Perfecting Our Love
Throughout ages, the saints have stressed that love is the most important precept in Sant Mat. Hindu mystics have referred to the path of the masters as the path of devotion. Ultimately, sifting our way through the philosophy, we find that love is the foundation on which Sant Mat is based. We want to see our Master because we love him; we want to do seva because we are devoted to him; we wake up in the early hours of cold, chilly mornings to attend to our meditation because our Beloved has asked us to.
While all disciples love the Master in their own way, each has the same objective: to work towards perfecting his love for the Master. However, to judge the depth of love is a futile exercise. As Rumi has beautifully written (as quoted in Rumi’s Sun), “However much we describe and explain love, when we fall in love we are ashamed of our words.” In the same vein, Maharaj Charan Singh used to say love has to be experienced and that if we dramatize our love, it loses its depth.
Spiritual love, much like its physical counterpart, manifests itself in many ways. There is the seemingly insatiable need to be with our Beloved at all times, there is the inevitable pain of separation, and there is the desire to please the Beloved. But surely the ultimate act of love is when the lover loses his identity and implicitly surrenders to the Beloved. At that perfect stage of love, we neither care about the degree nor the depth of our love; all that matters is to live in the Master’s will.
Saints have told us that on the path of love, we should be prepared to surrender our ego. The Sufi mystics, in particular, emphasized that the giving up of the self is an important aspect of love.
If on its path, love forces you to yield,
Then do so gladly, throw away your shield;
Resist and you will die, your soul is dead –
To ward off your defeat, bow down your head!
Farid ud-Din Attar, The Conference of the Birds
One is reminded here of the often-told story of the sultan and Ayaz. The courtiers were jealous that Ayaz, a mere slave, was so favoured by the sultan. One day, the sultan brought a magnificent pearl to the court. He turned to his viziers and ordered them to smash the pearl. Each one of them demurred and protested, saying that given the value of the pearl, it would be tragic to break it. The sultan then turned to Ayaz and repeated his order. Without hesitation, Ayaz smashed the pearl into pieces. The courtiers all started to scream at the illiterate slave who had done so much damage to the sultan’s treasury by breaking the priceless pearl. Ayaz silenced them all by saying, “The command of the sultan is more precious than this pearl.”
The command. Saints emphasize the importance of accepting the command as the first step in submitting to the Master. Indeed, in surrender there is an implicit realization that everything in our life comes with the Lord’s approval. As Baba Jaimal Singh wrote to the Great Master:
Pain or pleasure comes from the Lord Himself. Since it comes by His command, why should we treat it as bad? The Lord, ever present, always watches over us; and if our good lies in suffering, He sends us suffering; if it lies in happiness, He sends us happiness. Both, beloved son, are within His will.
However, our modern minds tend to recoil at this concept of surrender. From a very early age, we are encouraged to form opinions and think for ourselves. It is perhaps a testament to our self-centred thought process that words such as ‘surrender’ and ‘submit’ tend to have negative connotations associated with defeat rather than salvation. So, we may feel that giving up of the self may sound good, but we would not be able to achieve this on a practical level.
Ultimately, we cannot force ourselves to live in the divine will, much as we cannot force ourselves to love the Master. What we can do at a practical level is to abide by that prime command he gave us at the time of initiation – to attend diligently to our meditation.
By attending regularly to our simran and bhajan with devotion, we will obtain the grace and capacity to be worthy of his love and to be able to accept and understand that whatever happens in our lives, it is from our Master.
By submitting ourselves to his will, by putting into practice this full measure of our devotion, we are able to perfect our love and, in doing so, perfect ourselves.
From meditation, love will come,
submission will come, humility will come.
Everything will come.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live