Friday, June 12, 2009

Why Praise?

In Sacred Praise of the Nameless One Who gave us radiance in our mother’s womb and the radiance where we long to return at the end of our journey

1.
Glorified is the Divine (SubhanaHu), and immeasurably beyond what they speak in their incapacitated imagination. The seven heavens and the earth and all that is within them glorify the Divine and there is not a thing that does not exalt Hu by Hu’s sacred praise; yet you fail to understand their glorification. Surely Hu is Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving (Inna Hu kana Haliman Ghafura).

- Meditative rendition of verses 43-44 of Surah al-Isra, 17th Chapter of the Holy Quran

2.
Every spiritual path on the face of earth from time immemorial, if one can point to, among many things have one commonality. They all praise and glorify. What does they praise and glorify? If its God centered, mostly they praise and glorify the Divine Being, no matter what name their language ascribe unto That. Every Muslim begin their prayer by saying, “Every Praise is unto Allah, Sustainer of all worlds”. Every Christian knows very well the Lord’s prayer and the blessed utterance of Christ, “Nethqadash Shmakh”, Hallowed be Thy Name.

In Jewish tradition we find in the beautiful Chanukkah blessing:

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, Sovereign of the Universe.

Even certain Buddhist sects greet each other by glorifying the Eternally Awake One, Amitabh Buddha (Eternal Light). In Pure Land Buddhism for example Namu Amida Batsu is the Adoration for Amida Buddha and the goal of enlightenment of Pure Land Buddhism to reach the remembrance of the Name of the Ultimate Heavenly Buddha.

You enter Gita, you enter the sacred text of any spiritual path, you listen to the oral tradition of Native Indians, you will find this common thread. We praise and glorify the Nameless One Who has many Name.

The Final testament thus testifies on this by pointing to multiplicity:

Unto every community have We appointed [different] ways of worship (praise, adoration), which they ought to observe. Hence, do not let those draw you into disputes on this score, but summon unto your Sustainer. - Quran (22:67)

Quran goes on to say that not only every human community have their way of praise, adoration but everything that is in the heaven and earth praise and glorifies God.

In surah al-isra of al-Qur'an (17:44) it is said:

The seven heavens and the earth
and all beings therein declare His glory:
there not a thing but celebrates His praise;
and yet ye understand not how they declare His glory!

The question often arises, Why do we praise and glorify? If you look at prayer books of any religious path, they all begin and end with praise and glorification. What is the point? Is God a dysfunctional narcissist being that asks the creation only to glorify and praise endlessly (a common complaint of the agnostic and atheist friends)?

3.
Secret of Praise

In this dual world where we come to face everything in their dualistic nature, day with night, light with darkness, matter with anti-matters – it is not surprise that praise can also be discovered as genuine and in its opposite. The genuine praise comes from authentic feeling of gratitude and that is the kind of praise that found its way into religious or spiritual traditions. In order to understand the sacred praise, we aught to look at the genuine praise, not the other kind. Regarding the other kind, the praise which is not genuine, which is only to fulfill ritual is likened as dirty laundry. The Prophet said, “Worship which is not genuine and does not come from the heart, the angels throw such prayers and praise on the face of the worshiper like a dirty laundry. (to mean not acceptance)” Such praise doesn't ascend and we are not talking about such praise within the boundary of organized ritual that is disconnected from heart's harmony.

The messengers, the prophets, the sages and the gnostics, from whom we inherited the blessed words of genuine praise are the ones who understood the secret of praise. From the truly God realized one, we may partake in the fragrance of secret praise. Often time at moments in our life when we truly observe a Sign in the external world where our heart center opens, we also come face to face such moments, some call them aha moments. And our being then praise spontaneously. We are talking about such praise. Again one may ask what is this secret of praising the Divine Who in one sense is utterly independent of the creation?

The secret is YOU.

4.
God Ideal

In our faith or belief in God, we approach a God Ideal which is very unique. That is why its said that there are as many path to God as are the numbers of human breath. This is because God Ideal unveil to us in different degrees according to our consciousness.

What is God Ideal? For man, God or the Divine, no matter what tradition it is, represent the Highest Ideal or the Highest embodiment. Whatever quality or attribute we see in this world, nothing is perfect but its Perfected Ideal meets in God Ideal. We think of beauty, we think of perfection, they all falls short in this existence and in God Ideal they all meet. Human imagination fall short of Infinite, yet every Infinite hides inside God Ideal.

The Divine is like the Sun, human existence is like the moon, reflecting the light of Sun. Even when the moon disappears into the daylight, its still beholding the reflection. Even when our life is clouded with human shortcomings, even when veil of ignorance keep us separated - we are always reflecting the light of Divine, holding it inside our heart. Heart of man is the shrine of God and God is our Ideal Self, the only Self that is Real.

Thus every sacred praise is remembrance of our true Ideal Self. When we praise God, we remember our Ideal Self, we remember from the Source from where we borrow our attributes of Love, Compassion, Mercy, Justice, Beauty, Majesty, Nourisher, Peace. Thus the giving of praise is partaking in Our Essential Self. Every praise is a reminder and an opportunity to transcend our limitations and a call for freedom from every bondage. Blessed sufi master, Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote:
"In the Bible and also in other scriptures we read that we should glorify the Name of God. But is God raised higher by man's worship of Him, or is He made greater by man's belief in Him? The answer is that God is independent of all that man can do for Him. If man worships God, believes in Him, and glorifies Him, it is for man's own good; for belief in God serves the greatest and only purpose in life. That purpose is the attainment of divine perfection, and it is for its fulfillment that man was born."

Again about the connection between our God Ideal and our self, Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote, “The need of the God-ideal is like the need of a ship in which to sail through the ocean of eternity. And as there is a danger of sinking in the sea without a ship, so there is a danger of falling prey to mortality for the man without a God-ideal.”

The example of Beauty in God Ideal will be helpful in understanding:
The principal teaching is that the heart of man is the shrine of God, to recognize God in one's own heart, to feel His existence, presence, virtue, goodness, all manner of beauty. .. The secret of life is this: to produce beauty in ourselves. When beauty is produced in the heart, then all that breaks the heart vanishes and the whole universe becomes one single vision of the sublimity of God. - Religious Gatheka 13, Message of Christ, Hazrat Inayat Khan (unpublished)

Thus by praising God, we praise the Reality from where we come from and where we must ascend to discover our true Self. This is where our human beauty meets the Jamal, the Beauty Divine. In praising God we praise our most authentic part, the essence of divine breath that is within us.

5.
Praising the Divine, pathway to dissolving the separations

I was asking a wise friend, tell me why we praise. She replied in one sentence, “Because only Allah is Praiseworthy.” In one sentence she summarized it all. But when further asked to share more of her gnosis, she gave a parable, “When we taste honey, we can praise the honey, or we can praise the bee or we can praise the Maker of the bee – who in Reality is the Real Maker of both Bee and Honey.” If we limit ourselves only to praise honey, by praising the part, our focus lie at that level. But if we praise the Source, we go beyond the small divisions, we go beyond all separations.

“The strange thing is”, she said, “when you praise Allah, you praise everything.” By praising or appreciating only the drop we miss the Ocean, so we praise the Ocean that includes all drops.

Everything is included in that Sacred Praise and when you praise everything you love everything. Thus praise of God teaches one to love everything between the heaven and the earth, teaches us to dissolve our separations. "When we devote ourselves to the thought of God, all illumination and revelation is ours", said Inayat Khan. Thus when we enter into the sanctified space of sacred praise, our inner self ascend towards that illumination of the True Self. Every ascent of the Moon is sacred praise of the Sun that illuminates it.

Alhamdulillahi Rabbi al-Aalamin.

All praise descend from and ascend back to One,
Lord and Cherisher of the Pluriverse.


What a miracle!
The "Namu-Amida-Butsu" (Sacred Praise of Eternally Awakened One) fills the whole world!
And this world is given me!
This is my joy!
"Namu-Amida-Butsu!" (Adoration for the Eternal Light)

- Pure Land Buddhism

# Reference:
. God Ideal
. Be Beautiful
. Namu Amida Butsu
. Lords Prayer in Aramaic
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