The Lord Giveth
Far more than my destiny allows
From your gracious hands I receive;
Yet even my destiny
Is but a gift from you to me.
Urdu couplet, as quoted in Legacy of Love
As humans, we try to pass on to our children a better life than what we have inherited. Much of our definition of success and progress stems from this criteria. Do we have a better house today than we did ten years ago? Do we have a larger bank balance? Do we have the trappings of a more luxurious lifestyle corresponding to our social standing?
In this endeavour to make our life better, it is easy to get carried away in the rat race. The saints ask us to reassess both our perspective and our priorities. They tell us that everything in this world is impermanent – that which comes and goes is maya or illusion. They also ask us to appreciate that everything in our lives – whether good or bad – comes from the Lord.
So we need to keep a balance in life. When we lose what is precious to us – whether a loved one or a job we covet – we must remind ourselves that ultimately, it is the Lord that has decided that it should be so. While we may be quick to ask ‘why me?’ in times of adversity, we must reflect whether we asked the same question when things were going well.
One is reminded of the story of the Sultan who conquered a vast region. One of the old kings in that region whom the Sultan had defeated started to live as a recluse, spending all his time in prayer and weeping bitterly. This went on for many months until one day, the
Sultan summoned the old king. Seeing the old king’s lamentable state, the Sultan was moved and offered to return the old king’s riches. The old king responded, “O Sultan, it is not the loss of my kingdom that makes me weep. I fear the day of judgment when the Lord will say to me ‘O fool! It took an army and a crushing defeat to make you think of me. I gave you riches way beyond your needs, and in return, all I received was your thanklessness.’ “My fear, O Sultan, is that I will have no response to this judgment.”
The Lord has given us so many blessings. We must remember to be grateful children in times of prosperity as well as adversity. As Maharaj Charan Singh explains with simplicity:
O Lord, if you were to make me a ruler of the world, I would have no other work but to worship you. If you were to have driven me from door to door through the world, still I would have nothing else to do but worship you.
Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II
Of course, it is easier to thank the Lord when times are good. To accept difficulties as blessings is a much harder task. Kabir puts a different perspective in front of us by asking the Lord:
By surrendering to you that which is yours, what can I possibly lose?
As quoted in Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II
Quite simply, the harsh corollary of leaving behind a better world for our children is that we came into this world with nothing and we shall leave with nothing. Everything belongs to the Lord. Rather than thinking the Lord has taken something away, we should change our attitude to one of surrendering back what he has given us.
To a disciple who was going through a difficult time, the Great Master offered these encouraging words:
Do not feel perturbed; after all, adversities do come to human beings. We should face them with patience and steadfastness. All days are not the same. When good days do not last, why expect bad days to persist? Much of our bad times have passed away. Only a little is left; bear it with fortitude. Satguru is within you and is every moment looking after you. Have faith in his grace and compassion, and do not feel dejected. Do not let patience desert you. Contemplate on the Satguru’s form and continue to attend to your meditation regularly.
As quoted in In the Footsteps of the Master
Maharaj Sawan Singh beautifully explains that we must not feel dejected. Rather, we should be thankful, as the ultimate Giver has blessed us with the most beautiful gift of all – the gift of initiation. It is through this gift that we can pass through life and hang on to our sheet-anchor, our Master.
giver of all needs, and their satisfier too,
pray see to it that I need none but You,
and knock on no door but Yours.
Shaikh Abil-Kheir, Nobody, Son of Nobody, As translated by Vraje Abramian