Dream, Think, Do!
The 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes coined the phrase: “I think, therefore I am”. An artist once humorously portrayed this philosophical idea in a cartoon strip showing a young man pushing a wheelbarrow as he searches for the edge of the world. When he finally reaches it, he tilts the wheelbarrow to dispose of the contents: absolutely nothing − the wheelbarrow was empty. In the next picture he sits down on the wheelbarrow, on the edge of a void, with a happy contented face, and the words in the balloon above his head read: “I dream, therefore I am”.
We all dream, not only when we sleep but also when we are wide awake − as when daydreaming, indulging in wishful thinking, or constantly desiring one thing or another. We are very seldom at peace or satisfied with what we have. The mind is capable of raking up the strangest thoughts and desires while building imaginary castles in the air. Yet every seeker after truth will begin to realize that we are guests in a world that we do not comprehend. Somehow we survive; we live and stumble on, each one resolutely pushing his own wheelbarrow.
We are vulnerable, we are ignorant, we are filled with fears, doubts, feelings of insecurity and loneliness. These feelings are often sparked by a multitude of questions, such as: Who am I, where do I come from and why am I here? Why am I not a stone, an insect, a plant or an animal?
Our dream may be a desire for the knight on a white horse to come to our rescue, to bring the answers to all our questions, and to fix everything that is wrong in our lives; to sweep us up and take us away with him to a place where everything is perfect, where there are no problems, just love, peace and contentment − perfect bliss.
A myth, one might think. Well, not so for satsangis, for not only is this possible, but it actually happens. The perfect living Master is the knight on a white horse of Shabd. This is the power he uses to slowly fix all the mistakes we have made during every incarnation that we have had to endure.
Our dream of perfect bliss is really associated with the soul. Saints tell us that the soul is unblemished and constantly longs to merge back into its source − and this merging is the ultimate dream.
Motivation is sparked by three activities: dreaming, thinking and doing. First we have a dream − a desire we want to achieve. Then we think through the process of achieving it. The mind uses the faculties of imagination and inspiration to activate the thinking process. Thinking provides the analytical brain power that is necessary to cultivate the dream in the mind, and finally, this leads to the practical aspect, which is action − the doing, which is necessary to fulfil the dream.
Having formulated the dream – in our case, our spiritual liberation -the thought process kicks in. To satisfy the thinking process we must gather knowledge about our dream. We start with books, we attend satsang and we have discussions about the path. In the process we may wade through libraries full of possible explanations, scientific, spiritual or any other kind. Similar to the growth of a child, our assimilation and understanding of the material at hand will continuously change. This research will shape our own landscape, a subjective personal reality – not necessarily the truth. Like the destitute groping around on trash heaps, the seeker struggles through collected philosophies and histories of the past – the debris left by historians and misguided spiritual leaders, blinded by dogma, ritual and all the trappings that hide the truth: the blind leading the blind.
And then the greatest miracle happens. The seeker, at his wits’ end, is led to the astounding truth and the penny finally drops: what is past is gone forever, and what we seek is right where we are and is within us, for the physical body is the temple of the living God. It will not help to search outside when that which is to be found is inside. No matter how many books we read on the life and history of past saints and saviours, or how many pilgrimages we make to their graves to prostrate ourselves before their relics or to kiss the lifeless feet of their cold stony images, these dead saints will not be able to help us.
We need a perfect living mentor, someone we can see, touch and converse with; someone who can ignite our soul − who can pull the switch and turn on the light which is dormant within us. Academic knowledge is like having a map showing the whereabouts of the proverbial buried treasure and not using it. What we want is what the Master offers − personal experience.
This entire process happens in spite of ourself, for the real inspira-tion comes from within, instigated by the Creator himself through his Shabd presence − for every soul is Shabd in essence. As the Shabd, like the Creator, is love in essence, the relationship between the soul and its Creator is one of love.
But to love can also mean to suffer, and at times this wonderful dream might feel like the worst nightmare ever – we have to pay in order to clear our karmic account. At initiation the Master takes on the arduous task of purifying us so that our dream can become a reality. Our relationship with Kal, the ruler of this creation, is settled and the balance of our karmic debts will be dealt with under the direction of the Master. It will only be a matter of time before all the stored karmas from our previous incarnations and transmigrations will be paid off.
Don’t we all dream of pushing an empty wheelbarrow in preference to the heavily loaded one we now have? Wouldn’t we all like to sit on the edge of that void unencumbered by our heavy load?
And so we finally come to the practical part of our quest − the doing. The dream cultivates faith in us when we find the Master. To think leads to the quest: to gather all the necessary information about the Master and his spiritual path. This leads to knowledge and understanding. Now the disciple must take action − the doing, or becoming − so that the process started by the dream will eventually become a reality.
Having found the Master and more or less satisfied our intellect, we have to take the plunge and apply for initiation. This is the start of a lifelong struggle − a fight to ‘die while living’ and conquer the five senses by withdrawing the consciousness to the third eye. This is why the Masters teach their disciples to practise − to do, for without action the dream will never become a reality, the soul will never find freedom. The Masters’ constant request is: “Please do your simran and bhajan”.
It is a slow process, this steering the soul towards its destined home. And once the seeker is initiated by the Master the process is unstoppable. Neither can an initiate resign from the path, for the Master is responsible for ensuring that the dream becomes a reality − that the soul returns home.
In Die to Live Maharaj Charan Singh tells us that through meditation we fulfill the very purpose of human life:
Through meditation we become worthy of his grace and receptive to his love. We build and grow the love and devotion which he gives us to carry us speedily towards our goal. … It is through meditation, by his grace, that we develop an intense longing to return to our source. The effect is truly a miracle! We turn from the world, and with the same intensity that we once ran towards it, we now run towards the Father.
To conclude, let us return to the cartoon strip and redesign it. The disciple is pushing his wheelbarrow which is overflowing not only with karmas and desires, but also with books, philosophies, credos, religious dogmas and rituals, incense, prayer rugs, blessed shawls and all sorts of relics, as well as sentiments and emotional paraphernalia. Utterly exhausted he reaches the end of his world. He hesitates for a long moment and then, with gusto he shoves the wheelbarrow with all of its contents over the edge. Released of this heavy burden he looks up and with a tremendous cry of sheer joy he confirms: “I’m free, therefore I am!”
Be cheerful, Sir:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest