Question: How should one pray?
Acharya Prashant: If you pray you will only do what you usually do. Is that not obvious?
What all do we do?
We eat, we bath, we relax, we talk, we chat, we plan, we take pleasure, we feel hurt—that’s what we are. And if we pray then the prayer would have the same quality as all these activities have. So, obviously we cannot pray.
Prayer is not a continuation of who we are. Praying is just going there and standing. Going where? Not to some physical location. Going there and standing silently. That inner silence is prayer.
Prayer is when you are saying that ‘I cannot know my own good’.
Prayer is when you have relaxed and given up your sense of responsibility towards yourself; that is praying.
You are saying, ‘You are the rightful owner. You decide how things will run.’ Anything that you say in praying would be sacrilege because those would be your words.
Your words are an obstruction in praying, they are not the prayer.
Listener 1: Can there not be a situation when the prayer really comes from the heart?
AP: Yes, it is possible that the words that come spontaneously arise from an inner silence, then it is a true prayer. But then those words will not be cultivated or fixed words, then those words will not be coming from memory, they will be coming from the Heart. Then that prayer will not be a religiously sanctioned prayer. Then those words will not be the same words that your neighbour too is uttering, then those words will not be the words that you find in some prayer book, then those words will surprise you as well, ‘What am I saying?’
The fact is those words will sound a little foolish.
Spirituality is about having the courage to sound foolish.
Most of us keep on wanting to sound intelligent. Right?
We are so afraid.
The spiritual man is not at all afraid, he says, ‘I am prepared to appear stupid. It’s alright’.
That is prayer.
Whenever your words are not your words, you are praying; and that does not mean that you have to stand in a church or in a temple or by a river. Whenever there is spontaneity, whenever you have surrendered, the surrendered action is a prayer. That does not mean that you must stand with folded hands, you could be walking, that walk is now a prayer. You could be sleeping, that sleep is now a prayer.
Surrendered, whatever you do is a prayer.
L2: It’s like acceptance.
AP: No, not even acceptance. Because in acceptance, you are still the master. You are saying, ‘I am accepting and having the right to reject’. Do you see that when you accept, you reserve the right to reject? So not even acceptance.
Prayer is an absolute relaxation; an absolute giving up.
‘Who am I to accept? Who am I to reject? I’ll just let it happen’. Let things happen, let not fear become too heavy upon you. Don’t we say, ‘If I let things loose, there would be disorder. I must be the controller. I have been vested with the responsibility to correct things.’?
Prayer means: The responsibility is not mine.
Just as the sun rises from somewhere, similarly, things will be taken care of from somewhere. I can relax.
And in that relaxation, remember, there is great intensity. In that relaxation, there may be great action. But that would still be action coming from relaxation and silence, and that is beautiful. Outside there may be so much of action, and here (pointing towards the heart) relaxed, chilled out.
Now one is prayerful twenty-four hours. You know, these two words prayer and meditation are the most abused words in the spiritual world. We have degraded them to mere activities. We say, ‘I am praying, we say “I am meditating’.
Just as ‘you’ cannot pray, similarly ‘you’ cannot meditate. Just as there can be no method of praying, similarly there can be no method to meditate. Just as there can be no fixed time to pray, similarly there can be no fixed time of meditation. Both of these are just the same; surrendering, surrendering yourself.
If you are surrendering yourself, who are you to decide the time? If you are surrendering, who are you to decide where to pray? If you are surrendering, who are you to decide whether to pray? So even the prayer must come from Him.
I am not praying to Him.
He is praying to himself through me.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: How should one pray?
Read more articles on this topic:
Article 2: You are still standing within the room
Books by Acharya Prashant