A time when this deity has refused to help.
I don’t think that Indra “refuses to help”; rather, He “refuses to put up with nonsense.” He’s got too much Time and Karma going on to bother with idle whimsy and ill-considered wishes, and especially with the assumption that His “help” equals “getting what you want, when you want it.” What I’ve received in response to my own foolishness is not an outright “no,” but a simple sense of retreat, of emptiness, and if I choose to persist in folly despite that feeling, then on my own head be it.
Some of you already know that, three years ago, I was married for less than a year and (obviously very quickly) divorced. The specifics of it are less important than the fact that the marriage was not founded in truth, and yet, the decision to split was not one I made lightly. I spent much more time in prayer and sādhanā after this, and dedided that I’d had my chance at a wedded life, ruined it (by both poor choice and poor actions), and must simply devote myself to God henceforth, the folly of earthly attachments having been proven, and my younger self’s resolve to “only marry once” shattered.
Last year – this same month, in fact – I started to suffer intensely with sudden, strong feelings. These led to a lot of hard realisations, including the probability that my past relationships had all been negative in some way, that I might not have ever really loved anyone in my life, and that I likely didn’t even know what love was. I started to feel dead while alive, a dried-up shell of myself. It began to sink in that I’d been a generous person who was kind to others partly because I didn’t feel I deserved anything myself, and that, in embracing devotion, I’d committed myself a life of the same behaviour (albeit for different reasons). I believed this to be the right thing to do, and all I could do with my life henceforth. Yet instead of the sense of fervent joy and devotion I’d once had, there was only loneliness and emptiness remaining within me. I poured my efforts out for others every day; I felt nothing except misery. But I kept telling myself that life is sacrifice, that I didn’t need happiness in order to take right action, and that a lifetime where I just reached a peaceful end would be a novel achievement in itself.
Around this time, too, I’d been reading many writings authored by the “godspouse” set among the Pagan community and became beyond fascinated with longing for this sort of bond myself. I’ll spare you the agony of reading the details and me the humiliation of giving them, but suffice to say, it crossed over into a certain mental obsession – into which I poured all of my neurotic solitude – with a “bond” into which I tried to cajole, blackmail, avow, and delude my way. (For the Mercedes Lackey fans, think “Firesong in the Storms trilogy,” and you’ll have the right idea.)
Indra’s reaction, of retreat, seemed a slap in the face.
Looking back now, it was a “slap” I needed. In trying to avoid my own pain, I was horrifically disrespecting a God – who was neither my BF nor BFF and deserved far better from me – while making the same mistakes of clinginess and dependence I had in the past, and seeking out a permanent and very serious bond for all the wrong reasons.
The unhappiness that I felt was understandable (though not my reaction). Without going into depressive detail, I’ll explain that my existence is basically solitary and rootless. I live a country away from the few remaining family members who still acknowledge and speak to me. I work two jobs – one of which is at home and the other of which is in a tiny basement office – and have almost no healthy friendships. It’s a miserable mess that I haven’t created overnight, and it’ll take time to improve these circumstances. So the mistakes of over-monasticism, followed by panic and over-dependence, were all too easy to make; I’m not yet ready to be dead to a world that, for many years, I’ve endured rather than enjoyed.
But Indra is a God, not a salve; His silent refusal was right, and it taught me more than His acceptance would have. I’m still struggling to forgive myself and return to Him, which is part of what my long absence over the last year has been about. And I know, intellectually, that ongoing self-abasement is absurd, because Hinduism generally and Vedic religion specifically don’t really have the concept of “sin,” not in the sense that Judeo-Christian religion defines it. My chosen path asks chiefly that I learn from error and move on, and so this is another part of the lesson, a part I haven’t yet been able to complete.
Instead, I’ve spent the last year approaching ancestors and other spirits who feel more accessible and more forgiving, or at least with whom I lack the same history of royally f*cking up. I’m still not doing well in the whole “devotion” department, and fear that I may have undertaken this project for some of the wrong reasons – an extended apology, a wallowing in guilt, an attempt to throw myself back into devotion and forget unhappiness. I hope that that isn’t the case, but as I’ve discovered, my ability to lie to myself is astonishing. And, though I used to think that a God chose a person for reasons of similarity, it’s entirely possible that the brave God of Truth recognised a lying, cowering fool who needed Him – and still does – more than most.
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