It is strange that a priestess should ask about prayer. What is a priestess, if she does not know what prayer is? But this is true not only about one priest or one priestess. I have come across many priests, and it was, in the beginning, a great shock to me that they are people who know nothing about religion; they are the people who know nothing of prayer; they are the people who have never meditated. They worship, but their worship is superficial - it is not of the heart - and they worship on behalf of someone else. They are servants, not really priests.
In India, every rich man has a small temple in his house. But the rich man has no time for God. Why waste time for God? In that much time, he can earn much. A priest can be purchased - and he will pray on behalf of you.
Man is so deceptive that he can deceive even himself. The god is dead; he has purchased it from the market. It is nothing but stone, carved into the shape of some unknown god who has never been seen by anyone. The god is just a thing. Of course, the richer the man, the costlier will be the god.
But whether costly or not, it is a commodity. And on top of that, even the priest is a salaried servant.
He has nothing to do with God - he has something to do with money. I have seen priests running from one temple to another. If a priest can manage to pray in twenty temples, then he is a rich priest.
The whole idea is so absurd and unbelievable. It is just as if you have a paid servant to love your beloved on your behalf. Perhaps one day it is going to happen - because the time you waste in loving your beloved can produce much money, much power. This game of love can be done by an ordinary servant. Why waste your time? And if the woman is also intelligent, there is no need for her to be there; she can also afford a woman servant. They both can love each other. Why waste time unnecessarily?
I have heard that one superrich man was psychoanalyzed by a famous psychoanalyst. The psychoanalyst was very happy because the man used to pay him more than expected. But he was such a bore that to listen to him for two hours, three hours, four hours a day, was too much. It was getting on the nerves of the psychiatrist. He started feeling, "If this goes on and on, soon this man may perhaps be cured, but I will never get out of this sickness that he is transferring to me."
He had read an ancient parable about a king who was a great chess player. The game of chess is very complicated; it is mathematical - the king went mad. All kinds of remedies were tried, but nothing succeeded. Then his prime minister said to him, "We should declare that if there is anyone who can defeat our king in chess, immense will be his reward."
One of the greatest chess players came to the palace, but to play chess with a madman.... In the first place, chess itself is a very mad game. The best players of chess have to think at least five steps ahead: "I will do this; the opponent most probably will react in this way, then I will do this." The longer one can visualize the process, the better a chess player he is.
One has never seen a chess player smiling - he is a serious man. And to play chess with a madman, and not an ordinary madman - a king who was playing chess according to his own laws.... But the chess player was paid enough to suffer it, and after one year the king was back to his sanity; but the chess player became mad.
The psychoanalyst remembered the parable and thought, "This is going to happen to me too. This man has so much money it does not matter to him; he can continue his psychoanalysis for years.
But listening to him every day was starting to enter into the mind of the psychoanalyst; even in his dreams he was listening to him. Then he became really freaked out, saying, "Some way has to be found. The patient cannot be lost, because he is giving so much money - but he cannot be heard, because my own sanity is in danger."
So he devised a simple thing. He came with a tape recorder and put it by the side of the couch where the rich man was lying down, ready to start. The psychoanalyst said, "I have so many patients and because you take three, four hours - and you can pay for it, so there is no question of preventing you, you are my most important client - I have found a device. You talk to my tape recorder, and in the night, in the silence when the whole world has gone to sleep, I will listen to it."
The rich man said, "There is no problem."
The next day, when the psychoanalyst was entering the office, he saw the rich man going out. He said, "What is the matter? The office has just been opened. Are you not going to talk to my tape recorder today?"
The rich man said, "I have also found a way. In the silence of the night, I talk to my tape recorder.
Now my tape recorder is lying on the couch, talking to your tape recorder. So you are free, I am free - nobody is at a loss. You will get your money, I will get my psychoanalysis."
The priests have been doing this from the very beginning: They invented the god, they invented prayers, they found their customers who were eager to have some bank balance in the other world.
This is how millions of priests and priestesses have lived like parasites on humanity.
It is strange, but significant, that a priestess asks Almustafa: speak to us of prayer. Can you conceive of a lover asking somebody, "Speak to us of love"? He knows love. His very being is dancing with love, his whole life is a song of love. Why should he ask anybody, "Speak of love"? A lover knows that nothing can be spoken of love.
But only a lover knows that nothing can be spoken of love. Those who have never loved can ask, "Say something about love." You can love, you can experience it, but nobody can speak about it. It is beyond words, beyond language, beyond your mind.
Love is a flower that blossoms in the innermost being of your consciousness, where words are left miles behind - only silence prevails. In that silence, love dances, love sings; but to bring that dance to words is impossible. There is no way to translate that dance into the words of any language.
Prayer is the most profound form of love - love for the whole existence, unaddressed to anybody, just radiating from your being because you are so full of it. Out of your abundance, it flows in all directions. Those who will come close to you will be touched by it. Nothing will be said, but everything will be understood; nothing will be said, but everything will be heard. It is not a question of words, it is a question of opening your doors for love to enter in. You may be dissolved into it, because it is not a problem to be solved; it is an experience in which the only way is to dissolve yourself.
Prayer is the highest form of love. There is no beloved, but love goes on radiating from your being towards all that exists.
Love is like a rose which has blossomed in the wilderness, where perhaps nobody will ever pass to know the beauty of it, to feel the fragrance of it. But that does not deter the flower from blossoming.
It does not ask for whom. It blossoms because it is so full it cannot remain closed any more. It has to open its petals, it has to release its fragrance to the winds, to whomsoever it may concern - that is not the concern of the flower. Its concern is to pour all that is throbbing in its heart - in color, in beauty, in fragrance.
Prayer does not need a god. If prayer needs a god, you have not understood prayer at all. But all your prayers are addressed to some god - a Hindu god, a Christian god, a Jewish god; and all those gods are created by you. What kind of game are you playing with yourself? First you create the god, then you start creating, or asking, or inquiring, "What is prayer?" - the god is pseudo, the prayer is borrowed.
AND HE ANSWERED, SAYING: YOU PRAY IN YOUR DISTRESS AND IN YOUR NEED....
Why did people need God in the first place? It is now an established psychological fact that man feels so helpless. There is disease, there is starvation and old age, and finally, there is death - and man cannot do anything to avoid it. Out of this helplessness, fear, need, is born the concept of God.
God is your fear, God is your consolation, God is a promise given to yourself on behalf of God:
"Don't be afraid, I am here to protect you" - although he has not protected anybody. Millions of people have prayed. Old age comes, disease comes, death comes - God never comes to interfere in all these processes; but still, there is a lingering consolation that perhaps, beyond death, He will be waiting for you.
The priests have used your fear to exploit you. They have been giving you continual consolation. It is nothing but psychological opium. And you can see the fact in your own life. When you are happy, young, in love, in joy, you don't bother about God, you don't bother about prayer. Just go to any church, and see who the people are who are in the congregation - mostly old women. Rarely will you find a young man. And if you find one, you will also find that he is retarded.
The archbishop of Greece threatened that he would burn me alive if I didn't leave Greece within twenty-four hours. I had not even gone out of the house - for fifteen days I was there. I inquired about his congregation in which he had threatened me. And Amrito, one of my sannyasins, laughed, and she said, "You ask strange questions. He's threatening to burn You and the house and the people who are staying with You - almost twenty-five people - and You are asking about his congregation?"
I said, "You will understand the relevance of my question. Just answer first."
She said, "Nobody goes there, only six old women."
He had announced that he was going to take a protest march, but it never happened - because, with six old women, what kind of protest march are you going to take? You will simply become a laughingstock. But why are these poor old women listening to this idiot? I call him an idiot, because he does not understand what he is saying.
The archbishop is the representative of one of the most significant human beings, Jesus Christ. And the Greek Orthodox church is one of the oldest churches - older than the Vatican. Jesus was first translated in Greece; hence, his name has changed - his name was Joshua, not Jesus. He never knew the word "Christ" or "Christian." They are Greek translations of the Hebrew words "Messiah, the Messenger."
Such an old tradition in the world this archbishop represents. Every day he reads the words of Jesus, and Jesus says, "Love your enemies," - and I am not even an enemy. He is ready to burn a friend alive. Perhaps as these people go on reading, it becomes a mechanical habit.
In the university where I was a student, one of the professors, a Mohammedan, was well-known as a very religious and spiritual person. In that area, there were very few students who ever came to his department because it was a Hindi-speaking area and he taught in Urdu, the language of the Mohammedans, so he had almost no work. The whole day in the university, sitting in his office, he would go on reading the holy KORAN. He was an old man, and once in a while he would fall asleep.
His department was just by the side of the department of philosophy where I was studying. Passing by his department, I used to look from the window to see whether the old man was asleep or reading - most of the time he was asleep.
Whenever I found that he was asleep, I would go in and turn the KORAN upside down.
The first time, I had thought that when he woke up he was surely going to be very angry: "Who has done it?" But I was amazed. I was in for a great surprise - because I was watching from my department. When he woke up, he started reading again. I could not believe it! But the reality was:
He had read the KORAN so many times - his whole life - that it had become a mechanical memory.
It mattered not whether the KORAN was there or not - he could read the KORAN even if the KORAN was not there.
I could not contain my curiosity. I went into his room and I said, "Your KORAN is upside down; and you are still reading it."
He cleaned his eyes, and he looked at the KORAN. He said, "My God! Who has done this?"
"I think it must have been the devil. Who would disturb your religiousness? But even the devil cannot disturb it. You can read... whatever the position of the KORAN is does not matter."
And I managed it many times. I would go in.... I made a book. The cover was of the KORAN, and the book was made of cuttings from newspapers. Whenever he was asleep I would put my book there, and his KORAN back onto the shelf. Whenever he would wake up, he would start reading his KORAN. He had a beautiful voice - even in his old age his voice was pure gold - and the KORAN can be sung, even if you don't understand it. There is nothing much to understand in it, but the very pronunciation of those words is so poetic that you can enjoy it without understanding it - just like music. You don't have to understand music, but it is soothing, pleasant.
One day he caught me red-handed. When I was changing the books, he caught hold of me. He said, "This is too much. So many times I was wondering... this is strange. The KORAN is on the shelf, and this rubbish... and I have been reading it. And I am an old man; my eyesight is not right, so I cannot figure out what it is. But it doesn't matter; I know it, and I can repeat it even in my sleep - my wife does not sleep in my room."
I said, "Why?"
He said, "She is tired and bored because, she says, ???Any time in the night, you start reciting the KORAN... fast asleep.'"
This is bound to happen if a person is reciting one thing the whole day. It does not matter whether he is awake or asleep. I said, "You don't be worried. Even in your grave you will recite the KORAN."
He said, "Don't tell this to my wife; otherwise, she will not come even to my grave, even to put two flowers there."
But he was considered by the Mohammedans and by others, a very spiritual man. He was very sick.
This is not spirituality: this is stupidity.
You remember God and prayer and the KORAN and THE BIBLE and the GITA only when you are in need. When you are not in any need, and life is going smoothly, you completely forget about God and prayer. Looking at the fact simply shows that the concept of God, and a communication with him in prayer, is nothing but a beggar's bowl. Whenever you are in need, and you feel helpless but you cannot do anything about it... perhaps God can do something. So your prayers are really prayers of a beggar, and the real prayer you never even become aware of.
The real prayer is never that of the beggar, never out of any need. The real prayer is just a thankfulness - not to any god, but to this whole existence. This whole existence is alive. Everything is throbbing, full of life, full of joy. Look at the trees, look at their greenery, look at their flowers. Look at the mountains, look at the stars, look at the ocean. They are all in prayer - although they know nothing of God, although they never utter a single word of prayer; but the tree dancing in the wind and the rain and in the sun is in prayer. It is not a need; it is a thankfulness. It is gratitude towards life.
If there is any god which is not man-made, then it is life itself. All gods are man-made; they may be good and beautiful statues, but they are dead, utterly dead. Even an ordinary tree has more of godliness in it than the gods in your temples. Its life, its greenness, is not its own creation - it is a gift from existence itself.
Real prayer is nothing but a deep gratitude.
You cannot say it, you can only be it.
Linguistically it looks strange because we have always thought of prayer that we have to say it, we have to do it. I am saying to you: neither can you say it, nor can you do it. You can only be it... a prayerfulness, a simple gratitude, unuttered, unsaid. Existence understands the language of silence.
In fact, it understands only the language of silence.
YOU PRAY IN YOUR DISTRESS AND IN YOUR NEED; WOULD THAT YOU MIGHT PRAY ALSO IN THE FULLNESS OF YOUR JOY AND IN YOUR DAYS OF ABUNDANCE.
Kahlil Gibran is saying that your prayers are empty - because a beggar's bowl is always empty. You should be an emperor! Out of your abundance, out of your joy, out of your love, out of your very life a silent communication arises; you are in tune with existence, with the mountains and with the stars and with the earth. Suddenly you have found a harmony - that harmony is prayer. All your temples are false, all your masks are empty, all your churches are dead.
Leo Tolstoy, a very significant and creative person, has written a small parable: The archbishop of Russia was hearing everyday - and was getting more and more irritated and annoyed - that beyond the lake, outside the city, there had suddenly sprung out of nowhere, three saints. In India nobody would be surprised, because saints don't need anybody's certificate, or anybody's permission - "I want to be a saint, sir. Am I allowed?" - but in Christianity the very word "saint" comes from "sanction." Unless the archpriest sanctions you, you will not be a saint; so this was strange, because he had not sanctioned anybody. From where had these three saints arisen? And so many people were going to touch their feet, his huge cathedral was becoming almost empty.
One day he decided he had to go and see who these people are. He took a motorboat and went to a small island on the lake. Those three saints were sitting under a tree. Just looking at them, he could not believe that these could be the saints. They looked uneducated, uncultured, just farmers, fishermen, gardeners maybe, woodcutters - that kind of people, simple people - so he gathered courage.... Up till now he had been feeling nervous. Where were thousands of people going? Every day news was coming... he was feeling nervous to go there; but now he gathered courage, speeded up the motorboat, landed just by the side of the tree, and asked, "Are you the three saints people are talking about?"
They said, "Saints! We are simple people; somebody must have created a rumor."
He said, "But people come here in thousands every Sunday to touch your feet."
They said, "That is true, but just forgive us - we are poor people."
He said, "What is your prayer? Do you know the prayer of the Orthodox church of Russia?"
They looked at each other and said, "Prayer? We are uneducated; we don't know the prayer of the Orthodox church."
"Then what is your prayer?"
They started nudging each other, "You tell him." They all felt very embarrassed.
He said, "Why are you feeling embarrassed? Tell me what your prayer is - I'm the archbishop."
They all touched his feet. "If you are the archbishop, then we have to tell you the truth, but it is very embarrassing. Don't tell anybody, keep it a secret; we never do our prayer before others. When there is nobody, when only we three are left - we are old friends - then we do our prayer. We have made our prayer, it is very simple...."
In Christianity God is a trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost. They said, "Finding that God is three, and we are also three, we have made a prayer: ???You are three, we are three, have mercy on us.'"
Although angry still, the archbishop had to laugh. He said, "You are idiots. This you call prayer?"
They said, "Up to now we have been doing it because nobody ever taught us... if you tell us the authorized prayer, we will do it. But it should be simple, it should not be long."
But the prayer of the church was long and complicated. They listened and they said, "Please repeat it again."
Two times, three times, four times.... He said, "Are you absolute idiots? Can't you get this small prayer?"
They said, "We want to be completely sure that nothing can go wrong. Big words... but we will try; we will divide it into three parts. That way it will become simple - one part I can recite, one part the other fellow can, the third part the third fellow can."
He said, "No, this is not the way - you have to do the whole prayer!"
They said, "My God... but we will try our best, and we are very grateful that you came. You should not have come, you should have simply sent a message; we would have come ourselves."
Very satisfied that he had put those idiots right - and now he would see the crowds: "What kinds of fools are you? They don't know even the basic prayer, and you are hailing them as great saints." He was happy that a great trouble was finished.
But in the middle of the lake, suddenly he heard noise. He looked back: all those three were coming running on the water, shouting, "Wait! We have forgotten the prayer!"
The archbishop could not believe it. They were standing on the water by the side of his boat, and they said, "Just one time more."
The archbishop said, "Forget the prayer that I told you - your prayer is perfectly good. ???You are three, we are three, have mercy on us.' And when you pray, please pray for me too."
Prayer is the fragrance of a silent heart. Even if it comes into words, it never comes as a need, but only a thankfulness, a gratitude.
Prayer is innocence.
FOR WHAT IS PRAYER BUT THE EXPANSION OF YOURSELF INTO THE LIVING ETHER?
Melting and merging into the sky, into the vastness that surrounds you, that is prayer. Sitting by the side of the ocean, melting and merging with the waves and the sound of the waves hitting the rocks on the beach - become one with it, and it is prayer. When the birds are singing, be silent; let their song reach to your being too, and it is prayer.
Prayer has no authorized version - Hindu or Mohammedan, Christian or Buddhist. Prayer is simply a deep love for all that is, an expansion of your consciousness to the whole that surrounds you, in which you are rooted, from which you get all your life, all your juice, all your dance. Just feeling one with this infinity, this eternity, disappearing into it, is prayer.
AND IF IT IS FOR YOUR COMFORT TO POUR YOUR DARKNESS INTO SPACE....
Just listen to people's prayers - they are only pouring their darkness into the space. Their prayers are complaints, their prayers are grumpy, their prayers are telling God, "What you are doing is not right." Their prayers are trying to improve upon the intelligence of God. This is pouring darkness, ugliness.
But even if you do it, at least remember:
IT IS ALSO FOR YOUR DELIGHT TO POUR FORTH THE DAWNING OF YOUR HEART.
Sometimes pour your love, too; sometimes pour your light, too. But as far as I understand, you can do only one - either you can pour darkness or you can pour light. Once you have poured your joy, your song, your dance, you will come to know so much, you will feel so blessed that it will become impossible to complain or to pour your darkness into existence.
AND IF YOU CANNOT BUT WEEP WHEN YOUR SOUL SUMMONS YOU TO PRAYER, SHE SHOULD SPUR YOU AGAIN AND YET AGAIN, THOUGH WEEPING, UNTIL YOU SHALL COME LAUGHING.
People's prayers are nothing but their tears - tears of sadness, frustration, depression, despair, anguish. Are these the presents you give to existence? Kahlil Gibran says, "Don't be worried - if you can only weep, then go on weeping. There is a moment when all your tears will be dried out.
Don't stop unless your weeping becomes a laughter."
Laughter is authentic prayer. Whenever you are crying and weeping, you are asking for consolation, you are asking for somebody to help you in your despair. But when you are having a belly laughter, you are not asking for anything, you are giving something to existence, just like the cuckoos which are pouring their sweet songs into existence.
Your laughter is a giving away, and a gift worth giving. And if you have experienced, even once, the joy of laughter as prayer, even your tears will not be tears of despair. They will go through a transformation; they will be tears of your joy, of your abundance.
Tears are not necessarily of misery. If you see a friend after many years, your eyes may be filled with tears of sweet memories, of peaceful yesterdays, of all that has transpired between you and the friend. Those tears are simply a remembrance; they have a beauty of their own. And it happens...
there are people here to whom it has happened, and thousands more of my people who have reported to me, "It is strange. People think we are mad because we are laughing and weeping together." Then the prayer is complete.
When tears and laughter have the same quality and the same rhythm, then prayer has come to a completion.
Yes, people will think you mad, because they live a divided life - either of tears or of laughter. They live a life of "either/or."
One of the most famous Danish philosophers, Soren Kierkegaard, has written a book, EITHER-OR.
The book became so famous - and he was a man.... Not only has he written the book, he lived the life of "either/or." The book is very representative of his duality, his split personality.
One woman told him that she loved him and she wanted to marry him. He remained silent, and the woman said, "Say something - even a no will be better than this silence."
He said, "I cannot say so quickly. I have to weigh - either, or. It will take time." And he could never decide his whole life whether to get married or not because the pros and cons were all equal. He would come out of his house, lock the door, go a few yards, come back again to check the lock - perhaps he has forgotten.... He used to come out of his house only one time every month.
Seeing his situation, his father deposited money in the post office - "Every month a certain amount has to be given to him, because I don't see that he can work, or he can do anything or earn anything."
So every month, on the first day, he would go to the post office with urchins following him shouting, "Either/or! Either/or!"
The whole of Copenhagen was aware of the man, that he was a very strange type. In the post office he would get his monthly installment, he would count it, and after five minutes on the way he would again count it. After ten minutes, reaching near the house, he would again count it. The question was always... perhaps he had forgotten, perhaps he had counted wrongly. And he was one of the great thinkers of Denmark! He is the father of a certain school of philosophy, which is the most prominent today in Europe, particularly on the Continent: Existentialism.
The day he got his last installment, the postmaster said, "Now you need not bother to come again; the money your father has deposited is finished with this installment."
Hearing this - you will be surprised - the man fell down and died, because that money was the only thing that he had in the world. He lived in a dark house, dismal, dirty, alone... he would not even open his windows because those urchins were continuously torturing him. They would come to the windows and knock on them, and call in, "Either/or!" - that had become his name.
Man has been living with the same kind of approach to life, "Either/or" - either tears or laughter. So when you see somebody laughing and with tears flowing, you will think he is mad. But, in fact, he has become whole - he is no more split. His laughter and tears have joined hands together in a dance.
So if it happens to you - and it is going to happen to every meditator some time or other - don't be worried; you are not going insane, you are going sane for the first time. You have lived an insane life because of the division of everything - body and soul, matter and spirit, this world and that world, mundane existence and sacred God. You have always lived with this continuous division, and nobody can live as a divided house. That destroys your energy, because you are constantly in conflict with yourself.
In India, in the villages particularly, I have heard... and I could not figure out in my childhood what these uneducated women meant when they said to their children, "Don't laugh too much; otherwise you will start weeping." I was puzzled, because I thought weeping and laughter are opposite poles, diametrically opposite. But these village women have somehow been carrying a wisdom for centuries: "Don't laugh too much; otherwise you will start crying." From both the sides...
if you laugh too much, you will find tears joining in the dance; if you weep too much, you will find laughter joining in the dance.
But we are never total in anything. We weep and we weep half-heartedly; we laugh and we laugh only a Jimmy Carter type of laughter - it is just an exercise of the lips, it does not have any roots in the heart. I have heard that his wife used to close his mouth every night. The whole day if you are keeping your mouth open - ear to ear - it becomes a fixed style of your lips. They lose their elasticity. I don't know how far the story is true, but I suspect that there is every possibility of its being true.
One night, Jimmy Carter's wife phoned the President's personal physician, "Come immediately! A mouse has entered my husband's mouth."
The doctor was puzzled. He said, "What you are doing?"
She said, "What can I do? I have never heard of such a case. Suggest something - because it will take half an hour for you to reach here."
He said, "You do one thing: take a piece of cheese and hang it inside the mouth... perhaps the mouse may turn; the cheese may attract him."
It seemed logical, so the wife tried. When the doctor reached the house, he could not believe it. The wife was hanging a mouse over his mouth. He said, "Are you mad or something? You told me that a mouse had got inside his mouth, and I have asked you to hang a piece of cheese. It seems the cheese has gone in, and you are hanging a mouse."
She said, "You don't know the whole story. By the time I brought the cheese from the fridge, a cat was going in. Then I thought it was better to catch hold of the mouse - and this is not a real mouse, it is just made of rubber; my children play with it. From where to get a real mouse so quickly? - I am trying first to get the cat out, then the question of the mouse arises. Things have gone from bad to worse."
I don't know how far it is true... but people are laughing with just their lips, it does not go deeper than that. If it goes deeper, it will reach to the same source from where the tears come. If you are capable of allowing yourself totality, your laughter and your tears will come together in a joyous dance.
WHEN YOU PRAY YOU RISE TO MEET IN THE AIR THOSE WHO ARE PRAYING AT THAT VERY HOUR, AND WHOM SAVE IN PRAYER YOU MAY NOT MEET.
The prayer that I am describing to you, the silent gratitude, is tremendously uplifting.
Kahlil Gibran is handing over to you a great secret. All the people on the earth who are praying at that moment will have a meeting of consciousness - because their consciousness is uplifted from their bodies, far away in the sky.
This meeting has been known by many mystics, and because of an old association with the word "God" they have thought that their soul is meeting God. It is not God, it is all those souls which have uplifted at the same moment into the higher realms of being. And he is absolutely right that you may not meet these people, ever, in any other way.
And this meeting will give you an immense nourishment. You may have felt it here. Just the other night, Anando was telling me that the discourse was immensely nourishing. It looks a little strange...
people say it was interesting, people say it was very profound. But Anando said to me as I was going back, "It was very nourishing."
In this silence, there is a meeting, and that meeting is immensely nourishing.
THEREFORE LET YOUR VISIT TO THAT TEMPLE INVISIBLE BE FOR NAUGHT BUT ECSTASY AND SWEET COMMUNION.
Many people meditating, praying at the same time, create almost a temple of consciousness in the sky, invisible to our ordinary eyes but absolutely visible to our inner being. In the East, we have called it the third eye. When you start seeing the temple of consciousness being created by many meditators or people who are praying at the same moment, these eyes are of no use - they can see only the material, the visible. But something, a third eye, opens in you. And to see the invisible temple made by the consciousness of many people is a great freedom - freedom from your man- made temples, synagogues, churches.
Mohammedan mystics have been the most prominent as far as this particular experience is concerned. That's why they pray five times a day, at exact hours, exact time, wherever they are; facing towards Kaaba, their holy temple. But millions of Mohammedans, if they are really in prayer, facing all towards Kaaba, will create a temple of consciousness in the sky. And they have been successful. Other religions have known it, but no other religion has made it so fundamental a discipline to every disciple.
But this is the calamity that falls over every great thing. Their prayers, although they are facing towards Kaaba at the same hour - millions of people, because Mohammedanism is the second greatest religion in the world, only after Christianity - but their prayers are not what Kahlil Gibran is talking about.
I used to go often to Udaipur, in Rajasthan. In Udaipur I had my first meditation camp; and I had a very beautiful gathering of people. Going to Udaipur, I had to pass a Mohammedan city, Ajmer. The trains have to be changed, and it was a one-hour gap before we could get the train towards Udaipur.
Many Mohammedans, in the evening, used to do their last prayer on the platform. I used to walk for one hour just behind them, seeing what they were doing. They were praying, looking towards Kaaba, but everybody was also looking again and again backwards to see whether the train was leaving or still standing. It happened so many times - I was going so many times to Udaipur, every year....
One day a Mohammedan, who was a professor in the University of Jaipur, was traveling in my compartment; he was also praying, down on the platform. It was a beautiful place - huge trees by the side of the platform - and he was doing the same stupid thing, knowing perfectly well that the train would leave only after one hour, and that before leaving there would be long whistles, and that it could not leave hundreds of Mohammedans praying on the platform - but the professor was also doing the same stupid thing.
Finally, I sat by his side. He could not speak in his namaz, in his prayer time, but I nudged him many times; and whenever I nudged him, he looked back - he thought perhaps the train was going. And he was getting very angry because I was disturbing his prayer. When he finished his prayer he said, "I never had expected from you that you would disturb a pious Mohammedan's prayer."
I said, "I was not disturbing - I was myself worried that the train was leaving so I was nudging you because you may be left here. And even without my nudging, I have seen you looking back again and again. The train was standing there, just a question of not more than twelve feet. Even if it leaves - and it is a meter-gauged train, goes slowly - you can catch up with it without any trouble.
But what kind of prayer is this that you cannot forget the train? If you are really honest, it would be better that you face the train rather than facing Kaaba. At least you will not be disturbed by Kaaba.
Facing the train, you can do your prayer more at ease."
He said, "Facing the train? Whoever has ever heard that when you are praying, face the train? That would not be prayer."
I said, "That will be prayer, because you will at least be relaxed that the train is standing - there is no problem. But looking back twenty times, even Kaaba must be getting irritated with you. It is not prayer."
Mohammedans are very clever in that matter; they don't leave their shoes outside the mosque. It is a very strange thing. In every temple - Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist - you have to leave your shoes outside. But that is a trouble: people are praying, but they are looking at the shoes, because the best place to steal shoes is a temple where rich people go.
Mohammedans have their strategy: They take their shoes inside, but with a certain method. They put the shoes sole-to-sole together, so that the sole does not touch the floor, because the sole is dirty, not the whole shoe - seems logical. And the way the Mohammedans sit to pray, it is easy to sit on their shoes. So, completely free from the fear that anybody can steal their shoes, they are sitting on them - inside the mosque.
In my childhood, particularly in the month of Shravana, when all over India the birthday of Krishna is celebrated for many days, and every temple is decorated, and people go with their best clothes, best shoes - it is a celebration - I used to go to change my shoes.
My father asked me one day, "I always see new shoes, and you never ask for the money. From where are you getting these shoes?"
I said, "I have found that in the town there are at least thirty temples. Once I get fed up with one pair of shoes, I simply go to the temple. I never go in, I simply sit outside watching, because I have to find my size. And there is no trouble, even if sometimes I get the wrong size - a little long or a little small - I can change them, thirty temples...."
He said, "You are something... but this is not right; and you never go inside the temple?"
I said, "Once in a while I go, because in the celebrations for Krishna's birthday, great musicians come to the temple. And if I hear that something really beautiful is happening, I go inside."
Then my father asked, "What about your shoes?"
I said, "For that, I have also a method. I never keep both my shoes together - one shoe on this side, one shoe on another side. Who is going to steal one shoe? My shoes have never been stolen."
He said, "This is great! I will try it, because my shoes have been stolen many times. This is a good idea, and no harm to anybody. They are our shoes... we can put one here, one far away. There are so many shoes in between, and anybody who is going to steal is in a hurry - he cannot manage to look for the other shoe."
But I told him, "Don't say this to anybody, because if people start doing this, then I will unnecessarily waste my time: I will have to find the other one. I know if one is there, the other is bound to be there - it will take just a little effort to find the other."
Hindus, Jainas, and Buddhists who leave their shoes outside, I have seen them - their hands are towards the statue of God, and their faces are towards their shoes. I have asked many, "To whom are you praying? Should I believe in your head, or should I believe in your hands? And if you have to pray to your shoes, what is the point of coming to the temple? Just put your shoes in front of you in your house and pray - it will be more relaxed."
Everything gets perverted. The Mohammedan mystics were right - but how to prevent all these Mohammedans who are looking somewhere else, who are worried because their luggage is in the train? They are doing a ritual, but it has lost its meaning.
FOR IF YOU SHOULD ENTER THE TEMPLE FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE THAN ASKING YOU SHALL NOT RECEIVE....
The very state of asking and begging, "Give us this, give us that," destroys the whole beauty and the sanctity of prayer. You are not concerned with God, your concern is somehow to get something; and because you have to get something, your prayer is nothing but praising God just the way you buttress people's egos: "You are great, you are the greatest, you created the world... just cure my wife of cancer."
How suddenly you come to the cancer of your wife! And what has the "greatest" to do with it - to do with your wife and cancer? - praising God and asking, "My son is unemployed. Just be compassionate, don't be too hard...." You are complaining, you are buttressing - this is not prayer.
It is one of the great problems in India - how to get rid of baksheesh. You can manage anything - you just have to give a few notes under the table, and what was absolutely impossible becomes immediately possible. India cannot get rid of it, because it has been doing the same with God. What to do with a constable, a police commissioner? These are poor fellows - even God is being given baksheesh.
Before every temple, you will find a shop of coconuts. People purchase coconuts as baksheesh.
There is a strange story behind the coconut. In the old days, people used to cut the heads of their slaves as sacrifices to God, to please Him. Now that looks very barbarous, so they had to change to some substitute. The coconut looks like a head, with two eyes, a little beard, and mustache, it looks just like a head. And in Hindi, the coconut is called khopra, and the head is called khopri - just the same words. In fact, you are doing better with a khopra, because that is male and khopri is female.
They used to offer blood. Now they only use red color - but these are the remnants of a barbarous past. And nobody bothers about what you are doing.
Strangely, if you go to the market, the coconut has gone up in price almost eight times more than it used to be in the beginning of this century. Then it used to be only five anas - one third of a rupee.
In the shops before Hindu temples, it is still sold at the same price. It is a miracle. In the market, you have to pay eight times more - how is the shopkeeper before the temple managing? It is the same coconuts that have been going in a circle - every day people purchase them, offer to God...
every night, the priest brings them back to the shop. They are the most rotten things in the world.
Inside there is nothing; they may be half a century old. So the price has remained the same, and it is a business partnership between the priest and the shopkeeper - perhaps the shopkeeper is his brother.
Just offering a coconut, you are asking employment for your son, admission in a medical college, success in your love affair - all kinds of things. I have been sitting, hiding in temples, and listening to what people are asking. I was puzzled. There is not a single thing in the world that you will not hear being asked. Somebody is after some woman, and the woman is not paying any attention to him. Offer a coconut, and God will take care of it.
In India, it is impossible to destroy baksheesh. If even God takes it, what about the police commissioner? You try it. Purchase a coconut from a temple shop, and go to the police commissioner - and he is a worshiper, because whenever we phone he is always in worship. I am puzzled, for what is he being paid? During office hours, he is in worship. And what is he worshiping? For what? He must be worshiping... how to become somebody higher than the police commissioner - the Chief police commissioner.
A big promotion, a longer life... these are not prayers, these are not worships - you are doing business. And the business mind has no possibility of understanding anything of real value: prayer, love, gratitude, blissfulness. These are not commodities which are sold and purchased.
AND IF YOU SHOULD ENTER INTO IT TO HUMBLE YOURSELF YOU SHALL NOT BE LIFTED.
Kahlil Gibran is far more profound than Jesus. Jesus says, "Ask and it shall be given to you." And Kahlil Gibran is saying, "Ask and it shall never be given to you" - even if you are asking, "God, make me humble." It looks very nice - you are not asking anything wrong; you are just asking, "Make me humble." But the person who asks, "Make me humble," is indicating two things: one, he is not humble - he is an egoist - and he is asking humbleness also as a decoration to his ego. Then he can say, "There is nobody more humble than me." Even humbleness will not be given if asked....
A prayer has to give something to existence - not to ask. I say to you: Give to existence, and it will be returned to you a thousandfold, but never ask. Religion is not for beggars, it is for emperors - those who can give.
Or even if you should enter into it to beg for the good of others you shall not be heard.
It looks a little hard, but it is true. You are not asking for yourself, you are asking for others. But the very asking is wrong. You are not trusting the wisdom of existence; hence, you are asking. It is a kind of advice: you know better, existence does not know better.
Don't try to be wiser, to be holier, to be higher than existence. Just relax and surrender yourself. The only thing that you can offer to God is yourself. Offer yourself without any conditions, and without any expectations.
It is enough that you enter the temple invisible.
You should go to a temple - just stand by the side so nobody observes you, and watch the people who come to pray. If there is a crowd, they pray long, because so many people are seeing them - they will spread the rumor in the city that this man is very religious. If there is nobody to observe them, their prayer is a shortcut. They finish it quickly and... gone. What is the point? - nobody is watching.
I have seen the same person praying before the crowd - then he goes long - and the same person alone in the temple, unaware that I am hiding there - he quickly finishes the prayer. If there is nobody seeing him, what is the point? Your prayer gives you respectability and honor - that's why Kahlil Gibran is saying, "Enter the temple invisible, as if you are nobody - almost absent. Don't make noise, don't shout your prayers - God is not deaf."
There is a beautiful song of one of the mystics, the greatest of the great: Kabir. A Mohammedan is praying very loudly, so loudly that the whole neighborhood can hear. Kabir goes and taps on his shoulder and says, "Remember, God is not deaf. Even if you whisper, He will listen; even if you don't say anything, He will listen even more, because He understands silence, not shouting."
I cannot teach you how to pray in words.
God listens not to your words save when He Himself utters them through your lips.
Unless you are so silent that you allow God to utter a few words through you - not that you say them, but you allow God to say them, only He hears those words - your words are not heard.
AND I CANNOT TEACH YOU THE PRAYER OF THE SEAS AND THE FORESTS AND THE MOUNTAINS.
And that is the true prayer. All the trees are in deep meditation, all the mountains are in deep meditation, all the rivers are in deep meditation. Their silence is their prayer.
But you who are born of the mountains and the forests and the seas can find their prayer in your heart.
You are also born of the same earth, of the same seas, of the same forests, so deep in your heart, you can also find the same silence. And that silence is the essential prayer.
AND IF YOU BUT LISTEN IN THE STILLNESS OF THE NIGHT YOU SHALL HEAR THEM SAYING IN SILENCE:
"OUR GOD, WHO ART OUR WINGED SELF...."
This is so beautiful - remember it. Kahlil Gibran is saying, "In the night, in the deep silent hours of the night, you will hear the trees whisper, the mountains whisper, in silence..."Our God, who art our winged self...."
You are nobody else, just your winged self. We have forgotten our wings. You have not remembered your wings yet. The moment you remember your wings, there is no difference between you and God.
The moment you remember your freedom, the moment you drop all your chains, all your prisons, there is no difference between you and God. There is no need of any prayer, because there is nobody other than you - but you are on a different plane, winged in the sky.
... It is thy will in us that willeth....
And at that moment you will understand that whatever you do is His doing, whatever you will is His will.
Jesus, on the cross, remembered this profound truth. First, he was annoyed, because no miracle was happening, and he shouted at the sky, "Father, have you forsaken me?" This is not the way of prayer, not the way of meditation. Only in the end, he realizes that his expectation for a miracle is begging; it is not prayer. It is an expectation, a demand; and nobody can demand from existence.
Hence he says, "Thy will be done, not mine." He knows his will is that a miracle should happen, but he has come very close to the truth: "Thy will be done. You simply do your will - don't listen to me and my will." After this statement a great silence descended on Jesus.
"IT IS THY DESIRE IN US THAT DESIRETH.
IT IS THY URGE IN US THAT WOULD TURN OUR NIGHTS, WHICH ARE THINE, INTO DAYS WHICH ARE THINE ALSO.
WE CANNOT ASK THEE FOR OUGHT, FOR THOU KNOWEST OUR NEEDS BEFORE THEY ARE BORN IN US...."
What is there to demand and ask? Existence knows you - you are born out of it; you are children of the earth, and the mountains, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars. Even before you become aware of a certain desire, the earth knows it, the sky knows it.
You are rooted deep into existence. Before the flower comes to know, the roots know it; and before the roots come to know, the earth knows it - so the man of understanding simply relaxes in a deep let-go: Thy will shall be done.
"THOU ART OUR NEED; AND IN GIVING US MORE OF THYSELF THOU GIVEST US ALL."
The only real prayer is a silent thirst, a silent hunger: Thou art our need, we don't have any other need. Our hearts are empty. We are ready to be Your host... You be our guest.
In deep silence, calling God to be your guest is the only prayer.