What is Grace?

We use the word “Grace” very frequently.

But what does it really mean and how do we know its existence? Can we actually perceive it? And more importantly, how can we be so sure that we are not imagining it?

We hear that grace is God or Guru’s blessing in an imperceptible form that protects or bestows us with goodness. For example, a miraculous escape from an accident may lead us to think that it was only the Lord’s Divine Grace that saved. But then it could also be pure luck or some may even think that we deserved it due to our good ‘karma’ of the past. So what is the truth? Was it grace that saved us or karma?

Guru's holy feet

It is only the Guru who gives clarity to this mystery. It’s important to understand the nature of a Guru to decipher this. An uttama (pure) Guru doesn’t perform miracles. He doesn’t give us a million injunctions to follow. He never says a negative word. And despite being hounded by thousands of us, with numerous queries and problems, He still has time for each and every one of us.

He works day and night to transform us – our thoughts, passions, actions and reactions, our indulgences away from the world and towards the Lord. Yet He doesn’t lay any claim to that at all.

But why does He do all this?

It’s simply because He genuinely cares. He genuinely cares about each and every one of us. ‘But why?’, continues our mind which has never seen or heard someone like this out in the world.

There’s no mystery here. The answer is that that’s just the nature of the Guru. With that there can be no more questions, for do we question why a flower is fragrant or a snake poisonous? A Guru’s love is truly unconditional, even superior to a million mothers, for a mother needs the connection of ‘her’ child to express the love.

When such a Guru comes into our lives, can we ascertain this to any karma? It is not possible for us to ‘do’ anything to earn this unconditional love on us. So there certainly has to be something else that’s establishing the circle of influence.

So long as we think we ‘deserve’ and ‘control’ our destinies, the system will not interfere. So, in the past, it would have been true enough that we were meant to be saved in that car accident.

But when a Guru comes into our life, His unconditional care makes us automatically thankful. With gratitude, flowers a new kind of perspective that we are in His care and control and whatever happens is through His protection. The feeling of gratitude ripening over time results in complete surrender. Fleeting moments of gratitude leads to fleeting moments of acceptance of His Grace.  As mahans would say, “Grace is always there. Are you ready for it, is the question.”

Now what happens is that whether we are saved in the accident or not, we will still deem it Grace. And just that simple change in approach will make us very positive. While in the past, all ‘negative’ endings would have made us sad and depressed, being under the umbrella of a Guru, even a ‘negative’ result (from the outside world’s perspective) would have no bearing on the disciple.

For His ways would mean that this sequence of events is the best for us at this point. Perhaps it is to wash off some karma; perhaps it was in lieu of saving us from an even worse incident; perhaps it will open new horizons of opportunities. But the truth is, it actually doesn’t matter why! It only matters that it was the Guru’s will.

When such surrender ripens, we get a great comfort that “there is someone to care for me and I don’t need to worry.”

This change in thought process is in fact the standing proof of the presence of “Grace”, because we did nothing to invoke this. It happened because of gratitude to unconditional love.

The beauty in this is that, even this realization credits only the disciple and not the Guru, for without gratitude and surrender (disciple’s attributes), the love of a Guru will not reflect in the disciple’s eyes as Grace. But this is only because they (the Gurus) simply don’t want any credit.

However, let us realize that it is indeed only His compassion that makes us the vessel for receiving His Grace.

Sriram Ramanujam, Houston TX



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