Awakening to God-Fish are unaware of the ocean in which they live
There was once a wise and holy fish who preached to the others, saying, “We live in an Ocean of Love. Behold how it protects and sustains us!” At first the fish were thankful, but soon they took their good fortune for granted. For whether they remembered or not, they still were cared for. Although their eyes were always open, their minds went to sleep, and they grew unaware of the ocean in which they live.
Are we any different? Have we forgotten that we live in an Ocean of Love? Some call that ocean Divine Providence; others, the Omnipresence of God; still others, simply God. We need not be brilliant philosophers or holy prophets to discover the ocean we live in. No, all that is needed is to apply common sense. For as Akiba (40? ~ 135? AD), the founder of rabbinic Judaism, said, “As a house implies a builder, and a garment a weaver, and a door a carpenter, so does the existence of the universe imply a creator.” How can it be otherwise?
After acknowledging the Creator and observing His handiwork, we come to discover his grandeur in all things. It is as Seneca The Younger (5? BC ~ 65 AD) has taught, “In whatever direction you turn, you will see God coming to meet you: nothing is void of Him; He Himself fills all His work.” Yet, not everyone can see God. Some are like the villager described in the following poem.
The villager whispered,
” God, speak to me”
And a meadowlark sang.
But the villager did not hear.
So the villager yelled, “God, speak to me!”
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the villager did not listen.
The villager looked around and said,
” God let me see you”
And a star shone brightly
But the villager did not notice.
And the villager shouted,
” God show me a miracle!”
And a life was born
But the villager did not know.
So the villager cried out in despair,
” Touch me God, and let me know you are there!”
Whereupon God reached down and touched the villager.
But the villager brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowingly.
The villager had opened his eyes, but did not open his mind and heart. He looked for reasons to doubt, but did not look for evidence of God’s existence. Had he remembered that we cannot find what we do not look for, he might have been more successful in his search.
Even if we cannot see God, if we act as if He exists by opening our heart to the concerns of others, we become Godlike. And to become Godlike is to discover God. Aldous Huxley (1894 ~ 1963) describes it this way, “It is only by becoming Godlike that we can know God – and to become Godlike is to identify ourselves with the divine element which in fact constitutes our essential nature, but of which, in our mainly voluntary ignorance, we choose to remain unaware.”
Why bother to awaken and become aware of the ever-present God? Because to do so is transformational. It is what changes us from caterpillars to butterflies. Some of the many benefits of awakening to God include the following.
1. We become partners with God in carrying out His Divine Providence, for He uses us to help those in need. Rabindranath Tagore (1861 ~ 1941) explains, “God loves to see in me, not his servant, but himself that serves all.”
2. We help to end violence by building a world of peace. For as it is written in the Bhagavad-Gita (6th cent. BC), “When a man sees that the God in himself is the same God in all that is, he hurts not himself by hurting
others: then he goes indeed to the highest path.”
3. Not only are we transformed, but the world we live in is transformed from the commonplace to the miraculous. We experience joy, awe, wonder, and surprise. Like poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861 ~ 1941), we will come to say, “That I exist is a perpetual surprise which is life.”
4. We live with confidence, unafraid to take risks and experience life to the fullest. Confident in the Divine Power that permeates our being, we are freed from worries and concerns over trivial matters, so we can focus on what is important to us. After all, we live with the credo, “There isn’t anything that will happen today that cannot be handled by me and God.”
5. We are no longer troubled by disappointment, frustration, and anguish, for we come to realize that nothing happens to us unless God wills it so. This realization forces us to focus on the positive. Instead of complaining about the thorns among the roses, we rejoice in the roses among the thorns.
6. We grow more mindful of the will of God and, therefore, less likely to stray from the path and wander into trouble. By following our conscience, we live a life without regrets, and discover peace of mind.
7. By being ever mindful of the nearness of God, our hearts are filled with gratitude. Bitterness is replaced with happiness.
8. The greater our awareness of Him, the lesser our attachment to the things of the world. With detachment, insatiable greed and frustration are replaced by serenity. For as Jalal Al-Din Rumi (1207 ~ 1273) wrote, “By practicing God’s remembrance your inner being will be illumined little by little and you will achieve some measure of detachment from the world.”
9. When we live as though we believe in God by practicing His love, our example inspires others to do the same and spread the happiness everyone yearns for.
10. Just as adopted children often seek out their biological parents to better understand who they are, we innately yearn to know our Creator so we can better know ourselves. To discover God is the shock of realizing we are worthy of His love.
11. We get to see the big picture. Like Alexander Pope (1688 ~ 1744) we will come to say, “All nature is but art, unknown to thee; all chance, direction which thou canst not see; all discord, harmony not understood; all partial evil, universal good.”
12. We discover meaning and purpose in life. What is the meaning of life? It is found in the 12 lines below. The first ten lines were written by William Arthur Ward (1921 – 1994), the eleventh line is attributed to reviewer and interviewer Richard Leider, and the last line ties in with our theme for today.
The adventure of life is to learn.
The goal of life is to grow.
The nature of life is to change.
The challenge of life is to overcome.
The essence of life is to care.
The opportunity of life is to serve.
The secret of life is to dare.
The spice of life is to befriend.
The beauty of life is to give.
The joy of life is to love.
The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.
The reason for life is to reveal the glory of God.