Master and Disciple
In a book called The Soul and A Loaf of Bread, a poem by Sheikh Abul-Hasan says:
It is said that Master beheld the Almighty in a dream one night
and said, “My Lord, for sixty years I have lived pining for You,”
and he was told. “So you have, for sixty years, but
I chose you on the day before the first day;
that is when this Friendship was declared,
who then was first to Love?”
This stanza reflects the true and abiding nature of our relationship to the Lord. We have heard so many times that the Master is with us from our birth and watches over us from that time. When we are initiated, that relationship becomes the active focus of our life. Then we engage in the slow transformation of becoming fully engaged in and aware of that relationship, but curiously, we often bring to it our typical way of being in worldly relationships. Our thinking tends to divide the world into notions of good and evil, happiness and sadness, and we respond to these dualities as if they are reality. Our thinking even limits how we think of the Master. We describe him by his height (short/tall), the colour of his beard (dark/light), his sense of humour (funny/not funny). We see him as separate from ourselves.
However, God is eternal and sustains everything that exists. Potentially, there is no barrier that separates us from God, and thus we can speak directly to God. If we think about it, isn’t this what we have been hoping for, union with the Lord?
Sheikh Abul-Hasan continues:
The Beloved says,“I am the Road you travel,
and I too am the Host that receives you;
when you speak, I hear; when you think, I know;
when you flee from me, I am your refuge;
when you seek refuge, I am your shelter;
Your prayers I receive, and your hopes I fulfil;
I am with you in desolation, and I am with you in your elation;
be therefore Here, Now in this presence.”
Our Friend, who chose us before our birth, asks us to “Be therefore Here, Now in this presence.” This is what our Master wants for us because he knows the end result of the journey that he has put us on. Maharaj Charan Singh used to say, from the moment of initiation the Master has been contriving to help us make our way to Sach Khand. He has been asking us to remove all barriers to him.
How easy is this? How do we change our life so that we are aware of the presence of the Master in all that we do? Of course the answer is meditation. But transformation through our meditation is neither quick nor easy. Why? Maharaj Charan Singh illustrates in the following quote that while we may initially use our intellect, ultimately, it is too feeble to comprehend the ultimate:
God gave us intellect to carry on the works of this world of phenomena. Beyond that our wisdom cannot reach…. One who relies on reason alone cannot attain true knowledge (knowledge of the Lord). Reasoning is the function of our physical brain…. God and things spiritual can be realized only by the direct perception of the soul, through contact with Shabd. The soul can perceive clearly without going through the process of reasoning. Our mind is too feeble and limited to comprehend the unlimited and incomprehensible One.
What we are seeking is something lasting and true. We are seeking to comprehend “the unlimited and incomprehensible One”. But how can true knowledge come into a deluded and transitory mind? What if we stop on this journey upon only hearing of the Master’s greatness and beauty and do not go further to meet and experience him first hand? What if we listen to our nay-saying mind instead of the longing of our soul?
Guru Ram Das as quoted in Jap Ji: A Perspective, says:
Every moment the mind rushes about in delusion
and does not, even for an instant, stay in its home.
When the Guru applies the goad of Shabd on its head,
it comes back to inhabit its own mansion.
Guru Ram Das is saying in this stanza that the powerful mind, which is always running after material objects, beauty and sensual pleasures, can be subdued through the “goad of Shabd on its head”. While we often use the mind to operate in the illusory world, it can be converted into a mind that pulls us inward and upward, towards the unlimited and incomprehensible. But this is not so easy because of its dualistic nature. Kabir Sahib, quoted in Jap Ji: A Perspective says, “This mind is maya, this mind is a divine entity.”
Kabir Sahib continues:
When the mind realizes its essence; it is contented.
One who knows the mystery understands the mind.
Let no one delay the union of the mind with its source.
One finds the Truth when one is absorbed in the Truth.
Our business is with the mind –
one who disciplines one’s mind becomes perfect.
When the mind merges with its source through meditation, all impressions are erased and the mind becomes pure. “The very mind which was dominant over the soul becomes a faithful servant of the soul and works according to the directions of the soul” (Jap Ji: A Perspective). The mind and soul then become obedient to the will of the Lord and as Maharaj Charan Singh says in Divine Light, “We should rise above cold reason and fly towards him on the wings of love and faith.” The idea that a human can achieve perfect love, perfect knowledge, may seem extraordinary, yet it is what the Master wants for us.
Master wants us to awaken and listen to God first hand. This awakening begins with the relationship of the Master and the disciple that started “before the first day”. Let us consider who it is that we are having a relationship with and let that guide us in our quest to turn our approach to the path and the Master from a mental one to that of experience. This can be done only with relentless meditation.