, form a correspondential plane into which the Lord’s inflowing life can be received and then reflected back into our awareness (AC 9419.2; 10137.2; TCR 234). Thus, as we outwardly engage with the Text as we read, inwardly, we can become aware of the Lord’s inflowing life.
So, when we approach the Word with an openness to receiving what the Spirit has to say to His Church within us, then what is reflected back, what catches our attention as we read, what we are drawn to… is where our work lies. The Text or the letter of the Word is then seen as the point of meeting, of connection, of where the presence of the Lord can be known. It is where we come into contact with the Lord. It is the means by which what is higher, can be reflected back into our lower level of awareness.
Reading with attention
Logopraxis, encourages us to try to view the Text as descriptive of our own states of mind. In other words, what the Word describes relates to the structures and processes of consciousness. Just remembering this, or keeping it in the forefront of our mind when we are reading, can be an aid to experiencing the Text differently to that of an intellectual reading. Of course, the descriptions in the Text are overlaid with the natural imagery of person, place, time and space, which makes remembering this for any length of time, challenging.
Here is a simple exercise for reading with attention…
The aim is to observe how the mind tends to bring us down into what is natural.
Select a paragraph of the Text and start reading, making a determination to read giving attention to the principle that it is describing states of mind. When you recognise that your attention has been drawn down into the literal meaning of the words, say to yourself – “This is describing states of consciousness in me” and try to hold your attention in this idea as you read further. You are not reading for meaning here, but training your attention. Just repeat this statement every time you find you are not present to the act of reading.
The object of the exercise is to get a sense of how strong the pull into the natural features of the Text is, without getting frustrated due to the Text not yielding up what you hoped for.
Here’s is a passage from True Christian Religion that gives a rationale for the above exercise…
By repeated experience I have been granted the knowledge that the Word is for man a means of communication with heaven. When I read through the Word, from the first chapter of Isaiah to the end of Malachi, and also the Psalms of David, keeping my thoughts fixed on the spiritual sense, I was granted a clear perception that each verse communicated with some community in heaven, and that thus the whole Word communicated with heaven as a whole. From this fact it became clear that just as the Word is the Lord, so too the Word is heaven, since heaven’s being heaven comes from the Lord, and the Lord by means of the Word is the all in all of heaven. (True Christian Religion 272)
In Logopraxis, the very act of reading the set Text is a spiritual exercise in conscious attention. We all have habitual ways of engaging with written materials that are not helpful when it comes to engaging with spiritual texts. To engage with the Word in this work, requires the creation of a new psychological space or place within our minds, onto which the words of the Text can fall afresh. The idea is to be attentive or to shift our sense of self into a state of observing ourselves in the act of reading, so that we can give attention to what in the Text is reaching out to us. In this state it is as much about “hearing” what the Lord as the Word is saying to us, as it is about reading the words on the page.
We have an aphorism in Logopraxis which is; “don’t read for information but for application.” Another way of thinking about this, is that we are to read with conscious attention, expecting to hear with our spiritual ears what the Lord as the Word is saying to us, as He seeks to direct us in our spiritual work for the session.
So don’t rush your reading. Georg Kuhlewind in writing about reading offers the following advice… “Read no quicker than you would speak to someone who is in need of support and gentle encouragement.”
We may find it’s a struggle to hear the Lord through the Text to begin with. Our own internal chatter interferes constantly it seems. What’s important is that we persevere. It takes time for our spiritual senses to develop and they can only develop through use, but with continued practice, the interference will become less of an issue for us.
Reading as a spiritual practice
The Word is a creative force and as we engage with it, it looks to create us anew, to make us whole. The process involves the opening of our spiritual senses, so that we can more readily respond to the promptings that flow in from heavenly spheres of influence. These inner senses, attuned to higher realities, are only opened as we look to the Lord as the Word, who speaks into our life from the Texts of divine revelation.
Reading is a spiritual practice; through reading with conscious attention we develop “ears to hear.” The Word as something active in our life, cultivates a deeper spiritual sensitivity in us, that remains alive beyond our reading and engaging with the Text. We then find we are able to read and hear what’s being communicated to us when we are in contact with others, in and outside of our Logopraxis life group.
Our life circumstances and the situations we meet can then become infused with new meaning, as we are led by the Lord to recognise that everything offers us opportunities to develop spiritually, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.