New Ways of Seeing
A key part of the teachings of the saints is the process of changing the disciple’s perspective on life, death, destiny, and so many other things. It is a gradual refocusing of the disciple’s understanding, attention, and priorities, under the direction of a true Master, who has the highest perspective.
Generally, when we speak of perspective, we are talking about how the relative importance of things changes depending on our viewpoint. We say to someone who is upset, “Take a step back. You’re too close to it.” Meaning that, if they pull back and get a broader view, a broader perspective, they may see things more clearly.
As disciples, we see through the lens of our ego, a very limited and distorted perspective. While it’s impossible to know exactly how or what the saints see, we can get a sense from their writings that their perspective is beyond time, beyond space, beyond the physical or mental worlds.
The most fundamental error in our perception is our sense that we are a separate being and that this being is capable of functioning on its own. The whole foundation of our problem in this existence is that we think we’re separate from the Lord and independent of him. We look around and see many individuals, seemingly in control of their bodies, and minds and lives. “He is separate from her. And she is separate from those people over there. And I am separate from them all. And I am separate from God.” That’s our perspective.
The Master’s perspective is utterly different. He tells us that, in fact, we are not separate from the Lord and never have been. The core of our being, our soul, is identical in its essence to the Lord’s.
It’s who we really are – a part of God. We are not separate from God because nothing can be separate from God. We are part of God, just like everything else is part of God.
Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, “The concept that we have of ourselves should be the same as our concept of the Lord.” But it’s not. Our mind creates the illusion of separateness.
Through meditation the Master teaches us how to gradually change our perspective and disentangle the soul from the mind and body, so it stands free and pure.
And how do we perceive other people? We tend to divide people into neat categories: educated/uneducated, Indian/ Western, satsangi/non satsangi, American/Russian/Chinese, friend/enemy. But Masters don’t differentiate between people as we do. They don’t identify others by external labels. They see that we are all children of the same Father and that the Lord is in everyone, whether a person is a satsangi or not. Being a satsangi means only that we have a spiritual practice to focus on – not that we are different from or better than others. So how do the saints tell us to see other people? Rumi, as quoted in Legacy of Love, says:
The current of love from the one God is flowing through the entire universe. What do you think when you look at the face of a man? Look at him carefully. He is not a man but a current of love, the essence of God, which permeates him.
So much misunderstanding, strife, and unhappiness would be avoided if we saw each other in this way. We are all soul; we are all particles of God; we are all one; we are all love. But we don’t realize it because we cannot see the reality with these physical eyes.
Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
We are so much involved in this maya, in this illusion, that we hardly know what reality is. Things which are not real, we want them; that which is real – we don’t know what is real. We love those who have no reality, and he who has reality – the Lord – we are not even conscious of him. Only he’s eternal, only he exists – nothing else exists in this creation … which has to perish.
Hazur’s definition of what is real is something that doesn’t change or die. We think we’re real because we can kick a ball or pick up a book or drive a car. We can move around in the physical world and manipulate it, and it seems solid and real from our perspective.
But the saints say that all these physical objects are temporary. From the saints’ perspective, they are no more real than a patch of mist or a bubble on a stream that forms and then vanishes a few seconds later. They know a higher reality that is permanent, eternal, and unchanging, a reality that had no beginning and will never end. And they urge us to close our eyes to the temporary and open them to the eternal.
Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I: “When you wake up from a dream, then only you realize that there was actually no reality at all. It was just a dream.” He knows we have to live in this unreal world, this bubble existence. So he advises us to keep the saints’ perspective in mind as we go through our karmas, remember how temporary this all is, and work to uncover the reality that lies hidden from our view but is always so close.
And what perspective do disciples have towards their meditation? In our lives in this realm, we get used to seeing a link between efforts and results. We plant a garden and harvest the vegetables when they’re ripe. We study to be an engineer and obtain a degree. We mix some ingredients together, bake them, and out of the oven comes a cake.
Our meditation is different. The Master tells us clearly, constantly, insistently, that our part is to make the effort but that all results are in his hands. So this is a completely different set of rules from what we’re used to. And we find it hard to accept. We work at our meditation and can’t help thinking, as a disciple used to jokingly say, “Where’s my bliss?” We want something in return for our work.
It’s natural, but completely inappropriate on a spiritual path. Annie Besant writes in the book The Three Paths and Dharma:
As our hearts are hard and selfish even in religion itself, we have the subtlest forms of selfishness, we ruin the pure gold with the dross; … and convert that sacred place to a market where buying and selling goes on, so much worship for so much joy. Where there is no free giving there is no place for God.
Our perspective might be: “I should get something in return for my efforts!” The saints and mystics tell us that, “Where there is no free giving, there is no place for God.”
A disciple’s life is a pendulum that swings back and forth between the perspective of life and the world that we carry inside our head and the perspective the Master lays before us, again and again, to explain why we need to do what he’s asking us to do. In satsang or when reading spiritual literature or listening to CDs of the Master, his words pull us up so we can see from a higher perspective. Then we go to work or to have our car repaired or to the beach, and our worldly perspective floods back in. Which perspective will win out?
The Master’s perspective will eventually win. We assist that process by doing our meditation, trying to still the mind and contact the Holy Spirit within. But ultimately, his power and grace will dissolve, melt, and wash away our limited mental perspective and replace it with his. That’s the beauty, the wonder, the miracle of a true Master.