Crossing the Threshold
To enrich his life, man goes about amassing wealth in abundance. Trapped by his limited vision, he seeks pleasure from his acquisitions and continues to yearn for more. He soon realizes that no matter how hard he tries to find fulfilment from his material gains, he often feels disenchanted. He begins to realize the brevity and uncertainty of life and questions the purpose of his existence. He longs for genuine fulfilment, and a voice from deep within beckons him to seek his purpose.
Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason. Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty, and pointless.
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
To realize such a purpose, the lost soul needs to discover who he truly is. That is why saints and mystics remind us that time is fleeting. Like sand in an hourglass, our breaths are slipping away. The mystics graciously invite us to enter into a sanctuary where peace prevails and we can lose ourselves in God’s loving presence. Only by striving to live according to their teachings can we come to appreciate God’s eternal treasure and companionship. The loving Father beckons us to heed the call within to cultivate a deeper relationship with him. The question that should arise in the heart of every sincere aspirant is not “Who will God call?” but rather “Who will respond to his call?” Are we prepared to respond to God’s invitation, which requires a change in our attitudes and values? Are we prepared to shift our priorities from life’s mundane concerns and take charge of our lives so that we can reach our ultimate goal?
This persistent beckoning from within is actually evidence that a spark of divinity exists inside every one of us, and it is for us to heed this call of his love. By sitting in silence, the aspirant is working to build a suspension bridge so that his soul can go beyond the dark alleys of its own mind and make its way to its beloved. It requires fortitude, perseverance and unwavering faith. These three ingredients require the aspirant’s strong will power to continue despite the difficulties and setbacks he encounters. This practice, done with sincerity, stirs the deepest forces of the soul, invoking a downpour of heavenly grace. It gives him the strength to hold on and wait, no matter how troubled or distressed the soul may be. It is not a once-in-a-while practice or performance, but a whole-hearted passion validated by the disciple’s daily commitment.
Saints and mystics advise us to persevere with our practice regardless of what happens or does not happen. We must faithfully sit in silence without expecting any results. The profound reality is that something is transpiring, but at a level beyond our consciousness; the real change is taking place in our deep centre. If we just let it be and trust, meditation allows a conversion to take effect within, a shift of emphasis from the physical self to our true self. A stone-cutter hammers away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without so much as a tiny crack visible on its surface. Yet, at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two. The stone-cutter knows full well that it was not the last blow that cracked the rock, but all the persistent hammering that had been done before.
In the book Embracing Destiny’s Crossroads, there is a beautiful quote:
There is no failure for the man who realizes his power, who never knows when he is beaten; there is no failure for the determined endeavour, the conquerable will. There is no failure for the man who gets up every time he falls, who rebounds like a rubber ball, who persists when everyone else gives up, who pushes on when everyone else turns back.
Orison Swett Marden
Maharaj Charan Singh reassures us in the same light:
Every moment that we spend in meditation takes us nearer to our destination, though we may not realize it. A thick layer of heavy karmas bars our vision. If a man tries to cut through a thick stone wall with an iron chisel, the man on the other side of the wall will not be able to measure his progress unless a hole is made clear through the wall. So please have no worry. Progress is being made slowly and gradually.
Answering his call of love one step at a time is a process that grows and deepens our relationship with our beloved. Establishing direct contact with him takes patience and effort. We definitely cannot build an intimate relationship with him if we are going to rush through our meditation or become dejected because of our shortcomings.
Our hearts will definitely be tested because God wants to know that we are seeking and entering into this relationship solely for him and not for anything he can give us. He does not want our seeking him through some spiritual path to be just a momentary or half-hearted quest.
Come, beloved Lord, grant me Thy darshan;
Away from Thee I cannot stay alive.
Like the lotus without water,
like the night without moon,
is Thy dear one without Thee, O Lord.
In anguish I wander day and night.
And pangs of separation keep gnawing at my heart
What can I say? I have no words to convey my longing;
Pray, come and quench this fire that’s searing my heart.
Mira, The Divine Lover
His love for us is fathomless, and when he sees that the shift within us is genuine and complete, the floodgates of his sanctuary will open. Then, in a moment of indescribable bliss, we will stand before our beloved and, hand in hand, step over the threshold to new horizons.
During prayer, God lifts the veils and opens the gates of the invisible, so that His servant is standing in front of Him. The prayer creates a secret connection between the one praying and the one prayed to. Prayer is a threshold at the entrance to God’s reality.
Muhammad, as quoted in Adventures in Prayer