Anchor within to find your God


An interesting headline in this morning’s Times of India caught my attention. It read: “More Indians have stopped believing in God – Survey”. The London-datelined story reported that the latest Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism found the number of non-believers in India increasing. As against 87 % saying they were religious in the same Survey in 2005, the percentage has fallen to 81 % in 2012. In other words, a drop of 6 % in seven years!  

This got me thinking again about this whole God debate. And I am expressing, sharing, only my personal views here with no disrespect to your views or beliefs.

Is there a God? And if so, why do so many of us, good, honest folks, have to go through tough times? Why do terrible things happen to good people? Why is there so much pain and suffering everywhere? And why do people who employ deceit always get away with it? If God is indeed the epitome of virtue, as all the world’s religions have always been saying all the time, why is God being a silent spectator to all that’s wrong with the world? I am sure you have asked these questions too. But for lack of any evidence that can lead us to the answer, we end up leaning on our conditioning, and cling on to a crutch that we have labeled ‘God’.

Obviously there’s an intelligent energy that powers the Universe. Otherwise we can’t explain creation and the existence of Life in a simple, easy-to-hold manner. But no one’s been able to conclusively prove that that energy is a person. All the world’s religions will of course have us believe only in this ‘God is a person’ theory. I have come to agree with what German philosopher Friedrich Neitzsche (1844~1900) postulated, that, perhaps, man created God (and it possibly was never the other way round!) to control large masses of mankind through religion. This perspective, when reflected upon, will explain why as a species, we are increasingly becoming more divisive and intolerant of each other.

The real question concerning God is not about believing or non-believing. It is about knowing and non-knowing! The English word ‘enthusiasm’ comes from the Greek language. In Greek, ‘en’ means ‘within’ and ‘theos’ means ‘God’. So enthusiasm really means the ability to invoke the ‘God within’. And that’s the knowing I am talking about. Since we are all powered by the same energy source that powers the Universe, it is imminently possible that the God that we so desperately seek outside of us__through religion and through a place of worship__really resides within us. The only way to ‘realize’ that God, to feel that God, to connect with that God, is to be present in the here and now. And live every moment of this gift called Life enthusiastically.

Interestingly, every scripture in the world, champions just this same perspective: that living in the moment__without clinging on to the past or worrying about the future__while being enthusiastic about the Life that you have been given, loving what is, is the only way to experience God. That’s why you see Godliness in a child or in anyone who’s immersed joyfully in her or his work. A child is present. It never lives in the past. Or worries about anything. It plays with the Life it has, engaged in the moment. So do people who lose themselves to their work. Whether it is a musician or a sportsperson or a chef or a surgeon or even a housekeeper __ when the person is immersed wholesomely in the activity, you will see Godliness in that person.

Even so, possibly God’s existence will continue to be debated forever. But no one will deny that there’s Godliness in all creation __ including in you! We don’t experience this Godliness all the time because instead of anchoring in the God within we make bad spaghetti of this beautiful, even if inscrutable, Life by preferring to be held hostage by the concept of an external God!

As Mirza Ghalib (1797~1869), the legendary Urdu poet wrote memorably: “Sharaab Peene De Masjid Mein Baith Kar…Ya Woh Jagah Bata Jahan Khuda Nahin!” It means, “Allow alcohol in a place of worship or show me a place where God isn’t present!”

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It is Life’s ironies that make it beautiful


Some riddles fox us __ keeping us charged, engaged and wanting to try harder! Isn’t Life one such inscrutable, unsolvable riddle itself?

In the 1971 Hindi movie, the classic, Anand (directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee) Yogesh Gaur wrote an iconic song that Salil Chaudhary made immortal with his music. The opening lyrics of the song go like this:

Zindagi … kaisi hai paheli, haaye
Kabhi to hansaaye … kabhi ye rulaaye
Zindagi…

It means:

Life’s a riddle …. oh!

It makes you laugh sometimes

And sometimes makes you cry…

The song is a moving paean to Life’s ironies. Even so, it is Life’s paradoxes that make it beautiful.


Last week someone very close to me, well, at least on a theoretical, relationship basis, conceded that I could not be trusted anymore. I greatly appreciate that person’s honesty in at least telling me so even though  the sentiment hurt me badly. Yesterday, someone who I don’t know too well at all, apart from him being a social acquaintance, contacted me, on his own, and without my even asking for it offered to help me out with a complicated situation. While thanking him profusely, I said I was not sure if he knew me well enough and therefore appraised him so that he could be doubly sure if he really wanted to help me in the manner he was offering. This person cut me short though, saying: “You don’t need to say all this Sir. I know you need this help right now. Don’t think too much AVIS. Because I am not thinking about this too much. I implicitly trust you.”

I woke up this morning thinking about this irony. It was both stark and beautiful. It was tragic and moving. Tragic because someone who I considered “my own” did not want to trust me anymore. And moving because a rank newcomer was willing to. While I humbly submit that some of my conduct, circumstantial or otherwise, may have led to the erosion of trust in the first instance, I am still unable to comprehend the compassion of the person in the second one.

But such is Life. An enduring mystery. A logic-defying experience every single time. Unique in the way it treats each of its own creations. You will have experienced such moments too, just as I have, several times over. Yet, we must not even try to solve the Life riddle. Because we will get confused and even go bonkers. Life does not conform to any concept, framework or mindset.  Trying to make meaning out of Life is futile. We will never understand the meaning of Life. It is impossible. The only way to live is to make this lifetime meaningful!

Think about it.

For instance, those who have everything material are often searching for the most easily available treasure – happiness. And those who have nothing, while working hard to acquire everything material, are perhaps happier, because they know they can live, as they have lived so far, without them. Or those who have gone through a Life-changing crisis have often found a great inner peace. Because despite their upheaval, they have understood the impermanent and transient nature of Life! But when you think logically, when a storm ravages one’s Life, you expect pain, grief and suffering. Not inner peace. Yet ask anyone who’s been  tossed up by Life and thrashed down, and they will swear that Life’s trials and tribulations have made them stronger and more peaceful.

Interesting isn’t it? This paradoxical quality of Life! That’s perhaps what makes Life beautiful __ and worth living.

Here’s an interesting Life riddle that German philosopher Friedrich Neitzsche (1844~1900) poses: “Is man merely a mistake of God’s? Or God merely a mistake of man?” Keep thinking. And may be when you do get an answer to that question, you will have unraveled the mystery of Life itself!

Living completely requires spontaneity


Anything incomplete is dangerous. And the horrible truth is we are all leading incomplete lives.

Check it out for yourself. Are you saying what you really want to say in all your relationships? Are you doing what you love doing all the time? Are you feeling comfortable in all contexts of your Life? If you answered ‘no’ or ‘not quite’ for any of those questions (and these are not the only ones) then you are, your Life is, incomplete.

At the core of your unhappiness__both stated and unstated but felt__with your Life lies your incompleteness.

You hate your job. But you go on doing it because it ‘provides’ for your family’s upkeep and maintenance. You are incomplete. Your don’t relate to your spouse anymore. But you go on suffering in that relationship because you don’t know how__or want__to get out of it. You are incomplete. You don’t like what someone in your family is saying or doing. You hesitate to speak your mind because you don’t want to sound rude. But you squirm in the person’s presence. You are again incomplete.

Your incompleteness helps no one. Least of all you! German philospoher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844~1900) memorably said, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” So it is! In a preparatory Life you can afford to rehearse, put off your best act for the final performance. But what is the point in living an incomplete Life when this is it! When this is the only Life you have?

Life is not an examination. It requires no preparation. It requires living. Living completely requires spontaneity. When you see a beautiful sunrise or a flower dance in the breeze or a child smile, you ideally don’t think of anything else – you just soak in the beauty of that moment. The moment you think of something else, you miss the moment itself! Then you are not being. You are not present. You are physically there. But mentally lost in worry, anxiety, guilt, anger, sorrow __ whatever. Bottomline: you have missed that moment! You have missed living it!

This is how we remain incomplete. This is how we miss living. Missing moment after moment after moment __ and often an entire lifetime! All our lives we prepare for a tomorrow and then for another one and then another. Or all our lives we cling on to a dead past, a memory, a guilt, a pain __ and we suffer endlessly.

I have nothing against theorists. But people who talk of karma and say that everything is ordained are encouraging, perhaps inadvertently and unintentionally, us to give up on living fully. Perhaps indeed everything is ordained. But to live the Life that is given, and not to suffer it, is still an intelligent choice we may like to exercise. You can’t be living in fear all the time. Then you are not living. You are dying. Of course, we all have to die one day when our physical presence ceases on this planet. But why die suffering a Life that has been given to us to enjoy, to live?

Here’s a simple perspective. Easy to understand. Simpler to practice. The reason we fear Life is because we have been taught to fear it. If you don’t study, you will fail. Fear. If you don’t go to work, you will lose your job, lose your income stream. Fear. If you don’t be loyal, you will lose the trust of people around you. Fear. Every action is being driven by fear of a consequence. That explains why we have not learned love to Life! If we were told to love learning, love knowledge, than merely get grades, we would have no fear. Then we would have been better at learning! If we were encouraged to love creating value, making a difference, work would become play. Then we would not fear or loathe work. If we were taught that loving is what living is all about relationships would have been far more meaningful and would not mean simply conforming to societal norms and frameworks.

To be sure, we complicate a rather simple Life by thinking too much, by whining, worrying, strategizing and analyzing. All this analysis creates paralysis, crippling us far more gruesomely than we even realize. That’s why we don’t see the beauty and magic in each moment, in each day. The moment we stop being incomplete and start living spontaneously, we will live and love__and not fear or hate__the Life we have been given!


Love yourself to find your God within you!


What you fear will enslave you and what you love will liberate you!

 

You often hear people referring to themselves or others as “god-fearing”. Last night I saw an electronic billboard outside a place of worship that read: “The Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom”! Nothing can be more untrue.

What kind of a God is it that wants you__or me__to be fearful? Religion and its self-serving propagators have turned God into a mega-brand that is propped up so that it earns them (the propagators) money and keeps them powerful. The 2012 superhit Hindi film ‘OMG – Oh My God!’, directed by Umesh Shukla and starring Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar, satirically and successfully, challenged the popular concept of God, as the religions and its leaders want us to believe. The movie had an unputdownable awakening feel to it. A Rediff review of the film summed up its message: “A brave and absorbing blend of satire, fable and fantasy that brings our attention to the misuse and commercialization of religion.”

This is indeed true. The most corrupt institutions in society today are the ones that engage with and thrive on religion. The people who run them have their followers in their stranglehold by playing up concepts of sin, retribution and divine punishment. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844~1900), the German philosopher, busted this whole God theory rather forcefully. He declared, ‘God is dead. Now man is free.” Understand this in a less debatable context. You see a snake at your feet. And you freeze, fearing it. You can’t think of anything else but your imminent death. Is the snake scaring you or your thought of it scaring you, crippling you? Anybody who understands snakes will tell you that they don’t harm UNLESS they are harmed. So, if you replace your fear with love and move away slowly you will be free. But no, you will stay frozen, not so much grounded by the snake, but by your fear of the snake! The same argument applies in the context of God. When every scripture (not religion) champions love, compassion and surrender__to the moment, to Life__how and why do we buy this absurd logic of fearing a God? Fear cripples. Debilitates. Love frees, liberates. How can you fear God and be free? When you fear a God__you will be dying every moment that you are alive. You will be enslaved by superstitions, rituals, dogmas and will be looking for an, unavailable, approval of each of your actions. Which is also the reason why you are plagued by anxiety, worry, grief, suffering and stress, DESPITE your being so God-fearing! The irony is that you are suffering only because you are God-fearing! If you are God-loving, your suffering will disappear. Think about it. You were born free. And in your infancy lived free. Don’t you realize that if you have stopped being free it is your fear of God that has made you so?

Swami Sathya Sai Baba explains this so beautifully: “Everyone is God. But some are unconscious of their divinity and are conscious only of the body-state, some are partly conscious of it and a few are fully God-conscious. Complete self-surrender and unquestioning love becomes possible when man achieves unswerving faith. Once God is realized there is no question of faith at all, just as there is no question of faith when a man knows himself to only be a man.” Note here that the faith that Swami refers to here is faith in Life __ that if you have been created, you will be looked after, provided for. And he talks of surrender to the Self, not to some external entity __ living or otherwise!

 

 

Drop all your fears. Recognize the value in loving the God you so desperately seek. You cannot find that God by seeking, searching, running from one place of worship to another. Or by wearing stones and rings on your fingers. Or by fasting and abstaining. You can and will find your God only when you find yourself. The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek language. ‘entheos’, in Greek, meaning enthusiasm, is a combination of two Greek words: ‘en’ (within) and ‘theos’ (God). ‘entheos’ therefore means ‘the God within’. So, be enthusiastic about Life. Love the Life source within you. That is your God. One whom you don’t need to fear at all. Through this love, and only with this love, will you awaken to freedom and bliss.