Caught up in a spider’s web and fluttering its wings vigourously, I saw a butterfly in distress while walking down the green belt, near my home, one morning. The call of my winged friend, crying for help, rang loud on my ears. A few quick steps through the tall grass and weeds, crossing the boundaries of ‘self’, I reached out to extend help for I could feel nothing at that moment but the pain and discomfort of this ‘unknown’ but very own friend.
With the power of compassion, I gave a sharp blow with the twig-stick in my hand to disengage the network of web that entangled the butterfly. I was thrilled to see it leap out from that enmeshment, flying away to glory. Thrilled as I was, I instantly thanked God for making me the instrument for its release to freedom.
Maya is the Web Around Us
Quite akin to the state of this captured butterfly, we are enmeshed in the network of ‘maya’ that seems unseen but is all around us. Of course, God has created it to keep us earth-bound. As Paramhansa Yogananda says, “God is testing our love for Him.” Whether we will remain in that mesh of maya experiencing the ups and downs of life or choose to seek freedom in His Light where alone lies pure, eternal bliss!
It is, however, true that not all little creatures of Nature that get stuck in a spider’s web die in this imprisonment. Some do live, while entrapped, if their life processes are not threatened. Only if the noose of the web goes around the neck halting the breathing or interferes with body’s functions that the actual struggle begins, though the web is all poised to entrap and kill the victims.
In the same way, a majority of people remain in the darkness of maya, where one faces the ups and downs of life, with pain and suffering alternating with pleasures of this sense-driven materialistic world, without realizing that everlasting happiness can be sought in inner freedom. So accustomed are we to living in this web, due to our ego consciousness that the world of duality is all what we see. Yoganandaji has said that the three powerful delusions which keep us bound to the material world are money, sensuality and intoxicants like alcohol and drugs. It is the indulgence in these delusions that weave around us the spider’s-like web of ignorance into which we get trapped to a lesser or a greater degree.
Unfortunately, we remain in this web of life until, normally, the hard blow of grief or sorrow awakens us to turn to God’s help. Thus, a turning point does come in the lives of some people, thanks to those moments of despair, that awaken their consciousness to higher realities, which triggers their fluttering to look for answers within. This soul call can be likened to the call of the butterfly that is stuck miserably in a spider’s web, and is seeking freedom.
Turning Godward is, thus, but a natural recourse looking for solutions to our problems that appear unsolvable. The only difference is that creatures of lower consciousness die many deaths, life after life, while human beings are gifted with the consciousness to realize the futility of remaining in the intricate mesh of life’s web and make effort to remember and find God for in Him lies our ultimate freedom and true happiness. In other words, we have to make a choice to stay in this web of delusion woven by our own karmas or consciously make effort for seeking inner freedom.
Divine Grace versus Self-Effort
Yoganandaji said, “The God-sent Guru is the embodiment of the Heavenly Father’s noble wish to redeem His children.” The Guru’s grace is the only power that can free us from the torments of duality.
Swami Kriyananda says, “Grace is like the sunlight on the side of a building, shining impersonally. If you want to receive the sunlight, you must keep the curtains of your windows open.” He adds, “It is we ourselves who keep out the sun of Divine grace, by closing our mental curtains.” Master has said that our self-effort is just 25% of what is needed for finding God, to which adds up 25% of Guru’s grace and the remaining 50% comes to us as the grace of God.
The avatars or Divine Incarnations come to release us from the bondage of sense-driven meshwork of our umpteen desires and attachments. They give a hard blow to this illusory mesh around us as we open ourselves in all humility to receive their grace. This happens only when we first make the self-effort by following the Guru’s teachings, which is through the practice of meditation, selfless service and attending satsangs with deep devotion and attunement with His consciousness.
Our indomitable faith in the Guru, believing that He is working to cut the cords of delusion for us works miraculously in our favour, as does our unruffled patience in waiting to receive His grace. Realizing that the Guru is participating in every aspect of our life, rather He is working through us, all the time, in everything we do is what makes us truly receptive to the Divine grace.
Caught up in the web of delusion, our fluttering in the form of many pains and sufferings, is not unnoticed by the Guru as, if we are ready and receptive, He rushes for our rescue presenting before us plausible solutions through new opportunities to change ourselves, as we are His very own.
What an assurance Yoganandaji, a Premavatar, has given us in His poem, God’s Boatman, saying,
“Oh! I will come again and again!
Crossing a million crags of suffering,
With bleeding feet, I will come—
If need be, a trillion times—
As long as I know,
One stray brother is left behind.”
Master’s power of compassion is unfathomable, for lifetime after lifetime, He has given us again and yet again the opportunities to change our ways. Those of us who make the self-effort in following the teachings of the Guru receive His grace that ultimately, helps us disentangle from the web of delusion, making our soul rise up joyfully in freedom and merge in the Infinite Spirit.