‘Grace is not what the mind thinks it should be;
it is what God wills it to be.
Grace is not what the mind desires it to be;
It is the natural perfect expression of Divinity.
Grace is not chosen;
it is recognized and received.
The concept of Grace is synonymous with religion, but in these doctrines, is usually referred to as something bestowed or inferred, given to those who have merit and who deserve. The idea of Grace is frequently wrapped up in many religions as a merit given to sinners from God for it is believed that as sinners we have no inherent grace. Grace is something that is bestowed because one is good and which cannot be obtained without an intermediary. But, identifying with Grace in this way, can make it a play-tool of duality, where one believes that one is being punished if Grace is not given and one feels special when they receive it.
I believe Grace is purer, more innocent, more divine, more all-encompassing, more unconditional than this. Yes, moments of Grace can be divinely given and received and we will reflect on this in another week, but is Grace not also in every move we make and in every breath we take, in every whisper and interaction of creation? Is not Grace the opportunity of every moment of life; the essence of love and every creative yearning? Grace is found whenever we look underneath the rubble of desires, unmet worldly longings and imaginings. It is a treasure always lying in wait for us, to be discovered, to be seen, to be claimed and cherished when we are ready. In heart we are Divine. In heart we are Grace itself and have the well-spring of Grace always present from which we can draw from and connect to. Grace is not duality. Grace is God.
Grace is when you remember that God hears you
And when you remember that you hear God
The awareness of Grace is hidden only to those who minds are obscured by worldly thoughts and ideas, those with strong agendas of how they and others and all things should be. It is obscured by desires and fears, anxieties and lack of trust and by selfishness and greed. But its blessings can always be seen by the heart, can be felt and heard, and experienced by those who know it is there to be found. An awareness in itself that is surely Grace? When we are alert to the appreciation of Grace, we will see it all around us, in a cup of tea, a momentary exchange with another, a bird flying in the sky, a smile and in so many, many, ways. It is your choice to see it. It is your choice to embrace it and honor it.
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Our biggest suffering is when we do not recognize or appreciate the Grace we have and instead get caught up in mind obsessions, when we become engrossed in worldly agitations, when we want and want and are angry or disturbed because we cannot have or get. We suffer, when we habitually choose to see what we don’t have rather than what we have, chasing the next sense satisfaction, the next desire fulfilled and all the while our suffering gets deeper as our wants get stronger. We suffer when we do not accept how our life is day by day and appreciate what we have now. In duality, there is nothing without sacrifice. We cannot have it all. When we live wanting everything as we want it to be, nothing is ever good enough and tragically we miss the grace, the grace that is with us and which is constantly giving to us. We miss the beauty, the grace of our life.
Miracles are happening all the time in all kinds of ways. When our world is too cluttered or luxurious it’s sometimes hard to see the Grace. We miss its subtleties. Let us be mindful that Grace is present all the time and be aware of its opportunity when one can. When you see it, honor it, feel it, receive it, grasp the blessings in gratitude as well as surrender it for the good of all, praying that someone else will experience this gift too and feel its love. Look for its mercy and blessings in all the little seemingly inconsequential ways that one normally takes for granted. In being able to breathe in and out, in having a body that works, the opportunity of your consciousness to experience a good life, a mind that can reason and know the Divine, all the divine opportunities in every moment to cherish and love. Sri Sathya Sai Baba frequently said God is Simple, all else is complex. Find Grace in the small, simple ways of life and see how the Grace of God shines through so perfectly and kindly.
Very recently, as I began to write this handout, my body craved for vegetable soup. A variety of vegetables in Puttaparthi is sometimes scarce, especially when it is not market day. Onions, potatoes and carrots were all I could find that looked reasonable. The palak, (Indian spinach) looked a somewhat old and dry and there was little else except coriander. For a few moments my mind imagined a lovely vision of fresh organic celery, purple cabbage and fresh parsley, maybe even some fresh broccoli. I knew it was a little dream as these are not readily found in Puttaparthi even on market day. I accepted my lot and decided to make some vegetable dhal soup later with what I had, feeling grateful to have this at least.
That evening, I went for my evening walk and instead of going straight to the ashram as usual I walked along one of the side roads as a detour, intending to make a small circuit and enter the ashram from another direction. On the way, I noticed a small shop with a few people milling in and out and was drawn to look at what was going on. And there it was. Grace! Trays of fresh organic celery, broccoli, parsley, and purple cabbage! A wish fulfilled. I wondered if I was dreaming. I asked the shopkeeper if they were for general sale and he told me yes, go ahead. He had gone to Bangalore that morning and had the opportunity of purchasing some fresh organic vegetables and brought them back thinking people might want some. Grace, Grace, Grace.
The simplicity of this beautiful divine manifestation of Grace was not lost on me. It was a modest thought to make soup, hardly a desire, and yet it was so clearly played out by Divine Love. So easily seen because of its simplicity. If I had been living in England or a city, these lovely foods would have been available to me more easy and in abundance. The Grace would have still been there, the very same Grace, but it would not be so clearly profound and visible. Fresh vegetables are Grace, wherever they are, but where they are in plentiful supply, one can become casual and miss their great gift. In a place where everything is easily to hand, one can believe in a sense of entitlement, which is a contradiction to having Grace. This little story is a humble example of the blessings that simmer always in the forms of our lives. Let us let go of the ornate and temporary coronets of duality and look for the wonderful, unworldlycelestial play that is happening in every moment, a play to which we integrally belong to and which is gifted to us moment by moment.
The Grace here is clearly seen because of the simplicity of the moment, the simplicity of the village and the simplicity of my desire which I had already surrendered anyway. My vegetable Grace soup was deliciously divine. It was a blessing I gratefully cherished.