Meditation and Prayer

23Most Westerners are born and bred in Christianity, and have in early years been habituated to the practice of prayer.

The word has many meanings, varying weith the spiritual development of the individual, but save in the true mystic is essence is always supplication to some external Being or Power. In meditation, however, there is no such element of importuning, of begging for what one has not. At the best, the method of prayer is a yearning of the heart; meditation, on the other hand, reorientates the mind, thereby producing the knowledge by which all that is rightly wanted is acquired.The meditator does not ask for guidance for he knows that a purified mind can call upon the Wisdom which dwells within; he does not crave for virtues, for he knows that in meditation he may and will acquire; nor does he intercede for others when by his own unaided efforts he may assist them to the extent that their own karma will permit.In brief, prayer at its best is the approach of the heart, and produces the Mystic; meditation, with the wise service which accompanies it, produces the Knower. There is a point, however, where the two methods meet. If by prayer be meant ‘a lifting oneself to the level of the Eternal,’ or even, if the desire be impersonal ‘the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed,’ it ceases to be prayer in the ordinary sense of the term and rises to the level of meditation. It is the element of supplication to an outside power, as distinct from a conscious union with the God within, which distinguishes the two.Christmas Humphries (1901-1983)(from “Concentration and Meditation”)