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Prayer, Devotion, Gratitude and Forgiveness
Ken: Your replies and comments are a blessing. Thank you.
Sundari: You are most welcome, Ken. The blessing is the knowledge itself, which is evinced by nothing other than its innate effulgence and is imparted like the sweetest fragrance when the mind is at rest in the self.
Ken: Wondering about prayer, I found the following, in which Dayananda says: “Prayer is invoking grace as well as an act that is a simple autosuggestion.” (link)
What does James have to say about prayer?
Sundari: To understand the full answer to this, you need to read James’ new book The Yoga of Love, available in the shop if you want the final edited version. I attached the pre-final edit, which still has some typos in it. It lays out all the stages of formal, informal and transcendent devotion and why it is so important to go through all the stages.
Being raised a Catholic, fortunately, for this mind (which also came in ready for Vedanta but only found it formally in the last decade, through James) the conditioning never stuck. It just made no intellectual sense. However devotion to a Creator, the formless, that which I knew I was also, although appearing in form (which was also subject to the Creator), devotion and prayer have always been immensely important to me.
What I came to understand is that as a person I need prayer and devotion to the Creator. As the self I don’t need anything; prayer is another object known to me. As all prayer is paying attention to my Self, the self, all prayer is an exultation of my divinity. Anything I pray for then is just in recognition that everything is perfect because everything is me and there is nothing to pray for.
I see prayer/devotion as I see gratitude and forgiveness: as gifts given to mortals by Isvara for their upliftment and well-being. Neither Isvara nor awareness needs our prayers, devotion, gratitude or forgiveness. All of these states of mind result in peace and happiness for the mind, lifting it up and out of its identification with the shifting sands of samsara. The best attitude is devotion and gratitude, for mortals. When I wake up in the morning in this body-mind and can’t connect with devotion or gratitude because rajas or tamas are playing out in the mind, I know I need some lift-off if I want the jiva to have a good day. ☺
And of course the lift-off is always provided by self-knowledge, and it never fails.
I hope this helps.
~ Love, Sundari