Prerequisites in Prayer
NEED of GODMAN. As prayer is to be addressed to someone, it is but necessary that we must first have a firm belief in the existence of the Being whom we address. We have as yet no experience of God, and have therefore no conception of Him nor of His powers. Our knowledge of Him, however little it may be, is a secondary one, derived from the study of books or heard from persons as ignorant of Him as we are. In such a state we can contemplate nothing. But there may be a person who may have a direct knowledge of God and be inwardly in tune with the Infinite. There is a peculiar charm in his company. His weighty words of wisdom at once sink deep into the mind. His utterances, charged with His power, have a magnetic influence. One feels a kind of serenity and an inward calm in his holy presence. He does not reason of God. He simply talks of Him with authority, because he has a firsthand knowledge of Him and consciously lives in Him every moment of his life. Such a person may be termed a Prophet, a Messiah, or a Godman. The Gospel tells us that God speaks through His Prophets or the chosen ones. It is but a natural thing. Man alone can be a teacher of man and for God's science we must have some Godman to teach us that. Sant Satguru is the pole from where God's Light is reflected. From him alone we can know of the Path leading to God; and he can be a sure guide who can be depended upon, in weal or woe, both here and hereafter.
He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father... Believe me that I am in the Father,From what has been said above, it naturally follows that Godman or Sant Satguru is the right person to be approached in the first instance and to whom all our prayers should be addressed. Faith is the keynote of success in all our endeavors. We must, then, have firm and full faith in the competency of the Master. With love and humility we must make an approach to him if we want to make a beginning in Spiritual Science. We must pray to him sincerely from the depth of our heart. We should think it fortunate indeed if in his grace he accepts us for imparting knowledge of Para Vidya--the Science of knowledge of Self and knowledge of God--which in fact is the seed-knowledge from which all knowledge springs.
and the Father in me. 51
(ii) Complete Absorption. The next essential in this connection is complete absorption. While offering prayer we must forget everything else, including our body and our bodily relations. Singleness of purpose is a sine qua non for hitting the target. It is common knowledge that one cannot serve two Masters at one time. We have to choose between God and Mammon and then forget the other. One by one we have to slip through the various sheaths enveloping the soul like funeral shrouds in their folds. The spirit is a living entity and cannot move ahead unless it discards the material appendages in which it is wrapped--physical, mental and causal. By complete absorption these drop off one by one of their own accord, leaving the spirit free for flights in the spiritual regions. Mohammedans call this absorption Fana-ill-Sheikh, which ultimately leads to Fana-ill-Allah, thus completing the journey from Fana to Baqa (from death to immortality).
(iii) Truthfulness and Contentment. Our prayers can be fruitful only when we are true to ourselves in all aspects of life. We must have right thoughts, right aspirations, right contemplation, right livelihood and right conduct. Purity in thought, word and deed must precede everything else. Righteousness, chastity and truthfulness are all closely associated with and actually spring from Brahmcharya (self-control), which is a great motive force in life. It is on the bedrock of Brahmcharya that all these things grow and bear fruit.
Contentment is an active aid in controlling the wandering faculties of the mind. Unless mental oscillations stop and stillness is achieved we cannot offer a true and sincere prayer. A stilled mind alone can reflect God's Light when it may dawn.
God is attracted swift and sure,
With prayer from mind contented and pure. 52
To thine own self be true and then it must follow,
as night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.
(iv) Sincere and stirring sensation. Prayer must arise from the depths of the soul. It should not be a vain repetition of empty words with little meaning in them. What we pray for we must really wish for, not only intellectually but from the very core of our being. It must churn the very soul to its depths and the music of prayer should come out and tingle from the very nerves, tissues and fibres of the entire frame making us unmindful and oblivious of everything else beside the sweet music of the soul.
O Kabir! why to the minaret goest the Imam for a call, for God is not deaf,(v) Spontaneity. A prayer being the cry of the soul in agony is most beautiful and most natural when it gushes forth spontaneously like a spring of cool water from the bowels of the Earth. It needs no embellishments of particular words and peculiar phrases. On the contrary, such adornments mar the true beauty of free expression, and very frequently the man of prayer is imperceptibly drawn in and imprisoned in the net of verbiage. All this makes a prayer artificial--a product of deliberate art divorced from feelings. Such prayers make us false to ourselves and are not at all beneficial. God is concerned with genuine emotions expressed in howsoever simple words and not with set speeches, vain repetitions, ostentatious phraseology and learned expostulations.
Why not address thy call to the mind so that it goeth within.
Maulana Rumi has given us a beautiful
illustration of a loving prayer that a simple and unsophisticated shepherd
boy was muttering in his own humble way as Prophet Moses passed by him.
He was saying:
O God! where art Thou? I would like to serve Thee. I would knit for Thee woolen garments and comb Thy hair. I would like to serve Thee with milk, curd, cheese and clarified butter, tend Thee in Thine illness, kiss Thy hands and massage Thy feet. I would like to make a sacrifice of all my sheep and goats for Thy sake.
These words of the shepherd boy sounded as heresy to the Prophet, who in a rage began to reprimand the boy saying: "Shut up your mouth, O infidel. Why are you talking like a fool? Withdraw your insolent words or else God will curse us with hell-fires for your blasphemy. God is not a human being and He does not stand in need of any of the things that you offer Him. He is a spirit, without any hands and feet, and you have insulted Him with your idle talk." Stung to the quick, the simple-hearted boy tore his clothes, ran to the wilderness and wept bitterly for having incurred the displeasure of God. In the intensity of his agony he lost his consciousness, and behold, he saw within him the Light of God and heard a sweet and kind voice assuring him that all his prayers, sincere as they were, were acceptable to God and He was greatly pleased with him for his offerings. On the other hand, when Moses went into his wonted meditation, he felt that God was sorely vexed with him for having driven a loving soul away from Him. God reprimanded him,
You came into the world for uniting people unto Me, and not for separating those who were one with Me,and spake thus:
Everyone remembers Me in his own words and according to his own inner feelings. I have accepted all that the shepherd boy offered Me spontaneously in his innocent and unpolished words as they may appear to you, but I am highly displeased with you for having driven him from his communing with Me. I am not affected by words alone, for whatever they be, they do not in any way sanctify Me but purify the heart of him who utters them. I see not to the glossy words but to the heart and the inner sincerity that lies therein behind the words, for it is from the abundance of heart that a man speaks, no matter in what broken and uncouth words he may give expression to his feelings. O Moses! there is a world of difference between the learned, entangled in the etiquette of polished speech, and the love-stricken hearts that give vent to what is within them, the withered souls in the waste-land of the heart, lost to all sense of decency and decorum as you would call it. Don't you know that even the Government does not impose any land revenue on a land that is banjar or a waste. A martyr in God needs thy care and attention. The religion of love is quite different from the religion of set formalism and ritual and for the lovers there is no religion higher than that of God Himself. A jewel remains a jewel even if it has no hallmark on it.When Moses heard these words, he felt terrified and went to the jungle, found out the shepherd boy and said, "I have brought for you happy tidings. God has accepted all your prayer and your seemingly heretic words are as good as those of a devout and your devotion is the light of your body. Whatever comes to you from within, utter without any fear." The boy replied smilingly, "O Moses, I have now far transcended all the barriers of the flesh. Your rebuke was enough to bring in me a great change. Now I know the Great One and my condition is that which no words can portray."