There’s divinity everywhere, all around us, and in each of us.
To spot the divine in yourself and in all creation around you, you must be willing, not just looking for or seeking it. The willingness here is the ability to know that just as you are unique, so is all of creation. Just as you have dreams, others do too. Just as you have opinions and emotions, others have them too. Willingness here is to accept that all creation is beautiful and special and that you are blessed to be part of this whole Universe. When you see divinity in everything and everyone around you, you see the Master Plan, the Cosmic Design, at work.
In Hindu mythology there are several stories of the different incarnations of God. While this has led to a plethora of Gods being worshipped by Hindus worldwide, the hidden message in the propagation of such myths must not be lost. That each of us is God incarnated as well. And each of us is capable of love, compassion and selfless service like Rama or Budha or Muhammed or Jesus. Awakening to this truth and discovering the divine in us, around us, is what nirvana__a state where we extinguish ignorance of who we are and find ourselves liberated and free__is all about. The Indian greeting ‘namaste‘, interestingly introduced to me and elucidated by my American friend Mark Lewis from Phoenix, Arizona, is not just a mere folding of hands, bowing of the head or a respectful gesture. It means “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are One. The divine in me bows to the divine in you.” Namaste to all of you!
Each of our stories is so fascinating. If only we pause to listen to them the world will be so much more a better place to be in.
Yesterday I was moderating a Panel Discussion on building Safer Cities at a Business Conclave. One of the speakers I met there is a fine Britisher named Dr.Andrew Hawkins, a senior management team member at Microsoft. Dr.Hawkins has an amazing, almost incredible, story. His great grandfather was lost in the high seas when his ship wrecked while he was on a voyage through the Indian Ocean. But he miraculously swam ashore, landing at an Indian beach. A group of Indian fishermen cared for him for several months, helped him regain his health and he eventually found his way back to Britain. Dr.Hawkins was very emotional when he said: “I am here, able to speak to all of you, only because a few kind Indians, in a coastal village here, many, many years ago took care of my great grandfather!” Dr.Hawkins finds it so overwhelming that, over three generations later, he should be in the same country that helped his great grandfather rebuild his Life. He plans to come back to India on a sabbatical to locate and reconnect with the families of those fishermen that tended for his forefather and express his family’s gratitude to them.
Hearing Dr.Hawkins’ story reminded me of a beautiful expression, a truth, that I had read some years ago. We are all not human beings going through temporary spiritual experiences, we are all spiritual beings going through temporary human experiences. All the strife and disharmony in the world exists because we don’t notice the divinity in each other. We go around seeking God in temples, churches, mosques and gurudwaras, but we fail to see the God within. You and I are alive because of a Life energy that powers us, that thrives in us. And it is the same. The slum dweller in Dharavi in Mumbai, the President in the White House, the hungry child in South Sudan, the Maori aboriginals of New Zealand and each of the seven billion people on the planet – each of us, has the same energy source. What more evidence do we need of the divinity in us? That makes all of us equal and connected. You inhale what I exhale. And I inhale what you exhale. There can’t be a more evident connect, a more deeper bond between us humans.
Yet, however much social media may have transformed the world by shrinking distances, we continue to be divided by race, religion and nationalities. The distances between us are actually no longer just physical. We are distant because we have stopped being human. We are just not available for each other. We are no longer making an effort to reach out, to understand, to appreciate and celebrate each other. We are lost in our own myopic worlds and are consumed by our challenges. We don’t realize that if share, if we listen, we can learn a lot more and feel a lot, lot more happier and secure. The Dalai Lama, someone who I admire greatly for his simplicity and wisdom, has said this so beautifully, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
Here’s hoping you and I make more time for each other and for pausing to share and learn from our stories. That’s the only way we can, together, make this world more caring and leave it better than we found it!
namaste! – The God in me bows to the God in you!
Yesterday’s The Hindu carried a story of an atheist teacher in Nashik, Maharashtra, who refused to fold his hands in prayer in the school assembly and so invited the wrath of the government-aided school’s management. He has been denied promotions and increments over the years. He is currently fighting his school management’s actions on a constitutional plane through a case in the Bombay High Court.
I have nothing to opine on constitution rights or on religion. But I do want to share what I think and feel about this word/action called “prayer”.
Prayer is often referred to as a religious expression of a wish, or even as a thanksgiving, to a higher energy – “a” God who ostensibly, as many will have us believe, resides outside of us. I too started my Life on such a premise. But over the years, I have come to realize that Life is the highest energy we can all relate to. Because Life is what keeps us alive. If we didn’t have Life we would be dead, won’t we? So, isn’t being alive, living, that too in human form, the greatest of blessings? Why, you or I, or both of us, could have been created as the swine that gives the flu and not as the human who gets the flu? The fact that we have been created human, that we have been ordained with a set of faculties, that work normally in a large mass of us, is a gift. Further, Life is the biggest teacher. Each moment a test is being placed before us. Every test has a lesson that we discover, infer, after we are through with that test. And each lesson is humbling, making us grow and evolve better, through the experience of living and learning. So, in effect, isn’t Life theAlmighty? And so, shouldn’t we bow, even if we find the concept of a ‘third party God’ hard to digest, to Life – in reverence, in gratitude?
In Sanskrit, and in Indian tradition, we are encouraged to greet each other with the word “Namaste”. It is commonly understood, and even used, as “Welcome” or “Good Bye”. But Namaste really means this: “Namah” = Bow in obeisance and “Te” = To you. The scriptures explain the significance and meaning of “Namaste” thus: “The God within me bows to the God within you!”
My understanding is that Life is the God that is resident in each of us. And any prayer must rightfully be to Life. In reverence for the might and beauty of creation and in gratitude for the opportunity to be human – for this lifetime and this experience!