Chapter 3: Solving the Riddle
A demand can never be a prayer. A desire can never be a prayer. A longing can never be worship. The essence of prayer is to offer thanksgiving and not ask for handouts. He has already given enough - more than necessary, more than we deserve. The cup is full to the brim and already overflowing.
The genuine devotee offers thanks, his prayer is full of gratitude, saying: “You have given me so much, I am not fit to receive it all.” And at the other extreme, there you stand: “See the injustice, I deserve more: I want more!”
Nanak says people keep on asking, and he keeps on giving. Yet there is no end to their asking. He keeps giving, and the beggars keep asking. If you are constantly asking, when will you pray? When will your worship begin? If you fulfill one desire ten others take its place. For how many births have you thus been asking? And you are still not full!
You can never be satisfied, because it is not the mind’s nature to be full; its essential quality is to be unsatisfied. Only when one is rid of the mind, does satisfaction appear. You will never find a man who can say that his mind is satisfied. If you ever happen to hear someone say that, look deep into him because he is sure not to have a mind.
What is the mind but a collection of all your demands: “Give, give and give more..” There is no greater beggar than the mind, caring not how much we receive. Even Alexander the Great was a beggar, no better than any beggar soliciting by the side of the road. It is necessary to understand the nature of the mind.
How can the mind pray, for prayer is a state of no-mind? The whole viewpoint is changed as soon as you put the mind aside. It means you have come for thanksgiving and not begging. Reintroduce the mind and you feel you don’t have enough, you need more. Mind keeps its eyes on the absence of things. Abolish the mind and you begin to see existence.
It is like this: take a man who sees only thorns to a rosebush. He begins counting the thorns and does not even look at the flower. Try your utmost, he will not notice the flower. Where there are so many thorns, what worth is a simple flower? And be very careful. Don’t touch the flower. It might be thorns in disguise!
Who can refute his argument? If his heart has been pricked by a thousand thorns, he is naturally afraid of them, and he is bound not to trust in flowers either. He will take them to be an illusion, a trick to deceive him, a dream. Who could see the flower amongst such a plethora of thorns?
Now if you take into account only the flowers - lost among them, and filled with their touch, and their scent - another state is born in you. Then you think: “Where there are such lovely flowers how can there be thorns! And the few there are, are only there to protect the flowers and help them to bloom. And it is God’s will that they should exist too. Perhaps the flowers could not be without horns; they are the protectors to save the flowers from all harm.”