Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Science Museum Experiment

Shoghi and I went to a science museum the other day and saw a display of possible inventions in the future. It was very interesting to see where modern scientists believe we are heading. Oh, and this was designed, for the most part, by young scientists, grad students, who taped their presentations about why they thought each item would be used at some point soon.

Some of the things they included were smart shoes that could grip onto walls or bounce you higher to help you run faster, various inventions for cleaning the air or the water, new types of communications equipments, and all sorts of other gadgets that were previously locked into the realm of science fiction.

There was one device that caught the attention of both of us, however, and that was a little gadget that would help you communicate to a computer with your mind. I think we've all seen something like this in the movies. You know, someone is wearing a head band connected to a computer and all of a sudden they don't need a keyboard or a mouse, or anything. They think what they want and it happens.

What they had in the museum wasn't quite like that, but it was a simple metal band against which you placed your forehead, and two metal plates for your hands. It was supposed to measure how calm you were in your thoughts through some process I really don't understand. They said something about alpha waves, but it didn't enough sense for me to repeat it here.

What happened, though, is that you put your hands on the plates, touched your forehead to the metal, and if you were calm enough, a ball would float in the air. Oh, in a sealed tube, of course.

The line for this gadget was quite long, and neither of us wanted to try it that badly, although it was fun to watch others. The best anyone could do, it seemed, was to get the ball about a foot off the ground, no matter how hard they tried.

Of course, by this point, you are probably asking yourself what this has to do with the Baha'i Faith or spirituality.

I'm glad you asked.

After seeing the rest of the exhibit, we went back to this device and discovered that there was no one else around. Shoghi sat in the chair, but was too short to reach the metal band comfortably, even when the chair was at its highest setting. While he was disappointed, he still wanted me to try it.

And so I sat down.

While I was touching all the requisite metal pieces, I watched the ball. Although I was a bit nervous (I really don't know why), the ball moved a bit. Encouraged by this, I began to say a short prayer by the Bab, and the ball actually rose at that moment. Only a few inches, but it rose.

I closed my eyes and said the prayer again.

Shoghi shouted out, "Papa!" And I opened my eyes in time to see the ball fall from a foot in the air.

Shoghi was grinning. And gibbering with excitement.

I asked him if I could try it one more time, and he was so happy about that.

This time I closed my eyes again and began to say a prayer from Baha'u'llah. I really focussed on the words and could feel myself plunging into that Ocean. You know how there are the occassional moments when you really "feel" the prayer with your whole being? Well, that was the level of concentration I had at that moment. Rare as it is, it actually happened right then. I could literally feel the touch of God's bounty upon my soul.

I ignored all the sounds in the room. Tuned out the flashing lights in my periphery. All I could sense was the power of those Words.

And when I opened my eyes, that little ball was up by the ceiling, to my utter amazement. I knew this was not of my own doing, but a gift given to me by an All-Merciful Creator Who wanted to show me the power of prayer. Well, actually the power of prayer when said with concentration and attention.

 As I was relating this story to someone else, he said that it would be useful to test the "sincerity" of one's prayers. While I don't think it would actually do that, I do believe that it would be a useful tool to help us learn to focus, and this could be very useful. It reminds me, after all, of that marvelous quote from Baha'u'llah:
Arise, therefore, and, with the whole enthusiasm of your hearts, with all the eagerness of your souls, the full fervor of your will, and the concentrated efforts of your entire being, strive to attain the paradise of His presence, and endeavor to inhale the fragrance of the incorruptible Flower, to breathe the sweet savors of holiness, and to obtain a portion of this perfume of celestial glory.
I wonder where I can get one of those devices. Ebay?

1 comment:

  1. You know those things probably respond to any well-focused brain response, right?

    I could probably think of the raunchiest experience I could ever hope to achieve in my life time and it would reach the top as well. It has nothing to do with the "sincerity" of thought, but as you said, it was how focused you were.

    However, to test the sincerity of one's prayers seems quite judgmental, even towards one's self. What if one, such as a person with Asperger's who doesn't understand the mental emotion behind prayer couldn't reach the top because he or she could not remained as focused or as passionate about it? Don't you think this would hurt their feelings? Make them feel like they are insufficient? Make them think that their prayers truly aren't sincere. Words are words. Prayers are prayers. There is no degree of worth for them.