Have You Ever?
Have you ever had the experience of sitting on a train, looking at your fellow passengers, only to feel completely disconnected? Or had a feeling of utter aloneness despite being in the midst a crowd? At such moments we may start to question why we feel that way. In Quest for Light, Maharaj Charan Singh wrote a lovely response regarding this loneliness:
This constant feeling of loneliness and missing something is in reality the hidden unquenched thirst and craving of the soul for its Lord. It will always persist as long as the soul does not return to its ancient original home and meet its Lord.
Even though we understand this and pick ourselves up when we’re down, low ebbs still come and rattle our inner equilibrium.
The Masters continually tell us about the strength and calmness we can draw from our regular meditation practice. The practice of mindfulness in workplaces has become increasingly popular these days, because there have been proven results that it makes workers more relaxed, improves their concentration and reduces their heart rate. So surely, even with our most pathetic and feeble attempts at meditation every day, it is at the very least doing something to help us both physically and mentally.
We are told that once we are initiated, the Masters take over the administration of our karmas and those potential stab wounds can become mere pinpricks. The great thing is that we have the perfect method to get through those challenging times – the practice of simran.
It is a wonderful antidote and alternative. Rather than letting our mind obsess over negative, repetitive thoughts, we can give it something else to concentrate on, even if it is just for a little while. More importantly, through this action we are invoking the gift of love and faith.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Maharaj Charan Singh says:
Put your whole mind in these words; you will automatically feel the love and devotion. Let no other thought come in your mind. Let the whole of yourself, the whole of your mind, be in simran. Love comes automatically. The idea is that love creates faith, and faith helps us to practise.
We should do our meditation because our Master asks us to, and it pleases him. And in return he showers us with abundant grace and gives us the strength to persevere with our daily practice and to face life’s many hurdles. Eventually, we will reap the ultimate reward – being able to see the Radiant Form of the Master within.
This path is a journey that is completely individual for each of us. Our lives are preordained and will unfold as they are meant to. We are often given the analogy of puppets on strings, with the puppeteer guiding our steps and actions according to the individual scripts we’ve written by way of actions in previous lives.
At the lowest points in our life, it may not seem possible that we have created our fate, written the play of our own lives. But the director of our play, of our very own life’s movie, is only following the script. All we can do, in both good times and bad, is play our parts as actors and actresses to the best of our ability. There’s no point bemoaning our fate, as we will have to play out our scenes regardless of our complaints. The biggest comfort we have is that the Master is pulling the strings. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, we read:
We have to act in this world with detachment from our role in life, knowing that he is pulling the strings and whatever is to happen will happen, but all the same doing our best under all circumstances. Thus we make ourselves receptive and become good puppets in his hands.
Putting into practice what we have learnt is a step in the right direction. No one said that the spiritual journey would be easy. In the beginning there are preparations. Our research may involve reading books or asking others for their insights and advice. For some of us, this can take a fair amount of time. Some of us may travel on blind faith, believing that we’ll reach the end somehow; others will research very meticulously before feeling the comfort and courage to start.
Then we embark on this journey of a lifetime, of many lifetimes. Sometimes we seem to be driving through dark, cold valleys, where the road is rough and potholed. Sometimes we feel as if we are soaring above the clouds as the sun kisses our face. But the ups and downs are all part of the journey, and encountering the physical form of the Master helps us to make sense of it all. We begin to feel we have found what we were searching for all along.
Our first encounter with the Master feels special and unique to each one of us. It’s as if the Master shines a light inside us and we feel that anything is possible. When we see the Master in person, everything in the world pales into insignificance – we are so completely absorbed within his physical presence. It is the one time we can say we are truly living in the present moment. If only we could find a way to make that feeling last all day, every day, no matter what we are going through.
We all know those feelings we have after a national satsang or a trip to the Dera. Initially, we feel on a high, ready to conquer the world and take our renewed lightness and optimism with us into our daily lives. But often something happens that knocks us back into previous patterns of behaviour. We find ourselves seemingly back where we started, asking ourselves, “Why am I feeling like this again? Did I learn nothing from my last encounter with the Master?”
Whether we appreciate it or not, the truth is that things have sunk in and we have taken something positive away with us. Slowly but surely, with each encounter and with each round of simran that we do, we are beginning to make ourselves that little bit purer. We have to put in the hard work and keep on scrubbing at those layers of dirt we have accumulated. And eventually, we will start to see the golden hue shining through. Maharaj Charan Singh commented on this subject when he wrote in Quest for Light:
Please remember that this world is a furnace whose fires purify the mind and thus burn the dross away from the soul. The soul in itself is pure, but in its present state it is covered with the filth of mind and its desires. Trials and troubles are sent by the Lord for our own good, to burn away this filth. Take your woes and sorrows in that light and turn to the Lord for solace and peace.
In The Science of the Soul, Maharaj Jagat Singh said:
Regarding your statement that man is a lonely traveller in the journey of life, by and by, as you vacate the body from below, give up the path of the mind and travel the path of Nam, you will feel that you are not quite alone and that the Master always is your companion.
For many of us, in our darkest, lowest and most depressing periods, it has felt like we were completely alone. At these times, the Master was there all along. We didn’t see him, yet he was there, giving us that much-needed nudge or even carrying us. We should never underestimate the grace and love that the Master bestows on us and never forget that he is always there within us, giving us the encouragement and strength to keep going.
The Master absolutely believes in our ability to reach our final destination. That is why he initiated us in the first place. There are no failures on this path and he has promised unequivocally that he will take us back home. Let’s keep our promise to him and do our daily meditation. The Master only asks us to meditate, not to succeed at it. Isn’t that a wonderful thing in itself? We can meditate and be really ‘bad’ at it and nonetheless, if done sincerely, our meditation will still please our Master!
So what now? As our lives continue to unfold and we continue to make progress on this path, there will be good days and bad days – there will be dry spells interspersed with some cheerful moments, those little sweeties we receive that keep us motivated. The thing we need to keep telling ourselves is that it is all part of the grand plan, it’s all been written into our life’s story and we are just turning the pages as we go through the various chapters.
Maharaj Charan Singh reminds us in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
On the path, we are always going ahead and ahead. But we have to pass through so many phases; so many human failings are there. But we ultimately overcome them. The Lord doesn’t commit any mistakes. If he has marked someone, he has got to pull him to his own level. We commit mistakes, but not the One who has marked us, who is pulling us from within.