Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
The other day, not long ago, to be precise post demonetization but before GST, this young man came for channeling. A Handsome young man. Tall. Athletic. Great physique. Rich. Innocent and as intelligent as a brick wall. He started off with saying that his life had changed since he had entered the realm of spirituality and he wanted to know if Baba Sai was happy with the kind of prayers he had begun to chant. He prayed for four hours a day. I realised that he was truly happy with the way he had proceeded on his spiritual journey and trust me I was happy for him.
It’s been nearly twenty years since I have begun channeling or at least convinced myself and others that I channel Baba’s Energy and nothing gives me more happiness to know that there are a handful of dreamers who have begun to walk The Path. Thus, I was happy for this young man but for some reason the words that came forth from me sort of left even me a little bewildered.
” What makes you think you are praying?” I asked. It means I was made to ask by our Old Tiger, Revered Mr. Sai Baba of Shirdi. ” Ehhhhh?” Silence. ” Means?” ” You said you pray for four hours a day and what Baba is trying to ask you is what makes you think that you are truly praying?” ” Baba I chant for four hours a day. Fourteen different Mantras, hundred and eight times each Mantra. So fourteen malas. Then I pray other things from various religious texts. I usually pray for four hours and sometimes even six.”
” Yes, yes I am sure but I assume Baba Sai is inquiring as to whether are you truly praying or you think you are praying?”
The sweet man began to ponder. His eyebrows nearly touched the top of his forehead. I could actually see the effort of trying to figure out what the hell was going on.
And then this is what Baba Sai said.
The best was to pray is simple. First and foremost every time we sit to pray, think it is the last time we shall ever pray. When one leaves the body is something between the One who controls destiny and the One who keeps an account of the breaths one has taken. Our life span is not determined by the number of years but by the number of breaths. Each being has a particular number of breaths to his or her account. Dogs pass over mostly by the age of fifteen and there are tortoises or turtles who live over a hundred years. Dogs are perpetually panting. One has to be truly in sync with the tortoise or turtle to know whether the chap is still present in the body. Thus, yogis manipulate their life span by manipulating their breath.
Thus, what Baba Sai wants to say is that if every time we sit to pray, we pray as though it is the last time we shall ever pray, then the quality of prayer, the depth of prayer, the intensity of prayer, the yearning in our prayer, merged together shall create a powerful vibration of purity and focus, which shall reach The One that we pray to. The call from our very depths of our being, shall be heard for sure, assures Baba Sai.
Thus, the first thing one needs to do is pray as though it is the last time we shall ever get an opportunity to pray, not just in this body, but ever and ever and ever. Imagine if we knew we would never ever get the opportunity of praying again for whatever reason, and it is said that whatever one thinks at the time of death one gravitates towards that thought. Same way how we have prayed last is going to be equally important and if we were to be judged on the last prayer of ours, how would we pray? I am sure we would pray with an intensity that we lack or most of us lack at the moment.
” Do you pray like that child?” ” No.” ” It’s okay neither do I pray like that. This is how Baba wants you and me to pray.”The young man exhaled with relief. ” The second most important thing required during prayer is to pray with the same intensity as you would when there is an emergency.” ” I don’t understand?”So I tried to explain the sweet sack of muscled potatoes what Baba Sai wanted to get across.
I don’t know about you but when there is an emergency I have realised that my prayers get very intense. Super intense. It is as though my whole life and all that which is sane, peaceful, calm, depends upon my prayers and thus the intensity my prayers take on during such times is very different; there is a plea, a cry, a yearning, which is never there when everything is fine or as good or as bad as it usually always is. When there is nothing extraordinary happening my prayers are truly ordinary. Thus, the intensity of prayers is directly in proportion to emergency or lack of emergency at hand. If things really have gone down south then that itself lifts my prayers to a higher level. My plea to the Oneness Family comes from the depth of my very being and it is as though my each cell has become one with the prayer which is more like a cry for help. And when all is normal, the intensity of my prayers seems to be below normal. More like a formality. A routine.
Thus, what Baba Sai means is that when we pray not only pray as though it is the last time we shall ever get the opportunity to pray and that shall be our last prayer but also prayer as though the life of our loved ones depends on our prayers.
” When you pray are you sure you are being heard my child?” ” No Baba I pray very softly. Nobody can hear me.”I truly love this guy. ” No, no, beta, I guess what Baba is trying to tell you is that when you pray, how certain are you that your prayer is reaching Whoever you are praying to?” ” Baba I pray. I hope it reaches all the Gods I am praying to?”
I guess what Baba Sai wants to say is that when we pray with the firm conviction that our prayers are going to reach our Goddess, God, Guru, then whether the prayer is answered or not, one can be assured that whosoever we are praying to, our prayers shall reach the One. Baba Sai often tells me that when we pray, imagine The One we are praying to in front of us, in the flesh, hearing us pray. Won’t our prayers get a different quality of purity, focus and power? We need to pray as though our Goddess, God, Guru, is either hearing us, seated in front of us, or within us, or hearing us from wherever S(H)E resides. Truly believe that and it shall reach The One.
Thus, when we do pray, pray with the belief and the purity that Whoever we are praying to, our prayers shall be heard. May be not answered as destiny and karma and all that mumbo jumbo is involved but it shall be heard. When my daughter Meher asks for something of me, I shall always hear her out. Most often I laugh and say ‘ not a chance in any dimension of heaven or hell are you getting that’. But she has faith that if she asks something of her father, I shall always hear her out, no matter what. By now the poor dear even knows the answer but she is certain her father will take time to listen to her. That is the way we need to pray. That The One shall hear our call. Whether our call shall be answered or granted is a matter of destiny and karma and largest good and all that jazz most Masters keep harping about when They don’t want to comply with our urgent wishes. That is besides the point. At least pray assured that They can hear us.
And if we have the faith and the assurance that our call, our yearning, our plea, shall reach the One who we pray to, then automatically, we shall be completely focused on the prayer. There shall be depth, clarity and intensity in our prayer as we know that The One is hearing us; in front of us; within us. It is only when we think of prayers as a mandatory formality that our prayers lack the purity and concentration. Let us say somebody is chanting Aum Namaha Shivaya. If the person is just trying to complete the mandatory hundred and eight count then the person shall speed away as though a pack of hungry demented dogs are chasing the person. Even Lord Siva will be astounded at the speed at which His Name can be rattled out. But if that person is certain that Lord Siva is hearing the chant, better still if the person is convinced that Lord Siva is in front, seated, may be bored witless, but still in front or within, hearing the Chant, and then even if the chant is rattled away, the focus and purity of the chant shall be on a very different level. Sometimes one has to pray a lot during the day. Sometimes one has to chant eleven malas of tongue twisting Mantras, each Mantra taking half a minute, and obviously speed is of essence, or else one shall be doing nothing but chanting all day, but nothing should compromise one’s focus, intensity, love and certainty that one’s chanting is being heard to Whosoever one is praying to. That, should never be compromised. Baba says that when we pray with the faith that Whoever we pray to first and foremost resides within us, may be dormant, and we pray with the hope of awakening The One within us and then coming forth through us, that prayer is a prayer worth praying, as when we believe They are first and foremost within us, as we have come forth from The One and The One thus has to be within us too and when we pray knowing that The One within us can hear us, that prayer takes on wings which shall make our prayer soar not only within to The One but also reach the very heavens where The One resides in all His/Her Magnificence and force The One to come and sit in front of us when we pray with such love, intensity and faith.
So, pray as though it is the last time we shall ever pray. Pray as we would pray when there is an emergency, with such depth and focus. Pray being assured that one’s prayers are reaching The One, who resides within each one of us, who is in front of us, and who resides wherever The One resides.
Of course, pray because we love and truly love The One we are praying to. I would hate it if my child every morning came in front of me and rattled away hundred and eight times ‘ i love you daddy’ and left, without meaning it, as if it was a mandatory thing she was told to do. I would rather not have her come and tell me even once if she didn’t mean it. But if my child did mean it, even once a day, her expressing her love would be more than enough for me. Oh yes I would love it if she were to mean it countless times a day but I shall settle for even once a day with true love and meaning. Thus, it is not how long we pray but with what feeling we pray. Yes if we can pray with true feeling for however long we can pray, that is sublime. There is no substitute for true prayer. Trust me. And if you are reading this rambling then obviously you have reached a new low in your life, thus it would be better if you truly trust me.
Not how much we pray but with what kind of love we pray. Not how complicated the prayer is but how simple and childlike our prayer.
So our prayers should be said with love. We need to love The One. Just as we don’t want our loved ones to fear us . We don’t want our loved ones to work out a deal with us. We don’t want our loved ones to treat us as a financial account. Or be with us because of what we can give them. We want our loved ones to love us because they love us and respect the fact that sometimes we shall have to refuse them things even though we can afford giving them easily what they think they need, as we know it is not a need but a want which they can do without as it could cause them harm sometime in the future or for whatever reason we think best. So we need to pray with love. Pure love. Not barter. Not business. Not ‘Oyi bhagwan I pray to You, bus kya’.
The prayer that comes from humility and gratitude, seeking forgiveness and wisdom and strength to go through whatever is in store for us with calmness, compassion and complete surrender to Their Wisdom and Love, is the best prayer, as we are not asking for our karmas to be manipulated, we are not seeking things, we just want to make Them happy and proud of us. Praying to Them to help us to give each moment our very best and to accept whatever is in store for us as Their blessing is a prayer as good as any prayer found in any Scripture here or the beyond.
Be blessed always.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha