Q & A What is prayer? Who are we talking to and why?
“I would love to hear your thoughts on prayer – what is it, who are we talking to and why, how is it different or the same as meditation etc.”
Colleen-joy: When there is a belief in a separate self, then prayer or even meditation might seem to appear as person praying to or meditating on a separate deity, god or a higher self. Prayer or meditation in service to a strong belief in a separate self and a separate divinity is limited, though all prayer and meditation offers the opportunity for a deeper seeing of the truth.
At a certain point in maturity the mind naturally is drawn inwards, it becomes more contemplative because the mind is seeking its source. Like a river that is naturally called to the ocean, the mind is called home.
Prayer or meditation or even simple contemplation are all manifestations of the minds seeking for the ocean of the true self.
Colleen-joy: The belief in a separate self is talking to the belief in a separate divinity. But this is not without value and even an enlightened mind can still benefit from prayer and meditation.
There is a power inside of the self that is love. This love takes the form of all life. From the position (not that it is a position) of the true self as non-dual awareness, this love is intimate and not separate. This love is god. Life, god and love are the same. This love is the miraculous intelligence that is the universe. This love moves automatically by design and looks after itself. Talking to, focusing on or praying to this intelligent love can be a valuable and beautiful activity.
As far as your why question. The reason for prayer or meditation will change and evolve as the belief in a separate “me” and a separate divinity dissolves.
When the idea of a separate self is strong, then prayer or meditation is usually to ask for something for the “me” – relief from suffering, getting something from life, even a prayer for enlightenment, etc. If prayer or meditation (both turn the mind inwards) are used for self-inquiry then here is a great opportunity for the falling away of the false and the dawn of the true seeing of the self as the self, which is not separate.
Prayer or meditation when used to rest attention in the self as awareness is supportive of self-realization and enlightenment. To withdraw interest or attention from the objects of awareness can also provide deep rest for the mind and nervous system. If the understanding of what is seen and known from this rested place of attention is integrated, this could be called self-realization or spiritual enlightenment, which are loaded words that simply mean the recognition of the true self.
Staci: “How is it different or the same as meditation etc.”
Colleen-joy: Any movement of the mind away from the objects of awareness to awareness itself can be helpful in the search for truth, whether we call this meditation or prayer it doesn’t really matter. Ultimately what is seen and known is that the self is not separate, not even separate from the divinity that guides flowers to bloom and eyelashes to grow.
From the position of the absolute self, freed from the filters of a belief in a separate self, a prayer of devotion or a prayer for help might naturally spontaneously arise, as might a feeling to meditate.
The self is talking to itself all the time, all that is seen is that awareness is the silent substance of all the talking.