By September 24, 2016 Read More →

Why Pray? – Part 7

Twenty Fourth Word, Fifth Branch, continuation on page 370-

“O soul! You have received this wage, and you are charged with the pleasurable, bountiful, easy and light duty of worship. But you are lazy in this too. If you perform it half-heartedly, it is as though the former wages are insufficient for you and you overbearingly want greater things. Also, you are complaining: “why was my prayer not accepted?” But your right is not complaint, it is supplication. Through His pure grace and munificence, Almighty God bestows Paradise and eternal happiness. So seek refuge in His mercy and munificence constantly. Trust in Him and heed this decree:

Say: “In the bounty of God, and His mercy — in that let them rejoice; that is better than the [wealth] they accumulate.” Quran 10:58

What is the wage we have received?

Our existence which is given to us and everything that sustains it.

What is worship?

It is being aware of the wage that already is given to us, which can be summarized as existence, life, humanity, belief and love as we have studied in previous classes. That is, this wage is given to us by the One that creates us, the Creator. It is so simple. We just need to acknowledge them and we need to STOP being lazy. Worship is difficult than performing the physical actions of rituals because it requires acknowledgment. It is known that the Prophet (pbuh) said to a person not to exhort himself to do a ritual. What is essential for us to concentrate is the meaning in the ritual. Worship is a matter of concentration i.e. which side of my humanity am I going to use?

Duty of worship is light that we just need to train ourselves. After we become aware of the meaning of what we do in terms of acknowledgment, practicing rituals become a source of pleasure. Just as a pianist trains to get better at his/her practice by training extensively every day and s/he enjoys it. Similarly, why don’t we get excited with the physical side of our acknowledgment i.e. rituals? Because our non-physical side of acknowledgment is empty. When we exercise or play the piano for example, we realize that at each practice, we are improving our skills and we get more excited because we receive pleasure from playing the piano. Why don’t we look for pleasure from our religious actions? Why has the number of rituals become a burden for us? The answer is that we are not in a loving relationship with our Creator. We need to communicate with the Creator in order to express our gratitude for what It has given us. Let’s say you have to pick up a beloved that you have not seen in a long time. You rush to the airport eagerly. This physical action becomes a source of pleasure.

Why are we failing to turn rituals into a source of pleasure? Because we have a distorted view of religion i.e. it is not a feeling coming from within. Belief needs to be practiced from within. It cannot be acquired. In order to start this journey, we first have to question:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What am I?
  3. How am I aware of my existence?
  • Worship must be an enjoyable experience.
  • Consciousness is needed in performing any physical actions i.e. rituals.

What does it mean to perform worship half-heartedly?

It means that intellectually knowing that God exists and doing rituals is not sufficient at all since they add no value to our humanity. Additionally, using former experiences as a way to validate your belief in God is a meaningless act because you are not actually practicing belief to conclude your current state of being. Please note that former conclusions are a way to consolidate your conclusions, which in turn gives you confidence in your acknowledgment of the existence of an Absolute Source.

Worship is mostly understood as asking for an extra wage which you expect to be given in the near future as a response to your prayers. Worship is not used as a way of gratitude for the endless bounties or wage which you have been given. Worship is responding back to what we have already received. Example: you are given illness and you ask for health. In this acknowledgment you realize that all this time health has been given to you by the Health Giver, God. Our duty is to acknowledge the Giver of health. Now, with this acknowledgment, you ask for healing. Try to apply this reasoning to acknowledge all that is in your heart i.e. all that you desire which is nothing but acknowledging the wages that you have already been given. Instead of thinking I did this and so God must give me this which results in complaining when the desire is not met, I should focus on what has been given as mentioned above.

The biggest problem facing us is jealousy, envying others. Let’s say someone has a quality that you do not have. Just acknowledge the Source / Giver of this quality and express it: O Creator of this being, I know it is you who has given this quality to him”. In this way you can overcome jealousy which is rationally uncontrolled and it needs to be turned from a negative factor to a positive factor by revisiting the understanding of what is going on in your life, why do you want the same thing? Question this desire: Who gave you this desire that you see in others and who gave it to this person? By acknowledging the Source of existence of this desire, express your acknowledgment. That is worship: “I know that you are the One that gives existence to these beautiful things that I also desire. Why don’t you give it to me as well? I want this and this feeling is given by you to me and I have to express my need to You.” This is not a bargain.

Why was my prayer not accepted?

This question is problematic because the understanding is the expectation of something for a future event. It is as if you expect a company to pay you a wage after working with it. However, with our relationship with the Creator, we have no right to expect anything in return.

  • Worship by definition is acknowledgment. But we are grown into a society where that teaches us to wanting to have things rather than being in acknowledgment.

Please note that our relationship with the Creator cannot be similar to the relationship we have with created beings like you and I. That is why we have to make contracts amongst ourselves and abide by it. With God, what kind of contract do we have? It gave us the ability to acknowledge It, that is the contract. We need to be loyal to this contract and use it in the right way i.e. not deny it or ignore it. The potentiality is given to us, we need to develop it and turn it into abilities. We are given all necessary tools to acknowledge the Creator. We should use the contract for its purpose i.e. to get to know the Creator. We usually use the contract for the world. Example: job is satisfying me. If I have this, I will be happy. We forget about the Creator. Every person has been given the capacity to acknowledge all capacities (Attributes) of his Creator. We are given freewill to turn capacities into abilities.

Why do you fast?

Value of fasting is not based on the numbers of days you fast. Meaning of fasting comes from consciousness. Pleasure in doing ritual activities comes from awareness of why we are doing what we are doing.

Obeying law is a burden. It is easy to park your car anywhere. But to avoid tickets, you have to obey parking rules which limits your freedom to park wherever you want. Who obeys laws with pleasure? Nobody.

If you turn teaching of the Quran/Prophets or revelation into secular laws, you never get pleasure because there is no consciousness of the Creator. There is no pleasure in just obeying certain actions. Is it a burden to thank someone who makes your life pleasurable? Someone invites you to a party and at the end if you do not acknowledge the host for his hospitality, you feel at unease. Similarly, the Creator of this universe is the host and we need to connect with this host and express our feelings to It: “Thank you, I enjoy your presence or gift that you give me.”

Why don’t we get pleasure of connecting with God while performing duties?

Because we do not know that religion is acting according to one’s true intrinsic nature. Codes become burden and they are not what define religion. When you express your happiness that the host makes your life pleasurable, that is religion.

What is supplication?

It is acknowledgment with purpose: “I am very happy that you have given me all this, I acknowledge you as the Giver, please give me health now as well”. But we tend to turn supplication into complaint: “I have been asking you for one month and you have not restored health for me.” That is the wrong attitude, that is why we do not feel satisfied in our supplications.

We need to analyze our human reality i.e. what is going on within us. Religion starts with one’s human analysis of oneself within oneself. Otherwise rituals become burden and prayers a mean to bargain instead of experiencing pleasure.

While supplicating, we first have to acknowledge that we are made needy and that the only one that can fulfill our need is the One that gives us this need. Purpose of supplication is that I am sure that I have a Lord taking care of me. As soon as we express our supplication, we get our reward. Our consciousness of an Eternal life needs to be connected in the present moment. Therefore, getting the object or not getting the object is not the concern anymore because you found the Absolute Source which is all that matters at the end. This makes sure that Eternal life is guaranteed for us and the other questions pertaining to Eternal life become redundant.

Your right after performing prayer is supplication which is to express your need sincerely from the heart i.e. being aware of it. That is, make the case more enduring for yourself. Having knowledge of something is not belief. Feeling and experiencing becomes a real thing for you. Human qualities make it real for you. We think that reality is in the physical side not in the human feelings. Example: I am ill and I want to be healthy. Human reality is to acknowledge that my need for health is created by the Creator of the universe. Pleasure is in acknowledging that.

How do you know that Paradise is guaranteed?

Because our need for it exists and our needs are always being taken care of by our sustainer. The needs are given to us by the One who gave existence to the universe and us. God’s grace is always there, it is us who turn our back to Paradise. The desire for Paradise is always with me coming from the Absolute One, the Creator of the universe.

Why are we not in Paradise?

Because we cut off our relationship with the Creator and we see that we are alone here. Mostly our humanity is neglected when we interact with the universe. When we are hungry, our animal side (physical side) goes to the kitchen but our human side is usually neglected. This human side exists to connectwith the Creator.

Analogy: Just as when you learn something, it is your human side that increases in capacity. Your animal side suffers by commuting to school every day for example but it is your human side that develops.

Same goes for belief matters. That is to say, belief needs to be experienced.

  • Belief cannot be taken loosely.
  • Belief is acknowledgment, awareness, consciousness or a worldview.

Seek refuge with the Creator means to become conscious of the Creator of the universe. That is, the more you play the piano, the more your humanity increases in getting pleasure from playing. Human side feels pleasure from practically feeling it or becoming aware that the Absolute Being is taking care of you.

Who else can you trust besides the One that creates the universe?

When you are aware of the Source of your existence, automatically you trust It. Concluding about something without actually experiencing it does not put anyone in connection with the Creator. Supplication puts us in contact with the Creator: “I acknowledge you and I expect you to complete all my needs since you gave them to me, I am aware of it.”

  • We have to be precise in matters related to religion. We cannot take religion and belief matters generally.

In conclusion, witnessing bounties of the Creator is the way to rejoice while we are doing physical actions of rituals. Pleasure lies in the acknowledgment of the Creator of the universe. Never confuse human side with animal side. Animal side has to obey the order. Human side has to get meaning from the order and realize who the owner of the order is. What remains with us is not our actions but in our actions our realization of the Absolute satisfies our humanity. Declaration of God says to take notice of Its grace to us, not our actions. Humanity requires us to acknowledge the Absolute Gracious One i.e. my existence belongs to It and I belong to It, that is how I rejoice.

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