Prayer or Meditation – Should you choose?

September 16, 2022

Prayer or meditation? No, it is not a trick question. It is a serious question. Is there a difference? One argument put forth by Osho is that prayers are outwardly focused. At another force or being. Meditation is inwardly focused. To search within. So which one are you practicing and should you choose?
 
I will skirt around religion, only to avoid losing the conversation. Each of us have our opinions on religion. I respect your opinion. Let us focus then, on prayer as a practice and compare it to meditation.
 
Prayer is an excellent practice to build focus, discipline and habit. Your devotion makes you show up. Your commitment makes it a repeatable habit. Your focus on an external force, chant or hymn, takes your mind away from everything else. My mother, for example, has spent hours in the morning praying with a devotion unmatched. She has built a habit, without even realising it.
 
I meditate. I started seven years ago. It was much harder. I did not feel any devotion. Zazen, the form of meditation that I practice, does not ask you to focus on anything. Not even your breath. You are searching for yourself. Your goal is to realise that there is no you. If it sounds very esoteric, it is. For most people. It would be trite to say that it is hard for most people to do.
 
So before I say anything further, if you can meditate and pray, by all means do so. If you pray because of religious beliefs, by all means do so.
 
If you view prayer and meditation as means to calm and strengthen your mind, then you might want to compare. While I love rituals, I am not religious. Prayer for me usually ends up being negotiating with God to give me something. In exchange for which I promise the moon. Meditation became a search for myself. The me that is not there if that makes any sense at all!

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