By Sri Chinmayananda
Many know prayer only as a form of petition, a plea for desired object or state, either for oneself or someone else. But prayer can also take other forms:
Prayer as adoration; an expression of love for God.
Prayer as contemplation; union with the divine.
It is these higher forms of Prayer that chasten us and mark a passage into higher states of consciousness. This kind of prayer brought to its culmination is a ‘silent standing before God’ and unbroken state of union with the higher.
The urge to live a more complete and harmonious life; the wish to free the mind from the weight of worldly cares; the yearning to soar high and discover a divine existence – all these can be fulfilled through prayer.
Prayer is the most direct path for special seekers. Surprisingly, many spiritual seekers may doubt the validity of prayer. They may waste precious time by putting forth their efforts into secondary religious practices, such as doing charitable deeds, following a pure diet or studying the scriptures. They miss the goal of all practices – direct communion with the Highest.
Perhaps the word prayer has been misunderstood. A fortunate connotation of prayer is supplication, which implies a form of beggary resorted to by the emotionally dependent. This is not true prayer it is only a ‘preying’ upon the Lord.
Those who practice prayer know its power and the sublime Heights to which it can raise the mind. You will experience for yourself how a mind that has become twisted and bruised by worry, heavy with despondence, can within a moment of sincere prayer be completely rejuvenated. In this rejuvenation, self-doubts wash away, the mind regains confidence in the ultimate good of itself and of life, and the energy that was trapped, floods forth with vigor. This is the incredible power of prayer.
Having purified the mind, prayer can lift one to even greater contemplating heights. The divinity lying in one’s heart begins to flower; and in that flowering the ego gets weakened.
Prayer then leaves the seeker from: dualistic experience of separation and limitation to the immediate apprehension of non-dual union with God. According to the great saint Adi Shankaracharya “If you meditate on a thing with concentration, you acquire its qualities, and at last you become that itself.”
Prayer is immediately available to all, at any level of understanding. It opens up humble & honest self-examination & produces realignment of one’s relationship to the world & to God. Prayer can be defined as the method by which the divine qualities latent within us are manifested. If you try it, the saints say, you will know the truth.