Learning the Language of Love
When I was in university, I took a class in linguistics, the study of language. One day the professor asked, “What is the most important element that determines success in learning a foreign language?” This is a question we might ask ourselves also, since in our spiritual quest, we too are trying to learn a “foreign” language – the language of love. Actually, the language of love is not a foreign language; it is our mother tongue, but we have forgotten it, and instead we have become fluent in the language of the mind. In fact, we have forgotten the language of love so completely that the greatest struggle of our lives is the struggle to relearn it – to become fluent again.
Are there similarities between relearning the language of love and learning a foreign language?
In the linguistics class, we students offered several opinions about the most important factor in learning a foreign language: “Finding a good teacher,” one student suggested. “Living where the language is spoken – total immersion,” said another. “Being born with innate language skills,” the next one offered.
In reply, the professor said that a good teacher, although very important, is not the most important factor. Similarly, Baba Ji continually reminds us that having a spiritual Master will not do any good unless we follow the lessons he gives us. So merely having a good teacher is not sufficient.
The linguistics professor also agreed that living in a place where one can be immersed in the language we’re trying to learn does help us. Similarly, after a visit to Dera, many of us think that if we could just live there and spend time with our teacher in a place saturated in love, maybe then we could become proficient in this language. But Baba Ji says that when the Master wants to bestow his love, he can give it as easily to someone five thousand miles away as to someone sitting right in front of him. So living in a place that is immersed in love may be a help, but it’s not everything.
What about natural ability? It seems that some people are born with a facility for learning a language and others have little linguistic talent. Do some people have an instinct for love, a special talent for it, while others do not? Our Master says no, we all have the capacity for love. It is only that living in the land of the mind, we have lost touch with this pure instinct. It is not something we lack; it is something that is our very essence, but it is lying dormant in us, covered by layers of karmas. Master makes it very clear that he wouldn’t have initiated us if he thought we couldn’t do it. He says that, like any other teacher, he doesn’t like failures. Remember that love is our native language. We all have this innate ability. The soul already speaks the language fluently; all we have to do is to uncover this ability. So while some people may find it easier to meditate because of impressions from past lives, no one whom Master has initiated is unable to learn the language of love. And our professor said that innate ability is also not the most important factor.
Since none of our first guesses were correct, another student asked, “How about practicing – regularly, persistently – is that the key?” Our professor indicated that we were getting warm. Learning takes practice. Just by listening to lectures or reading books, we will not learn. We learn by doing. We can’t learn a foreign language if we don’t participate in the learning, and we all know what that means. To learn the language of love, we must meditate. As Maharaj Charan Singh used to say, and Baba Ji repeats: “He has given us the hunger, he has given us the food. Now all we have to do is eat!” Baba Ji says that we even want the Master to move our jaw up and down – we don’t want to chew the food ourselves!
And what makes us do the practice? This is the key, the most important element that will determine our success – it is motivation. Unless the student really wants to learn the language, he will not look for a good teacher, and he will not stay the course. Research shows that continuous and intense motivation is the crucial factor in success in language learning. Maharaj Sawan Singh says in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol.V:
When our soul grows weary in its search for the Lord, and is anxious to return to its home, when our eyes long to see the Lord and we hunger for him, then, in order to fulfil our intense desire, he incarnates as a perfect Master or Sat Guru.
Once our motivation is strong enough, we meet a Master and start our course. It is only when we have the motivation – the hunger, the desire – that our Master takes pity on us and initiates us. But once initiated, once we’ve registered for our course, we tend to forget this intense desire. One of our problems is that we are learning about something that we have forgotten so thoroughly that we don’t know what it is anymore. What is this love we are talking about? In Die to Live, Maharaj Charan Singh was asked what love is. He replied:
Love is losing your own identity and becoming another person. That is love. There’s no ego left. To become another being and to just lose your own identity; you don’t exist; only the other being exists.
Then Hazur continues by saying that actually the motivation to love is love: “That craving to become another one and lose your own identity, to eliminate your ego and be in the will of another being, that is love.” So the questioner asked Hazur about that ‘craving’: “Wanting to love the Master, is that beginning to love him?” Hazur answered:
I don’t know what the difference is. How can you intellectually want to love?
Unless there is a feeling of love for the Master, the question of wanting to love doesn’t arise.…You can say that you want to grow that love, but the seed is already there, otherwise you wouldn’t be wanting to grow the seed. Without having a seed, you can’t grow it.… So wanting to love can’t come without love.
The questioner then asked: “Then we do have a tiny, little bit of love?” Hazur answered:
Yes, we have a little bit of love, no doubt. Otherwise, why should we think about the Father and meditate and try to conquer our senses if he has not given us that instinct of love.
When Maharaj Charan Singh says that we have the instinct to love, we should believe him. Baba Ji tells us to keep remembering why we asked for initiation, to not let the storms of karmas overwhelm us, causing us to doubt our love, our intention to meditate. If asked, we would probably say that the main thing we want to accomplish in life is to leave this world of suffering and unite with the divine, to still our crazy minds, to meet our beloved Master inside, to achieve perfect love and bliss. We just get distracted and waylaid by all the less important worldly objectives that demand our attention. All we need is the practice of focusing on our one spiritual goal.
We need to keep our motivation keen, to constantly remember the times when we felt that longing, that love, that presence of the Master. If we just sit down and start the repetition without fanning the fires of our devotion, we are setting ourselves up to fail. We will mostly likely sit and diligently practice the exercises of the mind: worry, frustration, planning, and resentment.
There are different things that people do to remind them of their innate motivation. One woman sings the songs she sang in the presence of the Master to remind her of that great experience. Another man made a CD where he recorded his favourite questions and answers of Hazur’s and the passages that inspired him. Someone else has a mental list of times when she felt Master’s presence very powerfully. Whenever she loses focus, she goes through the list until she finds something that fans that spark of love. And when looking for inspiration, rather than cursorily reading a few pages of any Sant Mat book, we could pick up something that we know inspires us and read it a sentence at a time, pausing after each sentence until we remember the longing that we’ve forgotten we have. Whatever we do, we must ensure that the reminder does not become a mechanical ritual, but something that moves our hearts.
But we also must realize that emotional inspiration is not devotion. Someone asked Baba Ji what she could do about the fact that she often feels more devotion outside of meditation, because in meditation she is involved in the struggle with the mind, and for her the five names aren’t associated so much with the Master. In response, Master asked: Who gave you those names? He said that meditation is all about building a relationship. The Master gave you the names, and what he wants from you is to give him back the names. This is what you do only to please him. He emphasized that we can’t reach anywhere by our own efforts. We need to just let go. Our meditation is only a cry and a shout for the Master’s help.
So while the physical Master speaks our worldly language, the language of feelings and thoughts, the inner Master understands only one language, a simple language composed of just five words – the five names through which we practice the language of love. It is when we give him back those five names, with all our longing and devotion and helplessness, that we learn the language of love.
The best news is that in one important aspect, learning the language of love is very different from learning a worldly language: we are not judged by our results. The Masters say that it doesn’t matter whether we are good students or bad students – we are judged solely by attendance. He sees our efforts, however weak, however sporadic, and that’s all he cares about. Were we present, or were we absent? He never asks us to do our meditation perfectly. All he says is just do it.
This is the abode of love,
not the home of your aunt.…
The warrior goes to the battlefield
and does not return alive.
It is only those of great valour, O Paltu,
who set foot in the realm of love.
This is the abode of love,
not the home of your aunt.
Sant Paltu, His Life and Teachings