Prayer is a most important tool to activate the heart and surrender to the realm of Being beyond the mind. Silent prayer is perhaps the subtlest and clear form of prayer, one that has no outspoken expression is thoughts directed to the heart, but we know that vocal chanting or music can be of no less efficiency.
The contents of thoughts in a prayer is almost always the same in the sense that it includes some basic elements that we could frase in the following way: 1. the affirmation of the true identity of oneself as a Reality beyond the mind, which is the true Self; 2. the profound aspiration to purify negativity or let go of any engagements of the mind and the heart in objects outside of that Reality; 3. the need of the heart to surrender unconditionally and become that Reality, which we have already recognized at least once as the experience of the Source; 4. Thankfulness for our life and recognition of it as an opportunity to expand to that Reality.
But one step after prayer, mantra singing, chanting or playing music comes the silence. Just as in wanting to meditate or sleep, if we hold on to the “I” who is wanting something or praying and do not let it fade away, we will find ourselves fortifying an identity within the mind which is based on separation. So paradoxically what we do in prayer is use our mind, the same mind that creates and sticks to a separated identity, as a tool to open our heart and live the reality of the Source and on the same time let the mind surrender into silence. We are completely conscious that the “one” who is praying needs to be dissolved and that prayer itself has to become silent so that it could work for us. The absence of a mind which clings to the “I” experience is a condition to the openness of the heart expanding through the soul to the experience of one Self.
However, eventually the experience of grace, bliss, beauty and harmony occurs within a heart that is open to Totality and transcends the dual mind, transforming it to something which is rather functional. Understanding of the nature of prayer as an instrument for conscious recognition of the Self is rather neglected in most spiritual traditions, where alongside the “one” who is praying there is another entity of “divinity” which is postulated. This objectified “divinity” creates a further attachment within the mind and springs a conditioning that most of us may have chased in many lifetimes. Can we have a prayer that is completely silent or at least purified from this tendency and is constituted by simple attention directed to intention? In my long years of prayers, I have practices it and discovered that it is not less effective. In fact, for me this has become the true meaning of this one word that contains both intention and attention and is Blessing. But the habit of using my thought has always played a significant roll in prayers and it’s only recently that my prayer has become thought-silent. We can understand that this realization is the objective of profound traditions like Zen, where prayer can become a very impersonal and mechanical practice.
But in my perspective most humans first need to experience the subjective reality of the soul and only after it reaches maturity as seekers, we are able to see that the soul in itself is the outcome of an invisible path of separation, like a memory of many lifetimes, stored on a Hard Drive of a computer, which produces a virtual and relative reality. Eventually, prayer leads us to “feel” the current of life beyond this virtual reality and while we are producing it, it is the threshold of Awakening when we understand that all this path of separation exist within the Now, within Presence, Peace, Silence, Beauty, Love, Harmony, Joy and other names of God, who is the natural experience of our true on Self.