Mulla Nasruddin was in love with a lady. But then the relationship was broken. Mulla went to the lady and started asking her to return all the things that he had gifted to her when they were together. He asked for the bracelet, the earrings, the purse and so on…
The lady was in a rage as well. She threw all those gifts at Mulla outside her door but Mulla was still waiting….the lady yelled, “Why the hell you are waiting now? Pick up all your stuff and get lost.”
Mulla calmly said, “…and what about all those letters that I wrote to you, let me have them as well.”
That lady was shocked. She could understand Mulla asking for the golden ring, or a pearl necklace; but l..e..t..t..e..r..s??? Really??? She shouted, “for heaven’s sake, why do you want those letters?”
Mulla replied, “now there is no need to hide it from you. I got those letters written by a scholar of our muhalla (locality) and paid a rupee for each. Look, I am still going to live long and will fall in love again. I can use the same letters, or else I will have to spend again.”
Even love letters are borrowed, and were written by someone else…it may seem amusing! But what about your Prayer? That too is your love letter to God! That too is borrowed; you have learnt it through your priests; that too does not belong to you. If Your prayer rises within you and even if the words are not accurate, language is not sophisticated, then too it will be yours. It will reach.
PRAYER IS ONE OF THE INDEFINABLES, because prayer is the fragrance of love. Even love is indefinable. Love is a flower, tangible, you can see it, you can touch it, you can smell it, you can feel it. You can close your eyes and you can touch the texture of the flower, the softness of it, you can see the beauty of it; it is visible. But prayer is the fragrance released to the winds, offered to the sky. It becomes even more indefinable because you cannot see it, you cannot touch it.
Churches, religions, organized sects – they teach you to pray. But in fact they hinder you from praying because prayer is a spontaneous phenomenon, it cannot be taught. If you have been taught a prayer in your childhood you have been debarred from a beautiful experience that may have happened. Prayer is a spontaneous phenomenon.
I must tell you one story I love. Leo Tolstoy has written a small story:
It happened that a man came to the high priest, the greatest priest in Russia, and said, “I know three saints. They live on an island, and they have attained to God.”
In a certain part of old Russia there was a lake, and it became famous because of three saints. The whole country became interested. Thousands of people were going and journeying to the lake to see those three saints.
The archpriest of the country became afraid: What is happening? He had not heard about these ‘saints’ and they had not been certified by the church; who has made them saints? The high priest said, “How can it happen? I am the high priest of the whole country. Without knowing me, without my knowing of the phenomenon, how is it possible that three persons have attained to God? I will go and see them.”
The Sanskrit word is ‘sant‘, equivalent to saint. If you derive it from sant, if you write sant, you can read it saint; but sant means one who has arrived, one who has known satya. Sat means the ultimate truth, and one who has realized it is called a saint – not somebody certified! It is not a degree or a title that somebody can give to you.
The high priest was very angry because people were talking about those three saints. He said, ”But how did they become saints? I have not certified anybody. This is simply outrageous.” But people are people…. People were still going, so finally he decided, ”I have to visit these people. Who are these people? They have declared themselves saints! I don’t even know who they are. I have not even been informed, and it is in my power only to sanctify a person to be a saint.” So he was very angry.
He went in his boat – and he had a beautiful boat because he was the high priest and he was higher than the czar as far as religion was concerned. Even the czar and czarina used to come to touch his feet. And he thought, ”Who are these fools, unknown, anonymous? – declaring themselves saints?”
His boat arrived at the island where those three poor people lived; they were simply poor people, but very happy – because there is only one poverty, and that poverty is a heart which cannot love. They were poor, but they were rich: the richest you could ever find; they were happy sitting under a tree laughing, enjoying, delighting.
They immediately stood up, touched the feet of the high priest and they said, ”Why did you take all this trouble? You could have sent a message and we would have come.” The high priest cooled down a little bit, but he said, ”Who declared you saints?”
They said, ”We don’t know. We didn’t know that we are saints. Who told you?”
And the priest said: “What are you doing here? There are rumours that you are great saints. Do you even know how to pray?” – because seeing these three persons the priest could immediately sense that they were completely uneducated; a little idiotic. Happy but foolish, and knew nothing about Christianity or religion. And he said, ”What is your prayer? Do you know the orthodox prayer, without which you cannot be even a Christian? – what to think about a saint!”
All three started trembling in fear, they looked at each other and said: “Forgive us! We don’t know, we have never learnt. This prayer we ourselves have created. Sorry sir, we don’t know the right prayer authorized by the church because we are ignorant. But we have created one prayer of our own – it is homemade. If you won’t feel offended, we can show it to you.
The high priest yelled: ”What ???!!!! You have composed a prayer of your own ??!! …..Okay, let me listen to what your prayer is.”
One said to the other, ”You tell him.”
The other said, ”You can tell him.” They were all feeling very shy and very ashamed.
The high priest said angrily , ”You tell it! …..Anybody tell it.”
So they said very meekly: “”We all three will tell it together. We tried and thought and thought – but we are not great thinkers, we are foolish people, ignorant villagers; then we decided upon a simple prayer. In Christianity God is thought of as a trinity, three: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. And we are also three. So we decided on a prayer: ‘You are three, we are three, have mercy upon us.’ More than that we don’t know. We have heard that He is three, and we know that we are three, and what more is needed?’ Have mercy on us – you are three, we are three, have mercy on us!” This is our prayer. This we continuously do, but we don’t know whether this is right or wrong.”
The priest was very very angry, almost enraged. He said: “What nonsense! This is unforgivable. You are making a mockery of religion. We have never heard any prayer like this. Stop it! This way you cannot be saints. You are simply stupid. You fools! From where have you learnt this prayer? I have never heard such nonsense ever in my life, and I am the greatest priest of this country. What type of prayer is this?”
All three started trembling in fear and they said, “Forgive us! We don’t know, we have never learnt. This prayer we ourselves have created.” They fell at his feet and said: “You teach us the real, the authentic prayer. You can tell us what the prayer is so we can repeat it.”
The high priest told them “this is absolutely wrong and I will teach you the right, the authorized and long version of the prayer of the Russian orthodox church. They listened and they said, ”Wait, you repeat it again because this is so long and we may forget it. Our prayer is so short, and we never forget it because it is so simple and we always remember that He is three, we are three, have mercy on us. There is no problem about it. Your prayer – if we forget or if we commit some mistake….”
So he repeated it twice. It was long, complicated; big words, bombastic; those three persons looked at each other – it seemed impossible, the door of heaven was closed for them. They said, ”One time more.” He repeated it thrice, and they said, ”We will try.” He was very happy that he had put those fools on the right path… this is prayer? – and they have become saints?
And the high priest went back very happy thinking that he had done a virtuous deed, a really good work. These are the do-gooders.
He sailed off in his boat – just in the middle of the lake he could not believe his eyes: suddenly he saw something that looked like a storm coming on the lake. He became afraid. Then he looked carefully…those three persons, those foolish people, were coming running on the water. They said: Wait! Once more! We have forgotten the prayer! Just one more time please, and we will never bother you again.” And they were standing on the water!………..Now this was impossible to believe!
It is said, Leo Tolstoy writes, that the priest fell at their feet and he said, “Forgive me! I have committed a sin. You go your own way. You continue your Prayer. You repeat your prayer, that’s perfectly right. And you need not come to ask me; Your prayer is right because it has come out of your heart. My prayer is useless because it has come out of my learning. Don’t listen to me. Simply go and do whatsoever you were doing. if I have something to ask I will come. I know now whose prayer is right.””
Those three persons indicate one simple truth: if you have faith that does not prove that there is a God. But your faith can give you a certain integrity, a certain strength. But the faith has to be very innocent. They were not hiding any fear behind it. They had not gone to any church to learn the prayer, they had not asked anybody, ”What is God? Where is God?” – nothing. They were simply innocent people, and out of innocence was their faith.
That faith does not prove that God is; that faith simply proves that innocence is a power. It is only a story, but innocence is a power. Yes, you can walk on water, but out of innocence; and out of innocence if there is faith…. But that very rarely happens, because every parent and every society destroys your innocence before you are even aware that you had it. They go on forcing some belief on you, and that belief you accept because of fear. In darkness the mother says, ”Don’t be afraid; God is there looking after you. He is everywhere present.”
Prayer cannot be learnt. You have to pass through life with open eyes, with an understanding heart, and you will come to pray. And the prayer will be yours. It will come out of your heart, it will pour out of your heart. Words don’t mean much — it is the heart that is behind them. But you can learn much through the mind; you can completely forget the heart — because heart grows through experience, and mind grows through?…thinking. And thinking is just dead. There is no growth through thinking. You can go round and round in the mind. Mind is just a computer, a biological computer; it collects information. The same can be done by a computer even better than your mind. But the heart is not a computer. The heart is totally different from the mind: it doesn’t collect, it has no memory — it simply lives moment to moment; it responds to the alive moment in an alive way.
Religions, organized churches, have destroyed it. They have given you readymade prayers. Prayer is a spontaneous feeling.
Remember this story when you pray. Let your prayer be a spontaneous phenomenon. If even your prayer cannot be spontaneous, then what will be? If even with God you have to be readymade then where will you be authentic and true and natural?
Osho, Tao: The Three Treasures – Talks on fragments from Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Vol 4, Ch 2, Q 3 (Excerpts)
Osho: From Ignorance to Innocence: CHAPTER 16. LET’S NOT FACE IT – YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY ALONE Q 1 (Excerpts)
Osho: The Hidden Harmony Chapter #5 Chapter title: Such is the Depth of its Meaning (Excerpts)
I saw here there all around
It was only you where ever I saw.
There are many “Prayer” songs in Hindi films, but when I listen to this, I get a sense of conversation with God, authentic feeling, simple lyrics and deep love from the film “Lagaan” (2001)