By Gopika Nath December 2003 Thankfully God does talk to all of us who care to listen. And we can only really listen when we’ve emptied our minds and talked to our hearts’ content Do you talk to God? I mean really talk, as if you were talking to a real entity or person? Have you ever cursed God? Does anyone really ever dare? Sometimes I have not cared and given vent to all sorts of feelings, as if there really was someone listening. A learned astrologer once told me that life and its game plan for all of us is like the programmed chips in a computer, where emotions and feelings really have no role to play. Jo hona hai vo to ho kar hi rahega (what has to happen will happen). And I think this is something we come to grips with each day in some measure. Isn’t it strange then, that it is these very feelings and emotions that we embellish our lives with, where ‘‘our sincerest laughter with pain is fraught’’ and ‘‘our sweetest songs are those we tell of saddest thoughts’’? The entire repertoire of poetry, painting and other things we do would not exist if these feelings did not, yet spiritual lore tells us that man’s greatest strength lies in being detached and free from angst. Expression is a gift. Communication is so important in our lives. And the most gratifying conversation one can ever have is really only with God. God to me is neither sacred nor profane, God just is. I remember some twenty years ago, when I was a student in London, an English classmate curious about the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses asked me whether I really believed that God existed in these forms, or that the deity in the temple was really imbued with the kind of powers we seemed to imply through our rituals and prayers? It didn’t take me long to answer her then, and the answer has always remained the same. To me God just is. The form and shape is really irrelevant and is a kind of crutch when I feel insecure. I do not need to enter a temple to communicate with God. This does help but isn’t the kind of communication that can satisfy the true seeker. Just two doors from where I live there is a small Shiv Mandir. Many in the neighbourhood come out in the evening, as I do, for a walk and most pay a visit to the temple before going back. One evening I noticed a walker who did not stop or even slacken his pace, neither did he go past the gateway of the temple. He turned the corner to continue with his walk, lifted his folded palms, and walked on. I was walking in step with him and remarked in jest, questioning if that was good enough and he responded saying that all we need to do is remember God, however we do it. This really got me thinking and I wondered if I could be happy with just that kind of a brief nod from God. Could we ever feel secure with just such an acknowledgement of our existence, its pain and other travails? Thankfully God does talk to all of us who care to listen. And we can only really listen when we’ve emptied our minds, talked to our hearts’ content. How do you talk to God? Do you let all the thoughts chatter in your mind or do you talk out loud when you’re alone? Do you write a journal, talk to a friend, or do you talk to strangers to hear your own thoughts? Perhaps you do all of these and some more. The deeper my spiritual practice has become rooted in my daily life, the more I feel the need to express. I used to be so shy that I am amazed at all that I now have the capacity to say. The more subtle the mood, the more I notice things, and have realised that there is so much to witness in little aspects of living that we take for granted. If you look at a leaf from afar, it looks green and resembles what we have learned to accept and acknowledge as a leaf. If you go closer, you will see its veins and many more hues. If you go closer still with a microscope, you will see a complex structure, which belies the notion of a mere leaf, such that the average perception in this regard is. This is also true of spiritual life and its practices. You notice so much more and therefore have so much more to say. Especially to God. So much more anger, many more questions along with awe and gratitude too! If only we could have the courage to say it all rather than be selective because of our preconceived notions. As Lao-tzu has said: ‘‘Express yourself completely then keep quiet. Be like the forces of nature. When it blows, there is only wind; When it rains, there is only rain; When the clouds pass, the sun shines through.’’
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