Gather from your past a few certainties about something that goes beyond the mind, which the mind cannot interpret, which the mind cannot dissect, which is simply transcendental to the mind. Collect those transcendental moments – even a few, they will do – but then there will be no if. Then you move with certainty, then it is not a hypothesis. Then there is trust. If it could happen to you when you were a child, why can’t it happen to you now? Why? Gather those moments of wonder, when you were thrilled.
Just the other day I was reading about a man, a very simple man, a very old man. The English philosopher, thinker, Doctor Johnson, was staying with the old man. And in the morning when they were taking their tea, the old man said, “Doctor Johnson, you may be surprised to know that when young I also tried to become a philosopher.”
Doctor Johnson asked, “Then what happened? Why could you not become a philosopher?”
The man laughed and he said, “But cheerfulness again and again erupted into my life”…cheerfulness. “Because of that cheerfulness I could not become a philosopher. Again and again, I tried hard to repress it!”
I like that answer. Those moments of cheerfulness are moments of prayer. A philosopher cannot pray, a thinker cannot pray, because all thinking starts with if, all thinking starts with doubt. And prayer starts with trust.
That’s why Jesus says: Only those who are like small children, only they will be able to enter into the kingdom of my God – those whose eyes are full of wonder, for whom each moment is a moment of surprise; those whose hearts are still open to be thrilled, only they.
So first drop if, and collect some certainties. That is the first lesson about prayer.
The second thing you say: “…teach me how to pray.” There is no how. Prayer is not a technique. Meditation can be taught; it is a technique, it is a method. Prayer is not a method, it is a love affair! You can pray, but prayer cannot be taught.
It happened once: some of Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Master, teach us to pray and teach us how.” And what did Jesus do, do you know? He acted exactly the way a Zen master is supposed to act: he simply fell on the ground, on his knees, and started praying! They were puzzled, they looked…they must have shrugged their shoulders: “We have asked him to teach, and what is he doing? – he is praying. But how can his praying help us?” Later on they must have asked, and Jesus said, “But that is the only way; there is no technique!”
Jesus prayed – what else can you do? If they had been a little more alert they would have sat silently by the side of Jesus, holding his hands or touching his robe…contact high! Something would have happened there.