What is Prayer yoga_?

 

The unique relation of God to soul is not as Father to Son but as Son to Father. The analogy given to understand this fact is that of light lit from another light, and the second of which is in no way less than the stature and standard of the Father. Hence, all souls are sons of the Father and destined to become like the Father. Hence God abides in the soul or is immanent in the soul in all his perfection and totality of being and becoming. God is nigh unto us but we are far from Him. God is within but we are without. God is at home but we are strangers. Thou art our Father so really within ourselves, where we seldom look that thou art to us a hidden God. God is good without quality, great without quantity. Hence the Prayer :

Thou God outpouring in thy gift

Thou God overflowing in thy love

Thou God all burning in thy desire

Thou God melting in union with Thee

Thou God reposing on my breast

Without Thee never could I live.

The concept of soul is no vague and shadowy emanation, no mere transient vehicle of sensation. It is a real existence for it makes everything else be what it is. The still small voice within exclaims, O soul on your endless pathway to perfection stride boldly onwards from star to star; the eternal pilgrim of the Infinite, everlasting pin-point of supreme life. The life supreme is life in God. All life completes itself in the divine life. He lives most truly and intensely who lives nearest the great course of life which is God. God is the fountain of life, the great Reality, real and abiding life is life in God. The mystic lives in the supreme life and he knows things by an inner light. To him, God is no mere an article of belief but an experience. The mystical doctrine maintains that the highest in man hold communion with the highest in the universe, that the human soul can enjoy direct union with the supreme object to which neither the senses nor the logical understanding can attain. The Mundakopanishad gives a graphic account of a mystic or a saint who has discovered the Supreme and this self-discovery or self-realization is brought into bold relief in terms that are sublime yet sweet : “He who has attained the Supreme Soul in knowledge is filled with wisdom, and having found Him in union with the soul is in perfect harmony with the inner self. He having realized Him in the heart is free from all selfish desires, and having experienced in all the activities of the world, has attained calmness. It is he, who having reached the Supreme from all sides has found abiding peace, has become united with all, has entered into the life of the universe.

The path of love is the chosen path of the mystic by which he realizes immortality. There is no such thing as death, death is a curtain placed against eternal life. The screen only has to be removed, then the visions of beauty and bliss are vouchsafed to the soul that is blessed. This blessedness is nothing but grace. The mystic proclaims the need of God’s grace for man. There is co-operative grace which is on both sides, there is irresistible grace on the part of God alone. Co-operative grace involves the freedom of man’s will whereas irresistible grace is sovereign on the part of God. When irresistible grace of God descends upon the mystic his mind remains calm, collected and well-balanced. There arises another kind of consciousness characterized by the vastness and luminosity. As the mystic rises into this condition, his powers suddenly enlarge, limitations vanish, a keener and subtler life pulses through him.

Prayer-yoga confirms the mystic doctrine by saying that the kingdom of God is within you. It shows the path how to realize the Heaven not as a place but as a state, as an attitude of mind, as a disposition of the heart, as transformation of life. Modern thought is also tending in the direction of placing emphasis on the immediate qualitative enrichment of life than on the mere wish for continuance of existence. Immortality does not mean any place of life after death, but it means a spiritual state divested from the concept of time.

Prayer covers the whole of man’s life. Prayer is a preface to the book of living; the text of the life’s sermon; the girding on the armour for life’s battle; the pilgrim’s preparation for his journey. Man’s prayer and God’s grace are like two buckets in a well, while the one ascends, the other descends. Prayer is the wing by which the soul flies to Heaven and meditation is the eye by which it sees God. Prayer is meditation through speech, meditation is prayer through silence. If man is concrete individual, God is the most unique individual. That is to say, He is the repository of innumerable attributes such as love, knowledge, power, bliss, beauty, unity etc. It is not given for the human mind to comprehend all of them at one stretch, it therefore abstracts some of them and by this mode of abstraction it becomes able to concentrate on one or other of the divine attributes. Since the whole of God cannot be grasped in its infinity by the human mind, it is therefore no weakness, if meditation is directed to some definite or well-defined attributes of the divine. Hence particular divine attributes may be doted upon.

Prayer presupposes faith in God, love in man and work in society; but it speaks of faith that is enlightened, love that is selfless, work that is worship. Hence Prayer-yoga has a touch of the supernatural, the elan of the spirit which alone can produce that majestic faith that is the bread of the soul. The saints and sages, the prophets and the truly religious live out of natural profoundity of soul, hence their lives give us a convincing proof that man is not ploughing his lonely furrow in the dark, that there is a transcendent Will which is co-operating with him in his quest for ideals, that the values of life are not mere accidental by-products but they reveal to us an order of being which is more than merely human, that a spiritual reality is the source of what happens in the temporal process, that the human life points beyond the contingent to another world which exerts a transforming influence upon it, that Prayer-yoga as distinct from orthodox religion believes in the spiritual equality of man, the liberty of his choice, the significance of the world and sublimation of the society.

Prayer-yoga consists of four elements – the recognition of a power superior to himself, the feeling of dependence upon that power; the seeking to do the will of that power or God; an attempt to enter into relation with that power. A feeling of dependence is considered to be the essence of religion. But many modern authorities have held that the central element in religion is not only a feeling but also the highest value or God. In all religions, we may discover these two elements, though of course they take different forms. There is always a recognition of the Reality upon which man is dependent, and at the same time the acknowledgement that this same Reality is the source of the good, so that man’s salvation depends upon his achieving some satisfactory relation with it. Thus all mysticism involves the idea of a possible co-operation with the Divine Will. It is not only dependence upon God but seeking to do the Will of God.

O Lord, let Thy Will be done, this is the quintessence of prayer. In Prayer-yoga, the soul seeks to do the Will of God. But the Will has its response not in the world of law but in the world of love, not in the world of necessity but in the world of freedom. For example, our servants do service faithfully and we are satisfied with their work; often times we offer them presents, with all this our relation in them is not complete. In friends our will meets their will in fullness of love and freedom. The natural world is a world of necessity while the spiritual world is a world of freedom. In the natural world we are mere recipients but in the spiritual world we are God’s partners. In this work of building up the spiritual world, God has to wait for man’s will to harmonize with his own. In the creation of the spiritual world in which man has to work in harmony with God, there have been sufferings of which animals can have no idea. Our greatest hope lies in this that there is suffering, that it is the language of imperfection. Its very utterance carries in it the trust in God like the baby’s cry which would be dumb if it had no faith in the mother. This suffering is instrumental in driving man with his prayer to knock at the gate of the Infinite.

 

 


 
This article ‘How to Practice Prayer-yoga’ is taken from H.H.Mahatapasvi Shri Kumarswamiji’s book, – ‘Towards the Spiritual Nisus’.