Role of the Master
Man continues to stumble in ignorance and
thus goes on suffering from the shaft of pain.
He is bereft of the company of the holy;
who but the Saint can put him on the Path?
If he were to meet the benevolent Satguru,
the primordial mystery would be unravelled.
Indeed, O Tulsi, the Master would wipe off the stores
of karma and drive the Angel of Death away.
Tulsi Sahib, Saint of Hathras
In this short poem, Tulsi Sahib imparts to us in very simple, truthful words the importance of a perfect living Master. He makes us painfully aware that without the love, guidance and abundant grace of a spiritual adept, our salvation is literally doomed. We will continually be born again and again as any one of the 8,400,000 species inhabiting the earth.
In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I, Maharaj Sawan Singh quotes Guru Arjun:
By our fate karmas do we move about in this world;
Undergo pleasure and pain;
Incarnate in different lives,
Take to slander and become arrogant
and devoid of love and devotion.
Consequently, we fail to achieve our only goal in this life,
Which is God-realization.
It may be many, many lifetimes before we are born as a human being again as it is only in the human form that God-realization can be found and salvation granted.
While being so engrossed in our worldly pursuits, attachments and desires, we become unaware of what our real purpose is in this human body. Granted, we need to work, take care of our families (monetarily and emotionally) and take care of our physical bodies so that we can handle our responsibilities more easily, but our utmost effort should be to enhance our spiritual efforts. Maharaj Charan Singh says:
The human body is a priceless gift bestowed on man through the Lord’s grace. The purpose of God in conferring this rare gift is to afford to us an opportunity to return to our true home.
Quest for Light
We, as human beings, can reunite with the Lord here and now. Actually, we were never separated from him, but we have forgotten this. We feel separate because the layers of karma that have blanketed us through our past lives have made us incapable on our own of seeing or hearing the Lord within us. We go about our daily lives completely oblivious to the fact that we are missing our chance for God-realization. We work, play, acquire unnecessary possessions, cry, kick and scream when things don’t go the way we want; or we become elated and boastful when they do. We worry incessantly about our bills, children, jobs, etc. We may not all have the same lists of worries and concerns but we all have lists, nonetheless. We put too much physical and mental energy into our daily lives and too little into our spiritual lives. We literally do “stumble in ignorance” as Tulsi states, and we will continue to suffer for it.
There is no one, not one soul on the face of this earth, not even the people whom we love and who love us in return, who can help us with this dilemma because no one can rescue us from this except a perfect living Master who is part and parcel of the Supreme Being. If we are fortunate enough to come in contact with such a Master, our endless journey will cease and our salvation will be guaranteed. But it is a rare few who are lucky enough to have this privilege. And luck or good fortune is exactly what it is. Maharaj Sawan Singh says, “It is only due to great good fortune that worship of the holy feet of the Master can be had.” (Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III)
For all that we will ultimately get in return, Master asks very little of us. There are four vows, none of which are impossible to keep: maintaining a lacto-vegetarian diet; living a clean, moral life; taking no drugs or alcohol; and doing two and a half hours of daily meditation. By adhering to these vows we lessen our load of karma, slowly, as we become less world-oriented. The Master patiently waits to give us all he has as soon as we become strong and firm in our efforts to control our minds and to be one with God. It is a life-long journey that requires our every effort to control our mind through simran – the repetition of the five holy names imparted to us by our Master at the time of initiation – and bhajan, listening to the Shabd, which is the sound current or audible life stream that resounds continuously in every being. We need to arrange our days so that as much time as possible can be afforded to this practise. After a while, we will realize that we are not missing the world’s entanglements and will desire more and more solitude to pursue meditation.
The real work of our lives, meditation, has a purifying effect that over time will enable the mind to become our friend instead of our foe. It is the mind that hinders our progress, as it desires to remain entangled in the world, where it has had free rein over us. But even this powerful mind will succumb when it realizes the benefits of meditation, and it will then become a friend that will aid us tremendously in our endeavours to be more focused on the path. Dadu writes:
As many as are the waves of the sea,
so many are the desires of the mind.
Stilling them all, one sits with contentment
holding the thought of the One
in his self.
Dadu, The Compassionate Mystic
Our mind will eventually want us to sit in meditation and will no longer put trivial thoughts and worries into our heads to prevent us from progressing. If we were more silent during the day, sought more solitude and lived more simply, we could spend more precious time doing our simran. Being more focused on this practise of repeating these five holy words during the day will be of great benefit to us when we sit for our simran and bhajan during our meditation.
The Masters have given us all that is needed to achieve God-realization: simran, bhajan and abundant grace. Answers to many of our questions can be found in the multitude of our own Sant Mat books. We can read and be inspired, but ultimately it is our meditation, our sitting in stillness at the eye focus, that will awaken us to our true selves.
Maharaj Charan Singh writes:
Mere reading of the scriptures or listening to the teachings of Saints is not enough. We must put the teachings into practise and travel the Path ourselves.
Die to Live
The Master came to untangle us from life’s worries, woes and short-lived joys and happiness in this world. Again in Die to Live, Maharaj Charan Singh says:
If we had no devotion, no desire for meditation, we would not have come to the Path at all. The One who has pulled us to the Path will also give us all those things. He has not forgotten us after pulling us to the Path. He is still there within us.
The loving hands of our Master are extended to us every moment, ready to bestow all his help and grace as we journey back to our true home. We need only to take our hands off the world and uplift them towards him to receive these blessings. Our success on this path is guaranteed.
We should be full of gratitude every day, knowing that our loving Master is rescuing us from this endless cycle of karma and guiding us on this path to self – and God-realization.
In the Adi Granth, Guru Amar Das says:
The Master alone has the key;
None else can open the door.
Without a Master, no one can obtain the Name;
Such is the law laid down by the Lord.