I am neither an atheist nor a spiritualist, but some strange place in between I call an apatheist. After doing a series of posts called Philosophers Squared I felt an affinity for the Stoics, so I did another series on Epictetus, a 1st century slave in the Roman Emperor Nero’s court. The goal of that world view is to live tranquilly with one’s inner self and contented with the outer world. Having practiced that, intermittently as all things must be, for several months now, I do feel more comfortable being who I am, and more accepting of everyone else being who they are. I have been more willing to explore well outside of my usual self-imposed box, of demanding conformity to testable reality.
With that broadened view I am going to explore the world of prayer. I don’t want to get trapped into Saint Augustine‘s, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe”. That plan of action simply brings into being a codifying of confirmation biases and the creating religions of hope based on organized and beautified phantasy.
My plan is to observe what I presently think about the value of prayer, then to read and discuss a variety of prayers, and then to write some prayers that an objective apatheist would consider helpful. This is a large subject and will take a while, and perhaps the first prayer would be to and from my own self – to direct me along the proper paths. At this time I perceive a prayer to be my request of the Universe, of which I am part, to give goals that I can seek and directions that I can obey.
A prayer is a quest for right action, and the action begins within one’s own choice.
I will, as I must, function within the realms of the possible. Seeking the impossible must inevitably lead to failure, disappointment, and despair.
Prayer is a prelude to the action needed to fulfill the goal of the prayer.
If we seek something from something that doesn’t exist, the only thing to come into being will be our own fantasies, and unless they are grounded in something they will lead to nothing.
We must ask in such a way that our emotional mind understands and can motivate us to action, as the rational mind perceives all things with too abstract a view to have a motivated action.
Prayers can only come true if it is possible for them to come true. A bad prayer is one that asks for the impossible, and it will bring nothing but something you didn’t pray for.
When we pray for what is, and what will be, and what has been, our prayers will always be answered.
Let us seek to be able to think clearly when terrified, and act properly when in pain.
Hand – push open the gate that I might see the path. Feet – step forward that I might tread the path. Heart – give courage that I might travel the path. Mouth – smile that I might enjoy the journey.
The journey begins.