Prayer Index

Updated April 18th, 2022

Just a few years ago, I was a card-carrying atheist of the Dawkins/Yudkowskian variety. But today I prayed to God for 30 dedicated minutes for the 406th day in a row.

I believe I have a distinctive perspective on prayer. I don’t know that it’s truly unique, in a world-historical or contemporary sense – but I do know that I came up with this approach myself, perhaps as an independent discovery, and haven’t heard it enunciated to my satisfaction elsewhere. Two components of my spirituality are that it is 1) process focused rather than belief focused and 2) intended to be entirely naturalistic, never shielded from (instead deepened by) our knowledge of the natural world.

I’ve struggled to explain this still-developing ‘naturalistic spirituality’ to people. But along the way I’ve ended up producing a smattering of content on spirituality, meditation, philosophy and theology. I’ve collected these writings and videos below, as well as references to works by others that influenced my approach to prayer.

These resources may help others on a similar path.

  1. Techniques and concepts
    1. Describing Prayer – video [7 min]
      1. Contains a basic prayer protocol in the video description. If you read only one thing from this list, read that prayer protocol and give it a try.
    2. What is Phenomenology? – video [13.5 min]
      • A video demo expressing the concept of phenomenology as ‘the stuff of the mind’.
    3. Your Body Moves On Its Own – video [16.5 min]
      • A video demo showing natural body patterns that can emerge via the right introspective intent.
  2. Mindsets
    1. Dirty Saints, Monstrous Hermits – audio with transcript [7.5 min]
      • A 1964 short speech by Leonard Cohen, discussing formality and fervor in a time of secularism and rigid orthodoxy. Conveys a mindset of sacredness over formality.
    2. The Mystic and the Metaphysician – video [6 min]
      • Spirituality as ‘the shaping of the mind’; mystical practice vs philosophical analysis. Conveys the mindset of process over belief.
    3. On heroic sincerity – essay [2400 words]
      • Art, self-expression, and bravery in spiritual combat.
  3. Spirituality and perception
    1. What I Learned at the Mount of Olives – video [8.5 min]
      • On how we’re spiritually shaped by our physical environments.
    2. On Piercing Experiential Visions – essay [~2500 words]
      • Centering first-personal perception in learning and relating to objects of significance.
    3. History is Boring Because You Don’t Want To Feel It – essay [~1500 words]
      • Felt meaning and the study of history.
  4. Context around spiritual practice
    1. Improving Your God-Concept – video [11 min]
      • A mixed practical & philosophical video, discussing prayer as a type of perception and centering conceptual clarification as one goal of prayerlike contemplation.
    2. What Life is About – video [10 min]
      • Thoughts on human development and ways this may suggest a purpose for spiritual practice.
  5. Philosophy
    1. Atheist meme week: a live dissection – essay [1900 words]
      • Why smart atheists can get behind the idea of natural law.
    2. Mysticism as Scientific Observation – essay [~900 words]
      • On ‘mysticism’ as a categorization of mental processes, some of which which are useful to truth-seekers.
    3. Is Syncretism Naive? – video [10 min]
      • Intuition pumps and tensions around syncretism.
  6. Important works
    1. The Hagakure, Yamamoto Tsunetomo (18th century)
    2. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, St. Ignatius of Loyola (1548)
    3. Confessions, St. Augustine (~400)
    4. Impro, Keith Johnstone (1979)
    5. The Over-Soul, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841)
    6. Civilisation, Kenneth Clark
    7. Dancing with the Gods, Eric S. Raymond (1995)
    8. The Symposium, Plato (4th century BC)
    9. Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Carl Jung (1933)