Recently, Baba Ji said several times that we need to lighten up. In that context, he was talking about not taking life too seriously, but instead about finding time to enjoy ourselves and participating in things even when we are not very good at them – things like singing or dancing. “Lighten up” can have other meanings too, so let us look at three additional ways we can lighten our lives.
Having a lighter attitude and being positive on the path is very important, even when things are not going well in our lives. Smiling is important. It is said that it takes something like forty-three muscles to frown but only seventeen to smile; therefore, smiling is physically easier. This may not be literally true, but Maharaj Charan Singh supports this idea when he says:
Give up the habit of worrying and losing your temper. It is easy to be happy and laughing; in fact, easier than it is to fret and frown. God does not want us to be unhappy. It is a sin to worry. Have faith in his goodness and grace and try to keep simran on your lips at all times.
He doesn’t say, “Try not to worry.” He says, “It is a sin to worry.” He says, “God does not want us to be unhappy.” In other words, God wants us to be happy, to laugh. The Masters themselves often show us this light hearted side, where they can joke and laugh easily. Many of us have fond memories of Maharaj Charan Singh throwing back his head with a hearty laugh; or of hearing him say something unexpected and then hearing the audience break out into peals of laughter as a wide grin spread across his face.
In the pictorial album of Hazur’s life, Legacy of Love, we are reminded of his delightful humour:
His laughter was spontaneous, vibrant, joyful and infectious. He would catch his lower lip in his teeth as though this were the only way he could stop himself laughing too much. Were he himself not to limit it, one felt his merriment might shake the whole world.
In Heaven on Earth we get a glimpse of Maharaj Sawan Singh’s humour:
His keen sense of humour delighted the sangat, and when he laughed, his eyes, lips, his whole body radiated joy. Who could resist laughing with him?
In the same book, the humour of Maharaj Jagat Singh is revealed in this encounter:
Once a satsangi said to him, “Maharaj Ji, when I sit for meditation, my soul withdraws to my knees, yet I do not see anything inside.” Sardar Bahadur Ji replied, “Brother, the Lord it seems, has erred a little. He put the eyes too far away, high up in the face. If he had put them in the knees, you would surely have seen something.” Then he affectionately told the man to try to attain more concentration in meditation and come to the eye centre. He further added, “When you come to this point you will hear the sound and also see the light.”
Here the Master was responding to his disciple with love and humour. The questioner was anxious, but by making him laugh, the Master helped him with the problem and also cheered him up. Humour, laughter, and enjoyment are all parts of this path.
The Masters can make us laugh because they are overflowing with love and happiness. The laughter of the Masters springs from an inexhaustible well of happiness and bliss, which, as they repeatedly tell us, is to be found inside every one of us.
Maharaj Charan Singh tells us in Quest for Light:
In fact, no other person should be so happy in this world as an initiate who is on the path. He should always keep his final goal in sight – the treasures, the joys and the bliss that await him in his true home.
Give up all feeling of depression and live a joyous life, fully relaxed and thanking the Lord for the great gift he has conferred on you. Keep your thoughts in simran and bhajan and see what happiness you will find within yourself. Do not worry about anything in this life, which is all an unpleasant dream. The real life lies beyond, where your Master awaits you.
Keeping an attitude of joy and gratitude while also focusing on our meditation is how we should live our lives. We should enjoy our life – even love it – but without attachment to it. This is the first way that we can lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously.
Another way to lighten up is illustrated in this quotation written above the Victory Gate at Fatehpur Sikri near Agra in India. It says:
The world is a bridge. Cross it but build no house upon it. The world endures but for an hour. Spend it in devotion.
This world is a bridge; it is a means to the end. It is a step on the way to our true home. Just as we would not build a house in the middle of a bridge, we should not live as though this physical existence is our final destination. Our stay on the bridge of this world will end before long, so we need to use that time to make spiritual progress, not to accumulate possessions and attachments. We need to travel lightly while we are here.
In the Bible, Matthew 6:20-22, Jesus talks about the value of building up spiritual wealth in comparison to the futility of accumulating material wealth. He says:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The Masters tell us that in order to live a normal life we only really need a roof over our head, a shirt on our back and food in our stomach. Our problem comes from striving to over-provide for our future by gathering wealth and property beyond these practical needs.
Baba Ji once humorously alluded to this, joking about women’s inability to reduce their wardrobes because they justify a need for every last item in it: a white dress for an Indian funeral, a black one for a western funeral, another dress for a family party and so on. On reflection, we can see that men are certainly the same with their attachments.
Why do we worry about what others will say about us if we don’t wear the latest styles, in the latest colours, with perfect accessories? Each day we can only wear one outfit. How many clothes do we really need? Maharaj Jagat Singh is reported to have had two handkerchiefs – one in his pocket, and one in the wash (Heaven on Earth).
In Quest for Light Maharaj Charan Singh says:
You can never get rid of desires by satisfying them. That would be adding fuel to the fire. The more fuel you add, the more the fire blazes. Mind can never be satisfied and will never be satiated. The more you give it, the more it desires. We have to resist and overcome temptations. Simran and bhajan coupled with love for the Master and the Lord are the ways to do that.
Meditation develops love in us for the Lord and the Master, which naturally detaches us from things. Meditation gives us perspective, makes us prioritize our true needs and develops contentment in us. With that contentment, we no longer strive to change our circumstances or to fill our lives with nonspiritual things. It allows us to travel lightly in this world; it allows us to lighten up.
Meditation affords us a third meaning of the expression to lighten up. When we meet the Master we come in touch with the inner light. Christ says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Bible, John 9:5). These words are usually quoted to explain that only a living Master, not a dead one, can help us to return home to the Lord. Only someone to whom we can talk and ask questions can explain the teachings of past mystics. Only a living Master can initiate us during this human birth. But it also has another meaning: the Master is literally light.
When we meditate, when we withdraw our attention from the world to the eye centre, we meet the Radiant Form of our Master. Christ further says, “The light of the body is the eye: if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Bible, Matthew 6:22).
In Light on Saint Matthew Maharaj Charan Singh explains what Christ means:
So Christ says that if you want to be one with the light, the light is in the body. And if you want to see that light in this body, the temple of the living God, open your single eye. Be here at the eye centre. Close these two eyes, detach yourself from the whole world and open the inner eye, the third eye. Draw the attention back to the eye centre. Focus it there. Open this door. Then you will see the light. There is nothing but light in your body.
So ‘lighten up’ can also mean to merge ourselves in that inner light and be filled with it.
This path is all about light. Just think of the names of some of our books: Light on Sant Mat, Light on Saint Matthew, Light on Saint John, Dawn of Light and Divine Light.
At initiation, we were given the passport, the visa and the ticket, but now we have to get on that plane. The Master is the pilot; he knows where to go – towards the light. All we have to do is to sit down and keep his company while he takes us there. If we love someone, how can we not pay attention to him and follow him to the destination he has chosen? This is a path of bhakti, of devotion, of love. If we love him, we want to go to where he is and where he is going. We want to lighten up our lives, because that is what he wants for us too, to lighten up our attitudes, to lighten our physical lives, to become enlightened, to become full of light.
Sultan Bahu says:
In the dark, fathomless night of ignorance,
love is a torch that brings light.
From it emanates a Melody
that enraptures lovers’ hearts!
That love, that light, that melody is the Shabd; let us go within, merge with it and become light ourselves.
The inner light one can see even in darkness, and even a blind man can experience it, because it is not the physical eyes but the attention that sees within.