It's Nature and Technique

Gradations in Prayer

    IN the course of time an aspirant begins to feel more and more the need for spiritual uplift than for mere physical comforts. In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad we have this prayer:

From the unreal lead me to the real, from darkness lead me to light and
  from death lead me to immortality.
As soon as an aspirant begins to have inner experience,  all worldly enjoyments lose their charm. Having had an experience, howsoever little, of the Unchangeable Permanence, he now finds no pleasure in the ever-changing objects of the world, subject as they are to gradual decay, disintegration and ultimate dissolution. He asks no more for physical comforts.
What shall I pray for, when nothing is permanent. 60
The whole world is slavishly mad, following the Epicurean principle "Eat, drink and be merry." None has time to think of God and the inner Self. But nothing in the world holds any attraction for a true aspirant. He makes best use of whatever comes in his way and works but to satisfy the bare needs of his body, and spends the rest of his time in Sadhna (spiritual discipline) so as to derive the greatest benefit for his soul.
For times without number have I drunk life to the lees.
Without Thy Saving Grace, O Lord! Nanak hath no release.61
                                                                                                                            GURU ARJAN
Hereafter the aspirant lives just for the manifestation of God-head within himself and to sing the glory of His name.
Let the lotus feet of the Master rest in the heart,
Let the tongue repeat His Holy Word,
To live a life of constant remembrance nurture ye this living temple of the Lord. 62
                                                                                                                                                                                      GURU ARJAN
While on this Path the pilgrim traveler realizes his ignorance, and knowing his incapacity extends to God his hands in prayer:
O Lord! make me swim safely to the other shore,
I know not swimming, extend to me Thy hand of help. 63

As his angle of vision changes, so does the nature of his prayer. At first a person prays for the fulfillment of his physical needs; but when one starts on the spiritual Path he prays for the removal of such obstacles as come in his way, e.g., sense-turmoil, mental chattering, ingrained karmic impressions.

    This period is most critical in the life of a sadhak. Until actual self-realization he is in a state of perpetual restlessness, tossing back and forth. He belongs wholly neither to the world nor to God. While in the eyes of worldly people he is a man of piety, yet in the heart of his heart he knows he is full of iniquities.

Farid the sinful is still robed in black,
Though the people address him as Darvesh.
                                                                                  FARID SAHIB
In this state of uncertainty the sadhak at times tries to snap away and escape from the struggle; but after a time the inner urge once again comes upon him and he takes courage and starts Godward.
Should a traveler while traveling fall down,
There is nothing to wonder and cavil at.
O Kabir! one who sits and starts not on the journey,
Has an immeasurable distance yet to traverse.
But until a person is able to subdue his senses and sensory organs and rid the mind of oscillations, the kindly Light of God does not dawn upon him.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 64

If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 65

He who controls his ten organs,
Heaven's Light dawns within him. 66
                                                      GURU ARJAN

The wiles of the mind are both very subtle and risky. It often lies in ambush and makes its inroads when least expected. The ingrained evil propensities though invisible are very strong, and time and again they come to the surface to deliver blows which often prove fatal. The coil strikes out like lightning, with such sharp and sudden twists and turns that man by himself is helpless in its clutches. Here comes the need for the long and strong arm of the Master, which stretches forth with equal agility to his rescue:

Subdue the mind with the Power of the Master.
                                                               SWAMI SHIV DAYAL SINGH
Mind cannot come to rest unless it is over-shadowed by the power of the Master.
                                                                                                                                                                                  MAULANA RUMI

The sleeping mind comes to its own
By constant thought of the Master. 66
                                                        GURU RAM DAS

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