Every death is a perfect culmination and finish for a particular life. Although we have created our own circumstances through the actions and reactions of millions of lives, it is so ordained that at the time of birth, we forget our previous lives and it appears as if this life is the only one we’ve ever had. Prior to birth, we hang upside down in our mother’s womb, with our new physical body being literally forged in a furnace of fire. Imagine the heat that is necessary to bake our bones into being!
At that time, and maybe for the last time for a long while, we remember the Lord; we are aware of ourselves as souls and we hear the sound current, that creative, conscious power of God, reverberating and sustaining all creation. And, indeed, how meditative a baby in the womb appears, abstracted and actually in another world. Attention at that time is at the tenth gate, the soul using its own faculty of seeing. Apart from hearing, there are yet no sensory outlets for the attention to dissipate outwards. Even in the womb, a baby can pick out its mother’s voice and show preference for different types of music. Our conditioning for the life to come begins before we are even born!
We could imagine that the embryonic process of growth, development and birth might continue through our life with an inevitable mental, physical and spiritual maturation, but this is not the case. Within the passage of one normal lifetime, the three conditions of existence – the three gunas of rajas, satwa and tamas – must appear: powerful growth, state of steadiness and, lastly, waning. This deterioration or waning applies not only to our mental and physical apparatus, but also to our moral sense. That too decays with age as we become more fixed and habituated to this world. With age it becomes more difficult to concentrate our attention at the eye centre, which, having run out for yet another life, is harder to collect. Except for our ego, everything gets weaker as we get older unless we have taken measures to transform our consciousness before death. If we talk to older satsangis, we hear them say: do your meditation now. Later on, if we have not become experienced in sitting in meditation, the body and mind will protest.
Part of the process of dying must be a huge realization of the sheer trivia that has gone before, enormous regret for things done and undone, and the sense of loss as we are torn from our attachments.
The Masters say death is terrible, and of course it’s terrible, because it’s part of the unnatural condition of being in the world – of having our attention habitually below the eye centre and outside the body. A metaphor Maharaj Charan Singh sometimes used was of a fine muslin cloth being torn from a thorny bush. The sound current, which gives us life, withdraws, and if we have not practised removing that delicate fibre, our attention, from where it has been caught in the ‘thorny bush’ of our body, we will experience pain. As Hazur Maharaj Ji said so many times, we will go where our treasure is; as our desires have been, thus will we become.
So much for body and mind. The soul, however, is always yearning to go back to the Father, to the Lord:
When a soul (child) comes in the world we say he is born. In reality the soul has been entombed in the grave of the physical frame, so it is more appropriate to say that it has died. When it comes in contact with the saints and gets initiation, it is attached to Nam and is getting out of the grave of the physical frame. So it is appropriate to say that it is born, or reborn.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems
At the moment of initiation we are born, as it were, into the Master’s family. It is sometimes said that we are then already in our real home, Sach Khand; it is just that we have no consciousness of it. We see everything through a distorting lense, our abnormal construction of events crystallized by our ego over myriads of lives. We tell ourselves that reality is ‘out there’ and that in order to be in touch with what is ‘going on’ we must be out there too. This is the false consciousness of the roving and unhappy mind, which mistakes pleasure for joy. Like fishes in a net, the more we struggle and seek diversion from the pain of existence, the more enmeshed we become.
Nothing has the power to overcome the strong negative gravitational pull of mind and matter except the greatest power of all, Shabd, and our Master who is Shabd incarnate. The relationship between our soul, the Master, the Lord and the Shabd is explained with dazzling clarity by the Great Master in Spiritual Gems:
The audible life stream which we call Shabd is the everlasting form of the Lord and is always within every one of us. At the eye focus it assumes the Astral Form of the Master and in this physical world it assumes the physical form of the Master. The function of Shabd is to lift the soul up; but it cannot perform this function until the mind and soul concentrate at the focus of the eyes. It is by means of repetition of the five holy names – while keeping the attention between the eyes – that the currents of the soul gradually leave the body and collect behind the eyes. When the concentration is complete and the entire body has become numb, then it is easy for the sound current to pull up the soul.
This is the process of dying while living, completely taking the sting out of physical death, and fulfilling the purpose of the new birth given to us at initiation.
The destruction of the karmas cannot really begin until we collect our consciousness at the eye centre. Therefore we cannot begin to realize our birthright – that we are already in Sach Khand – without following the Master’s instruction to do our meditation regularly and punctually for the prescribed time. Meditation is the only way to clear the results of our good and bad deeds which have the potential to keep us here. Meditation is true repentance.
As our consciousness changes with meditation, everything about us changes too. The whole process is about losing our own identity to become the being we love best, to achieve our proper condition with the soul rightly controlling the mind and senses. This new birth into our spiritual heritage is a far cry from the unhappy squalling creature arriving in this world upside down and bewildered. If we attend faithfully to our meditation, with repetition and contemplation as our bricks and mortar, we will catch the sound current and do our bit in the reconstruction of our true selves:
The attention will then be uninfluenced by worldly happenings, because it has detached itself from the material world, and will then be able to catch the current without interruption.… There are no failures in Sant Mat. Sooner or later, the soul that is keeping its contact with the sound current will reach its home. When the way to the home is known, and one keeps the way, where is the room for doubt that home will be reached?
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems