‘I looked for God and found only myself. I looked for myself and found only God.’- Sufi Proverb
That there are forces or a force encompassing our lives is a common feeling, but what its attributes are or what the extent of its powers are vis-à-vis our individual lives, is a matter of opinion. While most of us believe that we have adequate reason or sufficiently strong intuition to believe in the existence of a power called God, we also admit that our understanding of such a power is limited by our own capacity to understand. Our concept of God, His powers and His plans- we muse- is colored by our upbringing; and very often, because of a dormant, unquestioned acceptance, which we mistakenly think to be our faith. It’s no surprise then that our faith is so easily shaken, so easily abandoned for baser reactions that seem to get the job done.
Why is it that something our religions proclaim as the most powerful attribute of humanity-faith-is so easily shaken and frustrated by simple, secular problems in our day-to –day lives? Why is it that we find ourselves doing irrationally disproportionate feats in a bid to appease the Gods, for simple day-to-day challenges and for the fulfillment of small hopes and desires? Why do we claim to have unshakable faith in a God we don’t see, but not enough faith in our own efforts or friends, family, co-workers and other fellow human beings? Why do we seek extra- terrestrial intervention for simple terrestrial problems? Why is it that we lack the perspective to see the simple as the simple and not the fearful, complex monster we make it out to be?
Rabindranath Tagore’s famous elucidation of faith is: ‘Faith is like the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.’ Why is it that what we refer to as our faith doesn’t transport us beyond the immediate? If faith is the link that connects a man with his furthest, subtlest intuition- God; that God being a presence we sense, or the many auguries of a higher destiny that seems to await us, or a Silence that seems all- knowing; does one really need to look for the repository of such a faith outside of themselves?
An old Sufi fable tells us of an old woman who lived alone in her hut in a village. The woman seldom ventured out and would occupy herself with her hobby of sewing. One evening, curious neighbours found her outside her hut desperately looking for something. Wondering what the problem was, the neighbours went up to her offering to help look for whatever she was searching. She said, “ I’m looking for my needle. I seemed to have dropped it somewhere and can’t sew without it.” “Where did you drop it or where were you last working,” they asked. “Inside,” she replied. Perplexed and suspecting her to be a little senile they asked: “Then why are you looking for it outside?” The old lady looked at them with sparkling eyes that reflected a profoundness found in simple wisdom, and asked: “Why is it that when you’ve lost God within you, do you look for Him outside?”
Before we unthinkingly proclaim ourselves to be either theists or atheists, seekers of a Higher Truth or Pragmatists who believe that there’s nothing to be found and life is nothing more than an exercise in survival, let’s set out to examine our beliefs not only empirically, but also through the observation of our own minds. After all, there is no objective reality without a subjective presence; no outside without an inside. Whatever we have seen, heard, remembered, felt or intuited hasn’t been without the presence of our minds. Unaware of the inside we tend to look for proof and answers only on the outside. We’ve lost the needle within, but look for it outside.
Also, our idea of God and our faith in him arise together. There’s no one without the other. That’s probably because everything the mind observes, it observes in duality- that is, it experiencing that. When we perceive, we always perceive something; when we experience we always experience something. When we sense the working of a faith within us, we’ll also find its God. It is our faith that creates its own God.
Unacquainted with our own spirituality, blind to the power of our faith and unaware of the subtle layers of our existence, we live our lives with a perpetual sense of depreciation. Having severed ourselves from our own metaphysical existence, we live like spiritual pygmies- forever feeling small, miniscule and insignificant. And so, by default, we are enamoured by the grandiosity of Religion and its rituals. We believe that its prescribed prayers hold the key to eternal happiness. But what in essence is prayer, if not the silent expansion of our consciousness. Our thoughts are prayers. Whatever we repeatedly think, in turn becomes a recurring reality for us. Your prayers therefore, will only provide you what your thoughts allow in.
Such is the power of Thought. Such is the power of Prayer. Such is the working of Faith. Such is the working of God.