Divine Deja Vu
We often think of our birth as a time of awakening. But actually, our birth is the moment we begin to lose touch with our divine origin. We withdraw from the light of our eternal home and enter the darkness of the physical plane.
Despite this, many of us retain a sense that life is not what it seems to be on the surface, and we feel a glimmer, a hint, a memory of something beyond what we know rationally. We have a kind of divine deja vu. We sense that there is a deeper meaning hidden behind the obvious, a curtain obscuring what is real - as if behind the backdrop of this stage of life there is another reality. And this is probably what drove many of us to search for what lies behind this veil of illusion and darkness. And, eventually, we were led to the Master and the spiritual path.
When we are born into this life we forget our glorious origin. We live much of this life on the wrong side of this curtain. We are covered with the layers of karma that keep us trapped here. But at a certain point, we feel the Master’s pull.
Maharaj Charan Singh puts it this way in Die to Live:
The soul is always yearning to go back to its own Source, to the Father. But we don’t feel that longing now due to our load of karmas and our tendency towards the senses…. Similarly, every soul, without exception, is yearning to go back to the Father, but owing to the wrappings of karmas, of the mind, of the sensual pleasures, of all worldly attachments and entanglements, it doesn’t feel that longing. The more we remove those wrappings, the more we start feeling that longing, and ultimately the soul shines and goes back to the Father.
The miracle of our lives is the moment we finally turn toward the light. That is the time we flex our spiritual muscle and try to break free of everything that weighs us down - our desires, fears, attachments - and we finally move into the state of unbounded freedom that the Master has promised to reveal to us.
How do we experience this? The Lord gives us the yearning to know our source. He gives us a feeling of separation. And this longing is the only thing we need on the path, says the Master. The longing will keep us true to our commitment to meditate and follow the vows - because we know this commitment will please him. This longing will eventually pull us to the level of higher consciousness when we will transcend our materialistic minds, and unite with him. Hazur Maharaj Ji says in Die to Live:
Does a seeker need anything else besides longing? If he has a longing or desire to go back to the Father, love for the Father, yearning for the Father, then is there anything else to be done?
Is there anything else for a seeker to do if he gets that bliss, that boon from the Father - that longing to become one with him. Then all desires leave you, and your mind is no longer attached to the creation.
The Lord knows when we are ready to take this giant step. And he sends the Master to help us do this. Sometimes the Master uses the example of a tree that we uproot from one place and transplant to another. First, we are involved in the world and our attention runs outward; and then, once we come to him, our attention begins to move inward. Then we will no longer run after the pleasures of the world, but will enjoy the bliss of being in the presence of the Father. This is truly a miracle. Without the intervention of the Lord, acting through the Master, we could never make such a drastic change. It’s as if he reaches down and transplants us from one field, where the soil and water are toxic, to another field, where we get all the nourishment we need.
Our coming to the Master has been orchestrated by the Father. And now that we are initiated, it’s time for action - time to practice with honesty and integrity. And if we’ve started the journey and then fallen away from the path, it’s never too late to pick up from where we left off.
We say we want to be disciples of the Master, but this involves discipline. Disciple - discipline - the same word. Discipline requires effort, and effort means struggle.
Struggle is the rule in the realm of change. As we know, everything in this world is subject to change - this is the realm of duality - we experience pain or pleasure, wealth or poverty, health or sickness. The only constant thing in life is the need to struggle. To study, to work, to raise a family, we face struggles. To accomplish anything worthwhile involves struggle. And to follow the path the Master has put us on, we have to struggle with our mind. That is the irrefutable truth of our lives. We need to make this struggle a daily habit, so that it becomes second nature. Because our mind is so used to running out, it is a great struggle to pull it in. But we should not give up.
The Master often says we have to have courage at every step when we fight with the mind because it’s a fierce enemy that will never give up. It always tries to keep us entangled in the world. Understanding the teachings intellectually is one thing, but practising them consistently is another.
Hazur Maharaj Ji emphasizes that our very habit of trying to concentrate will help us achieve our goal. We need to use the mind’s craving for routine to create positive habits. He says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
The main thing is to give time to meditation. It is a constant struggle with the mind. And all the time you spend struggling with the mind during the course of your meditation is itself a meditation … as long as we are regular in giving our time, fighting with the mind, disciplining the mind, we are attending to our meditation.
And as we struggle, our longing to see the light and be in his presence will increase. The struggle will give us the longing. First we need the hunger, the longing, that drives us to sit, but then that hunger will grow only through meditation. We need to become passionate about our meditation. Make your meditation tasty, as Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, “First you have to fight with your mind to attend to your meditation, but the time comes when it becomes very tasty.”
So this discipline and commitment have to form the basis of our daily life. It doesn’t matter if our mind behaves, we just need to keep doing it. Hazur continues to emphasize this in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, when he says, “And all the time you spend struggling with the mind during the course of your meditation is itself a meditation.”
A very pertinent remark was made by Maharaj Jagat Singh:
First the mind will make you cry and then the mind itself will cry. That is, at first you will cry while you are exerting yourself in meditation and the mind will remain unaffected. But if weeping and crying you persevere in your efforts, you will ultimately succeed in conquering the mind. All devotees should remember this fact. They should never be disheartened and give up their efforts.
Why is this so? Because ultimately, the Master’s grace will take us across the whole realm of the mind. If we follow his instructions and stick to the path, follow the four vows, make our best efforts, and trust in him, there is no doubt that he will see us through. We have put ourselves under his protection and guidance, so we have to trust that his advice is for our own good and follow it.
The Master often emphasizes that we shouldn’t be concerned about progress. Our mind wants to measure progress - it wants to calculate how we did today in our meditation versus how we did yesterday. Did we control the mind? For how many minutes? Did we see or hear anything? Did we fall asleep? Were we able to sit still the whole time? But this kind of analysis is destructive, as it activates the mind, instead of allowing the Master to take charge. Master tells us that all we have to do is sit, do our best to repeat our simran, and leave the rest to him. We are not to worry about results.
Someone once asked the Master how we can get the strength to withstand the assault of the mind, which sometimes drives us to act in ways that lead us away from the Master. Hazur Maharaj Ji reassured the questioner by acknowledging that sometimes waves of karma do come that drag us away, and we end up doing something that we know is wrong. This is because our minds are so powerful that we become a victim of our weaknesses. We feel helpless. But then he reminded us that we have a life-support system. He said to the questioner:
Only meditation gives us that strength, that strong willpower, to keep us steadfast on the path. And even if we fall, we again get up and keep to the path. But if we don’t attend to the meditation and only intellectually try to know that this is the right path, then we never know when we will be swept away from the path. So meditation, even if we fall, pushes us back again to the path – if we keep to the meditation.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
Then, the same questioner asked: “Even if the meditation is poor?” Hazur responded:
Every meditation is poor. Meditation is meditation - effort, effort, effort. Ultimately it becomes strong. A child doesn’t start running right after birth. He has to pass through so many phases before he learns to walk, and then he learns to run. We also have to pass through so many phases in meditation.
So if we wonder, “What hope is there for us?”we need to remember that we are all in the same boat. We are completely in the grip of the mind. None of us actually does ‘good’ meditation. The main thing is to be regular and punctual in our meditation - every day. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
If you are tied to a strong chain, you can move only within a limited area. So if we are tied to our meditation every day, no matter how much we’re involved in other things, we will always remain within the circle…. If the chain is broken, then of course you are absolutely gone, you’re involved. So the chain of meditation should not be broken. Meditation must be attended to every day, and then no matter how much you try to involve yourself in other activities, you’ll never be allowed to go astray at all. You’ll never be allowed to get involved so much that you forget your real path, because your chain is very strong.
Hazur is saying that we need to remain within the circle of love, of meditation. If we stay within the circle of simran, we will have the protection of his divine love.
The Master’s purpose is to work with us, to guide us through life. But we also have to do our part. Baba Ji often says that we need to work with him; he is with us by our side. The Guru is not just the physical body. The real Guru is the Shabd. Our soul, when attuned to the Shabd, is the real disciple. The awakened consciousness is the true disciple. It is powerful. Loving the physical Master means that we obey him implicitly, and practice just as he has taught us to. This will lead to love for the Shabd.
The true miracle of our lives is that the Master has come for us. He has shown us the way to our true home and freed us from the worries and desires that imprison us. We may think we are not his best disciples, but he is always showering his grace and love. And though we may sometimes forget him, he never forgets us. His love sustains us.
So let us make the most of the miracle of his presence among us so that we can find his real form within ourselves, and always remain happy. It is we who have written each page in the book of our life. We need to go through our lives gracefully, accepting what befalls us as the result of our own actions. The Master has lifted the veil of illusion from our eyes. Now we can awaken to the truth and respond to his pull, and make the best use of this life.
A philosopher once said: “Life is not a process of learning something new, but rather of remembering what we already know.” We have a faint memory of the destination that awaits us - it is our original home in the highest spiritual realm. Let us take the journey side by the side with the Master.
What we need is his grace. When his grace is there, circumstances combine in such a way that we want to get out of the creation. We come to the path, we get the opportunity to meditate. We get the facilities, the atmosphere. We feel his love, his devotion, and we turn our back to the world and look to him. All these things come just by his grace. It’s not that we have done something to deserve all that…. We can never do anything to deserve his love. He just gives it and gives it…. It’s all his grace. If the Master won’t come with his grace, then who will? It is nothing but his grace that we get so much pull and love for the Lord from within. Unless he pulls from within, nobody can even think about the Father….
We are just helpless.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II