Friday, February 8, 2013
Removing Fear, Obligation and Expectation from Worship and Prayer
This is the case with this poster. I read another great article by John Becket called Worship the Gods. And this post itself was in response to Brendon Myers article The worship of the gods is not what matters. Both articles talk about the nature of worship, and both quite good. And I started a quick response to John's post in Google Plus, which got pretty long. So I'm putting it as a post of my own below.
I do not equate "worship" with bowing or obeying. I equate it with "love" and "respect". And even when I do, I try not to do it to get something or out of fear or obligation. Partially, it really is just out of love. But it is also as a means to become one with them and the Divine Reality/Mystery behind them.
As a practicing Hindu (and sometimes Catholic) I often engage in "darshan," which can interpreted as "looking." When I go to the Hindu temple, I just sit in front of the Deity (or statue) and soak in the Divine. And I do the same thing with the Blessed Sacrament in a Catholic Church. Or the images on my altar at home. Or the Sun, stars, a river or a beautiful expanse of woods. And, as I have learned lately, with people, no matter how "good" or "bad" that person is.
I also liken these moments to visiting a loved one, like a grandmother or grandfather. Just taking the time to spend some time with them is what counts. That you're giving your undivided attention. Which in itself is a wonderful gift. Then, if you want to go a step further and chat a bit or offer them a bit to eat or drink, that's up to you.
Interestingly, I'd been thinking about this this morning. I stepped into my home office, and glanced at my shrine/altar. I didn't bow or anything, and for a second, felt guilty. But then I thought, "I really need to get out of this guilt or obligation thing with God." He/she doesn't demand it, won't do anything if you don't, and probably won't do anything if you do. The love is unconditional and constant, no matter what you do.
And saying he/she "probably won't do anything if you do" is significant. There have been, and are many spiritual people that do think of God as an ATM machine. This goes back thousands of years and in almost all religions. And it is so prevalent today. So many pray, if not intentionally for something, at least try to be good so that things go their way. I'm not sure that's how it works. Things go as they do. And your prayer and worship should not be so tied to making things go right. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Just don't dwell on it, depend on it, and revolve your whole spirituality around it.
So that's one of my ongoing goals. Love, attention, prayer and worship without fear, obligation, or expectation. Just love. And be.