For most devotees the religious or spiritual life is part of their ordinary life. It may be the most important part of their life, but it is part of their normal living. It is only when God’s grace comes into our life that our spiritual life takes on another dimension. We could call it a vertical dimension because we seem, in one way or another, to be lifted out of ourselves. It may be the result of a meeting with a teacher; it may be some book we read; it could be a spiritual experience; but something changes. Something new has come into our life.
The result may not change our outward life very much, or it may change it so dramatically that we leave our old life and go to an ashram, even seek permanent entry there. But whether the result is that dramatic or less dramatic, it seems to be inevitable that after a period of time we settle down into a mundane life again—whether it is in an ashram or still in the world. We somehow seem to have lost that vertical dimension, that dimension that was changing everything for us. And the truth is that unless we can somehow regain that vertical dimension, that dimension of grace, our spiritual life will not really move.
But how can we bring God’s grace back into our life again? When it did change our life, it was not something that was under our control. It happened spontaneously. Does that mean then that there is no hope for us? Fortunately, Pujya Swamiji tells us that God’s grace is always blowing. But it is up to us to put up our sail. Originally, God didn’t care whether our sail was up or not; He just came into our life. But it seems that at some point He says to us, “Now it is time for you to put up your sail.”
But how do we put up our sail in order to catch His grace? The Lord gives us a secret in the last teaching verse of the Gita: “Abandoning all dharmas take refuge in Me alone.” Our problem is that even when we want to take refuge in God, our fundamental reliance remains with ourselves. We’re scared of letting go. We don’t really want to leave the results of our life to God. We want to keep firm control of the rudder of the boat of our life, and we’re reluctant to put up the sail in case God’s grace blows us in directions that we don’t want to go.
So it is our choice. Do we want to continue our mundane life, or do we want to have the adventure of God’s life? Do we want to keep our life the way it is, or do we want God’s grace in our life? Do we want to keep control over our life, or do we want to take the risk of going God’s way, to put up our sail and let Him take us where He wants to take us.
The spiritual life is always now. It is not in the future when we are ready. It is always now. So, if we want to bring back that original thrill, that original grace into our life, the answer is to put up our sail, let go of the rudder and trust God now. The need is to take refuge now!
Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh