Section 12: Praying Inwardly
The dual purpose of prayer in traditional religions involves both performing ritualistic expressions and seeking blessings, expressing gratitude, confessing, and asking for forgiveness. The fundamental aim of prayer is to establish a connection with God and attain inner tranquility in a world populated by billions of people.
However, this inner peace may be illusory as it stems from our projection of personal beliefs onto God. We externalize and personify God if He shares our preferences, dislikes, and moral standards. We believe that He controls worldly affairs and intervenes in every aspect of our lives.
Instead, we should recognize that God is quietly present in everyone's heart, ready to help us when we activate His power. God does not direct our lives like a director, but rather He wants to witness our stories and provide us with the strength and wisdom to write our own scripts. Through prayer, we can ask for guidance from God, but ultimately it is up to us to take control of our own lives. But we often try to surrender control to Him through outward prayer: "Dear God, please help me...".
I believe that God exists in everyone's heart because the divine spirit fills the universe, and God is omnipresent and omniscient. If two entangled quantum particles can have remote sensitivity, how could our thoughts and intentions escape God's perception?
What sets praying to the God within me apart from praying to the God above?
When we pray to the God above, we are seeking external solutions and avoiding responsibility. By simply saying, "Please forgive my sins," "Please grant my wish," or "Please guide me," we are shifting our burdens onto God.
To pray to my inner God, I must first cultivate self-awareness. I must confront myself honestly, for God is always observing us through our self-awareness. Why do I feel guilty? Do I genuinely wish to repent? How can God help me? Have I made every effort to help myself? Through questioning and reflecting, the next step often becomes apparent. The answer may come from rational analysis, but often, it comes from intuitive feelings. Intuition is often how God guides us.
The Buddhist practice of "introspection" and the psychological concept of "self-awareness" are both ways to purify the mind. As Zen Master Shenxiu said, "The body is the bodhi tree, the mind is like a clear mirror. At all times diligently polish it, and do not let it become obscured." Our cognition reflects the mirror of our mind, so if the mirror is dirty, we will see a dirty world.
By praying inwardly, we can continually clear impurities in our self-awareness and allow the divinity within us to flow freely, helping us achieve our true potential. We must remember that all things were created by God's thought. If we avoid becoming obsessed with the material world and sever our connection with the divinity within ourselves, we will undoubtedly receive the power of "divine assistance."
On the stage of life, although everyone plays a different role, each has its own value and meaning, and God regards every individual life story equally. Although we have different worldly statuses, such as poverty, wealth, nobility, lowliness, intelligence, and stupidity, the God residing in our hearts is the same great spirit. We are both unique individuals and members of a collective community.
We should cultivate the habit of praying inwardly, setting aside a small amount of time each day to quiet ourselves, humbly observe ourselves, face our true feelings, listen to the voice within, establish a connection with God, gain inner strength, and take control of our lives. Only with God's help can we accept our imperfect selves, stop comparing ourselves to others, or seeking external validation, showcase our unique traits, fulfill our own worth, and move forward happily.