Many people doubt why they have to undergo suffering in spite of having surrendered themselves to God. Ninety-nine percent of the people who visit temples and pray do so only to fulfil some material desire. Their mind is not actually bonded to God. We cannot say that this is real devotion. True devotees pray, “O God, I have many desires, but You know what’s best for me. Thus, let your will prevail.” The desires of such people will certainly be fulfilled.
Our desires are born of our selfishness. Often we fail to take others into consideration at all. Imagine what the world would be like if God fulfilled every desire of each person. Only when we contemplate on this can we see its ludicrousness. Because while the farmer prays for rain, the potter prays for sunshine. While the coffin-maker prays for a good business, everyone else prays for a long and healthy life. People from different walks of life pray for contradictory things.
Man cannot live without desires, but his desires should be based on dharmic ideals. For the harmony of nature and society, a life based on dharmic values is essential. This is possible only if we are able to imbibe spiritual principles. Roads are built for driving, but there is a certain “road dharma” that we are required to follow. The traffic rules must be followed; speed should be controlled. If we forget this dharma and begin to compete with each other, it will end in an accident. Such recklessness deserves to be punished.
There are people who, instead of praying for their own success, pray for failure of their competitor. Two businessmen lived next door to each other. One of them faced a huge loss. He grew weary, sank into a depression and lost his appetite. His concerned family took him to the doctor, and he was put on medication. But there was no change.
One day, his son rushed into his room. “Dad, did you hear the news?” he asked. “The cargo ship carrying the wood our neighbour was importing from Malaysia sank.” As soon as he heard this, the depressed businessman jumped up from his bed with great enthusiasm and called out to his wife, “Hey, where is my food?” This is how we have become today: we find joy in the downfall of others.
Real prayer requires a compassionate approach. So, instead of praying, “God, please destroy that person!” we should pray, “Please forgive his arrogance and ignorance.” When the sapta rishis—the seven sages—accepted the robber Ratnakaran with love and advised him, he realised the error of his ways, practised severe austerities and later came to be known as the great Sage Valmiki. Where the mind melts on seeing the suffering of others, where the heart is full of compassion, there God will shower His grace. God will hear such a person’s prayer and will fulfil his wishes. The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader