The subject of prayers change in tune to man’s needs. At a subtle level, the nature of prayers change too. It appears to mature with us and is often an invisible reflection of our persona. To not pray at all could also be inferred as a nature of prayer. The ardent believer who may never have inspected his believes in retrospect, is perhaps an innate being in nature as we know it. It is also likely that some folks never notice the changing nature of their prayers. And it is rather painful to see how people turn out to be blind followers who are easily offended.
I do not mean to hurt any religious sentiments whatsoever. With that being said I would also like to point that ‘only if your sentiments are hurt would you open your eyes to a deeper level of understanding’. There were several instances where my sentiments were hurt over the course of discussions that were biased with ignorance or based on logic or somewhere in between.
There used to be this shower thought that was widely circulated across social media: What if all religious stories were nothing more than comics of the ancients times? Well, then that’s too much bloodshed over works of fiction? The idea it did stir up a lot of thoughts in me and has been one of the reasons for posting this. Perhaps it’s all like what The Man from Earth said, “The mythical overlay is so enormous. And not good. The truth is so so simple.” I must admit that the notion of ‘Pary! And you’d be blessed.’ was instilled in me at a tender age by the ‘holy’ waves of TV media that aired series on Hindu mythology. ‘Hanuman’ was my hero and Jesus, a merciful idol. I’d flip the channel whenever they showed Mecca, but not before momentarily admiring the sheer humongous number of worshipers that makes up for a magnificent aerial view. And I never understood the language when the preacher on TV read excerpts from the Quran (Back in my days: Bahrain’s Channel 55 which always began broadcast with a brief except from the Quran.).
As a child who sincerely thought he knew how to pray, I would plead to God. Thanks in part to the intense melodramatic portrayal of prayers on TV. At temples, I used to murmur my wishlist to God. At Bhajans (mass prayers, where I was often dragged into by my mother with hopes of perpetuating the habit of praying), I would simply admire the works of art and wonder about their origin. I too hoped for miracles to dawn upon me. To be a blessed ‘pitiful mortal’ before whom God would decide to appear after He has judged my good conduct and supposed innocence.
Like many, an urge to inquire into religion and spirituality intensified within me as I grew. I could see several absurdities in religious teaching such as baseless inhibitions, diversions from logic, science and history. Religious politicizing, false interpretations and instances of ‘sentimental harm’ (as mentioned previously) added to the frustration and confusion. “Would there be any other alternative to attain true knowledge? But wait a minute, do you even know what kind of knowledge you are trying to seek? Is it knowledge or a sense of peace? Where are u headed exactly? Where would you start from? Are all these even real? Why the hell do you even care? If prayers vary according to the individual, why doesn’t the knowledge.” Questions like these swirled within me and I knew atheism is neither the answer nor an option. As a matter of fact, atheism dumb folds me. The concept of God as an entity forms the bedrock of my hopes or at least, serves as a probable explanation to unanswerable questions. If I am here, God is the ‘there’ although I am not sure where.
Even if god does not give a ‘fuck’ about our momentary speck of existence in the vast, vast universe. Or if God is an advanced alien civilization (or humans of the future) experimenting with the life on earth. Or if it is a mere consequential manifestation of matter in space, or worse, a construct of the human mind; the question would still remain: Why? And I am not willing to pretend to feel convinced some force-fed notions of faith. I still acknowledge the phenomenal possibilities which makes me obliged to connect, to pray. And the question now changes to: How?
We feel the connection in the form of ‘ideas’ that arise from within and through manifestations of petty, yet appreciable (karmic) coincidences. So why not interpret them as messages and signs to continue connecting the dots of our lives? If you would analyze the term ‘gut feeling’ which can also be called ‘heart’s calling’, it is actually a glimpse into the future; one that has the potential to influence your decision (if you choose to follow it of course). How did it reach your mind? Who put it there? Perhaps God has always been contacting us this way. And prayer is the medium to strengthen the connection with God, to know which dots to connect, and to embracing the beauty of the line so far. Prayers is thus a parade through time and you could adorn it with your vivid imaginations, art, personification, idolizations, rituals pertaining to logic, and chants. – In other word we can create by proxy, a God and a subsequent religion through prayer which has its visible and materialistic manifestation in the world as we know it. Religious stories did teach a lot about moral and ethical values and I began to see how religion lays emphasis on character than on God.
I am certain that penning down my thoughts and assumption does make praying seem like a herculean task with complexity of epic proportions. So let me share with you the current nature of my prayers: they are mere conversations with myself irrespective of where I am at. And amidst numerous pessimistic, optimistic, worrisome, hopeful and all kinds of voices, a few arise like sparks and seems to stick to the gut. Prayer, according to me, is a sense of appreciation mixed with uncertainty; akin to how beauty of life ought to be and how life itself has to be handled. And blessings, being a transferable byproduct of prayers or actions pertaining to it.
Initially, I did look down on Bhajans or mass prayers as a waste of time unlike meditating in silence to channelize thoughts and harness the spiritual energy. Although, even at this point, I am unaware as to WHAT exactly is the so called spiritual energy, I assume it is safe to postulate that it influences positive thinking which can spread effectively at a collective level (mass prayers). So I do occasionally attend Bhajans too, but the conversations keep going in the background at all times. And it feels pretty good.