A Wake-Up Call
Act fast, stop deluding yourself,
come and strengthen your love and faith.
Sar Bachan Poetry
This wake-up call from Soami Ji Maharaj – in Bachan 18, Shabd 12 – goes straight for the jugular. He continues, “One thing I have learned about you, brother, is that you are remarkably dishonest with yourself.” These hard-hitting words leap off the page and grab one by the throat. The Master, whose love is constant although his words may be stern, is telling us what he really thinks about us, what he has learnt through his long association with us. And what is this one thing that has impressed him above all else? Is it our integrity? Is it our devotion? Perhaps it is our sincerity? No! It is the ‘remarkable dishonesty’ of our mind.
Elsewhere in the shabd, Soami Ji makes us even more ashamed of ourselves as he asks us, “How long will you keep on trying to impress the Master with your pretences?” A similar observation is made by Maharaj Jagat Singh in The Science of the Soul:
The Master knows that we are only feigning thirst and desire for Nam. Our prayers are not sincere and true.… Our mind is still steeped in cravings for the world and its objects. Remember that a Master cannot be deceived or cheated.
The nub of the problem, as Soami Ji writes, is that despite keeping the company of saints, we cling on to our old way of life. We don’t (as yet) reflect Sant Mat teachings in our every thought, action or word, nor do we put all our effort into meditation. It is not that we are purposely trying to be deceitful, either to ourselves or the Master. Soami Ji and Maharaj Jagat Singh are possibly highlighting two of the most prominent stumbling blocks that many of us encounter at some point on our journey. We either become hijacked by work or relationships, or we become complacent in our efforts. In the former, we may find it difficult to devote our full time to meditation, as we use most of our energy in trying to please our loved ones or our managers. We may even rationalize this by telling ourselves that we are just doing what Baba Ji tells us, fulfilling our duties and responsibilities.
Complacency comes into our efforts to meditate when we delude ourselves that just getting up and sitting for meditation is enough. Again, we might take the Master’s words out of context to convince ourselves that no further struggle with the mind is needed. We sit there half-heartedly as we tell ourselves, “The results are not in my hands; it’s all his grace.”
Recognizing the Master
In the shabd, Soami Ji reminds us that the Master “has assumed a human form to set you free, one way or another.” He asks us, “Don’t you realize who he is?” Clearly, we do not; otherwise we would not disobey him. But surely we don’t do that, do we?
Because we don’t directly oppose him, maybe we live under the illusion that we comply fully with his wishes. We embrace the Sant Mat teachings, yet there is some dissonance between what the Master asks us to do and what we do in practice. Every time Baba Ji gives satsang, he stresses the necessity of meditation over and above everything else, including physical darshan. So if we don’t practise this, aren’t we actually contradicting him? Through our actions – or more accurately, inaction – we are, in effect, saying, “No, Master, you’re wrong. Meditation isn’t important.”
Soami Ji realizes there is a gap between our intellectual appreciation of the Master, and our experiential knowledge of him. So, in the first stanza he reminds us:
Do not think of the Master as a human being –
he is the very life and spirit of Sat Purush, the true Lord…
Out of his mercy,
he speaks with you, advises you,
for in reality he is the perfect Being,
he is the Lord of Anami.
Our perfect Master is the personification of Shabd and reality; he is of the Truth and reflects the Truth. Leaving behind the bliss of Anami Lok, the Master has come into the world for our good. He is showing us the way to escape the land of Kal, and to return to our true home, which is so indescribable that we are simply told that it is all love.
Intellectually, we realize the magnitude of what it means to have come into contact with the Master and to have formed a relationship with him. In moments of humility, as we reflect upon our weaknesses and shortcomings, we consider ourselves to be truly blessed and extremely lucky that the Master has come into our lives to impart the secrets of spirituality.
In fact, following the Sant Mat path brings a new meaning to the phrase ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ because this truly is an opportunity that comes once in hundreds and thousands of different lifetimes. Even the gods and goddesses on the higher planes are not as fortunate as we are. This is why, in the same shabd, Soami Ji pleads, “Do not let this opportunity slip from your hands, as there will be no end to your roaming through the four forms of life.”
We should act upon the Sant Mat teachings now. Indeed, we often hear Baba Ji advise us to do our spiritual practice in this very lifetime. Are we somewhat reticent in our efforts because, at the back of our minds, we are using the concept of the four lifetimes as a back-up plan? Given how we feel about Baba Ji, why not honour and obey him by trying to achieve everything now, in this lifetime? We could be radical and forget the safety net of the four lifetimes and act as if there is only today – only now for us to reach our destination.
Giving up apathy
To act as if there is only today, we must, Soami Ji goes on to entreat us, “give up apathy”. Apathy means a lack of enthusiasm or energy. It is not that we have lost interest in Sant Mat or the Master – far from it, the more we travel on the path, the more it entwines us. We can no more leave this journey than we could do without the oxygen we breathe or the blood running through our veins. The apathy refers to our approach to meditation. Ironically, the more we can’t imagine our life without Sant Mat, the more complacent we become with our meditation. We either more or less neglect it completely, or it becomes routine, one of the many activities that we do each day, no more no less important than all the others.
Why are we doing this, especially when, intellectually, we are fully aware of the opportunity that has been presented to us? Maybe it’s due to the two most pernicious misconceptions of all: We can’t do meditation, and it’s boring!
Meditation is easy – all it involves is saying five holy names, one after the other. We don’t have to make it any more complicated than that. We can take it as a given that our mind will not be focused, that it will jump around from one thing to another. For most of us, this will continue for a very, very long time, perhaps our entire lives. However, in a short space of time we can reach a point where we will be able to disregard the thoughts that pop up, whilst remaining fully aware of each round of simran. That is all that is asked of us and well within our capabilities.
There are days when the two and a half hours seem to drag on and we’re even more eager for the alarm to go off than school children waiting for the home-time bell. However, even without reaching the eye centre, at some point we have all probably experienced some peace or enjoyment from our meditation. It may have lasted two seconds or the full two and a half hours – nonetheless, we have experienced it. We can use this as a foundation on which to increase the time in which we retain focus.
Let us end by taking heed of the advice given by Soami Ji. He says, “Act fast, stop deluding yourself”, serve, follow and devote yourself to the Master – which we all know means doing our meditation. Let us be confident in our abilities to do so and our determination to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. If we do this, one day we will surely join the Master in Anami Lok.
Enough has been written and enough has been said. Now what is wanted is silence and work. Speaking distracts and scatters your attention. Silence collects thoughts. It draws your attention inward and strengthens the spirit. Now set yourself earnestly to practise. Practise makes a man perfect.
Be as perfect as your Creator.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul