Prayers and wishes could be synonyms, when I pray for you or wish for you, the essence is similar. However if we call it prayers, some of our humanist brothers and sisters may feel excluded as prayers are usually associated with asking God to shower his blessings. However, if we call it a wish, we may have more inclusiveness in it. For linguistic purposes, I will use the word prayer to mean both prayers and wishes.
Years ago when my son Jeffrey was about eleven and my daughter Jasmina was six, I took them to every place of worship from Baha’i to Zoroastrian and every one in between. Invariably they would ask, “Dad, what are they saying?’ As a parent, I learned to translate those wishes in the most simplistic language for them and not get flabergasted to the likes of the question, " how were we born?"
In every religious tradition the meaning remains nearly the same;
- Thanking the Causer
- Praising the Lord
- Singing in the glory of the creator
- God is Pure
- God is the Creator
- God is the Nourisher
- God is the Sustainer
- Seeking help
- Wishing well for others
No matter how you translate, you could not veer off from the messages above. Of course the humility is signified with bowing, kneeling or prostrating or simply closing the eyes, different acts but the same value to the performer.
My kids and I have been to just about every place of worship, however my son missed the Synagogue and both of them have missed out visiting the Native traditions, the Ismaili and Bohra places of worship. My daughter however has been a witness to the conversation on Atheism or Humanism on my Radio shows which he missed. The idea is for them to know about various traditions and be open to the beauty of each one of them and prepare them to look at other humans being with dignity. We have to consciously create a better world.
These are some of the places we have been to;
- Bahais (Ben Moghaddas’s home),
- Buddhist (Grand Prairie, Richardson),
- Christian (Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic and Mormon)
- Hindu (Main temple, Swami Narayan, Caribbean, Hare Krishna),
- Jain (Richardson)
- Jewish (Temple Shalom & Emanuel)
- Islam (Richardson, Carrollton, Irving, Allen (Shia, Sunni and Ahmadiyya)
- Sikh (Garland)
- Zoroastrian (Home and other places)
A NEW BEGINNING IN RELIGIOUS DISCOURSE
Around 1994, my daughter and I were in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Hindu Temple. We were in the midst of the devotional songs in the sanctuary and as usual my little girl would get on her knees and look around as if no one is watching her and then whisper the standard question in my ears, to which I reel off.... God is the Nourisher, sustaine... sweeite they are saying to thank God for the life. OMG, I want those moments back in my life… how much I loved those tender moments!
She could not contain her excitement, right in the middle of the Bhajans, the six year old stands up with her eyes wide open, and in an excited voice blurts out, “Gee Dad, that’s cool, God can be worshipped in so many different ways!” Indeed that sentence has become a part of my teaching in Pluralism. Pluralism is simply respecting the otherness of other and appreciating the god given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us.
We can learn from children, they are pure, they see the beauty in diversity and cherish everywhich way one worships the divine.
I will leave you with this thought; as we would not give them rotten and stale food, why would we bias them towards fellow beings?
Here is something you can start, when you talk with your children inluding the grown up children, don’t upload them with hatred or ill-will towards any human or any religion. Can you do that?
The bottom line of your prayers and wishes is for the other person to be at peace and be happy.
My next essay will deal with our responsibility to raise Children with no malice. I will be happy to share and speak with your friends, place of worship, a family gathering or an office on how to co-exist in harmony by identifying real conflicts and not so real conflicts. We honor God by honoring every which way one acknowledges the causer of the universe.
God bless you.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist, educator and an activist of Pluralism, Justice, Islam, India, Peace and Civil Societies. He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day and is a frequent guest on the media. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/