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Chapter 14: Prayer Is Business

I went with him - they were not very far away, just a five-minute drive from my house. And when I entered the room the old man, with his eyes closed, was doing a Hindu japa: Rama, Rama, Rama.. I was amazed. This man has been always saying there is no God. What happened? I shook him and told him, “Open your eyes. Before your heart fails, let me ask you one question. What are you doing? Have you forgotten you are an atheist? You are not supposed to repeat the name of God.”

He said, “I know, but at this point, when the doctors think I don’t have much time left - perhaps a few hours, or maybe a few minutes, who knows? And what is the harm, lying down, if I repeat Rama, Rama, Rama.? If God is, at least I did come back home. If I was lost in the morning, in the evening I came back.” And in India they have a saying that if you come back in the evening, you are not lost - at last you are back. “And if there is no God, what is the harm in repeating Rama, Rama, Rama.?”

I told him, “This is what I have been telling you continuously for years - that you think that you have got rid of the doubt. It is not possible, you have simply drowned it deep in the unconscious. Now death has brought it up.”

The man survived; he is still alive. And again when he survived and became okay, again he started talking about atheism, but at least not before me. Before me he would say, “Man is weak and that was a moment of weakness.”

I said, “That was the moment which proved something immensely significant about your whole personality, that what you are saying is all bogus. That moment brought your reality, exposed you in your nudity. And strange: you are still trying to cover it again. The heart attack will come again, because a heart attack is not such a thing that it comes only once. And that was your first attack, remember; you have the possibility of at least three.”

He said, “What kind of friend are you? You are telling me that I will have two heart attacks more?”

I said, “Certainly. You cannot deceive. And whom are you trying to deceive? - yourself? In the moment of death you were deceiving yourself with the idea that, ‘Who knows, if God is there, pray; if he is not there, the prayer is gone, useless, but what is the harm?’ You have not paid anything for it. You were being cunning even with God. Now that you are healthy again, you are back. And before me you don’t talk too much, but I have heard from others that you are again talking about atheism. And let the heart attack come.and it will come. To a man like you, it has to come because only a heart attack will help.” And it came. And I went to him and I told him - and he was doing his japa, again. I told him, “Look! What are you doing now?”

He said, “You keep quiet! Particularly when the heart attack comes, you should not come. Two heart attacks together - too much!”

I said to him, “Remember, I have just come to remind you about all that bogus philosophy that you were talking about between these two heart attacks. You will be back soon, because the third attack..”

He said, “Wait! I am not finished with the second, and the doctors are not hopeful, and you are thinking of the third.”

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