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Prayer is a complex affair


Like all deep human problems, prayer is a complex affair and not to be rushed at; it needs patience, careful and tolerant probing, and one cannot demand definite conclusions and decisions. Without understanding himself, he who prays may through his very prayer be led to self-delusion. We sometimes hear people say, and several have told me, that when they pray to what they call God for worldly things, their prayers are often granted. If they have faith, and depending upon the intensity of their prayer, what they seek – health, comfort, worldly possessions – they eventually get. If one indulges in petitionary prayer it brings its own reward, the thing asked for is often granted, and this further strengthens supplications. Then there is the prayer, not for things or for people, but to experience reality, God, which is also frequently answered; and there are still other forms of petitionary prayer, more subtle and devious, but nevertheless supplicating, begging and offering. All such prayers have their own reward, they bring their own experiences; but do they lead to the realization of the ultimate reality?

Are we not the result of the past, and are we not therefore related to the enormous reservoir of greed and hate, with their opposites? Surely, when we make an appeal, or offer a petitionary prayer, we are calling upon this reservoir of accumulated greed, and so on, which does being its own reward, and has its price....Does supplication to another, to something outside, bring about the understanding of truth?

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