Faith is a gift

Faith is a gift, which if not cherished or nurtured will be wasted.  Doubt, on the other hand, can sow seeds of fear which can give rise to hopelessness and lack of initiative.
If you have faith, as much as a mustard seed (tiny), you will be able to move mountains.  But doubt, can be a debilitating factor.  However, it is quite natural to be saddled by doubts at certain times in life.  But we must rise above and conquer these doubts.
Several iconic spiritual personalities have admitted to being assailed by doubts (even Saint Peter, when Christ asked him to come to Him walking on the sea).  Saint Thomas aka Doubting Thomas., was skeptical when he heard about the resurrection of Christ, until he saw the wounds of Christ with his own eyes.

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Unshakable faith comes to the rescue of believers in their darkest moments.  Abirama Bhattar, born Subramaniya Iyer, was a priest at the Abirami Temple at Thirukadaiyur in South India.  An ardent devotee of the Goddess, he would often be lost to the world, as he contemplated on the Goddess and visualised Her in his mind’s eye.  He was ridiculed and was even dubbed as mad by some of his peers.  One day the King of Tanjore —- Raja Serfoji, on a visit to the temple, decided to test Subramaniya Iyer and asked him what phase of the lunar month it was.  Although it was a new moon day, Subramaniya Iyer who had envisioned the Goddess’ moon-like face said it was a full moon day.  The King told him that if the moon did not come up that evening, he would be consigned to flames.  That is when Subramaniya Iyer composed the Abirami Anthathi extemporaneously.  As he did, a miracle occurred, and, legend has it that the Goddess threw her nose-ring into the sky and created a full moon.  The power of faith literally gave the devotee the moon.
Legendary sportsmen have often talked about conquering their doubts and fears through a never-say-die spirit and a mind-over-matter approach which stands one in good stead on the spiritual path too.
Life itself is an act of faith.  When you find your faith at low ebb ———- reading the scriptures, keeping the company of evolved souls, listening to edifying discourses and drawing strength from the miracles in your life can help to strengthen it.  Feed your faith, and your doubts will begin to die.
———— Sudha Umashanker.
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Shirdi Sai Baba

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SHIRDI SAI BABA (1838 — 1918) was a spiritual master who was and is regarded, by his devotees as an avatar of God, saint, fakir and sadguru.  He was revered by both his Muslim and Hindu devotees and during, as well as after his life on earth, it remained uncertain if he was a Muslim or Hindu himself.
Sai Baba stressed the importance of surrender to the guidance of the true Sadguru or Murshad, who, having gone the path to Divine consciousness himself, will lead the disciple through the jungle of spiritual training.  The name “SAI” was given to him, upon his arrival at Shirdi, a town in the west Indian state of Maharashtra.  SAI or SAYI is a Persian title given to Sufi saints, meaning ‘poor one’ and in Banjara language SAYI means ‘good one.’  BABA means ‘Father’ in many Indian and Middle Eastern Languages.  Thus, SAI BABA denotes “Holy Father” or “Saintly Father.”  Sai Baba remains a very popular Master, especially in India.  He had no love for perishable things and his sole concern was self-realization. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace and devotion to God.
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His teachings combined elements of Hinduism and Islam.  He gave the Hindu name DWARAKAMAYI to the mosque he lived in, practised Muslim rituals, taught, using words and figures from both traditions.  One of the well-known epigrams “MALIK EK” (ONE GOD) is associated with Islam and Sufism.  He always uttered ALLAH MALIK (GOD IS KING).  Sai Baba came to Shirdi when he was about 16yrs old.  He led an ascetic life, sitting motionless under a neem tree and meditating while sitting in an asana.  He stayed in Shirdi for 3yrs, disappeared for a year, and returned permanently around 1858.
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Around this time, he adopted his style of dress of a knee-length one-piece ——— KAFNI ROBE and a CLOTH CAP ——– articles of typical Sufi clothing.  This attire contributed to Baba’s identification as a Muslim Fakir.  His manner was said to be withdrawn and uncommunicative asamadhi-mandir_1s he undertook long periods of meditation.  He was, eventually, persuaded to take up residence in an old and dilapidated mosque, and lived a solitary life there, surviving by begging for alms and receiving itinerant Hindu or Muslim visitors. —— In the mosque he maintained a sacred fire (DHUNI).  He performed the function of a local HAKIM and treated the sick with the sacred ashes of the DHUNI.  He also delivered spiritual teachings, recommending the reading of Sacred Hindu Texts along with the Qur’an.  He insisted on the indispensability of the unbroken remembrance of God’s name (DHIKR, JAPA).
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After 1910, Sai Baba’s fame began to spread in Mumbai.  People regarded him as a saint and they built his 1st temple at Bhivpuri, Karjat.  He also emphasised the importance of performing one’s duties without attachment to earthly matters and of being content —— regardless of situations.
The Sai Baba Mandir, in Shirdi, is visited by around 20,000 pilgrims a day. The Shirdi Sai Movement has spread to the Caribbean and to countries such as the US, Australia, UAE, Malaysia and Singapore.

In a desert place apart

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There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it.

In our whole life-melody, the music is broken off here and there by ‘RESTS’, and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune.  God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator.  How does the musician read the ‘REST’ ?  See him beat the time with unvarying count, and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between.

Not without design does God write the music of our lives.  Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the ‘RESTS’.  They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote.  With the eye on Him, we shall the next note full and clear.  If we sadly say to ourselves, “There is no music in a ‘rest,’ ” let us not forget “there is the making of music in it”.  The making of music is often a slow and painful process in this life.

How long He waits for us to learn the lesson ! —Ruskin.

CALLED ASIDE

From the glad working of they busy life

From the world’s ceaseless stir of care and strife

Into the shade and stillness by they Heavenly Guide

For a brief space thou hast been called aside.

CALLED ASIDE

Perhaps into  a desert garden dim

And yet not alone, when thou hast been with Him

And heard His voice in sweetest accents say

‘Child, wilt thou not with me this still hour stay?’

CALLED ASIDE

In hidden paths with thy Lord to tread

Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead

Closer in fellowship with Him to roam

Nearer, perchance, to feel thy Heavenly Home.

CALLED ASIDE

 Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone

In secret oft His deeper love is shown

And learnt in many an hour of dark distress

Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.

CALLED ASIDE

We thank thee for the stillness and the shade

We thank thee for the hidden paths thy love hath made

And, so that we have wept and watched with thee

We thank thee for our dark Gethsemane.

CALLED ASIDE

Oh, restful thought—He doth all things well

Oh, blessed sense, with God alone to dwell

So in the shadow of thy Cross to hide

 We thank thee, Lord, to have been called aside.