Dear friend,the same question was asked to me during a samvaad session. I am posting some of its excerpts.
You may read its full transcription on my blog-‘Words into Silence’
Question:-‘God helps those who help themselves.’ Is there something that I can do? Do I have any responsibility towards helping myself? Is not the act of helping myself, against surrender?
Speaker: A few things need to be clear in this regard. It says, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ What is coming first here, your attempt to help yourself or the help of God?
Listener 1: Your attempt to help yourself.
Speaker: That is the misconception. It is usually construed that when we will help ourselves then God will come to help us. We have then put the action of God in a cause-effect limit. Effectively, we have built a handle upon God. We have said that I know how to switch-on the act of God, I know how to make him help me. How to switch him on? Start helping yourself, and then he will come to help you. Now that makes it very easy it is programmed and mechanical.
This is exactly how the ego operates. It thinks, it seriously thinks, that it can have a handle upon God as well. It seriously thinks that the beyond will operate as per its wishes. ‘I will help myself and thereby I will make him help me.
‘God helps those who help themselves.’ Can it be read in a different light? The whole game of wisdom statements, spiritual statements is that, you require to read them right, otherwise everything gets inverted. Not only misplaced, or displaced, or removed a little, it takes a meaning that is totally opposite of the intended meaning. That is what we have done to all the wisdom sayings and holy scriptures, throughout the centuries. We have read them via the ego. We do not know any other means of operating. After all we cannot be suddenly a changed mind.
When I go to a holy book, after all I am the same man who went to the market, who went to the office, who went to the brothel. Or am I a different one? My underlined tendencies are the same, and I am carrying them everywhere, and with those same tendencies I approach the holy book as well. I may pretend to be clean. I may say that no, this is a very important moment and a very auspicious occasion, and I must read this book with full attention. But in spite of all my claims and attention, I am the same man.
There would be then two types of help. The first type is- when you are helping yourself first, without accounting for God’s help, without caring for God’s help, without surrendering to God’s help, without even knowing the meaning of ‘help’. And that is what the entire world is doing.
We all have good intentions, at least toward ourselves. Right? No one deliberately wants to harm himself. We do want to help ourselves. But the more we want to help ourselves, the more we move towards the devastation and destruction. It is because our help originates from ‘us’, and not from God. Not only it originates from us, we are arrogant enough to claim that when we will try to help ourselves, God will be moved in a way mandated to help me. As if I have cleared a qualification exam, as if I have passed an entry criteria, as if now I can go and put a claim that now I am eligible for your help. ‘Why do you not give it to me?’ As if God is a service provider. This is the first type of help.
Not only did you try to help yourself, you also summoned God that now I am trying to help myself, you come and join me. ‘It’s my car that I am pushing, you also push it from behind. It’s your duty. After all some wise man has said that God helps those who help themselves. I am helping myself, you come to help me now. How can you violate this thing? My interpretation of this saying is bigger than God. So you come.’ This is the first kind of help that we give ourselves.
Then there is another kind of help which starts from God and moves towards you. Here action doesn’t come first, ‘grace’ comes first. And the mark of his grace is that he never tells you what to do. This is one test that you can use. If ever God will speaks to you, he will never tell you what to do. He will only tell you what it is like. He will only tell you what ‘is’. He will never tell you what to do. What to do, always depends upon you. Go and do what you want to do. I will only tell you what it ‘is‘, because what ‘is’, is God. That is the only thing he can ever tell.
The only way God ever helps you is by showing himself to you, and he does not have a particular shape or appearance. He shows himself to you in the form of understanding. That is why the Upanishads say, ‘Pragyanam Braham‘ (Understanding itself is God).
There is no God except ‘understanding‘. Or put it this way that God reveals himself to you in the form of ‘understanding’.
That is the way God helps you. Now you know and once you know, whatever you do will be in the direction of your help, whatever you do will help you. His help has come. Now you go ahead and do whatever you want to do, everything else is secondary. The biggest help has arrived, the entire caravan loaded with his help has arrived. You want to gather a few things here and there you are free to do that. Go ahead.
It is because of his help that you can really help yourself.
So when you come to a situation when you are doing whatever you are doing, and realizing that you are not the doer of it, and realizing that you cannot take the credit for it, then that is the moment when you also realize that the first mover is somebody else, that the first help came from somewhere else.
For more clarity and to read many such articles, you may visit my blog-‘Words into Silence‘. It contains many life-fundamental articles with many speeches on various religious scriptures.
Or, you may visit my you tube channels for further clarity-