Thursday, August 19, 2010

Prayers and Meditations, Number 10, part 2

In the last post, I focussed on the first part of each clause in the first paragraph of this prayer. Let's look at the development of the second part of each clause and see what happens. Now just to be clear, this was a random pick of the Writings. It was not pre-planned. I truly believe that this sort of simple study can be rewarding with any passage from the Writings of Baha'u'llah and it is always a joy to me to check.

Looking only at the second part of each clause in that first paragraph, or sentence (same thing), we find: the object of adoration, hope, desire, companion, mover, true life, and the waters of life.

Nice list, but what does it mean? What can we find in it? Oh, and please remember, this is only my own read on it. Nothing official.

The paragraph in question, again, is as follows:

O Thou Whose face is the object of the adoration of all that yearn after Thee, Whose presence is the hope of such as are wholly devoted to Thy will, Whose nearness is the desire of all that have drawn nigh unto Thy court, Whose countenance is the companion of those who have recognized Thy truth, Whose name is the mover of the souls that long to behold Thy face, Whose voice is the true life of Thy lovers, the words of Whose mouth are as the waters of life unto all who are in heaven and on earth!

It seems to me that we are all beginning with some sense of adoration. If we do not adore God in some manner, we would not even get this far. When we adore something, we honour it, love it, possibly even worship it. It is interesting to note that any of these can be separate from each other, but the word still implies all of them. It actually comes from the Latin root meaning 'to pray' or 'to speak formally to'. So here we are, beginning with a formal prayer of love, our first step, almost like an introdcution. But what is it, in particular, that we adore? His face.

Once we take that step of prayerful adoration, we obviously would hope to attain that which we adore. It is like going to a King to ask for a bounty or a gift. Of course you will hope to be granted it. In this case, seeing His face is what we hope to attain, being in His presence. This is a reminder to me that my prayers must be conscious. I need to take the time to know myself, know my true desires and not just the passing surface desires, like my current desire for some chocolate. No, I must be far more aware of myself than that. My deepest desire, my greatest hope, is to be in the presence of the Divine, and that is the subject of my prayers. It is a hope, because I believe that it can be atained, never fully of course, but more and more with every passing moment.

After realizing that this nearness is what I want, and that it is attainable to a degree, my longing grows the nearer I get to it. It is like the force of gravity: the nearer you are, the stronger the force. As you get closer, this simple longing becomes a deep desire, which is a bit more intense a feeling than just a hope. It is an intense craving and we spend more and more time trying to fulfill it. We begin to see that we are closer to God when we are in a state of prayer, and so the 5 or 10 minutes that may have satisfied us earlier in our development no longer even comes close. How often have we heard of those spiritual souls who immersed themselves in the ocean of prayers for hours on end? How often have we heard of the desire of those spiritual giants to make their every breath a prayer? It is that intensity to which we aspire.

When our feelings are that strong, we become a companion of the loved ones of God. In other words, we find ourselves in their company on a regular basis. It is not necessarily that we are one of that esteemed company, but that we are in their company, like a moth circling around the flame. The moth is not necessarily the same as the flame, although, if he gets close enough... But here, it seems that when the desire is that strong, we discover the truth of that Hidden Word, "Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved?"
When we are a companion of the True One, He moves us in our life, both inwardly and outwardly. Our very actions are defined by the responses given to us from the Writings. We no longer move by our own animal desires, but by a higher understanding of our purpose in life. Strange as it may seem, this also becomes an inspiration for others around us. There have been so many people I have met who first became interested in a spiritual path because of one person who was trying to follow it. From there, their attention was directed to those souls who were better walking that path, until they finally had their attention turned to the Messenger Himself. As Baha'is it is our challenge and our blessing to be able to direct people towards the Master. When we see how the Master responded in different situations, we can better emulate that in our own life.

When we allow ourselves to be so moved, that is when attain true life. It is at that time that we have made great strides in overcoming the physical bonds that restrain our growth and begin to understand that true life is the life of the spirit.

It is this true life that is the real hope for the world. It is a living demonstration of the waters of life for everyone. It is when we truly realize that it is "the words of (His) mouth (that) are as the waters of life unto all who are in heaven and on earth".

This is just my own simple understanding of some of what is here. The trick now, for me, is to figure out how to apply it, what to do about it. For one, I understand that I need to pray more. I also realize that I need to try and penetrate the meaning of the prayer I am saying.

Relevant aside: Yesterday, Shoghi and I went to a science museum and they had a display of scientific marvels of the future. One of them was to show how you could move things with your mind, using a computer interface. What was required, however, was serenity or calmness. You placed your hands on two metal plates, and your forehead on a metal bar. As you relaxed, a ball went up in the air. Most people had a very hard time with it. When it was my turn, I began to recite a prayer from the Bab. As I expected, the ball went up a few inches, as it did with some of the other people. I lost concentration when Shoghi exclaimed how cool it was. The ball fell, and as there was no one else waiting, I tried it again. This time, I closed my eyes and recited another prayer, this time really paying attention to it, and allowing the feeling of the spirit wash over me, as sometimes happens when you really "get into" a prayer. This time I heard Shoghi cry out, "Oh, Papa!" I opened my eyes and the ball was nearly up at the top, a few meters in the air.

The prayer to which I think Baha'u'llah is referring is not a realm of words. It is beyond words. It is so far beyond words that nothing can truly convey it.

It is that to which we want to attain. And I believe that this is only a glimpse of the "nirvana" of which the Buddha spoke.

It is this state of prayer, in conjunction with the guidance given to us by Baha'u'llah that will sustain the world.

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