Ever heard the song “Say a little prayer”? Its one of my favorites. Mostly because it is something I identify with completely. My relationship with the Higher Being, Godji, the Divine is just as simple as that – the force is with me, for me and my buddy, my support. This belief makes things so simple, so whenever I am low, wounded, bruised or hurt, all I have to do is “say a little prayer” and I know that I am not alone. I will get the support, see the way out. Its better than having to visit the temple, it is better than having a buddy on speed dial, it is even better than punching pillows and slamming doors. The temple bells don’t have such a soothing effect, the chanting of mantras does not help me as much as just whispering, “Please Godji …..”
I was just walking up and down the corridor, tense – no I was actually in a foul temper; I had messed up something pretty bad, and knew the boss would haul me over burning coal … i.e. after I was done kicking myself. Yeah, I am a great one for punishing myself 😦
And I was murmuring to myself “Please Godji, help me control damage”
A person tapped me on the shoulder and proceeded to read my a huge lecture on how I could not pray with shoes on and facing south … it may be rahu kalam, had I checked?
I turned, shrugged and walked off. If I had stopped, the argument would have been huge and bitter, I am not one who likes my personal space intruded upon. And I have issues with know-it-alls.
But once I was calmer, crisis sorted out, I started reflecting …
Anyone who has a “prayer habit” must have pondered on this, “What is the difference between personal prayer and ritual prayer? Why the difference?”
In ritual prayer, we pray at fixed times, in prescribed manner from fixed texts, most of them unchanged over the centuries. Day after day, so many of us mumble the same set stanzas, lips moving, minds uninvolved ….
How can we reconcile that with the intensely personal character of prayer?
Should not prayer be simple, just me talking to whoever I think is my God? Should I not have my own personal equation with the divine?
Traditionalists argue with this belief. They have been brought up with rituals, the ritualistic repetition of mantras/stanzas/prayers in language not understood/chants are soothing to them.
To me, it seems mindless (when I am feeling charitable) and when I am not, it seems like one is pestering or badgering the divine.
To me, the personal prayer is far more valuable, and it cheers me up, so it is therapeutic.
What do you think?