t is very difficult to have faith in anything much less a higher power if you are hungry, sick, suffering from malnutrition, and destitute. When you don’t have the strength to ward off the daily catastrophes that descend upon you from all directions, do you turn to a higher power for deliverance? Or do you gather super human will and promise yourself that you will persevere, come what may and extricate yourself from the situation you are in? Then there are those who would accept the misery as something that has been ordained by God, and find comfort in that acceptance.
Most of the readers of this article would not have been put to this kind of test. I have, and I managed to not only cross over to the other side, but do rather well for myself in life. I was born into a family of British origin who had decided to stay on in India after independence and consequently fell on very bad times. I was born in Kolkata and saw desperate poverty. For a long time we had no home of our own and lived wherever we could find shelter. Four of my siblings died of hunger and malnutrition, and my parents were mostly too ill and feeble to take care of us the way they would have liked to. We had nothing of our own and begged for food, improvised clothes out of collected pieces of cloth, queued up for powdered milk and food outside the gates of the sisters of charity and getting through each day was an ordeal.
Yet through all this immense suffering my parents taught me values. Through the telling of anecdotes, singing of songs and by their own dignified conduct, weak and enervated as they were, they conveyed their philosophy of life. These values which at that time didn’t seem to matter or help in our daily struggles for survival, helped me and my siblings immensely in life later, when we started our excruciatingly slow ascent from poverty. Time spent in a school that took me and my little sister in for free, fed, clothed and educated us and made me good enough to get my first job in Delhi. Motivated by a desperate drive to escape poverty, I rose through the ranks in the banking industry in India and later the UK. Today I run a successful motivational speaking and training business out of London and spend a considerable amount of my time in charitable activities, particularly in my home town of Kolkata.
Did I in all my travails turn to God or spirituality? Yes of course I did, but not in the conventional sense. I could possibly see his presence in the immense sacrifices that my parents made for their children; in the fact that along with people who would torment us there were others who would help us from time to time, the school which took me and my sister in for free and the nuns of Missionaries of Charity who would often come to the rescue of my distraught mother. And above all there is gratitude and wonder at the progress that I have made and the fact that I am in a position to help. But this is tempered by a deep sense of sadness at the loss of four of my siblings who suffered so much and could not make it; the hard lives that my parents led and the fact that they could never really lead the life that they deserved.
If somebody asked me about God and spirituality, I would say that it is unfair to put that question to someone who is sick, dying and hurt. I do believe however that not doing something about a bad situation is bad in a spiritual sense. We were all born more or less with the same faculties (we Christians believe that God created man in his own image) and all of us have the capabilities to make choice and to better our situation no matter by how little. As a inspirational speaker and neurolinguistic trainer, I know that the brain responds to positive stimuli, and begins to create neurological connections that pave the way to progress. Little by little one can train oneself to seek out positive associations and build on those. This sets into motion the habit of winning, albeit small at once, but one that can dramatically transform their lives just by understanding this gift form God and the value is contains. My life is a living testimony to this fact.
This for me is God’s gift to us. The human mind is this amazing instrument provided by God to deliver us from any situation and take us to self-realization. In my talks and lectures to people from economically weak sections, I exhort them to realize that they possess an incredibly powerful asset in their brain; something which has the power to make them not only chase their dreams, but achieve them. As the saying goes, God helps those who help themselves and the truth is that everything we need has already been provided to us (seek and you shall find). Once you master this understanding, you become unstoppable (one of the reasons behind why I named my company Help Yourself Associates.