Personal Preferences Should be linked with The Welfare of Others
(Vinod Anand)

In the southern California town of Claremont, where my parents lived, there is a retirement community called Pilgrims’ Place. It looks like an ordinary neighbourhood of modest homes, but everyone who lives there is a retired missionary or church worker of some kind.

Once a year the community hosts a festival to which the whole town is invited. Among the activities, many of the residents set up tables in front of their homes.

Through photographs, artifacts and personal stories, the ex-missionaries share the adventures they have had in countries across the globe. The festival is held during the dry season in Southern California, but one year there was an unexpected rainstorm. It was a warm rain, and considering the conditions many of the missionaries had lived under, a little rain hardly deterred them.

They donned raincoats, covered their displays with plastic, and carried on as usual. Making a joke of the weather, someone said to one of the missionaries, “Considering how much you have given to God, it seems the least He could do for you is give you good weather for the festival.”

Without missing a beat, the retired missionary replied, “Weather is a decision made by Management. My career was in Marketing.” One day I was feeling a low-level anxiety about certain situations in my life that I didn’t know how to resolve. Suddenly it occurred to me that if I truly had faith in God, my anxiety about this situation would simply vanish.

For a time, by an effort of will, I was able to experience what it is like to be completely free of se1fconcern. This is the state of consciousness of the masters. This is our destiny. We are always in the Presence of the Lord.

Sometimes, however, we forget. I spoke with a young woman who was anxiously waiting to hear whether she had been accepted at her first-choice college. A few months earlier, she had become a disciple.

To ease her anxiety, I gently reminded her that because she was a disciple, her life was not her own. The guru was in charge. Even if she had a preference in the matter, it was certain that the guru was looking out for her, and that whatever happened would be for the best. She is very sincere, and this thought gave her some comfort.

But the habit of the ego isn’t easily overcome. Again and again, we fall into the familiar delusion that our happiness depends on outward events falling in line with our desires; she did not get into her first-choice college. God has other plans for her. All of us have a long list of desires that God has not fulfilled. And yet, as the years pass and we continue to follow the path, our joy in God, and our faith in Him gradually expands.

It is only natural to have personal preferences, especially where the welfare of others is concerned. Even if we can bravely face our own tests, it is not easy to see our loved ones suffer. Many times, we reach the limit of our courage and faith, and cannot help but ask God for a specific outcome.

But once that payer has been articulated, let us also surrender it, with our wish that His will alone be done. In this way, step by step, we gradually escape the confines of the ego.

Author's Bio: 


Born in 1939, and holding Master’s Degree both in Mathematics (1959) and Economics (1961), and Doctorate Degree in Economics (1970), Dr. Vinod K.Anand has about forty five years of teaching, research, and project work experience in Economic Theory (both micro and macro), Quantitative Economics, Public Economics, New Political Economy, and Development Economics with a special focus on economic and social provisions revolving around poverty, inequality, and unemployment issues, and also on informal sector studies. His last assignment was at the National University of Lesotho (Southern Africa) from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that he was placed as Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at the University of North-West in the Republic of South Africa, and University of Allahabad in India, Professor at the National University of Lesotho, Associate Professor at the University of Botswana, Gaborone in Botswana, and at Gezira University in Wad Medani, Sudan, Head, Department of Arts and Social Sciences, Yola in Nigeria, Principal Lecturer in Economics at Maiduguri University in Nigeria, and as Lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Nigeria. Professor Anand has by now published more than 80 research papers in standard academic journals, authored 11 books, supervised a number of doctoral theses, was examiner for more than twenty Ph.D. theses, and has wide consultancy experience both in India and abroad, essentially in the African continent. This includes holding the position of Primary Researcher, Principal Consultant etc. in a number of Research Projects sponsored and funded by Universities, Governments, and International Bodies like, USAID, IDRC, and AERC. His publications include a variety of themes revolving around Economic Theory, New Political Economy, Quantitative Economics, Development Economics, and Informal Sector Studies. His consultancy assignments in India, Nigeria, Sudan, Botswana, and the Republic of South Africa include Non-Directory Enterprises in Allahabad, India, Small Scale Enterprises in the Northern States of Nigeria, The Absolute Poverty Line in Sudan, The Small Scale Enterprises in Wad Medani, Sudan, Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in Botswana, The Place of Non-Formal Micro-Enterprises in Botswana, Resettlement of a Squatter Community in the Vryburg District of North West Province in the Republic of South Africa, Trade and Investment Development Programme for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises: Support for NTSIKA in the Republic of South Africa, and Development of the Manufacturing Sector in the Republic of South Africa’s North West Province: An Approach Based on Firm Level Surveys. Professor Anand has also extensively participated in a number of conferences, offered many seminars, participated in a number of workshops, and delivered a variety of Refresher Lectures at different venues both in India and abroad. Dr. Anand was placed at the prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla in the State Himachal Pradesh, India as a Fellow from 2001 to 2003, and had completed a theoretical and qualitative research project/monograph on the Employment Profile of Micro Enterprises in the State of Himachal Pradseh, India.