Wherever You Go, There You Are!
There’s an old Irish saying: “Wherever you go, there you are!” This might be a statement of the obvious, but if you look at it from a satsangi’s perspective it can have considerable significance. Consider, when you did your meditation this morning, you closed your eyes and sat in the darkness, doing your simran and imagining you were sitting in front of the Master. If you close your eyes right now, and concentrate your attention there; there you are - in the exact same place as you were earlier this morning when you sat to do your meditation. And every time you close your eyes and gather your attention there, you are always in the exact same place, regardless of time and space, regardless of when or where in the world your body is located - you are in the presence of your Master.
Is this not an amazing fact? Although we are constantly running around out in the world, when we do our meditation, we are always in the same place, doing the same thing, in the presence of the Divine. In fact, at any moment, at any time of day, whenever and wherever we can find the free time to internalize our attention, whenever we can do just a few rounds of simran, there we are again.
If only we could live like this always, with this perspective firmly established. Yet somehow we find it difficult to maintain this internal frame of reference. Instead of constantly functioning from that solid, centered part of ourselves, we are drawn into the maelstrom of worldly thinking and worldly values. We are sabotaged by our own mind, that enemy within. Sometimes, even when we know that it is not in our best interests, we find our mind heading down dark pathways that we know will lead to no good. It seems like a desperate battle against insuperable odds. We constantly feel defeated. Despite our best intentions, we do not seem to be improving, and we are at war with ourselves.
So why do we keep on finding ourselves in this unhappy condition? Have we not made a decision that we want to travel on the spiritual path? Have we not clearly understood that there is nothing in this world left for us any more, that all the worldly temptations and pleasures lead to nothing but increased bondage to the wheel of birth and death? We all know that, and yet we still find ourselves caught up in this web of illusion. It is time for us to take stock of the situation, and get a greater understanding of what is holding us back from achieving our life’s objectives.
The mind is our enemy, and it has five agents, through which it works to keep us enslaved to the faces, places and things of this world. These ‘infamous five’ are lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride. If we look at the world, and how it works, and if we look for the source of all our troubles, we need look no further than these five. No one is spared their attentions, and few have ever defeated them. In fact, until the world-weary soul finally comes into the company of a perfect Master it has absolutely no prospect of success against such relentless enemies.
The Masters see our situation clearly. We do not. Our perception is clouded by the infamous five, and we have no clear concept even of what is real or unreal. We allow ourselves to be lured into believing that the temptations of this world - sex, fame, fortune, and so on - will bring us happiness, believing that this is what it’s all about, and that if we can satisfy our desire for these, then we’ll live happily ever after.
We have obviously not thought this through clearly. Is there any real benefit in such goals? Even if we succeed beyond our wildest dreams, where will that leave us? Will we be happy? Even if we believe that to be true, for how long do we think we’ll remain happy?
The sad truth is that, regardless of who we are or how much we achieve in this life, sooner or later we grow old. Will we then be able to take comfort from the fact that once we had the world at our feet? Who now will look twice at our lined and haggard face, our grey, thinning hair, our weakened muscles and our tired eyes?
No matter how famous we once may have been, now we get shouldered out the way, like so much clutter in the road, while the world rushes to pay homage to the next hero of the day. Fame is a fickle lover that casts you aside the moment the next best thing comes along. And while you wait in the shadow of the Grim Reaper, who will be there with you? No one. Who can go with you beyond that grey veil of death? No one. And so, at the end of all things, you find that absolutely everything that the world held out to you as the answer to all your cravings was just illusion. Just so much dust in the wind. For this you sacrificed all that you might have been, and at the end of the day you pass from this world, empty-handed, friendless and alone.
So the Masters tell us: wise up! Consider whether chasing power, wealth and love is going to give you something worthwhile and lasting. The truth is that in our confused state we need someone who can guide us out of this maze of illusion and deception.
We have this advice from Soami Ji:
Why not submit to the Master?
You have spent this human life in delusion. …
Attach yourself to Nam, dear friend,
and patiently hold still within yourself.
Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol. II
Now when the Masters talk about Nam, they are referring to that great power within that emanates from the Lord, and is actually the Lord in dynamic form. It is this power that created and sustains the creation. The Masters tell us that this power also provides the soul with the only method by which it can return to its source. In a sense, the Shabd has the soul on the one end and the Lord at the other. The Master’s task is to raise the soul’s consciousness until it rises within to the level at which it comes in direct and conscious contact with this Shabd or Nam, from which point the soul’s journey home begins in earnest.
Granted, this can be a long and difficult journey. The Master teaches us that the reason why this process seems so difficult is that our mind constantly creates a major disturbance in our consciousness, so that we cannot see clearly. So they teach us the technique of meditation, by which we are empowered to still this wandering mind to the point where the currents of our attention automatically rise up within.
The Master’s mission is to teach us how to get out of this world and make our way back to our original and true home. He teaches us the technique of simran, by practising which we slowly and slowly concentrate our attention at the eye centre. To the extent that we succeed in this, we redirect our attention away from the things of this world. We weaken and dilute our attachments to the extent that one day, suddenly, we realize that the world has little attraction for us anymore.
Furthermore, the Master teaches us about the sound current, that power that is the dynamic form of the Lord himself. The Master says that by merging our consciousness in this sound current, all our attachments are finally broken. Our karmas too will be finally and totally accounted for, setting the soul free to pass beyond the bounds of mind.
We have his assurance that we are on the road that leads to the court of the Lord himself. All other paths lead to confusion and chaos, and end up with the soul continuing to wander through the maze of endless births and deaths, incarnating in all the different species. This is what the soul has been doing since time immemorial. For us now, what has changed is that the Master has come into our lives.
So the road to success, the path shown to us by our Master, lies before us. What we need is to fully grasp this opportunity. At the end of the day, there’s this to remember: that wherever you go, there you are. And - so - is - he!