I believe in a universal life force.
When I was six years old, my grandmother, a devout Hindu, would try to take me and my grandfather to the temple. But my grandfather constantly gave her a hard time. He would always counter, “There is no such thing as God.” He was what you would call an atheist. I didn’t know what to believe. My grandmother and mother tried to change his opinion for 20 years, but it didn’t work.
Everything changed when my grandfather had a scooter accident and became paralyzed. He had to be carried everywhere, even to the bathroom. The doctors told us he would never be able to walk again. My grandmother and mother cried for several days. I was upset too and shaken by the fact that he would never be able to play with me again. He was one of the best coaches and athletes in the football league, and it was a shame that he could never use his legs again.
One day, the priest came to our house and gave everyone “prasadam” or Holy food. Usually, my grandfather would immediately throw it away. I couldn’t believe my eyes; he took it and slowly placed it inside his mouth. Right after, he went into a trance, as if he was thinking deeply about something. Later, when I asked him what he was thinking, he told me he felt as though walking would be possible again, but only with the help of the universal force. And so, the next day, he allowed my grandmother to take him to the temple. Then, for the first time in his life, he prayed to the universal force, God, with the hope that he would recover and walk again.
The next day, my grandfather started doing some light exercises. He received his primary support and encouragement from his new found belief in God. Slowly, he gained minimal control over his legs. As his health progressed, a desire took hold of my grandfather; he asked to be taken to Tirupati, a famous Indian temple, a six-hour train ride away. Despite his condition, we took him there.
When we reached our destination, my grandfather startled the family with an announcement. He told us that he wanted to walk and climb up to the temple, which was located on a mountain. We tried to persuade him otherwise, but we failed. My grandmother took the car, while I accompanied my grandfather by foot. I was worried about him so I felt the need to assist him. My grandfather later told me that his every step was filled with excruciating pain; the only thing that kept him walking was his desire to see God.
Today when I see my grandfather walking, I realize that faith in a higher power is not an abstract concept but something that can make an enormous difference in our lives.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.