Why Linger in This Alien Land?
The soul is weeping. Deep inside us our core being is inconsolable; it is filled with a yearning that cannot be satisfied by anything in this world. It longs for that which it lost so long ago, and is miserable in this state of separation from its source.
As Maharaj Charan Singh was fond of saying, “Everyone is miserable in separation from the Father.” This is our reality. Whenever we receive a shock through our karmas and the events of life, this is what we get back to. When we are reminded of the short-lived nature of the pleasures of this world, when our attachments are torn from us and we are left alone and bleeding, this is where we come to: this silent place of weeping, where we raise our arms in supplication to him, our Friend who has bestowed on us the grace of initiation.
Knowing our condition, what does the Master say to us? In the words of Soami Ji’s well-known poem:
Let us turn thou homeward, friend,
Why linger in this alien land?
This is our situation in a nutshell. This world is not our home. We do not belong here. So the Guru tells us: ‘Turn your back on all this. You need to focus on that which will end the misery, not prolong it!’ But we keep trying to find solutions in this world, and fail to achieve anything.
So what is the Master telling us? He’s saying: You’ve been looking in the wrong place all the time. All these long ages you’ve been running around in the material world and have achieved nothing. It is not possible to find solutions there, because there are none.
The Master tells us to turn within. This is the fundamental shift in our focus that is required for success to be possible.
From time immemorial the great Masters who have walked this earth have taught the inner path. We are to turn within to find the truth, the light, the ringing radiance of the path that leads back to our true home. All other ways lead back to this world. Isn’t it time we tried something different?
Get busy with your own real work,
Do not get caught up with others people’s affairs.
If we take a good look, then we will see that everyone else is benefiting from our efforts, and we are paying the price. We work all day, and what do we have to show for it? We make our bosses rich, we make the shop owners rich, we make the taxman very happy – everyone is smiling and rubbing their hands and taking their slice of our pie. Isn’t it time that we did our own work?
Yes, we say, but what is that? What can we do that will actually be of use to us in our quest for truth and lasting happiness? The Masters have the answers to these questions. First they tell us to focus on the task for which we have been sent here. Our mission on planet Earth is not to produce offspring or solve world hunger or invent another electronic whizz-bang gadget that peels potatoes while it surfs the Internet and downloads our email. Our mission is to turn within, to find that secret pathway that will lead us to our true home and ultimate happiness and bliss.
The Master tells us: Do your own work, do not get side-tracked by the glitz and glamour of this world. Go beyond all that by going within and contacting that power that will ultimately take you home.
Hold on to Guru’s Nam,
As Nam is the only currency
For your journey beyond.
Here Soami Ji comes to the point: Nam. This is the Shabd, the central power in the universe. This is God in action. Without this, there is nothing. The Masters tell us that by turning our attention within and stilling the mind by means of our spiritual practice, we can come into contact with this power and ascend through levels of higher and higher consciousness, until we are face to face with the Lord. All other efforts are futile. So the Master exhorts us to spend some time every day in the pursuit of that which will be to our eternal credit.
The colours of this world are soiled,
Take my advice – have them washed clean.
The pleasures of this world are short-lived,
Discard them one by one, entering the stage of sahaj.
Soami Ji is emphasizing that our involvement with the world, regardless of the nature of that involvement, has the effect of redirecting our attention to the places, faces and things of the world that have held us in thrall for countless ages.
The Master understands that we are not likely to be able to make an overnight change from our state of complete involvement in the world to one whereby we have totally refocused our attention within. He realizes that these attachments and habits are powerful and grip us tightly. So he says: Do your meditation, do your spiritual practice every day, and remember your Master as often as possible throughout the rest of your day. And slowly and slowly our attachments will be loosened, and our values will shift.
Realistically, we must understand that even with the best intentions in the world, such a transformation is going to take time, so we need to adopt an attitude of patient application. However, success is inevitable if we persevere with this simple practice.
Take refuge in the Master with all your heart
And with a determined will.
Still the surat and mind within yourself,
Then catch the melody of Shabd
And keep your attention in the inner sky.
One thing we should realize is that by our own efforts we can meditate for years on end and get nowhere. Our meditation is an act on our part to try to please our Master. It is not within our power at all to get ourselves out of this mess. This is one of the major reasons that we need a Master. So the reality is that we do what he asks us to do, and he does what he knows best how to do. He has asked us to do the simple task of following the four principles, and he will do the rest.
Now we need to adjust our attitude to reflect this situation. When we feel that pull from within, the one that makes us feel so strongly that we do not belong here, when we feel that longing, that pain of separation, let’s just turn to him within and direct all that longing towards him, knowing that he is both the Beloved and the path leading to the Beloved.
Without this method you will never get out
Of the intricate web that entangles you.
In his grace and mercy the Master now asks you
To accept his advice and take it to heart.
Why waste your life straying off the path –
You will never reach the destination.
Again Soami Ji stresses that we need to take the Master’s advice and put our best effort into internalizing our whole value system, and entrenching this with simran. After all, simran is remembrance, and who or what is constantly on our minds shapes us and draws us to itself. Simran draws us ever closer to the Master, and shapes us increasingly in his image.
This is the slow and steady process that is going to take us home. The first steps are the most difficult. Even the Masters agree on this. But once we have overcome that first hurdle of focusing our attention fully at the eye centre, and have gone beyond to cross the starry sky and the sun and moon regions, we will encounter the Master’s Radiant Form, which is stunningly beautiful beyond all description. Once this stage has been reached, the long ages of our loneliness are over, and within us the soul begins to dance.
Soami Ji’s poem is a long one and space does not allow a discussion of every stanza. However, he goes on to describe the journey of the soul, now in contact with the Shabd and the Master’s Radiant Form. This journey ends when, at long last, the soul enters Sach Khand and the court of the Lord. Finally the weary soul, which has suffered so long in separation from the Father, returns home, there to be received with much joy and love. Home again! What bliss, what amazing grace!
As the river flows on forever, regardless of the ways of men, so flows the love of God. Be as constant in your devotion to the Master as the river is in its course, and his love will carry you to that Supreme Ocean as surely as the river flows to the open sea.
Glimpses of the Great Master