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They taught me to pray

April 26, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59“They don’t try to grasp the divine reality with their minds, but they experience the divine reality.” Father William Mackey said, “We westerners try and grasp an infinite reality with our finite minds, through finite concepts. Impossible, no finite word, concept, image can express an infinite reality.”

Father a Canadian Jesuit made intriguing observations of his students. This was his life long quest. He was able to make these observations after spending most of his life with children in the schools mostly in remote parts of Bhutan.

In the school, he attended the daily prayers where both boys and girls sat cross legged without shoes in their national dress in the school altar room for the recitation of Buddhist prayers. PTM_250-x-250

Father would often sit down with the students in the prayer hall, but he would recite his Breviary-psalms and read from his own scriptures. To make his prayer interesting, “I would recite the same to the Bhutanese prayer rhythm, trying to have a religious experience.”

Father bubbled with energy and foamed easily but what intrigued him was the way the students un-winded their day. It was common to see him wandering through the dormitories daily and it was a ritual for him to be present before the lights were put out at nine.

Most of us, who lived in the dormitories, would have seen many of the students squatting on their beds before going to sleep. Most of them would close their eyes and with folded hands pray. During my four years in Bhutanese boarding school I never tried to understand or ask why we did that.

But, Father did. He called this immobile meditation. He said, “They descend inside themselves, beneath the level of sense beneath the level of the minds to the fundamental level of being. They strive to experience a reality.” Father experienced what I had seen too. “I have seen some students, squatting immobile on their beds experiencing something, someone.”

Father developed that habit of immobile mediation. In one of his letters, he said “I can now squat peacefully for 45 minutes every morning, trying to experience the reality of God in my life. Bhutanese guluphulus (rascals) have taught me how to pray.”

In an average Bhutanese home, the day begins with offering of water in the altar room, burning of incenses followed by prayers. Father perspective on this offering is intriguing, “The offerings of the day with all its problems good and bad,-one of the children will take the Sangphur-little metal cup or vase-in which some leaves, or sticks are burning-and waft the smoke in front of their altar, and around the room. It is a daily Bhutanese morning offering of the day, good and bad, difficulties and problems, to Sangye, Lord Buddha, asking for his help and guidance.”

After spending lot of time wandering in the dusty and creaky dormitories of schools in Bhutan he changed his approach to prayer became Bhutanese and Trinitarian. He said, “I try to experience the reality of being father in being, “I am”- an opportunity to be- a chance to suffer, work, pray to make my little world a more loving place.”

Father tried to rationalize his efforts to experience Christ healing and saving power in his life. But realized that was possible not through reasoning or intellect but through an experience of the reality of the trinity in his life. That way he could rekindle the fire of divine love and hence made his world a loving one. Father confessed, “These lamasistic concepts have influenced my own prayer life.” He realized the importance to experience rather than understands and said, “We have much to learn from Buddhist prayer.”

Written by : Tshering Tashi

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