Praying using an image.

Praying using an icon or a statue is exactly the same as using Skype to talk to God. It is a way of communicating with God.

Statues or icons are like telephones. When you want to call someone, you can pick up your telephone and dial their number. Then you can communicate with them. The telephone is simply a tool that you can use to reach them. Praying using an icon or an image of a God is exactly the same thing.

When Hindus pray using an image of the deity, they don’t believe that the deity is that image. They aren’t worshipping the image. They are worshipping what is inside that image. The image is a way of receiving the divinity. They believe that when they pray, God sets up residence inside that statue during that time, and that they can see and be seen by God. When the prayers are over, God departs from the statue.

Icons, used in Catholic and Orthodox traditions, are simply “windows” to the divine. The divine isn’t there, but it can be used as an interface. It is an access point.

Now, God is always present. God can be accessed anytime, anyplace, and anywhere, by anyone. But we humans can’t really handle that. That is a little too much for us. So we can set aside time to be with God. This makes it more manageable for us, and more likely we will listen to the message.

God can speak to us through dreams or burning bushes like was done with people in the past, or in any number of other ways. God is constantly trying to get our attention. The problem is that we aren’t always ready to receive. We may brush it off as coincidence, or an accident, or just simply not meaningful. We aren’t ready to receive the message when it comes.

Using an icon or an image of an aspect of God puts it on our terms and on our time. We choose the time we approach, and how we would like to interact with God. This makes the infinite more human-sized. We can then enter into the mental space ready to receive whatever message we are given.

Multi-faith prayer beads.

This is a new creation. These are prayer beads, in a whole new way.

bead2

I took three different sets of prayer beads, broke them apart, and then put them back together again. There is no centerpiece, and there is no beginning or end. They are all connected, and they are all one. I have included a fourth faith tradition as well with the number of beads that I used.

bead4

I have Hindu prayer beads, made with rudraksha seeds, said to be the face of Shiva. These are the knobbly brown beads.

I have Christian prayer beads, from a Catholic rosary. These are the ones that are made with iridescent faceted glass.

I have Buddhist prayer beads, made with bone that has been dyed with the OM symbol, to reference the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”

Then I have put them all together so that there are three sets of 11 beads, so there are 33. This references Islamic prayer beads, which sometimes have 33 beads, which are said three times to complete the 99 names of God.

Four faiths, in one chain, hand linked with copper wire, because it is a conductor of electricity and power.
bead1

We are all one. We are all searching for connection with our Creator. We seek unity.
bead3

Here, now, is a visual symbol of it.