On Prayer

Prayer is the highest form of communication with the Lord, and can be offered in simple words or as an elaborate ritual. The modes of prayer may differ from person to person, but the attitude is fundamental to all. Prayer helps nurture one’s special relationship to the Lord – the relationship of the created to the creator – by invoking the devotee in the person. Unlike the other relative roles one plays, the role of a devotee is non-demanding since the Lord seeks nothing from us. When one’s relationship to the Lord becomes primary in life, other relationships become secondary and, thus, less problematic.

Prayer has its purpose in helping one achieve an object of desire, be it mental clarity or a given end. Ultimately, prayer helps one gain the maturity to be a qualified recipient of spiritual knowledge. This knowledge teaches us our identity with the Lord and helps us discover freedom and happiness, the very nature of oneself.

In the creation of any object, two types of cause are necessary. One is an intelligent cause which has the knowledge and the skill to create the object, and the second is the material cause from which the object is created. The two causes may rest with one being or may be separate from each other. For example, the dreamer is both the intelligent and the material cause of the dream-creation, while the watchmaker is only the intelligent cause of the watch, the material being different than the watchmaker.

When one looks at the world, one sees intelligence and order in the creation. The sun stays in its position; the planets do not go out of their orbit; the laws of physics do not take a vacation. Every organism has its place, every cell has its meaningful function. Nothing is without purpose. This being so, there must be an intelligent and a material cause for this creation.

Now, do these two causes rest in one being or are they separate from each other? If one says that the material cause exists apart from the Lord, then the question would arise as to who created that separate material. If it were created by another Lord, then from what did he or she make the material? One would end up in infinite regression looking for the first material. And, where would the separate material exist before the creation of space? Time and space are themselves part of this creation. Therefore, the material cause cannot exist apart from the intelligent cause of the creation. In fact, the creation does not exist apart from the Lord. What exists is the Lord alone.

With this understanding, if one asks where the Lord exists in the creation, the answer is that the Lord exists everywhere. What is the Lord’s form? It is all forms, since nothing exists separate from the Lord. If all forms are the Lord’s form, then how does one worship the Lord? One can worship the Lord by invoking him in any given form.

Innumerable laws govern the creation. The Lord, seen from a given law or function, becomes the presiding deity of that law or function. For instance, the Lord seen from the function of creation is Brahma, the presiding deity of creation. Similarly, from the standpoint of preservation and destruction, the Lord is the presiding deities Vishnu and Siva, respectively. The presiding deity of the function of sight is Surya, the sun and so on. The presiding deities may be male or female principles, since creation is equally composed of both aspects. Thus, prayer to any deity is prayer to the Lord alone.