All by His Grace
One of the most common questions put to the Master is: Why are we here? Why did the Creator separate our souls from him and send us into the creation? It’s a question that’s never answered. Invariably we’re told that at this stage we would not be able to understand why the Creator did what he did.
There’s a lot that we don’t understand about the path and its teachings. Probably we don’t understand most of it. And yet we keep asking questions. We seem to think that if only it were properly explained to us, we would be able to understand everything. How silly we are. This is not the reason why the Master drew us to him and put us on the path.
Maharaj Charan Singh once put it very nicely – this futility of our wanting to know and understand things, when what we really need to do, he said, is ‘get out of the well.’ Somebody had been asking the inevitable question about the creation – why did God send us down here in the first place? And he replied:
I don’t think we can analyze these questions or solve these problems of creation. I don’t think we can question or even have any right to question. … Ultimately we have to get out of this well. Maharaj Ji [by whom he meant the Great Master] used to give a very beautiful example. Somebody falls into a well and somebody comes to pull him out and says, ‘I am throwing a rope into the well. You get hold of it and come out.’ The person in the well says, ‘No, no. First tell me where you bought this rope and how this rope was made and where you earned the money to buy it.’ He asks all sorts of questions. Let him come out first, and then he can ask questions. Let us get out of this misery. … There will be enough opportunity to question, but let us get out of it first. That is the main thing.
Spiritual Perspectives, Volume I
And that’s what we have a Master for: to pull us out of the well. We don’t need to know all the whys and wherefores. All we need to do is take hold of the rope he throws to us and climb out of the well. But first of all we need to become aware that we are down a well. And that we want to get out.
We’re told that the Lord has singled out some souls to return to him, and he makes them restless to return to him by making them feel lonely. He gives them a sense that they’re not happy down in the well – they want to find some place better. We may not know it at first, but this loneliness is the ache of the soul to go back to its own source.
To become smitten with loneliness, emptiness, a bleak hunger of the soul, is something to be profoundly grateful for. It marks a crucially important stage in the awakening of the soul.
But of course it’s not a matter of just being marked to return home. Perhaps, over lifetimes, we may have done some good things to earn this tremendous grace. Perhaps. As if there’s anything we could do that would be enough to earn this grace! But now we have to work our way back. The marking was just a beginning. Now we have to become clean enough to re-enter the presence of the divine Lord. This is no small thing. We still have a long way to go.
That’s not to say we have to take on this great challenge all by ourselves. Truth to tell, we couldn’t. Look at what we are! Can anybody really think we could make this quantum leap from human frailty to spiritual perfection without a great deal of help? That’s what we have a Master for. It’s his job to guide our baby steps, pick us up when we fall, teach us and guide us, until we can eventually cross the great divide between flawed humanity and divinity. In fact, he tells us that for every one step we take towards him, he will take ten steps, perhaps even a hundred steps, towards us.
But let’s not imagine for one second that the one step we take is going to be worth very much. Not even the meditation that we earnestly struggle every single day to do is going to lift us up. In fact, it often seems that all our meditation is doing is teaching us humility, crushing our ego and showing us how helpless we are.
He worships himself through us, as Hazur Maharaj Ji often said. This means that if we do worship him or love him, it is his pull that is making this happen – in order to shower his grace on us in return for that worship. I guess all we can do is accept that whatever devotion we give him, whatever service we try to give him is thanks to him making it all happen.
Maharaj Ji often used the image of the puppeteer, with the strings of his puppet in his hands. The puppet dances, but not through any skill or effort of his own. He moves only because the puppeteer is pulling the strings. This is what our meditation does: it helps us to realize that we are nothing but helpless puppets – that the Lord is doing everything.
We’re told that without the grace of the Lord we would never be able to escape from here. In fact, nothing we have ever done was ever enough to qualify us for this grace. Maharaj Ji tells us quite frankly:
We have done nothing. A man can never do anything to deserve all this. We can never do anything to deserve his love. He just gives it and gives it. We are too small-fry to even invoke his grace, because we are so helpless as humans in this creation. If the Master won’t come with his grace, who will? … Actually, he worships himself through us. When he wants to pull us to his own level, he worships himself through us. We are just helpless.
Spiritual Perspectives, Volume II
If we accept and know that he is behind everything that happens, then there’s this very big advantage: We know that everything in our lives is coming from our Master who loves us, and that there’s nothing we can do to change anything. Therefore we can do our work and we can go through our karmas, accepting whatever he is giving us and not wanting anything else.
Of course, we tend to talk quite glibly about surrender to the Master. And the Master warns us that at our level real surrender is extremely difficult – we can do this only when we can control the mind. We have to work towards this. But by devoting time to meditation we are training ourselves to surrender. And in the process, surely we’re becoming more receptive to his grace.
That doesn’t mean of course that the road will become short or easy. We may still have to struggle for the rest of this lifetime. We don’t know how long it’ll still take – maybe long, maybe not long at all. Maybe some of us are a lot further along the way than we think we are, and perhaps our Master is just not showing us that.
You see, there’s also our karma that has to be taken into account. If we still have debts that have to be settled, our Master will keep us here – in darkness if need be – until all those debts have been paid. He knows best. Only our Master knows what mountains of karma there might still be delaying our return.
But luckily we can absolutely rely on his grace – as long as we are sincerely and honestly trying our best, his grace is unfailing. There’s absolutely nothing to question and nothing to doubt. We just have to settle the karmic account once and for all, and trust that no matter what happens in our lives, his help and support are there.
There’s a marvellous letter in Spiritual Letters in which Baba Jaimal Singh replies to a letter in which his disciple, Babu Sawan Singh, must have expressed anxiety about his financial situation – that because he was laid up with a broken leg and somebody else had been appointed in his place for a year, he would have no income and would not be able to support his family:
You should not lose faith. All will be well. One should not worry about it because the Lord has so much wealth that he will give not only to the person who has worked in your place for a year, but also to you. … You should not worry as to who will bring up your family or how you will earn your livelihood. The Lord Himself will accomplish all this. … What you are going through now was His command. …Worry only – if at all you must worry – for bhajan and simran.
Baba Jaimal Singh, Spiritual Letters
Worry only, if you must worry, about bhajan and simran. If this is our priority, the Lord takes care of the rest.
Of course, this was a personal letter of loving reassurance written by Baba Ji to his beloved disciple when he was going through difficult times. But surely our own Master, who holds our strings in his hand, is just as concerned with every little detail of our own lives. He makes us go through our own karmas, but still he is looking after us. He has been looking after us from birth! And because of our initiation, he has linked us to him at that level of spirit where even now we are, so to say, part of him.
We have no conception of how intimate our relationship with the Master is. In Volume III of Spiritual Perspectives Maharaj Ji makes it clear that the relationship between Master and disciple goes far beyond the physical form of the Master and the physical form of the disciple. He asks:
What is there to talk about? Who is the disciple and who is the Master? Neither the body of the disciple is the disciple, nor the body of the Master is the Master. The soul is the real disciple, and the Shabd or Word is the real Master. So the real relationship of the disciple with the Master is attaching the soul to the Shabd.
That attachment is already there. In essence, the Shabd and soul are already linked. As disciples we are already one with our Master. We just don’t know it yet. The Radiant Form of our Master is already inside each one of us, in close contact with our very souls. We just have to work and to wait until we can eventually realize that, and see him inside for ourselves.
The One being, the Silent One, is beyond all names and concepts. He is nameless. “The name that can be named is not the real Name.” His big being is the essence of our little being. Did we but know it, there is no difference between the two. He is what we are, and we are what He is. That means that He is within us, for us, of us. Any hint of an idea that He is ‘out there’, ‘up there’ or even ‘in there’ – that He is anything but the essence of our own being – is fallacious. In fact, when we even conceptualize Him as our own ‘essence’, we have gone astray. He has got nothing whatsoever to do with any of our concepts. He’s not what we think.
One Being One