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Religious Gathekas

(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)

Religious Gatheka Number 65

Divine Grace

There is a saying that the one who troubles much about the cause, is far removed from the cause. Many wonder: if I am happy in life, what is the cause of it? If I am sorry in life, what is the cause of it? Is it my past life from where I have brought something which brings me happiness or unhappiness or is it my action in this life which is the cause of my happiness or unhappiness? And one can give a thousand answers to it and at the same time one cannot satisfy the questioner fully. When people think much about the law, they forget about love. When they think that the world is constructed according to a certain law, then they forget the Constructor Who is called in the Bible: Love, God is Love.

In the first place, when we see from morning till evening man's selfish actions, whether good or bad actions, one sees that he is not entitled to any happiness or anything good coming to him. And that shows that it is not always that God exacts according to a certain law. He does not weigh your virtue on one side of the scale and His grace on the other, and exchange His grace for man's virtues. The Divine Being apart, man in his friendship, in his kindness, in his favor and disfavor, does he always exact what the other one is, or is doing? No. A friend admires his friend for his goodness and defends him for his wrongdoings. What is it? Does he not forget the law when there comes friendship? He forgets it. So man, instead of using justice and reason, overlooks all that is lacking and wrong. Something right comes forward to cover it all, to forget it all, to forgive it all.

A mother whose son is accused of having done something wrong, she knows he has done wrong and she knows he is against the law. At the same time there is something else in her which wishes to lift up, to clear away. She would spend anything, lose anything, sacrifice anything in order that her son may not be punished. If that is mankind, when we see that in everyday life, according to his evolution, man has a tendency to forget, to forgive, to look at things favorably, to cover all that is ugly; if this tendency is in man, from where does it come? It comes from the source which is Perfection. There is God. It is most amusing to see how people make God and His actions mechanical and how for themselves they claim free will. They say:? 'I choose to do this, 'or' I choose to do that: and 'I have the free will to choose.'' This is man's claim. And the same time he thinks that God and all His works and the Universe are a mechanism. It is all running automatically. Man denies that God has a free will and he himself claims it.

People look at it in two ways. They say: 'All that man does is recorded, and in accordance to that it is adjusted. On the Judgment, Day, either he has the reward of his good deeds or the punishment for his wrong deeds.' Others who are more philosophical and intellectual say: 'It is not God but it is the law, the automatic working which brings about a result in accordance to the cause and therefore, what man has done in his past life, he experiences in this life. And there is a third point of view, that it need not be the hereafter and that it need not be the life before, in order for man to have the experience and the result of his deeds, but that every day is his Judgment Day and that every day brings the result of his deeds. That is true also. There is no doubt that the world is constructed on a certain law, that the whole creation works according to a certain law. And yet it is not all. There is love beyond it, and it is the Prophets of all ages who have recognized that part of God's working and have given man that consolation and hope that in spite of our faults and shortcomings we will reach Heaven. There is the Grace of God.

Many know the Grace of God. And what it mean? It means a wave of favor, a rising of love, a manifestation of compassion which sees no particular reason. One may say: 'Does God close His eyes? Why must it be like this?' But in human nature we see the same thing. The Divine nature can be recognized by human nature. Ask a lover who loves someone: 'What is the beauty of that person? What is in that person that makes you love her? He may try to explain: 'It is because this person is kind, or because this person is beautiful, or because this person is good, or because this person is compassionate, or intellectual, or learned.' But that is not the real cause. If really he knows what makes him love, he will say: 'Because my beloved is beloved; that is the reason. There is no other reason.' One can give a reason for everything. One can say': I pay this person because he is good in his work: I pay for this stone because it is beautiful; but I cannot give a reason why I love; there is no reason for it.'

Love stands beyond law, beyond reason. The love of God works beyond reason, that Divine Love which is called the Grace of God, no piety, no spirituality, no devotion can attract it. No one can say: 'I will draw the Divine Grace.' God apart, can anyone say in this world: 'I shall draw the friendship of someone.' No one can say this. This is something which comes by itself. No one can command or attract it, or compel anyone to be his friend. It is natural. God's Grace is God's friendship, God's Grace is God's Love, God's Compassion. No one has the power to draw it, to attract it; no meditation, no spirituality, no good action can attract it. There is no commercial business between God and man, God stands free from rules which humanity recognizes. That aspect makes him the Lord of His own creation. As the wind blows, as the wind comes when it comes, so the Grace of God comes when it is its time to come.

There is a story among the Arabs, that when Moses was going to Mount Sinai, he saw a man praying, and this man asked Moses: 'Are you going to communicate with God?' Moses answered: 'Yes.' The man said: 'Will you ask about me? I have prayed all my life, and all my life I have been in difficulty; I feared God, I was always kind to man, and yet what have I got? Nothing. A hard life always, nothing else.' Moses said; 'Yes, I will ask about it.' When Moses had gone a few steps further, he saw a man who was fully drunken. The man called: 'Come along, come here, Moses. Will you take my message to God and asked Him what He thinks about me?'

Moses was amused and he took the messages of these two men. Naturally the answer was: Moses, you know our Law. The man who has prayed all his life, he will be rewarded, and the man who has been drunken all his time, will have his punishment.' Moses comes back and tells this man: 'Be sure and be happy. All you have done will be rewarded.' I have no doubt,' said the man, 'I am sure, I have always done good; God will not forget this.' When Moses comes to the other man, he says: 'You have well enjoyed your life; for you there is the worst place.' The man said: 'Yes? I am so happy. I do not mind where God puts me. But that God thinks of me! There is nothing better for me.' Then he began to dance, he was so happy. The result was that these two men were quite in the contrary places than where Moses had expected them to be.

And Moses asked God': 'Why is it?' The answer was that all the virtues of this man were wiped away by that thought of conceit: 'Yes, I deserved it.' Since that moment all his virtues were wiped away. The other man, he thought, all the punishment there is, I have deserved it; his only happiness was that he was remembered by the Lord. This gives a picture. There is law and yet there is something beyond law and that is Love.

I have heard people say that, I am ill, or I am suffering, or I am going through a difficulty, or things go wrong because of my Karma of the past. I say: 'If it is so or if it is not so, your thinking about it makes it still worse; everything that one acknowledges to be, it becomes worse because one acknowledges it.' That Karma which could be thrown away in one day's time, by acknowledging it, will keep with a person all his life. Some people think that they suffer or that they go through pain according to the law of Karma. But when the thought of the Grace of God comes and when one realizes the real meaning of the Grace of God, one begins to rise above it, and one begins to know that my little actions, my good deeds, all my good deeds I must collect in order to make them equal to God's mercy and compassion, His grace and His love, He gives at every moment.

God's compassion cannot be returned by all life's good actions. The relation of God and man apart, can one return a real thought of love, all a friend has done to us? We can love that friend, his loving kindness, and his compassion. But we can never pay it. In all our life we cannot pay it. And when we see the kindness and compassion of God which is always hidden from our view because we are always seeing what is lacking, the pain, the suffering, the difficulties. Man is so absorbed in them that he loses the vision of all the good that is there. We can never be grateful enough, if we saw like this, that it is not the law, but that it is the Grace of God which governs our life. And it is the trust and confidence in this Grace which does not only console a person, but which lifts him and brings him nearer and nearer to the Grace of God.