A Non-fiction Amuse-Bouche

by Anna Monday

We seek God for many reasons, not all noble. We focus on God’s power to protect us, guard our health, give us the stuff on our cosmic gift registry, and also love us when nobody else will take our calls. When we’re reasonably comfortable, many of us want our curiosity about the nature of God/Life satisfied. But how many seek God because they want the wittiest, most subtle playmate in the entire Universe?

After all, Vedanta’s answer to the most fundamental question—why did God create the Cosmos?—is

“Brahman has projected this universe out of himself. No other motive can be attributed to him for this act of creation than a purely sportive one; that is, it was done as play (līlā)—just for fun.”1 

When a household member recently installed Tibetan Prayer flags in the courtyard, it was only a matter of time before the debate began concerning the efficacy of installing a “prayer app.” Shouldn’t there be conscious, deliberate participation on the part of the one who prays, not to mention an understanding of what the prayers mean?

On day 3 of the great debate, our dryer gave up the ghost in the midst of a load of kitchen towels that had reached critical mass. So this naturally happened:

Let Us Pray, R.I.P. Admiral Large Capacity Electric Dryer c 1997-2015

The visual pun was inescapable. I put a caption to it:

LET US PRAY
R.I.P. Admiral Large Capacity Electric Dryer c 1997-2015

I thought it would be fun to put the picture out for others to caption, like the wordless cartoon drawings The New Yorker offers for captioning at the end of the issue.

It seemed Mother had come to play; and while the sense that her participation in the dialog was meaningful in itself, when I seriously examined it, I wasn’t sure what she was saying. Is passive and decorative religiosity efficacious? And worse, could I be wrong?

On consideration, it seems that Mother had absorbed the entire question into Herself. By the act of participating, she pulled not only the flags, but also the dishtowels into Her sacred realm. But as far as coming to a firm conclusion on the passive prayer proposition, it seems to me she playfully indicated, as she so often does, that no matter how right I think I am and how rational the arguments are that my mind erects to defend its paradigms, life is paradoxical at base. A thing is often true while simultaneously its opposite is also true. And to limit the possible outcomes to a binary choice under-thinks it. Living with that understanding encourages a lot of shutting up.

But, Mother, was it necessary to smite my dryer?


About Anna Monday: She has been a Member of a Vedanta Society, depending on where careers took us, since 1970.


1. The Spiritual Heritage of India, Swami Prabhavananda, p. 322