Our Essence Is Love
Before the industrial revolution, life was much more uncertain than it is now. People were reliant on each other. They were largely ignorant of the workings of nature and were more vulnerable to its forces – whether natural disasters or illness. They realized their vulnerability, and submission and devotion to God were far more commonplace. As they looked for protection and help, they would frequently visit churches and places of worship.
Even now those exposed to the forces of nature tend to look to God for protection. A veteran sailor was asked if he believed in God. His answer was: “Sonny, when confronted with a storm on the high seas, there is no such thing as an atheist”.
Today, however, technology has largely empowered the individual. Science has advanced incredibly, and we have a better understanding of the workings of nature and our own bodies. For many, Sunday worship has been replaced with visits to shopping malls. Atheism is common-place and the majority of the world’s scientists openly challenge the existence of God. So today, some may feel less need for God if they have every comfort , and if it appears they are in control of their lives.
But are we really in control? Do we even know where we will be next year, tomorrow, one hour from now? In the wink of an eye we can lose everything, and be thrown into the deepest despair. The Saints tell us that we are actually utterly ignorant and under the control of a very subtle entity called the mind. It is so subtle in fact that without being told about it, we may remain completely ignorant of it.
It is the mind that keeps us trapped in this dark world, ever more tightly bound by actions committed under its influence. Only a perfect living Master can show us the way out of this darkness and turn our faces towards the light, towards our supreme Father. As Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 16:6).
The Masters teach us that it is through the practice of love and devotion that we are able to move from darkness to light. And this resonates with what we already feel inside, for within us there is a loneliness, a sense of longing. Unfortunately, our mind interprets this as some kind of shortcoming in our lives and we seek to remedy it by pursuing worldly pleasures. Some of us turn to enjoyment and care of the body to fill this gap in our lives. At some point we have all experienced the pleasure of being a slave to health and fashion, along with the enjoyment of worldly entertainment, but did this bring us the happiness we sought? Was the happiness permanent? Was the longing and loneliness inside replaced with everlasting joy?
Perhaps then, happiness lies in the psyche, our mental and emotional condition. Yet, our civilization has never had so many psychologists and psychiatrists. Antidepressants are the largest-selling drugs on the market today, and yet suicides in developed countries have reached an all-time high.
Perhaps the answer to our quest for happiness lies in the intellectual world. Is it possible that study will show us the way toward happiness? Today, there are more people with Ph.D. degrees than were awarded in the previous two thousand years. Man has searched the depths of the ocean, travelled into outer space and painstakingly studied space with powerful telescopes. We even dissect atoms, but to what spiritual benefit? The fruits of these pursuits have been technology and a greater consumerism − but not a path to God. Einstein famously commented: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
Baba Ji says that we have increased our knowledge, but what we need is understanding. We need to understand what this inner loneliness and longing means, and where it is trying to lead us. The mystics explain that it is a very precious gift from the Lord, which should be cherished because it is the Lord’s way of calling us back to him. While the mind and the ego lead us to the external world, the saints say exactly the opposite − that we should seek within our own bodies for an answer to this longing.
Back in the sixth century BCE, the Chinese mystic and philosopher Lao Tzu wrote: “At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” In the complete stillness within, we will find out who we are. We will discover that we are not body and not mind, but something of indescribable beauty − we are soul. This leads us to the question: What does the soul want?
Soami Ji tells us how to satisfy the soul’s longing:
Hold fast to bhakti, O ignorant one,
and give up all your ‘wise’ pursuits.
Call it devotion, adoration or love;
the three differ in name, not in form or essence.
Sar Bachan Poetry
We need to devote ourselves to bhakti – we need to walk the inner path to which the Masters call us. It is this inner realm that we seek, the realm of pure spirit, for in truth we are spirit and this is what the soul wants − to return to the realm of purity. The Masters tell us that our real essence is much finer and more beautiful than anything in this world.
In the Bible’s book of Genesis it is written that God created man in his own image. This refers to the pure spiritual essence within us. The Masters explain that we will not find the happiness we seek through our physical, intellectual or emotional faculties, as these have been designed for the purpose of allowing us to function in this world. The Masters tell us that perfect and constant happiness can only be found within, and that only our soul − our true self − may experience this.
We may find it strange to learn that we are this unimaginably beautiful soul, and that our very essence is in fact pure bliss, joy and love. If we look at the world today this seems hard to believe. But if we spend just a few moments in the company of one who has developed his spiritual faculty to the full, such as the Master, a whole new perspective dawns on us. He is so filled with love that it automatically permeates those around him and we are able to feel it. This is not an experience of the body or the intellect, and cannot in truth be explained with words. Rather we start becoming aware of a spiritual quality within us that resonates with that of the Master.
If we are made in God’s image, then our image is pure love. Soami Ji writes in Sar Bachan Poetry:
In fact, your own real form is also love,
so you may accept all beings to be of the same essence.
The very first experience we have of this kind of love is one of comfort, rejuvenation and a sense of peace and joy that cannot be described. This is a love that grows and grows, and the happiness we experience in our innermost being will also expand, if we allow it to do so through the practice of our meditation.
So how has our true essence become so obscured, and why have we forgotten the Lord, who is said to be closer to us than our own breath? What has brought on this strange state of affairs? As Soami Ji asks in Sar Bachan Poetry: “How could you, a conscious entity, get so embroiled in a world that is inert and is but an illusion?”
We have effectively merged ourselves in this material world, and identified with its dirt. We are in a state that Maharaj Charan Singh refers to as “not living, but existing”. The worst of it is that we think we are having a jolly good time, while we are completely unaware of the prison in which we are confined. But when we eventually remember the Lord and put in the effort to find him − when we begin to pine for him − he hears our call and arranges for our return to him. Then he sends his beloved sons, the perfect living Masters, to fetch us home.
The Masters are an example for us because they embody the teachings and live in accordance with the Lord’s will. They serve all of mankind in many ways, and ask for nothing in return. If we take the time to study them we find perfection, balance and harmony in everything they do. They give us the confidence to follow the path and to seek our true home.
But when will we heed the Master’s advice? The Lord has done so much for us. He has given us many precious gifts; he has given us this life; he has brought us into the company of a perfect living Master; and he has given us the ability to comprehend and accept the Master’s teachings. The great good fortune of having met the Master is something which cannot be described in words. Maharaj Charan Singh says that we can never, by ourselves, traverse the uncharted terrain of the inner path. We owe everything to the immeasurable grace of the Master.
It is now up to us to take action to live in accordance with our Master’s teachings, withdraw our attention to the third eye, become pure divine love, as he is, and to return to where God himself resides.