The Prayer to Our Father
Most followers of religion use prayer as a personal and emotional form of communication with God. The prayer that Jesus gave his disciples is known as “The Lord’s Prayer” and is probably the best-known of all the Christian prayers.
Around 1943, ancient texts of the early Christian Church were discovered which contain a version of the Lord’s Prayer. Now translated into modern English, it’s called “The Prayer to Our Father”:
O Thou, from whom the breath of life comes,
who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches.
Let Your will come true – in the universe (all that vibrates)
just as on earth (that is material and dense).
Give us wisdom (understanding, assistance) for our daily need,
And detach the fetters of faults that bind us (karma),
like we let go the guilt of others.
Let us not be lost in superficial things (materialism, common
temptations), but let us be freed from that which keeps us off from
our true purpose.
From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act,
the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.
Let’s look at this translation. Firstly, the prayer acknowledges that God not only gives, but also sustains life. Every breath we take is God-given and keeps us alive. The moment he “withdraws” himself, in the sense of withdrawing our soul from our body, we no longer have the breath of life, and we die.
Spirit is the only self-acting substance in existence, and without it nothing would be able to move or exist. If God withdraws himself from anything, it ceases to exist. God not only gives us life, but he also sustains the material universe and all the astral, causal and spiritual regions. This is confirmed in the second line of the prayer, which refers to the regions or heavens that are mentioned in almost every scripture.
In Ascension of Isaiah, an early Christian work of unknown authorship, there’s a reference to six heavens. Isaiah is quoted as saying:
And he (the angel) took me up into the air (spiritual space) of the sixth heaven and I beheld a glory I had not seen in the five heavens while I was being taken up …
As quoted in The Gospel of Jesus
Jesus also referred to there being many heavenly regions when he said:
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Bible, John 14:2
So the prayer acknowledges that God gives and sustains life, and that he fills all heavenly realms with sound, light and vibration which are also key elements of Sant Mat. The Shabd or spiritual current, the “breath” of God, is the very essence and life of all things, and is mentioned in all religions. It vibrates within all life and sustains all realms and universes.
This was the sound heard by Mohammed in the cave of Gar-e-Hira. Moses heard this same sound on Mount Sinai, and Christ in the wilderness. Shiva heard it in a cave of the Himalayas.
The flute of Krishna is said to be symbolic of this sound. It is said that those who are able to hear it and meditate upon it are relieved of all worries, anxieties, sorrows and fears.
Musical instruments are widely used in spiritual assemblies because people try to emulate this inner sound. They sing hymns and become enraptured with this outer music. The ringing of bells in churches is meant to suggest the same sacred sound and lead people towards the inner life.The whole world is enchanted with outer music, which simply entertains the mind, while the divine inner music breaks our worldly fetters and we become truly pure by listening to it.
Baba Ji has explained that the silence we hear and the blackness we see when at first we close our eyes are similar to a television set that has not been tuned. During initiation we are taught how to fine-tune our soul’s seeing and hearing faculties until we hear the sound that our soul will recognize as the divine Word of God. This is the sound that will eventually lead our soul to the Radiant Form of the Master within us.
Next, the prayer talks of divine light. This light is also mentioned in most scriptures. In St Matthew, Jesus says:
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
Bible, Matthew 6:22
The single eye or third eye is a metaphor in many religions for the soul’s eye that can see the divine light within us. Again, in Ascension of Isaiah we read:
And then, when I was in the sixth heaven, I thought that the light which I had seen in the five heavens was darkness. And I rejoiced and gave praise to him who had bestowed such light upon those who await his promise.… And the angel who was accompanying me realized what I was thinking and said: “If you rejoice in this light, how much more will you rejoice in the seventh heaven when you see the light where the Lord is.”
As quoted in The Gospel of Jesus
The words in the text “who await his promise” may be encouraging for satsangis who feel that they have made no spiritual progress. Our waiting will eventually be rewarded with his light. We consider churches, mosques and temples holy places, but in truth our body is the only holy place in which we can witness this divine light.
The prayer then refers to “the Heavenly Domain”. It is said that as the devotee experiences spiritual awakening, he becomes more aware of the presence of the Lord in everything around him. During meditation he now sees the divine light, and hears the sound that will lead him to his spiritual destination – the Heavenly Domain.
The prayer goes on to speak of the Lord’s Will and our surrender; our total acceptance of whatever the Lord wills. The Masters teach that total acceptance only comes when one has reached the fifth spiritual region and has become God-realized. Then the devotee comes to realize that his ego no longer exists and everything is the Lord’s Will. Until then we think we are separate from God and behave as such, but by total surrender to the Master, we rise above the ego and gain everything.
The prayer now asks for the wisdom to know our daily needs. The Master gives us wisdom with the four vows that we take at initiation and through which he guides us to live a compassionate and moral life: correct living for a life dedicated to spirituality. Baba Ji has said that witnessing inner light and hearing sound are not the only proof of spiritual progress. The positive changes that we make in our day-to-day lives by following the four principles are also spiritual progress, which is very encouraging to hear.
But our most important daily need is our meditation, and wisdom is realizing this and acting accordingly. Getting out of bed to meditate when that alarm goes off in the morning is attending to the most important of our daily needs.
If we live in his will and he grants us the wisdom to carry out our daily duties in his name, then our karmic load will gradually be lightened. In the prayer there’s a plea for detachment from the fetters of our faults. A fetter is a chain or shackle, and this refers to the burden of karmas which chain us to this creation lifetime after lifetime.
In order to be truly detached we also have to forgive those who have acted against us. Both our karmic debits and credits keep us from our true home. We have to reap what we sow, good or bad. Without the Master’s grace we are doomed to return again and again to this world in one form or another, paying back and receiving whatever we owe or are owed.
The next few lines of the prayer are a plea to the Lord to give us the strength not to become entangled in the distractions of this material world. Our purpose is to escape this world and return to our true home, which can only be done in the human body. The human body is special because within it is the key to the heavenly door – the door to the spiritual regions. During meditation slowly and gradually the soul and mind gather all their forces at that inner centre and finally leave the physical world entirely by penetrating the inner door. At that moment the soul passes through “gates of light” and enters the inner heavens.
If we don’t meditate and tune in to these higher regions, we will never really get to know what we are. We will never really understand the truth Baba Ji refers to: that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and not human beings having a spiritual experience.
The prayer continues by acknowledging that God’s will gives movement to everything, and that everything is dependent upon God for life. The acknowledgment that from God we receive “the strength to act” means that we would not even be able to move a muscle without God’s will. Our soul, as a drop of God, gives us life. Nothing else can activate us.
The prayer closes by referring to the Shabd as “the song that beautifies all” – that gives life to everything and sustains all creation from age to age, beginning to end. Nothing is created, beautified or renewed without the divine sound. This sound, or Word of God, is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of all the regions, heavens, universes and worlds – and this sound is within us.
In a conversation with Maharaj Sawan Singh, a seeker asked if one should simply leave everything to the will of the Lord and not pray at all? The Great Master spoke in favour of praying:
Prayer has its own advantages.… It brings humility and removes one’s pride and haughtiness. Bringing one’s helplessness before one’s mind, it tends to make a man devotionally minded, pious and godly. Our whole life should be a life of prayer. It makes us pure-hearted. Only we should not pray for worldly pleasures.
Call of the Great Master