By Oswald Pereira
When we were children, we were told that God is present everywhere. So, as a kid I saw God’s hand in nature and everything small and beautiful. My favourite God-creation was a butterfly. I used to creep up towards a butterfly and gently holding it marvel at its colours and beauty. When I released it, it would flutter its wings and return to rest on a sunflower in the garden of our home. In school, I always scored the highest marks in religion, winning the first prize that consisted of small, hardbound books on God and religion. My peers who were happier eyeing the ‘birds’ in class gave me up for a lost case and concluded that I would join a seminary after school.
Then one day, my religious teacher declared in catechism class with a startling finality that the only way to Heaven is through ‘our God’. I should have jumped at that announcement, happy that he had assured us all a place in Heaven, especially the religious me. But I was quite disturbed by his declaration and timidly asked him, “What happens to those from other faiths?” He was aghast by my question and scolded me, saying, “Don’t you know, we are God’s chosen people.” Period. End of catechism class.
But that was also the end of my unstinting belief in God. To me, God suddenly became unjust to have ‘chosen’ only part of his people to go to Heaven. As I began to play truant with God, my scores in religion fell. By the time I reached the 11th standard, I had joined the league of non-believers.
On one of the bleakest days of my life, my mother was summoned by the school principal, because my hair was long and I had made a puff — in the Dev Anand-Elvis Presley style. The principal, a religious person, had flattened my puff that I used to so painstakingly create and made me kneel down for looking like a ‘Roadside Romeo’. That humiliating experience, indeed, was a nail in the coffin of my belief in religion and God. How could a religious person behave so insensitively? I asked and fell out with religion and God.
I made my peace with God when I joined the Charismatic Movement, 10 years after my puff was ruffled by my school principal. It was quite evident that I was still a believer as I received the Holy Spirit’s gift to pray in tongues and some power to heal. But this didn’t last long, as I was sucked into the world of journalism, where my priorities changed — news scoops, followed by celebrations at the Bombay Press Club, became a routine affair.
There was clearly a mismatch between the Holy Spirit and manmade spirit.However, there is still hope of happier days, as I recently came face-to-face with one uplifting moment. The moment has grown into seconds and the seconds into minutes. The duration of peace and joy within is slowly growing and building up. The more effort I put into the exercise, the greater the reward. The agent of the transformation within is Pranic Healing and meditation. There is the feel of a Supreme Being that is cleansing and energising my body, mind and spirit.
This time around, I want to make the joy last, forever. Like the puff of my hair in my younger days, it’s a puff of the spirit. But the faith can only sustain if the puff grows into a mountain…that can’t be ruffled with the fingers.
Yes, God is everywhere, with all of us, at all times. But I’ve learnt the hard way that He is first within you. You should not let any person or external force disturb your equation with God. And the only way to Heaven is through God — yours, mine and ours.
Causes Oswald Pereira Supports
Equality of Women, Economic Equality