Many of us are familiar with a hymn entitled Amazing Grace. The poignant lyrics were inspired by an event in the life of John Newton, the hymn’s author. From online accounts, John Newton was a strong willed young man who was rebellious to authority. He was conscripted into the Royal Navy, but was soon discharged due to behavioral issues. As a result, he later served on various slave trade vessels.
During a severe storm off the coast of Ireland in 1748, John found himself crying out to God for mercy. A conversion occurred, which changed his life forever. Although he continued to work on slave ships for a few more years, he experienced a growing sense of sympathy for the slaves. After retiring from sailing, he studied Christian theology and became an abolitionist. Here is the first stanza of his transformative hymn, Amazing Grace:
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.”
“Amazing Grace” ~ John Newton
The hymn relates the potent feelings that accompany the realization that we’re not who we think ourselves to be, but actually an aspect of the Creator. As long as we believe that we’re a person, we’re enslaved without realizing it. In I Am That, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj expressed the condition this way: “To be a person is to be asleep.” We’re asleep when we’re still caught within the net of Maya (illusion) and unaware that our true Self is Universal Consciousness. To awaken, we needn’t endure a perilous sea voyage. We need only to turn our attention within, to the silent stillness of meditation. Amazing Grace will determine if we’re set free.
Dare to dream (and care for one another).
With heartfelt regards,
Copyright © – 2021 – R. Arthur Russell
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