The longer we are on the path, the more our weaknesses become apparent to us. If our flaws were forthcoming more quickly when we were new to the practice of meditation, we might become extremely discouraged. When our shortcomings are revealed to us gradually, we can cope with them more easily and improve on them without throwing our hands up in despair.
Two frailties that often reveal themselves as we travel the spiritual path are common to all of us: pride and jealousy. Guru Arjun Dev in Jap Ji: A Perspective is quoted:
Goodness does not even come near the person
who proclaims himself good.
In another stanza he refers to a humble person by saying:
Whoever considers himself to be lowly
ought to be recognized as the highest of all.
Spiritual progress is challenging when pride clouds our vision, when we start thinking of others as undeserving, inferior, insignificant or even worthless. Only someone who is humble, who considers others greater, better and more worthy can be recognized as being fit to evolve on the spiritual journey. Maharaj Charan Singh says:
The one thing all of us on the path of Sant Mat have to understand is the value of humility. Meekness and humility are great virtues on this path and unless we acquire them and do away with our ego and pride, progress is most difficult. Our ego and pride stand in our way and make the mind powerful and strong. It is humility which will rid us of our ego and self-importance.
Quest for Light
When jealousy propels us to slander another person, Guru Amar Das advises us:
It is improper to slander anyone,
but self-willed fools indulge in defaming others.
These slanderers, with their faces blackened,
will fall into the most dreaded of hells.
As quoted in Jap Ji: A Perspective
Jealousy is usually an underlying cause of slander and vilifying others. A jealous person might have a hard time accepting others’ happiness, honour, high regard and good reputation. By slandering, a jealous person thinks he can make himself look better and make the other person look inferior. In reality the reverse is more likely. He has probably not learned the truth of the statement, “When I blow out your candle, it doesn’t make my candle burn brighter.” In reality, the slanderer is looked down upon and thought less of in the eyes of others. The slanderer’s vision is blurred, so the merits of others seem like faults to him. His mind is weak and polluted with jealousy, tainting the way he sees the world and others in it.
The saints tell us that we see the world according to our own vision. In Jap Ji: A Perspective, Bhai Gurdas tells a story of two men who are sent to a town. One is asked to find a truly good man and the other to find a truly evil one. They both come back alone. Bhai Gurdas explains that because the first man was jealous and prideful, he saw only people like himself, so he was unable to find a single good man. The second man came home alone because he saw himself as the lowest of the low, the least among human beings; therefore, he could see no one worse than himself. The two men were looking in the same town, among the same people, but they were unable to complete their task because what they saw in the town was a reflection of themselves. We see the world through our own vision, from our own perspective. If we see the world as a negative place, it is a reflection of ourselves, hence the saying, “Jaundiced eyes see everything as yellow.”
What is our vision? Are we looking through humble eyes or through jaundiced eyes? We make our own judgments of good or bad depending on our vision. The Masters ask us to improve ourselves rather than judge others through our own “yellow” lenses. When we awaken our consciousness through the Master’s grace, we would see only the radiance of the Lord in everyone.
We are accustomed to pick out faults in other people. But this is not the way of spiritually inclined people. A satsangi or anyone keen on spiritual progress should try to find out his own faults and endeavour to give them up, one after the other, rather than find faults in other people. It is only a sense of superiority and of being above others that induces this habit in us, which is the very opposite of humility.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Sant Mat