The Driving Force
Most dictionaries define the verb ‘drive’ as to guide, to direct, or to motivate. Whether we are driving a car or playing golf, we are guiding, controlling and directing at that instant. But what is the driving force in our life? What is the purpose of the things we do? Where is the road we have chosen taking us? Are we really going somewhere – or is our road taking us around in circles?
There are numerous circumstances, values and feelings that can drive one’s life. Below are some of the most common ones.
Driven by Possessions
The desire to acquire more can become the whole goal of one’s life. This drive to always accumulate more than we need is based on a myth that having more objects will lead to happiness. Possessions only provide temporary happiness. We eventually outgrow our material possessions and want even bigger, newer and better things.
It is also a misconception that if one gets more, one becomes more important. Self-worth and net worth should not be confused with each other. Our value is not determined by our possessions.
Two verbs have built two empires, the verb ‘to have’ and the verb ‘to be’. The first is the empire of things, material possessions and power. The second is the empire of the Spirit, things that last.
Saint Augustine, as quoted in The Secret of Happiness
The most common myth about money is that having wealth will make one more secure. Wealth can be lost instantly through a variety of uncontrollable factors, such as natural disasters like the recent earthquake in Japan, business failures or even stock market crashes. Real security and happiness can only be found in that which can never be taken away from you, such as your relationship with the Master and your connection to the Shabd. The fact is, without a tangible relationship with the Lord, man is a spiritual pauper. Do we want to strive for the wealth of this physical plane or the wealth of Nam, the Word that is waiting for us within?
Driven to Create a Lasting Impression
Many people want to be remembered after they have passed away. They believe that their purpose is to create a lasting legacy on earth. Yet, what ultimately matters most is not what others say about your life, but what the Lord says.
What we do not realize is that everything on this plane is temporary and never-lasting. ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. All achievements will ultimately be surpassed, records will always be broken, reputations will fade and fame forgotten. Living to create a worldly legacy is like building your house on sand. A better use of time would be to build an eternal legacy, by building on a spiritual foundation, which the Master has shown us how to do.
Driven by Anger
Many of us are driven at some point in our lives, by pain and bitterness. We hold on to our anger instead of releasing it through forgiveness. We relive the past in our minds over and over again. Some of us may close up and swallow our anger inside, allowing it to fester, while others may blow up and release it on others. Both responses are detrimental on the path of spirituality.
The action of anger is to stir up strife, cause confusion and scatter the mind. Then it cannot concentrate. It is a fact of experience that no person can possibly concentrate as given by the Master so long as he indulges in fits of anger. It is an utter impossibility.… Anger is the extreme opposite of love. As love is the sum of all good, so anger must be the sum of all evil.
Julian Johnson, The Path of the Masters
The Masters explain that all our relationships are the result of our past karmas. Whatever has happened in the past and whatever is happening to us now is the boomerang effect of our own actions. Nothing can hurt us unless we hold on to that pain. If we could let it go and forgive those around us, we would feel lighter, happier and closer to our Master. After all, the Master is all mercy and forgiveness. We would do well to live by these words:
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort
than to be comforted.
To understand than to be understood,
To love than to be loved.
For it is by giving that one receives,
It is by self-forgetting that one finds,
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
Saint Francis of Assisi as quoted in From Self to God
Do we want to become a victim of anger? Do we want our lives to be driven by such an ugly emotion?
Driven by Peer Pressure
We all know how it feels when we try really hard to fit into a group, to be one of the gang, so to speak – when we try to be accepted and not left out, and when we allow ourselves to be moulded by other people’s expectations and public opinion. Unfortunately, those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.
It takes a very strong conviction not to succumb to the pressures exerted by those around us. In trying to be accepted by the crowd, if we compromise our principles, we are most likely going to make decisions that we may regret later. The Masters always urge us to think for ourselves. They never try to influence us. In fact, they encourage us to satisfy our intellect before treading the path of Sant Mat.
It becomes very easy for us to justify our actions, even when we know that we are wrong, by saying: “It’s just a little lie, it’s just a tiny little indiscretion; it doesn’t hurt anyone.” But it does hurt – we hurt ourselves. The fact is, there is no gray area when it comes to right and wrong.
Let’s take the analogy of the human body: it is mostly made up of bones, tissue, veins and arteries. If the tiniest little vein were to become damaged or blocked, the consequences of that damage could adversely affect an organ, weaken the infrastructure of our body, leading to illness and ultimately even death. And if the smallest stone were to be removed from the foundation of a building, it would weaken the structure, possibly leading to the collapse of the building. It may not happen that day, or that week, but ultimately every action that we undertake will result in an equal reaction.
Do we adjust ourselves and our values to fit in with the world, or do we cleanse the chamber of our heart so that we can be worthy of the Lord?
We have posed many questions in the process of discussing each of these four ‘drives’, but the Master provides us with just one answer to all these questions.
There is a very beautiful analogy that Hazur would often give, about the child and his father going to the fair. While the father is holding the child’s hand, he is busy enjoying the sights and sounds around him. But the moment the child lets go of the father’s hand, the child cries. Without his father, the child is insecure, unhappy and lost. No matter how enjoyable the fair may seem, no matter how lovely the lights and sounds, nothing can compare to being with his father.
In the same way, if we want to feel secure, if we want to be happy, if we do not want to become victims of our emotions, if we do not want to get lost in the crowd, like the child, all we have to do is to call out for our Father. This is the one answer.
Driven by the Shabd
How do we hold on to the Father? He has given us the means – he has given us the connection whereby we can hold on to him and listen to his resounding voice. The Masters refer to this connection, this Sound, as the Shabd. In The Path of the Masters, it is referred to as the ‘audible life stream’. It is also known as the sound current or the Word. In the Adi Granth, this has been called Nam. Greek mystics refer to it as Logos. The Bible refers to it as the Holy Spirit. It is the one fundamental principle of all paths leading to God.
Masters of all ages have emphasized this Shabd as the central fact in their system. This life stream is, in fact, nothing less than the Supreme One, projecting himself on all planes of life in a constant stream of musical vibrations through which flows the most incomprehensible power, life-giving and creative.
Julian Johnson, The Path of the Masters
The force of the Shabd is always with us and within us. We only need to bring our attention to that focus where we can perceive it.
Human nature is frail. When we follow the path of spirituality, we begin to realize that we are full of weaknesses. Frailties present themselves in almost every conceivable manner and interfere with our concentration. But with the help of the Master and the Shabd, they are overcome, one by one, with every inch of the withdrawal of our attention from the outside environment of temptation and pain, towards the inner focus of love, peace and light.