Time is an equal opportunity for everyone. We are all allotted the gift of twenty-four hours in a day. But how we make use of time varies with every individual. It is almost like a block of marble. Give a block of marble to someone who cannot see its potential, and you end up with the same block of marble. But put it in the hands of a master sculptor, and that very same block can be transformed into a beautiful masterpiece.
Every sculptor looks at his ‘block of marble’ with an artist’s eye. Committed to the discipline of his craft, slowly and surely, he chisels, shapes and polishes the stone until the lifeless block is transformed into an object of beauty.
There are a few things that can fuel a person’s commitment, and among them is one’s dedication to excellence. The desire for excellence is what carried Michelangelo through to the completion of his work on the Sistine Chapel. That same desire is what drove Thomas Edison to keep persisting until he finally created the light bulb.
The one vital ingredient necessary to maintain this superior level of commitment whilst in pursuit of excellence is discipline. The word itself is a derivative of the word ‘disciple’. It therefore stands to reason that one cannot be a committed disciple without it.
Discipline, which signifies improvement through tribulation, is learned through acceptance; that is, not by hearing, reading or thinking, but by experiencing it.
As quoted in St. Augustine’s Exposition on Psalm 119
On the day of initiation, we all made a commitment to our Master. We made a promise to fulfil the purpose of our human life. In this spiritual marriage between our soul and the Shabd, the Lord promises us salvation. All he asks for in return is that we commit ourselves to following his instructions.
In Sar Bachan Poetry, Soami Ji relates the Lord’s promise to take the soul back to its true home and also reveals that it is the Master who in fact helps us with our efforts. The soul implores:
Reveal your own real form to me, Master…
This physical form is also very dear to me,
but let me experience that one through this one –
the hidden through the manifest.
And the Master offers his commitment to the soul:
I shall not rest till I show you that form –
why are you in such a hurry?…
Give up your misgivings, be steadfast in your love –
a love tempered with faith.
I shall myself help you put in the effort,
I shall myself take you to your ultimate home.
Every moment of meditation slowly and surely chisels away the block of stone, as we attempt to produce that masterpiece; attempt to achieve that perfection, attempt to become one with the Radiant Form. As Soami Ji reminds us, it is the Master who helps us with our efforts and our feeble attempts. All he asks is that we remain steadfast in our love and our meditation.
But this is not easy. It requires from us a discipline to hold on to the principles of Sant Mat. As Maharaj Charan Singh explains, it is a constant struggle:
One has to sacrifice a lot in life to achieve the end. You constantly have to be alert with your mind as if you were on a razor’s edge. Christ himself has said: it is easy to fall, and the road to destruction is wide, but straight and narrow is the way to everlasting life. Sant Mat teachings are very simple, but to follow them is much more difficult than it looks. It’s a constant struggle with the mind, and one has to change one’s entire way of life and one’s attitude towards life. To follow Sant Mat requires a complete transformation, so it’s not easy.
Die to Live
In general, we can approach daily commitments in one of two ways: We can either focus outwards on the world, or we can keep our focus within. Those who focus on the world and its problems allow themselves to compromise and waver; because worldly conditions keep changing, their commitment level also fluctuates like the wind. In contrast, if we were to focus inward, at the eye centre, we would always remain committed to our path, regardless of our circumstances. Even if we were to be surrounded by a raging storm, meditation would give us the strength to face the battering winds of our karmas.
It’s not that the environments change, but you will not be affected by those environments if you attend to meditation. You can’t change the environments, you can’t change the course of events, you can’t change the situations. Your destiny has brought you into a certain atmosphere, into a certain situation, and you have to face all that. But you are given strength so as not to be affected by all those situations, you won’t be bothered by them. Just attend to your meditation.
Die to Live
The Master has given us the opportunity; he has given us the time and his commitment. He has brought us to this path of love. Were it not for his grace, we could have been pulled into a hundred other directions. It is now up to us to make use of his gift and to offer him our commitment.
For God’s sake, remember thy Beloved, for in this is thy true happiness.
Keep before thine eye the promise which thou hast given to him.
O man, faithfulness in keeping the promise is most precious!
Forget this not, get out of the hunter’s net and be free.
Sarmad, Martyr to Love Divine