Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From Fear to Love - God by God

I came into this world not wanting to - crying as if in excruciating pain. Yet it is how I first breathed 'life' into my being. From that moment I entered the realm of duality - of pain and pleasure. Suckling my mother's breast I learned to attach myself, to want, to have, to like and to dislike. I lost my divinity little by little and soon I forgot that I am divine. The human side of me was not just predominant it was as if that was all I was. Not that being human is all bad but I learned and developed traits that were conducive to living a materialistic lifestyle devoid of spiritual depth.

I could have lived a life exemplifying my divinity but my environment was not attuned to it. I come from religious parents. I was raised to believe in God - a physical God. This God resided outside me. He was meant to be feared, to be revered, to be worshiped from afar. If I sinned He would punish me like He punished so many of the poor, destitute, sick and physically and mentally challenged I saw all around me. I remember as a child seeing a deaf and dumb young girl in a park. The sounds that came from her throat made me afraid. I asked why she was unable to speak and was told that she had been punished by God in this life because she must have lied in her last. I was terrified. I went home that day and told my mother about every lie I could remember having uttered in my 6 years of life on this earth. The sensation that went through my body for days after still makes me shudder.

In India leprosy was rampant as I was growing up. The stigma attached to the disease made it impossible for sufferers to live at home, or to even seek treatment. They resorted to begging on the streets. Again my understanding then was that God had punished them for sins committed in a previous life. How is it possible to think about divinity when there is fear of punishment from the Divine in the forefront of an innocent mind? What was worse was that there was the potential that I could have sinned in my previous life and so a punishment was waiting for me. Everytime I saw or heard of suffering I cringed.

As I grew up the punishing God never let up. He punished us all the time. God became someone to fear and in that respect He was real. Bowing down to Him everyday I only prayed that He not punish me. When I did wrong knowingly or realized I had done wrong I watched to see what the punishment was going to be about. Thinking back I realize what a waste of time that was. If instead of thinking, "Be careful, God is watching," I had thought, "God is kind and is watching over me," things may have been different.

As a child I was surrounded by books that made no sense. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda seemed like Latin then. I was coming at it from an angle that was contrary to what Swamiji spoke about and so the words seemed completely foreign. I never quite understood what 'Knowing Myself' was all about. Who knew me better than me? I was this horrible mass of mistakes who deserved to be punished, what more was there to know? I was really an innocent, confused, scared little girl who never mastered the art of reading between the lines.

I come from a loving home where I was doted on and given all the comforts of life. This material world was the only world I knew and life was about having things and comforts. I saw poverty and suffering from afar and was afraid. This was God's punishment and I had to escape His wrath. I was fortunate to have a good family and be well provided for but I could lose these anytime. That is where I got this burning need to be liked - if everyone liked me God had to like me too, right? After all He was this man sitting in the altar. He had been seen by people who wrote about Him and His teachings that my parents read from regularly. So if others liked me I could convince Him that I was likable. He would definitely see that.

The other myth about my God was that I was never to ask anything of Him. That was being greedy. He would give me all I needed. Be grateful for what you have. Look at the ones who have less than you do. Consider yourself blessed and never ask for more. What a terrible myth to believe in. It created a scarcity mentality that is hard to overcome. The infinite abundance of the Universe was hidden from me for years. I deprived myself of so much simply because I was afraid to receive everything the Universe wanted to give me. The omnipresent God was absent from material things. To believe in this oxymoron was unintelligent but everything is possible with God. It was therefore sinful to want anything. My relationship with God was one of Fear, Punishment, Scarcity, and eventually Abandonment. No wonder I work so hard to be liked.

Today my relationship with God is different. My Personal God still sits in my altar - He is my habit. I have an impersonal God the one who loves me and watches over me and guides me towards liberation from fear, punishment, scarcity and abandonment. The one who shows me how wonderful this gift of life is and how much I can achieve and have by just being. Liberation or Moksha is no longer about becoming one with an unknown entity after death, it is about being free from attachments in this life. It is about recognizing the transience of this life and this world and living each moment in its fullest - free. It is about not giving in to bullying, emotional blackmailing and manipulation by anyone - free. It is about loving me, for I like every other animate object am one with the Universe - free. I can have what I want when I want and enjoy it for as long as I want to- free. What is mine is mine because I want it to be mine not because some God above wants it to be mine. What a freeing thought. I am responsible for everything I have had, have and will ever have. My body, my home, my relationships, my work everything is because I am and when I have left this body the memories of these wonderful gifts will be mine to carry forward even if I physically leave them behind. I do not need to prove my worthiness to receive - I have because I choose to have.

This is a benevolent God. One who blesses me with everything I desire. There are no taboos, no limits, no restrictions. This is the God within me who I have complete access to at all times. This God is my being and my consciousness and is connected to every other being and consciousness and is an observer of everything I think and do. Every thought and action has a consequence and it is a predictable one - but it is not unique to me. Everything that is happening around me is a consequence of every other action and thought that this infinite Universe had, has and will have. Destiny is not determined by the Big Man in the sky. We are responsible for the cumulative destiny of the Universe and the microcosmic destiny of each of us. Karmaphal is determined by each action and thought being thrown out there and therefore being attached to the fruits of our actions is futile. Unless we can all tap into the Universal Mind, the Universal Intellect we are better off leading a life serving, sharing with, helping each other with compassion and love. The only way we can ensure a beautiful tomorrow is by making today beautiful.

The air I breathe is the air everyone else breathes - the one that is not just molecules of gas but life itself. This life is common to us all and is the string that keeps us tied to each other. This Life this God this Universe this Truth this Breath this Moment are all one and the same thing. This journey to coming to this understanding is a step towards experiencing, realizing and living it. It will take a lot of unlearning and relearning before it will become a habit - the one to replace the habit of my Personal God sitting on my altar who I still bow down to with reverence. It is only through His teachings and guidance that this journey has been possible.

This is my journey from Fear of Abandonment to Unconditional Love from my Personal God to my Universal God. Thank you God for Everything.

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