As we continue on our spiritual journey, we often hear of the importance of Master’s grace. Many of us credit his grace when things go well in our lives, with our health, our success in business, or even our meditation. But when we feel the heavy weight of worldly problems, or when the spiritual journey becomes difficult, we begin to feel that we have lost his grace, or that it is absent. At times, we even personally ask the Master for his grace because we believe that it can remove all our worldly and spiritual problems. The word ‘grace’ has become so much a part of our daily vocabulary that it seems to have lost its true meaning and magnificence. So what exactly is the grace of the Lord? Is it something that we can ask for with words?
To the mystics, grace is the mercy of the Lord, a gift that he gives to each and every soul in equal measure. It is an expression of the Lord’s love for his creation, and his compassion for us who are imprisoned in the wheel of eighty-four. Often these blessings come to us unnoticed, as silent whispers from the Lord. Such is his compassion that at times we feel his mercy most when we are truly undeserving.
The Masters point out that grace is the power which brings us closer to the Lord. It is the strength given to the helpless who are suffering in this creation, but who nonetheless keep their attention focused on the Beloved. Amidst our suffering, it is the Lord’s grace that makes us remember him. For example, a person suffering physically from a terminal illness may be mentally at peace, in constant communion with the Lord; and the Lord alone relieves his pain – that is grace.
Blessed is the leper who repeats the Name,
though his body wastes away;
Of what worth a golden body to the one
who is oblivious of the Name.
Kabir, as quoted in Divine Light
The saints put it simply: anything that reminds us of the Lord and of our true home is grace. His grace does not confer on us something that might make us forget him; in fact, it diverts our heart and mind towards him and fills us with his love. It inspires and nurtures our devotion and enables us to undertake our spiritual journey.
The saints continually remind us that grace is everywhere and it flows in abundance. We need to recognize that life’s gifts are due to his grace. They point out that it is only through the Lord’s grace that we have obtained this human form. In spite of the sins we have accumulated in previous births, the Lord, in his mercy and compassion, has given us this precious gift of a human body. Beyond that, his grace pulls us to attend satsangs and learn the teachings of the Masters. It is because of the Lord’s grace that we are in touch with a perfect living Master, and that we learn to love and contact the divinity within. Through him we are given the divine secret of how to obtain release from this prison.
If we reflect on our lives, we will see that grace flows in abundance in numerous ways: the opportunity to do seva, the privilege of going to Dera, the time spent in meditation – these are all gifts from him. Grace is showered upon us constantly, and yet we still seem to feel it is lacking and we continually ask for more. Mystics say that asking for grace is like standing in the midst of an ocean yet crying for water.
In a question-and-answer session, Maharaj Charan Singh once illustrated this point with an impressive simile: The Niagara Falls carries water in abundance, yet the one who comes with a thimble will only receive a few drops. If someone comes with a cup or a big bowl, he will get proportionately more. But the one who puts a bucket under the falls, can draw water abundantly. It is therefore not a question of where the Master’s grace is, but how much grace we want.
So what stands in our way of being receptive? First and foremost, the Masters point out that our worldly desires and attachments keep us entangled in this creation. The more our attention is scattered in the world, the less receptive we are. Our increasing desires, the lack of effort and attention in our spiritual practice, and our ego all contribute to our lack of receptivity. By giving too much attention to the world and less to our spiritual practice, we are in fact turning away from the Master.
The Lord is always there at the eye centre, giving us his grace with both hands, but the labourers are very few.…Very few people really work hard to come back to the eye centre.… Day and night he is waiting for us to give to us, but we never knock at that door where the grace is being bestowed.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Saint Matthew
The mystics have told us that the only way we can be receptive to his grace is by cleansing our hearts through our spiritual practice, by being in contact with the Shabd. Grace will come when we ask for it through our actions – it is not something we need to ask for in words. When we make the effort to obey and please our Master, when our spiritual practice becomes our very life, we will experience his grace in abundance. Attending to our meditation sincerely is surrendering to him, believing that he will give what is right for us. The Master gives his love and grace to us at every step, as we journey back to our true home. We need only to open our hearts towards him to receive these blessings.
The more we strive on the path, the more help we receive from the Master. Those who do not make an effort of their own have no idea of the blessings that are being showered on us every day in our life. The rewards that are received by a disciple are far greater than one could ever expect or dream of, and this realization comes only when we are doing our part of the duty.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light