He Knows Best
Life passes by almost seamlessly when things are going well. Day after day, we go through our routine with a relatively positive frame of mind until an unexpected turn of events upends our entire world. In one moment, everything can change – a visit to the doctor when he reveals that we are suffering from a terminal illness, an accident that leads to a permanent disability, a financial crisis, or the death of a loved one.
In our helpless state, we cry out to the Lord in our prayers because he is our only anchor. But instead of asking him for courage and strength, we beg him to change our circumstances so that our life runs smoothly again. In the midst of this internal commotion, we forget that if he has the power to give, then surely, he has the power to know what is best for us.
In the Book of Mirdad it is written:
Do you remind God of the hours for the sun to rise and for the moon to set? Do you remind Him of the countless things that fill this boundless universe? Why do you press your puny selves with your trifling needs upon His memory? And where is God that you should shout into His ear your whims and vanities, your praises and your plaints? Is He not in you and all about you? Take not to God your countless cares and hopes. But search the vastness of your hearts. For in the vastness of the heart is found the key to every door.
There is a fable of two birds, perched on a tree branch, observing people looking worried and stressed, rushing from one place to another. Seeing their faces, one bird asked the other, “Why is man so full of worries and cares?” The other bird answered, “Maybe they don’t have a heavenly Father like we do.”
Human beings are the top of creation, otherwise known as the ‘temple of the living God’. Does the Lord not know what his temple needs? He knows all our thoughts, and needs even before we ask. One of Hazur Maharaj Ji’s frequent sayings was, “He knows best!” This is the Lord’s creation and he knows best how to run it; and he does not need our input.
From our limited viewpoint, life’s events may sometimes appear unfair, but the mystics tell us that everything takes place in accordance with the law of karma. According to the law of karma, our birth, the environment in which we are born, the happiness and suffering that we have to undergo here, are all a result of some earlier cause. We are merely reaping now what we have sown in the past. In one house, a family may be celebrating the birth of a child, and in another, one is mourning the death of a loved one.
So the question naturally follows, how does one maintain a calm and positive attitude when going through adversity? Hazur Maharaj Ji once responded to a similar question and said: “Accept it as his grace.”
From our perspective, we define grace when we are given a good partner, a comfortable home, a prosperous life, and so forth. But the saint’s concept of grace is very different. Hazur Maharaj Ji explains in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I:
He may take your wife from you or your child or your friend. And you may become frustrated by this world and turn back to the Father. That may be his grace, to pull you out of all the attachments of the world and make you realize the reality, which you never would have thought about otherwise. You were so much engrossed in your own love, your achievements and your own wealth that you have practically forgotten him. That is not his grace. His grace is what pulls you back to him, and that may be a very bitter pill….
We don’t even know what suffering is. We are only worried about these few moments of suffering here, but we’ve forgotten the suffering from birth to birth, from species to species – what we have gone through from age to age. The Lord wants just to save us from all that, and we are only concerned with these few moments of pleasure, and we think the Lord is unhappy with us, that he doesn’t want us to enjoy this life.
The Master understands our helplessness and the pain that we go through living in this world. And so he teaches us that it is only attachment to the Lord that eventually creates detachment from the world. Our daily meditation progressively detaches us from our worldly relations and possessions and attaches us to the Shabd – the divine melody that resounds within all of us. This Shabd, the saints explain, is “sweet beyond measure”. Once the mind experiences the captivating music of God’s holy Name and sees its beautiful inner light, it sheds its attachments to the world. As we practise our meditation, our attitude to life becomes more positive; we become stronger; we become content no matter what state we are in. We learn to live in the Lord’s will and by doing so we become receptive to his loving grace. Great Master beautifully put it:
When a person is depressed for want of food and resources – when even the last penny has left him, when he is without a job – even then if he gives place to the Lord in his heart, he shall forever be freed from want. When one is torn by cares and anxieties, when his body is diseased, when he is deeply immersed in domestic worries, when he wanders to and fro and finds no home or hearth where he can rest, even then, if he repeats the simran of the Lord, he shall attain inner calm and peace.
Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I
Life presents plenty of challenges. However, if we live in the world, holding on to our Master’s hand by practising our meditation sincerely, we will always feel his protection. The mystics say that we cannot even comprehend how much the Master does for us; if we did, we would be overwhelmed by his love. Rather than wallowing in self-pity when faced with turbulent times, perhaps we should look at the bigger picture – that we have the boundless love of our Master supporting us and the redeeming power of the Shabd to hold on to. By accepting and living in His will, we allow the Lord to direct our lives so that with his grace, we can grow closer to him and closer to the realization that he truly knows best.
Until the disciple reaches the higher spiritual planes, he knows but little of the saint’s grace or of the help he receives from minute to minute, from second to second. The disciple knows nothing of the evils against which he is protected, the disasters from which he is saved. The saint ensures that his disciples are carried with a minimum of suffering across this material world to domains which no prophet can enter, and no practitioner of penances can reach.
Saint Paltu, His Life and Teachings