It is said that spirituality is feeling the presence of the Divine. But because we have lost our personal connection with the Divine, we have lost touch with our spiritual nature. This spiritual disconnection is the root cause of all of our suffering, problems, conflicts, worries and cares.
The Masters have given us a very simple way to establish a relationship and feel the presence of the Divine. In Spiritual Gems, Maharaj Sawan Singh writes:
The problem is not complicated at all. The whole thing is just attention, and then unbroken attention, at the eye centre, allowing no other thought to intrude itself into the consciousness and lead you away from the centre.
Attention, and then unbroken attention at the eye centre, allowing no other thought to intrude itself and lead us away. Sounds so simple, but we shouldn’t confuse simple with easy. Controlling the mind is the most difficult thing any of us will ever do. Maharaj Sawan Singh continues:
If there is any difficult work in the world, it is the fight with the mind.…
To give up worldly pleasures, to control the senses, and bring the attention in one centre by controlling the wild runs of the mind while still alive and kicking, is not an easy task. But what is it that with love and faith man cannot accomplish.
Our spiritual journey involves an ever changing relationship with the Divine. The authors of Sacred Romance, Drawing Closer to the Heart of God, refer to this evolving relationship:
Indeed, if we will listen, a sacred romance calls to us through our heart every moment of our lives. It whispers to us on the wind, invites us through the laughter of good friends, reaches out to us through the touch of someone we love. We’ve heard it in our favourite music, sensed it at the birth of our first child, been drawn to it while watching the shimmer of a sunset on the ocean. This romance is even present in times of great personal suffering: the illness of a child, the loss of a marriage, the death of a friend. Something calls to us through experiences like these and rouses an inconsolable longing deep within our heart, wakening in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty, and adventure.
Just what is this sacred romance they are talking about? The joy for each of us as spiritual seekers is that we get to discover step-by-step, stage-by-stage, more and more of what this sacred romance really is. This divine dance becomes more enticing and more compelling until it becomes the be-all and end-all of our existence.
There are no words that can describe the depth of this sacred romance, although the poetry of mystics like Rumi, Kabir, Mira Bai and others offer inspiring hints. These mystics touch on the deep longing of the soul. They say with beautiful simplicity: “Aren’t you thirsty? Listen to your heart. There is something missing.”
We try to ignore or numb ourselves to these inner feelings, but the divine romance persists. The authors of Sacred Romance write that this romance:
Will not go away in spite of our efforts over the years to anaesthetize or ignore its song, or attach it to a single person or endeavour.…
This longing is the most powerful part of any human personality. It fuels our search for meaning, for wholeness, for a sense of being truly alive. However we may describe this deep desire, it is the most important thing about us, our heart of hearts, the passion of our life. And the voice that calls to us in this place is none other than the voice of God.
The Divine, God, the Lord, Creator – whatever we call this sacred energy, starts out as merely a concept to us. In the beginning, we project all kinds of qualities on to our idea of the divine. The Master, as our connection with the Divine, is also a recipient of our varied projections. We can’t yet begin to see him for who he really is. As we grow in our spiritual maturity, and we begin to experience the Divine more directly, these projections gradually fall away and we realize our romance is with nothing other than pure love itself. Only then can we begin to see the Master for who he truly is.
The Divine takes on different roles at different times in the relationship that we are developing – sometimes as teacher, sometimes as guide, or friend, or parent, or redeemer, or beloved. Let’s explore some of these different roles.
God is our teacher in our spiritual evolution in both gross and subtle ways. Through the Master we are taught in satsangs and through books. But in more subtle ways, every life experience is our teacher. Every life experience is custom made to teach us exactly what we need to know at that moment. When we feel the Master behind every life experience, our interaction with every moment becomes part of the sacred romance, an interaction with him. Each life circumstance as it arises becomes an opportunity to dance with God.
These lessons are unfailing and perfect. And we all know from experience that they are not always gentle or easy. Hafiz says:
Pure Divine Love is no meek priest
Or tight banker.
It will smash in all your windows
And only then throw in the holy gifts.
I Heard God Laughing, rendered by D. Ladinsky
Divine love will do whatever it takes to mould us into a perfect lover. We may resist it and we may not appreciate it at the time. But when he throws his holy gifts through the smashed windows of our ego, we are grateful for what it took to create our openness and receptivity.
The Divine is also our guide. First we are given the outer teachings for guidance. We are also given intuition and conscience for inner guidance. Of course this guidance is easily overridden or blocked by the voices of our desires. But the guidance is there if we are sincere and become quiet enough to hear that “still small voice”. At some point in our spiritual evolution, our inner spiritual vision is opened and we can see that we have always been guided.
The Divine can also be a parent to us. We talk about God the father or the divine mother. At times we just need to curl up in God’s arms and be nurtured and protected.
Maharaj Sawan Singh describes this role of the Master as a mother in a beautiful passage that also addresses concerns we might have about not being in the physical presence of the Master. He says:
When we are away from the Master and the satsang, the world imperceptibly impresses itself on us so much that, in spite of our regularly giving time to simran and Nam, we often begin to feel discouraged, dry, and desolate. In such a state faith and love are our support; and if faith is firm, the Master responds. He is always with us – within us – watches as a mother watches her child. So long as we are on this side of the focus, we do not see him working. But he is doing his duty. Your worries and cares are Master’s worries and cares. Leave them to him to deal with. Having become carefree, your business is to cultivate his love. He is not going to let you drift. You will go up.
The Divine is also our redeemer. This is the one aspect of our relationship with the Master we may never fully appreciate. We have accumulated a huge store of karmas, enough to keep us coming back life after life, indefinitely. During our long process of learning and maturing spiritually in previous lives, we have probably caused tremendous pain and suffering to others, committed untold atrocities, and accrued an unfathomable load of karmas. This karmic debt must be accounted for. There are only two ways to pay off these karmic debts: to go through them, which would take forever and involve a huge amount of suffering for us, or to be forgiven for them by our redeemer. We are like inmates in a prison undergoing multiple life sentences. Unless we can have our sentence commuted or forgiven, we will never escape from the prison of transmigration. Our only hope is to contact the Shabd, which the Masters tell us will burn up all of our past karmas. The Master connects us with the Shabd, saving us untold suffering.
And when we persist in our spiritual practice, something very beautiful happens. Our motivation for meditating begins to change, in very subtle but very powerful ways. Instead of meditating because we want something from the Master or because we are told that we should meditate to be a good disciple, a desire begins to grow in us. It changes us. We now want to give to the Master. We meditate to give, no longer to get. Real love begins to grow in us, and the sacred romance deepens.
The culmination of the sacred romance is a sublime merging into the Divine. No words can describe the bliss of this merging. But the words of the Masters can give us an inkling of the depths of love that we are entering. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Die to Live:
Love is losing your own identity and becoming another person. That is love. There’s no ego left. To become another being and to just lose your own identity, … to eliminate your ego and be in the will of another being, that is love.
This is the end game of the sacred romance, to completely lose our identity and become God, to become love itself.
The beginning of love is giving and the end is merging. For most of us, losing our own identity and becoming another being is inconceivable. We can wonder, we can speculate, we can imagine what this would be like, but why not take a step forward in this dance of sacred romance and experience it for ourselves? Why not cultivate the one relationship that will really make a difference in our lives, the one relationship we will take with us after this life is over – our relationship with the Divine.
Let’s take all that we have received and put it into practice – doing our meditation with love and devotion, remembering simran through-out the day and moulding our lives around our spiritual ideals.