I host lots of people at my home everyday, and sometimes, this is a little bit exhausting for me because I generally prefer to be alone. Fortunately, my weariness all dissolves when I see the smile on my guests’ faces. Everyday my phone begins ringing at 11 in the morning and does not stop until 10 p.m.
In fact, I like having lots of people around me. They come to my house to chat. Their visits are all about their long talks, while I just sit and listen. I only talk when I am asked a question or when something comes to my mind. I just say what I should in brief fashion and go on listening. Anyway, when a guest leaves my home, they always thank me for the pleasant conversation.
One day when I was having a similar conversation with one of my friends, he told me about his accomplishments and expectations in his life. His aim in life was to reach physical perfection and spiritual maturity. His silent prayers were all about these two subjects. One day, he suddenly had an accident and tumbled from a very high cliff. My friend miraculously survived this accident with the help of his physical strength.
He got through this accident, even though, he had a large opening in his skull, two fractures of the spine and left arm, a completely smashed wrist, and a great amount of bleeding. He also came out of a coma and quickly recovered due to his body’s ability to renew itself and the practice of Tao meditations. While the physiotherapy sessions did not help the spasms in his shoulder muscles at all, Tao meditation did.
My friend was in deep grief over the accident despite all the positive developments. He had always identified himself with his body, and now his body was damaged and had lost its perfection. He began to feel inadequate for no reason.
I told him, “Beware of your prayers; they may come true—to your harm!”
“What do you mean?” he asked astonishingly. “Man wants his prayers to come true, but you think there is danger in it.”
“It may not be dangerous at all, but it seems that way very often,” I said.
I went on to share a vivid example with him using his situation. He desired two things for his life: one was physical excellence, the other spiritual maturity. He achieved the former first, perhaps it was easier. He is a handsome man with a high level of physical strength and brilliant at martial arts and mountain climbing. He is also a good parachutist and above average in T’ai Chi Ch’uan. In contrast, he faced some problems regarding spiritual maturity because to reach this maturity he must first overcome his material obsessions. One of these obsessions was the desire for physical excellence. He always identified himself by his physical prowess, but to reach spiritual maturity, he must shed many things, not just the physical matter. As you see, the material thing (physical strength) that he desired was damaged and that’s why he felt grief. On the other hand, his wish came true because he had an important opportunity for spiritual development. While he may now feel desperate due to his loss in the accident, at the same time, he may be happy because his prayers came true.
On The Path
Some readers may frown about these supernatural ironies. I have met two types of people on my journey to a spiritual path. The first group of people were the ones who perceived the spiritual teachings with a Gestalt approach. They think that spiritual teachings reveal the hidden potentials of man and help them use these talents to actualize themselves. The second group of people were the ones who continuously mentioned supernatural phenomena as if it were miracles that could not be explained. However, I believe that a spiritual path covers both of these approaches. We should project the supernatural phenomena on the physical realm and try to understand each of them with the help of this projection.
Sometimes, people constantly talk about their experiences because they think those are the only things that can be used to control other people. Similarly, what these people call lengthy occurrences is generally the same thing experienced repeatedly. I believe that our experiences should not be wasted or lived over and over again. If we continuously repeat the same things, the reason may be that it is not a complete encounter. The self, habits and desires of man cloud these experiences, and instead of learning the lessons to take away, we get stuck in the same repetitious circle thinking they are different things when they’re not. Accordingly, as much as we waste each experience, we must face the psychological and the supernatural effects of each encounter. As we develop and learn not to waste them, we begin to realize the meanings of each more deeply.
Coincidences or Not!
My personal experiences showed me that prayers always come true; however, people are not always aware of it. As the chaotic order of the universe meets with our karmic order of spiritual life, our wishes come true based on our spiritual fabric and the lessons we must receive. Unless we are aware of these lessons, we tend to see them as coincidences. We think that the chaotic nature of the universe does not allow for meaningful relations and only presents us with coincidences.
We all pray, even the atheists. Sometimes, these prayers are not in verbal form. Humankind is the architect of their own lives. We build our own life consciously or unconsciously.
In Buddhism, there is a concept known as “Ingaron” which is an important part of the Law of Karma. Ingaron is a cause and effect law. In Soto Zen, this law has a deeper meaning and we see a concept “Insokuga” which means the reason is the result. I will not go into the details of these concepts now, but I believe it means we have no one to blame or to thank.
That’s why we should be very careful with our prayers. Life gives us many opportunities for our spiritual growth. The Zen masters’ motto “Satori (enlightenment) means Samsara (continuous flow)” is right. In each moment we live a possibility of Satori; even though, we make lots of mistakes and don’t always know what the right attitude should be. The right thing to do seems difficult, yet to take the right step is easier than you think. It is as simple as standing up and taking a new step forward. For example, if I tell you, “Please stop reading this text, stand up and take a step forward,” many of you will not do this, I know. Now, stand up and take a step. If you are reading this sentence, then you are too late. You lost the chance of Satori.
Very few will stand up and take this step, and the others will not take the step but they will accept the results of this experience without trying it. This is really a saddening reality because Satori is a very simple thing. Satori is to stand up and to take a step. Anyway you see it—people will not take this little step for very simple reasons.
May Be There Is a Reason!
I think I got a little bit away from our main topic. We were talking about prayers. Have you ever told yourself you were glad you didn’t do something? Or, you were glad you did this and not that? If you haven’t experienced something like that, I am sorry for you because such experiences teach us many things if we do not waste them.
Sometimes we want something to happen. We will do anything to realize our desires. If what we want is not realized, we feel sad and we begin cursing our fate. We blame fate, luck, people or the events we think are blocking our success. Then, time passes and we look back and think about the things that we wanted to happen. We are thankful because these things did not happen. Now, unlike how you felt in the past, you may decide that you are a very lucky person.
Life is something bigger than we think. There are many things that affect our lives. Something seemingly beneficial for us can be highly harmful and block our spiritual development. That’s why we should always keep that fact in mind. Sufis resign themselves to God’s hands; that means they accept everything because all is given by God and they obey. Buddhists prefer to give up their desires. I will not advice a specific path for you, but I do advise that instead of doing what others do, you should discover your own path.
Life Is Full of Opportunities
I mentioned that we are the architects of our lives and only we were responsible for our lives. This is well-known by many people, but the majority of them are mistaken. Many people think that we direct our lives through our free will or our logic builds our lives; thus, we can control it. But this is not true at all. Of course, we are responsible for our lives because what determine our lives are the attitudes we display.
There is, however, one absolute life. Different lives are only different paths to bring us to our absolute life. Every human life has a path and a search. So it means we build our lives, but we do not have entire control. Conversely, we should develop an awareness of our lives and benefit from the opportunities that awareness gives us. Don’t be sad if you miss an opportunity because each moment of life is full of opportunities, and we have enough time to make some mistakes. What you should do is blend your entire existence into what you are doing. Then, you will see that you, too, are a Buddha.
Our prayers are only one way of choosing among infinite possibilities, and every choice we make does not carry us to where we should be. Sometimes, we think it was the shortest way or the right prayer for us, but this can throw us far off from the truth. That means we face the danger of our prayers coming true. The chaos of the universe is determined by the continuous flow of the spiritual realm. The reason for chaos in the physical realm is to activate the spiritual. If we want an excellent life, we can use the principles of the spiritual realm to activate the Samsara cycle. Unless we realize the underlying mechanism of these events, even if we are well-intentioned, they can throw us far off from reality.
We cannot hear what’s happening if we are continuously running. If the voices in our heads do not stop and if we go on talking to ourselves, we cannot hear the whisper of reality. So, we should learn to be quiet and wait for reality—whatever it is—to fill ourselves with all of existence.