“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
― William Hutchinson Murray
The “hand of providence” is a phrase not so commonly heard today. What is the hand of providence and what value does it have in our lives?
The hand of providence is the idea that grace is constantly being dispersed. We live in a universe of power, interconnectedness, and synchronicity. There are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. In tantra, we recognize that sometimes that reason is for “no reason” (or lila, the divine play of things). But I choose to live as if everything in life is for my awakening and that nothing happens that isn’t for some recognition of a greater good. As Mr. Murray suggests in the quote above, it’s the commitment you make that initiates the response of providence. He suggests that life is a co-participation between yourself and the divine, between Shakti (the individual expression of consciousness) and Shiva (consciousness itself).
In August of 2012 when I founded Ashaya Yoga, I desperately began looking for a logo. I had no idea what I wanted. My original idea was immediately struck down, respectfully, by my wife, Ann, who, at that time, was partnering with me to create Ashaya. I have to share my original idea with you because it’s very funny now that I look back. Since Ashaya means abode of the heart, I drew the image of a peaceful suburban house with a chimney and smoke coming out of it with a heart drawn inside the house, thus “abode of the heart”. Although I had good intentions of creating a symbol of a heart held within a community of loving beings, my art expression is really that of a third grader!
A few weeks later, I saw a simple lotus flower as part of a logo of a studio I had just taught at, and I thought this might work. So the lotus idea came to pass and we sent the idea to a professional logo designer in California. For no small fee, she created an artistic lotus image which we used for a short time. But there was something not quite right about it. I found another marketing/designer and she changed it into a very beautiful lotus with “abode of the heart” as the byline. I fell in love with it. We put it on our website, business cards, and eventually on our Ashaya T-shirts and tanks.
The long, painstaking process of refining the logo finally paid off but in the most unexpected way. One day while getting ready to teach a morning session, I stood in front of my mirror combing my hair when I had this revelation.
I looked at the logo on my T shirt and my jaw dropped. What I discovered was undeniably the hand of providence. The lotus flower was composed of 5 outer petals and 4 inner petals. My revelation was that the 5 outer petals symbolized the 5 elements (sky, earth, water, fire, and air) and the 4 inner petals were the 4 Essentials of Ashaya Yoga (Open, Engage, Align, Expand). It was the perfect reflection of the method of the 4 Alignment Essentials embraced by the 5 elements.
There’s no way I could have planned this. It was by pure accident or fate, that this happened. The Ashaya method hadn’t even been officially nailed down to the elements and the essentials. I realized that as hard as I work to make my life happen, there are some things that are beyond what I can do. But now I know for certain that there is a bigger energy out there working in my best interest.
The point is not that this happened to me. The point is that I chose not to ignore it and write it off as accidental, coincidental, or insignificant. I chose to see this as a simple act of the hand of providence. When I saw it this way, I felt the love and blessing of encouragement from the universe that I am following my heart and going in the right direction.
The way isn’t always easy, but it is true. When you follow your heart and stay open to grace, life becomes a joyous dance with the divine. Although I forget often, I’m much more aware of the ways grace plays a role in my life.
The hand of providence is subtle and therefore difficult to detect. In order to receive the providence, you have to extend your hand. This is the part about commitment and co-participation. It takes both – your hand (your effort, intention, desire, and action) and the hand of the divine. You have to act. When you act in alignment with your heart and the highest good, providence becomes your partner.
Had I not brought this realization out into the light and told my story, perhaps it would have vanished from reality, living only in a remote part of my mind. Providence is constantly happening in every moment of our lives. But you have look for it in order to see it. The more you look, the more you’ll see it.
If you choose not to believe in something bigger or you write off the notion of providence too quickly, you may never see it blossom in your life. You get what you put out. If you put out negativity, doubt, and pessimism, that is exactly what you’ll get back. But if you choose to open to a bigger energy, choose to see the good, choose to believe in the hand of providence that is constantly working in every moment of your life, then you’ll begin to see that happening in the small and sometimes large ways.
What makes you more receptive to seeing and experiencing the hand of providence? Practice. Practice of yoga, meditation, mantra, pranayama. It’s in the daily ritual of practice that you clear the screen of your mind, wipe off the slate of your consciousness, in order to be in the present moment where you can see clearly and hear the subtle whispers of the divine.