Friday, 9 January 2015

Free but must!

Quite a few of the Brothers find the recitation of the Breviary very routine and boring.  At every opportunity they get to skip it, they'd gladly replace it with something as fickle as an extempore bhajan service - every week!  This bhajan service at times is so extempore that nobody knows who is going to do what!  Very many of the same Brothers do not feel bored of the game they choose to play everyday.  Given an opportunity they'd play football every day... the same game, the same court, the same rules, the same position... but this is not boring or tiring.

What then distinguishes something as boring and irrelevant  from something else that is interesting and meaningful?

Baruch Spinoza while speaking of God states that he must necessarily emanate while still holding that God is free.  He explains that God's choice to emanate is not decided by someone else.  There is no compulsion from anyone external to him to emanate. Yet, he does emanate. It is his choice to do so.

Explaining this in class, I presented the following analogy:  A young boy is very fond of prayer and he does pray every day especially early in the morning. He perseveres in this choice and is happy about it.  He later decides to join a seminary.  At the seminary there is every morning a bell to rise and later for meditation and morning prayers.  Now in this present situation he 'must' pray!  Is he free now to pray?  Most of the students got the point.  Bell and the timetable does not in any way hinder this young man from praying.  If at all, they serve as an 'additional' help.  But even without them, he will continue to pray - primarily because it is his choice.  The rest of the crowd, who drag themselves to the church to pray, have to make sense of what we are doing once there!  It is often the bell that prays and not me!  

So is the bell and schedule really helpful?  To a certain extent, yes! For those who have not had the facility to fall in love with prayer, these offer an ambiance.  But very often they are seen more as deterrents than aids.

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