“He Thinks: ‘I am God!’”
The following post is based on a story I had heard from Swami Adiswarananda, the Spiritual Leader of the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center in New York from 1973 to 2007.
In most cultures, when a young girl finds a boy to marry, she introduces the boy to her parents and waits for their comments and/or consents. If the consents come immediately at the first meeting, then the girl is very happy. Sometimes, the consent of her parents comes after some time, during which the parents happily or unhappily have to change their traditional mindset about their son-in-law to make their daughter happy. Many times, parents do not agree to their daughter marrying the boy she likes and the daughter has to leave her parents’ house and marry the boy. In some such cases, the conflict brings tragic consequences.
A young girl, Riya, fell in love with a boy named Chirag in college. During their four years of undergraduate study, they grew closer. Both of them graduated from college. Riya graduated with a 4.0 GPA and Chirag barely made it to the required 2.5 GPA. Riya immediately got a job while Chirag had difficulty finding a job. A year passed. Riya and Chirag continued to meet each other often and were thinking to get married in proper time. After the completion of the second year of her job, Riya decided to introduce her boyfriend, Chirag, to her parents as she was sincerely thinking of marrying him. Riya told Chirag, “My parents are spiritually inclined. Be careful when you talk to them”.
One day, finding that her parents were in a good mood, Riya explained that she had to tell them something. Her parents immediately understood and asked, “Who is he?” Then, Riya told her parents how she met Chirag in college, how they became close to each other, and that she thinks that it is the proper time for them to meet him. Her parents were happy to meet Chirag. A day was set for Chirag to come to their house.
The day of the meeting came. Since morning, Riya was nervous, thinking of various possibilities that could happen during the meeting and how each possibility would affect her future life. She focused her mind on doing chores to kill time. The meeting time came. Riya and her parents were ready half an hour before the time Chirag was to arrive. He was 10 minutes late. For Riya, one minute was like an hour. Chirag was nervous. Riya introduced Chirag to her parents and vice a versa. After initial greetings, Riya offered some snacks and soft drinks to all. After some time, Riya’s mother suggested that her husband talk to Chirag personally in another room.
Riya’s father and Chirag went to a room. Chirag was even more nervous, but the father made him feel comfortable. After half an hour of talking, they both came out. Chirag had to go somewhere, and Riya decided to go with him.
After Riya and Chirag left, Riya’s mother said that Chirag looked handsome and it seemed that Riya and Chirag liked each other. Then, she asked her husband how the meeting was and what he thought of Chirag. Riya’s father smiled and said, “Chirag thinks that ‘I am God.’” Her mother asked, “Why does he think that way?” Riya’s father said that she should listen to Chirag’s answers to his questions:
Q: “Do you have a job?”
Chirag, “No, but, by God’s will, I will find a job.”
Q: “Do you have a place to live?”
Chirag, “No, not at present. I am living with my friend, but, by God’s will, I will find a place to live.”
Q: “Do you have a car?”
Chirag, “No, but I am sure God will provide me a car.”
Q: “Do you have a bank account?”
Chirag, “No, but when, by God’s will, I will get some money, I will open an account.”
Q: “What are your future plans?”
Chirag, “I don’t have any future plans, but whatever God suggest to me, I will do it.”
Riya’s father told his wife, “Do you see? He thinks that I am God and will provide all these things to him!” 🙂 🙂 🙂
Note: Poor Chirag tried to please Riya’s spiritually-inclined parents by bringing God into every sentence. Let Riya’s parents decide whatever they want to do in this situation. The readers too can make their own decision as to what they would do in a similar situation. I am not interested in judging anyone or suggesting to anyone what they should do. I am only interested to reflect upon the following important topics which came to my mind from the story:
In almost all religions, it is mentioned that one has to surrender to God. Even Buddha, who was considered a non-believer, taught his disciples, “Buddham Sharanam Gachhami…” This means, “Surrender to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.”
Thus, self-surrender is considered a most important and necessary step for spiritual progress. Many people shirk at the idea of self-surrender on the spiritual path, yet there is no hesitation to surrender to plumbers, electricians, mechanics, doctors, or even to the pilots of aircrafts. Of course, in all fields, people have been cheated when they surrendered. But, there is no other way. If we doubt everything, we cannot live in the world. We need to have faith. We must check the qualifications of people, make educated choices, and have trust in the people who take care of the things related to our lives and sometimes of our lives themselves. After making the choice, we can keep our eyes open during the process and make the necessary adjustments.
We follow this process easily for worldly matters. However, in religion, people tend to blindly surrender without ever questioning anything. Thus, ills come out from such so-called religious teachers. I think people separate religion and spirituality based on whether people question keeping their minds open or not. In religion, people blindly follow their religious leaders and never question a single thing. Meanwhile, in spirituality, people follow the fundamental and important parts of religion and are not afraid of asking questions about anything they do not understand or agree with. They question because they want to understand exactly what teachers or the scriptures say so that they can make spiritual progress. Also, they do not want to do something harmful or inappropriate in the name of religion.
Self-surrender and self-efforts:
Still, on the spiritual path, misunderstandings happen. In the name of self-surrender, people surrender their efforts, but not the little self. Many times, after starting spiritual practices, people become lazy and less productive in their daily lives. Actually, spiritual practices should give us more strength to perform our responsibilities and make our lives more productive and meaningful.
To me, self-surrender to God means: (1) surrendering our ego to God (becoming humble and developing gratitude), (2) making God our goal (trying to practice all the virtues of God), and (3) performing all responsibilities as an offering to God (with full hearts and focused minds to acquire knowledge and devotion). Self-surrender helps us make self-efforts.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna said that the success of every action depends on five factors: (1) a field of actions, (2) tools to perform the actions, (3) knowledge to perform, (4) actual performance, and (5) divine grace. We have control of the first four parts of every action, but we cannot guarantee their success. A natural calamity, a health problem, or a problem from society may affect the results of our actions. That is why we seek the grace of God – to take care of the fifth factor. But, we must take care of the first four factors in order to seek the divine grace. Without fulfilling the four factors, seeking divine grace is meaningless.
Also, if we do not make self-efforts, then we cannot recognize the divine grace and its importance. Saints and sages say that the grace of God is always there. If we make efforts to fulfill the above-mentioned first four factors in any field (including spirituality), then we will see the divine grace and will understand the importance of the grace. God’s grace may come in the form of failure which may be for our own good in the long run.
(Thanks to Pallavi Tatapudy for editing this post and Viraj Khetani for providing the illustration.)