For the majority of us who are drawn to the path, it is the living Master who first catches our attention. Before we had knowledge of the Master and his teachings, it was unthinkable that there could be a God-realized soul living during our lifetime – one who could not only teach us the way back to God, but who promises to take us back to God.
This was an astounding discovery. To learn about the living Master was an irresistible draw, and we quickly found that as we began our study of Sant Mat, so too began our love affair with the Master.
But what does this actually mean? How can we love the Master? Many of us who were initiated by Maharaj Charan Singh never had the opportunity to even see him physically. So how is it possible to form a relationship with the Master, let alone love him?
Little do we realize that each one of us is special to the Master, and this is not our love affair with him – it is his love affair with us. It is he who loves us, who draws us to him and who creates love in us for him. In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, the Great Master explains:
A Master possesses the unique magnetic power of love.… This magnetic power is an inherent quality of the Master and emanates from his every action and movement. Everything that radiates from the Master – the light of his beautiful face, the lines on his forehead… the lustre round him when he speaks smilingly – all pierce the heart of the devotee and thus attract him to his Master.
We don’t really understand anything about this divine love, nor do we understand the love the Masters have for their disciples – for their entire sangat. However, in our absolute ignorance and, blinded by our exuberance at finding the path and the Master, we rush headlong into Sant Mat. The old adage: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” may well apply to many of us. Kahlil Gibran warns us that this relationship with the Master is not as simple and as easy as it first seems. He writes in The Prophet:
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest
branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Didn’t we all rush to follow our Master when he beckoned to us? And didn’t we find his path far more difficult than we ever imagined? And if we didn’t believe him, we wouldn’t be reading this. And yes, many dreams and ideals have been shattered. Little did we know that accepting his crown meant we would, by our own hand, crucify our self – annihilating ego and personality. And truly, as we grow spiritually, so are our many branches and attachments to the world pruned and cut – often painfully – and our very roots are being shaken loose from all the attachments, concepts and perceptions we once held dear.
So why do we continue on this path of ‘self-destruction’? Because we have no option. Because he loves us and we can’t resist him. For as Gibran says in the same book: “Think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.”
The Master is a beacon of light in our world of darkness. We may still have much ground to cover to reach that light and it is only love that can take us closer to it. To achieve that love is the true aim of our life. And that love will blossom into sweetness only through our correct practice of meditation. It is only through his grace that we can truly experience the euphoria of his love – and it is our meditation that makes us receptive to his grace. The perfect Catch-22 – we can’t have the one without the other! But to become a recipient of this wonderful gift of love one has to follow the instructions of the Master.
Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi Master, tells us:
Those who have benefited by the life and the Message of the Divine Message Bearers are not necessarily the followers of their Message, but the imitators of their life; for they have not followed the teaching only, but followed the Teacher, who is the living example of his teaching.
The Masters work tirelessly and endlessly to guide and nurture us. Through their endless patience they cajole us – beg us – to put spirituality first in our lives, so that they can take us back to the Lord and our true home. This untiring dedication is even to the detriment of their own well-being.
The Masters are bound to these lower planes of existence through us – even if they themselves are no longer in the physical body. It is both their love for us and their commitment and dedication to take us back home that keep the Master’s Radiant Form here – watching and guiding us from within. The more we meditate, the sooner our Master will also be able to return home. Perhaps we forget this when we neglect our meditation.
Not only that, but we deny ourselves the greatest treasure imaginable. For the Great Master tells us that surrendering one’s life to the path of love gives to life a unique and exquisite taste, which can be enjoyed only by a lover, for love is a beautiful and sublime experience of the heart. Love, he says, is like a fountain of fragrance in the garden of life. Without love we are like a lamp without oil or like eyes without sight.
In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, the Great Master gives us an indication of what love is when he says:
It is not easy to understand love because its true nature and greatness cannot be described in words. It is a pure and delicate feeling or emotion, which can be experienced only by one who is in love.… Actually, love is another name for God. And just as it is not possible to reduce God’s greatness to mortal dimensions, so also is it not possible to describe adequately in any words known to man, the grandeur and sublimity of love.
When the Master speaks of love, what he refers to is almost the opposite of what we call love. Worldly love is delusion – it waxes and wanes. When physical forms or circumstances change, what we call love changes with them. Falling in love for us is conditional and is a function of the mind, with the result that it may eventually fade with time.
But the Masters’ love is different. They are steeped in the flow of divine love, and their love for us pulls us into the orbit of these powerful currents of love, through which we become irresistibly drawn to them. This love is a gift from the Master to us.
The writer of the introduction to Treasure Beyond Measure tells us:
The beauty and spiritual radiance of all that the Masters say and do is beyond compare. As disciples, we can only watch in love and gratitude a grace we hardly understand poured upon ourselves … that is beyond all normal human comprehension.
We have to work to be receptive to their love. It is wrong for us to have the attitude that because my life is in the Master’s hands, he will make me sit and give me the desire to meditate when he wants me to meditate; after all, my meditation, like everything else, is his responsibility. The Master is the facilitator, we are the doers; he is the foreman, we do the shovelling. We cannot abdicate our responsibility in the spiritual process. After all, the Masters repeatedly tell us that effort is in our hands while the results are in his. So we have to play our part consciously – we must put in the physical effort to sit, and create the mental attitude to do our simran. It is our responsibility to withdraw our attention from the world.
In its natural state our soul is in love with God, and its most fervent desire is to return to God and be united with him once more. Therefore, if he gives us his love, it is our responsibility to be worthy of his love, and our meditation is nothing but the process of becoming worthy to receive his love. We meditate through love. We meditate because we love him. We meditate because we want to be conscious of his love. Meditation is to rise to the call of his love because we want to be in the presence and the company of the one we love. The Great Master tells us that we should be happy just to be trying to approach him within – trying to be near him.
Our days in this world are numbered, and maybe in our ignorance and negligence we do not make use of the Master’s divine presence among us. Will we go away from here utterly lacking spiritual treasures? Kabir advises us:
The idea that the soul will join the ecstatic just because the body is rotten – that is all fantasy.
Amit Goswami, Physics of the Soul
Perhaps we will learn some wisdom from all we hear and read about the Master’s love, which will inspire us to give our devotion and love to the Master rather than to the world. For then we will join the ecstatic, and witness the marvel of who the Master really is.
Sheikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir sums it all up beautifully for us in a verse from his book of poems Nobody, Son of Nobody:
Your Creator, the Lord of All Creation,
has given you two gifts, both sought after by all creatures:
your heart, the capacity to Love,
The light on your face, the potential to be Loved.
He is the one who’s pulling us from within. … Actually, he is in love with us. But for that we would never be in love with him at all.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II