Constant Nature of Grace and our Inability to Receive it
Have you heard people pray to God or their Guru/Spiritual Master for Grace or benevolence?
Why do they do it?
Is it because someone else does it, so I should also do it? Or have they paused to think as to what they are doing?
The basic premise in such a prayer (“Hum par Mehr karo, XXXX”) is that the Grace happens in spurts and ONLY when you remind the Master or the God of it. The forgetful elevated beings have a habit of going on and off this “Grace rocker”. So you better tell him that you need the Grace or this Dude will mess it up for you. Right?
Grace Manifested is the reward and result of self effort that is undertaken by the Spiritual Seeker. The Grace is always there, the Seeker “receives” it when s/he is ready for it.
In Yoga Vasistha, Sage Vasistha says to young Ram, the story of Prahalad and how “Prahalad attained enlightenment by the grace of Lord Vishnu”.
Sage Vasistha, who had also told Ram earlier that everything is attained through self-effort, was asked by Ram the obvious question: “If everything is achieved by self-effort, why was he not able to attain enlightenment without Vishnu’s grace?”
Sage Vasistha then clarifies:
Surely, whatever Prahalad attained was through self-effort, O Ram, not otherwise. Vishnu is the self, and the self is Vishnu; the distinction is verbal. It was the self of Prahalad that generated in itself devotion to Vishnu. Prahalad obtained from Vishnu, who was his own self, the boon of self-enquiry; and throughsuch enquiryattained self knowledge. At times one attains self-knowledge through self enquiry undertaken through self effort; at times this self effort manifests as devotion to Vishnu who is also the self, and thus one attains enlightenment.
Even if one worships Vishnu for a long time with great devotion, he does not bestow enlightenment on one who is not wise with self-knowledge. Thus, the foremost means for self knowledge is self enquiry; grace and such other factors are secondary means. (“Vasistha’s Yoga” by Swami Venkatesananda, pg 256)
Manifesting Grace in one’s life is quite like receiving sun-light. The sun-light is all over, but if you are sitting inside a dark room, then it is your inability to receive that keeps you away from it.
Grace, like sunlight is everywhere. It is bathing you every moment. You don’t have the receptivity to first, recognize it is all around you; and, second, have the transparent self to receive it.
In absence of that even if you come face to face with the greatest of Guru’s or God itself with Grace all around you, you may come back from it all like a stone. Completely unaffected.
Like Sage Vasistha says, not until you have made your own effort on your own self-realization, does grace and other such factors become useful.
So, before we mindlessly repeat ad nauseum, the cliches that ring all around you, it is important that we pause and peek into our own self. Otherwise such prayers for Grace are nonsensical chorus. You might as well have asked the God or your Guru “Hey Dude, can you pass me that Coke?”. Its that trivial.