Sufism is completely a gratitude-based religion. If I have to reduce the whole of Sufism to one word, it is gratitude. You can see it in all the poems of the great Sufi masters like Jalaluddin Rumi and others. You can see the flowing energy of gratitude in their words.
Gratitude makes you a nobody, just flowing energy. Gratitude is like a fire that can burn all your karmas.
What is karma?
It is an unfulfilled action on your part that pulls you again and again to fulfill it. In order to fulfill and exhaust all such karmas that we have accumulated, we take birth again and again on this planet.
Just by being with the energy of gratitude, these karmas get burnt! Such is the power of gratitude.
When your prayer becomes gratitude, you attract more benevolence to you. This is the law of attraction and the law of nature. Like energy attracts like energy. Gratitude is the ultimate prayer that can bring us more than we can imagine.
Many people think prayer and gratitude are bondage.
They are the greatest liberators. They liberate you from the bondage of discontentment.
Discontentment can destroy your whole life. Only because of discontentment, we run behind something or the other all the time. When gratitude flowers the feeling of discontentment is simply wiped away. Then you experience life differently. You experience that life is fulfilling. To live with a feeling of fulfillment is the greatest blessing for any human being. Only when gratitude flowers can fulfillment happen. When fulfillment happens, irrespective of what you do or how you do it, you remain fulfilled. You don’t do things to become fulfilled. You are already fulfilled so you do things out of it.
When gratitude becomes your attitude, fulfillment becomes your nature. Then every moment becomes an overflowing, including your prayer.
Prayer should be an overflowing of the gratitude and fulfillment in you.
Some people ask, ‘Why do we go to the temple and pray?’ Understand, prayer is a celebration of the benevolence of Existence. When our prayer is this way, Existence responds. When Existence responds, it comes to you as more benevolence in your life. This is the virtuous cycle of prayer and blessing! The problem is that we have been taught that prayer and god are tools of last resort. We have not been taught that they are the very source and result of the continuous auspiciousness that happens.
A small story:
A pilot announced to the passengers in mid-flight: ‘We regret to inform you we are in terrible trouble. Only god can save us now.’
A passenger turned and asked the man sitting next to him what the pilot had just said. The man replied, ‘He said there is no hope.’
God has become the ‘last resort of no hope’ in most human minds!
Prayer is actually bowing down to the infinite Existence and surrendering your respect, fear, confusion, anxiety and everything to it. Existence, which is the very breath in your body, the thoughts in your mind, and the life force in your being responds by taking care of you.
When you pray with such deep reverence, Existence showers you with the four things you need in life.
- The energy to change the things that need to change.
- The intelligence to know what things do not need to be changed.
- The understanding that whatever you may change, Existence itself is an eternally changing dream.
- The liberation that comes from the above three.
Whenever you feel the presence of Existence, you start feeling gratitude, and that is prayer too. Prayer is nothing but deep devotion and a feeling of connectedness with the presence of Existence all the time.
Even satsangs, spiritual gatherings, are meant only to foster this feeling of connectedness to the Whole.
Real prayer is not reading prayer books, it is not offering material things to god, it is not donating money to temples, it is deep and silent gratitude to the whole of Existence for being what it is. It is the undaunted trust that Existence is taking care. It is a deep and passive waiting for Existence. This is real prayer. If the other things happen as a result of this overflowing, then it is ok.
I always tell people a wonderful story of a Sufi saint. Sufism is a religion rooted in gratitude. It is nothing but gratitude towards the whole of Existence. Prayer is gratitude for the continuous showering of Existence upon us. Don’t think I am suggesting to you very old and outdated techniques.
I am telling you these things from what I experienced in my own life. In my days of spiritual wandering before enlightenment, I traveled extensively by foot. I went across the length and breadth of India. I traveled with just two pieces of clothing and a vessel for begging food. I also took a vow not to touch money and not to keep food for more than one meal. I tell you honestly, I lived like a liberated king on planet earth in those few years! Existence simply gave me what I needed for the moment. I did not bother about the next moment. I experienced the invisible hand of Existence every moment of my wandering days. So understand that these things are possible and have happened to me, who is now sitting right in front of you!
source: Living Enlightenment