Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Invisible hand..

A nun was severely ill, but was waiting for her Guru to return to seek His guidance. When Sri Paramahansa Yogananda returned, the nun went up to Him and told Him about her ailment. The Master adviced her to see a doctor. The nun further surrendered by asking “Which doctor should I go to Guruji?” The Master replied “It doesn’t matter, I can help you through anyone!”

3 remarkable things stand out in the above ~

1. The persistent and pure faith of the disciple.
2. The grace of a Guru.
3. The fact that the invisible hand of God can help us through any means, so we His children should be ever ready to be of service for Him to use us, as the doctor would be used in this case.

Sharing 2 stories below where the invisible hand of the Divine was secretly at work. 

My friend S and I live as roommates in the city of Mumbai. We both pursue creative careers and are spiritually inclined too. Living by ourselves as bachelors comes with facing certain amount of hardships; food being primary on the list. Mostly we would ridicule and laugh our troubles out. We hail from good families but choose to live life on our terms without bothering anyone.

This happened some 3 years back.

I was returning from a week long retreat. Having reached the city I decided to have some food before returning home else I’d have to prepare something at home. Having had a meal, I reached home about 4 in the evening only to find my computer not working. As I needed to finish a lot of pending work I set about trying to get it working. I was constantly on call with friends who were guiding me with the problem.

Somewhere during my struggle with my PC I began having this constant thought of wanting food. As often as I pushed aside this thought, it kept invading my mind. At one point I got up and was about to leave the house to get something to eat, but when I checked myself I found that I felt full. I couldn’t understand why I was having food thoughts when I was so busy with my problem.

I sat back and continued my struggle with the PC. Within a few minutes again I began having persistent thoughts of getting some food to eat. Something was telling me not only to get food but to get 2 of everything. One obviously for me, and the other for… I was clueless. This was very unusual for me since I have lived by myself in a boarding school since childhood and know well to manage my appetite. So I was at a loss as to what was happening to me.

Finally in frustration I got up and gathered my wallet thinking I would get rid of atleast one problem. As I walked towards the market, I couldn’t think what I wanted to eat. I cluelessly looked around when suddenly I got a powerful feeling to look back. As I turned about, I saw there a friendly person I know who makes Dosas. “Buy 2 dosas” came a clear thought. None too sure, I went over to the guy asking him to make 2 dosas and pack it. As he was making it, I realized yet again that I wasn’t hungry at all and here I was wasting money asking him to make 2. I became upset with myself for all this mental tomfoolery, and asked the guy to just make one dosa. What’s more I began very specifically guiding him on how I wanted it made. I asked him to keep it open lest it became soggy. As I received the food from him I wondered - what now?, for I was convinced I didn’t wanna eat. A thought struck me clearly and strongly that why don’t I take the food, go home and offer it to my friend S.

‘But what, I thought, if he refuses. It would be strange to just offer him a dosa out of the blue.’

‘Ok, in that case leave the dosa to him and leave before he can respond.’

Reluctantly I headed back home. I entered the house, headed towards S. I just offered him the dosa and left quickly before he could say anything. As I sat back to confront my PC, I promised myself that I would never permit me such foolishness again.

About a week later I found S standing all packed up telling me that he was going home for a holiday. I wished him a good journey. He stood there unsurely, as if wanting to say something more. Finally he said that he wanted to thank me for bringing that food the other day. I had forgotten about that completely and felt guilty that he was thanking me for something I didn’t do intentionally. He then revealed further…

“When you left for the retreat I dint have much money on me. I managed to survive for a few days before I became penniless. I didn’t want to seek anybody’s help so I decided to go with the flow. A day before your return I woke up very hungry. There was some rice in the house which I cooked and had it plainly. Time seemed to pass slowly but some reprieve came in the evening when our neighbor brought over 2 pieces of coconut sweetmeats that she had just cooked. I ate them down without even being aware of what it tasted like.

Night passed somehow and hunger awoke me in the morning. I took refuge in our Guru’s book The Autobiography of a Yogi. I repeatedly read the chapter “Two penniless boys in Brindavan. Soon reading became too much of an effort. I mentally surrendered to God offering my hunger to Him. Even when you came I could not share my plight with you, choosing rather to die surrendering to Him. By evening I couldn’t hold it anymore. I prayed to Him over and over “Tell me what do you want me to do, I have surrendered myself to you. My prayers and ability to hold out had reached its zenith.
Just then you came out of nowhere and placed food in front of me. This response was too sudden and too quick and I was afraid that I would embarrass myself in front of you by breaking down. But you left as quickly as you came without saying anything. That dosa, I found, was prepared exactly to my liking. I relished it completely. I found my stomach full by that simple meal. Since you had come, food continued without me having to reveal anything. But today I thought I would thank you for what you did. I am now going home to take a break.”

Speechless as I was on hearing all this … I told S my part of the story as narrated above. We sat quietly for some time taking in the divine drama that we both had been a part of. S reminded me of a dream he had had sometime back where He saw God standing at the door way between our rooms and blessing both our sleeping forms.

As S was about to leave, I chided him for keeping from me and his family his financial state. He as usual laughed it away saying that had he revealed the truth, perhaps we wouldn’t have witnessed the invisible Divine hand at work. When he left, I offered my deepest apologies and gratitude to the Lord for choosing a reluctant me as His instrument!


After attending a long meditation in celebration of Sri Yukteswarji’s birthday this Thursday, having received my Prasad box, I was standing, waiting for a friend to come. As my friend emerged, she informed me that a certain devotee S, was looking for me.

I went back to meet that devotee, she came towards me looking very happy. After our greetings she said that she wanted to meet and thank me. ‘What about?’ I asked. She mentioned our bus ride we had taken a few months back where I had shared some counsel with her. She said that she took that counsel to heart and it has made a huge difference to her.

I stood there awkwardly not knowing what to say, because frankly I had almost no memory of what that counsel was. It’s like this….

A few of us were returning home after a week long retreat in Igatpuri, when our car broke down. Our friend, the car owner stayed with his car, while we – 3 ladies and I, stopped a passing bus and got on.

As we were travelling back I sat near a window looking at the passing scenery. At some point a thought arose in my mind asking me to say ‘something’ to one of the ladies. I ignored the thought as ramblings of the monkey mind and continued looking out. But I found the thought naggingly persistent. If I recall it was something to do with – “feeling gratitude for little things in your life.” My mind was asking me to say this to this particular devotee S. I knew absolutely nothing of this lady and her life, yet as if to assure me, I was given and inward feeling that she was holding on to many issues that are burdening her and this message would give her aid.

Imagine the audaciousness of it all. A boy going over to a fellow devotee and telling her “I HAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOU!” No ways I was doing that. Neither did I want that lady to reveal to fellow devotees that I was a nut case carrying messages for all and sundry. Forget it. Moreover I felt that true guidance was always received by the person who needs it and not by some third party.

Yet I kept getting encouraged from within. So I shared this with the other devotee, who is a friend. She simply asked me if the message I had was meant to help her. I said yes. ‘So what’s the problem? You are just trying to help, what’ve you got to lose?’ Simple enough for her!

I went over to S and reluctantly and awkwardly said to her – ‘Can I share something?’ She looked at me kindly and sensed my nervousness and said – ‘Yes, please do!’

‘I’m sorry, but as I was sitting here, minding my own, I got this powerful feeling to share with you a message that ‘You should try to feel gratitude for the little things in life!’ Now I don’t know anything about you, so please forgive me for my intrusion.’ She smiled back and asked me generally – ‘Do you get messages often?’ I interpreted this as her asking me ‘Are you this insane, always?’ So I quickly replied ‘No ma’am, this is the only time it has happened.’

Saying so, I returned to my seat, hoping and praying that she forgets this and it never gets out.

So days, weeks and months passed.. and here I was this Thursday meeting this lady S again. Here she was looking radiantly joyful and reminding me of our journey and the counsel I shared with her.

She said ‘You know I was going through a lot back then and I was persistently praying for guidance to my problems. All through the week our Guru guided me to this very message as the cure to my problems, but I couldn’t see it. Then you said the same thing to me in the bus. It struck me strongly that He was constantly guiding me towards this counsel and that not only should I not ignore it, but I should make every effort as a disciple to practice it. And as I have put it to practice, my life has remarkably changed. Do you see any difference in me?’

I replied that although I was not aware that she ever had any problems when I spoke to her in the bus, but yes as I looked at her now I could overwhelmingly feel the inner joy that was radiating through her and that I had never before seen her this happy.

She thanked me again through her smiling eyes as we moved on. As I thought back over this forgotten incident, I yet again realized my reluctance, as awkward as the situation was, and thanked God for using this doubting child to serve a fellow soul.

May His Invisible hand ever guide us all.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful stories, both. Yes, I too can identify with them a little bit -- am not too spiritually disciplined but I love God and Guru very much. I love it when He uses me as a channel for his work. There are many instances when I feel guided to help, and thus be 'used' by this invisible hand. I feel greatly honored when that happens.

    Will share here a most recent incident. I had gone for a pilgrimage and was staying at a low-cost rental home of a devotee. She is 90+ and gives out her home to devotees during the pilgrimage period. And sometimes her small home hosts so many that in the bitter cold she has to sleep out in the balcony.

    It was my second day with her and the other house-mates were urging me to use my time during the pilgrimage to serve and volunteer at the pilgrimage center. They said it was a great blessing to serve the guru and I didn't doubt that. As luck would have it, things did not work out as planned so I returned back to the house I was staying in, and when I returned I saw that all the devotees had left to do service or pray at the center and this old woman was toiling away in her garden and home. I asked her if I could help (not expecting her to say yes); but she readily accepted. She told me about her living arrangement in the balcony a few days from then, and how she needed it clean so that she could sleep there in peace. She said she was so busy doing up the home for the others that she had no time to clean-up the place for herself.

    Needless to add, I worked the whole morning cleaning that place and boy, did it have stuff to clean - fall leaves, old bottles, boxes, plants, plant pots, stones and berry seeds from the neighbour's overhanging tree stuck in the wooden floor panels. As I sweated it out, scrubbing scraping sweeping and mopping I felt a joy rising in my heart and a voice inside me said, 'thank-you. By serving my devotees, you serve me well'. That's when it dawned that once again my guru had lead me to where he wanted me to serve... Wiping away tears of gratitude I thanked him for using me as his channel.

    You are blessed to be the channel through which his messages flow to people who need them. Keep on keeping on !! :)


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