The Example of the Masters
The Masters are interested in one thing only: taking us home. They are not interested in properties, personalities, organizational structures, or seva positions. Everybody is the same to them. Whatever organization there is exists only to provide a minimum structure to meet the needs of an expanding sangat.
There are two aspects to the Master: physical and spiritual. There are two aspects to the disciple also: physical and spiritual. The physical Master makes the physical disciple aware of the path to truth. But the real union is spiritual.
Spiritual union is achieved in meditation. Through meditation the real disciple – the soul – achieves conscious realization of the Shabd. This is the end point of everything. This is the primary endeavor of the Master and the disciple – to merge with the ever-flowing radiant creative power of Shabd-dhun.
Mind is the obstacle to this realization. All efforts are aimed at controlling and reorienting the mind. The Master employs three methods of assisting us in controlling the mind: satsang, seva, and meditation.
Satsang, as spiritual discourse, is the age-old method that Masters use to communicate with the disciple on the conscious level. In satsang we get information. In satsang we learn what is true. In satsang when the Master is physically present we see him speaking or even answering questions, but there is also the satsang that is unseen. Satsang is a spiritual power centre radiating invisible spiritual currents that have a subtle and uplifting effect on the subconscious mind. These currents awaken and enliven the soul. Sitting in the satsang of the physical Master is sitting at the power plant of the spirit – we are irradiated with an incurable dose of divine love. Even when the Master is not physically present, satsang creates a spiritual atmosphere where we remember the Master and, if we are receptive, can be imbued with his love.
Seva is voluntary service to the Master and his sangat. Through seva we learn humility, fellowship, and surrender. In seva the teachings are put into practice – we put our sweat and muscle into the stream of divine love. We wake up early and stay up late to serve not our own needs but the needs of others. Seva inverts our value system. In seva we work for no reward, no recognition. In seva we are focused not on results but on a harmonious process. In seva we give away our wealth rather than hoard it. Seva connects us to our spiritual family. Seva is a refuge in a sometimes cruel and dangerous world. Seva is a field of positive action.
Satsang and seva are foundational to the essential practice of meditation. Meditation is the be-all and end-all of spirituality. There is no higher purpose, no better relaxation, no further course of study needed than meditation.
Meditation, as the saints remind us, is a gathering and stilling of the waves of the mind at the eye centre. Through satsang and seva we prepare for meditation. The mind becomes open and receptive. Then in meditation we collect the attention and direct it to the upward flowing river of inner light and sound, the Shabd-dhun.
The task of the satsangi is to still the mind. Mind flows. It is always moving, flowing, running – a raging torrent of unbridled energy with limitless appetite and unimaginable power.
The panorama and confusion of the world is the uncontrolled mind made manifest. In modern times the mind is supremely dominant – the world is passing through a period of extreme degeneracy. Modern technology provides ten thousand ways to scatter, split, and divert the attention from what is real and true to what is unreal and untrue. Cell phones, email, Internet, and TV grab, expand, and scatter the attention worldwide. The media magnifies and amplifies whatever is happening anywhere on the planet. And then it repeats the images until the attention is trapped. It takes a disciplined attitude of mind to keep focused on the real.
The Masters are living examples of how to do it. They have families to whom they are devoted. They earn their own living as businessmen, lawyers, teachers, farmers, or in other occupations. They are quiet, anonymous sevadars. They balance everything: meditation, satsang, seva, family, and even worldly responsibilities. And they do it with the devotion, discipline, and love that their Master has given them for the responsibility of guiding the entire sangat.
Watching them, we learn how it is done. Their attention is focused. They make no pretense. They are present. They are engaged in the world without being immersed in it. Their minds are clear. They are calm, light-hearted, and thought-provoking. They provoke laughter too. They are compassionate, strong, uncompromising, understanding, dynamic, fluid, go-with-the-flow, beacons of light, personalities without personalities, captivating and amazing human beings.
They teach by example and show us the unrealized potential within each and every one of us. They call on us not to worship them but to devote ourselves to the true form of the Master – Shabd. They challenge us not to limit ourselves to the physical but to recognize our true nature as souls.
The Masters tell us our task is to bring the mind under control and open it to the divine flood of grace. And they give us the tools to get the job done: satsang, seva, and meditation.