Retracing Our Steps
This life is but a link in an infinite chain of existence. The body perishes but the soul lives on – immortal, treading the path back from its painful separation to its blissful return to the mansions of the Lord.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul
In the outer world, we are so caught up in duality, in separation from the Lord, that we are oblivious to our soul’s innate hunger for oneness. We have forgotten that we belong to God, forgotten our source, our true home. This state of forgetfulness is intensified by our association with a deeply individualistic mind and the coverings of a material body. So dense are these coverings that we are no longer aware of the divine and loving presence that dwells within us – supporting, surrounding and sustaining our existence.
Separation from the Lord is the origin of all pain and misery. At some point, the suffering becomes so intense that we cry out, often unconsciously, for help, for mercy, for anything to alleviate the pain. We feel the pangs of separation and become anxious to return to our source. This feeling is one of the greatest boons we have been granted. It is because of the Lord’s grace and mercy that he puts us in touch with a perfect living Master and brings us back home.
Were it not for his grace, we would never even think of our separation from him, nor would we desire to return home. But for his grace, we would neither meet the Master nor follow the path.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live
The Master is an indispensable companion to the spiritual traveller. The Lord has placed Nam or the Word within us, but the key lies in the hands of the Master. He is the link between God and man, and plays an imperative role in unlocking the door to divinity. It is out of his infinite love and kindness that the Master bestows the gift of Nam -a gift that is absolute and eternal. One is then freed from the cycle of birth and death and from the clutches of the negative power. At the time of initiation, the Master imparts the technique of connecting our soul to the sound current within and guides us to our final abode. It is only after being accepted and initiated by a perfect Master that we begin our journey home.
When treading the path, we realize how the outward-directed activity of the mind conceals from us the brilliance and vitality of our soul. The mind and its downward tendencies trap the soul in this physical creation. The way to break free is to empower our soul by controlling our mind so that it becomes the servant and ally of the soul, not the master. This by itself is no easy task. Controlling the mind is a difficult thing to achieve. It involves hard work, persistence and sacrifice. It is for this reason that the spiritual path has often been compared to a two-edged sword or as walking on a tightrope. It requires consistent effort, courage, as well as one-pointed love and devotion to the Master – just like a moth for the flame.
Look thou to the daring of the moth, O thou ignorant one; Burn thyself like the moth, if insight dost thou desire.
Bu Ali Qalandar as quoted in Mysticism, The Spiritual Path
When we meditate sincerely with our heart filled with love and longing, we fulfil our purpose of being born in this world. A devotee’s intense love and longing for the Lord can never go unfulfilled; it is always rewarded with the bliss of union. But what should we do if our hearts are devoid of any love or longing for the Lord? The answer is more meditation. Meditation is where we will find the depth of love that will lead us to our source. It is the only way to invoke his grace and win his love. Though it is not easy, we cannot abandon hope, nor can we think that we cannot meditate or that it is impossible to concentrate.
The Master loves our effort and struggle. Every ounce of effort helps us inch forward to him. We need to jump into the cycle of effort and grace so that the more effort we put into our meditation, the more grace he showers upon us. Meditation helps us to slowly retrace our steps back home, and it is through the Master’s grace that we become closer and closer to our Beloved – so close until there is finally no separation. The lover becomes lost in love and merges into the Beloved.
After endlessly burning in separation’s flame,
I have reached the cool ocean of love and bliss.
Says Kabir: Through the Master’s mercy and grace
Misery has ended, the bane of delusion has gone.
Kabir, The Weaver of God’s Name