Learning and Grace

Swami Satyananda Saraswati. From satsangs at Rikhiapeeth, 1994–2001

Why do people commit mistakes?

If a boy goes to school and the teacher gives him ten problems to solve, he will certainly make one or two errors. He will not be one hundred percent correct, and total accuracy is not expected of him either. Everyone commits mistakes. I also make mistakes, and even when God incarnates, He leaves behind some mistakes.

When we make a mistake, is God still the doer?

If you or I commit a mistake, it is easy to say that God is the doer. However, when someone creates problems and harasses you, then you do not say that God is the doer. Only when you commit an offence or a sin do you say that God is the doer. Usually it is easy to say that God is doing it through me; He is using me as a medium. However, when sorrows befall me and the moment of testing comes, even then I must say that God is the doer. If you can accept this, only then will I accept that you have made a mistake by God’s will. Do not have dualistic thoughts about the acts of God. There must be one general philosophy that is applicable to all. An Urdu poet has said,

If the Lord desired, I prostrated myself.
If he removed me from household duties,
I sat there abandoning all.
To whichever side He turned me, I sat there refraining.
If a rag was prepared, I sat down wearing it.
If favoured with a shawl, I was pleased with it.
Only those are perfect who rejoice in every state of life.

You should not think that it is God’s doing when it is convenient and your own doing when it is inconvenient. Then it is better to say that I am the doer, I committed the mistake. I am paying for the mistake I made. I am enjoying the wealth I collected. I am a great scholar due to the knowledge I have gained. Credit it all to yourself or to Him. When you want to be responsible, you leave it on yourself, and when you do not want to be responsible, you leave it on Him. This is not the way.

Is it wrong to ask God for things?

I will tell you what I believe. A lot of people say that you should not ask God for anything. I say, if you don’t expect anything from God, then how can you expect something from the tax collector? You don’t feel shy there. Why then do you feel shy about asking God for something? All the wealth belongs to Him. He is the Landlord. If you don’t ask Him, who will you ask? Human beings have always been demanding. If you stop asking for things, then the Lord will have no work. He will sit at His desk the whole day and scare away flies.

You should not hesitate at all in asking God for something. You should not feel any guilt. But if you ask Him for something small, then you should make a small promise to Him as well. This is a secret that I am telling you. Once I asked Him for a big thing, but I promised Him a big thing as well. So when you ask for something from the Divine Mother, for a child, wealth or anything else, do not say, “I will give you two hundred and fifty grams of sweets.” Give such a thing that even the Lord Almighty becomes happy.

Why do we experience pain?

Every one of us has a fate, a destiny. You can call it by different names, but it becomes the basis for all the pain and pleasure that we have to undergo. It is responsible for poverty or riches, hope or despair. No one strives for sorrow, misery or pain. No one makes an effort to live in poverty or sickness. Everyone strives for a happy, healthy and prosperous life, and yet one fails to get it. Why? It proves that there is something beyond human effort, which you may call prarabdha karma, the karma determining one’s present life. Is prarabdha karma or destiny dependent on purushartha, self-effort? This is both my question and answer to you. Are man’s achievements the outcome of his destiny or purushartha? Our seers say that when God’s grace is received, there is no need for purushartha.

Destiny and purushartha are both useless in the face of God’s grace. Receiving that grace, our seers say, requires complete faith in God. Let your faith in God be so deep that you submerge yourself fully in Him and in such a way that sorrow is transformed into happiness. Despair goes and hope comes. Sorrow and pain are like day and night; they come and go, continually changing their positions like a rotating wheel. This is a fact. Therefore, let there be some changes in your life to experience God’s grace, the ultimate divine grace. Each one of us must try to obtain it.

Divine grace is the ultimate answer to all our problems. To obtain divine grace is my reason for calling you here. In Rikhia I have received many things. I may not be able to tell you what I got and how I got them, but I must convey to you that this is a very good place. You can spend just four or five days here, and if you can submerge yourself in the name of God, if your mind can centre on Him, you will definitely know what I got here and how I got it.