A Timeless Message
Ramdas, one of the poet mystics of Maharashtra, lived in the seventeenth century. The spiritual message he shared with seekers was the same timeless one expounded by all Masters throughout the ages. These are his last instructions to his disciples, which are as relevant today as four centuries ago:
Do not think much of your bodily wants. Have satsangs with devotees; keep the image of the Lord in your heart; repeat the Name of the Lord always. Annihilate lust, greed, anger, hatred, and egoism. See the Lord in all creatures. Love all. Feel his presence everywhere. Live for him alone. Serve him in all beings. Make total and unreserved surrender unto him. You will always live in him alone. You will attain immortality and eternal bliss.
Many Voices, One Song
Does this not sum up the path of Sant Mat? Whether we talk of the saints of Maharashtra, like Ramdas or Tukaram, or more contemporary Masters such as Maharaj Sawan Singh and Maharaj Charan Singh, their message is the same: through the grace of the Lord one is initiated by a perfect Master. Then the disciple puts in maximum effort in all aspects of life, and eventually the final spiritual goal of reunion with the Lord will be achieved.
Let’s consider Ramdas’ instructions and promises in more detail. Firstly, he says: “Do not think much of your bodily wants.” No true spiritual Master ever advocates completely ignoring the body’s needs. However, we shouldn’t become obsessed with its wants. The body has a definite sell-by date – it will decay, age and perish in spite of all our efforts. It is, however, a gift from God and therefore we must take sufficient care of it; because it is only while in the human body that we can seek reunion with God, a reunion of the soul with the source. If we see it in that light, it might help us keep our attitude towards its wants in perspective. Our focus must be on the inner self, the soul.
Then Ramdas tells us to “Have satsang with devotees”. We all know how important satsang is and keeping like-minded company. We are easily led astray when we move out of the field of Sant Mat. The Master often refers to satsang as the fence around the crop. We need to immerse ourselves within the crop as much as possible. That’s meditation. Satsang helps retain its benefits, and the company of devotees keeps us focused in the right direction.
Ramdas goes on to tell us: “Keep the image of the Lord in your heart” and “repeat the Name of the Lord always”. These instructions are crucial for us if we wish to please our Master and fulfil our initiation vows. To some extent, keeping those promises presents most of us with difficulties in one way or another every day. Repeating our simran can help us overcome these challenges.
But this help is only the beginning of what constant simran can and should mean in our lives. Simran is how we can try to obey Ramdas’ instruction to keep the image of the Lord in our hearts. Keeping constant simran going throughout the day is probably our greatest spiritual challenge at this stage and, along with meditation and the Master’s grace, it will help us reach the eye centre where the real, inner journey will begin.
Ramdas then tells us to annihilate the five passions: pride, anger, greed, attachment and lust. What a tall order! Maharaj Charan Singh tells us that the five perversions are all expressions of ego, and what a battle it is to rid ourselves of them. Even identifying them within ourselves can be difficult, because we are not always prepared to look at ourselves dispassionately and admit we have faults. So the first step in this battle is introspection and a good dollop of self-honesty.
There is a way to begin to get a controlling grip on the passions, and that is meditation. Meditation can make us calm and clear enough to begin a little introspection. Obviously nothing can be accomplished without our Master’s grace, but our meditation will definitely help in this battle against the passions, provided we are sincere, devoted and never give up.
Ramdas then encourages us to develop an awareness of and an all-consuming love for the Lord. He tells us that we should “See the Lord in all creatures. Love all. Feel his presence everywhere. Live for him alone. Serve him in all beings.”
All the mystics urge us to strive to develop an attitude of love that will eventually allow us to see the Lord in all creatures. It is, after all, a spark or drop from the same ocean of love that enlivens all creation. When this happens we will feel his presence everywhere and love all. What can we practically do to move towards this state of mind and level of awareness?
Firstly we must believe that Master, in his Shabd form, is always with us. We don’t have to see actual air molecules or atoms to believe that air is all around us and sustains our physical bodies at all times. Why should we have any difficulty believing that our Master’s Shabd form is with us all the time? Meditation, of course, is the practical thing that we can do to help us work towards a state of constant awareness of him and love for his creation. To have an intellectual belief is one thing, but to turn it into a reality within our lives is another. Maharaj Charan Singh says:
Just attend to meditation quietly. And that will help you in every way. Meditation creates love, strengthens love, helps the love to grow to the extent that you become one with the Father.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
And then, only meditation and constant simran, along with his grace, are going to help us fulfil Ramdas’ last instruction: “Make total and unreserved surrender unto him.”
For most of us, total surrender is just a concept and we don’t understand what it actually means. Surrender is all about living in the Lord’s will, or specifically for us, living in the Master’s will. It means that we must be absolutely obedient to our Master’s every wish and command. Surrender is, in fact, what will happen if we should ever be able to fulfil Ramdas’ earlier instructions. If we can go beyond our body’s wants, practise constant simran, become aware of Master’s presence, vanquish the passions and see the Lord in all, then the end result will be a state of surrender.
Others have achieved this exalted state of surrender. It can be done. Living completely and utterly in our Master’s will must bring such security, peace, contentment and joy. Why not allow him to be in charge? After all – he is!
We know what our Master’s will is for us. We must follow our four vows faithfully, live a Sant Mat way of life, keep our simran going and follow his example in thought, word and deed. Why is he here in the flesh if not to provide us with a living, breathing example that we can follow in all aspects of our life? What will happen if we really and truly apply ourselves to making discipleship our most important task? What will happen if we seriously apply ourselves to meditation?
Ramdas tells us. He says: “You will always live in him alone. You will attain immortality and eternal bliss.”