Are You There?
This is a question so many of us have asked at some stage in our spiritual lives when we have gone through an unexplainable dark and empty period. Is the Master truly there? And if so, why does he not fill our being with his love? Our spiritual practice feels dry and we start to think that we are incapable of meditating. Deep in our heart, we long for that zeal we once had. What happened? And how do we make our way through such times?
The saints tell us to persevere and to simply keep trying. The spiritual practice may feel mechanical but this is a normal phase that every disciple goes through. As a Christian mystic once wrote: “There is no such thing as a prayer in which nothing is done or nothing happens.”
He dwells in every heart. He sees everything and knows
our secret feelings. The Lord hears even the footfall
of an ant.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III
The Masters have often told us that all we have to do is to “show up” in our meditation. As much as we might feel alone, we have to remind ourselves that we are not – he is watching us, he is aware of what we are going through and is helping us at every step. Ultimately, it is only he who can turn our struggles into successes.
A mystic once put it beautifully: “In the game of love I cannot lose. If I win I get you, and if I lose, you get me.”
There is a story about an ardent devotee of the Lord. Whenever he attended to his worldly duties, his thoughts were constantly on the Lord. When he retired at night, he would sit in meditation, yearning for the Lord. For many years, night after night, he continued with this practice.
One day, his mind began taunting him with questions like: “After all these years, has the Lord ever answered your prayers? You’ve been giving so much of your time to him, but where is he? Have you even experienced a glimpse of his magnificence?”
There were no answers. He became so disheartened that he stopped praying. Then one night, he heard a voice: “Why have you stopped calling on God?”
The man answered, “Because I feel unloved; where is the Lord? In all the years that I called out to him, not once did he reply, ‘Here I am.’”
The voice then told him: “God has commanded me to tell you the following words: ‘Am I not the One who engaged you to do my service? Am I not the one who asked you to call upon me? Each time you called ‘God, O God’ was because I replied, ‘Here I Am’. That pain, that longing and that one-pointed devotion was my message to you. Your struggles and perseverance for my help were the reasons grace was showered upon you. That grace was the reason for your prayers. Your love and devotion are the magnet for my mercy: and each ‘O God’ of yours contains many ‘Here I ams.’”
The Masters have told us that it is only because of the Lord’s grace that we even sit in meditation. He is the One who pulls us from within and gives us the opportunities to make the effort to move closer to him. By our own effort we would never be able to even think about him. Grace is never withheld from us – in fact, we are told that it flows in abundance. We only need to be receptive to his grace by turning our attention towards him.
The struggles that each of us go through in our spiritual practice are actually filled with blessings. It is how we learn that we cannot rely on our efforts alone in our spiritual practice. We come to understand that everything, even an inch forward towards the Lord, is possible only because of him. It is through our struggles and perseverance that the focus is shifted from I, me, myself to “only you”. It is then that we realize that he has always been there and always will be.