CONVERSATIONS - 13
Devotee - Swami, Your last week’s upadesh was both profound and sweet. I have been thinking about it the whole week. But You haven’t touched one question yet.
Swami - Tell me what you want. I will explain.
D - How long, and how often should one pray.
S - What a foolish question you are asking boy! If prayer is a loving contact with God, you are asking me to make a time chart for such a contact! And God should make Himself available accordingly? What about God whom millions are trying to contact all over the globe, some to adore, some to cross-examine, some to beg, some to consult, and some to denounce. What time chart He will follow?
D - I realize it was really a foolish question.
S - Prayer is a way of recognizing your unbroken contact with God. He is sitting in your heart all the time, a part of your being. Do you ask how often you should have contact with your body and mind? At least during sleep you lose contact with your body and mind, but God? He is ever aware, ever wakeful. You have difficulty understanding these ideas because you are always trying to convert life into a ritual.
D – Ritual?
S – It is doing something for the sake of doing it, without any understanding. It is artificial, kind of bondage. I want to free you from all bondage and make life an endless celebration, a joyous song which I want to sing with you. But you are telling me, “Swami, from 5 to 5.30 in the morning, and 5 to 6 in the afternoon I can be with you to pray. You must make yourself free during that time. Rest of the time I am not available, for I am busy. Please don’t disturb me; I have to follow a tight schedule, even to allow myself to feel happy”.
D - Oh, Swami, please stop. I am ashamed of my stupid questions.
S - You need not be sorry for that. No sincere question can be stupid. My effort is not to make you feel foolish, but to take you there where all questions are formed, the mind. You have to grow out of the confines of your ‘limited company’, the mind, and seek the unlimited company, the Self. Prayer helps you in that endeavour. When you tune up to God with love, and stop defining your relationship with Him, you gradually break into a borderless experience, in which you see yourself both as a seeker, and the sought. That is the ultimate state of prayer, which is no more an effort, but a spontaneous feeling of unity.
D- Swami, Swami, another bouncer! Please come down to my level.
S - No, I will take you to my level. For that if need be, I will destroy you.
D - S..S..Swami, please don’t frighten me…please destroy me not…
S - Unless I destroy your smallness, you will not wake up to your own greatness. Love is not always a pleasant feeling, it is in fact not so much a feeling as a power of the soul which unmakes you to remake you. Do you know what Radha went through in life, or Meera, or Surdas, or Jesus, or scores of others who had a direct perception of God? They did not have a time chart for contacting God, nor did they play from the ground of mind. You are so much bound by your own body that you can’t see beyond it, you can’t perceive beyond the mind. Rebel against your bondage, the body and mind, establish ceaseless contact with the loving Father, and when you
see his face, your body and mind too shall be transformed.
D - Swami….Swami….I have no words to react….
S - Forget all your dumb words, dead rituals, blind concepts, and sink into the bliss of prayer, the experience of oneness with your Beloved. Do you know what St. Francis of Assisi felt on the days when his stigmata were bleeding profusely? He was on a song, crying and laughing at the same time. Don’t ask me therefore how to pray, how long to pray, how much to pray; rest in the sweet remembrance of God as much as, as often as, as long as you can; if you can, ceaselessly.
D - Swami, I feel as if this is going to happen tomorrow! But strangely, I feel so near You, yet so far! Why is this contradiction?
S - Isn’t human life itself a contradiction? You are a part of me, yet I have to remind you again and again about your own reality. This happens because you are still identified with your body. First believe in what I say, then live it. Unless you live them, beliefs can’t take you far. Believe that freedom is your birthright, and then work on it.
D - Swami, prayer appears to be a very personal work. Does it have any social utility?
S - I have already told you whatever is good for the individual is good for the society, and good for the society is good for the individual too. There is a lot of ignorance in the world, and the sins people commit out of ignorance and conceit, affect both the individual and society. Today the load has become so heavy that the existence of life itself is challenged. The rot has to be stemmed, and only people in contact with God can do that. Therefore I have introduced mass bhajans, and nagar samkeertans. When a big group of unselfish people at one place call on God with love in their hearts, God is moved, and His love can burn the collective sins to save mankind. There is no other way to avert the inevitable calamity.
D - Swami, will these mass bhajans and samkeertans be enough?
S - No. When you believe in the efficacy of such unselfish prayers, you would gradually begin pratising in your personal lives some of the protective values I have pointed out. When more and more people believe in love, sacrifice, compassion, truth, sharing of privileges, and yearn for peace, and actually start living them, you create a huge road block for the marauding evil. The purification of environment will lead to purification of minds, and that will save mankind. But all this depends on the intensity with which you join hands in this saving effort.
D -Then individual lives have to be increasingly prayerful, increasingly established in right living if we want to achieve universal wellbeing?
S - You are right.
D - Swami, there is another doubt. If more and more people concentrate on prayer, will not their work suffer?
S - On the other hand, work would be done more efficiently.
D - How Swami?
S - If you do not convert prayer into a meaningless ritual, and mean what you do, you will be less talkative, more self-aware, more unselfish, more able to take right decisions, more humble, less hurtful, more connected to Nature and people, and therefore more happy. You will always tell yourself whatever you are doing is for God. You are more certain that God will take care of all your legitimate needs, and therefore you will feel less worried, and more secure. All this, of course, depends on the strength of your belief, and making your belief your lifestyle. Thus the total quotient of greed will come down, needs shall be more focused, resources better distributed, commercial activities shall be less exploitive, there will be less health hazards, and you will have more time for yourselves and your families. If this is not kingdom of heaven on this earth, what else is? Jesus promised his followers kingdom of heaven within, but I promise you kingdom of heaven without also.
D- Swami….. I am overwhelmed by your vision of a wholesome life. My doubt that spiritual life may improve individual life, but it may not have much of a social relevance in the present times, is completely dissolved. I understand, if we needed spirituality as a way of life any time, it is now.
S – It is good that you understand that. Now, go and practise it, and help others to do so. That much today. I have some work to do. Till we meet next time contemplate on what you have heard.
D - Yes, Swami; You have given me food for a whole lifetime. Thank You.
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