Robert C. Priddy

Writings on diverse themes from philosophy, psychology to literature and criticism

  • Robert Priddy

    In this blog I post information and critical views concerning ideologies, belief systems and related scientific materials etc. I am a retired philosophy lecturer and researcher, born 1936.

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What can or cannot be achieved through prayer and meditation

Posted by robertpriddy on November 25, 2016

Many religious doctrines and sect or cult leaders claim that prayer can achieve anything. This defies all observation, common sense, reason and science. That little or nothing can be achieved is far more likely, while admitting that prayer and meditation can sometimes have a temporary psychological effect on the supplicant. Yet all who will can observe how so many people pray for years without result. Think of people down the millennia who have prayed for the second coming of Christ and countless similar vain hopes throughout the world religions. Or consider the example of the Tibetans who, collectively, surely prayed more than any known people in recent times… until the Chinese invaded and everything they cared for was destroyed and those who escaped death were dispossessed and exiled, the country usurped. Were their prayers answered?

Those who believe in the power of prayer and/or meditation will probably impute all good things they wished for which actually happen to their prayers. How often they pray without such ‘results’ is ignored or – if the opposite to their prayers occurs, the find rationalisations… such as God is teaching me a lesson or I was not deserving enough and so forth. Thus they remain trapped in their delusive belief.
Religious teachers and diverse other know-alls say that God often answers your prayers with other things than you want or expect, but with what is best for you – a case in point being all sufferings being “for your own eternal good”. See the duplicitous and self-defeating nature of prayer in that? To get what you didn’t pray for!

A key reason for the continued belief in prayer and in the power of meditation (apart from the vast promotion of these but for well-meaning and commercial purposes) is that the perceived results are entirely subjective in both cases. The effect is psychological, not of itself bringing objective changes in external or environmental circumstances. The psychological effect can obviously be positive, yet it can equally be deceptive and eventually ruinous. Just as in the case of the so-called medication with ’uppers’, continual use eventually leads to ‘downers’, whether due to depression or injudicious decisions while under the influence of physically-induced ‘happiness’.

As with a wide range of different powerful mind-altering substances (e.g. LSD-25, DMT, morphine and other opium derivates, exotic mushrooms), meditation can in some people cause ‘bad trips’ and can eventually lead to cognitive and mental derangement disorders. The human brain and mind can conjure forth every possible kind of inner experience under different circumstances, from deepened insight to hallucinations, from self discoveries to entrapment in unreality and hellish states of mind.

See further on this subject by John Horgan in the Scientific American at (

One Response to “What can or cannot be achieved through prayer and meditation”

  1. eileenweed said

    Entirely true and excellently conveyed! Results from religious experiences, including with prayer, are entirely subjective. What is not subjective is the profit of ‘gurus’ who are not troubled by conscience (cheating well-meaning and naive people).

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