Touched by Magic
If satsangis were asked to write their autobiography, we might find that, except for some idiosyncratic differences, we all share a pattern to our lives. After all, we found out about the path, we were initiated and here we are trying to put the teachings into practice.
The main purpose of saints incarnating on this earth is to make us aware that this is not our true home. We are so entangled in the cycle of transmigration that we think that what we see is the reality, that it is the truth. Yet all that we see with the physical eyes is subject to change. If something is subject to change then it is not the truth, because one of truth’s attributes is that it is unchangeable.
Maharaj Sawan Singh has used the example of a lion cub that starts playing with sheep. His constant association with sheep makes him think he is one of them and he forgets that he is a cub with the potential to be a lion, the king of the jungle. There comes a moment of realization when he understands he is a lion, not a sheep. It is the same for us. When we start realizing the illusory nature of the world, we look for something eternal, an everlasting relationship. That is when we get attracted to the spiritual path of the saints. Before this awareness we just think we’re common human beings. First we are born, then as we grow up we study, get jobs, get married, have children and the cycle continues. Bombarded by these outward events, it’s too easy to regard our spiritual inclination as a one-off feeling with no real substance.
Rather like a spiritual seeker, Harry Potter, the fictional character created by J.K.Rowling, thought he was an ordinary human being. He lived with his aunty, uncle and cousin. But at the age of eleven he discovered his parents’ true identity and that he too was a wizard by inheritance. That is similar to what happens to us. We realize our true kinship with a spiritual Father – whether we call him God or Creator or Lord. And the amazing truth is that he can be found within us at that perfect level of consciousness that exists beyond the physical and mental worlds. Soami Ji, reminding us of this reality, writes in one of his poems, “Let us turn homewards, friend – why linger in this alien land?”
Once we’ve realized that we’re spiritual beings, we have to start going homewards. How are we going to do that? In Die to Live Maharaj Charan Singh has explained this when he says:
The Creator has determined how we are to go back to him, and we cannot take any short cut or any other route. He has ordained that we must seek a perfect Master, and be initiated by him while both the Master and the disciple are living.
Then through meditation we must please the Master, we must eliminate our ego, and merge with the Father, become one with the Creator.
We’re lucky to be on this path, to have found a perfect living Master and to be initiated. However, that is just the start. At the time the fictional Harry finds out that his parents are from a magical world, he also gains admission to the school of magic and wizardry. Like Harry, once we’ve gained admission to Sant Mat’s university of the spirit, our incredible journey begins. Baba Ji has said that initiation is merely the expression of the desire to obtain salvation. That is, initiation is only the beginning; once we’re initiated we cannot remain static and wait for things to happen to us. We have to be proactive and put in our level best to tread this path of God-realization. When Harry starts attending his classes at school, he starts studying, doing homework and sitting for exams. His adventures depict him putting into action what he learns. He studies, but he is not obsessed with gaining endless knowledge; instead he puts into action the simple concepts he has learned and wins his battles. Mystics, too, explain the limitation of intellect and stress the importance of practice to convert concepts into understanding. In support of this, Maharaj Sawan Singh says in Spiritual Gems:
The point is that intellectually, man thinks and argues only up to a certain stage; but it is only when he goes in that he has perfect knowledge.
So through our meditation we have to go within to discover our true potential.
Simran – importance of the five holy words
Once we’re initiated we’re given the gift of meditation. What is meditation and what does it consist of? At the time of initiation we’re given five holy names which we have to repeat. We sit in a quiet place each day and practise repetition whilst focusing our attention into the darkness we see in our forehead when we close our eyes. This is known as simran. After dedicating about three quarters of the time to this practice, we spend the remaining time in bhajan, which is listening to the Shabd, the audible life stream. The Shabd can be heard in every human being once the mind is brought under control and a state of concentration achieved. Until then we try to listen.
The five holy names have been empowered by the association they have with the living Master who has given them to us. We have to use these five words with great care, as if we were handling five precious jewels. These names have the power to elevate us, to get us out of this cycle of life and death. It is only the practice of simran which is in our hands, so our effort has to be put into this. Everything else in our spiritual progress is the result of simran.
In the world of J. K. Rowling’s books, everything is made possible by reciting some words. There are different sets of words known as spells which are used to bring about different things. Numerous spells exist for almost everything. One of the most powerful and dangerous spells has the power to extinguish life. Our simran’s ultimate purpose is to extinguish our ego so that we can unite with the divine. Our simran defeats the negative tendencies in us and gives life to the positive. Along the way, simran has the positive effect of helping us to calm down, and aiding us in coping with our circumstances. More powerfully than any spell, it gradually eradicates the obstacles in our way to God-realization.
Final destination – through death to life
Through our daily meditation we’re preparing for death and making a start on our true life. For that is what meditation is; as Maharaj Charan Singh says in Die to Live, “Meditation is a daily rehearsal to die.”
Death often is viewed in a negative way. Yet because we’re on this path, we should actually prepare for it because that is when the real journey begins. At one point in the Harry Potter stories, Harry’s headmaster comments, “To a well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” So death is only scary for those who are not prepared. It causes anxiety for those who do not have a living Master because they do not know what to expect. We are always scared of the unknown. Our meditation is that practice in which we can experience dying while still being alive. Then, at the time of death we will not be experiencing an unknown feeling. Kabir says:
If one dies while living
For him death is sweet.
His rank and honour are dead,
So too is his I-ness.
Those who while living die
By merging into the Lord
Become immortal, O Kabir.
Kabir The Weaver of God’s Name
It has been said that once we are initiated, our place in Sach Khand is assured. We just have to put in our effort and we’ll get there one day. We know what the effort is – meditation. However, there is something that we can do to ease our journey towards our destination. One of the skills Harry learned was how to disappear from one place and appear in other place. The technique involved in this task was known as the three Ds. The first D was to fix one’s mind firmly on the desired Destination. The second D was to summon up one’s Determination to get to there. Finally the last D was to feel that one is going into nothingness, moving with Deliberation. We also have to remember our spiritual destination. Secondly we have to arm ourselves with the solid determination that we’re going to get there. Lastly, we have to let go, surrender to the Lord’s will and simply put in our effort with deliberation. By our limited effort and his tremendous grace, we will disappear from this world and appear in our true home at last.