The Prince and the Gypsies
There’s a well-known story that Maharaj Jagat Singh used to tell in his satsangs about the infant son of a king who is snatched from the palace by a band of roving gypsies.
The king never stops looking for his son and after many years learns where his son is living. In order to reclaim him the king disguises himself as a gypsy and enters the gypsy camp.
The prince, now a young man, has forgotten his father and his royal heritage and believes himself to be one of the gypsies. He could not imagine any other identity or way of life. So the king, understanding this, becomes a gypsy. He lives in the gypsy camp and befriends his son. As they sit round the campfire in the evenings, he begins to tell him stories of his true home and of the happiness that abounds there. Little by little the son tentatively begins to believe, and the dormant memories of his origin start to awaken within him. He begins to want to return home with his father.
But his father tells him, “The bonds and habits of this place bind you here, and I wish to take you with me as speedily as you can manage. So, in order to journey with me to this other country, there are certain things I want you to do.”
And so begins the wonderful tale of how the king remains with his son through all the ups and downs and vicissitudes of life at this level, until at last the bonds of gypsy life are broken and he returns home with his father.
Have we become too complex in this absorbing modern world to understand the significance of the king who comes himself? Do we understand enough of this story to enhance our appreciation of the Master? He is not what we see. He is not who we think he is. He is in fact an enigma for us until, after having made some headway on the journey, we see him not just as his body form but as something entirely other.
We are soul – drops of the divine ocean who find ourselves encased in bodies. Not knowing the truth of our divine origin, we believe ourselves to be the body and therefore base all our hopes and desires, our joys and aspirations, on where this body dwells – the world. But this world is not the home of the soul. It is a place where the body lives and experiences life through the mind and the senses.
Like the camp of the gypsies, this is the only home we know. What a task to convince us otherwise! How can the soul ever know otherwise unless somebody comes from its true origin to awaken it to the truth?
So, the father comes, looking like a gypsy and dressing and speaking like a gypsy. For how else would he be able to communicate with us? And then something about him and his explanations ring true for us and we begin to believe him. Our souls begin to awaken from the deep sleep in which we have been lost for so long.
Baba Ji has said that the soul is asleep in the creation. The mind, senses and passions encase it in a trance like state. This world is really just a tourist destination, a place we came to visit, and the only way out is through the grace of God, when he sends the Master with an invitation to come home.
Where and what is the way home? Firstly, the soul must be in a human body and, secondly, it must be contacted by a perfect Master who can put the soul in touch with the Shabd. The saints tell us no one can meet the Lord except through this current of Shabd, and it is only the Satguru who can connect the soul with it. This way of emancipation is the rule laid down by God himself.
What does the perfect Master do for his disciples? Remember, it’s all about getting souls, burdened with mind and karma, to become light enough to complete the journey: our journey within ourselves to know ourselves as soul.
When we move house, look at how much we have accumulated that we have to clear out. In the same way, this journey requires that we travel light. No excess luggage. Those old human conditions: pride, anger, greed, attachment and lust – where is the room for them on the journey?
The pull of the gypsy camp is very strong and so the Master gives very specific instructions on how to live out our days in this world. These instructions are specific and define our whole lifestyle. And the focal point of our lives has to become a daily practice of meditation, aimed at lifting the attention to the eye centre.
The Master knows very well how difficult it will be for us to find our way to the eye centre. Remember, we have been in the gypsy camp all our lives. This will be no light proposition. Time and again we will fall into the old ways of thinking and behaving, and that is where satsang, reading our Sant Mat books and doing simran will all come to our aid.
With attention fully focused, we are to make our way to the door in order to walk through it and into the many and various spiritual planes that lie above our body consciousness. In his radiant form the Master waits for us at this door to guide us further on the journey. Once having met him there, we truly start on the journey within leading us to the Shabd.
The King has invited us to return to his court and we cannot resist his invitation.
The Master has put us on the path and told us how to prepare for the journey. Sooner or later we will leave this gypsy camp, having broken our bonds here, and enter the vehicle of Shabd that will take us home. He will make this possible for us through his abundant and never ending grace. All we have to do is continue making our feeble efforts to get up and leave.
No one is saying that the journey will be easy. We know very well how weak and feeble we are. And the Master also knows this. That’s why he tells us how dependent we are on his grace. In Die to Live Maharaj Charan Singh tells a questioner:
Leaving all these things to one’s own effort, one could never go back to the Father. The question of going back would not even arise. One would never even think about the Father. So it is not the meditation which is taking us back to the Father. It is the Father himself, through the Master, who is taking us back to the Father.
The Master is not telling us that our efforts are meaningless. What he is bringing home to us is that we should always be aware that our efforts are due to his grace.
We cannot understand how we have somehow landed in the company of a Shabd Master. What we do know – from his letters and satsangs and through personal contact with him – is that he is thoroughly and lovingly attending to the task of taking his marked souls home.
The greatest miracle of the mystics is that they change the very attitude of our life, the way of our life. They turn everything upside down in our life. That is the greatest miracle the saints come to perform in our lives.
Maharaj Charan Singh, as quoted in Legacy of Love