A Fantasy Coming True
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary describes fantasy as: “A fanciful invention or composition, a daydream, a mental image, a work of the imagination, especially when extravagant”.
And what has this got to do with Sant Mat? Well, doesn’t the path sometimes have as much sense of reality as a fantasy?
Consider what the Masters tell us about the path. In a nutshell, they say it is a story of the journey of the soul. Once the soul dwelt in a fabulous place called Sach Khand, the home of God. Then souls were sent away from their home to experience life in all its forms and eventually develop a longing to return. When they want to return, after a very long time and many different incarnations, God sends one of his perfect sons to collect those longing souls and bring them home.
It’s already beginning to sound just a little bit like a fairy story.
But now, with no disrespect intended, let’s consider the soul. Have you ever met yours? Do we know what the soul is, where it is, what it looks like? For most of us at this point in time it is nothing more than a work of our imagination, and yet the whole of Sant Mat is about it!
Then, what about this talk of a ‘third eye’? Have we ever seen one? So how are we to gather our attention (whatever that may be) in a place we can’t see or feel? Then, the soul must exit the body through this third eye to start a journey through inner spiritual regions. Without being frivolous, isn’t this beginning to sound like fantasy or science fiction?
And there is more. We are told that once the soul exits the body it will cross the stars, the sun and the moon before meeting the Master in his Radiant Form – a form more splendid than even our fanciful imaginations can concoct. Then comes the journey through many mansions until we reach our celestial, eternal home.
Truly fantasy! Only our imagination can help us here.
Perhaps it seems like a fantasy because many of us have had no personal experience of inner light, sound or the journey itself. And the lack of clarity forces us to ask endless questions. The fact that we cannot get satisfactory answers to our questions adds to the fantasy-like nature of the path.
As we cannot provide answers, we must turn to the source – the Masters. Everything we know or think we know about the path comes from the Masters. And the marvellous thing to remember is that although their words may seem only as real as fantasy to us, they are in fact descriptions of their own personal experience on this fantastical journey home.
What does the Master say to us when we ask, “What’s it all about? Why are we here?” Basically he says something like this: “The whole truth and nothing but the truth is beyond your present capacity to understand, so I am giving you the pre-school version. But I do not deny you access to the Master version. I give you a technique which, if you practise diligently, will afford you the same experiences of which the Masters talk.”
And so the big question is: Do we in fact need to know more than this to follow the path? If one is plagued with a devious mind that says it must have all the answers before it can commit itself, then it is useful to make a comparison between following a worldly discipline and a spiritual one.
At this human level many of us have had experience in learning disciplines, art forms or skills. One such discipline is singing, and it is interesting to note the similarities and vital differences between starting to sing and starting on the path of Sant Mat. Very simplistically it goes like this:
The first thing is that the student or disciple shows an interest, requests lessons or applies for initiation. The teacher says: “Why do you want lessons?” The student says: “I want to sing at La Scala Opera House.” The teacher says: “Sing for me, please.” He hears that there is potential although little experience or skill. However, it’s the potential that’s important, so he says: “Okay, let’s do this.”
The Master says: “Why do you want to be initiated?” The disciple says: “I want to reach the home of my Father.” The Master sees how much karma remains to be paid by the disciple and that this is a soul marked to return home. So he says: “Okay, let’s do this.”
Quite similar so far.
At this point both the teacher and the Master have to explain certain fundamentals to the would-be student/disciple.
Teacher: “In order to reach La Scala we must make a journey to discover, release and unlock the hidden potential of your voice. This will be achieved through diligent practice of certain exercises I will give you. Are you prepared to practise?” Student: “Absolutely. I will do anything to reach La Scala.” So the singing lessons commence and the journey begins.
The Master says: “In order to reach Sach Khand, the soul must reach the third eye. You will be able to reach it if you follow certain disciplines that I give you. Will you practise?” Disciple: “Absolutely. I will do anything to reach Sach Khand.”
So initiation is granted and the journey begins.
Once again – quite similar.
Then the teacher says: “Now, I am going to explain some concepts. In the beginning they will only be my words, but if you practise hard then one day they will become your own experiences and you will understand them. Full understanding is not important now. What is important is the practice that will lead to experience. You must sing from your stomach and project your voice out of your body through your eyes.”
The student is confused because he knows his vocal cords are in his throat, so how can his voice come from his stomach? He doesn’t think he has holes in his eyes, so how can his voice come out of his eyes? Nevertheless, he agrees to suspend disbelief, trust his teacher and practise hard to gain the skill that will lead to La Scala.
The Master says to the disciple: “Here are some concepts that I will explain. You will not understand them fully yet. You do not need to understand fully. What you need to do is practise hard and then one day the practice will turn the work of your imagination into direct experience. You must gather your attention at the third eye so that your soul can leave the body and start its inner journey into spirit realms.”
Once again it sounds familiar. But here comes a big difference. The singing student says: “Okay, fine – I’ll trust you and simply get on with the job, even though I don’t understand.”
The disciple, faced with the same situation, says: “Yes – but: How? When? Where? Why?” year in and year out, until even his very patient Master could be forgiven for feeling exasperated!
That’s the first crucial difference. Here is the second: The student begins to struggle. He begins to doubt and question his teacher’s skill and reassurances. So he says: “Can you guarantee that this technique will get me there?”
And the teacher in all honesty has to say: “No, I cannot guarantee it. But I see you have the same potential as other students of mine who are now at La Scala. Please persevere.” And the student does, redoubling his efforts.
But when the disciple says to the Master: “I am full of fear and doubt. Will I ever get to the third eye?” What does the Master answer? He says: “There are no failures in Sant Mat.”
And what do we do? Do we go home and redouble our efforts when we have been guaranteed success by our Master, who is no ordinary human teacher, but the Son of God, the Word made flesh? Do we?
In order to reach our human goal we give our all – our blood, sweat, tears, money, time, youth; we suspend disbelief. And for what? For a goal that fades and dies.
What will we give for an eternity of peace? Will we suspend disbelief once and for all? Will we give our blood, sweat and tears, our time and our effort to unite with God and leave here forever?
Let’s remember that we started out by saying that the path sometimes seems like a fantasy and asking: Must we have the whole truth before we can commit ourselves fully to the journey? And the answer is no.
It doesn’t matter that there are no clear answers. We need to suspend disbelief, in the way we are prepared to do in worldly disciplines, trust the Master and simply work. He promises that eventually there will be meaningful answers and experiences. So let’s be happy with that and move on.
The mind will never be satisfied with any answer the Master gives it and will simply throw out the next question. But if it didn’t pester the singing student so much, then why should it hamper the disciple? Because, if we could be content with the Master’s answers instead of constantly questioning, we could use that mind space for simran. And the mind’s boss, Kal, most definitely does not want that. So the mind is programmed to present doubts, fears and confusions to keep us away from simran.
Worst of all, those intellectually clever questions keep us away from knowing that we need to please our Master. Would it make any huge difference to our meditation if our Master told us the whole truth of why and how we came here, and how karma, free will and reincarnation work? It would probably confuse us even more. Does it matter if it seems like fantasy? No.
Let’s give up the questions, doubts or reservations completely. Let’s live in the seeming fantasy for now. Let’s give our time, blood, sweat and tears to that one thing we know – we want to please him. And how do we do that? We try to be obedient and we give him our efforts at meditation and living a Sant Mat way of life.
Our efforts are all we can give and all that he wants. Success or progress on the path are for the Lord, for the Master to give. He knows what we need in every aspect of our worldly and spiritual lives. He knows how much love and longing for him we can deal with. He knows what success in meditation we can handle, or not!
Wanting to please the teacher, to win his favour, is a natural part of following any discipline.
But no matter how hard we work to please any worldly teacher, still he cannot guarantee our success. In fact, only a perfect teacher can do that, because he already knows the results. Such a teacher is our perfect living Master. He is also the Word in human form. And still more, he is here with us in the flesh precisely so that he can take us home.
And what will please him? Simran, meditation, humility, simplicity, obedience and faith will please him.
Master wants us to try at our meditation, he wants us to live a Sant Mat way of life, and he wants us to remember him. Simran is thinking of him, remembering him. The more we think of him and try to please him, the more opportunities we give him to shower his grace upon us. Let us believe we can take charge of this effort business and go for it 100 per cent!
We know our ultimate fate because our infinitely kind and compassionate Master has told us: “There are no failures on the path.” So isn’t it time to stop the mind’s tricks that keep us from trying to please him constantly and, thereby, from watching the fantasy become real?
Why don’t we just spend every day thanking him for that promise of ‘no failure’ and do our level best to please him? This is the only gift we have to offer in return for his magnificent generosity and love.
Seek the company of a Saint
and apply yourself only to meditation on the Nam;
other pursuits are of no use to you.
Strive to swim across the ocean of existence;
through your love for maya
your human birth is going to waste.
Guru Arjun Dev, Adi Granth