Monday, 2 December 2013

Accepting God's Presents and Presence

My sour-sweet story continues

Swami was slated to take off for Delhi on the 9th of April.  The one week before that turned to be a sour-sweet one for me. 

(Dear reader, in case you are reading directly from here, I would request you to take a few minutes off, read the first part and then come back here to enjoy the story completely. The first part is located at the link below
Living in the Present: Sure way to avoid sorrow )

Well, am sure that Swami had planned things to be sweet for me because that is His Will always. But my petty mind in its preoccupation with the past and future soured those very same sweet things. Let me elucidate it with one more diary entry, the 4th of April this time.

I finally managed to be with my dear Swami on board the aircraft bound to Delhi. But the lessons
I imbibed from the 'wait' are invaluable.
Swami came after 5:15 for darshan. He read through a lot of letters as He sat for the bhajans on stage. He went into the interview room for about 20 minutes. He came out and a few bhajans later, received Aarthi. A large-sized, colour-clothed and moustached man came for the "elder-rose" chance. (For those that might not know: Swami had blessed all the permanent volunteers doing service in the Ashram for more than 5 years with the chance to offer a rose to Him during Aarthi everyday. Based on seniority, these turns were being taken.) I took a picture as Swami blessed him. Swami then asked for prasadam. When the vibhuti basket was given to Him, Swami said that He wanted the edible prasadam. Soon, even as Samastha Lokaha chant went on, trays filled with little ‘Munch’ chocolates were brought. Swami blessed the trays. He also took one chocolate and kept in His hand. As the prasadam distributors were dispatched, He looked at me and threw the chocolate to me. I went ahead and picked up the chocolate. Then, through the railings, I put my hand and took padanamaskar. I felt so happy and He was watching me lovingly all the while I was taking the namaskar.

Now that was such a thrilling evening. I had so much joy flooding the heart. I almost floated to the studio - my feet seemed to be in the air. I sat in the comfort of my chamber, put on the air-conditioner and decided to ‘munch’ on the sweet gift that the Lord had gifted me with so much love. Anybody in my place would have continued to be in a blissful heaven but not me!

Even as I unwrapped the chocolate, thoughts of all such ‘chances’ that I would be missing by not being on the Delhi-Simla trip flooded me. And so, instead of being cheerful, I now became wistful. The ‘chance’ that Swami had bestowed on me a few minutes before only seemed to enhance my sadness because I was feeling that I would be missing all that in the near future.

Planning for joy

I had already decided that I would not be ‘asking’ Swami directly to take me. The letter regarding my inclusion had not been accepted. I did not know what else I could do. Interestingly, almost every day, Swami gave me a little chance - a smile, a word, a touch - but I did not even record those in my personal diary because I was too busy rueing the loss of a trip with Him! I was in desperate need to cheer myself. And so, I began to plan a trip.

The Maha Kumbh Mela was to happen at Haridwar in the month of April. Touted as the largest pilgrimage on earth, this Kumbh Mela would be a gathering of about 100 million people and I felt that it would be an apt substitute for traveling with Swami. Added to this was the fact that Haridwar is quite close to Delhi. I inwardly told Swami,
“Swami, you are not taking me with you. But I too shall be enjoying a spiritual vacation. I may not spend time with your physical frame but I shall be part of the historical Kumbh Mela which none of the Delhi-Simla trip candidates can be!”
That brought a smile on my face and I busied myself in the bookings and travel arrangements. My parents in Mumbai also booked their tickets to Delhi from where we would all be proceeding to Haridwar.

All these plans came to nought in the next darshan session itself when Swami made enquiries about the trip from several people. I received my smile and padanamaskar, but this time, I did not even enjoy the momentary happiness! Without my knowledge, my obsession with the future was eroding and killing away the joy that was available in abundance in the present.

Days passed thus till it was the 7th of April. All the ‘selected ones’ had been called for a final briefing by Giri sir. My two colleagues from the studio too went to attend that meeting after lunch. I locked myself in my room in the studio. Though I had made many plans to ‘enjoy’ the next 10 days, I was feeling miserable and lonely. All my ‘planning’ for joy seemed to be in vain.

A revelation

It was a few minutes past 2pm when my cellphone began to ring. It was from my colleague, CG, who had made it for the trip. I was in no mood to pick his call.
“He may be calling me to seek some help because he has very little time left to get ready for the trip...”, I said to myself in a mocking tone.

When the phone kept ringing, I could not help but pick it up.
“Aravind!! Can you come out of the studio?” It was CG’s excited voice.
“For what?”
“Just come out for a minute man...”
“Errr... I am sort of busy...”
“Nothing doing! Just come out. This is urgent.”

I wiped the melancholic look off my face, unlocked my room door and walked out of the studio. CG and Sai Krishna (aka Bond) came running to me with gleeful grins pasted across their faces. The words I heard stunned me into silence.
“Me? But how... I mean... that’s great... but...”, I continued to stammer in disbelief.
“You won’t believe it. After the meeting concluded, Giri sir said that all this while, he had forgotten to call one student - Anand. We were all wondering who this Anand was when he clarified that it was ‘photographer’ Anand.”

I had been part of a Radio satsangh series in which my name was Anand. Ever since then, Giri sir had always called me Anand.
“We confirmed whether it was you and Giri sir told us to inform you that you should be ready and set for the trip!”, completed CG excitedly.
Cloud nine

In an instant, all my sorrow vanished. I was back to my best spirits. This had been a startling turn of events for me and I just could not believe what had happened. Now my mind was a whirlpool of all the things that had to be done. I started off with canceling the Kumbh Mela plan. I told my parents to keep their tickets, land at Delhi and stay on there for daily darshan. Then, I went to my room to pick the white clothes needed for the trip. I was so happy that, even now, as I type this, I feel a surge of joy welling up within me. You can only imagine how powerful that joy was.

Was it a coincidence that I was once again living in the present and I was in joyful times again?

That evening, as Swami arrived for darshan, my heart was pouring out gratitude. When ‘good’ things happen, we are thankful to God. We are convinced that He is planning everything for the best. If only we could retain the same faith when something ‘bad’ happens too! But when it comes to ‘bad’ things, we immediately start questioning God’s wisdom and pray for ‘succour’. When God is the most powerful and most loving along with being the most wise, is it not logical that even the ‘bad’ things that He does for us are also actually good?

When Swami was passing by me, I gently touched His lotus feet, like I used to do daily. However, today, there were extra feelings of love and gratitude in my heart. My eyes were closed as I poured heartfelt thanks to Him for ‘including’ me in the trip. I felt a hand gently fall on my shoulder. Thrilled at this benediction from Swami, a tear almost formed in my eye. I opened my eyes to look at the possibly love-exuding face of my Lord who had tapped me on my shoulder.

To my consternation, I saw that it was not Swami’s hand - it was Giri sir’s! He was walking behind Swami’s wheel-seat. Swami had proceeded ahead and he had tapped my shoulder. Quickly wiping my tear, I looked at him questioningly. He asked me,
“You have been informed right? You are on-board the trip. You know it?”
I smiled nodded in assurance to him. He knew that it had slipped his mind to inform me and, so, he was making doubly sure that the ‘mistake’ was not repeated.

I was happy at this added confirmation that in another day’s time, I too would be in the clouds with my Swami, flying towards the Indian capital city.

Two significant lessons

Looking back at this episode which marked the beginning of an unforgettable trip, two lessons stand out. The first one obviously is about living in the present. Many times later in life too, I have seen how dwelling on either the past or future is the root cause of all sorrows, frustrations and depression. Living in the present, in the NOW, is very powerful and redeeming. This too has been concretised in me via examples like my colleague, Raghuram Bhat, who is happy and smiling in spite of having everything to complain about in life!

The second lesson hit me as I walked back to my studio room after darshan on the 7th April 2010. Llooking at it from Swami’s perspective, there was no need to console me or accept my letter because I was ‘selected’ for the trip. Swami must have ‘wondered’ why I was writing such letters when I was already ‘on’ for the trip. Of course He knows everything, but from a practical angle He must’ve pondered,
“Why is this boy so sad and upset? I don’t understand... I have already granted all he needs.”

God always gives us all we need - without fail or delay, even before we ask for it. But then, we confuse our wants with needs and feel sad. That is precisely why Swami, in His 9-point code of conduct, included the practice of ‘Ceiling on Desires’. That will probably be the subject of another article! :)

After granting the vision of the Cosmic Form on the battlefield of Kurukshetra amidst the narration of the Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna told Arjuna,
“Make no mistake Arjuna, thinking that you are killing the Kauravas. I have already killed them (in time). Now, you just have to be my instrument and do your duty sincerely.”

God does everything and remains as though He does nothing while we do nothing and assume that we do everything. Whatever happens in life, it should be my sadhana to accept it with the wisdom that all that needs to be done has been done by the Lord. My efforts should be to get this acceptance and, via that, live in the present always, maintaining my equanimity.

But, is it really true that God is the ‘doer’ of everything? Well, I do not wish to get into a debate because while one line of thought says God is the Doer of everything, another line of thought says that God is the Eternal Witness. As long as we stick to any one line of thought and not conveniently (actually inconveniently) shift between the two as per our life situations, we are fine. From that perspective, God indeed is the doer of everything. All is well for all is in His hands. Let us live in the present, have equanimity and enjoy peace.

Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu - May all the beings in all world be happy.

If you liked reading this, you might also like:

1. How Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba helped make my career choice

2. When selflessness disguises itself as selfishness

3. The Bourne Identity - "Who am I"

4. Sachin Tendulkar and Sathya Sai - the story of the little master and his 'little' Master

For all readers:
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  1. Nice experience and perfect inference Aravind, Sai Ram, Ananth

    1. Thank you. I always keep pondering on the experiences to think of the message He wishes to convey... :)

  2. lot of times we r constantly asking that we forget to see he is standing by waiting for us to stop so that he can give us everything we need.

  3. Yes its easy for our human minds to forget all that has happened prior to the current situation focus on just what we fear is not happening ffor us - its has felt so tough no words can describe how stretched and crawling through time towrd something I can't imagine feels its tough to keep reiterating it is all good for me anyhow being totally alone for a major Family Holiday week, in the middle of a move with mullions flying here and there to be with family , not talking for days, staying in does to my ,mind- mea culpa I don't derserve it ,aging like this has to be my fault--where is the lesson? or. this to shall pass , nothing matters at all mantra - is not exactly a panacea and while its no longer my turn to manage it all, and seeing others who are happy in so much tougher conditions, if we were saint like would we be here doing this? Lots of food for contemplation here ...Sai Ram granny.

    1. Sairam Granny,

      I am praying for you. I know that you have been through a lot - so much that I cannot imagine. I really hope and pray that joy returns in your life which has served so many beings.

  4. Very profound lessons brother. Just at the right time for me!

    Thank you! Sairam!

  5. Very sweet way you narrate the incidents Arvind......whenever i read your blogs just makes me forget everything and start visualising the happenings and ofcourse where ever swamy is there the incident becomes more interesting and joyful. SAIRAM

    1. I am very glad reading your comment. Swami had instructed me to share the experience and the joy of the experience... I knew that I was sharing the experience but it is after reading comments like yours that I feel that the joy is also being shared. Eternally grateful to Swami.

  6. Your narration always makes me forget everything and start visualising the happening around
    of-course because the incident becomes more joyful wherever our SWAMY is there . Sairam

  7. A direct lesson and reminder to all of us through you. You are Swamy's PEN Each word is very significant and should be analyzed and thought about.

    1. I don't know about being a 'Pen' but since I am typing, I must say that I would love to become His 'laptop' - forever resting on His lap! :)

      Thank you for your kind and loving words... May our love for Him grow stronger every moment.

  8. Sai Ram Aravind,

    Swami gave you the nicest job ever. You live to share the Love you have received and the moments you have experienced with the most amazing Being there is.
    What a lucky guy you are!!!Thank you kindly from all of us.

  9. Another way of looking at this scenerio, as I see it: Its so sweet that your love for Swami and to be with Him overpowers everything else, just like Meera Bai, who wanted to be with her Beloved Krishna. I agree you have been fortunate to be with physical form unlike her. This version looks more positive to me. When someone is in love with a lover, they want to be with this person every moment of their life. Past, present and future all become one and the same and for you, your beloved being Swami, you feel this tremendous Divine Love that is Devotion that makes you want to be with Him at all times. Sai Bless!

    1. I don't know whether I fit that bill but this much is true that I definitely want to spend every moment of my life with Swami - who does not want that? :)

      Thank you for your generous and loving words.

  10. Great Brother Arvind,

    I am at loss of adjectives to describe your article, truly you are HIS LAPTOP.
    HE is communicating through you and also WITNESS to others Joy they derive when they read your writings. You are truly BLESSED SOUL Brother. Your articles have so much PRESENT in them that we always feel HIS PRESENCE.

    Great LESSON , Thank You Sairam

  11. Sai Ram Aravind, a strange thought has just struck me. I am in the future in relation to your wonderful experiences and all the comments made. When reading the article I feel that I am there next to you observing. Although I wasn't crying I actually wiped a tear from my right eye. Here is a conundrum. What is past, present and future?


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