All over the world, down the ages, religions were centred around prayers and worship. In fact, prayer is one of the most ancient expressions of religion. The practices and rites of contemporary tribal peoples might offer a glimpse into remnants of earlier forms of religious behaviour. We can say it is an advanced form of asking for help from the idol you believe in. No doubt, it strengthens your faith, but it also means throwing your responsibility on someone. Someone else must do something for you. And you are a passive receiver.
The allure of prayer is so strong that people are not willing to get over it. There is certainly a bio-energetic reason why humans resort to praying in the hour of crisis. “Prayer and meditation are highly effective in lowering our reactivity to traumatic and negative events,” says Dr Paul Hokemeyer, a marriage, family and addictions therapist. “They are powerful because they focus our thoughts on something outside ourselves. During times of stress, our limbic system, more commonly known as our central nervous system, becomes hyper-activated, which does two things: it thrusts us into survival mode, where we freeze, fight or flee the situation. This also shuts down our executive functioning [and] prevents us from thinking clearly. Therefore, when we’re stressed out, we make poor decisions and act in self-destructive ways… When we sit down and engage in prayer or meditation, we can shift away from this frightened and stressed survival mode into an intentional state and re-engage our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that enables us to make intelligent, mindful decisions.”
However, it is good to remember that prayer and meditation are not synonymous. Meditation is doing something internally to achieve something, taking in your own responsibility. For the modern man, the prerequisite of prayer, the belief or faith is hard to come by. We must remember that this is the scientific age, which is founded on doubt, not belief. Therefore, Osho has changed the whole connotation of prayer. He says that prayer is the last stage, the culmination of meditation. For: “Prayer is love. Prayer is gratitude. Prayer is thankfulness — to the sunrise or to the sunset, or to the sky full of stars, or to the earth, to the mountains, to the rivers. It is not a belief; we are part of it. Prayer can be possible only if your life has become so beautiful, so blissful, that you feel gratitude, a thankfulness towards existence. So, prayer is not for everybody, it is only for those who have succeeded in meditation. It is the last word in meditation. When you have come to know the silence of existence, when you have experienced life itself, when you have experienced the unspeakable, when you are drowned in the beatitude of your meditation, the last word is wordless gratitude, a thankfulness.”
Prayer is not asking for something; it is an overflow of contentment. Existence has been compassionate that it has allowed us to come out of misery, it has allowed us to experience the ultimate of consciousness and we are grateful to it. It is a “thank you” to existence.
Amrit Sadhana is editor of Osho Times International. She facilitates meditation workshops based on Osho insights around the country and abroad....