Friday, December 8, 2006

Guest Post

I think the Comment by Freyashawk on "A Reader's Excellent Comment on Prayer" can stand as a blog entry itself, and so it will be today's post. I'm very happy that two readers have left such interesting comments on prayer -- a subject which we obviously should continue to pursue.

Here is Freyashawk's Comment:

"This is a fascinating discussion. 'Prayer' can consist of any act from meditation to a plea to a higher power. It is interesting to feel that one must 'command' rather than 'beg' but in my opinion, prayer is any act that seeks 'nearness to God' or 'qurbatan ilallah' as it is stated in Islam. To believe that one's desires should be fulfilled by a Higher Being is to be egocentric in the extreme. I think that in this sense, the ultimate prayer of the Christian Christ is to be lauded: 'Thy Will be done'. One needn't perceive God as the Old Testament entity or even as anthropomorphic in order to believe in and communicate with the Deity. The idea that one is small and God is infinite, that therefore one is less even than an eyelash upon the face of God and yet intrinsically an integral part of this incredible, unknowable Being provides endless subjects for meditation. 'Thy Will be done' in this sense would mean that our own tiny insignificant selfish desires should not be fulfilled automatically. That would be tantamount to making us into spoiled little brats. A parent who loves his/her child nonetheless should not satisfy that child's every desire. Instant gratification is not love. There are those who say that suffering and pain are a means to greater wisdom and this has been demonstrated in many lives. It is not pleasant but it can be akin to the tempering of steel. As human beings, we are born in a state of transition. We spend our lives growing and learning. Where does that leave God? I think that if God is infinite, we cannot begin to comprehend that infinity. Like spoiled children, some of us often rebel against the entire notion of God, either in rage, frustration or a desire to feel superior. Many people and even most religions have tried to reduce God to human terms, an error that is almost as great as that of denying the existence of any higher being. All these motivations stem from our insecurity. Is it not sufficient simply to know that the universe is far greater than our wildest dreams and imaginings but that we are a part of this immense magnificence? As far as ritual prayer is concerned, I do believe that ritual serves a vital purpose. It is a matter of creating a 'sacred space', a place that is outside of our ordinary busy lives and all the problems and distractions that besiege us. The prayer mat is one such sacred space. The Sacred Circle is another. Churches and mosques are communal sacred spaces. The act of repetitious ritual prayer is a door to another consciousness. It calms the heart and mind and allows us to achieve the state of being necessary to touch the divine. It is interesting to note that beads, sometimes known as 'worry beads' are an almost universal praying device. They are used by Christians (the rosary), by Muslims (the tasbih) and by Buddhists as well as by adherents to other religions. The act of moving one's fingers from bead to bead while repeating a mantra is both a means of relaxation and a 'focus'. Time becomes a necklace to be manipulated, and one's universe becomes at once encapsulated within the circle of the beads and yet expands to embrace the divine. The mistake that people make with respect to prayer is in regarding it as an end in itself when it should be perceived as a means to an end. It is AFTER the prayer that one reaches the state of 'nearness' to the Deity..."

1 comment:

  1. Well, I may be too much of a spoilt kid to believe in God but i have recently come to the conclusion that the monotheistic idea of an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God is off the mark, for me at any rate. Putting it theologically, I would say that divinity is completely immanent and not transcendent.

    Putting it primitively I would say that there is divinity in every tree, every blade of grass, every insect and so on.

    Prayer doesn't have to be in words, it doesn't need to be begging or commanding except in extremity. It can be a continuous stream of thanks---appreciation for life.

    But I would not want to get into any preaching, that is we do harm by trying to prescribe anything to anyone. We can just learn to enjoy.