The business of prayer

There are millions of people praying day in and day out. In fact, religion is usually understood as an act of prayer. We can see all the religious places full of devotees putting up their demands to the deities or bargaining with god about their health and wealth. The bottomline of their prayer is: “You fulfil my desires and I will do something for you”.

As if god is a trader! It is a topic for research as many prayers really get answered.
True prayer is neither a bargain nor a trade. It is an expression of gratefulness for all that is already given by existence. Just as the flower blooms and spreads its fragrance, a content heart overflows with gratitude towards existence. Prayer is the perfume of the fulfilled heart.
There is an interesting Sufi story about a trader. A commercial ship is coming back to its home country. The ship is full of businessmen coming home after a long business trip. Suddenly the ocean goes wild, and the ship is on the verge of sinking. Everybody starts praying frantically. But there was a Sufi who was simply sitting there, not praying. People became angry; they said, “You are a religious man, wearing the green robe of a Sufi. What kind of a Sufi are you? You should have been the first one to pray. And we are not religious people, we are just businessmen but we are offering god, ‘we will give you this, we will give you that. Just save us’. Why are you not praying?”
He said, “You have already said it: because I am not a businessman. If he wants to finish us all, good. If he wants to save us, good. It is his business. I am in total agreement with him. Why should I pray? Prayer means some disagreement, something is happening which you don’t want to happen. You want god to interfere, to stop it”.
On board was the most wealthy, most famous man of the country, and he was coming with millions of diamonds and precious stones. He had a beautiful palace in the town — the most beautiful marble palace. When the ship was almost sinking, the man shouted to God, “Listen, I give that palace to you, just save me!” And as it happened, the winds disappeared, the ocean became calm, the ship was saved. They reached the shore”.
Now, the rich man was in great difficulty because of what he had said. He said to the Sufi, “Perhaps you were right just to keep quiet. If I had followed you I would not have lost my palace. But I am a businessman, and I will find a way”. And he did find a way.
Next day he put the palace up for auction. He informed all the nearby kingdoms, whoever was interested. Many kings and rich people came and everybody was interested in buying the palace. However, they were all puzzled to see a cat chained to a marble pillar just in front of the palace. The rich man came out and said, “This palace and the cat, both are up for auction together. The price of the cat is one million dinars and the price of the palace, one dinar”.
One of the kings who wanted to buy the palace said, “Yes, I will give you the price, but please tell me, what is the secret of this cat and the palace?”
And he said, “No secret — I just got into trouble because of a prayer. I have told God that ‘I will give you the palace’. The price of the cat, one million dinars, will be kept by me, and the price of the palace — one dinar — will go to religious fund”.
After citing this story Osho takes a dig at the trading mind: “Your prayer is just your effort to persuade God to do things according to you. And it is absolutely your imagination. In the first place you don’t know God. You don’t know his likes and dislikes. You don’t know whether he exists or not, and you are praying! This is a poor state of affairs, and this is happening all over the world. I am against prayer because it is basically a business. I am in favour of meditation. The meditator comes to know — feels reality throbbing within himself — the heartbeat of existence. And then there is a thankfulness that is without any motive, a gratitude to nobody in particular, simply a gratitude for all that is”.

— Amrit Sadhana is in the management team of Osho International Meditation Resort, Pune. She facilitates meditation workshops around the country and abroad.

Comments

The article is so finely

The article is so finely written and the take home message is so strong, worth following.

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