I had written this down in response to a query (it was more a challenge) on twitter. Thought it is a good piece that is worth having it on this site with some additional experiences and learning gained ever since I tweeted them 4 years ago. By no means I claim this to be the ideal learning nor even as a prescription, it is just a scrawl of an avid Jigyaasu. I am blessed to be guided on this path, not just by way of various courses and discourses but learning from the Enlightened Master, Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living, whose unmatchable persona embodies all these virtues that is worthy of emulation.
Grace as explained by Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : “When you receive a lot without making efforts for it, then it is said that you are blessed with anugraha. Usually you work hard at your job and then receive your salary. So you say, ‘I have earned my money’. But if someone gives you a gift, you do not say, ‘I have earned these gifts’. Can something that is earned be called a gift? No. You receive gifts without any efforts. So when you receive a great gift or an award that you feel you did not deserve, then that is called anugraha. When we receive something that we are not deserving of, or which exceeds our capabilities, then that is what is called Grace.When we see that in our life, we have received far more than what we deserve or are capable of, then gratitude dawns in us. We become thankful, complaints disappear and abundance grows.“
My two pennies based on experience, generally reproduction of my tweets that were as explanation to a query. The tweet thread is here (at this time.)
Guru’s Grace & Blessings on His/Her Shishya(s) is infinite & is like a blank cheque that we can encash, provided we write our name on it in right (worthy) manner
Shishyas should satisfy two conditions: 1) Our Attitude and Mindset should be like an empty cup (if we think we are already full, then nothing can be poured in the cup) 2) Cup should be in right orientation. Empty cup face down cannot receive anything
Grace can/will work only when used in Right Direction. So we as Shishya should have that viveka to ensure it is right. (If door opens inwards and you apply force in the wrong direction you shut it). Even the best of Guru’s Grace cannot work when your work is for wrong purpose
Guru’s grace though Free, it is not a Gift. Shishyas should have Arhata (deserving), Viveka (to use it for right reasons), know the Sannivesha (Context) and most importantly Sharanagati (state of surrender). The moment we think we are the Doers, we are DOOMED (Click on the link what “We are not the Doers mean)
As I experienced in various Paramparas, one important aspect they propagate is to refrain from Daiva/Guru Ninda (Defaming God/Guru) or anyone for that matter failing which the Good Karmic balance drastically reduces.
Wishing you loads of Divine, Guru and Elders’ Grace
This post comes in the wake of recent medical incidents of some sincere seekers, who have been doing/done everything that materially every Jigyasu is expected to do – Sadhana, Seva, Satsangs etc. Yet when some tragedy or misfortune strikes, the obvious doubt is on the efficacy of God/Guru. The faith is terribly shaken and trust flies out of the window. Everything associated becomes a suspect and sadly some may even conclude on the futility of the spiritual journey itself.
Firstly, as Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji of The Art of Living says – Everyone dies, Good person dies, Bad person dies; Doctors die, Patients die; Rich die, Poor die; King dies so also subjects; So one thing that is truth at the time of birth, known to everyone is that one day a person born has to die some day. Yet there is a sense of non-acceptance of this irrefutable and unchangeable truth. Immediate response of the near ones (I experienced it twice, when I lost my Father and recently my Elder brother, both departed quite young by today’s standards) Our trust and faith was shaken terribly (thankfully for not very long). Why us? is the obvious question (as if it is ok, if this were to happen to someone else). The first response was What is the point in worshiping God or having a Guru when they “ditch” us like this? (when they are actually carrying us to bear this pain) . Why couldn’t they stop this? (the inevitable truth is forgotten). Now, cut to the next set of examples
We had examples of some ardent followers in the path, who never missed a day’s Sadhana, did their Seva at every opportunity presented, regular organised and conducted Satsangs, who fell seriously sick (I have been witnessing this in very close quarters in the recent months, one as late as 3 days ago in a Satsang). Again the faith of near ones and many observers was challenged. What is the point of all the 3Ss (Sadhana, Seva and Satsang) if they fall seriously sick (at the time of occurrence, some were even written off and even indicated by doctors that if they survived they would be vegetables all their lives. Much to the surprise of the thorough Medical professional and naysayers, they recovered miraculously. Certainly, I believe it is due to power of collective blessings just as those very rational Engineers and Medical Professionals who were around concede to it. To some who asked me, why did it happen in the first place, my answer as an ordinary mortal – it could have been worse!
We often mistake our intense craving for our intense faith and try to manipulate the divine to fulfill our desires and get our work done. If you have faith in God only for the sake of having your desires fulfilled, then that will simply not work.
Which is greater: God, or your desire? Just think about it. You want to use God like currency for transactions, and you want to do the same with your Guru. Faith and devotion are needed to help you rise higher in life and go deeper within yourself.
Difficulties and unpleasant times come in everyone’s life. Is there anyone who does not have problems in their life? Lord Krishna faced so many obstacles during his lifetime. Lord Rama also faced many problems in his life. Mahatma Gandhi also faced many hurdles in his life. So difficulties come and go in life. When your faith and devotion remain intact and unshaken during those turbulent times, then you do not feel the unpleasantness of those situations. Faith becomes your anchor during these difficult times and keeps you steady.
On a completely dark night, even a flickering lamp can help you find your way and keep walking forward. But if you try to extinguish that very source of light, then it is no good. People who do this then try other ways to handle difficult situations, such as drinking alcohol, etc. Faith is a great wealth and gives you strength. Just because a few small things did not go in your favor, it does not mean that you should make your faith so fragile and delicate that it breaks every now and then.
That is why I said that it is good that you feel your faith is becoming weak and failing because something you wanted did not happen. It is alright. Eventually you will put your faith into someone or something.
Faith that is built in such a way surely will shake at some point of time. Every time your faith shakes, your devotion will be renewed from within once again. Truth never fails or gets shaken. True faith remains unshaken regardless of everything that happens. That which shakes is just some small belief at a very superficial level. It is your own expectations and desires which shake you
Reason is reeling in the known. Faith is moving in the unknown. Reason is repetition. Faith is exploration. Reason is routine. Faith is adventure.
They are completely opposite, yet an integral part of life. Not having faith itself is misery; faith gives instant comfort. While reasoning keeps you sane and grounded, no miracle can happen without faith. Faith takes you beyond limitations. In faith you can transcend the laws of nature but it needs to be pure. Faith is beyond reason, yet you need to have faith in your own reasoning! Faith and reason cannot exist without each other. Every reason is based on some faith. Whenever reason or faith breaks, confusion and chaos prevails which is often a step for growth.
There are two types of faith. Faith out of fear, greed and insecurity; and faith born out of love like the faith between the mother and the child, the Master and disciple. Whereas the faith out of love cannot be broken, faith out of fear and greed is shaky.
An atheist bases himself on reason, and a believer on faith. A believer uses God as an insurance policy! He thinks he is special. In the eyes of God there is no “mine” and “others”; all are the same. An atheist rationalizes to keep his eyes shut to reality. Death shakes them both! When someone close dies, an atheist’s eyes are opened, and a believer’s faith cracks. Only a Yogi – a wise one – remains unshaken. For that person has transcended both reason and faith.
You need a balance between faith and reason.
Cut to the present, in both cases these distrust was soon overcome and life moved on. Back to going on pilgrimage to Sabarimala, for Darshan and blessings of Guru. The unpleasantness was taken in the stride using exactly whatever we lost trust on. We tend to lose faith or tend to distrust the only Truth, God or the Guru that is our real & eternal support, all other kind of supports are fleeting. Even the best of medicine will not work if we don’t trust the doctor and the medicine itself. Remember, Medicine Cures! Faith Heals!
One more learning! Faith and trust doesn’t mean rely on Blessings or healing process solely. Our part of the action is a prerequisite and understanding that just those actions may not guarantee results. We allow the Grace to work through our action by being in a state of Gratitude.
Come what may! Keep your faith up! It will hold you up!
There was this person, who was so fed up with life, trying to be a perfect parent, perfect friend, perfect everything. Making it a first person account – The problem was in trying to live my life on someone else’s terms and making a mess of what I was, masking my strengths and gradually forgetting my true self.
Why live life on terms as defined by others. Other’s perception of perfection should not and does not indicate true perfection. Perfection is a very personal characteristic based on our own abilities and thoughts – so why lose sleep over our inability to match to standards prescribed and set by others. It is better to dance to our own tunes and not to other’s. Concept beautifully demonstrated with the following story and read on…
The little rabbit stood alone, watching the other rabbits around hop and skip in the forest. They were playing her favourite rabbit game. Try as she might, each time she attempted to join in, she tripped about awkwardly. When this happened, the other rabbits laughed at her and called her “Riya (Graceful in Sanskrit)”
Soon even she forgot her real name. In moments when Riya was alone, she danced around the trees with ease. She was as smooth and graceful as any ballerina. An old owl sat high above one night, watching her intently. The moonlight streamed through the treetops like a soft spotlight and he sat and watched as little Riya moved in and out of the moonbeans.
Finally he said, “Riya, you are more graceful than any creature I’ve ever seen.” Riya was startled that someone had been watching her; but listened carefully to the wise owl’s words as he continued. “You have carried this beauty within you all this time, but locked it inside when you tried too hard.”
Often we are too intent on proving ourselves and pleasing others. The harder we try the more impossible the task becomes. We begin to lose our identity and all sense of who we really are and what we can do.
Then comes the power of robbers who through negative talk, remarks and jibes would rather have us believe that we cannot. Some of us may be fortunate to run into those like the old owl, the power enablers and facilitators, who bring back to us a sense of who we really are and what we are really meant to be. They help us see the beauty that is locked away inside, the potential that we all have. Others finally realize that they have two who can always be counted on. The first themselves and the second-nature, which never call us names or whispers behind our backs. We come to a point when we begin to be honest with ourselves.
We see the truth that we are all creatures of our times, that imperfections and faults are part of every being’s life tapestry and that all elements are woven into our lives, some frozen in time and others still open to inside work and shaping out. Then in a moment of great discovery we embrace all that is part of ourselves.
Like Riya we learn to dance and celebrate our wholeness. We become less obessed with the scorn that can be heaped on us by others. The negative is drowned by positive images. We realize like Riya that nature is our friend. Nature waits patiently. There is no pressure to be anyone else than who we already are. We relearn the dance of life. All the while we have just tried too hard.
Grace is not some sophisticated word used only for artists or models on a catwalk. It is the ability to live life on one’s own terms, the ability to kindle true life in others, the strength and courage to overcome those who would control and manipulate us. Sometimes grace in living comes after repeated failures. The rabbit Riya picked herself up when she came to a sense of her true self.
Many walk through your life, but few leave footprints on your heart. Take long spells of rest in nature. Become like Riya the rabbit who found that she had an identity of her own, so precious, that she had to first discover it by herself. And then when you discover your true identity and your own voice, become a power broker in this world, for gentleness and understanding.
Yes this is what His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar and The Art of Living did to me – transform me into Riya, the ever graceful