In the larger Hindu picture, prayer plays an important role – and it takes SO many forms, which isn’t surprising considering how diverse Hinduism is. We have mantras, prayers that are included in pujas, and even wordless prayer that takes the form of offerings or actions. I’m familiar with prayer in other religions, too. I have grown up in a country that is mostly Christian. I spent two or three years intensely studying Islam. I’ve also spent time interacting with local Buddhist and Baha’i communities. Everyone has their own versions of prayer and rules that apply to it. And although many might not realize it, there are lots of parallels between the religions where prayer is concerned. Christians have their own kind of mantra (which isn’t a mantra, but stay with me here) and Muslims have physical offerings that are built into their daily prayers as well. For the most part, religions – even vastly different ones – are just a repackaging or reframing of the same Stuff. (They are NOT all the same. But they do all have the same Goal.)
One thing I’ve seen in many religious contexts, is the expression of personal prayer. For me, it’s not much less ridiculous than the idea of a personal god. (As an aside, there’s a difference between a personal God and a personal relationship with God.)
This idea of prayer has been on my mind lately. This is a “prayerful” time of the year, it seems. And with all the mass shootings this year, I’m sure more than the usual quota of prayers is being sent to the One – as if It will act according to those prayers. I’ve written before about my thoughts on the usual / typical form that prayer takes. It doesn’t make sense to me. The memes in this post do a fine job illustrating why it doesn’t make sense to me. I encourage you to mentally chew on these for a few minutes each – regardless of your religious persuasion.
And, while it’s easy to see this kind of material and become critical of other paths’ expressions (something I’ve done so many times) the real purpose for me posting these here isn’t to be critical or harsh or judgmental. This post – as well as any you might see me post on Facebook or other social media – is meant to make you think. Why do you pray the way you do? Why do you think it’s effective? How does the math add up when you look at how life is moving in relation to the prayers prayed – or does it even add up at all? While praying in the way you pray, have you ever – even once – prayed a truly selfless prayer? (This has been written about here in the past – if you’re a human being, then the answer is almost certainly 110% “no.”) Do you ever pause before praying to consider the implications of your prayer being answered or going unanswered?
For those of you readers who entertain the concept of a personal God, how would you respond to these memes? I’ve heard people who are Christians say things like, “God didn’t say ‘no,’ He said, ‘I have a better way.'” And of course, people from every background mention God’s Will – which seems to be something these memes hint at. If your prayer isn’t answered, then sure – maybe it wasn’t God’s will. But then doesn’t that kind of say something about your relationship with your personal God? If it’s all so personal and intimate between you and Him / Her / It, then how could you not know whether your prayer is something that wouldn’t be answered?
My religious self is constantly evolving and my spiritual self is constantly exploring. Maybe tomorrow this nonsense will make, umm… sense, to me. But right now it’s crazy talk and I’m for more comfortable with the Heartfulness / Sahaj Marg form and understanding of prayer. It would be most helpful for someone to speak up in regard to all of this and help me understand why it makes sense to you.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti