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From: a c (ac_at_ampsc.com)
Date: Fri Aug 13 1999 - 10:43:36 PDT
Dear friends, I was reading a book called "The Tamil Veda" last night and saw a poetic reference to offering a simple leaf to God and found the sincerity very moving. It reminded me of a question I have about the relative merit and efficacy of religious practice. I have complete confidence in the graciousness and generosity of God and believe He is actually looking for opportunities to inject His Grace into the world while maintaining justice to all. In my belief, this opportunity is *almost* 100% determined by the actual sincerity of heart the devotee has towards Him. If the devotee is sincere then offering a simple leaf is accepted and effective because it's LOVE that binds us to our Lord - not really the legal contract. Is my belief anywhere close to SriVaishnava about this? I envy you all for being able to carry out the prescribed rituals because it must help your faith in God tremendously to feel you are doing what He prefers but I doubt my own ability to even begin. While I don't feel drawn to anything which seems legalistic or artificial (to my poor understanding) I am eager to do something pleasing to God in some little way I'm actually able to. I worry the language/culture barrier will swamp whatever genuine sincerity I have -- leaving me feeling like an idiot pretending to be someone else. I find it much easier to reconcile myself to living a clean, upright life dedicated to the loving remembrance of the continual presence of God. I want to do that because I'm very happy to even see the opportunity -- my problem is how much ritual practice is also required of the prapanna because I'm not sure I can honestly promise to carry through with much of that. How much is the minimum before one can feel that God is bound to His side of the deal? ( is this bartering with God? :-)) If I could get my wish it would be that an acarya would perform whatever prescribed ritual is required on my behalf on the mere assumption of my sincerity of heart with no promise from me at all. My wish would be God would be bound to comply with His end of the deal regardless of my weakness and failure and I would perform whatever small service to Him I am able just for the sheer joy of it without any worry whatsoever about my "breaking the contract" because of non-compliance with its terms. I can't see God's Grace being like wages for work -- it's always unmerited. I don't think I could ever really *deserve* God's grace so He may as well reward me just for asking. I know this probably sounds preposterous if not sacreligious but I think it's a fair estimate of what God is like ( unimaginably generous and kind) and what I'm like (able to receive generosity quite well :-)) I wonder if I'm getting closer to becoming a Vaishnava or getting kicked off the bhakti list?!!! Either way I put my trust in God completely to arrange the right thing. :-)) :-)) -A.