My understanding of the gospel is that it is the good news about the person, Muktinath.
Longing to have a life without strife and conflict is common human nature. For this purpose many theologies/philosophies are twisted to prove that having peace is the true mark of receiving blessing from God. But this peace that God promises to give is wrongly understood to mean a life without strife and conflict which is called ‘nimmadi’ in Tamil.
Many theologies suggest that the highest value we can get from God is to be ‘happy’. Though I am not representing the overall view of Indians, one of the aims in our life is to have ‘peace’ (Nimmadi in Tamil, which means ‘the absence of strife, conflict, pain, sorrow etc.)
Whether God wants us to be ‘happy’ or have ‘peace’, most human beings would prefer to have a tension-free normal life (nimmadi). But there is a subtle anxiety that someone or something will rob this ‘nimmadi’ and each one takes precautions to safeguard his/her personal and family’s interest. The question “What if…” always chases us in every area of life. Only children up to a certain age, insane people to some extent, and dead people are exempt from this question.
While the Hindu worldview gives credit to the punya (merit) along with the grace of God for this ‘Nimmadi’, it often (if not always) blames karma, time (kala), or even God for the lack of it.
My bhakti in the Lord helps me to know that in a fallen world there is no peace without conflict and challenges. Amidst this the relative ‘nimmadi’ that I enjoy is the inner work of the Holy Spirit to accept every earthly reality as it is and try to unload them on the Lord. Though the “What if…” questions do not disappear, my bhakti (gospel) helps me to work along with the Lord to see the oasis amidst the desert.
But the inner transformation that my bhakti does in me also motivates (or compels) me to do my best to bring others to the same oasis to rest and relax as there is a long journey ahead to cross the desert. Bhakti never allows the pessimism of ‘maya’ to overcome me or let me throw my hands up and be carried away in the current of life like a dead fish.
My sinful nature forces me to remain humble and not brag for any achievement or good thing that I enjoy in my life as the result of my karma or punya but purely from the grace of God – the undeserving kindness of God. This gospel helps me accept personal and moral responsibility for all my failures and miseries in life and also see that ‘everything works out for my own good’.
In other words, the lack of ‘Nimmadi’ helps me ask the question “What do you want me to learn from this?” rather than blame anyone. The inner working of the Holy Spirit (to mould me to confirm in His image) allows me to enjoy the coolness of the oasis rather than thinking about how much further I have to go to cross the desert.
Bhakti never props up any belief that we have some claim to a pleasant, safe and happy life. This is not pessimism, but a realism to celebrate all the goodness in life along with others and not take it for granted as if I earned it or deserve it. At the same time bhakti never stops us to think about the meaninglessness of the many questions asked by us and others on various issues. But it reminds us that even if we get the answer, we are not ready to live accordingly and we try to run away from reality. Out of frustration sometimes we throw our hands up and walk away with pessimism நடப்பது நடக்கட்டும்’ ‘let it happen’.
So when we stop asking repeated questions alone and through bhakti realize that God already gave the answers to us through so many ways, we began to abide in the PEACE of God which He bestows on us. This is bhakti’s answer to seeking ‘Nimmadi’ viz., absence of strife and problem in our lives. God never promises a safe journey but only a safe landing.
Frustration is different from anxiety. Asking questions about future is different from anxiety. So we often have all the three: frustration, anxiety and questions.
One thing is sure for me: Our Lord in His PERSON addresses all these issues. Thank God we don’t have anxiety without grace and questions without answers. Earthquakes strike for a few minutes or seconds, the aftershocks and tremors follow at intervals, but the effects of the earthquake remain for a long time.
The same is true with the ‘peace’ which the Lord promises to give. We may receive it in a moment but it will remain throughout life, which is a kind of mysticism for me.
To me, mysticism means enjoying the presence of God beyond all human categories. Grace is not the absence of anxiety but the assurance about the presence of God, and peace is not the absence of questions but accepting the answers given by God through bhakti.
Frustration, anxiety and questions always come when we face pain and suffering caused by oneself (adyatmika) by others (atibowtika) and allowed by God (adidaivika).
When pain and suffering come because of my own creation then I will mend my ways and accept personal responsibility for them rather than blaming something or someone. If they come because of others I can pursue remedies, reconciliation and restoration from my side. And if all my efforts fails, then I will accept it is allowed by God. In that case, I ask “What do you want me to know from this?’
All bhaktas who have learned to walk along with the Lord will experience this, even though it is hard to articulate in any human language.