Where in Heaven’s Name Is God?

‘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.

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We’re One

How strange

That love must have rituals

That elaborately and

With excessive pomp and show

Declare on a fixed date

Year after year

The design of our love.

Of course, this works beautifully

When one has to live up to the lie

Of words and sentiments

That were, in the first place,

Exaggerations of plain feelings

That would otherwise go unnoticed

And unheard

In the loud and garish spectacle

Of a theatrical world.

Love is essence, not feeling

It’s not a hope, or an ideal

Neither is it a needy prayer

It’s there in our midst

When we speak through silence

Needing nothing

To decorate our being

Or to celebrate our love

(It’s not an accomplishment)

We’re no longer together

We’re one.

It’s Not a Small Thing

To be given the chance

To learn something

Isn’t a small thing

It means that your heart and mind

Have qualified to receive

The gift of knowledge.

 

They’ve gone through

The treachery

Of phony knowledge

And paid a heavy price

For ignorance…

And survived it!

 

A humbling experience

At some point

Has earned you the merit

Of this moment

The realization that

Knowledge can only be received, not claimed.

 

That moment

When your receptive heart

Is sitting at the feet

Of a knowing preceptor

And listening intently

To words that make perfect sense…

 

That moment is not a small thing.

 

Lose It

Reality doesn’t necessarily abide in

The architecture the world has designed…

There exist men of high morality and character

Wearing the face of convicts in prison cells…

And there are murderers and rapists

In the guise of priests in places of worship…

The best teachers and students

Don’t necessarily sit face to face in elite institutions

But may be living in old, decrepit workshops, inns and shanties…

The best poet may not be found in between the hardbound covers of a book

But may be speaking his heart to an unlettered ear in a tavern…

The best art may not always be in elegant homes and galleries

But may be lying neglected in a corner occupied by a homeless man…

 

To know life then…

One must learn to do away with a contrived sense

To look outside of the shape and structure of things

And meet life bare and naked in mind

With the wisdom that understands

That knowledge gained

Must be knowledge lost.

Lateness

I know you see me live

And ask of me all that I can give

But I’ve always wondered why

We don’t see each other die

Things often taken a turn

When the last remains burn

So easily we let go

Of all unworthy sorrow

And see clearly through moist eyes

That death claims us

 

long before we actually die.

Getting Real

The Real and The False

The problem is-

Exist not as two, but are one

Not white, not black

The fog in my mind

Is a dense, ambiguous grey…

It reveals nothing

I’m left to speculate

About reasons for my pain

For my suffering… For my challenges…

The only thing I know

Is that I’m ignorant of the Truth

That I can’t see beyond this lying,

Indistinct grey haze…

 

That’s my only and most primary sense

Of the Real.

Not Me

Memory persisted

Old battles were recalled

The same arguments were replayed

The same reactions followed

I resolved to deal with this

I was eager to put this behind me

But what was this?

What is ‘me’?

I began to search for answers

And the harder I looked

The clearer it became…

Existence had no trace

Of my conflicts

Nor any interest in ‘me’.

The problem, the memory

Were mine alone.

Memories had molded my mind

Memories had left me with joys and sorrows

Memory needs more memory to be…

The mind is a mad king

A sovereign who usurps experiences

And calls them his own.

Without the mind

I just am…

Memory is not me.