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By its very nature Grace defies definition and explanation. It seems to countermand the laws of karma and nature. Grace is an intervention by the Divine that we cannot earn with good deeds. It is unpredictable, and unexpected. We cannot manifest it into our lives through prayer or creative imagination and we cannot merge with it in meditation. There is no mantra we can chant that will initiate it into action and there is no mystic that has ever given a definition that satisfies the left brain well enough.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
But every saint has claimed it exists and nearly every devout person that I know has told me, at one time or another, that they have personally experienced the blessings of grace.
What then is grace? And how is it that it exists universally in every enlightenment tradition and in every religion as a mystery of faith that cannot be quantified or verified?
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
In the Judeo-Christian traditions, grace is often defined as the unearned and unmerited favor and assistance of God for upliftment and sanctification to redeem. But for this to be so wouldn’t God be forced into personification? How does grace function if we don’t have a personal concept of God? Does he favor some with blessing but not others?
His form is Grace; His attributes are Grace; His action is Grace; His limbs are Grace; The universe and objects of enjoyment are Grace; And all this only for the sake of souls, though He Himself is beyond comprehension. – Sivajniina Siddhiyiir
In the Indic religions, grace is known as Kripa and implies mercy and blessing at the same time. In these traditions, most often, grace is an extension of the perfection that is spirit. We have only to become conscious of it and participate with it as it nurtures and supports us on our journey homeward to the source; it is a favor of devotion and faith. Often grace is depicted as a boon granted when the seeker has no strength left to continue trying. Once again, does this exclude those whose devotion is to the process of enlightenment and the realization of the unmanifest field?
Ramanuja (circa 1000 CE), a Hindu philosopher, claimed that liberation is only possible through the grace of God. He referred to liberation as occurring through nirhetuka kripii, unmerited grace.
Indic tradition even goes so far as to separate grace into categories: Ishwara kripa (grace of God), Shastra kripa (grace of the Scripture), Guru kripa (grace of Guru), and Atma kripa (grace of Self).
People are more than willing to share their stories of grace with me… often unasked. But I have to say that I have found it difficult to tell the difference between a simple expression of good karma and an act of Divine grace; it seems to me that what most people refer to as grace is just good karma. And who knows, maybe it is their good karma to experience a lot of grace in their lives.
I have observed over the many years on this spiritual path that meaning is almost always self-derived (small “s”) and self-applied. We, as spiritual beings having human experiences, need to explain the why and how of things. I hear people say things like, “this happened to me, that means God wants me to …” or “God must be telling me …” and then they apply a self-created meaning in order to bring a sense of control and organization to the seeming chaos of life.
Buddhism has a term known as “koan.” A koan is a word which demonstrates the inadequacy of logic. It is a word which defies definition, but in our attempt to define it we expand our consciousness. To me, grace is a koan.
Grace cannot be measured or contained or even explained therefor it is up to us to define grace for ourselves.
What I’m saying is “if you think it’s grace, it’s grace,” and no one can tell you different.