Mother Teresa's Prayer
A friend gave us a copy of Mother Teresa's wonderful prayer that he picked up while visiting India this past winter. Here it is:
To me, this prayer says the same thing that God Realization effectively accomplishes -- God is all there is, and everything is in and of God. When one KNOWS that, through and through, then God is found everywhere, always. God is, indeed, so pervasive, that He is found in the “disguise of the Poorest of the Poor.” Consider that! Here is a leper with the most outrageous and grotesque diseased limbs, living in the streets, no doubt in filthy squalor, and yet, and YET, here is God, face to face with me! Can I see it clearly? Can I look at this and remain certain of God's thoroughness, of God being this too? There is no way around it, after all. If I choose to section off portions of life as “this is God, and that is not,” then I have created a real ontological problem. Not to mention, my understanding of God would be basically flawed!
As I age and watch life suffer, feel the torment of other's souls, sense the impotence of human solutions, see and feel the falling away of cherished concepts and beliefs, watch as loved ones come and go, fall away, and change or die, as I come to understand that God works us and lives us, and we have only to cooperate with that to find real joy, I begin to understand the immensity of God's purpose and universe, and the small part that I, as an individual, can play. By small, I mean really small. I can only cooperate and ask for mercy, and request humility and understanding, and seek to allow God's Heart to shine through my heart, and overshadow the human heart which is filled with longing, fear, and uncertainty.
It is that invoking of God's Heart, that falling away of individuality and separateness that is welcomed and feared, at the same time. There is nothing to be lost, and everything to be gained in doing this. But it seems to take such a long, long time to fully comprehend its immensity, its power, its transformative action, and to allow it to transform us, to anchor it, and finally to live it.
I just finished reading the book “By His Grace” by Dada Mukerjee (Hanuman Foundation, Sante Fe, NM), a collection of reminiscences by an intimate disciple of Neem Karoli Baba, also known as Maharajji, the guru whom Ram Dass (at the time, Richard Alpert) embraced in the 1960s, and who has since died (well, his body!).
There is a beautiful point made by Mukerjee (among many, I might add), that really knocked me over when I deliberated on the concept. In Mukerjee's consideration of how the seeker manages to find his or her guru, and the intricacies involved, the dances, the magic, the miracles, etc., he realizes at that same moment that in fact, it is not the seeker who seeks out the guru or teacher and finds him, even though it might appear that way, but instead, it is actually the teacher or guru who finds the student, indeed, seeks him out and nails him down. This really jolted me. The disciple/teacher process has always been assumed to be a difficult and prolonged process because the teacher is so inaccessible, there are so few of them, they hide from the students, they are difficult to find, and a student must search long and hard to earn an audience with the teacher. This is, of course true! Ask any serious spiritual seeker how long they have wished for an enlightened teacher, looked for one, yearned for one, arranged ones life to find one. This is true, only because, of course, we all assume, in our own self-assured way, that we are the masters of our destinies, that we pick and choose, that it is we who make the final decision about who we will believe, who we will follow, what we will become. If, indeed, this observation by Mukerjee is true, then it undermines the very foundation of all our beliefs about who is in charge here! And, indeed, when I looked back over my own life, the teachers who came into my life, the opportunities that seemed to fall into my lap, I could not ignore the literal truth of his statement. Indeed, the very miraculous manner in which events have occurred in my life attest to the truth of his statement. Somehow or another, I had been working under an illusion; one which served me well while I valued my own ability to direct my fate, and fell into pieces when it was safe or timely for me to realize it was all an illusion.
If this is so, which in my own life, it most assuredly is, then what does that say about fatalism, about freedom of choice, about all the beads on our necklace of individualism? If indeed, one enlightened teacher can so adjust reality to appear that we are making all the choices, when in fact, that individual has arranged our life to such a degree that we will, through our seeming own efforts, come to fall at his feet after seemingly striving, struggling, searching for years, then what does that say about the cosmic being that that enlightened individual is supposed to represent? It says to me, at least, that God is in charge, not only cosmically, but individually, intimately, and in detail as well.
Of course, this is not a new concept. Jesus spoke of Grace, as the movement of God through individual lives in such a way as to create, maintain, and live that individual life as Grace. In other words, God took control of one's life, in all areas, once one stepped on the path of Christ. Krishna says the same thing in the Gita when he tells Arjuna that everything has been planned, executed, and destined, and thus simply to live his life as a warrior with enthusiasm and fight with valor ... because, of course, there was nothing else he could do! This of course is comforting and lovely to read about. It is quite another thing when it actually happens, or one realizes what truly happens, because it not only affirms the truth of one's delusion about one's power, but it also cuts asunder the knot of self-sustenance, self-fulfillment, self-glorification, self importance. Of course, at the same time that one realizes this to be true, one has embraced and joined the fold of God's Self, so nothing except one's isolation is lost, and everything is gained.
But what is most delightful about this realization is the sweetness and playfulness of God and God's Grace in all of this. God gives us the cake, and lets us eat it as well! We dance the dance of power all the while believing it is ours, and it is uniquely ours, only to discover, when it is time to discover, that that power was danced through us and as us, but not by us, but by God. How sublime! A real hide-and-seek game of life! No wonder children delight in that game; they remember it from before.
I'm attending an antiques auction, and there I find among all the other stuff a book I REALLY want! Published in the 1940s, it is entitled “Secret Formulas.” It is about how to oxidize silver, blacken brass, make waxes from scratch, mix oil paints, and so on. It’s got all the great, “secret” formulas used by manufacturers.
I love books like this, because they demystify all the jargon and seemingly impossible processes to simple, basic chemistry. Perhaps it is because I majored in science in college, but I am thoroughly drawn to this kind of stuff. Anyway, this book is sitting there among an assortment of other books, so I register its shape and color in my memory so I’ll recognize it when it comes up during the bidding.
I wait three hours for that book to come up. Finally, it does! I bid on it, and get it for next to nothing. I’m delighted and very pleased with myself. I bundle the book up with all the rest of the junk I bought, and cart it off to the car and home.
The next day, I sort through the stuff, and come upon the coveted book. I am devastated. It’s the wrong book! I bid on the wrong book. The one I got is not the secret formulas book but “Markings” by Dag Hammarskjold. I am really annoyed with myself. Why wasn't I more attentive to the auctioneer, why didn't I ask her to repeat the title, why didn’t I notice that there were two books that looked similar, why wasn’t I more careful in inspecting the book I wanted, and so forth and so on.
I REALLY wanted that “secret formulas” book, and now, I'm stuck with this obscure book by some dead Swede!
Well, I put it away to decide later what to do with it, maybe give it to the library.
Now, two weeks later, I receive in the mail a newsletter from INNER DIRECTIONS which among other things lists books that reflect or reinforce their take on the spiritual process, a perspective with which I happen to agree wholeheartedly. And right there, in their limited, and very rarefied list of biographies, what should I find, but “Markings” by Dag Hammarskjold!
Now, I have to ask myself, who was it that picked up the book at the auction? Who was it that bid on the book? Who was inattentive enough to permit me to bid on the wrong book? Who made the two books, one printed in the 1940s, the other printed in 1964, look nearly identical? Who made me study science so I would be interested in the formulas book? Who agreed to sit and wait three hours just to bid on it? Who wrote that issue of the INNER DIRECTIONS newsletter? Who ordered a copy of that newsletter? Who was crafty enough to name the other book “Secret Formulas”? A nice double meaning, indeed! Come to that, who set up the auction so I could bid? Who brought that auction to my attention? You see where all this is taking us?
Synchronicity, my foot! There's nobody out there!
“Flight!” by Nancy Nadzo