Monday, November 27, 2017

A Conversation

Yesterday I finished by talking about unit 2 of Ruhi Book 1, and was so rudely interrupted by breakfast. Just kidding. Twasn't rude at all.

But I did want to continue this.

(Pretend I'm re-telling the intro here about summarizing Book 1, few minutes, blah blah, got to unit 2, what's the first topic, prayer they said.) (Go to yesterday's post if you really want the full into.)

So they said that the first topic in unit 2 was prayer. "You're not wrong", I replied, "but all of unit 2 is about prayer. What is the first topic about prayer that they discuss?"

After a bit of reading, someone said "Prayer is like a ladder." "Prayer", another person said, "is a fire."

"Both of those metaphors are true, but they're in section 2. And really, to understand those, you need to work your way through the metaphors. Yes, prayer can lift you up and give you a new perspective, just like climbing a ladder. And prayer is a fire? I really don't want to pray if it's going to burn me. Oh, wait, it burns through the veils. You see, this takes a bit of work. But there is another concept in section 1."

"Prayer", someone realized, "is a conversation with God."

"And why would they begin with that? Out of all the beautiful quotes about prayer and how useful and wonderful and necessary it is, why that?"

There was a bit of silence, and then someone said, "Well, anyone can have a conversation."

"Right. And why is that important?"

Now, you have to understand, I hadn't actually planned any of this. I didn't really have an answer. I was just asking questions that, given what I have seen in the the Ruhi curriculum, I suspected would lead to an deeper understanding.

And this, dear Reader, is what we learned.

Anyone can have a conversation. This is something we can all relate to. We know, intuitively, that there is no right or wrong way to do it, but there are certain things we have to do in order for it to be a conversation. We know that we need to listen. We understand that we need to talk. We even recognize the fact that if we are really paying attention to the person with whom we are having the conversation, then that conversation will be more effective, we will get more out of it.

Ok. This is all simple. So why begin the whole unit with that?

Because it is the simplest way to communicate to others what prayer is.

So many people I have met have a very difficult time with the concept of prayer. Oh, they pray, but they tend to think of it as some sort of formula or recipe. It tends to be either something led by a minister in a church with a particular ritual behind it, or some magic formula by which they can get what they want, if they only follow the directions. They don't think of saying prayers with their children by the be at night as prayer. They forget that thanking God for their food before a meal is a prayer. Quite often their life is filled with prayer, but they don't think of it as such.

When we use the very simple description, the clean and elegant definition of "conversation with God", it is as if turning on a light inside their soul.

When we all realized that this is the first concept in that incredibly rich unit on prayer, it was truly an aha moment for us.

There was an excitement in the air.

And afterwards, after we had gone through a quick review of Books 1 and 2, one of the participants said to me that they now wanted to do Book 1 all over again. They felt an excitement over that book that they hadn't felt in many years.

That was really kind of exciting all by itself.

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