- Andrews Amrithraj
A Path to Intimacy with God - Week I
“In God we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Whatever the different stages our spiritual path might pass through, its final destination is intimate union with God. Isn’t this the pearl beyond all pearls that we all long and strive for in our spiritual life? There are many and varied paths to God (religious practices, cultic worships, novenas, praying with the Scripture, celebration of sacraments and use of sacramentals, Eucharistic adoration, praise and worship, pilgrimages, novenas, processions, rosary, lectio divina… ). Whatever religious path we have embarked upon it is just a starting point that should lead to the innermost mansion where God is present. It is in the cave of the heart where all duality dissolves and the true Self in all its radiance and beauty shines forth. For this, Meditation, as a spiritual path will lead us to the non-dual experience of God. Beginning with this article and in subsequent articles I will explore the salient features of this method of prayer.
The first pre-requisite for prayer is to have a strong DESIRE for God. In the East the following story is shared to highlight this point. A seeker requests a spiritual master to teach him the path to God. The master, instead of giving a lecture on prayer, took him to the riverside and held his head under water. Even though the man frantically gasps for breath, the master does not let go off his grip. And when finally he lets him free and the man steadies himself, the master asks him, “What were your thoughts when your head was under water? Were your thoughts on your job, your bank balance, your family, your relationships, your past/future, your failures/successes, and your worries/anxieties…?” The man replied, “Master, my only thought was the strong desire to breathe. All I wanted was oxygen and nothing else flashed across my mind.” The master said, “Similarly, Sadhana (Way to God) requires that your basic and fundamental desire is God and God alone and your entire being should be burning with the desire for God.”
How strong is your desire for God? Is it a burning desire that drives you to do anything and everything that it takes to materialize this desire? Just as in the case of an alcoholic who wants to give up his drinking, it is not enough to have the desire alone but rather the question: is s/he prepared to do everything it takes to drop that habit. As the Psalmist says, “Like a deer that longs for running streams (Ps 42:1) and the sentry for the day to break (Ps 130:6), so my soul longs for you God.
Nothing that is of worth in this life is achieved without a strong desire. So too in the spiritual life. How strong is your desire for God? How deep is your longing? If you are serious about it then you will put your hand on the plough and not turn back and do whatever it takes to realize that desire.