This is the human dilemma, this is man’s turmoil – the duel he has to fight, with all kinds of means and ways to descend but no ways set out to help him upwards. And no purpose is served without going up; without the upward journey nothing is achieved but wandering. In such helplessness, a prayer comes forth from within. When man realizes the helplessness in his condition, he prays to God. So the sage prays, “O God, lead me to the righteous path.”
This does not mean that some God will take you to that path; this sort of interpretation has created many false beliefs. No God will help you. You yourself will have to go to that path; but this prayer will give you strength, will encourage you, to go on. If this prayer becomes firm and concentrated in you, if it becomes a thirst, a cry from every fiber of your being, if it becomes your breath itself crying, “O God, O fire, take me where everything vanishes and only that remains which is not I, and which was there and which will be there when I am not!” then the prayer will break open a door within you. It will be the means to take you to the righteous path, because where we deeply yearn to go, we go. Our very thoughts become our actions.
Eddington has written a very wonderful sentence, the more so because it is written by a person like Eddington. He is a Nobel prize winner, and one of the best scientists of the last fifty years. During the last days of his life he wrote in his memoirs: “I began scientific research in my youth. Then I thought of the world, the universe, as a collection of things. But going deeper and deeper in my research work and experiencing the mysteries of nature, I have come to realize that the universe resembles more a thought than a thing. This is my last will and testimony to the world.”
The same statement is the first sentence of Buddha in the Dhammapada. “You will be that which you think, so give proper consideration and reflection to your thoughts, because you cannot hold anyone else responsible for your actions; what you do today is the result of what you thought yesterday.” Our own follies and mistaken notions become solid and turn into actions. Our own thoughts solidify and dictate our life. A minute wave of thought, having arisen, starts on its journey, and if not today, then tomorrow, becomes a solid thing.
All things are really condensed thoughts. What we are is the result of our thoughts. So if any prayer becomes so concentrated that it thrills every particle of your life, stirs your heart to throbbing, affects your dreams in the night, envelops your daydreams, infiltrates your sleep and becomes the obsession of your life, then the prayer is answered. No God will come to help you; but the prayer offered to the divine, wherever it is seen by us, creates in us the thrill.
This distinction should be understood properly. If you think, “My life will now be carefree. I have prayed to God, now he will look after me,” then you are mistaken. Many people think like this. They think, “We have acknowledged God sufficiently by offering our prayers; we have obliged him sufficiently, now it is his duty to see that our prayers are answered.” And if God fails to respond they complain against him and declare, “There is no God, it is all hocus-pocus.”