Tag Archives: prayer

The Lure of Books

Growing up in my grandma’s house, where I was the only child, I quickly made friends with books. They soon became my best friends. They were there for me when I was lonely, took me to magical places far, far, away, made me laugh, cry and see things in a completely different light.

Back home in India we didn’t have very good public libraries and every avid reader had to buy their own copies of the latest books. So every birthday all I wanted was books by my current favorite author. One birthday all I got was Anne Rice’s vampire novels. And soon after I got disenchanted with vampires! My favorite genres was fantasy and mystery. I even loved Robin Cook’s medical thrillers.

When I was doing my Masters, I was in a slump. I was just going through the motions. Nothing made sense. I was desperately looking for meaning and something to hold on to. Something solid, safe and comforting. I went to the library looking for some books on journalism. It so happened that these books were in the same aisle as the religion and mysticism books and in a shelf right opposite to them.

Religion was the last thing I needed then so I never bothered to look at those books. But on that particular day, I was just leaving when my eyes fell on a book that was sticking out of the shelf. “Hidden Power” was the title and on the cover sat this half-naked man that I had never seen before. I was magnetically drawn to the book and checked it out. The words in the book were like soothing nectar to my battered soul. I found joy and incredible peace. Everything made sense again. That was the first time a book changed my life.

Now if you have been following my blogs, I mention ‘books that have changed my life’ every once in a while. When I moved to the U.S. I fell in love with the public libraries. Anyone who has lived in a third world country will tell you what a blessing it is to have these treasure troves of books available to everyone. Again books swooped in to save me from loneliness in a foreign country. And then something funny happened.

I kept hearing about this book called “The Secret” from my mother and one fine day I decided to go pick it up from the library. No copies were available and the queue (to place a hold) was incredibly long. This piqued my curiosity. There must be something about this book, if it was so popular and so much in demand. I had to wait a couple of months to get the book. When I read it, it completely blew me away. Until that point in my life I thought everyone was at the mercy of a their predetermined destiny. The idea of being co-creators of our destiny was completely alien to me.

However, I was not happy with my circumstances then and instead of blaming and giving away my power, I decided to take charge and actively improve my life. And what a joy ride that has been. Sometimes things happened so magically that even now I look back in surprise because I can’t believe I pulled it off!

Now it’s all well and good if you lived in a cocoon and didn’t have to deal with the wrong kind of people at all. But the bitter truth is that you cannot escape these people. You have to learn to deal with it all and not get pulled into the drama. I was a drama queen, I admit. Even now you’ll find me over reacting every once in a while. But I have stopped hurting myself and my loved ones through needless drama. And for that I have to thank none other than Eckhart Tolle and his book ” The New Earth”. Five years ago I didn’t know we’d be pioneers of a new age of love, peace and harmony. But I did believe that if every one of us could achieve inner peace then it would contribute to peace on earth. This book helped me see the egoic patterns in myself and others. It helped me detach from that whiny little voice in my head, which was dragging me down.

The most recent addition to my list of “Books that Changed My Life” is a book by Henrietta Anne Klauser. It’s called “Write it Down Make it Happen”. The book talks about all kinds of writing but the one message I took home was writing my prayers down. It’s been a year now since I started writing my prayers in a journal and it has been so rewarding. Every time I feel lost or in despair I reach for my journal and write. First I try to write something that I am thankful for and then I ask for help with whatever is bothering me. I feel much lighter afterwards. I also record any signs, omens, happy events in my journal and give thanks for it. I call it my prayer and gratitude journal.

I am where I am today because I took these books seriously and religiously followed the advice in them. I even recommend them to my friends and I am happy to inform you that I have heard from a few of them telling me that these techniques worked for them. I’m not surprised because most self-help books have techniques that have been tried and tested over the years. Why stumble and fail when you can learn from another person’s life and struggles. Some struggles in life you cannot avoid but most of them can be overcome by learning from another person’s experience or in my case – by opening a book!

 

 

 

 

 

Divine Protection is Yours

I had to write this with all the fear mongering going on in the world. An older version of me would have lapped it all up and doled it out by the bushels.  I know fear like a bosom buddy that back-stabbed me and left me hanging off a cliff for years. So I went to the other extreme. Call me crazy if you like but I’d rather believe I have angels around me, saints hovering over me and God protecting me with a shield of armor than get paralyzed with fear. And I’m glad to report that it works!

I remember seeing this short video on television a long time ago and it really impacted me. It goes like this. A girl lives on the edge of a forest with her grandmother. To get to her school, she has to walk through the jungle. The jungle is a scary place where she sees poisonous snakes and senses wild animals lurking in the bushes. The poor girl is so scared that she tells her grandmother that she would not go to school. Her grandmother tells her not to be afraid and to call on her brother Ram. The girl is confused because  she is quite certain that she is the only child. Her grandma however, insists that she has a brother who lives in the jungle. So the next day the girl goes into the jungle and calls out to her brother in full faith.

Sure enough a young boy slightly older than her appears, holds her hand and walks her to school. Now, the teacher comes to know about this and wants to meet her brother. The girl goes to the jungle with her entire class and calls her brother but he doesn’t show up. The girl bursts into tears when the teacher berates her in front of all the kids and calls her a liar. Her brother Ram then appears before the whole class to convince them that the girl did receive divine protection.

Ok that’s just a story you might say. But I have read accounts of people in dangerous situations being protected by something I can only call divine. Peace Pilgrim for instance, was a woman walking all alone, along the length and breadth of America, spreading her message of peace. She did not fear strangers and used to sleep under the stars without any apprehension. In her autobiography she mentions this truck driver who approached her as she was walking on the highway. He offered his truck as a place to tuck in for the night. She gratefully accepted his invitation, even though he was a complete stranger. She then got comfortable inside the truck and fell asleep. Now the truck driver had less than honorable intentions. When she woke up in the morning, he was staring at her in awe. He then told her that every time he approached her with the intent of harming her, some unseen force stopped him. He was visibly shaken by the whole experience and apologized to her. Peace Pilgrim had unwavering faith in God’s love and protection at all times. She also believed that it was available to everyone.

I know I’ve talked about my fear of driving before so I won’t go into it now. Suffice to say that I went from being drowned with images of dying in a car crash to calling all the angels and Gods to protect me as I drive. Speaking of car crashes, I’ve heard some miraculous stories. The car would be smashed beyond recognition or redemption and the people inside would just walk out without a scratch. How can you explain this? Divine protection and your guardian angels embracing you? I think so!

You hear all sorts of horrid things in the news and sometimes you wonder if you can ever be safe again. After the Sandy Hook tragedy I dreaded sending my kids to school. I knew I would sit at home and go insane with worry. They had a cop stationed near the main entrance to the school for a few weeks. Then the cop was gone. I just imagine all of heaven right there by the front door of every school, protecting my children, your children, the children of the world. I do wish you would join me in kicking fear out of your life and embracing divine protection – for it is your birth right!

You are Not Alone

   The world has become unbearable to me. The more I try to center myself and tap into inner peace, the more junk it throws at me. I love the trash-to-treasure idea but what do you do with random acts of violence with absolutely no motive or reasoning. It’s hard to erase those images from your psyche.

  My husband lovingly calls me the ‘enlightened one’ – what with my 24/7 obsession with making everything right with the world and my irresistible need to give advice to everyone about everything. But I was beginning to think he is mistaken. I’m barely keeping my head above the water. But it’s not like I’m going through the worst time of my life. Those years are way behind me. So then it got me thinking about those years when I felt all alone and a slave to my never-ending problems. Where was God, where were the signs, where were His/Her people?

   This is what I sensed from deep within. Even in your moments of deep despair, I was there whispering words of reassurance. You heard the words but didn’t know it was me. And then this song just popped into my head – ‘In the Arms of the Angel’ from the soundtrack of the movie “City of Angels”. I used to hear that song over and over when I was in Pondicherry, hating the course I was doing and wanting to quit. It was a very tough phase, with lots of tears and regret and doubts about whether I was doing the right thing. Back then it was just a song to me and it did not occur to me that I was being guided.

  Through several hits and misses I see how I was protected and saved from situations that would have taken me down  the road to damnation. When I had to deal with heartache I stumbled upon a kind saint and his compassionate words  to help me through it.

 Which brings me to the poem I want to share with you. I want you to know that whatever it is that you are going through you are not alone. Not even physically alone because me and several others are with you down that path. Struggling with the ugliness of the world before it disappears for good. All that we need to do is have faith that we will be swept away on the wings of angels and can live without a care.

 

Footprints in the Sand

One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonged to me and the other belonged to God.

When the last scene of my life flashed before us I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at certain times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This really bothered me and I questioned God about it.

“God, you said that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way but I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints in the sand. I don’t understand why in times I needed You most You would leave me.”

God replied,”My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you during your times of trials and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints in the sand it was then that I was carrying you.”

Mary Stevenson.

Love Never Dies…

Sandy hit last week and took many people with it. The pictures of the damage were heart wrenching. One cold December not too long ago we woke up freezing. A freak ice storm had left our town without power. We had to live in a friend’s place and then a hotel for five days until the power was restored. We did not lose our home or our belongings and none of us were hurt. But just being without a home for a few days is enough to make you feel displaced and uncomfortable. Imagine the plight of millions who not only lost power but also their homes and some even their loved ones. This week an earthquake in Guatemala killed many people and caused severe damage. I couldn’t shake off the sadness and then before I could pick myself up, I was dealt another blow.

My former colleague passed away. He is two years older to me and leaves behind a wife, twin toddler boys and a newborn. I spoke to his wife this week and I could feel her pain. I bit my lip and fought back the tears as I spoke to her. Just a couple of weeks ago I started writing the story of my grandma and this is how I started – right on the day my grandpa died, leaving my 36 year old grandma a widow with no work experience, no college degree and a little money. My Dad had just started college. When I wrote it was from my grandma’s perspective and in her voice. I almost cried when I spoke to my colleague’s wife because the feelings associated with losing one’s spouse were fresh in my psyche.

The feeling of loss is universal. It’s something no mortal can escape. It doesn’t matter if it’s your grandma. grandpa, mother, father, spouse, sibling, friend or child. It just leaves a huge void. One that all the love in the world cannot fill. All the people in the world cannot fill it. You feel orphaned, abandoned and forced to deal with life without your loved one. It’s not fair! How can you go on?

A dark mood swept over me this week and even though I planned to write this post, a part of me was saying – What are words? Just empty symbols. How can I make the pain go away? I can’t. No one will believe me when I say I feel you. I’ve been there. We become one in our experience of pain, grief and loss in very much the same way we become one in love, happiness and prosperity. There is a saying that goes – when you laugh the world laughs with you and when you cry you cry alone. I’m not so sure about that one. Here is my experience taken from an older post Daring and Different…My Dadima…

I was foolish to think she had touched but one life – mine. When people came to me with stories of her kindness and love, I cried copious tears. It felt like their pain was my pain. We had all lost someone special. Someone who thought we were special and treated us like royalty.

The pain you feel is real. No one can replace him/her. But time does heal and love will find a way to make you ache less. The loss of my grandma was not easy to deal with. I grew up in her shadow (or should I say aura?) I was lucky that I got to be with her when she passed away (braving winter storms, cancelled flights and long stop-overs). But still I felt guilty for the time I spent away from her. I could never get that back – it was gone and she was gone. I cried alone when no one was watching. Every birthday and holiday I would miss her terribly and cry. Every February (that is the month she passed away)  I would plunge into depression. It took me two years to make peace with her passing. I cannot give you a timeline for grieving or a date to move on. It will take time, it will take help and it will take a lot of prayer.

I keep going back to my grandma because I think she dealt with death in the right way. She never feared it and was never in awe of it. She just accepted it. She did however lose faith in God and Astrology after her husband was whisked away from her far too soon. Astrologers had predicted that the couple would live a long, happy life. And here she was 36 and widowed and with no clue how to carry on. She did however have a strong will to overcome the odds. She also had this – a strong connection with my grandpa even though he was not physically present. She often talked about dreaming about him and telling him her problems. Looking back at her life I can tell she most certainly got help from the other side. She always had enough money to take care of herself and pay the huge hospital bills. She always had helpful people and synchronistic things kept happening to her.

After her passing I felt her presence. Many things I had wanted in the past, came to me more easily. Like getting  a driver’s license, moving to a warmer place, even making friends. You say it’s a coincidence. I say it’s her putting in a word for me up there. In each case I have received signs that she has intervened on my behalf to bring me things in this mortal plane to make me happy.

Some of you may be reading this and not really understanding the full purport of my words. I’m saying that our souls never die and are not limited by the body. We go on forever. We are infinite beings. You are never alone even if you do not realize it. It’s like having air to breathe – you don’t think about it. There is more to life than death. Death is not the end. It is the beginning of another journey. We get a glimpse of this world when we sleep. In sleep we don’t feel our bodies, don’t remember the past and are blissful. We also travel to other magical places in what we call dreams.  A soul does the same when it leaves its body.  Even though we feel they are gone, they are free than ever before and can be with us if we want them to – in the most gentle and nonthreatening way. Supporting us and loving us even more than they could when they were alive and amongst us.

The Power of Prayer

I started jotting down my prayers in a journal sometime in early July this year. I was intrigued by the maid Aibileen in “The Help” who wrote down all her prayers in a prayer book. Everyone thought her prayers worked. I read about the same thing in “Write it Down, Make it Happen”. So I finally started writing down my prayers. It started off as a gratitude journal but soon I found myself asking for many things on behalf of my friends and family. The cool thing about a prayer/ gratitude journal is that it helps you keep track. Keep track of your mental state and petty needs from yesterday. When I go back and read the prayers it reminds me of the person I was and how my needs have changed and how I have changed. And also how many of my needs have been met and prayers answered!

Yes prayers do get answered. Every prayer you utter is heard. Buddhists believe that the Goddess Kwan Yin hears the cries/prayers of every soul that is suffering. She is a Bodhisattva but instead of detaching herself from the world, out of infinte compassion, decided to be amongst us and alleviate suffering. She is like  a Mother Mary from the East. It really doesn’t matter who you address your prayers to. It’s just important that you pray. Even if all your prayers are answered, you could most definitely pray for the millions of souls who and lost and suffering.

A friend of mine told me how she feared for the safety of her kids. I remember being that person. Always afraid. Always overprotective and I remember how it felt. Somewhere along the way I had the good sense to replace my fear with prayer. I think it was when I started driving (one of my worst fears in the past) and I was paralyzed by the fear that I would crash the car and injure myself and my loved ones. I couldn’t go past 5 m.p.h. and the instructor joked about ‘granny’ being faster than me.

It has reached a point where I had to face my fear. Where I had to simply let go and believe that by some miracle I would fly instead of falling hard on my face. So I prayed. Please help me. Please help me drive safely. It became a habit and now I always send out a prayer every time I start the engine.

So it is with things I have no control over. When I see suffering beyond my scope to help, I pray. I have to pray because I know that the moment I stop, fear will clutch my heart and hold it captive forever. Fear that will congeal my blood and my thoughts and make me buckle down in defeat. When I pray, I look up and there is hope. Hope in something bigger than me that knows the greater order of things. That will overcome the fear and darkness that is rampant. That will light up our souls and cure all our ills. Prayer holds within it a promise of hope and redemption. A promis of help from afar. A promise of comfort. A promise of triumph. When you pray you give all your worries away to be transformed into solutions that come back to you in good time.

I will leave you with a prayer I wrote in my journal after Hurricane Sandy hit the North East.

10/30/2012

Dear God,

                  Today I would like to pray for the millions of people in the path of Hurricane Sandy, who were affected. Who lost their homes, lost power, lost their loved ones. Please console them and be with them. Give them strength and help them remember you. Bring them togther so they can help eachother. We have friends in these States – please keep them safe and keep all families safe. Let people evacuate from their homes and not get trapped as the flood waters rise. Please help the emergency workers who are trying to help ease the pain and suffering of these people. Please surround them with your love and your angels. Please bring light to the darkness. Please help ease their pain. Please help me help in whichever way I can.

Infinite love and gratitude,

Damayanti