We Get What We Deserve
From our Master, we get what we need, not what we think we want. These statements may sound similar, but are really very different. The truth is, we get what we need.
We are here on earth to live life as best we can, to interact with others and to settle our karmas. The trouble is that we all believe that we can plan how that is to be done. And much of the time, we also believe that we can predict the outcome.
Think of this when the unexpected happens; be conscious of the fact that Master is giving you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. That should be very comforting, even though, at the time, you may not know why.
Maharaj Charan Singh put it more bluntly. He said: “You get what you deserve.” This could be quite worrying for some of us. But of course we should be thankful that it’s always tempered with the Master’s bountiful mercy. The words of Nam Dev, quoted in Kabir, The Great Mystic, express succinctly the daily ups and downs we must go through as we reap the consequences of our karmic account:
One day He confers a caparisoned horse to ride,
While the next day the disciple
Has to trudge barefoot on the path.
Yet the devotee does not complain.
One day a beautiful bed is prepared,
And the next day the bare earth is denied.
Yet the devotee rejoices in all that.
The law of karma is very simple. We reap what we have sown in the past, and that is what we deserve. Therefore, we should always act with love and do only actions, of which we want to reap the results. If you sow wheat seeds, you get wheat. If you sow barley seeds, you get barley. And if you sow nettles, you get nettles. You wouldn’t expect anything else. So why expect anything else of karma? We can’t change what we have done in the past, and we have to pay off our debts. We can at least be happy that, with the Master’s grace, we are able to pay them, welcoming each opportunity with a tranquil heart.
A memorable image can help us with this: whatever comes your way, be it welcome or unwelcome, wrap it in a pretty box and tie an imaginary label on it that says “From God, with love”. Remember this when happy and welcome things happen to you but also remember to do it when unwanted things happen. By doing this we’re a step closer to taking shelter in the Master – he is our refuge.
We learn from the teachings of the saints that, once we’ve received initiation, we may depend on the fact that whatever happens to us, there is a very good reason for it.
How can we even begin to know what we need? Much of the time, we don’t even know what’s going to happen to us tomorrow, or later today. So how can we build castles in the air a year ahead, or six months, or three months, or even a month ahead, basing our plans on what we think we will need? All of our life is, in fact, the adjustment of our karmic account.
Of course, to exist in this world, we have to try to plan, we shouldn’t simply drift along. But what actually happens is beyond our control. The only thing that we can count on is that our Master is there with us. We should do our best, make provisional plans, try to prepare for what we think will happen, and then leave it to Master. This is explained beautifully in a letter from Maharaj Charan Singh in Treasure Beyond Measure :
You know that all our life is, in fact, the adjustment of our karmic account. It is difficult to say what is for our good. Better it is to leave everything in the hands of the Lord, and to be happy at what he does. Please do not feel perturbed at all. Turn to bhajan and simran, and you will be happy by abiding in the will of the Lord. View all your surroundings and relations as if this world was meant for adjustment of our accounts with them. Thank the Lord for what he has bestowed upon you, and keep your mind in bhajan and simran.
Our present lifespan on earth is so very short compared to infinity that whatever we plan for now is really totally insignificant. To think that we can influence the grand plan – into which everything (including ourselves) must fit – is patently ridiculous.
Only five hundred years ago there was no Sikhism; thirteen hundred years ago there was no Islam; just over two thousand years ago there was no Christianity; and three thousand years ago there was no Buddhism, yet all of these are now considered to be fundamental influences on man’s conduct and destiny. Many wars have been fought over them. But even the great religions are just the blink of an eye in eternity. So how significant can a few days, weeks, months or even years in our own lives ever be? Clearly, in a personal way they can be significant. But only if they are used as our Master wants us to use them – in other words, in strengthening our connection to the force that drives everything, the Shabd.
Master asks us to do four things – all designed to make our journey back to our true home possible: to live a moral and upright life; not to eat meat, fish or eggs, or anything containing them; not to drink alcohol, take mind-altering drugs or use any tobacco products; and to meditate for at least two and a half hours every day.
This world won’t change. Masters don’t come here to change it. They come here to take us away. It all comes back to our meditation – our simran and bhajan – practical things that we can do to show that we are willing and trying hard, and that we want to work with him.
The soul has a deep need to return to its source and to merge with the Lord. Many of the problems of the present day are caused by this inner need, but there is little or no understanding as to what it is or what to do about it. People rebel against society and its norms; they fight wars over which is the right way to do this thing and that thing. Some people experiment with drugs in their desire for enhanced meaning of life – they know they’re looking for something but they don’t know what.
For a seeker, finding the path of Sant Mat means that now we don’t have to go on searching, we don’t have to experiment. The wonderful thing is that we have discovered what we really need to do, and a living Master has taught us how to do it. We are so fortunate! We have a living example to follow. On this path we don’t need drug-induced experiences followed by misery; we don’t need academic qualifications, or financial investment. All that we need to do is to follow those four simple rules.
Though Sant Mat is simple, we do need an iron will to keep to our promises. It is only by keeping to these promises that we will really understand that what we are offered is exactly what we need. The Master has said that he’ll take many steps toward us for each faithful and obedient step we take toward him and will lovingly take us by the hand to lead us on.
Success in life lies in how we respond to what happens, not in what happens. What happens is entirely the result of what has happened before, but the quality of our response to it depends on something else – where our attention is. We can’t change what has happened. That is beyond our control. But we can change how we respond and this is very important.
Life on earth undergoes constant change, but we continue to need the same message, although it may be given in different ways. Each Master brings us what we need, in our particular time, in our particular circumstances. The basic message remains the same; it is only the way in which it is delivered that changes to suit the time and the needs of us all. Today we don’t have to decipher ancient writings and argue over their translation and meaning. All we have to do is look to the living Master, attend to satsang and do our bhajan and simran. In Sar Bachan Poetry, we read Soami Ji’s words of advice:
I know, dear Soul, that you have been in distress,
In distress ever since you forgot Shabd,
And made friends with the mind.
Attend satsang, seek your true destination
And lose yourself in your Master’s love.
Maharaj Charan Singh gave exactly the same message for his disciples, expressed in the way that they needed to hear it:
Give up all feeling of depression and live a joyous life, fully relaxed and thanking the Lord for the great gift he has conferred on you. Keep your thoughts in simran and bhajan and see what happiness you will find within yourself. Do not worry about anything in this life, which is all an unpleasant dream. The real life lies beyond, where your Master awaits you.