“Prayer is not asking; it’s a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It’s better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart” – Mahatma Gandhi
There are many in this world who despite all their needs being taken care of, are unhappy. There is no end to their wants. Desires swell constantly in a human heart, and unless one consciously choses to separate them from needs, we wouldn’t even realize how we are under its powerful sway.
Needs are universal but desires which are essentially strategies we use to satisfy those needs are variegated. For example exercise and remaining healthy is a common need but if I am attached to playing football that is a desire. To eat good food is a basic human need but if I insist on chocolates and pizzas daily then it’s a desire. Most of us confuse desires to be needs and are unable to give up unhealthy desires. That’s because the mind tricks us to believe it’s a basic need.
How then do we remain happy satisfying our needs and also avoiding the desires from controlling us?
Bring God, Krishna into the scene.
As we seek to satisfy our needs, if we remember Krishna and offer a silent prayer of gratitude for the blessings we have received, we’d feel satisfied. Then there’s a natural check on the mind to seek more or complain. This happens because when the heart connects to God, the soul feels loved; the mind’s ranting is tolerable. For instance you had a great game of football, and are feeling fresh and energetic. As you come back, unwind and take a shower, you could thank God for the opportunity to play and be happy, for there are many unfortunate souls who can’t avail of this facility. Gratitude deposits rich and positive feelings in the heart. And that converts our fresh and physical well-being to even an emotionally fulfilling experience. Then later you could offer a thanks giving prayer and then eat your pizza and chocolate. Surely, the heart would feel more blessed. Thus if we use prayer not as a tool during distress but even when we are happy, then we are preparing for the unforeseen events.
Later God forbid, but if you meet with an accident and can’t play for weeks, or you are down with an ailment and can’t eat chocolates, you would spontaneously thank Krishna for the so many times you could enjoy these things in life. It’s inevitable; time will surely take away things from us sooner or later. And if we can’t thank God when He’s giving us a bountiful, how would we thank Him when all of it is taken away? And only when we are in a grateful mood during the ultimate crisis of being stripped off our possessions and positions can we be truly happy and help others.
Although the process of thanking God may appear formal and artificial in the beginning, but after the initial practice, it would soon get spontaneous. Just like cycling or a child learning to walk; initially it’s a struggle but then soon it becomes effortless.
How could we begin? Fix a place and time daily for prayer. A friend of mine has a personal rule of not rising from the bed in morning or going to sleep at night until he’s connected to God through prayer. After the initial struggle, now it’s spontaneous. He claims the night prayer helps him give a report of the day, and the early morning session helps him resolve and reconfirm his goals and mission. This way he ensures that the flight of his life remains on course. The storms and rough weather of unpleasant surprises and setbacks are a reality that we can’t avoid. But the prayer sessions helps prevent the plane of life being tossed away. You may be off course during the day for some time, but the connection to the Lord helps us come back on course.
Eventually as distractions and unfavorable desires threaten to disturb us, we’d be able to navigate smoothly due to a culture of prayer.