The Alpha and the Omega
Scientists tell us that the human species has existed for more than fifty thousand years. However, the recorded history of humankind is brief – a mere seven thousand years. But for as long as we have been able to trace the story of human beings, wherever they left evidence of their habitation, we find sacred places, tombs and temples, symbols and shrines, indications that humanity has always searched for meaning beyond the realm of the senses, beyond ordinary daily living.
This confirms what the Masters teach: that the soul, though trapped in the body and enslaved by the mind, never forgets its Creator and a longing for him is always there, albeit hidden under layers of dross accumulated through the aeons of creation. The soul may not even be aware of what it longs for, but that restlessness, that yearning, has constantly been there.
However, the mind and senses have managed to block and obscure it by becoming intensely engrossed in the pleasures and happenings on this material plane. This has resulted in endless births and deaths, in different forms, places and circumstances, due to the law of karma that came into effect from the moment of creation. We went on sowing through our actions and then reaping what we had sown, even as we were reaping the previously sown crop. It is only after many ages, when we become disillusioned with what the world has to offer, that our soul’s longing starts to become insistent. We become restless and unfulfilled; and a strange yearning, loneliness and dissatisfaction begin to fill us. In Divine Light Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
The feeling of loneliness and depression that we sometimes feel is due to the natural inclination of the soul towards its home. You may give to your mind whatsoever it desires and try to satisfy its habit of flitting from one pretty object to another, but there comes a moment when you feel that all this world is nothing but a mirage and there is no one in the world that you can call your own.
When this happens, when the soul’s longing becomes dominant and we realize more and more the futility of everything that has kept us busy for so long, our divine Father, in his wisdom and grace, allocates us to one of his perfect saints, who puts us in contact with the teachings and will guide our souls home. This is the Lord’s answer to the longing of the soul. Our souls were crying for help and the Lord sent us his son, a perfect living Master.
So the wise thing to do is to listen to his advice and do our very best to follow it. Most especially we must do our meditation, our bhajan and our simran. This is not a minor thing. It is vital for the well-being of our soul, and we do not know how much time we have to do this work.
The Roman emperor and mystic Marcus Aurelius wrote:
Think often of how swiftly all things pass away and are no more – the works of Nature and the works of man. The substance of the Universe, matter, is like unto a river that flows on forever. All things are not only in a constant state of change, but they are the cause of constant and infinite change in other things. Upon a narrow ledge thou standest! Behind thee, the bottomless abyss of the Past! In front of thee, the Future that will swallow up all things that are now! Over what things, then, in this present life wilt thou, O foolish man, be disquieted or exalted – making thyself wretched; seeing that they can vex thee only for a time – a brief, brief time!
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
The Masters tell us that our destiny for this life was mapped out before we were born, formed by our karma and desires. They explain that there are three types of karma: our stored karma that will eventually all have to be cleared, our karma for this life, and the new karma we may sow in this life. About new karma Maharaj Charan Singh tells us:
Every day when you are meditating, you remind yourself of your destination. You are trying to travel that path. You are trying firmly to remain on the principles while travelling on that path. Then, naturally, you will not be sowing any seed for the future, so you are making no new or kriyaman karmas.
So we learn, in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, that the way to avoid creating new karma is to meditate. And about this life’s karma he says:
So we have to face this destiny as the will of the Lord. When you devote proper time to spiritual practice, you will become so strong that you can smilingly and calmly face your destiny. You will not feel much of the ups and downs of the world, and you will be able to account for everything quite gracefully.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
Here we’re told that the way to deal with this current life’s karma is to meditate. Then, about our store of old karmas, he says: “The sinchit, store or residue of karmas can be burned only by meditation.”
So the way to eventually get rid of the stored karma is – how else? – by meditation. The answer to just about everything, the alpha and the omega of this path, is meditation.
The Master’s only reason for being here is to rescue us from the world and to take us back to our real home in Sach Khand. He gives us four principles to live by and, importantly, he gives us simran, repetition of five holy names, to help us keep the mind under control. The more we can keep our thoughts in simran, the less we will be turning the things and affairs of the world over and over in our minds.
We really just have to put into practice our Master‘s instructions. He has no hidden agenda or secret motive. He asks for no payment, no worldly return. What he asks us to do is entirely for our own benefit. He is all-wise and all-powerful and he can show us the way out of here, where we have been enslaved and imprisoned for so long. He knows the way and he will help and guide us along it, but we have to listen to his advice – the advice he gives out of love for us, a love that goes beyond our understanding.
We may perhaps be forgiven for thinking that always to live up to our Master’s standard is beyond our power. But he assures us that we would not have been initiated if we were not able to succeed in this great quest. Under his guidance, with his help and through his grace and mercy, we can ultimately become like him, become one with him.
In Call of the Great Master, the Great Master is quoted as saying:
Satguru’s grace is needed at every step. … But have no worry. The seed of Nam sown in the heart of a disciple must grow one day. No power on earth can destroy it. A soul initiated by a true Master must one day reach Sach Khand without fail.
We can’t help feeling unworthy of this great grace. But no matter how insignificant we may feel, no matter how small a dot in this vast universe, the fact is that he has sent his son to collect us, to initiate us on to the path leading home – and now, what we have to work on and spend our time and effort on, is the growth and enlarging of this little dot.
So often in life we have the purest and best of intentions. We really try, and sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. We know when we have slipped up – perhaps neglected our chores or our responsibilities towards spouse, family or parents. We may have missed a deadline at work through our own fault, or be in a financial pinch because we overspent on something unnecessary. Or, worst scenario for a satsangi, we may have not been giving proper time and attention to our daily meditation. But in the end we know right from wrong, we know when we are not doing our best, we know when we can do more and better. And if we ever want to define ourselves through our actions as our Master’s disciples, we must listen to what he tells us and follow his instructions to the letter. Simran and meditation are the tools we have been given and their importance has been stressed by all the Masters.
Master Charan Singh says in Die to Live:
The more we concentrate at the eye centre and the more our attention is upward, the more peaceful we become. … In order to get tranquillity and peace, the only method is meditation.
We must never forget that we are waging a continuous battle with the mind and the five passions and we have to strive daily to triumph over them. There will be failures but there will also be successes. And we can always be sure of our Master’s love and forgiveness. The Master is prepared to forgive us again and again, as long as we come back and try again. In a short poem attributed to Rumi, this is made abundantly clear:
Come, come, whoever you are,
wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
This is not a caravan of despair.
It doesn’t matter that you’ve broken your vow
a thousand times.
and yet again, come.
We are all knocking at the Lord’s door to forgive us for all the sins we have committed, all the karmas we have committed, right from the beginning of the creation. Since we have been part of it, we have collected a lot of karmas. Unless we are forgiven for all that we have done, the soul can never go back to the Father. Meditation is nothing but seeking his forgiveness, nothing else. “Whatever we have done or we are too weak to do every day, please forgive us.” Meditation is nothing else. It is not vain words to say to him, but practically we pray to him for forgiveness by attending to meditation. It is the same as repentance. …
So repentance and forgiveness go together. Unless we repent, unless we realize what we have done, we will never ask for forgiveness.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III