Those who know, do not speak; those who speak, do not know.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
As we gain knowledge and learn about the path of the Masters, we soon discover how fascinating this journey into our inner selves can be. The path embodies the very essence of what we have been searching for all along.
In the beginning, however, we feel the need to talk about it with other like-minded brothers and sisters; to share our thoughts about the monumental changes that are taking place in our lives. We get excited about small anecdotes about our Master. We get carried away with the hope that the more we learn about him, his lifestyle and where he has been, we somehow broaden our spiritual horizons and deepen our understanding of this mystic discipline.
But as long as we indulge in this type of external activity, we are merely trying to capture a reflection of an image, a mental construct that leads us to believe that we are making progress towards our goal when we are actually far from it.
We could spend our entire lives sitting at the feet of the Master, attending his every discourse, memorizing all the sacred scriptures, and yet be as far away from our spiritual destination as we were before. We progress towards our goal the moment we walk towards it, and that is exclusively done by attending to our meditation.
The truth we seek is beyond the confines of our present mental state. Our comprehension of Sant Mat, perceived through the prism of our mind by what we read about in books, hear in the discourses, or see with our eyes, only scratches the surface. This knowledge is useless unless it takes us to the truth within. Maharaj Charan Singh used to say that this is a path of transformation, not information, and that comes from application. For that to happen, we need to live a balanced life, aware of the traps and illusions set forth constantly by our minds. The beauty of this path lies in the principle that by working diligently towards our inner spiritual quest, we can develop the awareness to overcome all the barriers.
It is our mind that prevents us from coming into contact with the spirit, that truth within, and it is with the help of the very same mind that we gain entry into this treasure house. That unchanging state of bliss can be achieved only by shattering the limitations of the mind and breaking the bonds that our senses have over us. It is only our daily spiritual practice that will get us there, that will enable us to raise our consciousness through the body and focus it at the third eye, where we realize and experience that Truth, the Shabd within, the enrapturing music of the Lord.
It is, of course, to our advantage to use the help Master provides us. Performing seva, the act of selfless service, helps us to imbibe a spirit of humility: working shoulder to shoulder with our peers, regardless of our social status, wealth or background, helps us to deconstruct our ego. By attending satsang, we are reminded of the paramount importance of the vows we take at the time of initiation, hammering into our minds the necessity to keep our focus on the most important task of our lives.
The only way we can catch the faintest glimpse of this truth is by going beyond the very images and phenomena that drive our attention outward into this creation. As we diligently apply ourselves to a path of inner contemplation, we understand the true nature of everything we have taken so much for granted, and are able to rise above our myopic view of what we so long believed to be the source of our happiness.
True mystics and saints have perfected this technique, and always keep their attention within; thus they are in constant communion with that inner spiritual melody, the Word of God. We should never underestimate the Master’s physical presence, but the ultimate objective of the outer Master is to take us to that inner Master - the Shabd - within, which is never born nor dies, and is as permanent as that Truth that we are seeking deep within ourselves. Our Master invites us to share this experience. That is the main difference between a spiritual Master and us: he is there, at that level of absolute Truth, all the time, and we are here. Once we get there, we will then understand for ourselves the mystery of life as it reveals itself and we will gain direct access to our real Master, which is none other than the Word, the Shabd, and only truth there is.
We then no longer feel the need to gush out with speech, to convince ourselves or talk to others about our faith on the path, to fill the gap with useless mental activity, for we have found what we set out to look for. We know, and so we feel no need to speak.
The true lover of God keeps his love silently hidden in his heart,
like a seed sown in the ground; and if the seedling grows,
it grows in his actions towards his fellow-man.
He cannot act except with kindness,
he cannot feel anything but forgiveness;
every movement he makes, everything he does,
speaks of his love, but not his lips.
Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Sufi Message, Vol. I