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Intense And One-Pointed Prayer Brings About The Union Of Soul With Supreme Spirit

According to Sri Ramakrishna, if prayer is sufficiently intense and one-pointed, it leads to the absorption of the mind and brings about the union of the soul with the Supreme Spirit.

Sri Ramakrishna was the very embodiment of spiritual aspiration. He had the vision of the Divine Mother by dint of sheer aspiration. Aspiration, which he termed vyakulata, is the dominant note of his sadhana. It is the simplest form of sadhana that anyone can practise. By employing this sadhana of continual prayer with intense yearning, he revealed a spiritual path which is at once simple, easy, and accessible to all types of seekers. He observes: ‘Cry to Bhagavan with an intensely yearning heart and you will certainly see Him.’ Regarding the significance of aspiration he used to enlighten devotees in this way: ‘Longing is like the rosy dawn. After the dawn out comes the sun. Longing is followed by the vision of God.’

This aspiration is not an abstract power or idea. It is a concrete, inner feeling of the heart which expresses itself in the course of seeking and sadhana as continuous prayer to the Supreme Being. Thus, prayer itself is a kind of yoga sadhana which can be termed prarthana yoga or vyakulata yoga. The lives of Sri Ramakrishna and many other saints, such as Bhakta Kanakadasa and Mira Bai, are outstanding examples reflecting the power of prayer.

Steady spiritual aspiration gives the soul strength to manage the ups and downs of spiritual practice. In order to understand and check our sincerity and intensity, now and then a seeker needs to ask: ‘What do I actually want in life? Do I want anything apart from God?’ When the mind is questioned by such enquiry, the discerning faculty is activated and spiritual aspiration begins to manifest as a result. The power of spiritual aspiration is so potent that it can transform an ordinary religious person with desires, artharthin, into a seeker, jijnasu, and then into an enlightened being, jnanin. A worldly person is thus transformed into a seeker of God and then into a man of knowledge and experience. The exalted lives of saints like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Tukaram, Bhadrachala Ramadasu are some of the classic examples that clearly indicate the peak of aspiration to which the human mind can be lifted.

It is longing for God that expresses itself as the different modes of spiritual practice — such as prayer, worship, and japa — that culminate in meditation. Spiritual aspiration is like a live wire carrying electricity, connecting and powering sadhana at different stages of spiritual life. Any spiritual practice devoid of spiritual fervor tends to become mechanical and ineffective.

When longing for the vision of God reaches its peak, the aspiring soul expects God every next moment, and struggles to see him in every event and in every form. As the aspirant tries to discover the divine connectivity and divine will in everything around, anything bereft of and unconnected with God appears meaningless. The aspirant’s sincerity in seeking God, which was initially limited, tends to pervade his or her whole mind, resulting in total sincerity. This state is explained in the Narada Bhakti Sutra as follows: [an aspirant] surrenders everything to Bhagavan and experiences extreme anguish in the event of forgetting him [even for a moment].’ This incessant seeking eventually purifies the heart and transforms the whole mind.

Source – excerpts from article titled 'Aspiration' by Swami Muktidananda published in Prabuddha Bharata January 2010 issue.