Prayer Reciting Recipes!

posted on 29 July 2013 | posted in Information

This is precisely how people pray: they recite recipes! For example, people pray, "From darkness, lead me unto light." But what do they do to dissipate the darkness of their minds? Nothing! This can be compared to a person who has a recipe, but instead of gathering the ingredients and cooking the food, he recites the recipe and goes on doing so until he finally dies of hunger. This is what people all over the world and from all religions have been doing.

Some prayers are like equations which not only have to be solved, but which once solved give the key to eternal life, super power and self-knowledge, and answer the fundamental questions of life. In fact, people are mistaken about prayer; they think it is all about asking from God. Prayer happens when a person has become completely transformed. The experience is so mind blowing, so beyond words that a sense of awe and wonder is born. The experience of bliss, peace and freedom is so great that one becomes grateful and spontaneously expresses one's feeling by praying.

People are so unconscious and ignorant that they recite any prayer at any occasion. For instance, they ask for daily bread even at a funeral ceremony! I know one so-called swami in Mauritius who recited a prayer from the Upanishads at a gathering of politicians, government members, foreigners and others. The prayer was completely out of context on that occasion. It goes like this: "Sahanavavatu sahanaw bhunaktu sahaviryam karavavahai, " These were the words of an enlightened being or a guru which came spontaneously from his humility as he was about to start teaching a seeker or disciple.


This prayer has to do with spirituality. Reciting it in front of a group of ignorant and non-spiritual people makes no sense. On top of that, it is in the Sanskrit language which very few people in this world have mastered. Many of the prayers are sutras, that is, coded mystical texts which have to be meditated upon and which reveal great truths regarding man, God and the cosmos. But funny as it is may seem, we recite them blindly and most of the time independently of the context. Are we so stupid?

The priests say, "Do not question, simply believe. It is sin to doubt prophets, priests and scriptures." But here we could ask: isn't it a sin to tamper with the words of the scriptures? Isn't it a sin not to allow people the freedom to question, enquire, doubt or seek? Isn't it an irony or even funny that while people recite prayers of peace everyday, violence in and out is increasing daily? We ask for our daily bread while millions are malnourished or famished.

Prayer is not a recitation but a profound experience, just like eating and tasting. And unless we 'cook" the mind and the heart in the fire of awareness, we cannot taste bliss, peace, freedom and virtue. Prayer is a spontaneous overflow of that state of our being. It is an individual relationship with the universe. You need not copy from the prophets or enlightened people. For example, Jesus called God Father; you might choose to call him Mother like Ramakrishna, or why not brother or friend! Meerabai related to Him as a wife. It all depends on the temperament and spiritual mood of the meditator.

Prayer is born in silence, while recitation is not silence, it is noise. People believe that when you go to the temple, it is necessary that you recite prayers. My understanding is different. Instead of praying, or should I say reciting borrowed words from your scriptures, you should instead become aware so that you feel, understand and see God. The statues are not meant to be worshipped but rather observed, thought about deeply, then fixed upon without any judgement or concept so that they can reveal their secrets to you. But alas, you are ignorant! A temple is a place where you sit quietly, not where you make noise as is the case today.

The same thing applies to symbols and rituals. They conceal secrets to be discovered in deep silence or stillness of the mind, not to be worshipped or blindly used. All those prayers, rituals and symbols in our scriptures conceal great truths regarding human nature and life. They can only be decoded when the mind has reached a high level of stillness or meditation. But people are conditioned, lazy, orthodox and blind believers, so they miss the loftiest gems of life.

Prayer is not a recitation but a profound experience.
Prayer is born in silence, while recitation is not silence, it is noise.

By Swami Paramananda