The Mother Divine
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These are words of Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath from Prapanna Pathik:
Ok, tell me, which is the spiritual practice with which your Grace can be earned. I will do exactly that. Hari! Hari! I have been doing sadhana and singing bhajans, but can any means be employed to gain He who is beyond all expedients? No, no! Nothing is gained by spiritual practice –no one can attain You with spiritual practice. Whoever has attained You has done so by just going on crying and chanting the mahamantra: ‘O Lord! I am surrendered to You! Confer Grace on me! Confer Grace on me!’

It is evident from the above that effort will not get us there, Grace will. But how can Grace be earned?

Raman Maharshi said, “Grace is the Self. It is not to be acquired: you only need to know that it exists.”

How? How will one know that it exists?

Look at what Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is also saying in this context, reiterating the same. “The winds of God's grace are always blowing; it is for us to raise our sails.”

The vital question, again, is how can we raise our sails and attract the winds of Grace?

If we think of any definite method, or a practice to attract Grace, it will become a sadhana and there is no sadhana with which we can earn God’s grace.

The matter lies at the lowest level, subtler than matter are the senses, subtler than the senses is the mind, subtler than the mind is intellect…we go further into subtlety. Subtler than the intellect… divine soul, maya and above maya stands God.

And this is precisely the difficulty. God is too subtle for any subtlety.

Everything is cast in maya. God Himself has said mama maya duratyaya, my maya cannot be transcended.

Absolutely nothing can go beyond it.

Only God can unveil the maya. And that can happen with Grace alone.

We’re back to how…how…how….?

Shastras confound us on this matter.

Both the Katha Upanishad and Mundaka Upanishad (3/2/3) say:
“God cannot be understood through study, debating, intellectual application or mere listening. When a soul surrenders to God wholeheartedly, he receives God’s grace, and with God’s grace, he attains God."

Arjuna is extraordinarily lucky in beholding Lord Krishna’s Cosmic Form, but the Lord tells him, “This is only the result of My Grace, which you receive when you have exclusive devotion for Me.”
So, Grace it is.
No effort can get us there.
No doing can get us there.
No action can get us there.
We are faced with an enormous, all-consuming helplessness in which we surrender to God, painfully aware of our incapacity in the matter.
This is surrender. It’s the only possible instrument to make Grace possible.
But this surrender is nothing but a sign of one’s incapacity, a declaration that I can’t do anything.
So surrender is not a doing.
Well, not a doing! Non-doing!
Herein lies the secret perhaps.
All doing is useless. The answer lies in non-doing.
All effort is useless. The answer lies in non-effort.
All action is useless. The answer lies in non-action.
We know doing very well. In fact, all we know is doing, either right or wrong, but doing it is!
Where can we find non-doing?

Bhagavad Gita talks in terms of karma (doing), akarma (non-doing) and vikarma (wrong doing). These can also be seen as action, inaction, and wrong action.

Akarma is of interest to us. But what we need is not inaction but enlightened non-action i.e. nishkama karma. It can be our passport to surrender. It can be the end of our treasure hunt for Grace.
Gita talks of this paradox: karmani akarma and akarmani karma, inaction in action, and action in inaction.
It is inaction in action because when we undertake an action it’s not us but God who does it.
And when we don’t act, God is still acting.
So God is acting in either case— in individual’s action and individual’s inaction.
When we realize that all activities are sponsored by the God, and it is all the play of his Prakriti, we become free from the idea of doing and move towards the desirable position of non-doing. As long as we think and feel we are doing, we cannot move to non-doing.
Shankara explains this in Advaitic terms. He contends that in Atman (Self) there is akarma (no action) and in the self (body/mind/intellect) there is karma.
According to Gita, non-doing can be achieved by the two-fold instruments of nishkama karma.
1. Sankalpa sannyasa or abdication of motives and
2. Tyaga or offering of the results at the feet of God.
This way of performing karma is known as nishkama karma or nivritta karma.
We love doing and we think we are the doers (karta) because we cannot fully appreciate how anything actually ever gets done. Shastras say there are five factors underlying each activity. These are:

  1. Adhisthana i.e., the place, the ground, or the object with reference to which an activity is initiated.
  2. Karta i.e., agent, the Jiva when is only a dependent agent.
  3. Karana i.e. the instruments i.e. sense organs etc.
  4. Vividha chesta i.e. the various actions of these that are necessary for the production of results.
  5. Daiva i.e. the supreme God who is behind all these as director and regulator. One who knows this will easily realize his limited role and will be able to undertake nishkama karma.

We find non-doing in Taosim. One of Taoism’s most important concepts is wu wei, which is sometimes translated as “non-doing” or “non-action.” It is similar to akarmani karma of the Gita. Wu wei refers to the state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the movements of the universe. It is a kind of “going with the flow”. It’s spontaneous. It is natural. It is effortless. It’s done with great ease and awake-ness. In fact it’s so easy that no effort is needed.
The things that can be so easy that they need no effort are usually the ones which are already set in motion by the universe; we just align ourselves with what’s already happening.

This is the Taoist idea of “action without effort” or “doing by not doing.”

In this surrendered mode of non-doing, you are no longer sankalpa-driven. So things like planning, willpower are not so important, you are not making things happen. You are just letting things happen. This kind of acting is meditative action which happens both inside and outside at the same time. Both the subject and object are involved in it. You want to gain something and that something is equally in pursuit of you. It’s a right fix.

The usual acting is unmindful of source from where the spring of action is coming and it’s unmindful of God. It’s just done on the outside. The surrendered action happens within as well.

A leading light in positive psychology, Hungarian-American professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (his last name is pronounced, “Cheek-sent-me-high-ee”) propounded the concept of FLOW. This flow is a state of concentration or complete absorption in an activity. He points out that developing a state of flow leads to higher skill and efficiency.

Even in divine flow set by nishkama karma, it seems to work in the same way. Go within, attune with your inner being and think of the task, then come out into the world of action and carry it out exactly the way the intuition guides at every step.

When the action is guided from within and the doer vanishes into the deed, something very different happens. Miracles happen. It’s divine magic. You can work with ease, grace and incredible efficiency when you are in the divine flow.

This is because our inner being is fully attuned with the universe. To act in perfect alignment with universe can make it seem like someone got the actions done, rather than you doing them. This is synchronicity. With those who work with the energy of the God and flow with His Will, coincidences become commonplace in life. People, ideas and materials all come together at the exact right time and in the right place because the same universal force is orchestrating everything. It doesn’t work so easily and effortlessly in usual mode of doing because we are trying to be doers and pit ourselves against all the energies of the world.

The belief in non-doing, or action prompted by surrender, is that there is no division between the subject and the object. The outside world is not outside and alienated, it’s not something to be conquered. We are to join with it and collaborate. We have to see ourselves as a part of the processes of the universe. It’s not harsh subjugation or controlling of things to achieve our purpose, but just blending and harmonising.

There is no need for cutting edge, cut throat competition and killing spirit. World is a team. Everyone and everything is a team. It’s one game for all to win. It’s the Divine Sport…Leela!
Lao Tzu said: “When there is success all people feel that they are this way of themselves –that this is in accord with their nature.”

Surrender teaches us to succeed within and without. There is no maladjustment of energies.
Some may think that ‘non-doing’ is inactive or passive, it’s not. It is just the art of realigning one’s goals more universally and shifting the onus to a larger Order.

Let’s all move in that direction. Or rather, let’s allow ourselves to be moved! After all, we have to do nothing, let God do it!

Raj Supe (Kinkar Vishwashreyananda)
The Editor