Has prayer no validity or is true prayer the same as meditation?
- Prayer and the thing that you call meditation are acts of volition. Are they not? We deliberately sit down to meditate, we take a certain posture, concentrate in order to understand. We pray because we suffer. Behind prayer and the ways of meditation that we know, there is an act of volition, an act of will. When you pray, obviously it is an act of will; you want, you beg, you ask; as a result of your confusion, misery, suffering, you ask some one to give you knowledge, comfort; and you do have comfort. The asker generally receives what he asks for; but what he receives may not be the truth, and generally it is not the truth. You cannot come to truth as a beggar. Truth must come to you; then only you see the truth, not by asking. But we are beggars, we everlastingly seek comfort, we seek some kind of state in which we will never be disturbed; we ask for that, and we will have the reward; but the reward is death, stagnation. Don't you know the people who demand peace? They have peace, but their peace is isolation and they keep on repeating the same phrases which they memorize. The mind makes them quiet. It is like a stagnant pool with moss, the words are covered with the activities of the mind. The mind is made dull. Surely, that is not meditation.
Meditation is something totally different, is it not? Please follow what I am saying and see the truth of meditation. To meditate, there must be the understanding of the mediator; that is the first requirement – not how to meditate; because, how to meditate only develops concentration which is exclusion. You may be absorbed in your exclusion, but that is not meditation. Meditation is the process of self-knowledge which is the knowledge of the mediator – not the higher mediator who is meditating, not the higher self which is searching. To think about the higher self is not meditation. Meditation is to be aware of the activities of the mind – the mind as the mediator, how the mind divides itself as the mediator and the meditation, how the mind divides itself as the thinker and the thought, the thinker dominating thought, controlling thought, shaping thought. So in all of us, there is the thinker separate from the thought; the thinker has become the higher Self, the nobler self, the Atman, or what you will; but it is still the mind divided as the thinker and the thought. The mind seeing thought in flux, impermanent, creates the thinker as the permanent, as the Atman which is permanent, absolute and endless. The moment the mind has created the higher self, the Atman, that higher self is still of time; it is still within the field of memory; it is an invention of the mind, it is an illusion created by the mind for a purpose. That is a psychological fact, whether you like it or not; you may resist it, you may say that it is all modern nonsense, that what is said in the Upanishads, in the Gita, is contrary to what I am saying. But if you really examine closely and are not afraid and do not resist, you will see that there is only thinking which creates the thinker, not the thinker first and thinking afterwards.
You do not think you are nobody. Because your thoughts are conditioned, because you think as a Hindu, you consider yourself to be a separate mind, a separate state in which there is the thinker. As long as there is an experiencer experiencing, there can be no true meditation. But the discovery that the experiencer is the experience, is meditation.
Can one discover for oneself – not according to what Shankara or Buddha has said – can one see the truth that the experiencer and the experience are one, that the thought and the thinker are integral? I can only discover it by the process of meditation – which is, to understand what is actually taking place, to observe the ways of my mind. That is not a trick, a thing to be learnt, that the experiencer and the experience are one. You cannot glibly repeat it, it means nothing. But the moment I see, through meditation, the truth of that, then meditation begins: then meditation is no posture for an hour but it is a state which continues throughout the day; because, the mind is in a state of awareness, not as the experiencer experiencing – therefore judging, weighing, clearing, evaluating – because, after all, every experience makes the experiencer, every thought makes the thinker, puts the thinker together.
Look what happens when you have an experience of any kind, your mind immediately registers it, remembers; the remembering of it is the creation of the experiencer, because then the experiencer says I must have more of it or the less of it. Watch your own minds and see how any experience creates the thinker, the rememberer, and then the thinker, the experiencer, says « There must be more », and so it perpetuates itself. It is the process of time. The mind is everlastingly seeking an experience – a richer, wider, nobler, deeper, purer experience – and so it receives: and the very reception is the creation of the chains that bind humanity. Memory is « the me » which is the experiencer. So when I, as the experiencer, seek God, when I seek truth, which I shall know, from which I shall receive help, my mind moves from the known to the known, from time to time; and this process is what you call meditation. But it is an ugly practice, it is not meditation at all, it is merely the perpetuation of the self in a different way. There is no meditation in the deeper sense of the word, when there are an experiencer and the experience.
There must be the cessation of the experiencer and the experience, the things which the experiencer recollects, recognises – which means, there must be a state in which there is no recognition; which means, dying to every experience as it comes and not creating the experiencer. If you really listen and see the truth or falseness of it, you will know what meditation is – not how one is to meditate, but to see the full significance of what meditation is.
After all, virtue is order. What you are, so you must be. Real virtue is a clean thing, but it is not an end in itself. What you put in the room is more important, not how clean your room is. So the cultivation of the mind or the building up of virtue is not important; that is not the emptying of the mind necessary to receive that which is eternal. The mind must be empty to receive that.
That which is measureless can only come into being, you cannot invite it, it will only come into being when the mind no longer demands, is no longer praying, asking, begging when the mind is free, free from thought. The ending of thought is the way of meditation. There must be freedom from the known for the unknown to be. This is meditation, and this cannot come through any trick, through any practice. Practice, discipline, suppression, denial, sacrifice only strengthen the experiencer, they give him power to control himself; but that power destroys. So it is only when the mind has neither the experiencer nor the experience, that there is that bliss which is, which cannot be sought, which comes into being when the mind is silent and free.