Simone Weil discussion

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On prayer

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message 1: by Kate (new)

Kate | 2 comments I’ve been thinking about Weil’s discussion of prayer as a kind of attention. It seems clear that she doesn’t believe in petitionary prayer given her view of creation as the ultimate act of divine renunciation or self-emptying, but I am trying to think this through. Maybe I’m missing the point entirely, but I would appreciate others’ ideas on this question: does focused attention, for example towards the poor, function as a kind of non-verbal petition?


message 2: by James (new)

James | 3 comments I've tried prayer that might be closer to what Weil called "attention" -- not too often, maybe over short phases of a few weeks. During one phase, I think it contributed to moving my own life story forward, like an entry of "move the plot ahead" power, but not anything I prayed for directly, since I didn't pray for anything.

I do think attention on people could function as non-verbal petition. Seeing people a certain way reveals your deepest tastes and preferences. If you saw them similarly to how God sees them, then it might encourage him to act, either because he knows you're watching and will come to trust him more through it, or to incentivize people to see other people as he does, or because he feels kinship with you over that person and that encourages him.

That's my opinion. I don't remember Weil enough to figure out how she might have responded to that. I would assume that somewhere she may have responded to Jesus' teachings about petitionary prayer which do seem to validate it.


message 3: by cryhard (new)

cryhard | 1 comments I just stumbled across this after reading Waiting For God.. I realise your question was quite dated, but it's something I've been reflecting on since reading as well as during some meditation..

I think in its simplest, Weil is trying to articulate that it is important that people are not slovenly in study as regardless of what information is being studied/learnt, our attention is trained whenever we engage in earnest learning. There is also an element to this in which Weil highlights the difference between forced attention (the contracting of the muscles) and actual attention, probably more akin to a relaxed state of awareness (aka meditation).

Weil goes on to define prayer as the directing of our attention toward God, which is how she then stresses the importance of attention given that it is the basis for how we commune with a higher power.

Given Weil's insistence on waiting for God to advise whether she should be baptised or not, and the way she speaks of attention as the emptying of the self, I would say that Weil's approach to prayer was more akin to meditation in an attempt to "feel" God, rather than petitioning for a particular desire of her own.

Seperate to that, Weil then reiterates the importance of "attention" in being able to love others. Basically, being free enough of ego (i.e. a state of pure awareness) to be able to actually notice and respond to what people need (rather than responding from a egoist place of what you think they need).

In my early reading thus far, Weil definitely comes across as the ultimate sub, but then again maybe if we all were the world would be a brighter, more forgiving place.

I'd be interested if you've had any further thoughts since you posted this :)


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