From an 2011 interview with Eli for the book 'How Do You Pray' - by Celeste Yacaboni
Before you asked me this question, I never really considered how I have prayed. As I look back on my life I would say I never did pray for most of my life. From the time I was three years old I was questioning if there was a god. I remember once when I was around eight years old locking myself in the bathroom. I went inside and I said, "If you exist I need a sign. Anything at all." I listened and I looked. I only saw blackness and I heard silence. The longer I listened the deeper I fell into the dark silence. After a while I came back and felt that I did not receive any sign at all and while this was not a sign that God did not exist, I could not know if there was a God or not.
Religion seemed pointless to me. It all seemed fake. So while I would mouth the prayers as long as I was required to attend, I never prayed.
The first time I ever remember praying was when I was a federal fugitive. I was in jail at the time, but not for the federal fugitive change. I had freed a prisoner and knocked down two police officers during May Days in 1971, which was an attempt to stop the Vietnam War. After being released on bail from maximum security, with two charges of assault on a federal police officer, I did not appear for my grand jury indictment, and a warrant was issued for my arrest.
Three months later I was arrested in Denver during a marijuana bust. I was in the city jail for a few days as they ran checks on me. They found an FBI report on my political activities in Denver so they kept me as long as they could.
I prayed for help. I didn't know if there was a God or not, I didn't believe in God but I really prayed for help.
If help were available from my spirit guides or guardian angel or God, I needed help and I prayed for it. Miraculously or coincidentally my prayer was answered.
In those pre-computer days, and having used an alias in the Washington arrest, they did not discover my federal fugitive warrant. They let me out on bail. I ended up, after facing over forty years in prison for all charges, getting out of it all. I never had to spend any time in jail.
That was my first prayer that I can remember and it worked.
It was a prayer for help. It seems most prayers are prayers for help, for me, for someone else, or prayers of thanks or worship.
I don't pray for help now. I would say my life is a prayer of gratitude.
I can't say it happens every time but almost always when I go to bed and when I wake up, I wake up with a prayer of gratitude alive in my heart. I wake up smiling inside and out. I am grateful. I am grateful for everything.
I have been grateful for the Goddess ever since my release from jail, as this is how I named that force that I sensed around me at that time. Before meeting my teacher Papaji in 1990, I met the Goddess in 1975. The Goddess gave me the gift of coming to me in a human form, the form of my life partner, Gangaji. I am married to the Goddess. How can I be more lucky, how can I be more grateful. So lucky and grateful. Grateful for my life partner, grateful for the Goddess. That is a prayer of gratitude.
At this stage of my life, I have a terminal, incurable blood cancer called multiple melanoma. This rare type of Leukemia has the effect of dissolving ones bones. When it was discovered I had a broken back. I had been doing everything I knew to deal with this pain in my back for almost eight months. I tried acupuncture, massage, herbs but everything seemed to make it worse. A year earlier I had vowed to carry the pain of the suffering I had caused in my personal relationships in my bones forever and that is what I thought I was dealing with. After months in pain and in bed for most of the day, I was finally convinced to take an MRI. My surgeon said the MRI showed the spine of an osteoporotic eighty year old woman with lesions from the top of my head to my chest.
A biopsy done during the operation to glue the fractured spine showed the cancer. By the time I got to treatment at the Myeloma Institute, the cancer had been far enough along to be dissolving my bones for about eight months of rib and back pain. The cancer docs said this cancer can be smoldering or it can be like fire and I've got a ten alarm fire. The cancer was at stage three, the last stage. I also I had the highest cancer counts that some of the doctors in this specialized institute had seen. At that point in time, statistically two-thirds were dead within three years of onset. I was facing death. This circumstance did not touch the gratitude. The prayer of gratitude is deeper than circumstances, good or bad. I was ready to die and ready to live with no preference. I only wanted my life or my death to be in the best service of this grace.
I had wanted my life to be well used and it is well used. I am fulfilled, live or die. I wanted my death to be well used and if it meant dying in this moment I was grateful and if living past this moment, I was also grateful.
Gangaji and I had a visit with Ram Das recently. We went to thank him for being an older brother on the path. We have different guru's but we celebrated together the divine love, the divine gratitude and is the fruit of living at the guru's feet. We celebrated the grace that has entered our lives.
Gratitude has been my prayer since meeting my teacher in 1990. That meeting with the fire of liberation was the culmination of my life. I met someone who passed on the fire of silence and the liberation of consciousness into the realization of it's true nature. For this I am forever grateful and my prayer is to give back this life to that which set it free.
Prayer is gratefulness and gratitude. Different teachers different paths , same love, same devotion, same gratitude.