Part I — Prayer-world
The need for prayerPrayer and meditation are medicines to cure us. As we go to a doctor for medicine to cure our physical body, similarly, prayer and meditation are the medicines which will cure us in our inner life.
Prayer is important for each individual at the beginning. Meditation comes later. With prayer we grow individually into the highest Divinity. But whenever we pray there is a subtle desire for something. We may call it an aspiration, because we pray to become good, to say something good, or to do something good, to have something divine which we do not have, or to be free from fear, jealousy, doubt and so on. In meditation we do not do that. We just allow ourselves consciously to enter into the effulgence of light, or we invoke the universal Light to transform our ignorance into wisdom.
In the West, many saints have realised God. They did not care for meditation; they only prayed most intensely. In the Western world we hear more about prayer than about meditation. In the East we pay more attention to meditation. This is the difference between prayer and meditation: when I pray, I talk and God listens. When I meditate, God talks and I listen.
If we want to differentiate between prayer and meditation, we can say that prayer is the conscious ascent of the human consciousness and meditation is an invitation to the Infinite or an offering to the Infinite. It is the individual who will choose whether he would like to make rapid progress by praying or by meditating.
We also use the term 'aspiration'. Aspiration is within both prayer and meditation. He who is praying feels an inner cry to reach God, to realise God. When we pray, we go up, up, up. He who is meditating feels the need of bringing God's Consciousness right into his being, into his own consciousness. Aspiration is the only key for both prayer and meditation. Either we reach up to Him or He comes down to us. Ultimately, it is the same. God lives on the third floor, but when He comes down to the first floor He is still the same God. One aspirant may go up and get Him; another may bring Him down. When we pray we go up and touch Him; when we meditate we bring Him down into our consciousness.