“I do not put my trust in man, nor do I place my reliance on an angel, but only in the God of Heaven.”
– Shabbat Prayer
“Some (rely) upon chariots and some upon horses, but we invoke the Name of the Lord our God.”
– Psalm 20:8
When one relies only on God there is a great feeling of joy and freedom. Sri Ramana Maharshi used to say that when he lived a solitary life, moving from place to place, possessing only his one loincloth and going out begging for food, he felt like a king.
If we put our trust in God, then He will take care of our every need. However, it is only when we have complete trust in Him that this happens. We cannot say we are relying on God and then look elsewhere for help.
At the same time, this does not mean that we do nothing for ourselves. On the contrary, we must first do everything that we can, and then have faith that God will take care of the rest. This is easy to do when things are going well, but very difficult to sustain when everything is going wrong. Yet that is the time when it really counts. That is the time when we earn our spiritual gold.
There is another aspect to this reliance. Even as we try our best to fulfill our part, we must always be aware that it is really God who is in control of everything that happens. Whatever we accomplish comes only through His grace. All our plans and machinations are useless, unless they have the Will of God behind them. This is what is meant by the words of Psalm 20:8: “some (rely) upon chariots and some on horses, but we invoke the Name of the Lord our God.”
The consequences of this reliance are not what we would expect. We tend to think that relying on God means having faith that God will fulfill all our heart’s desires. The truth is quite the opposite. The Talmud (Berachot 33B) says: “Everything is in the hands of heaven, except for the awe of God.” What is the awe of God? The acceptance of His Will – the bowing of our ego that says that it is “we” who know what should be done.
Reliance on God means total surrender. Whatever happens to us, we accept that God is in it. We receive all things as if they are coming from His Hand. We make every effort that we can, but then we sit back and rest in the Lord, trusting in His wisdom and omnipotence.
Sri Ramakrishna used to tell a story about a weaver.
“He was a very pious soul. Everyone trusted him and loved him. He used to sell his goods in the marketplace. When a customer asked him the price of a piece of cloth, the weaver would say: ‘By the will of Rama the price of the yarn is one rupee and the labor four annas; by the will of Rama the profit is two annas.’
“Such was the people’s faith in the weaver that the customer would at once pay the price and take the cloth. The weaver was a real devotee of God. After finishing his supper in the evening, he would spend long hours in the worship hall meditating on God and chanting Hid name and glories.
“Now, late one night the weaver couldn’t get to sleep. He was sitting in the worship hall…when a band of robbers happened to pass that way. They wanted a man to carry their goods and said to the weaver, ‘Come with us.’ So saying, they led him off by the hand.
“After committing a robbery in a house, they put a load of things on the weaver’s head, commanding him to carry them. Suddenly the police arrived and the robbers ran away. But the weaver, with his load, was arrested. He was kept in the lock-up for the night. Next day he was brought before the magistrate for trial.
“The villagers learnt what had happened and came to court. They said to the magistrate, ‘Your Honor, this man could never commit a robbery.’ Thereupon the magistrate asked the weaver to make his statement.
“The weaver said: ‘Your Honor, by the will of Rama I finished my meal at night. Then by the will of Rama I was sitting in the worship hall. It was quite late at night by the will of Rama. By the will of Rama I had been thinking of God and chanting His name and glories, when by the will of Rama a band of robbers passed that way. By the will of Rama they dragged me with them; by the will of Rama they committed a robbery in a house; and by the will of Rama they put a load on my head. Just then, by the will of Rama the police arrived, and by the will of Rama I was arrested. Then by the will of Rama the police kept me in the lock-up for the night, and this morning by the will of Rama I have been brought before your Honor.’
“The magistrate realized that the weaver was a pious man and ordered his release. On his way home the weaver said to his friends, ‘By the will of Rama I have been released.’” 
The Hasidic Master, Dov Baer of Mezeritch teaches that if we all were in our natural and rightful state of consciousness: “Each person would do the Will of God in the same way that our limbs do the will of our mind – since God is our mind and we are His body, so to speak, and it is fitting that we should do His will.”
Instead, we have allowed physical reality and material consciousness to so deeply permeate into our heart and mind that a barrier has formed between God and us. Now, we are like a body that has been disconnected from its mind – no longer able to comprehend God’s purpose or easily align ourselves with His Will.
So how do we break the hold of this material consciousness upon us? How do we return to our natural and rightful state? How do we attune ourselves to the Divine will and live with total reliance on the Lord?
According to the Hasidic Master, Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, the way for us to overcome the hold of material consciousness is by clothing ourselves in the Torah and mitzvot (commandments). This is because every part of the Torah and mitzvot embodies a spark of divinity. Therefore, when we immerse ourselves in them, a garment of holiness forms around us – blocking out the world and bringing us into direct contact with God.
This teaching is easy to understand if we look at it from the point of view of spiritual science. All the spiritual practices that we do build a subtle structure, a way-station composed of refined mental matter, where we can meet with God. This inner space is literally “not of this world”. By attaching our heart and mind to this place, we can transcend our material consciousness and touch the mind of God.
If we want to return to our natural divine state, then we must envelop ourselves in a sacred garment of spiritual livingness. This garment will protect us from the negative influence of material consciousness by insulating us from the harsh effects of physical existence. And it will transform our perception of the events in our life, by passing all of our experience through the filter of higher consciousness. In this way, we can gain the wisdom and concrete knowledge of God that we need to bring our actions into alignment with the Divine Will.
We weave this garment by following daily spiritual practices and immersing our mind in the thought of God. The specific composition of each person’s garment will be different. For some, the garment will be composed solely of the traditional cloth of our religion. For others, patches of colored fabric from other faiths and other religions will be woven into the traditional yarn. For each and every garment, however, there is one essential component: it must bring the living presence of God into our daily life. Only then will we be able to hold on to a higher state of consciousness. Only then will we learn to live relying solely on the Lord.
Copyright 2017 © by Yoel Glick
- ‘M’, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, translated by Swami Nikhilananda, p. 648-9↵