Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
Sometimes there are individuals who do not oscillate on the Path of prayers. They are consistent in their prayers, chanting, meditation or other spiritual pursuits. But this road to Oneness has various landmines and concealed traps. Thus this rambling.
Very often Baba Sai has guided in channeling that there are various pitfalls on the path of spirituality that are so subtle and yet create great stagnation or make the seeker lose his or her way. Let us take a simple thing like chanting or saying one’s prayers. Initially we all begin with the right intentions, focus, dedication, love and fervour. But as time passes, our chanting, prayers or creating protective shields for oneself or loved ones become more of a formality, a routine. Thus, the essence is no longer present, only a task or a formality taking place, and unfortunately we are oblivious of indulging in just a self gratifying, ego boosting habit.
When there is no heart, focus and plea in one’s prayers, the voice, the energy, our call, doesn’t reach Home, it gets lost in the by-lanes of one’s daily routine.
But the sad part is that we think we are praying, chanting, creating shields and walking the path of sadhna, religious traditions or Oneness.We could be spending hours in a day, in so called prayer or spiritual pursuits and truly feel happy and content about sticking to one’s schedule but unfortunately the most noble of all callings has been reduced to just that, a schedule, a time table, an agenda and nothing more; no longer a commune with the Goddess, God, Guru either externally or within.
When we assume that we are chanting, or saying formal prayers, performing sacred rituals, indulging in aura protection, being in a state of meditation, and feel truly gratified about one’s own dedication, love and discipline, unfortunately most of us are in reality only caught up with completing one’s own daily routine or schedule and eventually it all boils down to just that, ticking off another box in our daily to-do list.
When our spiritual pursuits have no fragrance of gratitude, humility, yearning, pukaar or calling then we are indulging in self-gratification and pandering of one’s ego.
Just like exercising, or having a bath, we have somehow made the most sublime part of our existence and very being into a force of habit to be completed. There is really no prayer taking place, just muttering of ancient words. No chanting of Mantra’s happening just chatter of well-constructed words, being indulged in, no true commune with the One, in fact no commune with oneself too.
We have somehow managed to make the most sublime part of our existence into a to-do list when in reality it should be the most important part of the day, where one’s twenty four hours should in reality revolve around those hours or even minutes one spends in prayer or any type of spiritual pursuit.
But when prayers become something that needs to be got done with, then we have managed to make Oneness with our Goddess, God, Guru, into an act equivalent to brushing one’s teeth.
Spiritual pursuit is not an act it is one’s very reason for existence. Something one does not just do, but one lives for and eventually becomes. It is not something to be got over with, but it is something we should want to be in a state each waking moment of our life.
When we sit to pray and we pray as though we might never get an opportunity for prayer ever again then the prayer traverses through time and space and The One we are calling out to, either in that elusive real estate called Heaven or the most mysterious cave where The One resides within each one of us.
When we sit to pray as though we have been blessed with the privilege of being allowed to sit in commune with The One, we have been given an opportunity to pray, then the force, purity, power of our prayers takes us forward on our journey to the Oneness Family. One needs to be blessed with the karma or the destiny to be able to pray. I truly believe that even to pray we have lived lives that have led to this blessing and honour of being able to sit in prayer. We have worked lifetimes to have come to this place in our existence where we can sit and pray or become one with spiritual pursuits. This honour to be able to have the inclination and understand and want to pray should not to be taken lightly or the opportunity wasted away. Why is it that some of us have the time, place, inclination, energy, opportunity to be able to walk the Path? Why is it that all of a sudden the need to pray becomes a compulsion? Why is it that after praying for decades suddenly the inclination or the opportunity to continue with one’s spiritual practice dries out?
Even to be able to get the environment or time or inclination to spend time in prayer is because in some life time we decided to make this Path our priority and now we are partaking of the fruit of our intent and hard work in some life time. We have been blessed with a certain number of hours to be able to become one with The One. Let us say an individual has earned the karma of prayers. S(h)e has got the opportunity of a thousand hours of prayers or any other spiritual pursuit. Would we like to waste those precious hours gifted to us by Providence and our own hard work of some life time and convert grace into a formality and a box to be ticked off as a routine to be done with or would we like to make the most of this opportunity and make each second in each minute in each hour count? From every grain that enters our mouth to every opportunity for prayer, there is a meter that is ticking away. There are no free meals in the Cosmos. We have earned the right for every blessing and every good fortune that we enjoy and we are responsible for every baggage and cross we carry. And everything comes with an expiry date. Do we want to squander grace and convert it into a formality or do we want to take this opportunity and convert it into everlasting grace, is in our hands.
When we pray we should be convinced that whoever we are praying to is truly hearing our prayer. When we sit to pray the fragrance of our prayers should force our Goddess, God, Guru to keep everything aside and listen to our call; then the purity and intensity and devotion and yearning in our prayers will get wings to reach Them. The certainty that our prayers shall reach the One if prayed with complete devotion and love, will instill fuel in our prayers to make sure our prayers reach our Loved One.
Baba Sai of Shirdi says that there are various ways to pray. Pray as though our Goddess, God, Guru is in the Spirit Dimension where They reside and we are reaching out to Them. Our prayer leaves us and we hope it reaches Them wherever They reside. The greater the intensity, love, yearning to be heard shall open pathways for our prayers to reach Them. This is called the external prayer. The call.
Then there is the internal prayers where we are certain that They reside within us and thus our attention is directed within and we are praying to Them assured that They hear us. But They are dormant. We need to wake Them up. The only way to awaken Them within and then let Them operate through us from within, is possible by making our prayers so intense that They have no option but to wake up and say ‘ what the….’ Our prayers need to have that purity, intensity and fragrance to awake the sleepy Heads within, and then They begin to throb in each cell of ours and fill our very breath and vibrations.
The third kind of prayer is when one is certain that They reside not only in Their celestial abode, where ever that piece of real estate is in Creation, and also They reside within each being. This prayer needs greater focus as now you believe that They are within and without. They are in Their abode. They are outside you. They are within you. And later on a state comes when They are you. So now you not only have to pray with the intensity of a mad man trying to make our voice reach Them wherever They are, but also to awaken Them within. So the force has to have enough fuel to reach the external destination as well as have the power to awaken Them from their dormant state within.
When was the last time we prayed with this kind of intensity and junoon? I do not remember. It is shameful that so often when I pray my mind is someplace else. I shudder to think what if Baba, Maa, the Oneness Family have taken time out to truly hear my prayers. Are They going to be enveloped with the purity and fragrance of my prayer or instead hear some rattling of words, with no depth, no love, no focus, just a ramble, a routine that must be gone through with.
When there is an emergency or fear or want, suddenly our prayers become exceedingly intense and our focus is bang on and there is a yearning and plea in our call. And then when things settle down, the emergency is a distant memory, our prayers become a part of another to-do list, to be done with and gotten over with, each day.
Why is it that most of us can’t muster this kind of intensity, which comes about during an emergency, every time we sit down to pray? Do we have to be in some sort of a pickle to pray with concentration? Does destiny have to be nailing various parts of our anatomy to the floor, for us to give our be all end all to our prayers. Do we require to be in real want of something to pray with yearning? Do we need to be in a place of fear or anxiety to pray with commitment? If we are praying for any other reason other than expressing gratitude or seeking mercy or oneness, then that itself is not a prayer but just some barter arrangement taking place.
The purpose of prayer is to become One with the One. To seek forgiveness.To ask for Mercy. To offer thanks. To yearn to move away from duality to Oneness, to move away from darkness into Light. Anything else is dhanda, a business or a sauda, a deal. If our loved one were to only truly pay attention to us when he or she is in need of something, I am certain that after a while the fragrance of the relationship shall shrivel up. The best way to know how one should pray is to put yourself in the driver’s seat and ask how would we like our own relationships and communications in those relationships. The answer will come forth that we don’t want formality but we seek genuineness, a realness in the relationship, a meaningful exchange of thoughts, words and deeds.
They have given us twenty four hours with each hour consisting of sixty minutes and each minute throbbing with sixty seconds. Countless seconds make up each day. How many seconds do we really remember Them with true love? When we instill awareness and gratitude into our prayers, when we pray with a yearning and seek mercy, when we call out to Them like a child seeking one’s very Mother, when our prayers are not a ritual or a formality but our very reason for existence, then we have begun to walk the Path. Every time when we take Their Name and we are aware of it, our awareness makes our prayer reach Them. Thus, it would be a shame to waste this opportunity we have of spending time in prayer and spiritual pursuits as it does not come to all and doesn’t come without working for it. It has been gifted to us and if we squander this honour away, who knows that in which future lifetime we might again earn the privilege to be able to get an opportunity to be able to pray as and when we would so desire. Thus to recap and stop this incessant rambling, Baba says that when we pray we should pray as though possessed with the Divine Energy; pray like a child yearning for the embrace of a loved one. Pray as though it may be the last time we might get an honour and an opportunity to pray. Pray that They have taken time off from Their busy schedule and are listening to our prayers. Do not insult Them by making our prayers a formality. Then we have debased the only truly noble thing a human being can indulge in, which involves Them and oneself, and nothing in between.
Be blessed always.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha