By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
August 13, 2011
Don’t underestimate the strength of a prayer which, if done faithfully, gets reflected in the universe and helps finding peace of mind, says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Faith is at the core of human existence. It plays a big role in shaping one’s life. It sustains life and leads one through difficult times. At the same time, it brings out hidden courage and potential in more ways than one. Even those who say, “I don’t believe in anything,” have to believe in their words. The issue is where you place your faith. For an atheist, his faith in objects is obvious; his faith in people is fluid and his faith in the unseen power of creation is ambiguous. However, for a believer, his faith in the unseen power is supreme; his faith in people is inconsequential and objects do not matter in any way. The role is even more visible in the materialistic world. It saves one from suicidal tendencies and helps one see beyond the obvious. When life is based on belief, one follows philosophy rather than getting caught up in revenge and hatred. If there is faith that everything will be fine, then things do work out.
There are three types of faith: In oneself, in the world and in the divine. And the three are connected. One must have all three to be strong. To have faith is to realise that God is protecting you. This is a necessary and a sufficient condition to move ahead in life. When the knowledge that “I am blessed” is established firmly in one’s life, it is called faith. This feeling can help one overcome any obstacle. Once you realise that you are blessed, complaints disappear, as do grumblings and insecurities. Not everything in this world is hunky-dory. However, if you are grounded in faith, then you will progress and maintain your equanimity in this world.
The essence of prayer
Faith leads to prayer and prayer is a vital tool to improve your life. Prayer nurtures values such as integrity and honesty. You don’t need any special qualifications or abilities to pray. It is something that comes from within. Similarly, prayer doesn’t mean just sitting and chanting. It’s about being in a serene, calm, meditative state. That is why, in the Vedic tradition, before prayer comes dhyan (meditation) and there is dhyan after prayer. When the mind is focussed, the prayer becomes far more powerful, it is the cry of a soul. To whom you pray is not important. Religion puts words to the prayer and adds symbols and rituals to it, the prayer itself transcends them. It happens at subtle levels and the feelings transcend words and religion. The act of praying itself has the power to bring about transformation.
Now, prayer happens in two situations or in a combination of situations. You pray when you feel grateful or when you feel utterly helpless. In either case, your prayers will be heard and answered. A true prayer can’t happen without devotion and faith. Having faith is to realise that God is there to protect you. Devotion is an inner flowering. Be sincere in your prayers. Do not try to outsmart the divine. Be honest with your prayer time and you will definitely be rewarded.
Root your love, faith and belief deeply. The world is a celebration. Stay happy at all times. Learn to take ups and downs in your stride. When faced with difficult times, invoke the valour in you and tackle the situation with confidence. You emerge stronger after hard times. Never forget the strength in you — prayer and power of your sankalp (positive intention). Don’t panic and keep your mind centred.
Expand the mind
When we panic, our immunity level goes down. Practices such as pranayam, yoga and meditation help. Remember there are others who may be going through harder times than the ones you are facing. When you realise this, your problems will appear small. Serve people who are in bigger troubles. Realise that you are not alone in these difficult times. There is always an unseen hand working for you. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Prayer is not a ritual as is usually perceived; it is the feeling of helplessness and asking for God’s help. It makes you very strong and powerful, because the divine belongs to the weak. This is why He is called deenbandhu — the friend, relative and redeemer of the weak, meek, powerless and helpless. Try to include this in your prayer —
“There is no way that I can get rid of this stress. I need help” — and notice changes happen immediately.
Trust the Divine
During the harvest season, the farmer separates husk from grain with a broad sieve. He stands on an elevated platform, holds the sieve and puts all his grains into it. He then proceeds to shake the sieve. If the particle that falls through the sieve is mere husk, it flies away and is lost. Meanwhile, the grains fall to the ground and stay put. Similarly, if your faith is shaken very quickly and too often, or if you lack faith in difficult times, then you are akin to the flying husk. One whose faith shakes when faced by catastrophes cannot smile through them. If you lack faith and events frighten you, then you fly away like the husk. You become lost and anchorless. On the other hand, if you have faith that everything will be all right, you will find stability and everything will settle down.
Bad times will come and go. When you are faced with a problem, don’t generalise and eternalise it by thinking about it all the time. Become a part of the solution, not the problem. The best thing is to surrender to the divine. There are two ways of looking at life. One is thinking that, “I’ll be happy after achieving a certain objective.” The second is saying that “I am happy come what may!” Which one do you want to live? Events come and go, they perish like flowers. Make the decision today that “whatever happens, I will remain grounded and peaceful, and have faith that God’s protection is here on me. I will never go down. God will always hold my hand.” Faith is realising that you always get what you need. Faith is giving the divine a chance to act.