When one is reborn in the house of the Master, that is, when one takes shelter with him, it is the disciple’s duty to follow the path taught by the Master. The disciple should obey him in word, deed and spirit. To take shelter means to have full confidence in the Master and to be guided by him. But taking shelter in the Master is not easy; it requires that the disciple make some attitude adjustments.
One of those adjustments is that we must stop calculating. As soon as we are initiated, we start having expectations. We get stuck in this effort-and-reward paradigm. We forget all about our initial ideas of submission and the fact that our Master knows what is best for us, and when to give it.
We understand our spiritual maturity is limited. But the question remains: Are we able to judge our spiritual progress? Unfortunately, most of us would not recognize our own spiritual progress if it hit us over the head.
In one Buddhist tradition, there are said to be eight winds. They are gain and loss, praise and ridicule, credit and blame, and suffering and joy. It is said that if you aren’t aware of them, they will blow you away like dry leaves in an autumn breeze. For example, when someone praises you, and those compliments taste sweet like candy in your mouth, you are being blown away by the wind of praise.
There is a story that one day in ancient China, a young man thought he had become enlightened. He wrote a poem to his Master about how he was no longer blown about by the eight winds. Then he sent it to his Master, who lived three hundred miles up the Yangtze River. When his Master read the poem, he wrote, “puff puff” on the bottom of the paper and sent it back to the disciple.
Upon receiving the returned poem, the young man saw the words of his Master. The more the young man read those words, the more upset he got. At last he decided to visit his Master. In those days a three-hundred-mile trip up the Yangtze River was a very difficult journey.
As soon as he arrived, the young man went straight to his Master’s temple. “Why did you write this?” he asked, bowing. “Doesn’t this poem show that I am no longer blown about by the eight winds?”
“You say that you are no longer blown by the eight winds,” replied the Master, “but two little puffs blew you all the way up here.”
The question is: What winds are blowing us? This story is interesting because it not only highlights the need to stop calculating, it also underscores the importance of another attitude adjustment we must make – the need to stop reacting. The man’s reaction, while necessary in order to teach him a lesson, was actually unnecessary on a practical level. Reacting without understanding the larger picture also often plays into our relationship with our Master.
Once a satsangi was complaining about how she used to be chosen for seva that allowed her to work closely with the Master, but, lately, she had been passed over. She was lamenting that Master no longer loved her. The Masters love is unbounded and unrestricted, in a way that she had never imagined.
In reality, she was and is one in a million, or, put metaphorically, one moth in a million. A moth loves the flame unflinchingly; the flame does not love the moth. A moth is absolutely oblivious to anything other than the flame. A moth does not compare its lot to that of other moths. Master loves our souls, not our egos, his love does not change. Whatever the Master directs us to do is for our good, although at the time it may not appear to us to be proper or beneficial.
Maharaj Sawan Singh speaks to this point when he says in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol.V:
The Master is responsible for his disciple in all matters. The disciple should therefore lovingly carry out the orders of the Master, and not let his own whims interfere with them, even though the Master’s orders may sometimes appear a trifle strange at first glance.
As we know, the Lord’s will prevails in all circumstances. As Baba Jaimal Singh informs us in Spiritual Letters, “Whatever is written on the forehead, that alone will happen.” So if whatever is to happen is already written, why react?
Instead, we should make up our minds to be cheerful about our lot. We do seem to have that choice. We should set before ourselves the goal of being cheerful. In fact, this would make our lives much smoother, for who would not want to be around someone cheerful? Just as a tennis club does not attract golfers, a club of angry people does not attract the cheerful. Every day we must decide which club we want to belong to. It is not difficult to understand this theoretically.
The next step is to practice our meditation so that we can begin living in this way. Maharaj Jagat Singh tells us in The Science of the Soul, “He [the disciple] has to reach a stage of equanimity where neither honour should elate him nor dishonour or disgrace depress him.” Soami Ji continues in this vein, when he writes in Sar Bachan Poetry:
Be not overjoyed in moments of happiness,
accept your pains without bitterness.
Do not forget him even for a moment,
in happiness or pain rely only on him for support.
The Master and Shabd – these are your friends.
Hold them in your heart – nothing else matters.
Through meditation, we can slowly learn how to stop calculating and how to eliminate our short-sighted reactions. By taking these steps towards submission to the Master’s will, perhaps we can adjust our attitudes and be a member of the club of the cheerful.