Love and Devotion Alone
If we look on the Internet it’s easy to find statistics on world literacy: how many people have a reasonably good education, and how many people can’t read or write at all. In some countries in Africa, like Burkina Faso, the illiteracy rate is as high as 84 per cent, and in Afghanistan two out of three people are completely illiterate. Probably illiteracy is also quite high in the foothills of the Himalayas, home to thousands of devoted satsangis.
Throughout the world, barely six people out of a hundred have any kind of higher education, so those of us with this so-called privilege might perhaps feel a bit smug. But as far as the path is concerned, has this helped us? Not at all. In fact, quite the reverse!
In a letter to one of the early American satsangis Great Master wrote:
Your mind is scattered. Worldly learning scatters the mind. Simple-minded folk go in easily. The hill people of this country are such, and in several cases their souls went in at once, as soon as the secret of concentration was imparted to them. Therefore, what is required in this path is simplicity of mind, faith and love.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems
In another letter to the Americans, Great Master wrote:
The hill people are usually simple and pure-minded. At the very time of initiation there were many who saw the light within themselves and heard the Bell Sound. I was in the foothills of the Himalayas for satsang. Some twelve hundred were initiated. On account of their scattered minds it is difficult for the educated to concentrate.
Of course, we know it was not our destiny to be born in the foothills of the Himalayas and grow up with simple minds, easily able to go in and up after initiation. But the fact remains that as far as the path is concerned, with all our so-called cleverness we probably have a serious built-in disadvantage. And we have to work that much harder to overcome it. What Great Master might have added in his letter is that these minds of ours present a huge obstruction, and concentration might take an entire lifetime.
Looking back over the centuries, we learn that some of the Masters have come from simple backgrounds. Others, however, have not. Soami Ji was a Master who was well educated and he wrote many wonderful poems, among them one which reveals the absolute helplessness of the soul to overcome the mind, but which also reveals the secret of getting out of this mind trap. This is what the soul tells the mind:
Life after life I have been your slave, and you my master.
You are called the lord of the three worlds …
Gods, humans and yogis are under your control,
no one dares act in defiance of your commands.
You can trap anyone you want in this world
and set them free whenever you like.
Sar Bachan Poetry
We know then that the mind is powerful. In the light of this, the soul asks the mind why it continues to languish in this world of darkness. If the mind does not free itself from this base world of matter, the soul says, it (the soul) will also continue to be trapped here. It begs the mind “to soar with me to the heavens without delay”.
And then the mind confesses that it cannot give up its addiction to the pleasures of the senses, even though it wants to. It asks:
How can I ascend to the sky within, O beloved?
I therefore suggest we beg for the Master’s help. …
When the Master showers his grace on us,
he will keep me in check.
I can never go up by my own strength –
I must meet the Master,
the emancipator of prisoners.
And in the poem, this is what happens:
Hearing this, the soul was overjoyed:
Come quickly and let the Master cut our bonds!
Both went to satsang and submitted themselves. …
Holding hands they rose up to the inner sky.
Isn’t it odd that in the poem there’s quite a tender relationship between the soul and the mind? In fact the mind calls the soul ‘beloved’. The mind doesn’t see itself as the soul’s enemy. Maharaj Charan Singh tells us that the mind is the soul’s enemy only as long as its tendency is downward. And because it’s so strong, there’s absolutely no way we can overcome it without help. But then, Maharaj Ji says, when it hears the music of the Shabd and enjoys that pleasure, it wants to rise up to its own home inside. As he explains it:
When, through meditation or concentration, the attention collects at the eye centre, and with the help of shabd or nam it returns to its own original home, there can be no better friend than the mind. When it is on its way back to its own home it becomes our friend because only when the mind is on the way home can the soul also be on its way along with the mind.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
What we usually don’t realize is that the mind itself is suffering here. Whenever we feel pain or unhappiness, it’s the mind that’s feeling that pain. When we feel depressed or lonely, it’s the mind that feels those things. Life is certainly not all joy for the mind down here in the creation. It longs to be happy. So if it can find something to make it look inward for happiness, its tendency will be to turn inward. So this is our great goal: to get the mind to turn inward. It’s a real challenge, though. And it might take the rest of this lifetime.
But let’s think about those lucky people who seem to be getting it right – who don’t seem to be tied down so much by the mind. There’s one thing that strikes us like a hammer blow when we go to the Dera: the beautiful faces of so many of those simple people, and how they light up like lanterns when they see their Master. If you glance around while you’re sitting in satsang, you see those beautiful faces that just shine with love and adoration when they see him. They are focused on him alone. And then you realize that cleverness has no place on this path. All that’s needed is love and devotion. Love for the Master and unfailing devotion to him.
Once we fall in love with our Master, it’s our attachment to him that will pull us up. When this attachment becomes strong, it takes precedence over any other ties that may have been keeping us here in the creation. And then we will be irresistibly drawn to that stronger attachment. Something Hazur Maharaj Ji must have said a thousand times while he was with us in the body was: “You go where your attachments are.” If we are more attached to our Master than to the faces and places of this world, then this will pull us inwards and upwards.
Ultimately our escape from this creation won’t depend on how good or moral we’ve been. It won’t depend on how much karma we’ve paid off. It won’t even depend on how much meditation we’ve done. Primarily it’ll depend on our attachments – or to be more specific, whether we are attached to the creation or to the Master and the Sound Current, the Light and Sound within. And this stronger attachment will take us out of here forever. No more coming back!
Great Master specifically tells us in Spiritual Gems:
The followers who love the Master and have no desire for anything of this world shall not be reborn, even if they have not made much spiritual progress while here. … On the other hand, those who have worldly desires left in their minds at death will have to be reborn, notwithstanding their devoting long hours to spiritual exercise.
So this is really something worth working for. And if our meditation remains difficult and apparently unproductive, let’s keep working at it. Let’s be patient and just keep trying to do our best.
The truth is that even though our Master wants our meditation, ultimately we’ll have to rely on him to carry us up. We learn through hard experience that we are helpless to do this on our own. We may struggle to lift our consciousness higher than our big toe! And this is probably exactly the way it has to be. We need to be shown our helplessness before we can surrender ourselves to our Master.
In Gurbani Selections, Vol. II, Guru Arjun Dev makes it very clear that every single thing is in the Lord’s hands, and the Lord keeps everyone wherever he wills. He says:
A person’s power doesn’t lie in his own hands;
the supreme Lord is the doer and the primal cause.
The poor individual simply obeys the command,
for it is only what pleases God that finally comes to pass.
And when that time finally comes – when we’ve been trying for long enough, then we can look forward to eternal joy and bliss beyond imagining. If a disciple has been faithfully doing his work, then at long last the full treasure of the rewards of his meditation will be revealed, when he sees the indescribable glory of his inner Master. And swept up into that wonder, unaware of anything else and drunk with bliss, the soul, together with the mind, will soar up into the sky of Trikuti. And once it’s free of the mind, perhaps even far, far beyond.
The Lord creates his own love within us. We’re just an instrument. We feel that we love him, but he is the one who is pulling us from the inside. He is the one who is creating that love. The pull starts with him. But we should at least be receptive to the pull. The Lord worships himself through us, in other words. … But we have a certain part to play, so the part is being played through us. Without his grace nobody can worship him, nobody can love him – because we are all blind. We are all lost in this illusion. And we could never think about the Lord unless he creates … that atmosphere in which we can build our meditation.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II