Our Final Production
We have often heard Maharaj Charan Singh refer to this world as a stage. In Spiritual Discourses, Vol. 1, he says:
This world is a vast theatre. We all come to this stage to play our assigned roles – as husband and wife, as son and daughter, as creditors and debtors, but after the part is played, we make our exit as the actors do in the play. This central point must be fully grasped.
In other words, we are in this world for a short while acting out a part, whether light-hearted or dramatic, and we shouldn’t take it too seriously – it is simply a play. This is, of course, much easier said than done. However, when our emotions turn our lives upside down, it helps to stand back a little – in the wings – and watch the karmic play unfold.
The production of a play takes a lot of hard work and hours and hours of rehearsals – a lot of repetition. There are many people involved: the director, the actors and a variety of backstage folk. There may even be more backstage parts, of whom the audience is unaware, than there are players on the stage. Without this background support, the play would never come to fruition.
At the time of our birth the stage of our destiny is set. The roles have all been cast: from the main actors to the least important backstage support. Everything is ready for the production to begin. When the curtain call is made and the curtains swing open, the karmic clock starts ticking. And we have no way of knowing just how long it will tick.
As the play progresses, our destiny is revealed. Various characters enter the stage of our life. They play their part, whether big or small, and then disappear again into the shadows. When the final curtain falls, our lives – like a theatre production – come to an end, each actor having played his or her allotted role. The difference is that there is no swinging open of the curtains to take a bow, no standing ovation from the audience, no bouquets of flowers. The remaining actors simply move on to the next scene in their own productions.
These individual productions are the way we act out our destiny, with what we imagine are winning performances, as we compete for the best reviews. But chasing the best roles in our acting career could prove to be simply another entrapment, tying us to the great play of karma.
In the case of most people, the director of this vast play we call creation is the power known as Kal. He was given the responsibilty of managing our karmas by the Lord. The production manager is our own mind, conditioned to perform according to our karmic responsibility. So while our ego suggests that we are delivering a great performance, the reality is that we are simply going through the motions as dictated by Kal, and enforced by his agent – our own very dutiful mind.
When karmic debt is created, it must be paid. The responsibility of administering the karma and ensuring just payment lies with Kal, who like a judge, delivers our sentence in line with the actions we have created. He performs this duty most efficiently.
Fortunately, there is a way of escaping this ongoing cycle of karmic destiny and that is to meet a living Master – one who is sent to liberate us from this creation. But, for this to happen our good karma must be greater than our bad. The supreme reward of good karma is our meeting with the Master, because it is the Master who will rescue us from the trap of karmic law. Not only that, but in The Path of the Masters we are given the following assurance:
The very moment a person is initiated by a (true) Guru, that is, becomes his disciple, all his karmic accounts are transferred to the Guru’s keeping, automatically passing from the hand of the negative power. … His destiny in this life and in the next rests entirely in the hands of his Guru. The Master then administers the karma of his disciple just as he thinks best for the disciple.
We still have to go through that destiny. But rather than focusing on winning immediate audience acclaim, our performance should be directed at a far greater prize, on a very different stage. We are very familiar with the play and our role in Kal’s production, but we have no knowledge of the Master’s play and the stage on which it unfolds.
Our destiny will still bring the same characters onto the stage of our life. They will still play their parts, and then disappear again into the shadows. But if we play our part well while under the Master’s direction, we will not form attachments or become entangled with these actors any more than is required by our destiny. Without them, our own production would be unsuccessful, as our karmic connections could not be adjusted or settled as required. Intellectually it is impossible for us to even begin to understand this incredible network of relationships and sanskaras. And yet – like a production on a stage – it all comes together as the various actors play their parts.
At times the role we are given in life, owing to our karmas, demands that our acting be self-centred, aggressive, even hurtful. This egotistical attitude is the result of our desire to always play the lead role, believing that the supporting roles are just not good enough for us. It is our desire to perform on the stage of life that keeps drawing us back to this world.
In the Master’s production the role is played very differently. We are now directed to play the same role, but with attributes such as compassion, honesty and most importantly, love. Love is the very heart of the Master’s teachings. It is the divine cement which unites us all. In The Path of the Masters the author tells us that Shabd is the source of all love in the world, and it is because the Master is one with that stream that he manifests so much love.
The Master teaches that there is no place for the ego in his play. Ego separates and contaminates the mind, whereas love removes distinctions and purifies the mind. Where there is thought there is ego. Where there is love and devotion there can be no ego.
Whatever we are today is the result of what we did in the past. This inheritance – physical, astral and mental – enables us to perform within our designated role. The same karmic rule dictates that what we become in the future is determined by what we think and do now. Under Kal’s direction we would remain locked in the creation. Our saving grace is that by meeting the Master, we become aware of this bondage to the law of karma and the need to change the way we act, by becoming more mindful of our actions. How we perform – how we interact with our fellow actors, how we play to the audience – this is all in our hands. It is our choice. In Living Meditation we read:
Through our consciousness, our sense of discrimination, we can choose at every moment to make a difference now, in this life, not only for the rest of our lifetime but for all eternity. This is our privilege.
In this the Master has given us a gem of spiritual information – a glimmer of insight. But, if we do not put into practice what he teaches us at our initiation – if we do not change our acting performance – the information will have little value. We should therefore consider which actions and thoughts take us closer to him and which hold us back.
Our good karma has now brought us to the feet of the Master, and this life should be used as a rehearsal for a far greater production. This worldly production must be toned down. Our interaction with the cast and backstage hands must be minimized. The Master’s teachings must become the theatre set against which our final performance is now played.
The purpose of following the path is to convert a mental concept into a real spiritual experience. This dictates that the path we follow must take us inward. We must withdraw from the outer to take the inner stage. We should therefore go about our daily business, but we should keep our path and our Master encapsulated in our hearts, minds and especially in our thoughts. Only then will we appreciate its value and the joy of our new role.
Again we refer to The Path of the Masters:
In the meantime, the divine spark in each one, always struggling for freedom, striving hard against adverse currents, reaches out a feeble hand toward the Master. In great kindness the Master takes that hand, unclean though it may be.
Now his boundless love shelters and supports us. Now come the years of hard work required to build up our spiritual character to enable us to withstand the onslaught of the material world. Now come the many years of rehearsal, of patient meditation practice, which will strengthen our will and lead us from this illusory worldly production to our real destiny – a far greater role on a much bigger stage: a majestic production played on the stage of eternity.