Eat, Pray, Love …….. Meditate?
Every major religion in the world includes a ritual of prayer. A resolute way of communication with the Divine, Supreme being or God. Whatever the religious flavor and structure, these conversations take the form of praise for the Divine, often giving thanks and followed by some sort of plea for a desired outcome. These rituals of prayer are typically held in public places, community gatherings, but often are a private way of contacting the divine on one’s own terms.
But the essence of these interactions is to engage the practitioner in an intimate mental telepathic link with God. Prayers seem to be the official conduit to be heard by the Devine and perhaps to ask for help from God. Prayer seems vital to be on God’s good side. Many of these rituals take the form of a set of repeating verses, either from the Koran, the Torah, the Bible, or some other text with roots or association with the Divine.
Now, …. what do these chants or mantras have to do with meditation? Buddhists recite the name of Buddha, Hindus worship as an act of religious devotion – usually directed to one or more Hindu deities. Muslims praise Allah in their five daily prayers, Jews want to build a relationship with God by praying three times daily. Christian prayers are much more broad, they all involve Jesus as the intermediary, and they move onto a progressively more structured form in terms of meditation, reaching multiple layers of contemplation or intercession.
The main point being that all these prayers, mantras or chants involve a complete submission of the daily thought to a focused awareness of the moment. A special trance-like state where the “monkey” mind surrenders to a channeled meditation of which the Divine is the main focus.
Although not specifically meant to tame the mind and force the practitioner into an appreciation of the moment, it is still an attempt at letting go of the busy thoughts of the day and a focused inward look or connection with the spiritual.
In fact, these rituals appear very similar in nature and intention to Zen meditation. The repeating of verses, chanting of mantras, praying to the rosary, reciting of passages from the Torah or Koran can be thought to have the same purpose and a similar goal. In the end, the purpose of these rituals is to guide the practitioner to a better life, one that eventually leads to strikingly similar spiritual goals: a life of love, without pain and suffering …… Nirvana, Heaven, Paradise, the Kingdom of God.
The paths are very different ……. but are these ways so different after all????