March 21, 2012
Grace is one of those abstract religious terms that I, like many people, have problems understanding. It implies a kind of divine intervention, a spiritual magic that baffles the logical mind. That said, in looking back over the course of my life there has been an undeniable pattern, and at certain moments undeserved benediction. What is more, these graces seem to be have been of five distinct varieties or intensities. I have to state at the outset I do not believe in a personal god, the notion is too simplistic and unreasonable. However there can be no denying the existence of a universal consciousness. Universal consciousness is. Even to deny its existence requires that the one denying be conscious. In fact to say, “There is no consciousness,” is a paradox. While it is tempting to anthropomorphize universal consciousness in the same way one might humanize a pet, I think that would be a disservice to oneself. It would cease inquiry into the nature of this consciousness. The human mind naturally moves to conceptualize, to understand and to possess. And when it thinks it knows, it stops investigating, it ceases to be curious. With these twin intentions, to investigate but to refrain from humanizing, I have attempted to objectively analyze some inexplicable events in the course of my life.
An Intervention: During moments of crisis something has been there as an intervention. I was near-dead, in a coma and statistically not expected to survive. Yet I did. I have vivid memories of being in the coma, and also the ten minutes when my heart was stopped. I existed. Never was there a moment when I ceased to exist. What is more I know I existed. The quality of that knowing was different to anything I recognize in my waking consciousness. At times my mind did superimpose a shape and a persona to this greater awareness, sometimes it was in the shape of my guru, or my mother, but yet it was more. Much, much more. I now call it GRACE.
A Support: During the long and difficult recovery from that medical trauma, the memory of that intense and profound experience was my emotional crutch. While there were many medical personnel to help with the physical recovery, I found little solace from those around me for emotional support. And why should they know what I was going through? The most lonely feeling was not being able to talk to anyone about the amazing experience of, well, dying. It slowly dawned on me that whatever it was I had experienced was still very much with me. It became my support. I used it to get up again and start living. This too was GRACE.
A Respite: When we move into a new apartment or house, it is just that, a house. Then with time and attention, it becomes ‘home’, a place we feel safe, where we can regroup our energy, where we do not abide by anyone else’s dictates. In my work with the homeless it has astounded me how cheerful many of those who live on the street are. Some are coping with mental or physical disabilities in addition to being homeless. Yet they manage to put on a smile on their faces. How is that possible? It occurred to me ‘home’ is not a physical structure, it is state of GRACE, open to all.
Surrender: As children we have lots of trust. Perhaps too much trust at times. But the longer I live the more I have lost trust in the outer world’s ability to provide me safety, well-being or lasting happiness. Far from being negative, this is GRACE matured. Because another kind of trust has replaced it, the knowledge that the only times I am truly happy is during deep contemplation and self-inquiry. Surrender of everything that binds me to my body and the things associated with it, is the GRACE of awareness.
Fearlessness: When one has inquired honestly and consistently, when one has questioned without bias, all that is, was and will be, then the past no longer haunts, the present is accepted exactly as it is, and anxiety for the future feels like a massive joke. There is no more dependence. There is acceptance, there is contentment. There is simply being. In that feeling there is no room for fear. This is the final phase of GRACE, it comes of its own accord, totally unasked or unearned.
Looking back it is now clear that the events which seemed the most painful turned out to be the ones that led me greater happiness. This is GRACE. Isn’t it amazing?