By Megha Bajaj June 2008 Has god changed over the centuries, or is it us? is he a dream and we the reality, or is life itself nothing but a very real dream? does he talk… do we listen? does he love… do we feel cared for and protected? does he exist?… do we believe? find some answers to your questions and many questions to your answers here Who is God?The butterfly never asks the flower where it came from, but unfurls its wings and rests upon it. The moon doesn’t question the dark sky, but gently lays its head in its comforting folds. The rains don’t seek the permission of the earth to arrive, but dance delightedly upon it with their silver feet. Everything just happens. As it should. Except in the arena of human experience. The mind, far from accepting or submitting to what is, is filled with questions – who, why, where, when, what? Growing up, I too asked – Who made the world work so well? The one responsible, I was told, is God. The very first time I met Him was while sitting on my grandmother’s knee listening keenly to stories of Hindu gods. I learnt that they created the world, sustained it, looked after man, and if someone angered them, they destroyed their own creation too. I was stunned. Amazed. Spellbound. There was an immense fear of this being who had eyes all around, judging me. I remember watching from the corner of my eye for some whip to descend from the heavens and strike me whenever I was naughty. However, with years, God changed. Doubts reared their heads and I began to wonder… if there was indeed someone so powerful why allow floods, murders, child abuse? Insecurity, jealousy and anxiety were the dominant emotions in my life at this point. I was insecure about anyone who did not share my value system. Jealous of those better than me. And anxious about every experience and person that life would bring me around its next turn. A book changed the image I held of God. Conversations with God, written by Neale Donald Walsch enticed me because the title made him appear to be God’s friend. Someone he could speak to. Someone who replied after careful listening. Lonely, desperately seeking a companion, I sought to replace God the judge with God the friend. But is conditioning ever easy to do away with? I remained confused. ‘Not knowing’, however say the gurus, is the very first step to ‘knowing’. Most seekers relate to this maddening search in the dark to understand God – will the answers come, and even if they do, will any satisfy their quest? Prashant Olalekar, a Jesuit spiritual guide, says, “As a child God was a strict and demanding father. Certain realisations changed His relationship with me!” Rama Mehra, a Mumbai-based entrepreneur, shares, “What a stressful relationship I had with God! I would cry all night when I believed I had done something wrong, shivering, trembling – anxiously awaiting His reaction. Luckily, a realisation freed me from my hell.” Realisation, indeed, is a significant word for all those who seek to know God and destroy the image of Her that society and religion create to keep human frailties in check. Haven’t you heard mothers tell their children, unthinkingly, “Drink your milk or God will punish you!” Or a school teacher say, “Remember God is watching you”. Little wonder so many of us grow up trembling with the image of a ferocious, vicious, revengeful God. Forced virtue is futile in the realm of spiritual evolution. For growth is always founded on trust, never fear. Many seekers, fortunately, break out. They are able to build a loving relationship with God. Get close to Him. Be intimate with Her. The trigger could be anything – a book, a guru, an experience. The seekingI tried to find God in books, but words didn’t satisfy me. They did, however, give me material with which to re-create my idea of God. Like a child with a scrapbook, I would sit with my eyes closed and imagine how my God would be! Writing for spiritual magazines put me in touch with seekers who would often share their ideas of God; enthralled, I would borrow all the ones that appealed to me. My God, I decided, would be loving, loving and ever more loving. He wouldn’t judge. Oh yes, and he would always be there whenever I needed him. Poets wrote so intensely about this being, that reading it, I would get goose bumps all over and wonder – if the very thought of God brings such response, what would the actual meeting be like? I ached to find out. For a long time not a single glimpse came but the period gave me the time to at least theoretically understand God. Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love! (Psalm 48:9)Love, I learnt, was the highest emotion that we humans know. Indeed, it transforms anything that it touches. The most severe of faces look tender when lost in thoughts of loved ones. Love is crucial for us, and yet we associate its opposite, fear, with both God and life. Why? Perhaps because both to some extent signify the unknown. And not knowing is scary, isn’t it? To me, yes. I wanted to go higher but without leaving the comfort of the lower. Could the caterpillar ever become the butterfly if it kept resisting change? Or the seed a plant? I recognised, for the first time, that God would be that unchanging source of security – while all else would be transient. And it should. I enjoy flowers because I know they will fade away, I value my mother because I know I have a limited time with her. Life itself is exciting because it too comes with an expiry date. If everything went on and on forever, we would probably not enjoy anything! Loving God, and believing He too loved me, helped me become more accepting to this flow of life. I relaxed. My rationale was that God, who created love, must feel so much for his beautiful creations that he would ensure I would be all right, even in a tsunami of change. This worked like a dream for a few days until once again, questions began to jab at my newfound understanding. I wondered how love is God but hate isn’t; surely if he created the good, he must have created the bad too? The answers, when they came, left me speechless with the brilliance of it all. I imagined God telling the first human he created, “I love you”. And the human looking quizzically, wondering what love was. When hatred was shown to him, he understood love. If there were no duality, we would not understand the unison. God is one, but we must experience many to then melt again into that one. Anil Bhatnagar, a motivational speaker from Delhi, says, “God, to me, is anything and everything. I cannot imagine anything that is outside God.” This is the kind of friend You are –Without making me realise, my soul’s anguished history You slip into my house at night, and while I am sleeping You silently carry off all my suffering and sordid past In Your beautiful Hands. – Hafiz Now that I was sure of God’s love, I sought to find when I could experience it. Was it when I visited a spiritual space? Or when I was around enlightened people? Arun Wakhlu, an Osho follower who runs his own training centre in Pune, discovered, “The Abundance Broadcasting Corporation is broadcasting love 24/7! It is we who miss the broadcast most of the time, because we do not ‘tune in’”. Riva Buddhiraja, a psychologist in Mumbai keeps telling her clients, “God is always available, you aren’t.” Shruti Thakur (name changed), a fashion designer, shares her experience, “I was driving to Lonavala from Mumbai when a truck in front of me screeched to a halt suddenly. I was going at a speed of 100 kmph and the distance between the truck and my car was about eight feet. In those few seconds of frenzy I remember just muttering, “God help me, I want to live”, and miraculously the car stopped just an inch behind the truck. The gratitude, the relief, the sheer magic I felt in those moments made me realise that I wanted to communicate to God not just at times of need, but all the time. He was always there. But was I?” This came as a serendipitous discovery because I believed God’s love fluctuated. Although there was a broad umbrella of His protective love over me, I thought He allowed me to come closer to Him only on days when I had been positive, and was a little distanced when I had given in to negativity. Come, come, whoever you are.Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.It doesn’t matter.Ours is not a caravan of despair.Come, even if you have broken your vowa thousand timesCome, yet again, come, come.– Rumi Words from various books mysteriously came together to show me I was wrong. God’s greatest gift is free will so how could he himself judge those who misused it? And yet, he had to create a system by which His erring children could realise their mistake. Some feedback had to be given. So the law of karma was proclaimed. It would give one a quality of life in accordance with their quality of thoughts, words and action. However, God and the law remain different. While the law would work precisely till the end of human life – giving, taking, teaching, God would remain a benevolent mother, loving and respecting Her children unconditionally. A dear friend lost both her parents to the tsunami that hit Chennai in December 2004. They left for an early morning walk and never came back. When asked if she hated God, her reply was, “It’s my own karma that has brought this to me, why blame God? And if I alienate myself from Him at this point, I will truly become an orphan.” Coming closerI became restless. Desperate for someone through whom I could find my beautiful God. Like a man lost in the burning desert, thirsty for just a few drops of water, I went to every po
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