Between Α and Ω

My name is Dasrik and if you disagree, you are wrong.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The threat of memorization

Today I said a prayer that I had memorized and realized that the words I said had no meaning, were empty and vacuous. I could reflect on the words when I wasn't praying, and understand their deeper meaning, but when I said the prayer I was in a trance. I now realize the danger of rote memorization, something which is popular in many religions but particularly Islam where you are not seen as religious unless you've memorized the Qu'ran.

Memorization is fine in its own right; it allows you to have an opportunity to meditate on words when the writing itself is not available to you. The problem comes when you get caught up in the literal meaning of the words and fail to go beyond them. This is what memorization encourages; in many cases, it is the only way that memorization is possible. In cases like this, I would say that it is bad.

Why? It limits. The words become defined by their sounds, which do much to obscure the actual meaning and intent that the words are attempting to convey. This is especially problematic with spiritual works, which try to speak of that which is without limitation, which many (including me) call God. By memorizing the sounds, you make them mental aspects, which are weak compared to the spiritual vibrations that you find in the messages as you read them.

If you were raised religious, you have probably memorized at least a few prayers. This isn't bad. You can call on the prayers when you feel frustrated and there aren't prayer books handy.

But remember to reflect on the meanings afterward; otherwise, it is pointless to pray. You would just be saying words to have those words heard; vanity. And you know it.

And God knows it, too.