A Thankful Heart
In an informal discussion somebody once asked Maharaj Ji what quality he liked most in a satsangi, and he answered: “a thankful heart”. He might have said: devotion, or obedience, or discipline. But above all these he valued thankfulness. Are we thankful enough for being on this path? Have we even really thought about what it means to be a disciple of a perfect Master? Do we appreciate the fact that our long search – perhaps many lifetimes of searching – is coming to an end and we are on our way home?
Great Master, whose gift for lyrical expression could take one’s breath away, once wrote to somebody:
Your face is towards the light. Let nothing hinder or discourage you. You shall drink of the Living Waters, and be thirsty no more. No matter what may be your difficulties and deficiencies; they shall all be overcome, and the divine Shabd whose music never ceases within you shall sooner or later bear you upon its loving waves back to your original home. Have no fear or doubt. So long as one’s face is turned uncompromisingly towards the Sat Guru, he is on his way to perfect realization. … No one can say just how long it will take. But it must be.
It must be. It will happen. How can we not be overwhelmingly thankful for such a promise? And let’s think about how few people are chosen for this privilege. Perhaps one in a million. Can we have the slightest idea what a tremendous privilege has been conferred on us? To have found a perfect Master, and to have been accepted and initiated by him, has to be the most important development in all our existence, right from the time that our souls were separated from the original one Being. There’s no other event in all our many lives that even comes close.
And every single one of us must have wondered at times: ‘Why me? What have I ever done to deserve this?’ This is a mystery, one of the unanswerable questions of Sant Mat. Only the Creator knows whom he marks and why.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, 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 would be enough to qualify us for this grace. Maharaj Charan Singh 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. 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.
Even if we’ve been model satsangis right from the start; even if we’ve never missed a day of meditation and always given our full time, and even if we’ve been scrupulous in sticking to the principles, even that is not enough to make us worthy of this privilege. There’s another reply to a question in which Maharaj Charan Singh strips away any possible illusions that we might deserve this:
If we look within ourselves and think we have become worthy, we never become worthy. We have been here in this creation for generations and generations, and we have been collecting so many karmas every time we have been here. If we must account for all those karmas, it will be impossible to become worthy of the Lord. There would be no end to them. So what we need is the Lord’s grace, his forgiveness, nothing else.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
We can only be thankful to him for having chosen us to go home. It’s been a long, long journey, but it’s coming to an end. Let’s remember this when we struggle with our meditation, when we complain about how long it’s taking for us to see any results. In the bigger scale of things it’s probably not taking very long at all. But still we keep complaining about how long it’s taking. Maharaj Charan Singh once put it into perspective:
Sister, the reason is very clear. Can you know when this creation came into being? Can we calculate when this creation started? Since then, we have been here in this creation. We can’t even extend our imagination to grasp how long we have been here in this world and how many karmas we have been collecting in every life and how much of a load of that dirt we have collected– and we want to burn it just in a second, comparatively? Naturally it has to take time. The bigger the heap, the more the time, so that is why meditation takes so long.
Die to Live
Meditation does take long. We’ve all discovered that. We’ve been programmed to expect quick results from any effort we make. But this doesn’t happen on our spiritual path. It can’t. We have to undergo such profound changes to make ourselves fit to handle what’s going to be given to us. We have to be slowly transformed from lowly humans to become pure enough and evolved enough to come face to face with God. We can’t expect to rush this process. We should just feel humble and very grateful that we have been marked. We should just accept that we are among the fortunate few, and show our gratitude by doing what he asks of us – most of all, by doing our daily meditation.
Even if we’re still heavily burdened with karma, we just have to show that we love him, by being obedient and doing what he asks, and we can be forgiven anything. There’s a wonderful answer on the subject of forgiveness from Maharaj Charan Singh in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
You don’t have to ask the Father at all. You have only to love him, and you are automatically forgiven. … You have just to give yourself to him, and then he gives you everything. … He makes you God; he makes you the Lord.
But of course the important thing here is obedience. We have to show our gratitude to him by doing what he asks of us, no matter how difficult we may find it and no matter how long it takes. How else can we show our appreciation?
Although meditation can be a real struggle, making an effort is offering our thanks to the Lord for what he’s doing for us, whereas not trying and just giving up is being ungrateful. The work we put into our meditation is our only meaningful way of saying thank you, of proving that we’re grateful for this tremendous grace and of trying in our inadequate way to give something in return. All he wants from us is our meditation. We have nothing else we can give.
If we’re not working at our meditation, perhaps it means that we don’t appreciate what we have; that we don’t understand the magnitude of this path and what it’s giving us. Let’s go back to Great Master, who tries to explain its grandeur and significance when he writes in Spiritual Gems:
There is nothing equal to this way, and it gives more real joy and satisfaction than all else in the world. But to get that you have to go inside. … When you learn to do this, the treasure, which is yours already, will come into conscious possession, and you will realize more than you can dream of. … Your getting Nam means more than if you had inherited a million dollars, or many millions. You are one of the lucky sons of Sat Purush, and he has chosen you to get Nam and go with the Master to Sach Khand. You must reach there. Nothing can prevent you.
And then he adds: “But you can hasten the progress or retard it, as you like”.
Let’s try to hasten the process. Let’s work at our meditation – with commitment and patience and as much humility as we can, without expecting or demanding anything in return. Let’s just sit, every day, for as long as we can manage, in a spirit of love and deep gratitude, knowing that only this meditation and his grace can help us to attain our eventual goal of going home to our Source.