Those are perfectly rational, logical, unavoidable questions. But do we even need to be asking them in the first place?
A reader asked me those questions the other day. And I responded saying that the question we really need to ask ourselves is this: Of what use is your faith if it can’t help you live your Life without fear, anxiety, insecurity and worry? Look around you, and perhaps even at yourself, I told the reader. Are all the religious rituals that we conduct monotonously and mindlessly, in the name of faith and prayer, of any use when we are not mindful of Life’s gifts__the grace, abundance, blessings in our lives__ and instead we continue to still worry, fear and agonize over what the (unknown) future holds for us?
Let me share here a conversation that I had with our family priest a few years ago. A self-proclaimed champion of piety, who called himself a ‘strict Brahmin’, he came to me asking for career advice for his son who was looking to join an IT services company after completing his undergraduate studies in software engineering. He explained that his son had been selected by a leading software company through campus interviews. Yet he claimed he was worried. Our conversation went somewhat like this:
Me: Why are you worried Sir?
Him: I don’t know if IT companies can offer job security the way the government can!
Me: Why would you, a faithful servant of the Lord, for years now, be insecure __ and want to seek security in a government job?
Him: Sir, how can God guarantee job security?
Me: What is God there for then if HE/SHE can’t guarantee you security?
Him: Sir, velayadathengo! Don’t pull my leg, Sir! God can’t come and tell me that my son’s future is assured!
Me: If God can’t tell you that, the one who has direct access to HIM/HER, who else can reach God? Why do you pray then?
Him: Sir, praying to God is my profession. I still need ‘something else’ to tell me that my Life is on track and that my family and I will be secure!
With due apologies, and respect, to my family priest, I must confess that this is the problem with praying mindlessly. The truth is faith and fear cannot co-exist. If you claim you have faith and you are still fearful of your Life, then, clearly, no matter how hard or long you pray, you don’t have faith. Period. Besides, that ‘something else’ which my priest was looking for__and I hope he found it in his own way subsequently__is ‘mindfulness’. When you are mindful of the present moment, and are grateful for it, that would be prayer enough to make you realize your God!
You will then find your God in everyone and everything around you. Just consider all your blessings starting with the fact that you have a computer or a smartphone, you have access to the internet and are able to read this post. There are many, many, many people out there who don’t have this privilege. Pause and reflect on your Life, and celebrate the abundance in it! Don’t you recognize your God’s presence when you feel the air in your lungs? Don’t you see your God in the sunrises and sunsets that happen outside your window every single day without fail? Don’t you see your God in a child’s smile, in leaves rustling in the night breeze, in a cow mooing and in a dew drop? When you view your Life from this angle, you will find your God in every form of creation that you connect with. You will find your God in each moment. And then you will understand and value what faith and prayer are really all about. You will realize that true prayer is living, with gratitude, in the moment and faith is believing that, no matter what the circumstances are, you will be taken care of, provided for and looked after!