Uproot Here and Transplant There
It is said that even before coming in contact with Inayat Shah, Bulleh Shah used to perform some spiritual practice and had acquired certain miraculous powers. When Bulleh Shah, the seeker, passed near a small field of Inayat Shah, he saw trees full of fruit on both sides of the road. Inayat Shah himself was engaged in planting onion seedlings. It occurred to Bullah to test Inayat Shah’s spiritual power, so – invoking the name of God – Bullah looked at the trees and caused the fruit to fall to the ground. Inayat Shah saw that the unripe fruit was falling from the trees for no reason.… He looked towards Bulleh Shah and said, “Well, young man, why have you brought down the unripe fruit from the trees?” This is exactly what Bulleh Shah wanted – to find an opportunity to talk to Inayat Shah. He went up to him and said, “Sir, I neither climbed up the trees, nor did I throw stones at the fruit, how could I tear it from the trees?” Inayat Shah cast a full glance at Bulleh Shah and said, “Oh, you are not only a thief, you are also being clever!” Inayat’s glance was so penetrating that it touched Bullah’s heart and he instantly fell at his feet. Inayat Shah asked his name and his purpose for coming. Bullah replied, “Sir, my name is Bullah and I wish to know how I can realize God.” Inayat Shah said, “Why do you look down? Get up and look at me.” … He said, “O Bullah, what problem is there in finding God? One’s attention only needs to be uprooted from here and planted there.”
What is it that is to be transplanted? The attention or consciousness. Maharaj Charan Singh in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, explains:
I tell you, actually, that wave of the audible life stream or word or logos or whatever you want to call it – that is soul, and it is that which keeps us together. Without that, neither the body nor the mind can function, for it is the very life of the mind and the body.… It is the spirit, nam, shabd, soul, or whatever you may call it that keeps us alive.
When the consciousness or soul is on the physical plane, it works through the body and the five senses, of which the two main faculties are seeing and hearing. When the same consciousness works in spiritual planes, it again has two main faculties: it sees and it hears.
The spiritual path consists of making the consciousness, with its two faculties of seeing and hearing, work on the spiritual plane instead of the physical plane. We uproot it from here and transplant it there. The transference or transplanting of this awareness from the outside world to the world within us is called “going within.”
Often, disciples have misconceptions about the meaning of going within. They think it is a sort of journey to somewhere distant, that it is very difficult to go within, that it is altogether a complicated and unobtainable state. How many times do we hear disciples confess sadly, “I cannot go within. I have never been within.” All this is a misconception about the state of going within. Firstly, it is not a journey to somewhere beyond – we do not ‘go’ anywhere. It happens in the here and now, in our self. Secondly, it is not as difficult or complicated as we think. The method of going within was designed by the Creator, and therefore, was made accessible to all. Nothing can be more natural.
Try a little exercise: Look at an object in front of you. Is it difficult to see? No. You simply open your eyes and look and the awareness perceives it. Now close your eyes and in the same way, with the same awareness or attention, look. What do you see? You see darkness behind the eyes. Is this difficult to do? No. It is as easy to look inside as it is to look outside. The second you look inside yourself, you have begun the inner journey. The rest of the journey is completed by continuing to hold the attention firmly at the eye centre. That is how natural it is to go within!
Maharaj Sawan Singh writes in Spiritual Gems, “The problem [of going within] is not complicated at all. The whole thing is just attention, and then unbroken attention, at the eye centre.”
The first inner experience we have is that the attention sees darkness behind the eyes. This darkness is real – it is something one can look at, in the same way that one can look at the dark sky at night. If one continues to look at the darkness within with unbroken attention, then points and flashes of light may appear.
If the method of meditation is so easy, why is it that we struggle so much to go within? The reason is that although meditation is not difficult, we are difficult. We are too complicated to practice something so simple. Our minds never stop whirling about, raising a thousand questions, arguments, debates, and analysis. Our attention currents are scattered far and wide into the world, and worldly learning has so overstimulated our mental faculties, that not for one minute can we hold the mind silent and collected.
Great Master writes in Spiritual Gems:
I wish that all of you who have received initiation may go inside the eye centre, become the dwellers of the beautiful mansions your Creator has made for you, and be masters of these in your own right. In a way it is not difficult. One has only to look inside one’s own self instead of looking out. Yet it is difficult in a way, on account of our having so little hold over our mind.
The Master gives all initiates the same method: to fix one’s whole attention in the eye centre while repeating the holy names. Yet, some seem to have an easier time than others. We read accounts where after ten, twenty, thirty years of being initiated, meditation is still a struggle. Why? The method of meditation, we are told, will yield the desired results – it is only that our attention, while still agitated, will take a longer time to disentangle from worldly concerns and collect one-pointedly.
Yet in this struggle, even though we may not be aware of it, we have the hand of the Master at our back, and he has undertaken this struggle with us in order to disentangle us from the world. Since he is one with the Lord, he will not fail to bring about what he wants. He will transfer our attention from the outside to the inside. He will uproot our soul from this world and transplant it in its true home.
There are three factors that help this uprooting and transplanting: meditation, the grace of worldly suffering, and love for the Master.
Since from the moment we are born, we collect impressions of the physical world through our two major senses of seeing and hearing, it follows that whenever we think about anything, a picture of that thing comes before our mind’s eye, and at the same time the mind’s ear hears the words or names associated with that object.
Great Master writes in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I:
Our eyes are responsible for 83 percent of the impressions imprinted on our minds, our ears 14 percent, and the remaining 3 percent are formed by the remaining sense organs of the body put together.
The Masters say that it is a function of our attention that wherever it focuses, it is there that we become attached. If the attention is on the physical plane, it becomes deeply entangled there. If it becomes focused on the spiritual plane, it forms its attachment there. So herein lies the challenge. We have become so entangled in the world that no matter how hard we try, we cannot stop, by force of our will, from dwelling on the sights and sounds of this world. It is simply not possible for us to ‘turn off’ the attention without having something to be aware of. The only way to remove the attention from one thing is to transfer it to another thing. If we wish to detach our attention from this physical plane, we must attach it to the sights and sounds of the spiritual plane – to transplant it.
This is where a living Master becomes an absolute necessity. He not only gives us a form to see, but he gives us the five words of simran. So instead of contemplating on worldly words and sounds, we now have a real spiritual image and words to dwell on. The significance of this cannot be underestimated.
Great Master writes in Spiritual Gems:
When you will go within, the whole thing will be clear to you.… This work is just the opposite of what we have been doing before.… It [the soul] had forgotten it altogether and had associated itself with the mind, and was running wild in the downward and outward direction. Now this course is to be reversed.
If we are hoping, however, to uproot our attention from this plane by means of meditation alone, we will be disappointed. That would be like trying to uproot a giant oak tree with our bare hands. It makes sense that some other force may be needed to help. Master applies this force often in the form of worldly suffering. This is a very powerful weapon for shaking our roots loose from this world, for cutting us free from our attachments here. However, when we are trying to uproot a giant oak from its roots, we cannot just pull the tree straight up from the ground. We have to apply a pushing, pulling, back-and-forth motion that will dislodge it from its grip in the earth. We can use a bulldozer, we can use shovels, we can line up all our friends on each side of the tree, but we cannot rip it straight out of the ground!
Spiritually speaking, the ‘pull’ of our transplanting from here to there is our response to Master’s call of love and our meditation. Master makes this world a very unsatisfactory place for us to live in. This form of grace comes in many all too familiar ways: death, disease or poverty. He makes us somewhat miserable here because this is a means of helping us with detachment. He not only lets us become thoroughly aware of such obvious things as suffering and pain, poverty and strife; he also brings us to the realization that even so-called blessings in life – wealth, power, personal beauty, talents – are very temporary and unsatisfactory sources of happiness and ease.
Actually, we don’t easily realize the extent of our attachment to the world. We have deep roots that reach back not only in this life but also to many previous lives. So it is great grace when we become uncomfortable in this world and begin to long for the peace and happiness of our true home.
The Great Master writes in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II: “The natural quality of love is remembrance with a concentrated mind.” This constant remembrance of him and contemplation through meditation is a most potent force for transferring our attention from the material to the spiritual. The resulting love for the Master is the greatest and most beautiful means of uprooting us. We experience it not just as fleeting twinges of longing, but deep, painful yearning that never lets up. This constant remembrance is the aim of our meditation.
Where there is all-consuming love like this, transplanting happens automatically. We become absorbed in the Master, and the soul or consciousness becomes totally rooted in him and transformed into him. Nothing else remains to be done.
Such transformational love is not in our hands. Yet without it we cannot go back to him. So how are we to get this love? It is a gift that he gives when we please him, and we please him when we meditate. He will get us to meditate. He will loosen our roots of worldly attachment through suffering and disillusionment. He will pull us to where he is by the attraction of his love. In this way, his purpose will be accomplished. Like Inayat Shah, he will ‘uproot from here and transplant there.’
*In the story Bulleh Shah is simply referred to as ‘Bullah’ when ‘Shah’ is not used.
Brother, every satsangi has a personal relationship with his own master, and he’s never far away from his master. Neither is the master away from the disciple. We should never feel our master is somewhere at a far distance. He is the one nearest to us. He’s always with us.…
Our relationship with the master is that of love and devotion, of meditation. It is not any worldly relationship; it’s only a spiritual relationship. And the more we are filled with love and devotion for the master, the nearer we feel to him. The master is always near to us; it is we who are away from the master.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III