The deep connection between devotion and bliss
Don’t let your frustrations affect what you love doing
Not fear, not devotion, only surrender and humility can help you get through Life
The God debate is a wasted one. The issue is never about God – it is about you and me!
I read this interesting story in The Hindu the other day. The paper’s Resident Editor for Mumbai, Sachin Kalbag, shares how he recently survived a near-death experience. He talks about how a set of “coincidences, seemingly, contributed to the ‘miracle’ of him being alive today”. Please do read the article. Sachin raises interesting questions on the God theory, the role of prayer and also explains his point of view well enough to remind us that we may never find the answers we are looking for.
Whether or not you read Sachin’s story, whether or not you believe in God, the questions will remain. Who powers the Universe? Who created you and me? Why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people? Why isn’t Life fair or predictable? Yes there are explanations for everything – if you study metaphysics, human evolution and philosophy long enough you will find everything logically laid out and reasoned. Yet, there is an inscrutability that governs our lives. In Sachin’s case the inscrutability is over a series of ‘coincidences’ that appear to have conjured up a ‘miracle’ for him. In my case, the physical act of surviving in a cold, brutal world, my Life laden with debt, often with no money and no work, is unexplainable and inscrutable. Truly, this is a miracle – in a worldly, material sense of the word too. And I have been, with my wife Vaani, experiencing this miracle for 8+ years now.
If you look around you, there are millions of people living miraculously like Sachin is or like we are. I have come to realize that there are two points of view possible – one that makes you believe that everything, and everyone, is a miracle; and the other view that holds that nothing is a miracle. My views on Faith have evolved through my awakening (thanks to the cathartic experience of enduring our bankruptcy) that everything around me, within me, is a miracle. I only see miracles. For instance, I believe if I can write this blogpost, if you can read it, if you can understand it, process it and internalize it, well, that’s evidence of a miracle that is happening. In the present continuous sense.
Even so, I don’t think of God the way we are encouraged to think of him or her. To me this God theory of an energy outside of us, as someone residing some place else, doesn’t cut any ice. I sure do believe that there is a Higher Energy, that is far more intelligent than us, that powers this Universe. I know that it is the same Energy that powers us too, through this lifetime. So, my Faith has evolved from being religion-centric and God-centric (God as a person, as someone who has to be feared and worshipped per rituals prescribed by religion), to being Life-focused. I look at Life as a great teacher, as a giver of this experience – that’s peppered with ample adventure and abundant learnings – called this lifetime. When I do encounter blind-spots when I don’t know what’s going on, and when I don’t know what to do, I simply surrender to Life and offer myself to be led. This is how I pray. To me, since I was created without my asking to be born, I know and believe that when I pray, when I surrender, I will always be provided for and cared for. This is my belief. This is my Faith.
Therefore, it is irrelevant to ask if God exists. The issue is not about God. The issue really is with your awakening. Do you realize that you don’t – and can’t – control (much of) your Life? When this realization dawns on you, all questioning will cease. And you will approach everything with enthusiasm (interestingly, the word comes from the Greek en-theos, en = within and theos = God; so enthusiasm = the God within!), seeing everything as a miracle. Perhaps then you will agree with me that what you need to get through this inscrutable Life, is neither fear nor devotion, but surrender and humility!
Be devoted to Life to experience Bliss!
Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, a voice spoke up within the man’s weary mind: “You’ve been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You’re never going to move it” —thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.
“Why kill myself over this?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that’ll be good enough.” And that’s just what he planned to do— but on an impulse, he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord of Life. “Lord” he said, “I’ve labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you’ve asked. Yet, after all this time, I haven’t even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What’s wrong? Why am I failing?”
The Lord of Life responded compassionately.
“My friend, when I asked you to serve me— you accepted. I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength— which you’ve done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me— with your strength spent, thinking that you’ve failed. But is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscular. Your back sinew is mighty. Your hands are callused from the constant pressure; and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you’ve grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. This you’ve done. I, my friend, will now move the rock.”
This is the essence of Life. That problems come and go in our Life exactly the same way in which opportunities come and go. When we can’t do something about a problem, let’s not get frustrated. As Paulo Coelho says in ‘The Manual of the Warrior of Light’, in such situations, “make your work, even if you dislike it, your prayer”. What Life expects from us is acceptance. If we can accept what comes our way, without strife, without grief, with limited action __ only where and when we deem it necessary __ we will find peace and bliss. Our true calling is to devote ourselves to the task of living completely, despite our circumstances, with what has been served to us by Life!