Vigilance is the path to Life Eternal. Thoughtlessness is the path to death. The reflecting vigilant die not. The heedless are already dead.
‘Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.’] I love that. I think that could be as close as someone can get to a wonderful definition of prayer. In that sense, prayer has nothing spiritual or religious about it. A mathematician working at a problem or a little kid trying to pick out scales on the piano is a person at prayer. She’s not saying prayer is absolute unmixed attention; it’s the other way. The attention itself is the quality that she wants to call prayer. So whatever context you’re putting it in, whether it’s inside a church or inside a toy box, that’s the quality that is the sacred one.”
Having banished every thought from this inner talking (for you can do this if you want to). give it the following short prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me––and force it, instead of all other thought, to have only this one constant cry within. If you continue to do this constantly, with your whole attention, then in time this will open for you the way to the heart which I have described. There can be no doubt about this, for we have proved it ourselves by experience.
Nicephorus the Solitary, Writings from the Philokalia On the Prayer of the Heart, pp 33-34, Nicephorus the Solitary was a monk who lived in the 13th century, in the troubled years of the Byzantine Empire’s slow decline. He authored a brief but invaluable text of spirituality that has become a classic, On Vigilance and the Guarding of the Heart.