All that Matters
Like moths attracted to a flame, genuine seekers of the truth find themselves at the feet of a true Master. And when the Master in all his mercy and grace ignites that divine spark, it paves the beginning of the soul’s journey back to its source.
Until the ultimate destination is reached, casual observation tells us that most practitioners of Sant Mat come to the path while leading normal lives. Many have families and loved ones, with responsibilities and duties to fulfil. They have businesses to run, jobs and careers to attend to – all the while working hard to make ends meet. For rest and relaxation, it is not uncommon to pursue some hobby, take a holiday, or visit the Dera to listen to inspiring discourses by the Master and get spiritually re-charged.
To achieve a balance between their spiritual objectives and worldly responsibilities, disciples focus on adhering to the principles of Sant Mat. They strengthen their faith by attending satsang regularly and maintaining a ‘support-group’ type fellowship with other initiates.
However, the Masters always emphasize that there is no substitute for meditation; spiritual practice cannot be replaced by anything – neither by good deeds and social work nor by the chanting of hymns or by reading holy books. Not even by seva. Though admirable and fulfilling, none of these can replace inner worship, nor can they bring us face to face with God. Only the internal practice of Sound and Light can take us to our destination; this is what all the great saints and mystics have advocated since time immemorial, whatever their caste, creed or religious background may have been.
When he was asked whether there is any short cut other than this slow and tiresome way of meditation, Maharaj Charan Singh used to say that a great and overwhelming love for God can pull the attention inside with irresistible power. But then he would always add that such a love is found in very few seekers of God. Ultimately, this very love would lead the disciple of a living Master to the vision of his inner form and to the experience of the Word of God within.
Until that unconditional and divine love can be developed, the time of meditation should be our most precious time of the day because it awakens the love within us and makes it grow. It is an intimate and personal time that the disciple can spend exclusively in the presence of his beloved Master within.
When the Masters refer to this intense and selfless love that is achieved through meditation, they do not hide the fact that the path leading there is long and arduous, and not meant for the faint-hearted. It calls for the bravery of a warrior. To meditate for two and a half hours daily demands of us not only rugged determination, selfless sacrifice and dedicated discipline but also the shunning of our ego-centred pursuits and worldly attachments.
And at the same time, we need to be wary of our own mind, as it can be a deterrent on our spiritual journey. Maharaj Charan Singh often advised that the best way to protect our spiritual life is to win over our mind as a friend so that, instead of putting obstacles in our path, it will urge us on to perform the most important task of our life – our spiritual exercises.
One of the most common complaints that disciples have after being on the path for years is the misguided impression of not achieving spiritual progress. Sometimes disciples are overwhelmed by feelings of dryness, dejection and despair, but the Masters caution that this is simply a play of the mind. They lovingly assure us that however discouraged we may feel, in Sant Mat there are no failures. Just as a diamond-cutter painstakingly chisels away the roughness of a raw diamond bit by bit for it to sparkle, the Master slowly but surely moulds us as we go through our karmas to become fit and pristine to experience the Ultimate. In fact, we are his ‘work-in-progress’.
What counts is not immediate, instant success but sincere, dedicated effort. Success will come when we are ready and when the time is ripe. We fail to realize that being on the path and adhering to the principles is a form of progress. Moreover, there is no set time period allotted for spiritual progress. One cannot calculate love and devotion. The Masters convey the truth when they say that treading the spiritual path is a life-long struggle, perhaps even that of several lifetimes.
It takes years of dedication to become a worthy disciple of a perfect Master. In spirituality, it is a fallacy to expect quick results. The Masters never tire of cautioning us against evaluating our efforts on the basis of tangible results. The process of stilling the mind is indeed slow, comparable to licking a dry stone. It is no easy task, especially when we consider that for millions of lives we have been succumbing to every provocation and lure of the senses.
With every warning, however, the Masters also offer words of comfort to help us persevere on our long and gruelling journey. These moments of encouragement come to every seeker on this path and are most inspiring.
Maharaj Charan Singh used to explain that when a disciple progresses on the path, he reaches a point where he is quite unable to resist the “pull” inside. When this time comes, his only wish will be to meditate. Progress does not matter. Results do not matter. Success does not matter. All that matters is adherence to the instructions and obedience to the Master.