Sunday, December 20, 2009
Paying for Prayers
Let me start off by saying I don't have much of a religious background and I don't have a lot of knowledge about religious stuff. So I also don't come with a lot of baggage about these things and forgive me if I am ignorant.
It seems to me that people who do praying and meditating and chanting and other things like that, even though they personally benefit, are also doing good for others and could be recognized for that. If someone prays for you and you believe in it and believe the prayers are helping, that would be worth something to you, just as an herbal supplement or a bit of medicine might be worth something.
I think we're rightfully in a place in our culture where we've let go of praying and developing strong mental practices but I think the time for the return of those things is coming. I say rightfully because obviously there has been an abuse of power in the past and when we think someone else has the power to heal us or to help us when we can't do it ourselves, then there's a risk of trouble.
On the other hand, having someone else support you in your practice by doing it themselves, could really inspire you to take your health, physical and mental and all of that, in your own hands by leading the way. I think that's what monks and nuns are doing, if they're doing it, when things are working as they could.
I think that type of practice would be like art and the person doing the practice is an artist. Really. Because with art, we are inspired, we are transported, we are pleased, and with prayers and chants, the same thing can happen. And just like with art, it's quite personal about what pleases us and what moves us, same thing with prayers and practices. Some things will work and others won't. Some cultures and governments will want to pay for it and others won't.
I think that the people doing that kind of work serve a valuable function in our society and are often overlooked in our culture. We don't provide space or accommodation for people who need a lot of time to meditate or chant or do stuff that others may consider "non-productive." If you've ever tried to sit for an hour or do a daily practice even when you don't feel like it, you'll recognize how hard it can be, how many years it takes to cultivate a strong practice, and how valuable it is to have someone else doing it to show it can be done, not to mention to help filter the space, the air, that we pollute with our materialism.
Just like artists could use patrons, I think spiritual practitioners (and I'm not talking about myself in any of this!) who may have in the past been in monasteries or convents but aren't associated with any particular religion anymore, could also use patrons. Their work is valuable but their work often goes unrecognized.