When we apply for initiation we have to realize the importance of our commitment to this path. We have to understand that once we are initiated there is no going back. Literally.
Never again do we have to be reborn into this material world. There need be no returning to this plane of illusion. This can be our last life. This is it. We are at last homeward bound.
Having come to the top of the evolutionary ladder, we now have to step onto the ladder of Shabd and tread the spiritual path that will ultimately lead us to our divine home.
In Message Divine we read:
Salvation and God-realization can be attained in this very life. That is why the saints impress upon us the need to have the direct experience of the Lord within ourselves through meditation.… We should work hard and within this very lifetime behold the ultimate Truth with our own eyes.…
The precious opportunity of human life should not be wasted, as the waves of the ocean of time wait for no one.
We all need to realize the value of this supreme gift and the responsibility initiation carries.
For satsangis the path to spiritual liberation starts the moment we sign the application for initiation. By signing this piece of paper we have taken our first step towards final liberation. But we mustn’t think that that is all we have to do. It’s not that we just have to apply for initiation, get initiated and wait for the magic to happen.
Initiation is reaching base camp. Now, with the help of meditation, we begin our ascent to the spiritual heights.
After initiation we have to accept that our lifestyle has to change in order to make meditation our primary focus. We have to put in tremendous effort to keep steadfast on the path. Nothing must stand in the way of our meditation.
As with any karma, we also have the ability to create the karma to meditate in the future. In the Tibetan Buddhist book Rigpa Glimpses we read:
When you have explored the great mystical traditions, choose one Master and follow him or her. It’s one thing to set out on the spiritual journey; it’s quite another to find the patience and endurance, the wisdom, courage, and humility to follow it to the end.
You may have the karma to find a teacher, but you must then create the karma to follow your teacher. For very few of us know how to truly follow a Master, which is an art in itself. So however great the teaching or Master may be, what is essential is that you find in yourself the insight and skill to learn how to love and follow the Master and the teaching.
We have to approach our initiation as a turning point in our lives, not only in our lifestyles. There has to be a complete U-turn in where our focus lies.
A few months ago Baba Ji told a questioner something to this effect: that he’d never said anything about four lifetimes – it’s one lifetime. He said this regarding the undertaking given to us that once initiated by a perfect living Master, we are guaranteed not to have to return to this material plane more than four lifetimes.
This possibility of four lifetimes should not even be entertained by us. Do we really not mind being born again? Imagine having to go through all those years of punishing schooling!
We all know that we are going to die one day and we have had plenty of warnings that we need to prepare for that day, but we ignore the warnings.
There’s a story about a lawyer who dies and gets to heaven. There he is led before the Lord, and the lawyer immediately complains that he was not given any warning of his impending death. “On earth,” he said, “people are given lots of time to prepare for a judgment – they are given time to look at the fact and to prepare an argument.”
The Lord told him, “I gave you plenty of warnings. I gave you grey hair, but you covered it up with hair dye. I gave you failing eyesight and you had laser surgery. I made your joints stiff and you had a hip replacement. I made you hard of hearing and you used a hearing aid. I gave you all these warnings, but you didn’t prepare yourself. You have only yourself to blame.”
Are we ignoring our warnings? Death is the only sure thing in life, and it is up to us to prepare ourselves.
By definition, life could be described as “the period between birth and death”. That’s all it is. Baba Ji says that life is an illusion that we have to take seriously. He also says that we can’t be illiterate all our lives and expect to get a PhD when we die. Let’s not ignore our warnings. We have to put in the effort and meditate, and then we will get our rewards when we die.
Unfortunately we often think that something as profound as God-realization is not possible for us, that we are too unimportant or weak for such a grand thing. Baba Ji says that only souls that have the capacity to attain God-realization within one lifetime are accepted for initiation. Why don’t we believe him?
We read about the significance of initiation in Adventure of Faith, the life story of a Catholic nun who discovers the path of Surat Shabd Yoga and the need for a spiritual Master. She writes:
Initiation means the beginning of the first stage of the path of the Masters, which is a preparatory phase. The inner ascent of the soul only begins – the Masters always stress this point – when we take our consciousness across the threshold of the transcendental world. After initiation, it is essential that Sant Mat be lived. Day by day, step by step, the path of the Masters has to be trodden untiringly.
We need to appreciate what it is to be initiated by the Master. This is not some exclusive club, a gathering of vegetarian animal-lovers or moral policemen or health faddists who meditate in order to lower their blood pressure or calm themselves down.
Getting initiated by a perfect living Master means that after billions of years our souls will finally take their first step on the road to spiritual liberation. This is no small thing. This is what our soul has been yearning for, for aeons. It is now up to us to keep walking on this road, every morning putting in the effort of meditation and sticking to the principles given at the time of initiation.
When we apply for initiation the Master lights a flame of encouragement within us which needs constant fuel to stay alive. Initiation is the lighting of the spiritual lamp within and it is of prime importance to keep feeding the flame. We can do this by reading the Sant Mat books, going regularly to satsang and, most important of all, by doing our daily meditation.
And of course seeing the physical form of the Master is a wonderful way of feeding this flame.
The Master must be the central figure in our lives. We must realize that he wants us to gain God-realization more than we do.
As we read in Adventure of Faith:
When I considered how long God had been leading me towards initiation without my having any awareness of it, I could see how childish it would be to suddenly become impatient and try to hasten the process.
When, with God’s help, I regained my faith and trust, he made me realize that it is he himself who wants the return of that soul, that tiny drop out of the limitless ocean of divine Being. Who is anyone to desire union with God? It is God who infuses the longing into the human heart – it is the working of his grace.
The Sant Mat way of life must become second nature to us. If we love the Master, we need to imbibe his qualities and be a reflection of him.
In the Adi Granth it is written that we are the reason for our Guru’s existence. If we truly are the reason for the Guru’s existence, then it is up to us to make it worth his while. We have to make him pleased with us. We have to follow his teachings and get moving on this path with dedication and determination. Action is the bridge between our goals and their accomplishment.
So there is no getting around it. Once we are initiated there is no going back – only forward, with the help of meditation. The Masters always say that we must bring them our failures. Rather try and fail than not try at all.
As Winston Churchill said: “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
Let’s never put ourselves down. Let’s never criticize our own efforts. Every little bit is a step forward. Let’s always think that we can achieve God-realization in this lifetime.
As to rebirth after initiation and of the knowledge of previous births, please try to understand that when a soul is initiated – and if after that it keeps in faith and does not fall into bad habits and do foul deeds, but for certain reasons had not the opportunity of doing the spiritual exercises and progressing – it is, after death, stopped at the first or second stage, according to its karma and desires. There it takes to the spiritual practice and then in time it is taken upward. Rebirth in this world is only for those who have lost faith, do foul deeds and have very low desires.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, The Dawn of Light