Finding God

Beliefs that serve me

I’ve started a new weekly exercise at my workplace. Every Monday, I share with my team 5 tips on living life to the fullest. The idea is to pass on whatever little knowledge I have before I die. Surprisingly, my team is very receptive and eager for these sessions. It is deeply fulfilling for me and I thank God every day for the opportunity.

This past Monday I shared 5 beliefs I have imbibed over the years that have served me.

1. There is enough for everyone: Contrary to what the corporate world makes things out to be, there really is room for everyone to be a true leader. If we operate from a mindset of ‘there can only be one man for the top job’, well, we’re always going to fight and jostle for our space in the universe. The minute I adopted this belief 5 years ago, the universe actually CREATED new positions for me to occupy. I no longer had to apply for a job. It was created for me by the forces that be.

2. People are good: We’re often brought up to distrust strangers or told that some people are good and others are bad. But one belief that has served me is that all people are inherently good, and if they do commit behaviours that are perceived as ‘bad’, it is because they crave something – love, attention, acceptance, power, whatever – or because they’ve been indoctrinated that way. I truly believe that, given the choice, humans gravitate towards the light. This belief helps me see the good in just about everyone, and this further helps me bring out the best from them. It also keeps me happy and at peace since I do not doubt people’s intentions.

3. Everyone is right: My dad once said this to me when I was a kid and, later, when I grew up, I understood what he really meant. Every human being takes actions that his or her subconscious dictates as the best option for survival at that moment. In other words, if you put yourself in the other person’s shoes, you too would do exactly the same deed at that same moment in the same situation as they did. So there’s no point judging others as wrong and yourself as right. This belief has served me in arguing less and accepting others more. I do not hold grudges for long.

4. The universe is a benevolent place: Over the past many years, I have come to believe this deep in my heart that no matter what happens, I am protected, I am safe, that this life is not all there is, and that there is more to existence than existence. I have come to believe that I am deeply loved by my Creator and that no matter how bad things may look, they are really only less than a blip on the radar of the mighty universe. And that, eventually, whatever happens is going to be for my good. This belief helps me bounce back from setbacks time and again, and to be resilient in the face of sorrow.

5. We can only defeat darkness by turning on the light: By constantly focusing on the negative around us, by reporting only negative news day after day, we only create more darkness. What we need to focus on is the light. Once the light is turned on, the darkness automatically goes away. This applies to just about everything: let us publish more positive news instead of negative; let us work on our strengths instead of cribbing about our weaknesses; let us focus on our mission in life instead of whining about little obstacles on the way.

With gratitude. Hari Om.

Seeking God

Naked

One of the folktales about Krishna relates an incident when the teenage god, wont to flirt with the young women (gopis) in his village, hides amongst the trees when they’re bathing. Naughty as ever, he snatches up all their clothes and runs away to a corner. When they’re done with their bath, they look around for their clothes and realise what he’s done. They plead with him to return their clothes, but he just sits there grinning wickedly, his eyes dancing in merriment. Finally, he challenges them to come and collect their clothes from him one by one, their arms up above their heads so that he can watch them walk towards him, dripping wet in nakedness and vulnerability. He returns their clothes, one bashful woman at a time.

When I first heard this story in my youth, I was chagrined at the blatant sexism and sexual harassment evident in the epic parable. I was shocked that Krishna, my favourite god, could do this to any woman. I hated him for it.

Many years later, after some episode in my life that I’ve now forgotten, I finally understood what this story meant. Since Krishna was not just any man but the Supreme Being Himself, the gopis were not being harassed, they were being blessed. They were being taught the art of surrender, and the divine gift inherent in vulnerability. They were forced to strip themselves of not just their clothes but their ego and their sense of ‘I’, the identity we all create for ourselves. The bathing was symbolic, of course. In Krishna’s merry all-knowing gaze, they were cleansed of their self-delusion and self-importance. In his benevolent smile, they became immortal, their imperfections converted to perfection in the eyes of God, their beauty sealed for eternity.

Nakedness and surrender come together in this ancient story. When we are stripped of all labels and trappings, we can either grapple to recover some clothes and sense of assumed dignity, avoiding humiliation. Or we can surrender and liberate ourselves. In our innocent nakedness, we free ourselves of shame.

Suddenly, I find myself without labels, without the trappings of fame and fortune. In one fell swoop, a major role in my life has been rendered void. Like the gopis in the water, I initially cry and mourn and beg Krishna for cover. Then I see Him sitting there, atop the hill of my salvation, grinning like an imp, beckoning me to walk over in all my naked glory. “You can either cower there in the water forever,” He challenges, “or you can surrender to me, washed of all illusions and delusions of self, and allow me to save you.”

“This is just a game for You,” I say, angrily. “You will do as your whim, how do I trust You? How do I know what further harassment awaits?”

He lays back, His head behind his head, crosses His feet and blows bubbles in the air. “Do you have a choice?”

I grit my teeth in frustration. “I do not,” I call out. “I am forced to trust You.”

He rolls over on one arm, and grins wider. “So who’s blessed now?”

It is time, I realise. Gingerly, I rise above and take a step – in faith and in surrender.

Finding God

Tripping Over Joy

What is the difference
between your experience of Existence
and that of a Saint?

The saint knows
that the spiritual path
is a sublime chess game with God
and that the Beloved
has just made a fantastic move
that the saint is now continually
tripping over joy
and bursting out in Laughter
and saying, “I surrender!”

Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
you have a thousand moves.

~Hafiz~