Monday, 21 April 2014

P is to Pray


My ideas on religion and faith require a lot of philosophical explanation, which I plan to write for my post on the letter R. For now, let me just tell you that on the atheist-agnostic-believer continuum, I would peg myself somewhere between agnostic and a believer.  

I have grown to like the idea of praying over the years. I’m not yet sure if I believe in the things we are usually taught about prayers. Stuff like - if you pray, God will be kind to you / reward you etc. As a child, I was lucky to go to a school which taught students the Vedas. Even today, I can recite a good part of the Rig Veda Agnihotra in Sanskrit, while actually knowing the meaning of it all. But in my books, that doesn’t count as prayer.   

When I pray, I usually recount my experiences over the day or think about a person in need I thank, share my happiness, laugh, ask for forgiveness, reflect, wonder, empathize, confess, plead and occasionally question, crib and cry! I pray in English, a mish-mash of Tamil and Malayalam, peppered with some Hindi at times too! I don’t have a set format or verses to say / think about when I pray. I don’t even pray every day. I don’t necessarily pray at temples or in front of an idol. It is mostly in bed or when I travel long distances.

And oh! I instinctively pray when I hear an ambulance. Just for a few seconds, I don’t even know what I think, but I know I pray. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. My prayers range between a few seconds and ten long minutes. Sometimes, I meditate for much longer at yoga class, and the line between meditating and praying is often blurred.

Most people say their prayers are conversations / dialogues with God. But my prayers are all monologues. I don’t know who the recipient of my prayer is. But I do know that every single time,  at the end of this monologue, I feel calm, clear in my head and so full of peace – feelings that very few conversations have ever given me.

What are your views on prayers?

16 comments:

  1. Well articulated Aarthi! My tryst with the Divine Mystery is very similar... and yes, at the end of it all, it is indeed a monologue - a conversation with the self!

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    1. Thanks Bugi. Like you said, it does seem pretty cool that your name comes up as "Unknown"... Totally mysterious :)

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  2. I think praying at the sound of an ambulance is a beautiful idea! I always feel so helpless when I see one passing by.

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  3. I have moved from being a complete atheist to an agnostic but becoming a mum actually makes you face these questions and thereby think about where exactly we stand on this. I have decided to bring up my child the way I was - with belief in God. Hopefully she will grow up to form her own beliefs, with unbiased and unorthodox thoughts. I do not want to teach her that nothing good can come from believing in a higher power. I don't know if I'm being a hypocrite, but it doesn't seem right to keep her away from what I consider an essential part of growing up.

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    1. Well said Rama. I am at crossroads as well - about teaching my daughter things like faith, religion and the likes. I want her to know everything and make an informed choice later. But the funny thing with such stuff is that to actually know it, one has to have lived a small part of his/her life that way. Let's see how things go...

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  4. Oh that is exactly me. a monologue in various languages. Also stuff like, "Dude, this stress for really not required. What were you thinking?"

    And that one second prayer when an ambulance goes by... ever since i remember... that too,. :)

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  5. I love the expression of thought here. You have articulated your honest opinion very well. I believe in prayer, probably the traditional variety, but am open to ideas and other views. Think our upbringing has a role to play there.

    Found you via A-Z

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    1. Thanks for visiting my blog Shailaja. In my case, experiences have modelled my beliefs rather than upbringing. As in, most of my family believes in traditional prayers. That is how I was brought up as well. Somewhere along the way, my ideas and perceptions changed...

      Thank you for taking the time out to leave a comment on my blog!

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  6. I love the idea of praying when you hear an ambulance siren. The power of prayer is important, and I need to pray and meditate more often. Thanks for the great post.

    Mary Montague Sikes

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    1. Welcome to The Magic Quill Mary. Yeah, i think some time for soul searching - be it prayer, meditation or just some "me time" does wonders. Good luck with that :)

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  7. That is lovely that you pray when an ambulance goes past. Hello from another a-z blogger, how are you getting on with the challenge?

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    1. As you can see, I am lagging behind by almost two posts! Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  8. Hey Aarthi. ..I think I am reading your blogs in the reverse order..but enjoying it anyway! We 'shared a wall' (quote from your poem) and also many things that I can relate too. Even I pray when I see an ambulance. My prayers are also conversations. Maybe monologue because God technically doesn't speak back but I can feel a response. I pray in front of Ganesha and Jesus and whoever else I am in presence of. Religious boundaries don't exist for me

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  9. My prayers are conversations too...but I pray in presence of God mostly...religious boundaries don't exist for me. I pray to Ganesha and Jesus and Whoever else I am in presence of. I don't think we really need to 'choose' any religion. After years of questions and thinking I have reached a conclusion that all of whom we know as Gods are higher consciousness beings sent to guide humans reach the next level. These religious tags prevent people from the insights given by all of them. It's like saying you will read Physics but not Geography or Biology in school. Will your understanding of the world be complete in that way? If I teach or raise children I will make them curious about all religions and never ask them to choose. The concept of 'choosing any one religion' is a fallacy hardwired into us

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