Who’s the Boss?
I wonder if we ever stop to ask ourselves “Who’s the boss in my life”?
For many of us the idea of somebody being our “boss” is anathema and we run as far from it as possible. Yet, throughout our lives we have, in fact, been submitting to someone else’s authority and our lives revolve around chains of command. A child submits to parental authority (sometimes!), and then to his teacher’s authority. The teacher accepts the authority of the headmaster, who bows to the Minister of Education, who in turn accepts the President’s overall authority. The President, in his turn, must toe the party line.
As individuals we often complain about having to take orders. Reluctance to fulfil the subservient role seems to be a characteristic of human nature, and we may try our best to avoid or redefine orders to make them suit our own agenda. As natural as it is to find a boss – for want of a better word – in every situation, so it would also appear natural to find rebelliousness or laziness in every situation. Nobody really wants to take orders from anybody else, but if we want the salary at the end of the day, then, inevitably, we have to get on with the job and hang in there until payday.
So where are we in our own personal lives? Who is calling the shots? For a disciple there can only be one answer to that question: our own Master. The Master who initiated us should be in charge and we should be submitting to his orders in every situation. The operative words here being “should be”!
It is perhaps important to understand that this is all about the roles we play in our lives. Maybe you or I play the ‘boss’ role at work, but not at home, and mostly we move quite easily in and out of our roles. However, our relationship with Master is not like that at all. As far as we are concerned he is, and must always be, the boss. Our role as initiates is equally clear. We are the disciples – we are not the directors of this show; we are merely the actors reading the lines given to us by the director.
If we can accept this fact, then the very nature of this relationship can afford us an amazing sense of security and protection, provided that we acknowledge the Master in his role and trust him implicitly to fulfil it. This is a relationship based on love, trust, faith, effort and obedience, with an ultimate reward beyond our wildest dreams.
Why should we trust the Master and obey his every command? The mystics tell us that the Lord projects himself into and through his creation in the form of light and sound, generally referred to as the Shabd or the Sound Current. This is the Lord in dynamic form. It is also the true form of the Master. Maharaj Charan Singh states:
There is no difference between the Master and the Sound Current inside. The Sound Current is your Master.
The Master Answers
Our Master is the embodiment of the ultimate power we call God, and obviously there can be nobody more powerful or more loving. It would seem to make good sense to accept the authority of such a figure. Not only is the Master powerful, but he loves us – perhaps quite inexplicably – irrespective of our personal failings. When we serve or obey the Master, we are, in fact, serving God – who sees us as we really are, in our human limitations, as well as in our unlimited soul-magnificence, and he loves us.
If we accept, even if only intellectually at first, that the Master is God’s representative of power and love, then we can serve or obey him with absolute confidence. He will never let us down, and he will always fulfil his promises.
Which brings us to the role of the Master and our need for such a person in our lives. Many of us have begun to feel weary of the world and long to find a place of true peace, joy and security. There is no such place on earth. It can only be found with the One who is all truth and love, in other words, the Lord. But how to get to him is our greatest challenge and is impossible without the intervention of the Lord’s representative, the Master.
Before the journey back to the Lord can begin, the Master must initiate his marked souls into the mysteries of the Shabd. He must reconnect the disciple’s soul to the Sound Current. He must give us the technique that will allow us to know we are reconnected and that will allow the Current to pull us home. He must then guide the soul, step by painfully slow step, as the soul tries to walk the path home. This is an inner, spiritual path, where everything is new, outside of our worldly experience, and only the Master, who has been up and down this road since time began, can be our guide.
It is Master’s job to open our inner spiritual ears and eyes so that we can hear and see the Sound Current and follow its magnetic beauty. It is his job to shake us out of our worldly sleep and see us home. This is his role, and without his intervention in our lives we would remain in this world of duality forever.
Does this not all paint an overwhelmingly attractive picture of someone we should happily serve and obey? And indeed, this is our role: to serve and obey our Master with absolute love, faith, devotion and obedience. If we don’t think we feel the love, faith and devotion, then we must at least find the obedience.
This is the role we must play if we hope to leave this level of creation behind us, and we must play it with the utmost conviction. Our Master wants us to turn to him wholeheartedly. He wants us to depend on him, with childlike simplicity, for everything in our lives. This is the role he wants us to grow into and adopt with every fibre of our being.
How are we to do this? How are we to learn the lines of this important role? First and foremost, of course, are the four vows we take at the time of initiation. This is our foundation. And our Master assures us that love will come and will grow if we are true to our promises. We must never hesitate to carry out his orders without question, with simple love and obedience. We must do exactly what he tells us. Full stop and end of story.
No doubt, in our hearts we want to be obedient and trust our Master absolutely. The relationship we want with our Master is precisely one of handing over and letting him be in charge of everything. But how wholeheartedly are we playing our roles? We know he is doing his perfect part with the utmost love and devotion. But what about us?
Well, the thing is that we are not yet perfect. We have not yet shed the burden of our minds. We are still the servants of the mind and senses and not yet the servants of the Lord. Our minds, our egos, are still the bosses in our lives, as they have been in countless previous incarnations. They are not going to hand over control without a fight. The mind doesn’t want to be demoted to the status of a servant. And the ego is at the centre of it all. It is the ego that says: “I am in charge. I am the boss. I am in control of my life.”
So this is our difficulty: The mind follows the worldly whims of the senses, and the ego deludes us into thinking that we, as individuals, are in charge of every aspect of our lives. If it is indeed our goal to return home and leave this cycle of birth and death forever, then we have to tackle the mind and the ego head on. And the Master tells us that if we do our practice faithfully, and implicitly obey his every command, then, little bit by every little bit, we will start to come to grips with the mind and the ego.
If we try to do all this – sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing – then subtle changes will begin to take place in our lives. In our minds and eventually our hearts, we will begin to see that everything is part of the Lord’s play and that we are merely reading the lines given us by the Lord. This shift may start with just the words in our head, but, through diligent application and following his commands exactly, it will eventually become a real and true attitude.
We will recognize that the Master is the boss and we will be happy and grateful for this knowledge. Devotion to the Lord comes about through true discipleship – through faithful, conscientious practice, through doing exactly what he tells us to do.
Obedience is the key to our relationship with our Master. We know he is playing his role to perfection. How hard are we trying to play ours? Everything we are so desperately seeking in our lives – peace, joy, security – will automatically take root if we acknowledge our Master as the boss and allow him to be in charge. He loves us and has our best interests at heart. So let’s come to grips with the greatest role we have ever been given. Let’s be true disciples in thought, word and deed, and do exactly what he tells us.
When Master initiates us, puts us on the path, he tells us to devote time to meditation. If we really love him, we will obey him. We cannot say we love him and, at the same time, not obey his instructions, not live the life he tells us to live. That is not love for the Master. If we really have faith in him, if we really love him, we will want to do what he wants us to do.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II