Thermodynamics and Sant Mat
When perfect living Masters or enlightened beings say that a dark ignorance prevails in the world, they are deadly serious. More serious than we might ever guess.
Ignorance has many aspects to it – some more subtle than others. One is that you can easily go through your life so lost in your own self-created mental world, your thoughts and worries, that you miss all the good stuff around you. Albert Einstein was once asked what his most valuable asset was in achieving so much in science. His answer: curiosity. True curiosity is to take a holiday from one’s own self-centred mental world and to discover the wonder that is this life.
The Lord has given us so much – and much that we just don’t see. When you wake up in the morning and you open your eyes, does it ever occur to you that right through the night the sun has been working to keep the earth perfectly in its orbit? Do you give any thought to the fact that your body has been nourished and rested, and that millions of organisms in and outside of your body have worked right through the night to enable you even to awake again?
And then there is the whole ecosystem we live in, billions of souls that work without any thanks so that we can have food to eat, air to breathe, clean water to drink and a stable climate. When you start pondering this, it becomes quite clear that this human frame needs countless species of life to slave away tirelessly, simply so that it can exist. In his Passion for Creation Matthew Fox quotes the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart as saying: “If the only prayer you say in your entire life is thank you, that would be sufficient.”
But gratitude is not the general attitude today. We want it all and we want it now. And if possible, we want it for free. Alas, however, in this world you get nothing for nothing. In the words of the cliché, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Science explains this elegantly within a field known as thermodynamics. This is a mathematically rigorous field that is founded on three laws or observations of nature. The first of these states that in this life you have to act – you simply cannot sit still indefinitely and just be. Secondly, you cannot expect to get out even a tiny bit more than what you put in. The third law states that owing to the inherent chaos present in this universe, you will always get out less than what you put in.
These three laws can be summarized as follows: You have to play your part in this world, knowing full well that you will lose more than you gain. But what does thermodynamics really have to do with Sant Mat, you may wonder. The three laws just quoted do seem to have a lot to do with our everyday lives.
Spend some time at the Dera though, and you may find a very different perspective dawning – a rather thought-provoking perspective. The Dera is a colony in the north of India, which is the headquarters of the Sant Mat or Science of the Soul spiritual path. It is where the current living Master has his home, and it also houses several thousand initiates of this path.
In the light of the laws of thermodynamics, what is startling about the Dera is that here there is something like a free lunch – in fact, hundreds of thousands of free lunches every weekend. There is even free accommodation, free medical treatment and free teaching from a true spiritual Master.
What is consistent with thermodynamics is that in the Dera microcosm you do have to take part, even if just by doing your meditation. But you always get out more than what you put in. There the laws of thermodynamics seem to fail, and fail spectacularly!
How can this be? This is where a little healthy curiosity may come into play. How to solve this riddle? With a carefully conducted experiment, of course. The golden rule of scientific experimentation is that the validity of an experiment is directly proportional to the independence of the observer. Put simply, the observer should drop his own opinions and biases and look at the evidence afresh. What kind of experiment should one do then?
Well, the Masters of the Sant Mat spiritual path have always said that the Dera is built on seva and meditation. By definition, seva is selfless service. So, the experiment works like this: go to the Dera and do your meditation for at least two and a half hours every day, and then also engage in some kind of seva or selfless service. To help you to be as objective an observer as possible, it is also best to do your simran while doing your seva unless you are given a seva that requires full concentration, like editing books. Then, remember that this is to be selfless service. So no looking for any reward – that is cheating and will not reveal the key to the mystery.
But how to do selfless service? The Masters tell us that the mind is a powerful entity and will only do something if there is some reward attached. So seva becomes selfless only if done out of love for God, for the Master, a selfless love. And herein lies the key to the mystery.
Thermodynamics and its laws, as applied to modern society, assume that we act out of love for the self or the ego. But when you act out of love for your Master, the very feeling this brings is all the reward you ever want. And it is this selfless love that drives the Dera, that enables a few people to serve the multitudes day in and day out without ever getting tired of it. Doing some task out of love also becomes a huge amount of fun – because you’re not worrying about being rewarded (or not) for your effort. What’s more, whatever kind of work you do makes little difference – it is only the opportunity to serve others out of selfless love that counts.
The Dera is a very special place. It may be easier for us to experience this selfless seva there rather than elsewhere. Why? Because we are influenced by the company we keep. And the Master himself has such a clear influence on the day-to-day running of the Dera that you can’t help responding to the atmosphere of selfless and loving seva. So, spontaneously you act out of love for others, rather than out of love for yourself. For both the giver and receiver it’s a win-win situation. And that’s apart from the fun, much more fun than winning some game or succeeding in some business deal where your gain is another’s loss.
Selfless love and devotion are the keys here. In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, Great Master writes that “In spirituality the very first prerequisites are devotion and love.” This love is very rare and precious and is the true prayer to the Lord. How to achieve this? Great Master tells us: by simran and contemplation.
Simran is the repetition of the five names given us at the time of initiation. Its practice enables us to replace the obsessive thoughts of the self with these words. And the only way to do this consistently is with love and devotion. But how to achieve this kind of simran?
Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
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 the simran. Love comes automatically.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
We don’t need to spend our lives at the Dera to develop the kind of love and devotion that can lift us above our obsession with self, with the ego. We can do this with simran. With the simple repetition of our words we can free ourselves of the limitations imposed by ego, and we can discover the pleasure inherent in selfless service. We are also free then to look outward and see the wonders of the creation around us – and be grateful for it all.