Prayer and meditation1Dear seekers, I wish to give a very short talk on prayer and meditation.
I pray. Why do I pray? I pray because I need God. I meditate. Why do I meditate? I meditate because God needs me.
When I pray, I think that God is high above me, above my head. When I meditate, I feel that God is deep inside me, inside my heart.
There are two types of prayer: right prayer and wrong prayer. Similarly, there are two types of meditation: right meditation and wrong meditation. The right prayer says, “I am helpless, I am innocent, I am weak. I need You, O Lord Supreme, to strengthen me, to purify me, to illumine me, to perfect me, to immortalise me. I need You, O Lord Supreme.”
The wrong prayer says, “Although I need You, O Lord Supreme, I have some strength of my own, I have some capacity of my own. I need You because if I have Your Power and Capacity, then there shall come a time when I shall be able to lord it over the world and dominate the world. The whole world will be at my feet and I shall act according to my sweet will. But for that I need power in boundless measure. I have some power, but I need infinitely more. Therefore I invoke You, O Lord Supreme.” This is wrong prayer. This prayer is for the fulfilment of the vital in us, the vital that wants to dominate the entire world.
The right meditation says, “Lord Supreme, out of Your infinite Bounty You have chosen me to be Your instrument. You could have chosen somebody else to play the role, but You have granted me the golden opportunity. To You I offer my constant gratitude, my gratitude-heart, for You have chosen me to become Your instrument to manifest You here on earth in Your own Way.”
The wrong meditation says, “Lord Supreme, this world of ours is full of ignorance. We all are swimming in the sea of ignorance, wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance. You need me because in this world of ours, God-manifestation is extremely difficult. Your manifestation, Your full manifestation, is a far cry. Therefore You need considerable assistance from me here on earth. You need an ignorant human being like me to fight against ignorance in this strange world that You have entered into. You need my help for Your own manifestation; so I will be Your instrument.”
Prayer is a flower. When we see the flower, we are inspired. Inspiration compels us to run the farthest, to climb the highest, to dive into the deepest depth. Meditation is a tree. The tree aspires. It aspires to reach the highest height, the highest plane of consciousness. When we see the flower, inspiration dawns in us. When we sit at the foot of the tree, our aspiration to reach the Highest, the absolute transcendental Consciousness, comes to the fore.
Prayer is purity. It purifies our mind. The mind is always subject to doubt, fear, worry and anxiety. It is always assailed by wrong thoughts, wrong movements. When we pray, purification takes place in our mind. Purity increases our God-receptivity. In fact, purity is nothing short of God-receptivity. Each time we pray, our inner receptacle becomes large, larger, largest. At that time, purity, beauty, light and delight can enter into our receptacle and they can sport together in the inmost recesses of our heart.
Meditation is luminosity. It illumines our heart. When illumination takes place in our heart, insecurity disappears, the sense of want disappears. At that time, we sing the song of inseparable oneness, our inseparable oneness with the universal Consciousness, the transcendental Consciousness. When our heart is illumined, the finite in us enters into the Infinite and becomes the Infinite itself. The bondage of millenia leaves us and the freedom of infinite Truth and Light welcomes us.
Prayer is followed by meditation; not the other way around. First we must pray, then we meditate.
Asato ma sad gamaya
tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
mrityor ma amritam gamaya.
Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.
This is the prayer that we have learned from the Vedic seers of the hoary past. This immortal prayer in the firmament of India knows no parallel.
Here in the West, the Saviour has taught us the supreme prayer: “Let Thy Will be done.” Again, the same Saviour has taught us the supreme meditation: “I and my Father are one.”
Tat twam asi: “That Thou art.” You are That, the ever-transcending Beyond, the Lord Supreme. This is the highest height of prayer. Brahmasmi: “I am the Brahman, I am the all-pervading Brahman, the Absolute Supreme.” This is the supreme height and depth of meditation.
Prayer tells me, “O seeker, claim the Supreme Beloved as your own and say, ‘O Beloved Supreme, You are mine. I claim You as my own, very own. Do grant me Your divine qualities in boundless measure so that I can be Your perfect instrument here on earth. You have infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. Do grant me infinite Peace, Light and Bliss so that I can be a most perfect instrument of Yours.’”
Meditation tells me, “O seeker, tell God, ‘I am Yours.’ Tell the Absolute Supreme, ‘I am at Your command. Use me in Your own Way. At every moment You can manifest Yourself in and through me. You can utilise me at Your sweet Will at every moment, throughout Eternity. To fulfil You in Your own Way is to achieve immortal life. Through me fulfil Yourself here on earth, there in Heaven.’”
With a soulful prayer each seeker begins his day’s journey; and with a soulful meditation the seeker ends his day’s journey.
SCS 265. University of Massachusetts, 29 September 1975.↩