On Prayer – from The Book of Mirdad
MIRDAD: You pray in vain when you address yourselves to any other gods but your very selves.
For in you is the power to attract , as in you is the power to repel. And in you are the things you would attract, as in you are the things you would repel.
For to be able to receive a thing is to be able to bestow it also.
Where there is hunger, there is food. Where there is food, there must be hunger too. Too be afflicted with the pain of hunger is to be able to enjoy the blessing of being filled.
Yea, in the want is the supply of want. Is not the key a warrant for the lock? Is not the lock a warrant for the key? Are not both lock and key a warrant for the door?
Be not in haste to importune the smith each time you lose, or misplace any key. The smith has done his work, and he has done it well. And he must not be asked to do the same work over and again. Do you your work, and let the smith alone; for he , once done with you , has other business to attend. Remove the stench and rubbish from your memory, and you shall surely
find the key.
When God the unutterable uttered you forth, He uttered forth Himself in you. Thus you, too, are unutterable.
No fraction of Himself did God endow you with – for He is infractionable; but wit His godhood entire, indivisible, unspeakable did He endow you all. What greater heritage can you aspire to have? and who, or what , can hinder you from coming, thereunto except your own timidity and blindness?
Yet rather than be grateful for their heritage, and rather than seek out the way of coming thereunto, some men – the blind ingrates! – would make the god a sort of dumping, hole whither to cart their tooth and belly aches, their losses in a trade , their quarrels, their revenges and their insomnious nights.
While others would have God as their exclusive treasure-house where they expect to find at any time they wished whatever they did crave of all the tinseled trinkets of this world.
And others still would make of God a sort of personal book keeper. He must not only keep accounts of what they owe and what the others owe them, but must as well collect their debts
and always show a fat and handsome balance in their favor.
Aye, many and se are the tasks that men assign to God. Yet few men seem to think that if, indeed , god were so charged with many tasks, He would perform them all alone, and would require no man to goad Him on, or to remind Him of his tasks.
Do you remind God of the hours for the sun to rise and for the moon to set? Do you remind him of the grain of corn springing to life in yonder fields? Do you remind Him of yon spider spinning his masterful retreat?
Do you remind Him of the countless things that fill this boundless universe?
Why do you press your puny selves with all your trifling needs upon His memory? Are you less favored in His sight than sparrows, corn and spiders? Why do you not, as they, receive your
gifts and go about your labors without ado, without knee-bending , arm-extending , and without peering anxiously into the morrow?
And where is God that you should shout into His ear your whims and vanities, your praises and your plaints? Is He not in you and all about you? Is not His ear much nearer to your mouth than is your tongue to your palate?
Sufficient unto God is His godhood of which you have the seed. If God, having given you the seed of His godhood, were to attend it and not you, what virtue would you have? And what would be the labour of your life? And if you have no labour to perform, but God must perform it for you, of what account were, then your life ? of what avail were all your praying?
Take not to God your countless cares and hopes. Implore Him not to open for you the doors whereto he furnished your with keys. But search the vastness of your hearts. For in the vastness of the heart is found the key to every door. And in the vastness of the heart are all the things
you thirst and hunger after, whether of evil or of good.
A mighty host is placed at your beck and call ready to do your slightest bidding. When properly equipped, and wisely disciplined, and fearlessly commanded it can be made to leap eternities and sweep away all barriers to it goal. When mal-equipped, undisciplined and timidly commanded, it either churns about, or hastily retreats before the smallest obstacle, trailing behind it black defeat.
No other is that host, O monks, than those minute red corpuscles now silently coursing through your veins; each one of them a miracle of strength, each one a full and honest record of all your life and of all life in its most intimate details.
In the heart does this host assemble; from the heart does it deploy. Hence is the heart so famed and so revered. Out of it gush your gears and joy and sorrow. Into it rush your fears of Life and Death.
Your cravings and desires are the equipment of this host. Your Mind is thereof the disciplinarian. Your Will, the driller and commander.
When you are able to equip your blood with one Master-desire that silences and overshadows, all desires; and trust one Master-Thought with the discipline; and charge one Master-Will with drilling and commanding , then certain you may be of that desire’s fulfillment.
How does a saint attain to saintliness except by purging his bloodstream of every wish and thought incongruous to saintliness, and then directing it with an unwavering will to seek no other end but saintliness?
I say to you that every saintly wish, and every saintly thought and every saintly will, from
Adam till this day, will rush to aid the man so bent on reaching saintliness. For ever had it been that waters anywhere will seek the sea, as rays of light will seek the sun.
How does a murderer accomplish his designs except by whipping up his blood into a frenzied thirst for murder, and marshalling its cells in serried ranks under the lash of murder-mastered thought, and then commanding it with relentless will to strike the fatal blow?
I say to you that every murderer , from Cain until this day, will rush unasked to strengthen and to steady that man’s arm who is so drunk with murder. For ever has it been that ravens anywhere will consort with ravens, and hyenas with hyenas.
To pray, therefore, is to infuse the blood with one Master-Desire , one Master-Thought , one Master-Will. It is so to attune the self as to become in perfect harmony with whatever you pray for.
This planet’s atmosphere, mirrored in all details within your hearts, is billowing with vagrant memories of all the things it witnessed since its birth.
No word or deed; no wish or sigh; no passing thought or transient dream; no breath of man or beast; no shadow ,no illusion but ply in it their mystic courses till this very day, and shall so ply them to the end of Time. Attune your heart to anyone of these, and it shall surely dash to play upon the strings.
You need no lip or tongue for praying. But rather do you need a silent, wakeful heart, a Master- Wish, a Master-Thought, and above all, a Master-Will that neither doubts nor hesitates. For words are of no avail except the heart be present and awake in every syllable. and when the heart is present and awake, the tongue had better go to sleep, or hide behind sealed lips.
Nor have you any need to temples to pray in.
Whoever cannot find a temple in his heart, the same can never find his heart in any temple. Yet this I say to you and to the ones like you, but not to every man. For most men are derelict
as yet. They feel the need of praying, but know not the, way. They cannot pray except with words, and they can find no words except you put them in their mouths. And they are lost and awed when made to roam the vastness of their hearts, but soothed and comforted within the walls of temples and in their herds of creatures like themselves.
Let them erect their temples. let them chant their prayers.
But you and every man I charge to pray for Understanding. To hunger after anything but that is never to be filled.
Remember that the key to Life is the Creative Word. They key to Creative Word is Love. The key to love is Understanding. Fill up your hearts with these and spare your tongues and pain of many words, and save your minds the weight of many prayers, and free your hearts from bondage to all gods who would enslave you with a gift; who would caress you with one hand only to smite you with the other; who are content and kindly when you praise them , but
wrathful and revengeful when reproached. Who would not hear you save you call, and would not give you save you beg; and having given you, too oft regret the giving; whose incense is your tear; whose glory is your shame.
Aye, free your hearts of all those gods that you may find in them the only God who, having filled you with Himself, would have you every full.
Bennoon: Now you speak of Man as omnipotent; now you belittle him as a derelict. You
leave us in fog, as it were.