The Great Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh, related this story regarding his own introduction to Sant Mat:
At last I asked for initiation, but requested that I might not be told to accept the name of “Radha Soami” as I had never heard of it prior to this. Baba Ji said to me, “Radha Soami implies the highest spiritual power. What objection have you to the name of ‘Radha Soami’?” I said, “It does not appeal to me.” Then he asked, “How many new names of the one God are mentioned in the ‘Jap Sahib’?” I replied, “Some twelve or fourteen hundred.” Then Baba Ji said, “If you do not object to those names, why do you object to the name of ‘Radha Soami’?” Thus, my doubts being resolved, I got initiation.
When it comes to understanding the saints and their message, we have to put aside our own superficial concepts and predilections. The saints deal in truth, not philosophy. They deal in reality, not myth. They differentiate between the spoken or written words used to describe that truth and the actual experience of that truth. Words, after all, are mere vehicles to transmit concepts and may mean any number of things to different people. Words in and of themselves have no permanent validity, and even fundamentally benign concepts like that of God can be ‘spun’ in many different ways, many of them quite hurtful. History is rife with examples of this.
The present Master is constantly exhorting us to transform theory into practice and concepts into experience. Actually, the teachings of Sant Mat cannot be contained in books or lectures. The real teachings come from within and cannot be reduced to words. They are experiential. One can read any number of books about riding a bicycle, but the actual skill can only be acquired by experience. One could spend a lifetime reading books about swimming, but you can only learn the skill by actually entering the water.
Truth cannot fully be communicated by words but is transmitted through another medium. Has anyone ever come to the spiritual path only because the Master made a good argument for it? No. We come to the path because of something ineffable that has been transmitted to us by the Master. There is something that makes us trust this mysterious and wonderful person. His power works from the inside out and is life-changing. It confers unshakeable certitude.
A seed grows into a sapling and then a mighty tree not because of the arguments of man, but because the latent potency inside it is activated when certain factors, such as heat and water and light, are present. Then the miracle of life can occur. Maharaj Charan Singh in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III,says:
If you are in a jungle and somebody points out the direction of your house, it makes you happy. Now at least you know in which direction you have to go. You’re not looking in the dark. You will get happiness when you reach your home, but just knowing the direction and the road which leads back to your house makes you happy. The nearer you are to your destination, the happier you become.
There is so much in this simple statement. Notice that Hazur doesn’t use words like God or Radha Soami or heaven or Sach Khand but rather makes his point with simple concepts like home, being lost, and finding happiness. This language speaks directly to the human heart with no overlay of theology or cosmology. Such a teaching can be understood by all and is utterly nonsectarian.
We have lost our way in a dark and threatening place. We don’t know how to get back to our home. We come across a kind and trustworthy person who not only tells us the way back to our origin, but also volunteers to accompany us on the journey. When we come to the path we meet that benevolent guide and receive that roadmap leading to our real home. This fills us with tremendous relief and gratitude. But when we actually embark on this journey, we find that it isn’t anything like we expected it to be. In fact, it isn’t like any journey or any project we have undertaken before.
How can something that seemed so simple be so difficult? In this world, journeys and projects are unidirectional: You start at Point A and you go to Point B. Even climbing Mount Everest, as strenuous as that undoubtedly is, you begin at the bottom and end at the top. And when you get to the top of that mountain, you are still you. You go back down and pick up your life and go on as before.
The journey back to our real home isn’t like that. This journey is unlike anything we have ever experienced before. This journey is omni-directional. It is profoundly revolutionary. It involves a transformation so deep and so pervasive as to utterly confound our intellect.
If we read a book about swimming and then enter the river, we find that the actual experience isn’t at all what we expected. We are caught in a current whose power overwhelms us. All our study never really prepared us for this awesome reality. We had thought that it was our own determination, grit, fortitude and wisdom that would see us through.
The surfers who ride the mighty thirty-foot waves on the north shore of Hawaii have immense awe and reverence for those waves. They never attempt to overpower them. That would be both the height of folly and suicidal. Rather, they survive by constantly adjusting to every nuance of the wave’s power as they ride upon it. Never for a second do they try to oppose it. It is by submitting to the wave, by becoming one with it, that they enjoy a sublime experience of freedom from earthly constraints.
This cannot be done with the intellect. The computing power of the human mind is unequal to this task. To ride those mighty waves requires a fluidity of effort that is born of innumerable hours of experience so intense that the required skills are seared into the being of the surf-rider and become automatic.
That audible life stream, sound current, Shabd-dhun (or whatever we choose to call it), is like a mighty wave that brings deliverance from the prison house of the material world. It comes to break the shackles that hold us here. And what is the strongest shackle? It is our own sense of “I-ness,” our ego. If that shackle is broken, all bonds are broken. To defeat that obstacle, we have to set aside our own ideas and become attentive to the nuances of the mighty wave of Shabd. And in order to do that, we must first still our mind through the power of simran. This is like the surfer paddling to catch up to the current; and as our attention begins to come up to the eye centre, it as if we are beginning to feel the suction of the wave. As that pull increases, we are experiencing the beginnings of bhajan and submitting to that power. Just like the surfer, we must utterly forget ourselves in order to succeed. We no longer exist; only the wave of Shabd exists. And just as the intrepid big-wave riders do, it is by submitting to that wave, by losing ourselves in it, by becoming one with it that we will find ourselves travelling back to our home. Our goal is not to conquer but to be conquered, not to master but to be mastered. When we cease to exist, only he will exist. That is our destiny.