Nanak says, “In the realm of grace power is the expression, yet his compassion is attained only when you genuinely feel absolutely helpless.” Not a hint of cunning can remain; the helplessness must be total. By merely saying, “I am helpless,” nothing happens. The feeling must enter deep inside, penetrating the core of your heart, pervading every atom of your being. Not mere lip service but a feeling from your heart, it should be evident in your tears. It must permeate your every word, and echo even when there are no words. In your every action should ring the message to him: I am helpless, O Lord! I am helpless!
What can you do? You can neither do anything nor undo anything. Your actions have brought to pass only what should not have happened; you cannot accomplish anything.
There is a saying in English that is similar in many other languages: Man proposes, God disposes! Nothing can be more erroneous. It is just the other way around – God proposes and man disposes! God gives opportunities and proposals, and man refuses them, denies them. God wants to give everything to man.
Existence is waiting to be looted at your hands, but your doors are shut. This existence wants to shower its bounty on you, but alas, your pots are turned upside down. This existence wants to enter you, but out of sheer fright you have not allowed so much as a crack to open to receive it. And you have so filled yourself with junk that even if it enters there is no space for it. You have left no place befitting him within you.
His grace is attained only when you are utterly helpless, rudderless. The total experience of this helplessness is shame. Then you are ashamed even to say I. Then you wonder on what grounds you can claim I am? On what basis can I say that I am capable of doing something?
But our lives tell the opposite story. You have failed in all your ventures. All your efforts ended in vain, turned to nothing. All the fortresses you built fell into ruins and yet still you have not come to your senses, but hold on to doing. As long as this persists shame cannot enter into you, and Nanak says, “Shame is prayer.” As long as you say, “I know,” you will not bow down. Does a scholar ever bow down? His head never bends. He may bend his body but his head stands stiff in arrogance.
There is a well known event that the Sufis use for teaching. Two friends studied together throughout their school career. When they finished school and went their separate ways, one became a powerful king and the other a fakir. So it was destined! The king lived in the royal palace; the fakir roamed naked from town to town. The king was famous, the fakir no less so.
Once it happened that the fakir came to the king’s capital. Since he was a childhood friend the king made suitable arrangements for his welcome; he had the whole town lit with lamps and the streets strewn with flowers.