Being between Now and Eternity
As spiritual seekers, one of the goals to which we aspire is the unchanging truth. Until we reach the state of knowing that is eternal, our biggest problem is how to conduct our lives from where we are now. We have a teacher, a practice, literature and satsang to help us. We have no certainty of knowledge about any of these until we experience for ourselves their spiritual significance. Until then, all of life is a set of assumptions and adopted teachings whose ultimate value we cannot judge. We need better guidelines than our material cultures and traditions give us.
We have to negotiate our lives from the time we start seeking until we realize the eternal, and this may be the full lifetime or more. The issue is how to be at each moment. The formula is to act in the name of the Lord, but our problem is the interpretation of that formula. What we need is an approach to living that will embody the spiritual aspect so that our lives attune us to the state at which we aim. It is received wisdom that spirituality has to be incorporated in one’s lifestyle and habits for it to take root. It cannot just be attained overnight.
Maharaj Charan Singh said in Quest for Light: “We are an expression of infinite life which had no beginning and shall never come to an end.” We wish to realize this inspiration for ourselves, so that, through awareness of our unity with all that exists, being free of limitation or ignorance, we may know how to be, and what it is that we are.
The saints tell us that in the court of the Lord there is nothing but forgiveness. Our ultimate goal is to enter and be part of that. So, we must constantly aspire to this ideal by maintaining the effort to be forgiving. We need to practise forgiveness, so that we can continue to gain awareness of the Lord whose nature is unqualified forgiveness.
In A Course in Miracles it says:
In your brother you see the picture of your own belief in what the will of God must be for you. In your forgiveness will you understand His love for you.
Since everything that exists has been created by God’s ordinance and thus is his doing, it is sustained in his being and so part of him. Nothing made is less than God – there is nothing else. We should be present to the divinity in the creation because all is God; all is blessed and all is a teaching of the presence of the Creator. As Maharaj Charan Singh says in Quest for Light:
… no one does us any wrong or treats us badly. According to the layer of our karmas that comes into action, our Lord makes people act towards us in that way. So, we should never blame anybody.
The practical application of this means to forgive – both others and self. It implies a way of looking at things that allows us to absorb them not by classifying them into the learned categories by which we judge, but to be receptive to the possibility that they are an expression of the divine. Through this we come to a different insight into the physical plane and how it manifests.
It has been said that nothing is good or bad, except our judgements make it so. This supports the principle that all things are beyond our judgement, that they are an expression of the Lord’s will, which brought them into being, and as such are given to us to learn from. What makes us think otherwise is the sense of separation by which we identify the self or the ego.
It follows that what we experience is what we filter through our wishful thinking, the false beliefs that we have learned since birth and before. This is what the saints teach us. This means that everything we experience as falling short of the divine, everything we think we control, everything we think we own or can define or achieve through our own direction, is an illusion that we ourselves make. For most of us, the world we see is one we fabricate in our own perception.
The path we follow is one of correction of this most profound of errors. If we are able to form an impression of the world apart from its Creator – which is exactly what the vast majority of us have done – then it follows that we are able to change how we perceive the world. We are asked to do this: to build an atmosphere in our lives that is receptive to the divinity within. In the same sense that we practise meditation while being receptive to the real experience that will come by grace, we have to practise openness to God’s presence in the world of perception until that becomes our experience.
Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Discourses I:
The clay of which we are all made is the same. The forms alone differ. … Disdain no man, for to disdain man is to disdain God himself within that man. And to disdain God in any man is to disdain Him in oneself. How shall one ever reach his haven if he scorns his only Pilot to that haven?
We need to grasp that the God in each of us is the same God in our fellows. There are no pieces of God allocated separately to individuals. There is one God.
We also need to come to terms with the principle that the Lord in each of us is the entire Godhead, harbouring the totality of the creation. We see ourselves as pieces of the Lord, distinct in our selfhood and adrift in the vastness of time and space. If we are able to exercise our true awareness, we will see nothing other than the Lord, and in every aspect and every manifestation of him, his entirety – the universe in a grain of sand, the full Godhead in our fellow human beings and, equally, in ourselves. Such is the power of his making.
Since the Lord, being unlimited, has no need of time – it being our chosen millstone – his accomplishment is infinite in scope and limitlessly free of the proceedings of time. All is already created; all is already done. His works are complete, unconstrained by any dependence on human development for their attainment. If we see our fellow beings correctly, we will see them as expressions of God. This is because there is only one God, perfectly encompassed in each being as the totality.
As Rumi has said, the Lord sees in us our final flowering, because he is not encumbered by time and its limitations. He sees in the seed the mature plant; in the wish to be, the final fulfilment of that wish. Not in imagination, as we might, but he sees in reality beyond time the living manifestation of both seed and maturity, wish and fulfilment.
In brief, that which is our final cup is really our name with God ….
He bestows on a man a name according to his last flowering.
The Mathnawi, translated by Reynolds & Nicholson
We are taught that the Masters do not judge us by our faults – these are part of our surface attributes, which purification will eliminate. They see us in the light of God’s cosmic design, free of the constraints of time and place – as aspects dancing to the profound chorus of his limitless creation. They tell us we are manifestations of the Lord, as are they, and are tuning us to be worthy of that.
The medium through which this is done is love – the ultimate binding force, which admits of no distinction, which judges not, which accepts all unto infinity as God. This is how thoughts are sustained in the mind of God, in whose court, the Masters tell us, is nothing but forgiveness. If there is only forgiveness, there is no judgement, there is no distinction. All is equal and equally valued.
We have to show our willingness to be raised up by putting in the effort to align ourselves with the requirements of the path. We must become receptive to his presence at all times and this will be reflected in our actions. It is this turning towards the Lord that invokes his grace. It is this grace that accomplishes liberation and union. That this will happen is assured.
Tolerance and patience with courage are not signs of failure but signs of victory. In your daily life, as you learn more patience, more tolerance with wisdom and courage, you will see it is the true source of success. Actually, if you are too important, that’s a real failure.
The Dalai Lama’s Book of Wisdom, edited by Matthew Bunson