On the Flightless Wings of a Prayer

My daughter wants me to wish her a great day when she goes out to work. I wish her without fail, not beccause I believe it would make any difference. I believe that what matters is how things happen in her office and how she reacts to them. She believes a wish or a prayer from her old man puts her in a positive frame of mind. I like that.

I, for one, do not believe in the effectiveness of a prayer. If there is a God, or a guardian angel who is all-powerful and cares for one’s welfare, she needs not wait for an appeal from my side. That said, when my children are late from school or from a movie or a date, and do not answer the phone, I do get worried and hope against hope that there has been no accident, and they would come home soon. Such a hope sounds almost like a prayer. That hope, even if you call it a prayer to an unknown God, so be it, but I express that wish, hope, prayer, whatever you might call it, to console myself and set my heart at peace, not to placate any God.

If you feel the need to pray to offer solace to yourself, for the safety of a beloved being, for your own safety, while you drive on a South-Asian highway, ride a train of the Indian railways, your spouse falls sick or denies you your side of the bed, or while taking off in an airplane that withdraws its undercarriage with a frightening thud, do pray to a kind-hearted, non-vengeful, helpful, smiling god of your heart even though you know or suspect the existence of such a self-important God. You must be able to recall umpteen prayers – like the first time you applied to your favourite university and were rejected, the promotion you thought was yours and prayed for it, and even vowed to put an ad praising your favourite saint – but was overlooked, or your grandmother breathed her last while you were kneeling at her bedside praying to keep her alive for a few more years. The last time I said such a prayer was 22 years ago on October 31, and rushed to a temple accompanying my wife was to pray that my younger brother in Botswana university, so full of mathematical ideas for social reformation in India and Africa, compassion and love for all , would not succumb to colon cancer. When we reached back home, news came that he died. Nine months later when I was told over phone that my son met with a car accident on his way to Madras airport, I did not pray. but just hoped. My wife and my daughter prayed; they prayed hard. My son died.

When I was being taken in for a heart surgery, a good-humoured anatheist told me that everything would be fine, but if I wanted to pray before he gave me the needle, he would give me two minutes. I said I would pray to him and the surgeon to be careful, if such a prayer was needed. No, such a prayer even was unnecessary. I came through the surgery and took my first walk in the ward-hall an hour after they pulled out all the tubes from my face.

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121- 180)

If you believe in the unethical, sexless or over-sexed, hateful, retributive, selfish, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, chauvinistic, ‘pray-to-me-or-I’ll-burn-you-in-hell’ god of religion (any religion), you might over time become unethical, hateful, sexless or oversexed, retributive, selfish, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, chauvinistic, “pray-to-my-god-or-you-will-burn-in-hell” bigot and and cause riots and wars in this world, and generally die an unhappy person, a vengeful pastor, paedophile Bishop, teenager-raping Baba, a Jihadist or at least a bigot of some kind or another, vainly hoping to find a better life and better sex in another non-existent world.

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My daughter wants me to wish her a great day when she goes out to work. I
wish her without fail, not because I believe it would make any difference. I
believe that what matters is how things happen in her office and how she reacts
to them. She believes a wish or a prayer from her old man puts her in a
positive frame of mind. I like that.

I, for one, do not believe in the effectiveness of a prayer. If there is a
God, or a guardian angel who is all-powerful and cares for one’s welfare, she
needs not wait for an appeal from my side. That said, when my children are late
from school or from a movie or a date, and do not answer the phone, I do get
worried and hope against hope that there has been no accident, and they would
come home soon. Such a hope sounds almost like a prayer. That hope, even if you
call it a prayer to an unknown God, so be it, but I express that wish, hope,
prayer, whatever you might call it, to console myself and set my heart at
peace, not to placate any God.

If you feel the need to pray to offer solace to yourself, for the safety of
a beloved being, for your own safety, while you drive on a South-Asian highway,
ride a train of the Indian railways, your spouse falls sick or denies you your
side of the bed, or while taking off in an airplane that withdraws its
undercarriage with a frightening thud, do pray to a kind-hearted, non-vengeful,
helpful, smiling god of your heart even though you suspect whether he/she
exists.

You must be able to recall umpteen prayers – like the first time you applied
to your favourite university and were rejected, the promotion you thought was
yours and prayed for it, and even vowed to put an ad praising your favourite
saint but were overlooked, or your grandmother breathed her last while you were
kneeling at her bedside praying to keep her alive for a few more years. The
last time I said such a prayer was 22 years ago on October 31, and rushed to a
temple accompanying my wife to pray that my younger brother in Botswana
university, so full of ideas, compassion and love , would not succumb to colon
cancer. When we reached back home, news came that he died. Nine months later
when I was told over phone that my son met with a car accident on his way to
Madras airport, I did not pray. but just hoped. My wife and my daughter prayed,
they prayed hard. My son died.

When I was being taken in for a heart surgery, a good-humoured anaesthetist
told me that everything would be fine, but if I wanted to pray before he
gave me the needle, he could wait a couple of minutes. I said I would pray to
him and the surgeon to be careful, if such a prayer was needed. No, such a
prayer even was unnecessary. I came through the surgery and took my first walk
in the ward-hall an hour after they pulled out all the tubes from my face.

If you believe in the unethical, sexless or over-sexed, hateful,
retributive, selfish, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, chauvinistic,
‘pray-to-me-or-I’ll-burn-you-in-hell’ god of religion (any religion), you might
over time become unethical, hateful, sexless or oversexed, retributive,
selfish, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, chauvinistic,
“pray-to-my-god-or-you-will-burn-in-hell” bigot and cause riots and
wars in this world, and generally die an unhappy person, a vengeful pastor,
paedophile Bishop, teenager-raping Baba, suicide-bombing  Jihadist or at least a bigot of some kind or
another, vainly hoping to find a better life and better sex in another
non-existent world. .

 

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