Some has written to me asking:
Question: Do you pray? I've wondered about prayer, in school we had
to memorize prayers, we learned prayers for every occasion, and we
just rattled them off at the proper time, usually not even thinking
about the words. My Mom says the same bible verse every day (if that
what works for her, thats fine with me). I find that type of prayer to be
lacking but I'm not sure what else to do.
Answer: I grew up with no prayer or religion. I entered a Greek
Orthodox Monastery at age 23 for one year, and remained Orthodox
for 20 years, participating in the prescribed prayer practices.
I next spent several years with Zen Buddhists, meditating and
observing their practices.
Next, I spent several years with Hindus, worshiping in their fashion.
Now, for me, my writing, my thoughts, are my meditation and prayer
I thought I would gather together (below) some of the things I have
written during the past seven years regarding prayer in different
Some years ago, I was watching an interview on television with some
politician and his family, who were devout Christians. They mentioned
that they had been praying about some particular issue. They
described the words of their prayer. It was sort of like... "Lord, We
would like THIS to come to PASS, if a certain sequence of events
transpires, IF IT IS YOUR WILL, or, if THAT turn of events is not pleasing
to You, THEN we pray that SOME OTHER (desired thing) SHOULD come
to pass, IF THAT IS Your Will, or IF NONE OF THIS SHOULD work out
according to our wishes, THEN give us the equanitmity of
ACCEPTANCE, IF THAT is Your will,.... but in any and all events... THY
WILL BE DONE... AMEN!"
Well, what can I say! They certainly covered all the bases! Basically,
they were working out all the possible permutations and
combinations of outcomes. Funny, how Jesus said, "Your Heavenly
Father ALREADY knows your needs, BEFORE you ask".
Western religions are very QUID PRO QUO (something done in
anticipation of or exchange for something else). IF you do this THEN
YOU will be rewarded WITH THAT. But if you FAIL TO DO THESE OTHER
THING,.... then you will be PUNISHED with these consequences.
Eastern Religions, Hinduism and Buddhism and others, seem not to
be quite so QUID QUO PRO oriented. One notices that, while Christians
are always asking for one anothers prayers on various issues, Hindus
and Buddhists DO NOT request the prayers of others.
For a Hare Krishna devotee, prayer is the Mahamantra "Hare Krishna
Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare". The devotee vows during their initiation
ceremony to say this prayer/mantra, 108 times for each rosary
(prayer rope, mala), and 16 rosaries per day, for a total of 1728
mantras, taking between 2 hours and 3 hours per day. for the rest of their lives (this is a lifetime commitment). For them,
mantra repetition IS A FORM OF INCARNATION of Lord Krishna (God).
The mantra on the tongue is likened to young Lord Krishna dancing on
the heads of the poisonous serpent, Kaliya. With each step of Lord
Krishnas feet, the heads of the serpent were injured, and the serpent
began spewing venom in all directions. Lord Krishna asked Kaliya
"Why are you doing this?". Kaliya replied,"My Lord, you have created
me as a poisonous serpent. All I have is venom to offer You as an
offering. Where would I get Nectar to offer you. So I surrender to you,
and I accept my nature, and offer You the only thing which I have."
This notion of a snake offering venom in place of nectar suggests that if, with faith and devotion, we take whatever is troubling us or tempting us, and offer it up, that it shall be accepted and sanctified and we shall find shelter and relief.
It is considered that the "incarnation" of the Avatar in the sound and
vibrations of the Mantra is like unto the manifestation of the Avatar in
the cloth of the Sari of Draupadi. The enemies of the Pandavas were
trying to humiliate Draupadi by stripping her naked, but as they pulled
off her Sari, the Lord manifested as an INFINITE length of material, so
no matter how much they pealed off from Draupadi, she remained
fully clothed. This is sort of the reverse of the situation when Mother
Yashoda attempted to tie up young Lord Krishna to a pillar, to punish
him for his naughty pranks. No matter how much rope she fetched, it
was always one inch to short to encompass Lord Krishna, since this
was an attempt to BIND THE INFINITE. Finally, Lord Krishna took
mercy and allowed himself to be bound to the pillar, for which he
received the name Damodar (which means He who is bound at the
belly"). So the Lord, though it is His nature to be ABSOLUTE MASTER
OF ALL, yet simultaneously allows Himself to be BOUND IN SERVITUDE
to the Devotee.
It is only AT THIS MOMENT , as I write, that the resemblence between
the Crucifixion of Christ and the binding of Lord Krishna to the pillar
occurs to me. Interesting!
So in Hinduism, prayer is not necessarily FOR ANYTHING, in the quid
pro quo western sense. Rather, through Mantra, humanity CO-OPERATES with Divinity in ON-GOING avataric incarnation/manifestation.