Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.
Published on www.advaitapublications.com
13th February 2009
“Force of life”
Man swoons at the very mention of the word grace; one can only imagine what his predicament would be if he came face to face with grace as he imagines it to be. He waits for grace to be bestowed on him. He believes that he lives without grace and that his life will be filled with happiness the moment grace descends, because it will grant him not only his worldly wishes, but also his journey to heaven. Man believes God’s grace is very essential and is deemed the mother of all gifts.
Man hungers for grace and lives patiently or impatiently for it to happen. Agreed, but has he understood what grace is or could be? Man surely knows what grace is, and these are his beliefs about it - not necessarily what it really could be or is. The world is illusory, as proclaimed by the enlightened, in which case would not all beliefs of man about grace be illusory? They certainly would be and so all beliefs need clear understanding for what they stand for or promise to deliver.
Why does man need grace at all? The longing for grace indicates man has lost the charm of life. The charm that a child finds in life, an innocence that a child exudes, a trust that a child lives in, is not present in man as he grows up to be an adult. Why does he lose the charm of life, his innocence and trust in life? It is because he thinks and believes he is a doer while a child does not. But man thinks a child needs to know that it is and so educates it to be a doer. Man has not understood that he lives not because he is the doer but because of grace and not the lack of it.
Every enlightened being has proclaimed that man is not the doer, yet he believes he is and requires grace to realise that he is not. This means that man knows that he is not the doer, but is not able to get away from the belief that he is. In order to do so, he believes grace is needed, and so the longing for it. Therefore, it is one belief after another that man gets in and out of. But how are beliefs maintained? Is it man who maintains them? If he does, he could very well remove them, but he cannot.
This can only mean that man does not make beliefs. He needs to understand that beliefs have happened to him and he has not made them. If grace could remove him from his beliefs, it would mean that God is aware of his beliefs. So what could determine grace happening to any man? What makes God decide to whom grace should happen and when?
Would this not mean God is partial and not compassionate? It certainly would and this is contrary to man’s belief that God is impartial and compassionate. If one of man’s beliefs were not real, would not all his beliefs be untrue? Again, they certainly would be. So, does man live his life believing that some of his beliefs are true and some not? Again, it certainly would mean just that, but can some beliefs be true and some not? Certainly not.
They certainly cannot for who would decide which beliefs are true and which are not. It would boil down to man’s acceptance and rejection, wouldn’t it? It certainly would. So, that which man accepts would be a belief that is true and that which he rejects would be a belief that is untrue. This is what man believes and he requires grace to release him from this bondage created by beliefs, which is yet another belief that man has got himself into. The merry-go-round goes round and round.
It is not man who has manifested thoughts that compose a belief; it is not man who knows how to manifest a thought, let alone compose one. If it were, he would only have made thoughts that would create a world he likes and adores, for he believes thoughts rule the world. So man believes he needs the grace of the almighty to grant him the world that he so desires.
But man has not thought this belief through carefully and intelligently, for who would maintain his wishes granted by grace? Would it not once again be up to man and his beliefs to do so? And how sure is he that his beliefs will work this time around when they did not before? Would he not again require grace to set things right in his desired world? It certainly would mean that. So does he know how many times he would require grace in his lifetime? He does not, but keeps hoping for it to happen. Would man know the moment grace happens? He certainly does not know and has no clue either as to what it is. He simply believes grace has happened the moment his life appears to be hunky-dory within his mind.
Grace is present every moment. Without grace the moment would not exist. The moment exists because of grace and grace alone. Grace is the force of life or the innate nature of life. Understanding too is grace, for understanding is the force of life that releases man into life by making him realise that the world, man and mind is illusory and not real, as he is made to believe.
Grace is believed by every religion. It is needed to maintain the illusory world and so is rightfully in its place, as is everything else in this world. It is grace that keeps and maintains everything rightfully in its place. If grace were absent, it would mean that God is absent. Wherever God is present, grace is present. God is everywhere which means that grace is present everywhere. To wait or ask for grace is admittance that God does not exist everywhere.
The hunt for grace is a billion-dollar business annually and this too is in its place and plays its role in maintaining the illusory world. The annual or ‘must’ pilgrimages to far-off lands for grace is a sure way of distributing the economy around. Travel, food and the need for comfort to those who need it, clothing, medicines and other essentials of travel to those who need them substantially help the local or international economy. It is grace that maintains this elaborate and intricate economy while man is hunting for grace. Grace is present right before his nose, so to speak, and he yet he longs for grace and waits in anticipation of it, not realising that he does not know a jot what grace is. But the hunt for grace is on nevertheless.
Holy men by the dozen are ever ready to give the elusive grace to man, who believes that holy men cure illness by their grace. If this were true or real, would the holy man not cure everyone and would this not be the meaning of being a holy man? It certainly would, but can he or does he? So much for the reality of being holy. Sickness and health are one and the same when rightly understood and both are expressed by grace alone. The need for grace to eliminate sickness or cure is more illusory than real. If sickness were eliminated, health would also be eliminated in the same stroke. The body is sick and healthy in the same moment. It is an aging process and sophistication takes place in this manner.
Man believes that blessings of holy men ward off evil and that the road to life will be paved in gold. This is the reason why marriages are blessed by holy men and in holy places. But even though every marriage is blessed by holy men in every religion, they do not turn out to be as rosy as they are expected to be. This is grace too so that man may understand the illusoriness of mind and beliefs and his lack of understanding of what a marriage really is and could not be as he thinks it is and should be.
Man believes that holy men grant enlightenment by their grace and blessings. If they were really enlightened, would they not grant each and everyone enlightenment whether they come to him or not? But do they or are they able to? No. Man believes that enlightenment happens by grace and after many years of spiritual practice. If it happens by grace, it should happen every moment and man need not wait for many years for enlightenment. Holiness is not a particular behaviour but a wholeness in understanding the world, man and mind as illusory. Life is enlightened every moment, as grace is present in every moment.
Man’s hunger for grace is an exhibition of his greed. The attraction for grace is magnetic for he feels that through grace he can have what he desires. The longing for grace is a proclamation that man is greedy. It is greed alone and nothing else that makes him long for grace. If he understood that everything belongs to life and life gifts every moment to him, including his life, would he be greedy to require grace? Certainly he would not. A longing for grace happens so that an understanding may happen that mind is basically greedy.
Man has not understood that he will receive what he needs, including his breath that keeps him alive. He has not understood that he will come to know what he needs to know, including the words that he utters spontaneously as speech. He has not understood that what is meant to happen will happen and this happening is nothing but a journey through life as birth, growth and death. This is all due to grace that man so desires.
Man has not understood that it is grace that he is on this journey in life. He has not understood that it is grace that manifests birth and death. He believes that it is through grace that all good tidings of life happen. He believes that what is bad in life does not happen by grace. This would mean that when all bad things happen grace needs to be absent. If this were true, then at those moments man and the world would not exist. If so, how could anything that is considered bad happen?
Man has not understood that bad tidings too happen through grace. It is only that they are not bad as man thinks they are, but only not rightly understood. To pray for grace so that good things may happen is an invitation for the bad to happen too, if it is grace that makes good things happen.
Animals, birds and vegetation do not hanker for grace, but they exist in life much happier than man probably is. He has yet to understand that it is grace which manifests and maintains them and their requirements. He is yet to understand that it is grace which makes man believe in beliefs and hunt for grace too. He is yet to understand that he and his requirements too are maintained as they are meant to be by grace. He has not understood that life does not flow according to his mind. He has not understood that life will flow only one way and so too for every animal, bird or vegetation - and man is no exception. This understanding is grace.
No matter how religious or god-fearing man is and no matter how much grace is believed to be received through holy places, performing rituals and offering prayers, man remains the same. This is contrary to what he expects and believes will happen due to grace, yet he embarks on pilgrimages, prayers and rituals. So long as man believes he is a doer, there will be arguments, accusations, judgments and criticism in the family between friends and every kind of relationship. All this happens only through grace for grace maintains the illusory mind, which man thinks is real. It is all an exercise in hope and reassurance, and not really an understanding that grace exists every moment and the happening of every moment, according to the mind, is illusory and not real.
Grace is love and grace is hate. Grace is right and grace is wrong. Grace is peace and war. Grace is peace and violence. Grace is harmony and discord. Grace is judgment and criticism. Grace is jealousy and compassion. Grace is knowledge and ignorance. Grace is sickness and health. Grace is joy and sadness. Grace is happiness and anger. Grace is animosity and friendship. Grace is belief and disbelief too. Grace is argument and accusations too. But will man believe this? He cannot for this does not constitute a belief in his mind. If this constitutes a belief within man’s mind, then the world will not exist as real to man. This is understanding and not a belief. Grace is every duality that is known in the mind. Grace maintains the duality of the mind so that the world may appear real to man, but he has not understood that the duality of the mind is illusory and not real.
Man believes that he has experienced grace and many stories fill the pages of spiritual books and have made best-sellers. Man is yet to understand that his experience of grace, like any other experience, is a thought in his mind. He has not understood that it is grace that makes him imagine that his ego has experienced grace. But can the ego, which is false, ever experience grace? Would not such an experience be false? Would not the experienced grace be false too? Certainly it would, for the false can only recognise the false and not the real. Yes, false it is and that is what makes any experience, including the experiences of grace, more illusory than real.
But man is more interested in the false than the real. It is simply because the ego is false and to false it will be attracted - and this is natural. This is all due to grace alone so that the illusoriness of the waking state is still maintained. Man’s experiences of grace, and every effort to attain it, are similar to the games children play, but the children know that they are playing games, while grown-ups do not. And it is grace that keeps this play switched on.
It is grace that bestows an understanding that the world, man and mind are illusory. It is grace that bestows on every man the understanding he requires precisely every moment. Everyone is in line for this understanding to happen and there is no need to fret and fume that grace has not happened. The denial is proof that grace is happening, for recognition of the absence of grace was not present previously or was less intense.
To pray for a better life is an admonishment to grace, for does man know what is a better life? He does not seem to realise that life, as it is every moment, is manifested by life and so has to be perfect. Can man know what could be better if God cannot? Life is the best that can ever be - so live it. The mind does not know and cannot know how life is or how life should be. Man has not understood that the mind is not in life and neither is man. Man is in life as an optical illusion of light and not real man.
God is not in the past or the future. If He were, then He would be dead or not born as yet. God is present in the moment and the moment is present because God is the moment. God is the moment where everything exists and this makes everything godly and divine as divine can be. Everything is an optical and auditory illusion of God or life. This understanding means that grace has happened and revealed itself as understanding. Man needs to understand that thinking is not living, but thinking is an illusory manifestation of living. This is what makes an enlightened being.
© Copyright 2009 V. S. Shankar