Sunday, November 18, 2007

not as i will, but as You will | INSHALLAH

Going a little farther, Jesus fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." - Gospel according to Matthew 26:39, describing prayer of Jesus, with him be God' peace, while he was prostrating or offering Sajdah. And he uttered this prayer ending with the most humblest expression of surrender that any prayer can incorporate. The cup here symbolized all the drama that followed concerning his arrest and crucifixion.

Language is a tricky thing, as one poetess says, "The language never flies straight to the meaning". As a practitioner of one language its often difficult to incorporate all the terminology and expression to its fullest meaning. Over the time as religion and spiritual practices crossed their borders, the language that the teachers spoke was no longer the language of the followers. And this gives rise to a very difficult and significant problem, which is the problem of "meaning incorporation".

I give an example of islamic tradition. The language of the Prophet Muhammad was Arabic and Quranic arabic is a classic edition. Muslims by tradition practice their religion in Arabic language. But being someone who doesn't know the language properly and often so remote from the own mother tongue can create a huge gap between the practice of religion and incorporating its meanings, significance and internalizing those.

Often practicing a religion in a language totally foreign is the most fundamental reason why religious experience fails to attain its purpose, which is to beautify the human experience and to give birth to perfect human being, 'insaan e kamil', as they say in the esoteric tradition of Islam.

We look at our world and can see one of the most horrible crime committers are none other than those who claim themselves "religious", "upholder and protector of religion". This is because the teachings never enters into their heart, because whatever sacred text they utter, they utter from sheer ignorance.

As religious teachings and the faith crossed borders, the teachings and everything came mostly in the language of a totally alien land. People were taught to pray in an alien language which often killed the spirit of the prayer. It was such an essential component that the language with which any one practice his or her religious practices, should better be made a language of heart. Otherwise how are you to communicate from the heart to Someone Who's Throne is Heart itself?

The non-arabic speaking muslims who have very little understanding of the language of Arabic suffer great deal of disconnection from the spirit of the religion. No wonder we don't see the Baraka, the blessings which are suppose to accompany the prayers. No longer the prayers bring the desired beautification since the prayer is not even understood by the one who utters it. Its a crisis in the faithful community of one of the largest religion on the face of earth, yet totally ignored.

I have seen and experienced people who would take out and recite a memorized dua or prayer in very religious manner but don't know the meaning. They disgrace not only their human intellect, but also disgrace the holy scripture, the message bearer and also God because they reduce themselves to nothing but a parrot who knows not what it utters. Thats not for what human being is honored as the best of creation, ashraful makhlukat.

The problem is equally present among hindus who will recite mantra of sanskrit language like parrot or christians reciting in latin. Sometime its the devotee who does it, sometime the priests become the parrot and does it for the devotees. Everywhere the same crisis of caught into language gap where spirit of prayer and mantra never catch up with its divine blessings in its understanding and recital from mind and heart.

Faith practitioners who's mother tongue is different than that of the religiously prescribed language its imperative that the person must first understand, realize the language and cross the barrier of language. Sometime its much more effective to convey the same meaning and spirit in own language close to mind and heart. Thus private prayers instead of saying in a memorized, not-understood language, its better be said in own language which is close to heart and culture to the land.

For example, the beautiful prayer of Christ, "Not as I will, but as You Will" is exactly the same in spirit what Muslims are taught by the Prophet and also in Quran to affirm, by saying "Inshallah". The arabic word Inshallah means, "As God wills". Thus those who speak in English or their mind works in English for them in the prayer, incorporating, "Not as i will but as You Will" is a beautiful way to internalize the spirit of Divine Surrender and Realize the place of Grand Divine Will above our limited will.

When repeating a mantra or seed of zikr or divine remembrance its also advisable that the one who repeat the mantra translate it in his or her own language so that it enters the mind and heart; and thus bring the Baraka or Berakhah, the blessings it contains.
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