Increase your Need
We have an abiding need, a continuing and lasting need, to receive and to give love. It is this profound need that takes us to a perfect loving Being or Shabd Master while we are alive on earth, so that with him and by his grace we can reach a level of flawless unconditional love. From the Master’s side he brings pure unconditional love to the table, and from our side, from our human level, what we bring is our sincere effort and enduring patience. These surely are the signs of our care and our love.
We come from the boundless ocean of love, but once touched by the power of illusion, of maya, we become tainted. Our capacity for effort and patience becomes impaired and eventually eroded. To work towards fulfilling our most profound and most basic need – to reunite with the ocean of love – we need to put in sincere effort.
In one of the poems in the Masnavi Rumi writes, “Increase your need, for without need, the All-Powerful does not give anything to anyone.” He explains that need acts like a net for all things that exist. Nothing exists for which there is not a need, he says. Wherever there is a need, the very need becomes the mould or receptacle into which nature pours that which is needed.
If your sincere need is for this world and its gifts, actions and attractions, then that need will be fulfilled. If your sincere need is for the spiritual world, for its understanding, wisdom and love, then that need will be fulfilled. If the need is great, much will be given. If the need is small, little will be poured into that human vessel.
Rumi explains that along with every need the All-Powerful gives tools to his creatures. These tools are given in proportion to their needs. So everyone receives the tools he requires so that he may fulfil his own needs. Rumi makes it clear that this fact applies right across the stage of evolution.
He uses three examples, starting with a small underground creature, the mole. The mole, he reminds us, digs tunnels underground. He lives in darkness and performs his work in darkness. He has no eyes. For the mole, eyes would be redundant tools. Next comes the mouse, who is a nibbler. His need is to nibble and he goes after satisfying this need, and no more. To the mouse, Rumi explains, a mind is given that is proportionate to his need. Man, however, wanders far and wide in search of fulfilling his need for happiness. His search is limitless. He needs to be happy and this need takes him through the most dangerous terrain and the riskiest experiments. He may try to experience every bit of happiness that the body can provide. He may enter the vastness of the mind worlds where his questions and enquiries know no end, or where his desire for personal gain and recognition keeps growing. Or after many such lifetimes he may enter the spirit world, to have his needs fulfilled there.
We are the spiritually needy ones, we who feel persistently that something is missing – that something important is lacking in our lives and we must find it. When our Master called us to him he explained this all to us and we began to realize how very important this unfulfilled and persistent sense of need is. And also how it will accompany us all along our way on the path of divine love.
It is our need, our thirst for the Holy Spirit or Shabd, that keeps us on the path. Masters warn us that this need passes through many stages. Sometimes we feel the need surging, like a raging fire in us, becoming a deep longing. At other times it almost dies down, it dwindles and smoulders as if close to extinction. But in spite of its ups and downs, the need remains. As Soami Ji says to the Lord in Sar Bachan Poetry:
You are the moon
I am subject to your power
On you depends
The ebb and tide of my soul.
Our need will never end, not until it is satisfied. It is deeply rooted and is most precious. In One Hundred Poems of Kabir, a translation by Rabindranath Tagore, this need is referred to as “the spirit of the quest” and we’re told that it helps us in our search. Bulleh Shah tells us that we need to have this need because we are climbing mountains of love. We are climbing a mountain so high that it reaches the source of all and everything. In the Masnavi Rumi tells us to “increase the need, oh needy one”. And we heed these words, because we now belong to our Master. We no longer need the world or belong to it. We are merely fulfilling our worldly duties to mark time while we fulfil our spiritual ones.
Kabir entreats us to do our spiritual work now. He says:
O friend, hope for him now while you live.
Know him whilst you live.
Understand whilst you live
for it is in this life that you will find deliverance
from this low human self and its many bonds.
If your bonds are not broken whilst living
What hope do you have of deliverance in death?
Rabindranath Tagore, One Hundred Poems of Kabir
Our Master asks us to do the same. Meditate now, he says. And it is when the Shabd Master touches the soul of the initiate that it becomes possible for the questing soul to do its real work and fulfil the profound need for self-realization and God-realization.