Friday, May 18, 2012

The Long Healing Prayer

On Monday, when I was at the University, I was wondering what style of meditation to introduce to the group that afternoon. There were going to be a few relatively new faces, and it was the beginning of a new term, so I had thought about going back to some of the easier ones, such as just listening to the world around you, or watching a flame of a candle.

It was, however, a very beautiful day, and I knew the group would love to be outside in the gardens, so I wanted to factor that into it.

Much to my surprise, I found myself thinking of some friends who are ill as I walked over the the Chapel, where I conduct this workshop. As I got there, I knew what I wanted to do: use the Long Healing Prayer.

I told the group that I was hoping to do a reading meditation, using a beautiful prayer that had a very strong rhythm to it. We had already done a chant, as well as meditating on a single verse, so this was a bit different, but not too far out there.

They readily agreed, saying that they trusted me. It's nice to have earned that trust.

Aside: In case you don't know, I have had some stage and radio experience, so I have a bit of training in reading aloud. This tends to make the reading of a prayer such as this a lot easier for the listener. I would highly encourage anyone who wants to read aloud to get a bit of training. A local theater group, or even Toast Masters can help a lot in this regard.

As I read the prayer, keeping to the rhythm of it, rocking back and forth as I did, the friends there all closed their eyes, enjoyed the cool spring sun as they sat on the grass, or the blanket I had brought, and listened to the prayer. When I finished reading it 10 minutes later, I asked them how they felt.

The general consensus was that it was very difficult to stay focused. Most didn't really care for this style of meditation, but agreed that as it was the first time with this, they were willing to try it again.

This we did yesterday.

Before we began, my friend Corey (I hope I spelled that correctly) asked to look at it. He then asked me why the word "abiding" was used so much in a healing prayer.

"Why", I repeated back to him, "did Baha'u'llah use the word abiding?" He nodded yes, saying that this was, in fact, his question. "I don't know", I said. (See? I really can answer any question.)

And that is the truth. I don't really know why Baha'u'llah did anything that He did.

But, as usual, I can make a guess, and while I am probably only giving a very shallow answer, that's ok. My answers work for me, even if everyone else laughs at them. (At least I'm helping bring joy to the world through my answers.)

I suggested that perhaps it was His way of drawing our attention to something within us. Remember, as I have put forth many times, I believe that we are all created in God's image. As God is not 6 feet tall with black curly hair, I can only presume that this refers to the virtues. If God is the All-Knowing, then we have some knowledge. If He is the All-Powerful, we have a bit of power. Whatever God is in the capital, we are in the lower case. Given this, it is my contention that every time we see an attribute of God in the Writings, it is because that is the virtue we need to draw upon within ourselves to fulfill the intention of that part of the Writings or prayer.

So, when it comes to healing, in terms of the Long Healing Prayer, it seems to me that we need to be sufficing, or meet the present needs. In other words, we need to treat the current illness, not the illness from last month. We need to allow the healing to occur, for we can often work against this in ourselves. And we need to be abiding. We need to remain fast and firm through the most difficult of times. Sometimes when we just accept the fact that we are ill, or that someone we love is ill, the lack of stress about it actually helps us heal.

People seemed to like that idea, and I asked them to meditate on the attributes of God mentioned in this prayer. Thus we began.

After it was read, lo those 10 minutes later (11, but who's counting), I asked them how they felt this time.

Their answers could not have surprised me more.

First of all, they loved it. A few of them said that they could truly feel the power of the prayer this time, some of whom said that this was indicative of their state of mind that day, more than anything.

One woman said that she could feel her soul "breathe" with the rhythm of the prayer.

Inhale, "I call on Thee O Exalted One, O Faithful One, O Glorious One!" Exhale, "Thou the Sufficing, Thou the Healing, Thou the Abiding, O Thou Abiding One!"

Another said that she could feel herself lifting up with each stanza, and grounded with each refrain.

In short, it was beautiful, and I learned so much about that prayer from them.

They did have two requests, though. First, could I please print off the definitions of some of the more obscure words, as they found it distracting wondering what "succoring" meant, to give but one example.

Second, could we please do it again next week.

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