Prayer is generally the first natural and conscious response in a person who has had some kind of religious awakening. The awareness of our human limitations and mortality is generally enough to turn us in the direction of, and seek help from, a Power or a Person who is not bound by those limitations. As a form of “receiving,” prayer is a movement from God toward human beings. When a prayer is answered, the heart is filled with gratitude.
This article, by Swami Tyagananda, originally was a talk given at a panel discussion organized at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, in June 2003.
I would like to focus on two issues: first, facing life’s challenges with courage; and second, negotiating the boundaries based on nationality, religion, politics, and race. The two issues are related but need to be examined separately. More specifically, I wish to offer a few insights gathered from Vivekananda’s teachings as possible pointers towards addressing these two issues.
The Utility of Interpretations
That’s the whole point—isn’t it?—of why interpretations are offered and why they are studied. It’s not so much a matter of agreeing or not agreeing with, or accepting or rejecting, any interpretation. That’s secondary. What is primary is the question: does this interpretation help me go closer to the truth, or the inner essence, of the person or the idea that is being interpreted.