So, what Rekhaji just says: ‘what is this prayer, what is the need of prayer?’ is quite right: if you are in that condition prayer is absolutely meaningless.
Question in Hindi
Answer in Hindi……that I agree, but we have to see at the highest level what is the condition. Then we have to see that how we are so lifeless, and gradually we become filled with some life. So, we are told: ‘you do this Puja, do that thing’, gradually we learn, gradually we rise up, so these are all concessions you might say, ‘scaffolding’. Some people may not need scaffolding at all…
??? for example, he had the same condition of consciousness from childhood,…yes, in the past births he had done already, so he had reached that position already.
Very often the whole idea of prayer looks like bribery: ‘I pray to God and therefore He gives me’ and we reduce God to that condition that He accepts ‘bribery’ as it were. But such is not the Divine: whether you pray or you don’t pray, He is going to do what He has to do, and He knows what is to be done, so it is not as if He is changing is course because you have prayed. Now, these are subordinate questions which have to be answered. Basically it is not as if by prayer God answers and therefore your fate is changed: it is not true. By prayer, by whatever you may ask, or may not ask, basically it gives you a chance of relating yourself with the Divine. And relating is nothing but seeing God face to face, that’s all. There is no other relationship with the Divine excepting confronting Him. At present, you are looking at the ground because of exclusive concentration of consciousness. You simply lift up, and see the Divine face to face: all prayer is basically meant to lift you from ground to His face, He is standing before you. So, if prayer is useful only in that sense it is only as an effort to build up a relationship with the Divine; that is all: but it is an artificial means. Actually you don’t need to do, you should not do it, but since we are so lifeless that we need this kind of scaffolding, so it is all right, it is a concession given to you, and you do it and even through this, ultimately you will reach that point.
Now, there is a very nice sentence in one of the books of Sri Aurobindo: it happens to be here right now in my possession this book. I will read out this sentence. Now, Sri Aurobindo raises this question about prayer. This is on the page 542, in ‘the Synthesis of Yoga’, Volume 21. There are two paragraphs on this subject. He says:
“The efficacy of prayer is often doubted and prayer itself supposed to be a thing irrational and necessarily superfluous and ineffective. It is true that the universal will executes always its aim and cannot be deflected by egoistic propitiation and entreaty, it is true of the Transcendent who expresses himself in the universal order that, being omniscient, his larger knowledge must foresee the thing to be done and it does not need direction or stimulation by human thought and that the individual’s desires are not and cannot be in any world-order the true determining factor. But neither is that order or the execution of the universal will altogether effected by mechanical Law, but by powers and forces of which for human life at least, human will, aspiration and faith are not among the least important. Prayer is only a particular form given to that will, aspiration and faith. Its forms are very often crude and not only childlike, which is in itself no defect, but childish; but still it has a real power and significance. Its power and sense is to put the will, aspiration and faith of man into touch with the divine Will as that of a conscious Being with whom we can enter into conscious and living relations. For our will and aspiration can act either by our own strength and endeavour, which can no doubt be made a thing great and effective whether for lower or higher purposes, -- and there are plenty of disciplines which put it forward as the one force to be used, -- or it can act in dependence upon and with subordination to the divine or the universal Will. And this latter way, again, may either look upon that Will as responsive indeed to our aspiration, but almost mechanically, by a sort of law of energy, or at any rate quite impersonally, or else it may look upon it as responding consciously to the divine aspiration and faith of the human soul and consciously bringing to it the help, the guidance, the protection and fruition demanded, yogakṣemam vahāmyaham.
Prayer helps to prepare this relation for us at first on the lower plane even while it is there consistent with much that is mere egoism and self-delusion; but afterwards we can draw towards the spiritual truth which is behind it. It is not then the giving of the thing asked for that matters, but the relation itself, the contact of man’s life with God, the conscious interchange. In spiritual matters and in the seeking of spiritual gains, this conscious relation is a great power; it is a much greater power than our own entirely self-reliant struggle and effort and it brings a fuller spiritual growth and experience. Necessarily, in the end prayer either ceases in the greater thing for which it prepared us,-- in fact the form we call prayer is not itself essential so long as the faith, the will, the aspiration are there,-- or remains only for the joy of the relation. Also its objects, the artha or interest it seeks to realise, become higher and higher until we reach the highest motiveless devotion, which is that of divine love pure and simple without any other demand or longing.”
All right? These two paragraphs give you a complete exposition of the need and transcendence of prayer. All right?