Do We Really Believe We Need the Master?
Do we really believe that we need the Master? Think about it. If we do, then why do we think we need him? Or do we not consider the issue at all? This question is obviously a critical one for a seeker, but it is also valid for those who have been on the path for some time.
The proposition that the saints present is that we need a Master only if we wish to acquire that which the Master offers us. If we want to purchase vegetables, we go to a greengrocer; for petrol, we go to a garage; and so forth. We need to be clear that the Masters are continually offering us something, while always reminding us that what they are offering already belongs to us. We have but to stretch out for it, and it can be ours.
But if we do not want what is being offered, if we see no personal requirement for it, or we do not consider it worth the price or the effort to acquire it, then we do not need a Master. And unless we do feel the need of a Master, how can we follow his instructions, and become attached to him? We cannot.
Hearing without meaning
This is the position of most people. Even if they hear what the Master says about what he has to offer, they are not interested. They cannot align themselves with the objective to which the Master leads us, and so they have no need for a Master. They hear the same words that a disciple hears, but it means nothing to them.
So we have to feel the need for a Master. This feeling can come only from within ourselves, from a source of which we have no comprehension and yet which is our very being. The Masters advise us that this feeling is the pull of the Creator on the marked soul, which is ready to be drawn back to its source. How or why this happens we do not know. But we must establish a conscious need for the Master, because it is that consciousness which will be the prime mover in influencing us to take the right actions in our worldly and spiritual duties. It is that need which holds us close to the Master through thick and thin.
Where do we find the conscious need for the Master? It is in understanding what it is that he has to give and aligning ourselves with that as our objective. It is misguided to come to the Master looking for permanent happiness in this creation: we must be clear that the Master will provide us only with those things that lead us to Sach Khand. If we want the world, we should not seek it from the Master: his shop doesn’t offer such goods as worldly happiness, wealth and power.
The Master is the provider of spiritual sustenance. He will help us to turn slowly away from this world, pulling us surely towards him till we reach the point where our love is so developed and our ego so diminished that we become part of him, and in merging in him we automatically merge into the Creator.
To recognize our need for a Master, the following steps may be taken:
- identify as our objective the soul’s return to its source
- understand that the Master is the only way to reach that objective
- be clear about the role of the physical form of the Master, understanding that the true Master is the Shabd within; and
- align ourselves with the will of the Master by following his instructions.
If we have done these things, then we are aware that we need the Master. And once we know we need him, we are more likely to make the effort to work with him in a team effort. As any manager will tell you, for a project to succeed everyone must share an objective and pull together. But it does not end there: we have to keep reminding ourselves that we need the Master, otherwise we subconsciously return to acting as though we are the doers.
He never leaves us
Once we have been initiated, whether or not we are conscious of our need for the Master at any particular time, the Master is always there. We may forget him, but he does not forget us. From the moment of initiation onwards, the Master never leaves us, for he has seated his astral form at the third eye. From there he oversees our lives in this world, knowing every thought, observing every action, influencing events in any way he sees fit so that we make progress upon this path.
But it appears that we do not really believe the Master has this intimate awareness: otherwise we would not think and act as we do. If we truly understood that he is watching over us, we would always behave as we do when we are in his physical presence. But the Masters tell us we have only to go within to see that he is always there.
Our task is to keep reminding ourselves of the Master, for if our mind is not towards the Master then it is towards the world. One or the other – it cannot float in a vacuum. Characteristically, the mind has to be occupied with something, and so at initiation the Masters give us simran, an activity in which we can participate at any time. If we remember to do this simran, then we are reminding ourselves of our need for the Master, and that he is there with us.
There is a Chinese proverb which goes: “I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.”
We hear and see (or read) about the many aspects of this path, but we readily forget to do what we ought to do. It is rarely intentional disobedience that causes us to forget, but rather the habit of the mind in turning towards the stimulation of the senses, over millions of lives. Satsang and reading Sant Mat literature can help to remind us of what we need to be doing and of our need for the Master. But it is only by actually doing what we have to do – our simran and our meditation that we will truly understand and know.
Get up and get going
We need to get up and get going. The message of all the saints is that we are asleep. We do not appreciate the urgent need to put in an effort and so avoid returning here again. They tell us that there is no point putting it off, because it will only get more difficult. The same things have still to be gone through, the karma we owe still has to be lived out or else destroyed by meditation. It has been said that we as satsangis are like would be train passengers milling about on the platform but failing to actually get on the train, which then leaves empty. And yet the Master is exhorting us to get on, to go within.
Imagine an army embarking in landing craft, driving forward to storm a beach and establish a foothold in enemy held territory. The craft arrive at the shore, the doors go down, the soldiers stream on to the beach and come under fire. The natural tendency is to flatten oneself against the sand or hide behind any object. But it is accepted military wisdom that the forward momentum must be maintained, because once the soldiers hit the deck they will be pinned down and will struggle to get up again. It takes all the encouragement of the officers to keep the men moving forward under heavy fire, but things would be worse if the landing got bogged down on the beach.
Perhaps this is like most of us. We have been floating around on the sea of this creation for so long, but the Master has steered us towards the beach, where after initiation we land and engage in battle against the full force of the mind, our enemy. The Master has to keep us moving forward, otherwise we will become bogged down. We must maintain pressure on the mind. Once we have landed on the beach we have identified ourselves on the field of battle to the enemy, the mind. This brings us under heavier fire, because the mind sees that we have been given weapons capable of beating it. Battle has commenced in earnest and will not stop until we have won, so we might as well get on with it.
There used to be a charge in the British Navy of “reluctance to engage the enemy”, which could result in a court martial for a ship’s captain. It would be said as general advice to any young captain unsure about naval tactics that if he always sailed towards the enemy and engaged in combat, no matter how much more powerful the enemy squadron might be, then he could not go far wrong. The Admiralty would look favourably on him. This is what the Master too wants to see us doing: engaging the enemy of the mind with simran.
Engaging the enemy
Great achievements were made by outnumbered and outgunned vessels, through the sheer bravado of the officers and crew, which translated into considerable confidence in the outcome of battle. We should try to develop the same confidence and bravery, putting our faith in the Master’s promise that we will eventually succeed. If we engage the enemy then, even if we fail in battle, the Master will – like the Lords of the Admiralty – reward our efforts.
Let us at least undertake to put in what the marines call “a maximum effort” to be worthy of the great good fortune that has befallen us: the care and protection of a Master and the gift of Nam, not just now but forever. The Masters love our efforts, and we must fight to become worthy of our birthright.
Like the sea captains, we will never go far wrong if we always engage the mind with simran and do not turn our backs or lay down our arms. We cannot overcome the mind in one on one combat; it is too powerful. But if we swing our effort behind the instructions of the Master and use the weapons he has given us, there is a guarantee of final victory.
Success is certain, but we have to do our bit. The general of an army cannot fire all the guns himself; he relies on the foot soldiers. It is a team effort to win the battle. We must press on courageously with what the Master wants us to do. The path is about the Master and the Shabd, but it is also, no less, about our own effort.
Those whose lives are fruitful to themselves, to their friends, or to the world are inspired by hope and sustained by joy: they see in imagination the things that might be and the way in which they are to be brought into existence. In their private relations, they are not preoccupied with anxiety lest they should lose such affection and respect as they receive: they are engaged in giving affection and respect freely, and the reward comes of itself without their seeking. In their work, they are not haunted by jealousy of competitors, but concerned with the actual matter that has to be done. In politics, they do not spend time and passion defending unjust privileges of their class or nation, but they aim at making the world as a whole happier, less cruel, less full of conflict between rival greeds, and more full of human beings whose growth has not been dwarfed and stunted by oppression.
Bertrand Russell, Roads to Freedom