Grace is omnipresent
All we have to do is purify ourselves enough to perceive it and receive it, says Anandmurti Gurumaa
O Lord, bestow your grace on me and my loved ones. Shower your blessings and keep us in your benediction always.’ Thus goes the universal prayer with which almost the entire human race approaches and petitions the Almighty. God is seen as a mortal human being, confined to a specific place and time, who gets swayed by human emotions such as happiness, sadness or anger.
Most religions affirm that when God is pleased, He bestows grace, and when He takes offense life is steeped with misery. Most people believe that the Lord’s grace falls only on the chosen few, and that too at select times – it is not accessible to everyone. But this is due to sheer ignorance about the real nature of the Lord.
It is like saying that it is the grace of electricity that lights my house, and operates the fan and other electrical devices. And should anyone touch the naked wire with wet hands and get a shock, then it is because the electricity has deliberately chosen to injure him.
Now will you take these arguments to be reasonable? Is it electricity that kills, or our negligent attitude? Does electricity go off from someone’s house on its own whim, and illuminate the home of another on its own fancy? If you have the properly wired equipment to get power into your house, then electricity will flow, else you will need to get a switchboard, wires, and get them connected to the source.
Using this analogy, if our hearts are pure, filled with love, faith and peace, the system is already set up, ready for grace to flow. But if these virtues are not present, how will grace come forth? The human mind is petty. When happiness comes to you, you ascribe it to the Lord’s grace, but when you experience sorrow or misery would you still accord it to the Lord’s grace? If someone wins a lottery, he would say that it is the Lord’s grace. But when someone’s son dies, would he still say it’s the Lord’s grace? After all, everything is the Lord’s doing!
When it rains, and you keep a container outdoors, facing upward, then it will certainly get filled with rain water, but if you keep it inverted, not even a drop will go in. Similarly, God’s grace is like rain which is showering constantly. Sages have gone to the extent of saying that being able to see this world itself is His grace. Your eyes are seeing because of His grace, your mind thinks on account of His grace – there is nothing that you need to do as such for grace to befall you.
Grace is flowing upon all, equally. Grace means bliss, joyfulness, wisdom. Have you ever seen a tree sad or depressed? Even when all its leaves fall off and it is bare, then too it embodies and expresses a unique beauty. Look at the sky, sun, moon, stars, rivers – do you not see happiness everywhere? When you see a rose, don’t you feel that it is beaming? And when you see a bunch of luscious grapes hanging on the vine – don’t you feel they are dancing?
When we look at Mother Nature, she looks so happy! Only man can be ill-tempered and sulky; grumpy, grouchy and dissatisfied all the time. Why so? You are continually comparing yourself with others – this is good, that is bad. She or he is more beautiful or more handsome than me – this is the mindset from which stems the thought that God is bestowing grace on him or her, but not on me. A blade of grass, or for that matter, a bird, is complete within itself, because it does not compare itself with any other blade of grass or bird. It is your mind which keeps labelling – good, bad, beautiful, ugly and so on, but if you just put this comparing mind aside, then there is nowhere that grace is not.
A poet has given an exquisitely unique expression to the Lord’s omnipresence. He says – ‘Allow me to drink wine in a mosque, or alternatively, name such a place where Allah is not.’
Whatsoever we may do and wherever we may be, everything is happening in the Lord’s jurisdiction. If one cannot drink wine in a mosque, why should one drink it anywhere else? The Lord is omnipresent, hence what is wrong or forbidden in one place holds true for all other places.
Grace is ever-flowing and unconditional. If one is incapable of seeing, feeling and experiencing it, then that’s another matter. Nature is because of grace, mankind too is because of grace; in fact, the entire phenomenal world comprising the five elements is the manifestation of grace. Our very existence would not be, were it not for grace. Nothing could exist, were it not for grace. So the perception that grace falls on some and not on others is incorrect. All are receiving it, but one who is blind cannot see; only one having eyes to see, sees. It’s as simple, yet as profound as that!
If at all you need to raise a question, then ask – if grace is ever-flowing, why don’t I feel it? If someone sits with eyes closed and complains, “I cannot see anything”, he needs to be told to open his eyes. And one who sees, exclaims in awe, “O Lord, your grace is boundless!” How magnificent is the splendour of Nature! It cannot ever be captured in words. We can only call those people ignorant, who cannot see this beauty.
Once the celebrated poet and artist Rabindranath Tagore was travelling in a houseboat on the river Ganga. It was late night and he was reading by candle-light. By and by he thought he had better turn in, so he blew out the candle. As the candle got extinguished, he was enraptured to see that it was a full moon night, and moonlight had flooded the room. Looking out he saw the night bathed in milky white moonlight. It was as if moonlight was scattered all over the water, the room taking on a milky white hue. Tagore chided himself on his foolishness, that because he lit a tiny candle he missed out on witnessing the glorious radiance of the moon.
Similarly, we too have lit the candle of our miniscule intellect but its light is too faint for us to perceive ever-flowing grace. A seeker does sadhana continually, meticulously and regularly so that there comes a point when the mind tires itself out and simply stops in its tracks. Towards the last phases of his practice, he experiences sheer helplessness and yearns for the beloved – now how do I seek you, O Lord? At that point when he is utterly tired, ready to give up, as soon as the candle of his effort is extinguished, at that moment, like the moonlight flooding in, grace will flow.
Enlightened beings – masters, sages and mystics – are the epitome of grace; merely sitting in their presence is enough. One might ask – what is it they do? Let’s just say – they simply blow out the candle; in other words they extinguish the ego, the sense of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, our false identity. They burn away deep-rooted desires and negative tendencies. In the words of Kabir Sahib – “I have not done anything, whatever I have supposedly done, in reality it is the Lord who has done it.”
Once Balaji asked Guru Nanak Dev, “There is no limit to the wisdom that you share with us”. To this Guru Nanak Dev replied, “It’s not me who is bestowing wisdom. I am saying whatever He pours through me”. None of the ancient rishis, sages, sadgurus have ever claimed, “I have written this book or scripture or shloka.” They were devoid of the egocentric ‘I’. All they said about whatever happened through them is, “It’s all because of His grace.”
What’s the difference between sand and mirror? In essence there is no difference. Once we saw an exhibition in Europe where they showed the various stages of mirror making, before it took on its final form as a mirror. First it is raw sand, then it is refined, after which it turns white. During the process of refining, it is heated in the furnace, melted and then given the form needed. When you look into the sand you won’t be able to see your face, but if you look into the mirror then you will be able to. However, both things are one and the same.
Human intellect too, is gross and dense like rock. Now you go on sharpening it, refining it, and it is this process of refinement which is called sadhana (spiritual discipline). One-pointed concentration, thoughtlessness, absence of agitation and turbulence – all this gradually purifies the intellect. Then one day it becomes so purified that as you can see your face in the mirror, the indwelling Lord who is closest to the mind, gets reflected therein. The day this happens, one would just be blissful and exclaim, “It’s only Thy grace.”
So what should we do to be able to experience, feel His grace? Grace is omnipresent. Who gets it? Everyone. When does one get it? All the time. But if you don’t have purified intellect then you cannot feel it. One is therefore advised to keep the company of sages so that in their proximity the tiny flame of the miniscule intellect blows out. Once this egocentric ‘I’ gets swept away then you don’t have to do anything to invoke grace. Just like when it is daytime you don’t have to invoke the sun saying, ‘Please let us glimpse your glory.’ The sun is already there. So, relinquish your ego, your ‘I’, be in the company of sages, be in grace forever!