Serenity Prayer & Insight
Written by Greg Squillante
of the POTEGP Spiritual Guidance Center
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
The excerpt above from the Serenity Prayer is an excellent example of a basic life philosophy. By practicing this philosophy you can gain a higher stage of awareness or a higher level of spirituality or a higher degree of free will.
The Serenity Prayer is most famously used by groups trying to deal with changing addictive behavior. This is an example of using a Life Philosophy to increase one’s level of Free Will. With an increased level of Free Will, you may overcome addicted behavior or develop your awareness so that you can self-sacrifice your physical, emotional or intellectually based desires.
The challenge with using The Serenity Prayer as a life philosophy… is how exactly does one apply its principles in their daily life. If one already possesses the right level of serenity, the right level of acceptance, the right level of courage, the right level of ability to execute a change, and the right level of wisdom to enable one to pierce self-delusion so they can see the need for the change, then one is in a position to successfully apply the above principles of the Serenity Prayer as a basic life philosophy.
The problem comes in that if you do not already possess the above abilities at the right level, how do you develop them to higher levels? Solving this problem is a two-step process. First you have to be able to understand what these word labels represent, and then you need a practice/path that can help develop the above individual attributes to higher levels (see i).
For example, what is Serenity, and how do you develop higher levels of Serenity? What is Courage, and how do you develop higher levels of Courage? etc… Let’s attempt to define these terms/word labels while remembering the shortcomings of human language (see ii).
Looking at the prayer’s first line you find the term Serenity, POTEGP defines Serenity as a state of balanced mindfulness. One may develop this state with the practice of meditation, prayer, work, art, craft, etc… You can develop higher levels of Serenity by conscientiously using one of the above tools (see iii).
In the second line, the ability to accept things you cannot change is an application of the noble/spiritual attributes of Acceptance and Humility. Higher levels of Acceptance and Humility can also be developed, like in the case of Serenity, through the conscientious use of the appropriate tools (see iv).
In the first part of third line you have the word label Courage, POTEGP defines Courage as an ability to use the (self-sacrificing) noble attributes; Loyalty, Trust, and Faith. Loyalty, Trust and Faith can also be developed to higher levels through the conscientious use of the appropriate tools (see iv).
The second part of the third line speaks of change. In POTEGP to be able to accomplish a spiritual or life philosophy Change requires two attributes. First one needs to develop the attribute of Caring enough to want to Change, POTEGP defines the desire of Caring to Change… Compassion. Secondly you have to then develop the attribute of being able to Change, POTEGP defines the attribute of having the ability to Change… Empathy
You can also develop higher levels of the attributes of Compassion and Empathy through the conscientious use of the appropriate tools (see v).
When examining the last line you find the term wisdom being used. POTEGP sees many layers/qualities in the attribute of Wisdom and as always it is difficult to describe the meaning of spiritual and philosophical processes using words labels, but I will try to give a simple description of Wisdom below.
POTEGP defines Wisdom as a noble attribute that is much more than just intellect or IQ. In some world/spiritual paths or life philosophies this attribute is labeled ‘fourth frame awareness’ in others it is labeled ‘analytical mindfulness’ or even labeled ‘the third eye’. In the common vernacular I find it best to try and explain it as intellect combined with common sense and out of the box thinking or even as knowledge gained through conscious level life experiences.
Whatever word label one wants to use for Wisdom, it is just important to realize there is more to Wisdom than just IQ or intellect. In POTEGP the attribute of Wisdom can also be developed to higher levels through the conscientious use of the appropriate tools (see vi).
iii. see the internal practice handout concerning Tandem Meditation
vi. see handout for Fourth Frame and Internal practice