Piercing the Veil: Connecting to God Through Prayer
October 18, 2023
The power of prayer is relayed with stories where God healed people when they made even a small effort to attune to God's wavelength of joy and love. Nayaswami Anandi concludes that God knows our needs even better than we do, and is always ready to answer our prayers if we open our hearts to receive.
Recorded in Palo Alto in 2018. You can watch the full talk here.
A new book release is a gift to the Divine in all of us – that we immerse ourselves completely in God’s perfect love and bliss. Nayaswami Anandi, Trained in Divine Love: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda, Crystal Clarity Publishers.
#prayer #devotion #God #intuition #yogananda #paramhansayogananda #paramahansayogananda
Prayer Can Seem Unreliable
In this subject of prayer, today's reading, actually the next after this, there's still two more readings on prayer, because it's a it's a wonderful and important subject to get into. And I'm going to get into it. But I wanted to share something that kind of tickles me when I think about prayer.
And it's: One man saw a friend of his, and the friend looked kind of glum. And he said to his friend, "What's wrong?" And he said, "Well, three weeks ago, I found out that a relative I didn't know I had had just died. And I inherited $15,000." The man said, "Well, that sounds good." He said, "Last week...two weeks ago, we had a raffle at work, and I won $2,000." And the man said, "Well, that sounds good." And he said, "Last week, a friend I'd loaned money to years ago, forgot all about it, paid me back $3,000." And the man said, "Well, that's good. Why are you so glum?" He said, "This week, nothing!"
And why I love that in relationship to prayer, is that I think in this room, there are many of us who've been on the spiritual path a while, and most of us who've been on the spiritual path for a while, have had prayer answered in some way or another. And yet, there's a sort of this feeling of "What have you done lately?" You know, "What have you given lately?" We forget, we forget that connection.
God Is Within Us
And the way that Swamiji picked up prayer this week is very deep and inspiring to me. He talked about God as a spirit. And when I came on the spiritual path I had left, like many of you, I'd left the religion that I was born into, because there were just unanswered questions.
And I still remember, when Swami was teaching us, yoga philosophy way back 1970s, early 1970s, I was there. And he was explaining that God did not create the world, the image that we see on the Sistine Chapel, that God pulled together some dust, made a man breathe life into it. That's the kind of a common understanding it was the way I was raised. It didn't make any sense to me. And then, but I didn't know the answer.
And he said, what the Indian teachings say is God became creation. He became everything in creation, the planets, the animals, each one of us, he became me. That meant he or she is within me, always. When I'm having bad thoughts, when I'm in a mood, the presence of God is who I am. And it was such a powerful and thrilling thought.
And it says, basically, that each one of us has God as much inside of us, as the great masters. But in us, God is hidden under veils, of delusion, distraction, desires, and we can't perceive it.
And our journey as devotees is to pierce that veil. And how do we do it? We meditate. We have devotion. That's what we do at specific times during the day. But during the rest of the day, we pray. And some people think well, prayer is asking, prayers asking I need more money. I need to have a better house, whatever it is. No.
Prayer is us sharing with God throughout the day, all day, asking, inviting, inviting his help, just as we did in the Purification ceremony, we have to make the invitation. We say what should I say to this person? How can I love this this person in my life who's just hurt my feelings? We ask these questions and we look for the responses.
And I think we've all had those moments where perhaps someone has come up and said something that was so clarifying to us. A friend just was saying this to me on Friday or Thursday, just that, out of the blue, someone came and told her a story. And that story was exactly what she needed to hear. And she said, "Are you an oracle or something like that?"
You know, it's just God using people, God using the book, we open the book, and there is the one line that we need to free us from that confusion that we had. Those are ways that we're in communion with God through prayer all the time.
Moments of True Need
But sometimes, and this is so special, we find ourselves up against something that is really big for us. And we have no other recourse. It's not just a light thing, like, oh, well, will you give me the words to say this person, but if you don't, my life doesn't depend on it, their life doesn't depend on it. But sometimes it does. Sometimes, it's really a deep need inside of us.
And when we can fully concentrate our minds and fully bring devotion, and I don't want to use the word desperation, but the sense of, "I don't have any other option here. You have to help me!" When we can do that and we feel a response, that veil that hides God from us, has been pierced, and we feel God entering in, we know that he is listening,
God is in our hearts all the time. So everything you're asking, everything you want, He's hearing it all the time, but we don't know it. But in those moments when we have no other option and he responds, it's transformative.
Another thing that we have to think about is that it's probably we who are the ones who are stopping our prayers from being answered, we put a distance between God and us. God is here. God is as close as he can get. He is us.
And yet people pray like a he might be far away, be probably not that interested in me. But I have to keep kind of whipping up and trying to say the right words and making sure that you know that maybe I say it right, and that then he'll be pleased. And then he'll, you know, give me something. So, as Master said, it's like praying like a beggar. And in doing that, we push Him away.
He's saying, "Look, I'm right here. I want to give you everything. Won't you receive it? Won't you realize I'm the nearest of the near?" We: "No, no, you're far far away." And so we push him, we push them away with sometimes even with our prayers. The way we pray is pushing him away.
Attuning to God's Wavelength
But finally, this is something that I've been thinking about a lot. It was a blog that Nayaswami Devi wrote, and it was an amazing story of a young man who was hospitalized with dysentery. And he was dying. And he was so weak, he couldn't move. He was in pain. And he had tears just streaming down his cheeks because of the pain because of the oncoming death, everything.
And into his hospital room comes Anandamayi Ma, the great, great, great woman saint of India. She walks into the room, and she says, "I can't help you like that. You need to smile." And he says, "Ma, how can I smile?" You know, he's so weak, and he's so sad. And she said, "You have to try."
And so really, with everything he's got, he just kind of puts a like a little tiny smile on his face. And as soon as she does that, she begins to massage his body vigorously all over for many minutes. And he's healed. But she couldn't do it without him reaching up, you know, I was so struck by that story.
And then I realized you find that same story in Autobiography of a Yogi. Master's eight years old. He's dying of Asiatic cholera. He's so weak, he can't move. What does his mother say to him? She says, "Look at the picture of Lahiri Mahashaya and bow to him mentally." And so he does that. And immediately this light just comes out of the picture. And he's healed.
Think about that. Lahiri, God can do anything. But he can't do it unless we in some way reach to the best of our ability to get on his wavelength. You know, whether it's by love, whether it's by reaching toward joy in some way to get ourselves on his wavelength.
Now, I know there are people who've been really, you know, really, really down and out and they've said things like, "Okay, God, I don't know if you're even exists, but if you exist, please help me." I know, there have been people who seem like they haven't done much and they've been totally down and out. But always there's some little, some little reaching up. And that is what we have to do.
She didn't say to the man, you know, "You have to laugh and chuckle." "Just just give me something. Just anything, just something, anything." And same with Master. It was Master's mother, "Just, just mentally bow to him."
So think about that, when our prayers are not being answered to how can I attune myself? God's wavelength is joy, his wavelength is love. It's hard for him to reach us if we're not in some way on a wavelength that he can touch. He's not asking much from us. Just whatever we can do to align ourselves with his wavelength to receive it.
God Knows Our Needs
So the Gita talked about the key to reading that we just heard talked about. "Fix your attention on me. Give me your love." This is what God wants from us.
Gyanamata, Master's closest woman disciple, his most advanced woman disciple, said, "There's one answer to all your problems." This is the best description of prayer. She said, "God knows your need, and is more willing to give it than you are to ask for it." That He's more willing to answer your prayer than you are even to ask for it. She said, "Fill your mind with the realization of his all encompassing presence and healing will flow in body, mind and soul."