Nature’s open secret
In DAAJI’s latest book, Designing Destiny, he discusses the importance of prayer as a tool for connecting with the Source, listening to the heart, bringing about change and self-mastery, and attracting divine Grace. Here is an excerpt from the book, highlighting the dynamic and life-changing nature of prayer.
Most people associate prayer with religion, as a way to entreat God: a plea, an earnest hope or wish for something more than we are or have, for something to fill us. It is designed to take us from our current state to our desired state.
We pray for things we feel are lacking. Often we pray in times of difficulty, and we pray for help, for hope and for salvation. We pray for the well-being of our loved ones, we pray to be forgiven for things we have done, we pray to change our character and attitudes, and we pray for happiness, more money, a better job, or healthy children. We hope that God will fix our suffering and our problems, so that our lives and the lives of others become better. Often we do this when we are at our wits’ end, when we cannot solve the problems on our own, and when we see our own weaknesses mirrored in the world around us.
At a deeper level, we pray for spiritual states that we feel are lacking, so that we can grow and evolve. We may pray for enlightenment, nirvana, heaven, liberation, and God realization. Prayer can be selfish or selfless, it can be forceful or subtle, it can be for little things or life-changing events, and it can be for worldly things or spiritual states.
Prayer is communication. It can range from the superficial to the profound: it can be a simple conversation, it can evolve to progressively deeper levels of communication and, eventually, it can become a state of communion. Prayer thus evolves as a potent way to communicate with God. Prayer is about connection, and how we activate the flow of Transmission through that connection. Prayer is also about how we eventually establish a state of osmosis in that flow.
A prayerful heart carries the eternal fragrance of Divinity wherever it goes.
It is an expression of love that can only be shared with the Beloved.
A heart drowned in prayer keeps us alert to our goal,
and this absorbency also helps us to recognize our defects
and find possible solutions to remove them.
The concept is similar to the way fluids create differentials across cell walls in plants and animals, so that nutrients can flow into the cells for nourishment. In prayer we create a similar differential between the Divine and ourselves to allow Divinity to flow into us and nourish us on a spiritual level. It is simple science. We create that differential by cultivating a state of vacuum in our heart so that the current of Divinity flows in, eventually leading to a state of osmosis with the Divine. That state of vacuity or negation also establishes a relationship of devotion with the Divine. And this is what allows us to attain the state of highest purity.
How to pray?
When we pray, both the manner and the matter are important. The manner is the way we pray. What is our attitude at the time? How do we create a condition within us so that the current of Divinity flows into our heart?
The process is so simple, so beautiful, and so scientific. The attitudes of humility, supplicancy, innocence and insignificance create a vacuum in the heart, so that the current from the Source flows in and enlivens the connection, just as electrical current flows from the positive to the negative pole in an electrical wire. Our job is to create the negative polarity by allowing a receptive, yielding state within the heart.
If we are not yielding, if our attitude is strong or demanding, with self-importance or force, then no vacuum is created in the heart, so there is no flow. It is a natural phenomenon, and our manner creates the condition for the flow to be activated or not. The subtlety in the way we offer prayer makes a huge difference to this flow. How gentle and yielding is our request? How light is our touch? Also, the moment prayer becomes a ritual it loses its potency. Prayer can be such a potent practice, and is largely underutilized by most of us.
In a way, prayer is an inner cry where pearls of tears slowly flow down our face and beautify the inner complexities of the heart. A prayerful heart carries the eternal fragrance of Divinity wherever it goes. It is an expression of love that can only be shared with the Beloved. A heart drowned in prayer keeps us alert to our goal, and this absorbency also helps us to recognize our defects and find possible solutions to remove them.
Then there is the matter, the subject of our prayers. We pray for many different things. One type of prayer is for the removal of unwanted behaviors, worries, concerns or situations that bring us suffering. Such prayers are usually a cry for help. They are often to alleviate the sufferings of others. They can also be for our own suffering, especially when the situation is dire and no help is coming in other ways. This is the last resort of a karma yogi. When such a prayer is a cry of feeling from one’s heart, it is easily heard.
The second type of prayer is a very positive cry for continuous improvement, to acquire noble qualities, to grow and evolve. Here are some examples of such prayerful suggestion that I like very much:
All humanity is developing correct thinking,
right understanding and an honest approach to life.
They are attaining rightness in action and perfection in character.
Everything surrounding us – people, the air particles, the birds, the trees
– is deeply absorbed in Godly remembrance.
All people of the world are growing peace-loving.
Then there are prayers where we don’t need anything to change. Instead we offer prayers filled with gratitude, accepting whatever is happening in the moment. Take, for example, when the heart is ecstatic and joyful, and we are able to share our joy with God, just as we share our sorrow with an inner cry. When the heart rejoices in this state of reverence and gratitude, it connects us with Divinity. In all societies, this inner joy is expressed prayerfully through dance, devotional songs, art, etc.
But even our gratitude is in response to a particular state, in this case the feeling of joy and ecstasy. There is still an expectation that we are grateful for something wonderful that has happened.
The Heartfulness Prayer operates at a different level altogether – one where we do not entreat any change. Instead, we offer three simple statements that define our human condition. The words remind us of our spiritual goal, the obstacles we face on the journey, and what helps us to reach there. There is no stated expectation in this Prayer, but there is still the feeling of differential, that we are not yet ‘up to that stage’, that there is an infinite journey ahead of us, and that we must continually refine and remove our wishes if there is a hope to experience finer and finer states. While offering this Prayer, we honor the present moment in our journey as well as acknowledging that the journey must continue.
The Heartfulness Prayer is done at bedtime for ten to fifteen minutes, to help us connect with our Source before sleep. It is also done for a few minutes before meditating in the morning as a way of re-setting that connection. By beginning and ending the day this way, a connection is established with the Source throughout the day and night. And, over time, self-mastery develops through this inner connection.
This Prayer leads us towards the ultimate state of osmosis, of homeostasis or total mergence with God, but it is asymptotic. It never actually arrives. The differential we experience through prayer between God and ourselves will always be necessary, as only with that differential do we keep swimming onwards, with the current flowing through our heart, connecting us to our Center.
What is the result of prayer?
Two vital things come together in the act of prayer, and when they combine they can create the potential for lasting change and real growth. This is one of Nature’s open secrets.
On the one hand, prayer connects you with your highest Self through the heart, to dive so deep that you connect with the Source of everything. On the other hand, it uses the power of thought or suggestion to bring about change, and this we call sankalpa in Yoga.
Sankalpa works better than orders or instructions, because it is so potent. The English translation for sankalpa is usually ‘suggestion’, although it is not an adequate translation. A suggestion is a type of thought – one in which an idea is put forward for change, usually with some idea of improvement or vision. So a prayerful suggestion is a very subtle suggestion that resonates in a pure, open, loving heart connected to the Divine. As an aside, have you ever thought about the fact that negative suggestion is the cause of most of the failures of humanity? This is true even with the suggestions we make to ourselves, about ourselves, through auto-suggestion.
The way we use suggestion in prayer is most important. There is no need to say please, because even the word ‘please’ is too heavy. And the offering of ‘May such and such a thing happen’, while slightly gentler, is also not subtle enough. How can we pray so that we do not disturb the divine silence? That is the ideal prayer.
These two processes of connecting and sankalpa combine like elements in a chemical reaction to create a dynamic state of communion with our inner essence. In prayer we are deep within the heart, so the thought or feeling we offer to the Lord is not just a thought, a theoretical or an intellectual thing. It resonates across the canvas of our consciousness through the heart, into the cosmic field or quantum field, if you like. The effect is so potent. It is no longer from our own individual level. It becomes a key to unlock evolution, to bring about transformation.
In the Heartfulness Prayer we commune with our highest Self, our inner Divinity. In the process we develop self mastery by acknowledging the rightful place of this higher Self at the center of our lives. But it is not only an acknowledgement. We actually refer to that higher Self when we are prayerful, and so gradually we master the art of listening to the heart.
The words of the prayer invoke feeling in us. Once feeling is there, we no longer need words. A time comes when the prayerful state is always there, when the few seconds we take to offer prayer at night expand into twenty-four hours, when our inner Master is always in focus, and we are always in tune with ourselves, prayerfully maintaining the condition we have.
The words of the prayer invoke feeling in us.
Once feeling is there, we no longer need words.
A time comes when the prayerful state is always there,
when the few seconds we take to offer prayer
at night expand into twenty-four hours,
when our inner Master is always in focus,
and we are always in tune with ourselves,
prayerfully maintaining the condition we have.
We are prayerful, we are maintaining the condition, and we are allowing it to grow. So no matter what we are doing – studying, watching television, taking a shower, eating breakfast, with friends, partying – the inner connection is always there.
That is the beauty of Heartfulness. It doesn’t take away any of our time. When we master the practice it requires less and less time, and yet it remains a twenty-four-hour business. To experience the Heartfulness Prayer for yourself, go to https://heartfulness.org/en/masterclass/.