|A different view of prayer
I can understand, and to some extent accept, atheism, although this may sound like a strange comment from someone who channels healing from a Source that is identified as Great Spirit.
If we look at what we wish a god to be in respect of our everyday lives, there are attributes that easily come to mind, which include being loving, compassionate, supportive, protective and accessible. For many, living in the world is at best difficult and, at worst, agonizing. It often feels as if 'the world' is always coming at us, never giving us any peace. For others, it is a wonderful experience, smattered with events and feelings that are not so wonderful, but on the whole they are having a great time. We all experience life to varying degrees of pain and enjoyment.
We've often been told that Great Spirit is vengeful and can respond to us like a strict father - sometimes it seems Great Spirit brings violence and anger to us, although this is more of an extremist view. But many souls do not believe that Great Spirit answers our prayers and therefore question It's existence. So, it is not surprising that some people prefer to believe that there is no God and that everything in life is down to us and how we live our lives. And this is why I have some sympathy with an atheistic viewpoint because atheists are right about where our responsibilities lie.
Since I was a child, I have had problems with the bible and, as I grew older and looked into it more fully, I realised that it was written so long after the events that are described, all related through an oral tradition initially, so that we couldn't take it as being 'gospel' necessarily. I'm not suggesting that all of it is fabrication but we have no way of knowing which parts are true and which are not. The bible is very much an article of faith.
I believe that Jesus did exist, but I cannot believe he would have wanted a religion started as a result of his teachings. There is no doubt that there was, and still is, a lot of ego attached to the Christian church and it is closely linked to politics in many ways. I believe this was the case from the start in that the leaders and politicians of the day could see that a religion/church was a good way of controlling the population. I believe Jesus was an intelligent man with simple and rational beliefs who wanted to spread these so that we could all be helped to understand the truth and make our lives easier but not through an organized religion because of all its complexities and pitfalls for the ego. Christianity is, first and foremost, man-made and therein probably lies its greatest drawback.
The bible and its related dogma have been used throughout time, even up to the present day, as a political lever for powerful leaders because religion is such an effective way of controlling people. Even taxes were related to religion and the church has always been keen to exact contributions for its coffers. Those who lived simple lives centuries ago could easily be manipulated if they were told that Great Spirit wanted them to live in a certain way and pay homage to their leaders. As with most things in life, it was driven by fear - the fear of disobeying such a powerful being.
Our creative selves
Although the earth is a beautiful and awe-inspiring place, because of the tragedies that naturally occur here, like tsunamis, massive subsidence of the earth, global-warming, etc., it is impossible to believe that Great Spirit would have created something so changeable and disastrous for those living on it. Equally, the fact that we treat the earth in such a casual way, allowing our presence here to have such a devastating effect on the planet, means that we don't really treasure it. Deep inside us, I think many souls don't have a belief in this being a gift from Great Spirit.
As I have said previously, none of us knows how powerful we are as spiritual beings. We live in our small worlds, with our small worries, and our small material achievements, believing that we are so wonderful. We are, in fact, right about being wonderful because I believe this world is of our creation; it is our projection, with which we have now become so entangled that we cannot believe we created it. We are experiencing a dream-world from which we will wake up when we return to full awareness of Heaven, but in the meantime, it is a challenging place to be.
If we go back to the original list of attributes we would like to have in a god, a list that is certainly not exhaustive, we can see that Great Spirit would not want us to experience such a lot of sadness, stress, disaster and misery in this world. Great Spirit is loving - he wants us to be happy, without care, and full of joy as we are when we are back home in Heaven. This world does not create that situation for very many souls.
Although a growing number of people believe in an afterlife and talk quite naturally about their loved ones watching over them and being involved in their experiences here, talking about Great Spirit still makes many people feel uncomfortable. One of the reasons for this, I believe, is that there is an underlying guilt about the fact that this is our own creation, separate from Great Spirit as we see it, although in reality we can never separate from Great Spirit.
Oneness and prayer
Prayer is something that many souls have difficulty with and it is not a subject that is discussed in general, except when there is some life-threatening or tragic situation when most souls are happy to admit that they sent up a little prayer for help.
I believe we have to start viewing prayer in a different way so that we can more quickly evolve and develop spiritually. Traditional prayer, in most cases, has always been, and still is, about asking for things; even some of those with Buddhist beliefs chant for what they desire. Even atheists will often use phrases such as 'I wish...', 'I hope...', and 'I believe...', just like the rest of us. These are effectively prayers in that we are sending out a message for help, even if we don't know where we're sending it.
The formal prayers of religions have made prayer a conscious and ritual pursuit. Going to church/temple/mosque or other place of worship to pray is an integral part of many religions. Pagans have their sacred places in nature where they go to commune with something greater than themselves, just like those who have erected specific buildings. There is a sense for many people that this is the only place where prayers are heard.
If we remember that we are all One, it becomes obvious that wherever wishes or prayers are thought about or uttered, they have an impact or influence on all of us. So prayer can be much less formal than religions would have us believe. Having said this, if assembling together in a place designated for worship focuses our minds, this too is very effective and comforting for many and has helped countless people over time, showing that religion in some form still has a place in our society.
Every time we wish, hope or pray for anything, we are communing with our oneness. It is, therefore, very difficult for me to understand how any religion can collude with its followers to pray for success in war against others who are part of the oneness - we are effectively fighting with our tribe! This again reinforces my view that we create everything that we are experiencing here; I do not believe Great Spirit would agree to or encourage us to make war with one another. Great Spirit loves us and only wants our happiness and joy.
With our hopes, wishes and prayers we can create a world where happiness and joy is abundant. And I know that the cynics amongst us will think that this is soppy sentimentalism but actually it takes far more courage and grit to work to create a loving world than it does to create hatred and fear. These latter emotions are easily created by overwhelming people with violence and bullying; it is far more difficult for the gentler emotions of love and peace to overwhelm souls who are acting in violent and cynical ways. This world, our creation, is based around fear, and control through fear, by those who have allowed their egos to rule them.
Gratitude and Forgiveness
When we pray formally to God, whether it is in a sacred building/place or not, asking for anything seems superfluous because life is as it is. It is like a great super-tanker moving slowly and inexorably in a particular direction that cannot react quickly to any change of heading. Smaller, more frequent changes are needed to gradually reset the general direction. So it seems to me that our prayers would be better placed firstly on gratitude for the experiences and events that bring us joy, happiness and loving relationships; secondly, prayers can help us in forgiving ourselves and others for our less than loving thoughts and actions towards ourselves and others.
Simply, saying thank you throughout the day for each thing that brings us joy, or even the slightest warm feeling, is a way of making life much more bearable, not to say wonderful. This does not have to be a formal prayer; just saying 'Thank you' and directing that in our minds to the oneness, God, Great Spirit, Allah, the universe or whatever makes us comfortable is sufficient.
The more difficult task is to forgive all other souls throughout the day for whatever they have done that has hurt, angered or produced any negative emotion in us. Forgiving everyone as quickly as possible keeps the loving, positive energy circulating so that it can counteract any misunderstandings or aggression within our circle of souls, and this also impacts on ourselves as part of the oneness. Whatever we do to others we are also doing to ourselves, as we can see when we feel badly about the way we have treated someone. Forgiving ourselves for any behaviour we know was not worthy of us is also good for our development and again increases the loving and positive atmosphere around us so that it is easier to forgive others for whatever they do.
This is not to say that we are excusing our behaviour or others' behaviour; we are simply acknowledging that we are all part of the oneness and that we are all whole and innocent children of God at our essence. This world we have created brings out the worst and the best in us; we just have to work towards the best forming a much larger part than the worst. We are all acting out the roles we agreed to before we came here so that we can learn how to be more loving and forgiving.
There are times when we know someone is wrong but we know we are not going to convince them of this. Forgiveness in this case is really a question of whether we want to be right or happy - needing always to be right is just nourishment for an ego running rampant whereas allowing ourselves to be happy, regardless of what's happening around us, helps us to live in harmony with ourselves and others. We are not being downtrodden by others but uplifted by our forgiveness, and understanding that each one of us is learning to love without conditions at a different rate.
Our earthly selves
What we are is not what we 'see' in the mirror; we are all here playing roles so that we can learn from one another. Spending time creating a persona for ourselves is just an earthly idea; in reality, we are powerful spiritual beings having a brief earthly experience. Apart from the learning and development that this brings us, everything else is just so much nonsense that means nothing.
Treating prayer as an integral and natural part of our lives removes the formality from it, brings us closer to spirit, and keeps our focus on developing spiritually while we're experiencing this world we have created. It keeps us connected with our Oneness with Great Spirit, even if we don't wish to view it that way - how we view it doesn't really matter as long as we do it. Whatever thoughts we believe will help improve our world and our development are valid. For anyone with a cynical view of prayer, it can be seen simply as a series of affirmations of what we wish to achieve and a feeling of gratitude for what we have - this in itself is a very useful and positive way of using it so that we go through life optimistically.
I treat prayer largely as affirmation of what is good in the world and in my spiritual connection; I rarely use it to ask for anything. I believe all that we experience has already happened before so there is little we can do to change it. The only area where we can make any change is in our attitude towards our time here - we can either succumb to the fear that is all around us or we can accept that each experience is provided for us to learn from and having learned what we can, move on with equanimity. We can also remember that the love of Great Spirit is forever enfolding us, keeping us safe. Joy and happiness are within us waiting to be discovered; they are not provided from outside of ourselves - the way we view and live our lives from within is where we find joy and happiness.