How Faith in a Higher Power Helped Me Reach A New Level of Understanding

And taught me that God is beyond religion.

Religion and spirituality have always been fascinating to me.

I was born and brought up in an Indian, Hindu family.

Typically, the Hindu religion is known for its rich and varied festivals, elaborate rituals, scores of religious texts, religious practices, its concept of life, principles, ideology, and of course for its many Gods.

As a child, I’ve worshipped, (and still do) a variety of Gods and Goddesses.

Whether it is in the form of Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Hanuman, Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Parvati, Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Kali, and scores of other Gods, and Goddesses.

But here’s the problem — back then, I couldn’t identify myself as a Hindu.

Primarily because no one answered the pressing question — “Why should I worship so many Gods? In fact, Why are there so many Gods?” And many other questions, that I rarely asked but were never answered.

And thus, growing up, my faith was non-existent. I was weak in my faith and there was no belief system I could subscribe to.

When people asked me why I worship so many Gods or something else about the Hindu religion, I shrugged my shoulders and said with a weird smile “I don’t know. That’s how I’ve been taught”

Owing to the lack of any belief, it was easy for me to think that God doesn’t exist.

Children, and humans in general, are always looking to understand the world, to find meaning in life.

We have a deep need to make sense of what’s going around in the larger scheme of things. And so after I’d shunned the Hindu way of thinking, I was desperately looking for an explanation of this world.

I’m afraid, like many others, I sought that in science. Most science, when I was young, said that matter is the highest reality. That we’re born and we die — that’s it. There’s no soul, no afterlife, no hell, no heaven, etc.

It just straight on defied everything I believed to be ‘religious’. Even though I was not fully comfortable accepting this worldview, I thought there isn’t any alternative.

Most people around me were subscribing to this materialistic philosophy and, to fit in, I jumped on the bandwagon too.

Years later, when I was 19 years old, I came across the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. As many of you may know, he had visited India when he was young and had sought spiritual enlightenment.

His inclination towards spirituality caught my attention. Later on, in his story, I learned that the only book on his iPad was [Autobiography of a Yogi]( (let’s call it AoY). In fact, he’d given that book to everyone at his funeral along with a message — “Actualize Yourself.”

Needless to say, I ordered AoY immediately but kept it on the shelf for a long time. I wasn’t yet interested in those spiritual ideas enough to dive deep into a 460-page book.

I continued to read other business books and also re-read Jobs’s biography three more times. Every time I read his story, I dug deeper into his motivations and ideals.

I realized that deep inside, he wasn’t really like other businesspeople. He had a monk-like focus which still shines through the Apple products today.

I knew I wanted to be more like him instead of the usual entrepreneurs I saw on Instagram.

With that insight, I picked up AoY and started reading it. At first, I couldn’t really believe what’s happening.

I mean, it has stories of saints who leave their body, then resurrect in the next chapter, or materialize at two places at once. Nevertheless, since these ideas were way beyond my ‘paygrade’ (which is to say my spiritual understanding) I kept them aside and focused on other aspects.

Just after finishing the book, I had restored my faith in God. I knew that learning meditation is the next step in my life. And that a large portion of my life would be spent seeking God (It’s amazing how much a book can transform you!).

Suddenly, the world started to make sense. I started to unravel the mysteries of the world. I could not only understand but also write about the concepts that used to just fly over my head earlier.

All this turned me into a believer. And made me realize what God really is.

Believing in a Higher Power Can Completely Change You

People say “I don’t believe in God”; “There’s no proof”; “Science can’t prove it” and so on.

I understand it’s normal to feel that way. But the point here is not to believe in God.

The point is to surrender and have faith. And to have a higher state of consciousness, you need to accept there’s something bigger in this world than your little ego and desires.

One of the most difficult steps in the ‘recovery’ process for addicts is to accept a higher power.

Step 2 in that process, says that the addicts “have come to believe a Power greater than themselves that restores them to sanity.”

It’s difficult because addicts (and in general people) are obsessed with themselves. Their urges, their desires, likes, and dislikes.

If you look closely at Step 2, it isn’t telling you to believe in Jesus, Shiva, Allah, Guru Nanak, or anything else. You can believe in Nature, Mother Earth, the Universe, Destiny, Fate, or anything else.

Because whatever you believe in, the point will always be to surrender your self-will.

If you don’t believe in anything you go to the empty houses of nihilism. And there’s no hope there. Nihilists often go crazy because they can’t make sense of the immense complexity and emptiness of life and death.

That was the direction I was heading into earlier.

Once you accept this higher power, you realize that your life is guided by something bigger that’s out of your control. And in fact, it’s the only truth.

You’re here on this planet for maybe a hundred years. But this planet and this universe are going on for billions of years without you exercising your will.

And so to think that your will is the ultimate reality would be foolish.

The Gods Are Ideals Not Idols

A popular article in the Trust Magazine asks a simple question — “When you say you believe in God, what do you mean?”

Here are the results:


This is just one example to show that people don’t need to believe specifically in the God of the Bible or Shiva, or anything else.

But it’s helpful to believe. Let me tell you why.

Recall how I told you above about the numerous Gods in the Hindu religion. Now, are these Gods competing with each other. Is one higher than the other?

No, not at all. Many people (even Hindus themselves) criticize Hinduism saying that there can’t be so many Gods.

And they’re right. The purpose of having so many Gods is not to have ‘idols’ but ‘ideals’.

You see, on the spiritual path, devotees need to develop different qualities.

Some may need to work on their intellect. Others may need devotion. Some may need to have steadfastness. Others may have to be more compassionate.

And so we have different Gods for each of these ‘ideals’.

If I tell you — “Be more compassionate like God,” you’ll not know what to do.

But if I tell you — “Be more compassionate like Jesus,” you now have a visible goal to strive for. You can read about Jesus and his acts of compassion to learn from them.

Let’s take another example from the material world. If I tell you “Be a good entrepreneur” but don’t tell you what a good entrepreneur is, you’ll be clueless. On the other hand, if I tell you, “Be a good entrepreneur like Jeff Bezos.”

Ah, now you have something to shoot for, isn’t it?

This is why it doesn’t matter which specific God or Higher Power you attune yourself to.

The important thing is to believe in *something! *Without that, you can’t even survive.

God Is Sat-Chit-Ananda

As taught by yogic science, God is sat-chit-ananda which means ever existing; ever conscious; ever-new bliss.

Swami Kriyananda begins his book Superconsciousness with these words:

“Consciousness, in its pure state, is absolute: more absolute than the speed of light, which slows on entering a material medium such as the earth’s atmosphere; more absolute than the existence of matter, which is only a manifestation of energy; more absolute than energy, which is itself a vibration of consciousness.”

You can’t define consciousness. In other words, you can’t define God. Once you define it, it is not pure consciousness anymore. So consciousness can’t really be defined, it simply is. However, it is not empty: in it lies total bliss.

This is why we have different Gods and Goddesses in every philosophy. Since you cannot define Satchitananda, how then can you strive to achieve it?

By emulating the ideals. This ideal, as I said, can be Jesus, Nature, Guru Nanak, Shiva, Goddess Kali, or anything else.

Final Thought

I hope you now understand, why believing in a higher power is important for your own growth and how that higher power doesn’t need to be limited to one God or religion.

God is beyond religion. Different religions just have different ways of beholding the Lord.

Everyone is going to the equator. Some come from the south, others come from the north. Depending upon where they’re coming they organize themselves into different groups of ‘religions’.

But they’re all headed towards the same thing — Satchitananda.

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Written on January 31, 2021