Salutations to God, my Gurus and elders!
When I was asked by someone “why do I pray”, my initial and immediate response was – I pray for wisdom. Yet my own answer was not enough for me also. Prayers meant more to me and I had to contemplate on it.
Have you ever stayed in the same home for too long? I have for 45 years and more.. And I have noticed that in my home of 4 members that included me, my wife and my parents, my wife had the least stuff personal to her. When my mother died, we cleared a huge lot of her personal stuff. Later within a year when we began restructuring of our home, my dad also let go of many things that were collected. I also cleared a bit post mom’s death during this time. Yet, many of the things still remained. For me, my collection of books, periodicals and magazines is the biggest. Do I read it regularly – no.
Yet I can’t let go of it since I had read it at some point in time and I still feel it has something valuable for me. And I hold on to it. However, I know I did let go of lot of things when I disposed off the cupboards that were used for storing these stuffs (including books). My wife had the least stuff to dispose because she was the newest entrant to the house. By the way, I ended up making a new and very extra large cupboard only for books in the restructuring.
My point is that as time passes, all of us keep hoarding or collecting many things and putting it inside cupboards. And suddenly one day, there is limited space to maneuver in the home and a house that was large enough for 4 members plus additional guests suddenly became small.
Now imagine the same scenario for your head. Every thoughts that we like or get attached to at some point in time, is hoarded and compartmentalized inside the head. Yes space within the head is large, yet as years keep adding, too many thoughts collect and just prevent new thoughts from even entering. In short, it becomes easy to reject new ideas. We remain unaware that this can also occur due to limitations of space in the head.
Prayer is a release. It is a cleanser. It helps one clean and remove various thoughts that have become redundant. Whether every-time one prays does cleaning happen? It depends on the sincerity. It is like deciding to trash few things in your home but as we go about the process of sort, we refuse to let go. Prayers then become a thrower of light to the things accumulated. We may choose to still keep the old things, yet the very act of prayer manages to bring some semblance of space in the head like the physical sort activity. Ultimately, a continued genuine effort at prayers one day helps us let go of unneeded thoughts. This may include thoughts of anger at someone or on oneself, feelings of guilt, and many self limiting beliefs owing to fear. These thoughts may have been valid at one point in time but it is no more required. It is redundant now.
Cleansing prayers always act to throw light on various thoughts and as light falls on them, one is again provided with a choice to either hold on or let go. Chanting a form of prayer means fixing of mind. Yet as one attempts to fix the mind on the incessant chanting, one also gets aware that other thoughts crop in. Sometimes they uproot your prayer process, other time you manage to push them back inside. Yet, this very act makes you aware that those thoughts crop because you hold to them. It’s only with a release it is possible for you to progress in your chanting and fixing of mind on one thought. Any other attempts to suppress thoughts only succeeds occasionally. It is like compressing and pushing into already filled cupboard. The moment a slight opening exist, all content of the cupboard spills out. And you know it’s time for disposing some things or buying a new cupboard (if space permits)
So what’s role of God here? He represents a higher power to whom we can release the extra baggage of thoughts. He is our local kabadiwala (scrap merchant) for disposing the old thoughts. Yet unless he is invoked (just like you have to call the scrap guy) , he cannot come and take away your thoughts. Ultimately it is you who remains the owner until the time you actually decide to give it away.
Prayers are thus also the passage to a next level called meditation. In meditation, one becomes completely absorbed by a single thought and identities of subject and object merge. One can relate this with a flow. This happens unconsciously sometimes for a brief while when we deeply focused on something – say a game or activity be it trek, badminton or cricket. There is a complete identity with the cork coming to the shuttle and hitting it every time exactly where we wish it to be seems just the way it should be. You, shuttle and cork become “one being” involved in a very balanced activity albeit temporarily.
The is another form of prayer which is not about cleansing. It is about *yearning*. One has an unfulfilled desire either in external world of action or in internal world of emotions. Here prayers symbolizes an intense selfish urge where we seek to bend nature to fit into our scheme of things. In the spiritual domain this may represent a lower form of prayer. When this is answered, there are repercussions. There is a debt accumulated which needs paying off and this debt gets cleared in unexpected ways that can lead to pain. In Indian mythology, even prayers of Rakshasas (equivalent word could be demons) were answered and boons were accorded to them for their devotion and intensity of prayers. Yet these boons while giving them temporary pleasures ultimately led to their destruction. Nature has it’s course, while it can be bent against it’s will to follow an alternative course this can last only for a short while. Ultimately it has to return to its natural course.
People may speak of a 3rd kind of prayer that is done daily asking for strength or inspiration. Yet, to me it is same as the 1st where the ultimate action is cleansing or release of toxic thoughts that hold us back. The release action helps us regain strength or get inspired and charged again. These prayers will work only when one willingly releases negative thoughts. For eg. You may be praying for passing exams yet when you internally keep giving more attention to negative thoughts of failing, the prayers don’t work, not because they were not done sincerely, but because more attention was given to thoughts of failure. Prayers could not help you since you chose to hold on to your fearful thoughts and chose not give them away to the internal kabadiwala (God) and relax.
Every-time you pray, ask yourself – what toxic thoughts can I release and hand over to God. This way, prayers will always be answered and one shall feel rich and spacious inside. This causes unforeseen changes inside for the best and those changes gets reflected in outside world which suddenly blossoms into a beautiful land full of hope and joy. This is indeed my experience and story. It hasn’t happened to me in a year or two. I have had my share of difficulty in releasing certain toxic thoughts of anger and indignation that refused to budge. It has taken time but the bloom is definitely worth the nurturing and culturing.