My Master, My Mentor
If a friend were to ask us who our Master is and why he is important in our lives, what would we respond? What would we say? After all, not all friends are aware of our spiritual beliefs; they might not know much about the path of Sant Mat, and maybe more than one of our friends is an atheist.
How can one explain who the Master is?
Many of us might say he is a friend, someone who is very special to us. Others might say he is a spiritual teacher or a guide. Or we may even say he is family: our father or brother. Who exactly is the Master? What role does he play in our lives?
In a recent face to face with my boss, he referred me to a mentorship programme. He said I had been in the company for many years now and that it was high time I started finding some direction in my career. And who could guide me better than a mentor?
Some of us may work in companies and are aware of this concept. The presentation I attended at work defined what a mentor was, how we can find one and how we can become a mentor ourselves.
In the modern context, a mentor is a trusted friend, counsellor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Some professions have mentoring programmes in which newcomers are paired with more experienced people, who advise them and serve as examples. A mentor has usually been in the same situations and positions as the mentee and he shares these experiences with his protegee in order to facilitate his job and help him progress.
Initially the mentee has to find a suitable mentor and request him to give his time. Soon a close relationship is established. The mentee develops until he/she learns how to be more and more independent. Gradually, the relationship comes to that of equals, like a father who trains his son in business and life so that he can eventually run the business by himself.
While I listened to this presentation I simply couldn’t avoid finding similarities and parallels between the corporate world and Sant Mat. Just as the professional mentor guides us in our career development, the Master helps us with our spiritual development. In the great multination of this creation, we are all employees and our guru is the mentor who guides us towards our true home.
Anything we learn in this world, we learn through a teacher who masters that subject. We can take the example of doctors, engineers or lawyers: they have not become experts in their fields only by reading books. They all needed a teacher or a subject matter expert to guide them.
The easiest way to learn any discipline in life is from another person. That’s why saints always remind us that reading books about spirituality and attending satsangs are not enough to obtain God-realization. We need the help of someone with first-hand experience, which only the true living Master has. A Master can make us understand how we can return to God, what it is that keeps us away from him and how we can overcome all these obstacles.
We can refer to him however we want: friend, brother, teacher, guide. These are just physical names. The important thing is that he is the one who inspires us to follow the path and shows us how to walk it. There are so many temptations in life that if it wasn’t for the Master who keeps us on the right track with the Surat Shabd Yoga, we would succumb to them. After all, the company we keep has great influence over us. The good inspire us to be good and the bad influence us with their negativity. This is why saints help us channelize our attention and focus in the right direction. The Master inspires us to be better human beings.
When we want to travel to a foreign country we are not familiar with, we do not depend solely on our intelligence; we consult travel agents and use travel guides. However, the best and most reliable information will only be obtained from someone who has already travelled where we want to go. In the same way, the Master has been to that ‘country’, to Sach Khand. He, like a mentor, has worked in all the departments in the company of life, starting right from the bottom, where we are. He acts as an example to us; if he can do it, so can we.
Our relationship with the Master also evolves and deepens with time and practice, just like the mentormentee relationship. Baba Ji always says that the relationship between Master and disciple starts the minute we place our trust and faith in him. To begin with we may view him as an acquaintance, then as a close friend and role model and then finally as our Master. He is our beloved, but very few fortunate souls realize that he is the personification of the Shabd and that we are a drop of the same divine ocean of love.
The Master, like a mentor, invites us to walk shoulder to shoulder with him. The Master is a mentor who is always available ‘on-line’ for us. We can approach him whenever we want and he will willingly help us. However, just as the role of a mentor is not to do our job for us, but to guide us, the Master too is there to guide us rather than walk the path on our behalf. Ultimately, we must attend to our meditation to reach our goal and become like our mentor, the Master.
It is very hard to describe and explain what the Master means to us. He is the way and the destination, at the same time. He is here in this world mentoring us, but at the same time is connected to the Shabd.
Next time someone asks us that million dollar question, ‘Who is that gentleman?’ perhaps we could say, ‘He is my Master, my mentor’.