What is the True Meaning of Grace and How to Become Available to Grace?
Sadhguru explains how grace is not just an abstract idea, but a living force that can be invited into one’s life. He shares what grace can do for you and methods to become available to grace.
Celebrate Guru Purnima with Sadhguru
The True Meaning of Grace
What we can do with our strength, intelligence and knowledge is very limited. If you open the window of grace, then life will happen in ways that you have not imagined possible. “How do I do this?” is always the question. It is not something that you do; it is something that you do not do. If you leave a certain space within you where your thoughts, emotions, ideas, philosophies, ideologies and prejudices do not enter, then grace will be a torrential force in your life. If you are full of your own stuff, then grace floats around you. This is the tragedy of most human life that a tremendous possibility hangs around them all the time, but they never allow it to happen. The idea, focus and methodology for all spiritual process is just to tear down your persona so that there is an empty presence within you which will become a doorway to grace and possibilities that you yourself could never imagine possible.
Are You Exuding Grace?
The question is not whether you are in grace or not. You are, otherwise you cannot exist. The question is only about are you exuding grace or are you transforming this into something nasty and letting it out on everyone?
There was a blind sage who lived in a jungle. People rarely passed his way. When they did, they gave him something and he lived by that. One day, it so happened that the king and his retinue of soldiers and ministers all went out hunting. In the hunt, they lost their way in chasing spotted deer and the king got separated from the group. Because the king has the fastest horse, he went away ahead of them and got lost. They were all searching and they all got lost. Then the soldier came and asked the sage, “Did you see the king?” He said, “No.” Then a commander came and asked, “Did you see the king?” He said, “No.” Then the minister came and asked, “Did you see the king?” He said, “No.”
Then the king himself came there and the blind sage immediately recognized him as the king, “Oh, your people have been looking for you. First your soldier came, then your commander came, then your minister came.” The king observed that the person was blind and then he asked, “O’ Divine being, how do you know that first it was a soldier, then the commander, then the minister?” The sage said, “Well, the first one who came said, ‘Hey, blind one! Did you see our king coming here?’” So I knew he must be your soldier. The second one spoke with authority but without respect, so I knew he must be one of your officers. The third one spoke with great respect so I thought he must be your minister. Now you came and touched my feet and referred to me as the ‘Divine one’, so you must be the king.”
Whether you eat food or breathe or drink water, it is grace. Two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen becomes life-making water – this is grace. You can give it an explanation but you do not know why this should happen. All that is happening is grace. Now if you drink this or you eat this or you breathe this, you should also exude grace, isn’t it? But unfortunately, people take in fantastic things and turn it into nasty nonsense and let it out. Look at the tree – you give it filth, it gives out fragrance. If you learn the way of the tree, you will exude grace. Once you are exuding grace, everyone wants to nurture it, promote it and be a part of it.
How Do You Know If the Guru’s Grace Is Upon You?
Question: How do we know if the Guru's grace is upon us?
Sadhguru: Have you noticed when you are in a hotel lobby, there is background music going on, and after some time, you do not even know it is there? Only if you want to make conversation will you find that it interferes – otherwise, the music is on all the time, but you do not notice it. Or, in your home, some machine is always buzzing, but you only notice it when you enter the house. You do not even know that your breath is on; only if it goes off for a minute will you know for sure. That is the only reason why you do not know that the hand of the Divine is always upon you.
What is the problem in not knowing if something is on all the time? Life will still be happening, but the joy of being in grace will be completely lost. Grace is not something that is on and off. It is not something that you question every weekend. It is just on. You have to become conscious of it so that you know the joy of being in Grace.
I have said this in many ways, but I am sure most of you have chosen to ignore it. Once you sit with me, even for a moment, there is no such thing as privacy in your life. The moment you sat with me, particularly initiated by me, there is no such thing as whether grace is on or not – it is on all the time.
Grace means you are no longer looking for an outside source of light; you have become the source of light. You may not be experiencing it all the time, but if at least for a moment you see that you are filled with light, that means grace has touched you. We are doing so many things in Isha to somehow make you experience this at least for a moment. Even if it touched you once and never came back to you again, your life would still never be the same. You can hang on to that one moment and live life very differently from anyone else around you. If it is with you all the time, then it is indescribable.
It is just that you are expecting grace to fulfill your plans. This is the old habit of going to the temple or church and telling God what he must do. If he does not do it, you will change your God.
Grace is not about fulfilling your petty plans. Anyway, your plans keep changing. At different stages in your life, you thought “this is it” and the next moment you changed your decision. You want to go on vacation, so you ask, “Sadhguru, why are you not helping me?” Do not keep questioning this every other day, “Is grace with me? Is it not with me?” A Guru’s grace is not designed to fulfill your plans; a Guru's grace is designed to fulfill life's plan. To make you, a piece of life, arrive at its fulfillment.
Grace in Operation!
Questioner: I am a doctor. Sometimes in my clinic, when I treat a patient, I feel that some kind of grace beyond my control is helping to treat the patient. How do I explain that?
Sadhguru: Taking another person’s life into your hands is not a good thing because it sits on you in a certain way. With your own life, you could fling it around a little bit. But when someone else’s life is placed in your hands, you cannot fling it around. Whether you are a doctor or a driver, you are taking someone else’s life into your hands. Worse if you are a Guru! Taking too many people’s lives into your hands is a big thing to carry on your head, especially if they are sitting in front of you in a certain way or they are lying on the surgery table totally helpless.
If you have sufficiently explored any system of medicine – Ayurveda, Siddha, Allopathy or whatever else – you know your role is not even 50%. If you have only read the textbook, you may think you are the master of it, but otherwise any sensible human being who is handling such situations clearly knows his role is not even 50%. This is always the experience of the greatest doctors in the world who have done wonderful work with people. It is very common for them to talk this language.
If you are a believer in God, it is very easy. You look up and say “Shiva, Rama.” Even if a patient dies, after all they are going into God’s lap, so it is okay! Believers do not usually experience grace, they just believe. It is convenient. But when you cannot subscribe to these belief systems yet you still see that your role is so small in making things happen, that is when you realize the presence of grace. The real question and struggle begins for someone who does not know whether to believe or not – someone whose intellect is struggling with both. For someone who is sometimes a believer and sometimes a non-believer, for someone who is struggling with the limitations of his own logic and capability, and struggling with the other dimension which does not seem to be tangible, for such a person, the presence of grace becomes absolutely clear in his life. He clearly understands that when he really wants to cross a narrow bridge, nothing can happen here without the help of the other dimension. The question is, how to invite this presence? Is it just by chance or is there a way?
7 Methods to Become Available to Grace
#1 Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya – An Invitation to the Divine
We used to make a T-shirt: “An Invitation to the Divine” When we say we are doing sadhana, it means that we are just trying to become a receptacle and an invitation to the Divine. For example, Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya does not really do anything. It is just that the whole process is designed in such a way that you become an invitation to the Divine. Something beyond yourself begins to function. Having the sense to do what you can, and to stand by with what you cannot and still be there alert and present is the whole essence of Yoga. That is how you become a receptacle or a doorway to grace.
#2 Move from Personality to Presence
Gravity is working upon you all the time, not only when you are alert. But grace is subtle. Unless you are alert, it will not come. Grace is very sensitive to your presence. If your presence is not there, its presence will also not be there. This is the nature of the Divine. This is why most people miss it, because they are mostly absent. Your thoughts, emotions or your activity are ruling you. Your presence is not ruling you. This is the transformation that you are trying to bring about with a spiritual practice. Your body, mind and emotion can follow you but you want your presence to be the dominant thing. Only because you are, you have a body, a thought and an emotion. But right now, you have made your thought, emotion and body far more important than yourself. In this upside-down condition, you cannot feel grace.
If you reverse this condition within yourself, suddenly ordinary becomes extraordinary. Every aspect of life is transported to a completely different experience of life. This does not happen because you believe something. With belief systems, you can imagine; this is the problem with believers. If you do not get established in your logical base, you are very susceptible to fly off into imagination and think it is grace. To have a solid logical base and still be open to grace is something that one has to do. The mystical and the logical – both realms are equally important. If your logical realm is well established, the mundane aspect of your life is well conducted. If the mystical dimension of your life is open to you, your experience of life is too fantastic. Otherwise, if you just handle the logical, arrangements will be fine but your experience will not be good. If you ignore the logical, your experience may be great but your arrangements will be horrible. This process of being able to establish the logical and still be open to the mystical is something that societies have not conducted well in this world. We either miss this or that. Without the two, your life will not be beautiful.
Once you have conducted your mundane pretty well, it is time to be open to the mystical. Here, your logic will not work, it will only limit you. “How do I fight my logic?” You just shun the produce, not the logic industry. You cannot kill the mind even if you try for ten lifetimes, but you can ignore the produce. It generates thought, you ignore it. It generates emotion, you ignore it. It generates opinion, you ignore it. It churns up a whole ideology, ignore it. If you do that, you will be in a natural state of devotion. Devotion does not mean adulation of someone. Devotion is that which is devoid of yourself. What you call as “myself” right now is just a bundle of thought, emotion and opinions. If you rest these three things, your personality will be absent. Then the life in you will be present. If this is present, you cannot miss grace.
#3 Karma Yoga
If you are less of yourself, that is the best way to be receptive. The sadhana is always structured to absorb you into activity in such a way that in the daily process of living, you forget who you are. You forget what your life is about. You are just absorbed into what is happening.
There is a beautiful story in the Zen system of allowing human consciousness to grow. A disciple goes to a Zen master and asks:
“What should I do for my spiritual growth?”
“Sweep the floor, chop the wood, cook the food. That’s all.”
“For that, why should I come here? I can do that at home!”
“But if you are sweeping the floor at home, it’s your own floor. You will not sweep the neighbor’s floor if it is dirty. Chopping the wood and cooking would be for your own use and who you consider as yours. You are using every activity to enhance who you are instead of using every activity to dissolve who you are.”
This is all the difference between making our activity or our karma either into bondage or a process of liberation. You are doing your activity either to enhance yourself or to dissolve yourself. Either you are acquiring karma, or your karma is becoming Yoga. That is all it is.
Just sweep the floor, cook food, or plant a tree – not on your property, not for you and your children to sit under its shade – simply planting it so that anyone, even your enemy, may sit under its shade and enjoy it, now this activity becomes a process of dissolution. The less you do of what you consider as “me and myself,” the more available you become to grace.
#4 Unbridled Involvement
Most people only do something that they think is their duty. Only when you have a very deep sense of love or devotion towards something, you will do everything that you can do.
If you are not doing everything that you can do at every moment of your life, what are you saving yourself for? Is it not important that every moment of your life, you are doing everything that you can do? This profound involvement is called devotion. Devotion is not a deal. “Sadhguru, I’ve been so devoted to you; you didn’t do anything to me.” I was not supposed to do anything to you! Deal makers are different people. Devotees are different people. “Nothing needs to happen to me. I will throw myself into this.” This is devotion.
If you just become free from this one thing – “What will I get?” your life is a very blessed life. Devotion means just this, that you are liberated from the pain of expectation. Once you are not a vested interest of any kind, you will do your best and that is all a human being can do. If you show that involvement that you are a part of everything that is here, you will become available to grace. Devotion means unquestioned, unbridled involvement without holding back anything. If you have that kind of involvement, grace will come in cascades, not in drops. Once you are graced like that, your life will be fulfilled. If you have a body, mind and energy which are not an impediment and you are available to grace, you do not have to bother what will happen with this life. Whatever happens, the most wonderful thing will happen.
#5 Stop Pretending to Be Big
Walk around, realizing the smallness of who you are – small is not nothing, but small is near enough. You do not have to pretend that you are small because you actually are a miniscule element. You are just pretending to be big. If you stop all your pretension, you are available to Grace.
#6 See Everything as One
Jesus said, “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” The two physical eyes are discriminatory. They tell you what is high, what is low, what is man, what is woman, what is this, what is that. These two eyes are instruments of survival. “If thine eye be single,” does not mean you close one eye. It means that you are no longer discriminatory. You see everything as one, as the same. If you become like this, your body shall be filled with light, and that is grace.
#7 Bow Down to Everything
You do not know how a tree actually functions. You do not know how this blade of grass happens. You do not know how anything here is working. Everything seems to be a little more intelligent than you.
When you are so dumb, you better bow down. When you see a tree, bow down. If you see the mountain, bow down. If you see a blade of grass, bow down. Even a grain of sand knows a lot more than you about life. You are a junior here; they were all here way before you and they know much more than you about life. I want you to walk with a certain sense of wonder and devotion at everything. Just try this for the next twenty-four hours. This is all that is needed to open the doors of life, that you do not think too much of yourself, you do not think something about you which is not true. Whatever you think about yourself is very untrue because when it comes to basic life, you do not know even what this soil knows. Your brain cannot do what this soil is doing. So, when there are such stalwarts around you, walk gently. If you just walk with devotion, slowly you will fall into the lap of grace.
Poem - Weaves of Grace
“Weaves of Grace” is a beautiful poem by Sadhguru that inspires you to allow grace into your life.
As a Weaver strives to put
one thread upon another
Every thread as crucial
as the other, for bare threads
to evolve into graceful fabric.
So is life my Beloved
Every thread as crucial
as the one before and after.
Weave you should the threads
of life of complex texture and hue
into a fabric of beauty and grace
fit for the boundless Being – Divine
Fabric not just a device to
cover the body of parts private.
Fabric that shall allow you to
touch the organic beauty of
Creation and become a passage
to privacy to cohabit the
Inner Divine. Threads of
love, threads of prudence, threads of
play and threads of work
Threads of closeness and distance
Threads soaked in sanity of
Sense and insanity of Bliss
Threads of such varied texture
and hue, to weave it all into
One graceful Garment.
Devotion my Beloved the
only way. Ungraced
by Devotion it can all
turn into messy knots.
Make life a weave of Grace
Sadhguru’s Insights on Grace from Mahabharat
Of Grace, Luck and Intelligence