There are a great many things in the world around us: mountains and rivers, plants and trees, birds and animals, sun and moon, sky and stars, and countless more. We humans are aware of all this, and sometimes we think and reflect on them. Such awareness and reflection, as far as we can tell, is unique to Homo sapiens.
Religions arose from the recognition that human consciousness is a significant, perhaps unique, aspect of the perceived world. Whether consciousness arose as a result of biological evolution, as current science strongly suggests, or was implanted in us by an intentional Creator, as religions envision, an undeniable fact is that it inspires us to consider our individual existence in the larger scheme of the universe. From this perspective, we reflect on how we may be linked to the grander whole. Sometimes we even seek to find some connection with it. Such reflection and pursuit has no obvious biological survival value, though it might ensure some psychological comfort.
The urge to bond with the other expresses itself in a hundred ways. At the social level, most normal people feel comfort, security, and happiness in being part of a community. When that community expands to include all creatures and inanimate things too, and stretches to the entire universe, these feelings swell considerably. One derives a fulfillment from an honest effort to establish a link with that which is at the comic level. This is what constitutes the prayer of religions. The capacity for prayer serves many as a guiding light in the journey through life. A life lived in self-centered isolation can be barren and psychologically crippled. It will certainly not restrain one from heartless hurt. A life that affirms kinship with others and the world can inspire us to loftier modes and standards of behavior.
Sometimes this urge to seek connection with the higher realm may find expression as a very personal prayer, as in The Aramaic appeal to the Lord: “Birther of all radiance and vibration! Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where your Presence can abide. Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission. Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire. Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish. Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes. Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment. For you are the fruitful vision, the birth-power and the fulfillment, as all is gathered and made whole once again.”
The quest for cosmic connection may also become a longing for universal peace. This is expressed beautifully in a Sanskrit prayer as:
Aum: May there be peace in the heavens.
May there be peace in the sky.
May there be peace on earth.
May there be peace in the water.
May there be peace in the plants.
May there be peace in the trees.
May there be peace in the gods.
May there be peace in brahman.
May there be peace in all.
May that peace, that real peace, be mine.