Namaste- The divine in me bows to the divine in you. I grew up saying Namaste but had no idea what it really meant. I knew it was a greeting like hello but had no clue that it meant something so wonderful.
I learnt the meaning of Namaste from a friend who was passing through HKG and staying with us a couple of days. Gary greeted me with Namaste and I greeted him back. I showed him to his room and he wished me Shubha Ratri ( Good Night)
Next morning as we were sitting for breakfast , Gary suddenly started reciting Gita shlokas and that too in Sanskrit! I did not know if I should have felt embarrassed or chuffed? Embarrassed that I knew so little about my own culture and philosophy or be proud that some one valued my heritage so much that they took the time to understand it, learn it and disseminate it.
Of course I knew the essence of Gita, I knew it was a chapter of the epic Mahabharata and was the part where Krishna teaches Arjuna the truth about Karma and Dharma. I had seen the Gita in my house since I was a child but had never really taken the time to read it or understand it. In fact not only the Gita but Ramayana, Shiv Puran , and various other sacred texts were an intrinsic part of my house hold . My mother and my Grand parents read from some book or another very day. I too was asked to read but I never bothered. I did not think it was cool to read spiritual literature. I was too busy reading Any Rand and Sidney Sheldon. I wanted to be cool, I wanted to be hip and I wanted nothing spiritual or religious.
My family was very religious. Every day was some God’s day and we were expected to show reverence to the God of the day. Monday was Lord Shiva’s day , Tuesday was Lord Hanuman, Wednesday was Lord Krishna , Thursday was the day Satya Sai Baba, Friday was Goddess Durga , Saturday was Lord Shani ( believed to be he one responsible for a lot of turmoil in life) and Sunday was Surya or Sun God. ( In my mind I wondered, when was my day ??????)
So every day there was some sort of prayer followed by Prasad distribution. I really did not like any of this. Even on a Sunday we had to wake up early and go to the temple and listen to kirtan ( songs sung in praise of God). I grew up pretty disillusioned and angry with God. Firstly because my father had died when I was just about 9 and God did not come to his rescue. Secondly, we had to go through fairly tough times after my dad passed away and thirdly, I was forced to pay my reverence to GODs that I had no idea about. I was forced to wake up early and participate in rituals that I did not understand. No one ever explained why we did what we did.
I got even more angry with God when my mother passed away. This really was unacceptable to me. My mother was only 54 and was completely besotted with Krishna – How come Krishna did not save her? Why was God so cruel and so mean?
I was angry but a part of me started fearing God. I felt that God had the power to really hurt me and take away from me what ever was dear to me. I believed that God was an angry God and that any ill thought or ill action would lead to retribution and wrath.
No wonder I wanted nothing to do with religion or religious teachings. I never even made an attempt to understand what was being prescribed. Religion just seemed so heavy and tedious. God had so many expectations! God wanted to be revered! God wanted to be sang to! God wanted to be fed! God wanted to be begged to and made to feel important!
At least that is what I believed.
I never even tried understanding God, until one day when someone I was speaking with said “ Oh! he is a very God Fearing Man”. I immediately realized what my problem with God had been. Consciously and subconsciously I had come to fear God and never really understood what God really stood for.
Maybe, it’s a growing up thing or something that we all have in our DNA, but somehow I came to understand the meaning of GOD. GOD means nothing but love, joy, peace and happiness. God is supposed to be omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient. If we think about this very carefully, God is this power of love that exists in all of us. God is not outside. He or she does not reside in temples, mosques, churches, synagogues or other places of worship, GOD is a quality that we all have within us.
There is no God or Devil on the outside that is waiting to take us to heaven or hell. We create God by our thoughts, acts and deeds. Every time we do something good and are in joy we experience God and every time we experience unpleasant emotions and contribute to unpleasantness of any kind we experience the Devil.
With this understanding, it was so much easier for me to start loving God. To love God, it meant that I had to love myself and love everyone and everything around me. This sounded much easier than it turned out to be. We all have conditions that we adhere to when it is a matter of loving. We have a set of beliefs that make us love or hate. If our conditions are met we can love but if our conditions are not met we are unable to love.
What differentiates us from the Gods is our capacity to love. This reminds me of a story I read recently.
Once Jesus Christ and his disciples were walking through a forest. On the way they came across a dead dog that had probably been dead for a few days and his decaying body had the most awful odour and was completely infested with maggots. Each of the disciples turned their head in disgust and covering their nose tried to get away as quickly as possible. When they had walked a few meters ahead, they realized that Christ was not with them. They turned back to see Christ bent over that dog and looking at him lovingly and completely oblivious to any unpleasantness. Upon the disciples request to move away, Christ reluctantly walked away exclaiming that he had never ever seen such perfect teeth.
Christ did not see anything ugly or disgusting. Even in ugliness he saw beauty! This was the quality that made him God.
How many of us can really put our hands on our heart and say that we are made in the image of God and that God lies within all of us? Are we really capable of unconditional love? Can we put our hands on our heart and say to ourselves that we have never caused anyone any pain or sorrow? Can we acknowledge even to ourselves that we have lived our life in God like ways and have understood and contributed to higher truths?
Even though now more of us are turning towards spirituality and acknowledging that God is not on the outside but something that lies within all of us, we are still unable to really see or feel that God!
So now that I know what God is I do not fear God. But I feel at a loss. How can I blame something or someone that resides right inside of me? Who can I blame for my mishaps? Who can I complain or cry to when I am in so much pain that it feels unbearable?
It is a very difficult concept to understand.
If God lies within me, why do I still pray and who do I pray to?
My comfort zone seems to have been stretched way outside my comfort limit. There was a sort of comfort in knowing that God was something that was outside of me and I could always cry, scream or pray to someone who was all powerful and had the capacity to change the outcome.
Even acknowledging to myself that I have the same power in me is extremely unnerving .
Paramhansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi writes about the various miracles that he saw his guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri performing. Sri Yukteswar had tapped into the reservoir of Godliness and had become one with God. Similarly when Paramhansa Yogananda took Maha Samadhi in 1953, his body displayed no signs of decay. There are many examples of great teachers who had managed to chip away at their access to reveal the God that lay dormant within.
Do all of really have that power and ability? Can we really reveal the God that lies within all of us? Could we really align ourselves with our true nature and drop the access baggage that we have picked up over so many life times.
Just as the acorn has the mighty oak within itself, could it be possible that we too have the mighty God within ourselves?
Maybe we could all create heaven on earth and then none of us need to wait for death to experience heaven.
Heaven and Hell both exist here. What ever we give our attention to keeps appearing in our life. So why not just focus on the Godliness and experience God right here, right now.
I don’t fear God any more. I love me.
Much love and happiness
Shveitta Sethi Sharma