About a year and a half ago I was going through a personal crisis. While hanging my head in despair I vocalized a little prayer to "whomever the powers that be." To my amazement, my prayer was answered almost immediately. In fact, it only took about 10 minutes and I received exactly what I had asked for. Sure, we all say little prayers to ourselves and sometimes they are answered but we are usually not sure of the result for the universe and the powers that be move on their own terms and we are but a speck of life amongst billions. What stuck with me in the above episode was how immediate and direct the response was. It got me to wondering about the nature of prayer and the particulars of the situation.

With the seed of the concept of prayer having been planted in my mind I began to notice my life change in subtle ways. I started thinking about the possibility of a benevolent spirit or guardian watching over me...

I am a student of philosophy and physics. I've always been fascinated with metaphysics - the underlying principles upon which reality is based. This naturally led me to study modern physics. Aren't cosmologists, theologians and quantum physicists looking for the same thing? Did not Einstein equate a Grand Unified Field Theory with knowing the mind of God? What always got my goat with conventional religion was the thought that after man, there is only God in the evolutionary scale. Maybe the Catholics have something with the concept of Guardian Angels. The point is - with all of the forms of life that exist here on earth from a virus to a human being - why would not there be many other more highly evolved forms of life that perhaps we have only a nascent awareness of? Just as it takes a microscope to see an amoeba, perhaps it takes an expanded awareness to perceive a higher form of life.

I began to pray on a regular basis but it wasn't a litany of requests. It was more of an attempt on my part to open up myself to the possibility of having a benefactor and making direct contact with him (or her). While meditating on the subject one night I asked for a name. He told me his name. I wasn't sure if I had actually heard the name or if it just came into my mind but it was very distinct. Thus I started calling him by this name, if nothing else, because it was better than "the powers that be." To this day he has never appeared to me physically or manifested any proof of his existence but I have this certitude that he is there whenever I need him. Why? He answers my prayers, always. He never fails.

Who is this being? Is it God? Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Jah? I don't know. One of the things I have learned is that it doesn't matter. The name itself takes us further from the truth. Perhaps those other names are just conventions for the same truth, a truth that all of us seem to have a vestigial remembrance of.

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Prayer 2

Children believe in all sorts of things. One can convince a child of practically anything for he has not yet developed the powers of reasoning and deduction to be able to distinguish between what is "reasonable and practical" and what is merely a "figment of the imagination." Through cultural assimilation, schooling and practical experience we develop rules by which we make sense of the world. We come up with laws by which we can predict what will happen with a high degree of accuracy. Our science and mathematics provide the terms by which the physical world can be described and analyzed. Our language gives us the ability to objectify and categorize the things in the world. Our science, however, leaves no room for the existence of such things as spirits, angels and boogeymen. Thus, over time, children learn the difference between fantasy and reality.

Jesus talked about the greatness of the faith of a child. Perhaps it is because a child needs no proof. Faith is believing what your logical mind does not. What we call knowledge results from the assimilation of information based upon experience and deduction. It is a science of observation and logic. We are hesitant to refer to the spiritual realm, however, in terms of knowledge but more in terms of speculation. Like other scientific "facts," matters of the spirit will remain hypotheses until we develop the appropriate instruments to actually observe and record these phenomena.

Thus, as we mature, we distance ourselves from the innocence of our childhood, the naive acceptance of the world on its own terms rather than on the terms we impose upon it. Martin Buber, a 20th Century philosopher wrote a book, I And Thou, in which he details the process by which we distance ourselves from the world through our own reasoning:

Imagine walking down a path one day and coming upon a being unlike anything you have ever experienced before. For just an instant you are frozen, unable to relate to the experience in terms analogous to anything else. For this moment you are meeting another being on the level of a "Thou - Thou" relationship, using Buber's terms. There are no lines of distinction; you are one with the present moment. Almost immediately, you see the being as something other than yourself, another being. This moves the relationship to the level of "I - Thou," for although you see it as something else, you still have not drawn any conclusions about this other being. In almost the same immediacy you start making deductions - is it animal, vegetable, etc.. You draw analogies to other beings that it resembles and begin to find a category to neatly fit it into. At this point the relationship has degenerated to that of "I - It." You have now lost the ability to perceive this being the same way you did at the first moment you encountered it. You have decided what it is and moved on to dealing with it armed with the prejudice of knowledge.

To pray, one has to open oneself up, like a child, to a world of untold potential and possibilities. We have to suspend the logical mind and meet the world on a Thou - Thou basis. This requires a firm belief in the most fundamental force in the universe - love.

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