Chapter 2: There Is Communion
The first question:
Yesterday you mentioned that to be a disciple one needs to be in prayer - but what exactly is prayer?
Prayer is an experience of resurrection, A rebirth, the birth of a new vision, a new dimension, a new way of looking at things, and a new way of being. Prayer is not something that you do: prayer is something that you become. It is a state of being. It has nothing to do with the words that you utter in the temples, mosques, churches. It is a silent dialogue with existence. It is to be in tune with the total with the whole. To fall in harmony with the whole is prayer.
The experience is so enormous that it is impossible to be exact about it. It is indefinable. All definitions fall short. Each definition says something about it, but only something. Much remains unsaid.
And prayer is such a vast experience that it contains contradictions. So one can say: Prayer is silence - and he is right, absolutely right. And another can say: Prayer is a dialogue - and he is right too, because prayer is a dialogue in silence. Now, dialogue and silence seem to be contradictory. In dialogue you speak, in silence you hear. In dialogue you communicate, in silence you are simply there - there is nothing to say.
What can be said to God? He knows all that you can say in the first place. You can bow down. You can celebrate. But still your bowing down, your celebration, your festivity, your thankfulness, your gratitude, they are still ways of speaking. You are trying to say something without words, because words are very small and the heart really wants to say something.
So it is a dialogue, although silent. It is a communication in a sense, because you are there and the whole existence becomes your beloved, the whole existence becomes a “thou.” And yet there is no “I” and there is no “thou” - both disappear. Both meet and merge into one unity, one organic whole. Just as the dewdrop disappears in the ocean, you disappear. There is no separation between you and existence, so how can there be a dialogue?
Both the definitions are true. Those who say prayer is a dialogue - Christians say that, Jews say that, Hindus say that - they are right. But they are talking only about one fragment of the enormous experience called prayer. Buddhists say: There is no dialogue. Jainism says: There is no dialogue - because there is no “I” and no “thou.” There is absolute silence. They are also right, but then it is very difficult to be exact about prayer.