You think God knows you? He does not even know the world.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That
There are people who believe that God is literally running their personal affairs and that they can decide how to live every second of their lives by asking Him for guidance. Entire books have been written on this topic promising people that with some practice and patience, they will be able to hear from God and always make The Right Decision, one that does not conflict with God’s will. Invariably these books end up going in circles and preaching a combination of learning to use intuition, good judgement and an attitude of using every mistake as a learning opportunity. There is absolutely no reason to bring God into such a way of living. In fact, most people do exactly this every day without ever invoking God.
God does not care about the details of your life, whether you buy a car, or get a job, whether you should get married or not, whether you should have kids or not, whether you save for retirement, whether you go on vacation, whether you like your friends. He just doesn’t care and you may have noticed this. If you haven’t admitted this simple fact to yourself, perhaps it is because you know where it leads. It leads to a place where you really have to depend on your own inner guidance and nothing else and you are scared to go there. In order to do that, you will need to give up your ideas of personal importance and really surrender to the universe and maybe you think you will lose everything in the process.
Any beliefs you hold that essentially serve to make God a crutch for you to stand on so that you don’t have to stand on your own two feet are stupid beliefs that sooner or later will be taken from you and you will be left to fend for yourself against the fierce winds and rains of life. God has given you all the tools you need to actually find Him, actually find the Truth and by finding the Truth, give all of yourself willingly to life. But you have to use them. You have to receive His grace that is ever present and given equally to all. All you have to do is receive it, trust it and willingly follow it.
None of that changes your need to work towards the alleviation of your own suffering, towards making life better for you and others. When you need food, you grow it or buy it, cook it and eat it. You don’t expect God to put spoonfuls of food in your mouth, do you? Then what makes you think God is going to decide what you should do every second of your life? And if you did, in fact, receive such guidance, why would you need to be so intelligent as to be able to make decisions? It’s a very twisted and perverted take on life, all done to somehow support some interpretation of scripture. And it all directly contradicts everyone’s life experience.
A big part of the struggle people have with religion is that it seems to contradict their life experience. If you can’t apply the teachings in your life, you are doing it wrong. Any reliance on magical explanations just shows that you haven’t understood it and you should keep searching instead of coming to a stupid conclusion.
When most people talk about waiting for God to act, they are really saying “I am waiting for God to put me in such a state of suffering that I will be forced to do something about it”. However, while waiting, they continue to eat, sleep, go to the toilet and do whatever else is necessary. Somehow, God is unable to help people with all those things. I myself spent some time doing this in order to test my theories and it is nothing but stupidity. Many people have put themselves through so much suffering that they are now willing to devise elaborate theories to make pain and suffering superbly meaningful. Their entire life is defined through pain and suffering so they have to find joy and meaning in it. Otherwise, they will have to come to the uncomfortable conclusion that all their effort was pointless self-torture.
Your pain, pleasure, joy, suffering, indeed your entire life experience is 100% meaningless unless you use it as an opportunity for personal transformation.
The world itself is a supreme gift, maintained by loving sacrifice. But the right receivers, wise and humble, are so few.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That
When we sit still, we should know, that in every moment, the stars shine, the planets move, the wind blows, the heart beats, the universe dances to the rhythm of God’s own drum, generating and sustaining life eternally. But most of us ignore all this and have stupid ideas of things that are wrong, things that are missing and things we think we want, because we are stuck in the realm of perception. Our life experience is unbelievably rich, intense, joyful and effortless but many of us are confused between what we experience and what we perceive and most of us have taken the latter to be the whole of it.
The shadows of this world are perceived by mortals, and they think they know Truth, but the Reality which casts the shadows is hidden from them, and they do not perceive the Light. I tell you the truth when I say that only when you perceive shadows as shadows, and search the Light, will you perceive the Reality which is God.
– Jesus Christ, Gospel of Thomas (Gnostic Scripture)
All you have to do is enjoy life, really enjoy every moment and stop worrying about all the stupid things you think you want, things you don’t have, things that happened and things you think will happen. Then, with all the energy no longer consumed by worrying about the past and future, you could use every moment of your life as an opportunity for personal transformation, to find God and come closer to Him, if that’s what you want. But instead of enjoying the world, most of us want to change it, control it, bend it to suit our personal preferences. And then we wonder why we are unhappy and why the world is as it is.
Don’t blame God for your suffering, however bad it seems. Pain is not entirely avoidable and can have innumerable causes, but all suffering is the cause of selfishness and stupidity, your own and of those around you. Don’t cook up concepts to support your mistaken understanding, just because you read it in a book you never cared to really understand. If you want the Truth, you must really struggle to apply what you learned in your life and see if it works. That’s what Jesus meant by “forsake everything and follow me”. Do you really want it? Or do you just want to be comfortable? There is nothing wrong with being comfortable, even using the Church and God as a form of nice entertainment, as a form of social currency to make friends and influence people and feel like you are secure. Unfortunately, it’s utter nonsense, shows lack of integrity, and it will catch up with you. When it does, you will find yourself in hell on earth.
Many people who are out to find the Truth actually just want to be gurus, start ashrams and create a nice comfortable situation for themselves. There is nothing wrong with wanting to teach and help others be free, but in reality, there is nothing to teach! The world doesn’t need more gurus. Enough gurus have come and gone. The world needs more fearless disciples, people that are willing to give their life for the betterment of humanity instead of scurrying about trying to fulfill their pointless ambitions.
If you don’t care about the rest of humanity, great! At least your mind is honest. But your soul does care and your selfishness will soon throw you into a pit of despair from which you will emerge full of love. There is no other way. So better start caring. If you don’t believe me, you are welcome to wait and see how it works out.
If not, what is a fearless disciple to do?
If you want a happy, healthy body, actually love it (instead of simply worshipping what it looks like, worrying about it or complaining about how it is). Treat it with care, feed it good things, give it rest, exercise it, don’t overwork it, don’t abuse it with actions and substances that give you pleasure but end up destroying it slowly. Do the same with your attitude, your thoughts, your relationships, your work, your world, your life. Actually try and love whatever comes to you instead of attempting to use it for your own damn agenda. Give your life to this struggle to include everything, to love everything. If you like to find joy through work (karma yoga), then work with total involvement. If you like to use your intellect and reason about God (jnana yoga), then do that every moment, with everything. If you like to be devoted to God (bhakti yoga), then surrender to God’s will totally and take your personal ambitions completely out of the picture. If you believe in working with life energies and bringing them into balance, take up meditation or the various kriyas (kriya yoga) and do it with unfailing commitment. That’s what will open you up to receive His grace.