The first question:
Is no-mind the ultimate prayer?
Prayer is not something that can be done. Prayer is not something that can be thought either. Prayer is a state of silent being, of utter silence. One simply is…then one is in prayer. If you do prayer, you miss the whole point. Doing remains on the circumference; doing cannot enter to the center of your being.
If you are saying your prayer, you again miss – because in saying it you are thinking of yourself as separate from God, you are relating to God as if he is separate from you. And that is the basic illusion: God is not separate from you.
Hence, prayer cannot be a dialogue between I and thou. I is thou – there is no possibility of any dialogue. The moment you say your prayer, you have accepted a hypothesis which is basically wrong – that God is there, far away from you, separate. You have reduced God to an object. And God is your very subjectivity, he is your very center.
The Upanishads say, “Tatvamasi: thou art that.”
The only way to be in prayer is to be in utter silence. In that silence there is an overflowing of gratitude, but it is not verbalized. There is a tremendous thankfulness, but it is not said, it is not spoken. There is great love, but it is a pure presence.
Yes, no-mind is the ultimate prayer. And it is the state of no-mind where prayer and meditation meet. Meditation takes you to the no-mind, prayer takes you to the no-mind. No-mind is the peak where the path of the mind and the path of the heart meet, where Zen and Sufism are one.
The path of Zen starts by dropping thoughts, becoming more and more alert to the thought process – becoming so aware that in that awareness, in that heat of awareness, thoughts start evaporating and you are left in your total nudity and aloneness. That is the path of meditation; it works through the mind. It is against mind, it transcends mind, but the path goes through the mind.
The path of the lover, the devotee, the Sufi, goes directly through the heart. It simply leaves the mind aside; it doesn’t work on the mind at all, it works on the feelings. Feelings are silent, non-verbal – you cannot communicate, you can only commune.
In Zen, thoughts are reduced. And as thoughts are reduced, your energy is released to become no-mind. In Sufism, feelings are strengthened, you pour your energy into feelings. As feelings gain more and more strength, thoughts disappear of their own accord.