My First Breakthrough

God Sky
Note: Let truth guide you, not us. Our humble disclaimer.

God has a plan. Have faith.

I hear those words a lot when I talk with spiritual people. And while I am definitely a spiritual person myself, such words don’t usually comfort.

The skeptical me finds no proof that a plan exists; God’s hand looks no different than chance. The worldly me notes that my goals often are thwarted, and I’m certainly not delivered from pain and suffering; if God has a plan, it is not a good one. The spiritual me observes that goals are worldly attachments and therefore besides the point; God is about moving beyond goals and desires, not granting them.

So there was a smidgen of despair when I arrived in India and couldn’t get regular internet access the first month.

My decrepit cyber cafe of choiceInternet access is not strictly necessary when living at an Indian monastery, but its absence introduces a number of problems. Calling family, handling business and conducting research all require the internet. I survived with brief hookups at decrepit cyber cafes, but only barely. I needed internet from my bedroom, even if it was costly cellular internet.

Not that cellular internet is that costly in India. For $22 a month, you can buy nearly unlimited internet access from one of the many cell phone companies that have sprung up in the last 10 years. I have an iPhone, so problem solved. Maybe I even could buy an app that would allow my iPhone to act as a wifi router, thus also getting internet on my laptop.

My U.S. cell provider had locked my iPhone, however, not letting me use it with other phone companies. I could try hacking my phone, but research at a cyber cafe over the course of two weeks indicated that there were no good hacks for my operating system version. If I failed, my iPhone wouldn’t even be useful for snapshots, digital books and note taking.

Plan B was giving my laptop cellular internet through a $25 USB modem. That was simple, and after a couple hours of forms, passport photos and questions like what my father did for a living, I came home with a cell plan and high hopes. But the modem didn’t work on my laptop. And Indian call centers are even worse when servicing their own countrymen. And they literally were sending out a guy to look at my laptop because this was an unusual problem. And of course this would take another two weeks, time enough for me to realize that there would be no internet on my laptop. Which of course was what they said when they didn’t honor their appointment and I marched into the store where I bought the cell plan originally.

Failed modemIn the end, neither my iPhone nor my laptop could get online. The German with the iPad next to me got on the internet fine, but I had no options aside from reformatting my laptop’s hard drive and praying the USB modem would work with a fresh install. Adding insult to injury, the Indian cell company would not refund my cellular data plan. I now had a data plan but no way to use it.

Life is not always roses. Things can get bad, especially if we are not proactive in taking the steps to keep life good. But life can be bad even when we do.

On the face of it, trusting God’s plan seems like a rationalization for when life is cruel: I didn’t get what I want, but that’s okay because something better is on the way. For most of my life, trusting God’s plan has felt like empty hope.

But there’s another way to look at faith in God, I realized a few days ago.

Faith in God is a conceit, but a conceit with legs.

Science and religion’s best-guess fundamental premise is the unity of life, the oneness of everything when matter and energy have been reduced to a single ultimate substance. Call it energy, God, love, whatever.

When this unity is understood, good and bad don’t matter. Outcomes don’t matter, because we’re the winner and the loser at the same time. Like watching football without a favorite team, the game is fun but the outcome is besides the point. Enlightenment, that ultimate goal in life, is being the league commissioner—being the passive observer content with any outcome.

Easier said than done, which is why we need a conceit. Everything is God, so one of our conceits is conceptualizing God as a powerful being in the clouds when he’s actually us staring in the mirror; Ramakrishna saint Sarada Devi used to worship her own image, but most of us don’t. Another conceit is accepting our lot in life because it is God’s plan, whereas the real reason to accept our successes and failures is because the outcomes don’t really matter. Remember, we’re the league commissioner.

Iphone success!There doesn’t really need to be a God for God’s plan to work, which is the funny part. Learning to accept any outcome is the point. When we fully see the oneness of everything, this acceptance is self-evident. Before then, we have God’s plan. It is a good conceit that carries us through the bad times until we learn the deeper truth of acceptance.

Not that I am rejecting God’s divine plan clearly illustrated.

Ironically, my internet failure was leading to grand success.

Stuck with a data plan after the USB modem debacle, I let the hapless cell phone rep put the sim card with the new data plan in my iPhone. I assumed it wouldn’t work, and it didn’t. But then the rep surprised me with a technology I had never seen before: an alternate sim card tray that would go in the iPhone and hack it without me having to mess with Apple’s software. Yes, there was a God!

I bought the tray immediately and it worked. A few days later, I got my iPhone sharing the internet with my laptop via Bluetooth. It was a long time coming, but all my devices now were online. They were online and in the ideal configuration, although I never would have gotten there without the setbacks. Who even knew there was a sim card tray that could hack the iPhone?

God had his plan. It worked.

1 Comment

  1. by Mae

    On February 6, 2012

    don’t experience believing in God’s plan as being a conceit; it feels real, and I trust it because I know that if I let go, it’ll all be okay. Things happen for a reason; I just might not know yet what that reason is.

    Believing in God’s plan frees me to let go and know things will be okay. If I’m open to possibilities, there is always something I can learn, becoming a more flexible, stronger person in the process. Even when life doesn’t unfold as I might be hoping, over time I adjust my expectations and I’m okay. (I’m getting better at adjusting expectations faster; often even after a major disappointment or change, it now usually takes me only a few minutes, or a few hours, to accept and move on.)

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