Whispers from Eternity
Third edition, 1935
Prayer Versus Demand
by Paramhansa Yogananda
We should, as Children of God, Demand and not beg or pray as Beggars.
God made man in His image All those who know how to receive Him, by expanding the power of the mind, can realize their sleeping divinity. Being children of God, we have dominion over all His things in the universe, even as He has.
We, as Sons of God, have Dominnion over all our Father’s possessions. Why then, does Man, an image of God, suffer?
The question arises, why is it that many of our wishes are not fulfilled, and that many of God’s children suffer intensely?
God, with His infinite impartiality, could not make one child better than another. He originally made all Souls alike, and in His Image. They also received the greatest gifts of God: freedom of will, and the power to reason and to act.
Man suffers be cause of his Actions in the Past
Somewhere, sometime in the past, men have either broken or obeyed the laws of God, and accordingly have brought about different results.
All men have the absolute liberty to use human reason wrongly or rightly. Misuse of God-given reason leads either to suffering or to sin; the right use leads to joy and to happiness. God, with His infinite nobility, would not punish us; we punish ourselves through our own unreasonable actions, and reward ourselves through our own good conduct. This alone explains why God’s responsibility ends when He endows man with reason and with free-will.
The Law of Cause and Effect governs the Past and Present actions of man
Man has misused this God-given independence and thus has brought ignorance, physical suffering, premature death, and other ills upon himself. He reaps what he sows. The law of cause and effect applies to all lives. A Souul which is misguided or stricken with the notions of physical sickness, fear of accidents, or premature death, carries them to the latter days of life. All the todays in one’s life are determined by the actions of all the yesterdays, and all the tomorrows of one’s life depend upon the way in which all the todays are handled and lived.
Thus it is that man, although created in the image of God and potentially endowed with His powers, loses his claim and birthright to dominion over his Father’s universe, through his own faults and self-imposed limitations. The misuse of reason, and the identification of the soul with the transitory body-environments and with hereditary or world influences, are responsible for limitations and consequent miseries.
How a sleeping Son of God may become an awakened Son of God
Yet the fact remains that a soul, however wrong outwardly, is potentially a sleeping son of God. The greatest of all sinners is but an unawakened son of God, a sleeping immortal, who refuses fully to receive His light by clarifying his consciousness. That is why in John 1:12 we find written: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” The ocean cannot be received in a cup unless the cup is made as large as the ocean. Likewise, the cup of human concentration and human faculties must be enlarged in order to comprehend God. Receiving denotes capacity acquired by selfdevelopment; it is different from mere belief.
How the Belief of being a Son of God can become a Realization
The purport of the above quotation is, that those sleeping sons of God, who awake by following the law of spiritual discipline, receive or feel God by developed intuition, and thus regain their latent powers as sons of God. It is ignorance which prompts man to imagine his littleness and limitations. Ignorance is the sin of all sins. It is the sleeping man who acknowledges and emphasizes his dream of human weaknesses. It is wrong for a soul to believe itself limited by the body, instead of knowing itself as a part of the unlimited Spirit. It is good and right to believe that one is a son of God, rather than the son of a mortal only, for it is metaphysically true that man is essentially made in the image of God. It is wrong, therefore, for one to imagine that he is a perishable creature. Even by belief, alone, one may some day realize his own soul to be a son of God. Hence, a wayward child must start by believing that he is a son of God, as belief is the initial condition for testing and knowing a truth.
When in trouble, one automatically prays to an unknown God and expects relief. If freed, even accidentally, from trouble, he believes his prayers were heard and responded to by God. But should his prayers remain unanswered, he becomes confused and begins to lose faith in God.
God, though all-powerful, does not act unlawfully or arbitrarily merely because one prays. He gives independence to man, who does what he pleases with it. To forgive human shortcomings arbitrarily would mean that God contradicts Himself: disregards the law of cause and effect, as applied to the law of action, and handles human lives, not according to the laws created by Himself, but according to His whim.
Nor can God be moved by flattery or by praise to change the course of His immutable laws. Besides, there is a great deal of beggary and ignorance in ordinary prayer. People just pray. Few know how to pray and touch God with their prayers; nor do they know whether their prayers are responded to or not; or whether things happened, unaffected by prayers.
We do not distinguish between things which we need and things which we want. Sometimes it is very good that we do not receive what we think we want. A child may want to touch a flame, but, to save it from harm, the mother does not grant the child’s wish.
My purpose in presenting these Sacred Demands, received in the course of my various fruitful communions with our Father, is to enable my fellow-beings to contact Him effectually. I prefer the word “demand’: to “prayer,” because the former is devoid of the primitive and medieval conception of a kingly tyrantGod whom we, as beggars, have to supplicate and flatter. We should not ask God to be partial to us, because of our prayers, or to break the laws of cause and effect governing our actions by way of forgiveness for our wrongdoing. Must we then inevitably face the fruits of our actions as if by preordination or socalled fate?
No! There is a way out. The best of all ways is not to ask favors or amnesty from evil doings, nor to be resigned and sit idle, inviting the law of action to take its course. We must remember that what is done by ourselves can be undone by ourselves. We must adopt the antidotes for our poisonous actions. Laws of ill health must be broken by following laws of good health. But what about chronic diseases and sufferings which are beyond the control of human care? When the power of human methods for curing ills, physical and mental, fails, revealing its limitations, then we must ask God, who is unlimited in power, to help, and must demand as sons of God and not as beggars.
Every begging prayer, no matter how sincere, limits the Soul. As sons of God, we must believe that we have everything the Father has. This is our birthright. Jesus realized the truth, “I and my Father are One.” That is why He had dominion over everything, even as His Father had. Most of us beg and pray without first establishing our divine birthright; that is why we are limited by the law of beggary. Hence, we do not have to beg, but to reclaim and demand from our Father that which we through our human imagination have believed to be lost.
It becomes necessary at this stage to destroy the wrong thought of Ages—that we are frail human beings. We must think, meditate, affirm, believe and realize daily that we are sons of God. This realization may take time, but we must begin with the right method, rather than gamble with the unscientific beggary of prayers and consequently be invaded by disbelief, doubts or the jugglery of superstition. It is only when the slumbering ego perceives itself not as a body, but as a free soul or son of God, residing in and working through the body, that it can rightfully and lawfully demand its divine rights.
These sacred demands reveal a few of the attitudes of the soul that have met with successful response from God. However, it is better not to demand in another’s language. One should not consult a book on love when one meets his beloved, but should use the spontaneous language of his heart. If one uses another’s language of love, in demands addressed to God, one must make the words his own, by thoroughly understanding and dwelling upon their meaning, and applying to them the utmost concentration and love, although when a lover addresses his beloved in the language of a great poet, with love and feeling, it is not amiss. Blind repetition of demands or affirmations, without concomitant devotion or spontaneous love, makes one merely a “praying victrola,” which does not know what its prayer means. Grinding out prayers vocally and mechanically, while inwardly thinking of something else, does not bring response from God, being only a blind repetition, taking the name of God in vain—and is fruitless. Repeating a demand or prayer over and over again, mentally or orally, and with deepening attention and devotion, spiritualizes the prayer, and changes conscious, believing repetition into superconscious experience.
The Divine Being cannot be deceived by the mockery of a prayer, because He is the Fountain of Thoughts. He cannot be bribed at any time, yet it is easy to move Him with sincerity, persistency, concentration, devotion, determination and faith. Furthermore, repeating a long, intellectual prayer with the mind absent, develops hypocrisy; and to pray or demand without understanding, develops ignorance, fanaticism and superstition. Repeating a demand with deepening concentration and faith is not mechanical repetition, but a changing, progressing power and mental preparation which, step by step, scientifically reaches God.
These sacred demands are logical, devotional, deep Soul-outbursts. If one prepares the mind by concentration, and then deeply, with ever-increasing faith and devotion, mentally (or aloud, in congregations), affirms these scientific divine demands, one is bound to receive results. To re-establish your unity with the Divine Father as a son of God is your greatest demand. Realize this, and you have received everything.
In order to examine, do not dig up the demand-seed now and then, after sowing it in the soil of faith, or it will never germinate to fulfillment. Sow your demand-seed in faith, and water it by repeated daily practices in demanding rightly. Never be discouraged if results are not forthcoming immediately. Stand firm in your demands, and you will regain your lost divine heritage; and then, and then only, will the Great Satisfaction visit your heart. Demand until you establish your divine rights. Demand unceasingly that which belongs to you, and you will receive it.
In demanding rightly, there is no room for superstition, disappointment or doubt. Once you learn to operate the right chain of causation which effectually moves God, you will know that He was not hiding from you, but that you were hiding from Him behind the shadow of selfcreated darkness. Once you feel that you are a son of God, then by the steady effort of mental discipline and devotional meditation you will have dominion over all things
If your demand remains unfulfilled, unanswered, you can blame only yourself and your past actions. Do not become despondent: do not say that you have resigned yourself to fate, or the preordained commands of a whimsical God, but try, with increased effort after each failure, to get what you have not: what you did not receive because of your own fault, but what is yours already in Spirit. You should demand with sacred devotion the recognition of your Divine Birthright as a son of God.
To know how and when to pray exactly according to the nature of our own demands is what brings the desired results. When the right method is applied, it sets in motion the proper laws of God, and the operation of these laws alone can scientifically bear results. God thus abides by the laws which He has made.