Question: I would like to know the difference between prayer and meditation.1

Sri Chinmoy: The difference between prayer and meditation is this: prayer is something absolutely intense and upward-soaring, while meditation is something wide and vast that ultimately expands itself into the Infinite. When we pray, we feel a vibration from the soles of our feet to the crown of our head. The very nature of prayer is to reach God by going up. Our whole being is invoking, calling upwards; our entire existence is soaring upward like a one-pointed flame. Prayer is intense and ardent; it does not usually spread. Even if we pray to God for humanity, for the entire world, we will see that we are going up. But meditation does spread; in fact, meditation is immediate expansion. Meditation, like the wings of a bird, is always widening into peace, light and delight. The entire universe of light and delight we see, feel and grow into when we meditate.

Whenever we pray there is a subtle desire or aspiration for something. We pray to become good, or to have something divine that we do not now have, or to be free from fear, danger, doubt and so on. There is the feeling of being, let us say, a divine beggar. We are praying because we need something. Even when we pray for peace, light and bliss, there is still a certain feeling of demand. Sometimes there is a personal feeling of give-and-take and the prayer takes this form: "I am giving You my prayer, Lord, so please do something for me in return. Please save me, help me and fulfil me."

But in meditation we do not do that. We just throw ourselves into a vast expanse — into the sea of peace and delight, into Infinity — or we welcome the infinite Vast into us. We just allow ourselves consciously to enter into the effulgence of light or we invoke the universal light to transform our ignorance into wisdom. The aspirant who has been able to enter into the deeper regions of Infinity or Eternity in his meditation does not pray the way we pray in churches or synagogues or temples. In his meditation, he enters into the Divine Consciousness and leaves everything in God's Hands.

Here we see the true surrendering attitude. During meditation the seeker feels it is not necessary to ask God for anything, since his divine Father knows exactly what he needs and when to give it to him. He lets God do what is best for him, what will allow him to manifest God in God's own Way. In the deepest meditation, the seeker just enters into his own infinite aspect. He dives deep into what he already has: an inseparable oneness with his Eternal Father. Then it is his Father's business to do what is best for him or to give him what he needs. Again, the Saviour Christ revealed to mankind the highest prayer when He said, "Let Thy Will be done." In his prayer he revealed and manifested the highest surrender.

  1. MUN 211. September 1973.