Be Nothing, Do Nothing
The Master has been suggesting that we learn to be nothing and do nothing. However, clearly there are some things the Master wants us to be, and some things he wants us to do. He wants us to be good disciples, good family members and good employees. And he also certainly wants us to do our duties to our families, our employers, our friends and our communities. Most importantly, he wants us to do our meditation. So when he says we should learn to be nothing and to do nothing, what could he mean?
This concept may hold the essence of this path: complete surrender to the Master and the Lord. For that is the road we must follow in our return to the Father, in the process of God-realization. But why is this the essence of the path? Because in our present state we are separated from God – or at least we believe we are. Our mind thinks it is a separate entity from everything around it. And it processes everything it sees and does through the filter of ego. This is “my car” and “my job” and “my country”. And the mind thinks that the Lord is a separate entity out there somewhere when, the saints assure us, God is within us and we are made of nothing but him.
We live in a dream world of separateness, centred on our ego. The saint’s job is to wake us up from this dream so we can see that all is God and give ourselves up to him and his will. Some saints speak of this as our waking up from our current sleep state of belief that we are separate. Others speak of this as an annihilation of the ego. As quoted in the book Sultan Bahu, the great Persian mystic Maulana Rum says about this state:
From all the six volumes of the Masnavi
only one voice comes.
Its essence is
Dive into the ocean of annihilation.
This passage tells us that the goal of our life is to “dive into the ocean of annihilation,” throwing ourselves fully into the love of the Master and the Lord, so that we lose our individual identity. We cease to exist as separate entities.
This giving up of our identity, learning to be nothing, begins with the three vows we follow before initiation: following the vegetarian diet, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and leading a clean moral life. These are the first acts of surrender we undertake as disciples-to-be.
Meditation, we learn after initiation, is an ongoing exercise in surrender. It’s the key process in our life as a disciple that allows us to practice surrendering and that eventually changes us so that true surrender, surrender to the Shabd is possible. While our meditation may be feeble and seem useless, it is essential because it is an act of submission. Meditation is our prayer to the Father for forgiveness and grace. Without it, and the other actions we take in his name, we are not soft, we are not pliable, and the divine potter cannot reshape us in his image. In a recent Spiritual Link article (May 2009), the author wrote, “… the whole secret is to make yourself ready. God does the rest”. Our attempts to meditate and to live the teachings are a part of what make us ready.
When we try to meditate and fail to achieve anything, we think there is a problem. We can become disappointed. It’s important to remember that spiritual practice is not like operating a vending machine, where we put in a dollar, and out comes a soda. In a vending machine there is a direct connection between the dollar in and the soda out. In spiritual practice, there is also input (meditation) and output (advancement within), but no apparent linkage between the two.
And when we accept that our efforts at meditation are not directly linked to results, that acceptance may be a part of our learning to surrender to the Master. It is a part of our learning to be and do nothing. The Great Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh, writes very beautifully about this process:
Your duty is to sit within and knock at the door, and the door will open. The Power within does not err. It will open the door when it finds that the time has come. Increase your love and devotion, and entrust yourself entirely to its care. The Power within is not ignorant of what you are doing. It is with you and constantly watches you and guides you. When your love for that Power exceeds your love for yourself and the I-ness has been replaced by Thou-ness, the form of the Guru will make its appearance visible within.
Here is how Baba Jaimal Singh, in Spiritual Letters, describes the state of surrender:
So long as the disciple does not take out the self by surrendering his all to the Satguru and removing himself from everything, he will not be liberated. So surrender your self and step aside my son. Consider that each and every thing in the world – body, mind, and wealth – belongs to the Satguru, that you are nothing. Do all your work knowing it to be thus, and stay within the Satguru’s instructions. He will take you with him when he considers you fit.
In another letter, Baba Jaimal Singh writes directly about doing nothing:
Entrust everything to him and do all your worldly work, and also keep doing your bhajan and simran. But know in your heart that “I am not the doer. I do not exist at all.”
We began with the present Master’s advice that we learn to be nothing and do nothing. Isn’t he saying exactly what Baba Jaimal Singh is also saying above? In the state described, the disciple has learned to “be nothing.” He simply has ceased to exist and only the Master and Shabd remain. And he has learned to “do nothing,” since he knows (because he can see it happening) that the Shabd does everything, and he does nothing.
So in his statement that we have to learn to be nothing and do nothing, Baba Ji has laid before us the greatest goal a human being can strive for: to dive into that ocean of love and lose ourselves in it – to surrender completely to our Master.
How do we do this? In the following two short passages Maharaj Charan Singh gives us the answer to this question. That answer, of course, has to do with meditation. “The main thing is meditation; and satsang, because it strengthens meditation; and seva, because it leads to meditation” (Spiritual Heritage). “From meditation, love will come, submission will come, humility will come. Everything will come” (Die to Live).