Where Are You?
Are there any of us who’ve not wanted to cry out at some stage, “Where are you, Master? Have you abandoned me?”
Probably every single disciple who’s ever lived has known deep loneliness and despair at times, when he or she feels no contact with his Master – when it seems he’s been left to struggle on alone. We all have these stretches of desolation on the long road we have to walk, when the one we are seeking seems forever beyond our reach.
We have these haunting words in the Bible in one of the psalms of David:
How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take council in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?
So if we too sometimes have that same sense of desolation, we are certainly not alone in that. And whatever the reason for it – whether we are aching for a Master whom we feel we have lost, or whether we feel frustrated after years of effort on the path and no apparent progress – it may well be that our cry of loneliness is a sign of great grace, great good fortune. Sadness, loneliness, frustration and struggle are part of the journey to God. We should be embracing them with love and gratitude.
Maharaj Sawan Singh tells us in Spiritual Gems that “genuine grief (over separation from the Lord) gives impetus to further progress.” He also writes:
The soul gains strength slowly. Rising and falling and struggling against mind and matter, it makes headway up with the help of the Saints. The rise and fall are natural and so is the struggle. For that which is achieved after struggle, gives strength, self-reliance and incentive to go ahead. Achievement thus obtained is lasting and can be reproduced at will.
We are expected to struggle on the path, and we can expect to feel the emotions that accompany our struggle. The real question is: What is our response to those emotions?
We have two avenues for response. One is an attitude response and one is an action response. We can heed what Great Master has been telling us and accept – even be grateful for – the pain of longing he allows us to feel. And we can act to take the next step, or the next million – what does it matter? Every round of simran in meditation or during the day is one of those next steps we must take to reach the eye centre, a step we take by choosing a positive, grateful action: simran and meditation.
Both responses are equally vital for the further progress that Great Master speaks of. At that point of desolation it’s very easy for the disciple to sit back and wail – moan and groan with genuine grief, desperation and frustration. It’s very easy to become negative and lose heart, sinking into useless, self-indulgent apathy, self-pity or laziness – none of which will contribute to further progress.
The Masters themselves understand these emotions, having experienced them themselves. Mystic literature is full of love, longing, despair and frustration. It is also full of positive response and advice. Firstly the Masters tell us unequivocally that they are always with their disciples – always!
We are not alone. We may be separated physically from the Master, for whatever reason, but we are not alone. From the time of initiation the Master, in his Shabd form, takes up residence in every disciple at the third eye. Nothing can dislodge or remove him. He doesn’t change his mind, or get bored or go away on holiday! Not even the physical death of his body takes that Shabd form away from the disciple. He never leaves us. We may move away from him, lose sight of him, allow our minds to separate us from him, but he never leaves us.
Master Sawan Singh understands a disciple’s longing, loneliness and fear. In several letters in Spiritual Gems he makes this very clear:
Although you are separated from my physical body, yet you
are not away from my mind. The Satguru in his Sound form is
taking proper care of you and is within you.
As far as the Master is concerned, time and space make no
difference to him, for the Master is not confined to physical form.
The Master is within you, in the Sound form. When your heart
is with me, you are not far away.
That’s the key: when our heart is with him, we are with him. And that’s the answer to the original question, “Where are you, Master?”
He is in our hearts, where he always has been and always will be. Embrace the pain. It is his love duet with the soul.