The Young Man
I was late! The traffic was horrendous. To reach my appointment on time, I jumped out of the taxi and ran to the closest subway station. My heart was pounding, my shirt was drenched in sweat. I kept hoping my client would be delayed as well, caught in the same gridlock! I really needed to close this deal. My mind was filled with frustration at the traffic and apprehension that I might lose this contract. I held firmly on to my briefcase and prepared for the morning crowd of travellers heading to work by train.
And then a few feet in front of me, there was a resounding thud. An elderly gentleman had slipped and fallen down. Instinctively, I rushed forward and reached out to help him. “Are you all right?” I asked. As I helped him onto his feet, I looked over his frame to make sure that there were no injuries. “Are you okay?” I repeated.
At first he looked a little dazed. He must have been stunned from the fall. He took a few breaths and then looked at me in bewilderment, holding on to my hand for support. He smiled … a warm and blissful smile, “Thank you,” he said. He let go of my hand and tried to take a step, as though checking to see if his balance was restored. He smiled again as he continued onward and slowly hobbled away.
As I watched him walk away, I was enveloped in a feeling of calm, as if a gentle breeze had unexpectedly rolled out of the sky. The encounter left me suddenly composed. My feelings of rush and panic had vanished. The old man’s smile stirred something inside me. As I continued on my journey, my thoughts were on the incident. I felt as though the Lord had compelled me to be there at that very moment to help the old man. This thought was quickly followed by another more compelling one: Did I help the old man? Or did he help me?
The Old Man
No one cares. I feel so alone and unloved. Since my wife’s passing, things have not been the same. Years of working long and hard have taken a toll on my frail and worn out body. All my life, all my efforts have been towards ensuring that my children had the best education and opportunities. This has left me with hardly any time to form any meaningful relationship with them. And now they have no time for me. They are too busy with their own lives.
As I walked around aimlessly wondering where to go, I was crying inside: What is this all about, Lord? Are you really watching over me? Do I really matter to you?
Tears welled up in my eyes as a wave of self-pity washed over me. Suddenly, there was a loud thud! I could feel the noise ringing in my ears and vibrating through my body as I hit the ground. I did not see where I was going and had missed a step, causing me to fall forward.
“Are you all right?” I heard a sweet soothing voice, and then a warm hand grabbed mine and gently lifted me to my feet. “Are you okay?” I took a few breaths and looked up at the compassionate and concerned face of the young man. As I looked into his eyes, a sudden serenity enveloped me. It was as though the Lord had sent an angel to help me… to show me that he is watching over me and that I am not alone. I smiled at that blissful thought and replied, “Thank you.” I composed myself, grateful to the Lord that I was not seriously injured from the fall. He had minimized my karma to a pin-prick and sent an angel to help me! I turned and walked away, smiling at my own inner musings.
The Lord’s Grace at Every Step
Every day, we are faced with challenges and disappointments. But our Master is always watching over us, sending us gentle reminders that we are never alone. Facets of human kindness and compassion are echoes of the Lord’s love that he has placed inside each of us. Sometimes we lose focus and we forget how much we have to be grateful for. He then sends us these sudden encounters, to make us pause and reflect on what is truly important. In the words of Maharaj Charan Singh:
Inside of everyone there is love, because there is a soul. Whosoever has a soul, has that spark of love. As long as we are in touch with that divine melody within, we are all influenced by the love of the Father. We see his reflection in everyone. We love all his creation, because we love the Creator.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
In another passage, Hazur explains about the Master’s constant grace over the disciple:
Sometimes clouds do come and we don’t see the sunlight at all, but that does not mean that the sun is not there. Ultimately, the clouds fade out and the sun comes again.
We have human failings. We are all struggling souls, but we again get up and again we start walking. When you fly a kite, the string is always in the hands of the kite-flyer. When he sees the kite going right and left with the wind, he pulls that kite back. Similarly, with the winds of karmas, we go astray right and left, but our string is in the hand of the Master, and he again pulls us back to the path.
Our concept of grace is about material things in life, but that is not the concept of grace that we have in Sant Mat. That concept of grace is about spiritual progress, about how many pitfalls we are saved from, how much we are saved at every step.
Spiritual Perspectives,Vol. II
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in The Power of Intention