Question – Amma, you often say that if we take one step towards God, God will take 100 steps towards us. Does this mean that God is far away from us?
Amma - No. It means that if you make an effort to cultivate just one good quality, all the other good qualities will develop naturally within you.
A woman was given a beautiful crystal chandelier as first prize in an art competition. She hung it in her drawing room. While enjoying its beauty, she observed that some of the paint on the wall had begun to crumble. She decided to paint the whole wall. When she had finished painting, she looked at the room and noticed that a window curtain was dirty. She immediately washed all the curtains. Then it came to her attention that the old rug on the floor had become threadbare. So she removed the carpet and replaced it with a new one. Finally, the room looked like new. It all began with her hanging the new lamp in the room, and ended up with the room becoming clean and beautiful, having undergone a complete transformation. Similarly, if you begin to do one good thing in life regularly, many good things will follow naturally in its wake. It will be like a rebirth. God is the source of all good qualities. If we imbibe any one of them, all other virtues will follow. This is the only way in which a transformation is possible.
Students are often awarded grace marks to help them pass their examinations. Though everyone is eligible, only those who have secured a minimum level can receive them. So it calls for effort on the part of the students. Similarly, God is constantly showering His grace upon us. But if we are to benefit from that grace, there has to be some effort on our part as well. If our minds don't have the receptivity needed, then even if God pours His grace upon us, it won't do us any good. What is the use of complaining about the lack of sunlight, when we ourselves have closed all the doors and window shutters of our room? The sun shines its light everywhere. We need only open the doors and windows to experience it. Similarly, God is constantly bestowing His grace upon us, but we have to open the doors of our hearts to receive that grace. This means that before we can receive God's grace, we first have to receive the grace of our own mind. God is infinitely compassionate. It is our own mind that lacks compassion towards us, and acts as an obstacle, hindering us from receiving God’s grace.
If someone extends a hand towards us with a gift, and we are arrogant towards that person, he or she will withdraw the hand, thinking, “What a big ego! I don't think I'll give my gift to that person after all. I'd rather give it to someone else.” Thus we have failed to give ourselves the grace needed to receive that gift. This was caused by our ego. We could not receive what was being offered to us because our own mind didn’t have any compassion towards us.
On certain occasions, our discriminating intellect tells us to do something. But our mind refuses to agree. The intellect says, “Be humble,” while the mind says, “No! I’m not going to be humble before these people!” The result is that much of what we could have gained is lost to us. What we could have achieved remains out of our reach.