The other day, I was agreeably surprised to see a friend who, not long ago, had been, for some years, an invalid confined to bed. He was a heart patient and also suffered from acute attacks of rheumatism. He had despaired of getting well and prepared himself to face a slow and tortuous end.
Imagine my astonishment when I saw him in fine fettle! He was the very picture of health and happiness. And in his eyes shone the light of peace, which belongs to him alone who has merged his heart and mind and will in the Beloved. My friend had motored all the way from Secundrabad to Deccan—a distance of several hundred miles. He had thoroughly enjoyed the trip and proposed to visit many places in Northern India before taking the return trip home.
The life-turning moment
He told me that, for his illness, he had consulted many doctors, some of whom were specialists. He had freely spent money, of which he had an abundant store, but his condition continued to grow from bad to worse. He believed in prayer and he prayed to God, again and again—prayed for health and healing—but all in vain. His health continued to deteriorate until he was reduced to a bag of bones.
Then, one day, a feeling came over him to give up the wild chase, which seemed to lead nowhere. He gave up consulting doctors; he stopped taking drugs. He ceased to pray for health and resolved to ask God for no material thing or gain, but only for his love. “Thy Love alone I seek, O Beloved of this broken, afflicted heart!” he cried, again and again. And, as he cried, there were tears in his eyes.
The prayers get answered
His prayer was soon answered. God revealed His love to him and, in a sudden flash, he saw that in all that happened was the loving Hand of God. The pains from which he suffered, the bodily agony he experienced, day after day, all were according to the plan of God: and it was the plan of one who loved all humanity, all creation, with a love as boundless as the ocean.
This revelation filled him with such wondrous joy that rather than regain health and lose his newly-found experience, he preferred to remain in his new state with a bed-ridden body. In a matter of days, however, he became well again, and soon regained his lost health and strength. And now he goes about from place to place, asking all who meet him to seek God for no material profit but solely for His love.
“Come unto Me,” says Shri Krishna; “and you will be a direct charge on Me. Your burdens will be My burdens and your joys will be My joys!” And did Jesus not say: “Seek ye the Kingdom of God and all things shall be added unto you”?
Chasing shadows doesn’t bring peace
Alas! We seek the goods of earth. And the more we run after them, the more they run away from us. And if, sometimes, we outrun them and succeed in grasping what we seek, we find that they do not give us the joy and peace our distracted hearts need.
As I look back over the years, which are no more, what do I find? I have been in pursuit of one shadow after another. Shadows! Shadows! The world is running after shadows! Earthly beauty, which captivates many a heart and throws over it a veil of darkness, is a shadow! Power, which intoxicates many a noble soul, is a shadow! Silver and gold are shadows! Pomp and luxury are shadows! Pleasure and prosperity are shadows! Honour and greatness are shadows! They will not give us the peace we seek.
Peace will not come to us by running after the things, which the Earth gives and the Earth takes away. Peace will not come to us by fighting circumstances and struggling against so-called difficulties and misfortunes. Peace will come to us when we ourselves enter into the great peace of God. And to enter into the peace of God is to relax and stand still—to stand where you are.