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What Should We Ask God For?


When people are able to connect to the Divine and benefit from Divine Grace in their endeavours, the mind gets perplexed as to what it should ask for. This confusion is a sign that our being is not unified and that different parts within us want to go in different directions. Despite this the Divine is willing to forgive our ignorance and grant our wishes.

In the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says that devotees worship him for different reasons- some people only want worldly possessions, power or relief from illness and suffering. There are others who want to understand the mystery of the cosmos. And finally there are those who remember the Divine out of sheer affection as a goal in itself because they know that the Divine is the essence. Krishna states further that he loves all devotees and fulfils their wishes in different ways but the ones who pray to him just for the sake of love are closest to his heart.

The Divine is also playful and often offers us possessions, healing and knowledge quite easily so that we go back fulfilled but realise later that we should have asked for something else. Through this play, the Divine probably wants us to strive harder for eternal joy.

In the Ramayana, when Kevat ferried Rama across the Ganga, Rama was happy and offered Kevat a precious ring in return for his service.

From a contemporary materialistic perspective, that ring would have meant a lot for a poor boatman who was trying to make his ends meet. But Kevat was enlightened and knew that there was something far more precious that Rama could bestow upon him. So he prayed that in return for his service, he may be freed from the cycle of birth and death and be granted eternal devotion. An overwhelmed Rama accepted Kevat’s request.

Unlike Kevat, most of us expect inconsequential rewards and lose a lifetime in stagnation. How can we become enlightened to an extent that if the Divine comes looking for us, we know clearly what to ask for? According to Sri Aurobindo, the only way to this realisation is through self-unification and evolution. Sri Aurobindo saw the self as consisting of different parts and layers — the physical or the body; the vital or emotions, passions and desires; the mental, that is, reason and cognition and the psychic, the dynamic representation of Atman.
Often the voices of the physical, vital and reason are so dominant that they bind us in a false identity and we often express ourselves through this falsehood. Even when we get closer to the Divine, what we want and ask for is conditioned by this identity. The only way out is to hear the voice of the psychic and let it guide our endeavours and prayers.

The psychic voice is a very faint one but when we neglect it, it gives us a sense of unease. It is independent of our body, emotions, desires, reason and cultural notions of moral and ethical values. It always give us a clear answer because it is beyond mental phenomena and represents the all-pervasive Atman. We should let the psychic see all our parts, movements, thoughts, emotions, desires and will and then accept only that which takes us closer to the Divine.

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