Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Perspective on Religion, Prayer, and Meditation

I recently received a questionnaire from a classmate related to a class assignment, and I feel like my responses were worthwhile enough that I should lengthen my memory of them by posting them here. Some of the answers are very shallow; I plan to contemplate the questions further when I have time.

1. What is prayer to you? What is your definition of prayer?

Prayer (meditation) is a process of stillness, focus, awareness, contemplation, and understanding - in that order.
[secondary] Prayer is stress relief, an emotional buffer between my raw feelings and my actions.

2. Why do you pray?

I pray (meditate) when I am most emotional, and when I am least emotional. When I am intensely emotional, I seek to calm my feelings and restore my self-control. When I am emotionless, I seek to enter the process described above through stillness.

3. What form does your prayer take?

I quiet myself, assume a posture (no specifics other than tucked chin and straight back; it's pretty spontaneous) and focus on my breathing.

4. To whom do you pray? What is your image of God?

If I pray to anyone, I suppose it's myself. In a sense, I pray that I may improve myself.

5. How often do you pray?

Intermittently over the past five-ish years, recently increasing in frequency. I now pray (meditate) in some fashion on most days.

6. Do you feel that God ever communicates to you? How?
7. Have you ever had a time when you felt that one of your prayers was answered? Describe the incident. If not, is there a time where you feel or felt close to God?

No, and no.

8. At what point do you feel most spiritual? With whom? When?

I am most spiritual when I am surrounded by my own thoughts. In that sense, I am always alone when I am spiritual, even though I may be with other people.

9. Why are you religious (or not)?

Because I was not brought up in a religious context, I am not predisposed to believe in a higher power, which precludes a belief in most religions. When it comes to my worldview, I value the empirical over the hypothetical, the descriptive over the normative, the real over the ideal; as such, I prefer to restrict my belief in the supernatural and/or transcendent. Finally, the material plane satisfies my capacity for wonder, so that I have no real desire to add a divine element to the mix. The causes and consequences of humanity interest me more than the causes and consequences of deities.

10. Do you want to be religious or are you pushed otherwise? Why?

While going to a religious school has certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities of faith, I remain unwilling to circumscribe my worldview with religious doctrine. To adopt religion seems a limited and limiting way of life. At this time, the most religion I would allow into my life would be the admission of a higher power (Deism) mixed with elements of philosophy and meditation from various Eastern religions. And at this point, I think my beliefs would be most accurately described as agnostic, which is a shift from my atheism prior to entering Bellarmine.

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