Constancy Amidst Change
Everything in this plane of duality and impermanence changes. We experience growth and decay, sunshine and rain, heat and cold, happiness and sadness, birth and death, joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure. However, those of us with a living Master also know that he brings certain constants into our lives – things that are always present and are not subject to change and decay.
First, let us consider what brings us to the Master. We feel the homesickness, the longing for something this physical life can’t satisfy. The Lord answers our soul’s longing and brings us to the Master who gives us the priceless gift of initiation.
At initiation, we receive instruction in the meditation practice, which consists of simran, dhyan, and bhajan. Simran is the repetition of five holy names that redirects our attention from downwards and outwards to inwards and upwards and withdraws it to the eye centre. Dhyan, contemplation of the Master’s form, helps to focus and hold our attention at the eye centre. Bhajan, the practice of listening to the Sound, the Shabd, pulls us back to the Lord, to our true home.
We are expected to faithfully devote at least one tenth of our day (two and one-half hours) to meditation, so that we gradually withdraw our attention from the senses and shift our focus to the eye centre. This is a life-long practice. The true purpose of our life is to bring our attention to the eye centre where we become consciously connected with the Shabd, which is constant, vibrant and our real Master.
The Masters tell us that simran is our primary work in meditation. Simran done with love and devotion prepares us to meet the Lord and slowly calms the mind so that it can catch the Sound at the eye centre. This process takes some time, just as it takes a certain amount of time for food to cook. We can’t just turn on the stove for a couple of minutes and expect that a delicious meal will be instantly ready to eat. Similarly, we can’t sit in meditation for just twenty minutes whenever it happens to be convenient, or even to sit every day for just a year, and expect to reach the eye centre. The Masters have said that every second we devote to meditation counts, but those seconds have to multiply many, many times before we reach the place where our inner ear can hear and our inner eye can see.
After being initiated by the Master, it is only a matter of time for us to become aware of our true nature, to be consciously connected to our Father, the Creator – the unchanging reality within us. Until we have that experience, we are subject to feeling the effects of the changes that continually happen in our lives. We are sometimes shocked by the ups and downs of life. We may be happy when we have what we call “good fortune” – fame, a good marriage partner, beautiful, talented, obedient children – or when we have our dreams come true in some other way. But we are miserable if we lose someone or something.
We all have times when we think about our troubles, when we think we aren’t rich enough or lucky enough to get whatever we may want to possess. The mind pulls us out into the world and makes us forget that the changes in our lives are all part of a divine plan and that the Lord is the one who is directing the play. Instead of being upset when the play of our life doesn’t go as we expect it to, we might step back for a moment and reflect on the reality – we are being set up for a transformation. We can look at incidents that we find unpleasant as a message from the Lord. As Maharaj Sawan Singh explains in Dawn of Light:
Whatever good or bad happens to you, through whatever person or object, directly proceeds from our loving Father. All persons and objects are but tools in his hand.
The Lord’s grace is anything that brings us closer to him. Maharaj Charan Singh explains in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, that “grace is that which detaches us from the world and takes us back to the Lord, our true self.” It might be something beautiful that attracts us to the Lord or some terrible event in our lives that pulls us away from the material and toward the spiritual. The Lord doesn’t want us to forget him and become more attached to the creation. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Quest for Light:
Every initiate is being looked after by the Master and whatever comes to such a one, whether good or bad from the disciple’s limited point of view, is all within the knowledge of the Master and is for the disciple’s own good. The Lord has his own hand of protection on all those whom he has drawn to the path. Whatever pain, suffering, fear, unhappiness and whatever else such a disciple faces is all the settlement of his karmic accounts, which means the lightening of his burden.
We have to attain a level of spiritual maturity to feel gratitude for all that happens. Those who are attached to the world and don’t realize that they are puppets in this divine play want to run away. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Maharaj Charan Singh tells us, “It’s very difficult actually to accept the grace of the Father.”
We may have a concept of grace as being about material things in life, but the Sant Mat view is different. Hazur continues to tell us in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, that his concept of grace is about:
spiritual progress, about how many pitfalls we are saved from, how much we are saved at every step.… He never lets us go so far astray that we cannot come back to the path, that he cannot lead us back to the Father.
In contrast to the continual change in this physical realm, Master is always constant in his presence, his love, and his grace. We belong to the Master. When we are initiated, he takes charge of our destiny so that whatever happens to us is for our own spiritual growth and cleansing. Nothing happens without his knowledge. We can’t hide anything from him. And since all that comes from him is sent with love and for our own good, we can take comfort in the fact that he is with us even in the darkest of times.
God is love and real love is a constant – it never changes and never diminishes. It is through love that the entire creation came into existence. Shabd is love. Nothing can exist without love. The Master is the personification of love, of Shabd. God is the source of love and the soul originated within that source, so the soul’s inclination is to return to that source, to that love. His love is always there. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I:
Meditation not only creates love, it strengthens love. It helps you to grow and grow to become one with the Father. That is the love which helps us to lose our own identity, our own individuality; which helps us to become another being. That is love. And that is why we say that love is God and God is love, because love has the characteristic of becoming another being.
The Master awakens that love within us and meditation grows that love. We love him because he loves us. This may not be easy to remember when we are faced with changes and turning points in our life, but his love is still there. Our struggles and rough patches may be a chance for him to help us realize his presence and his grace.
Keeping in mind the constancy that our Master extends to us, through the ups and downs we must withstand in this life, let us make the effort to thank him for his presence, his love, and his grace. Let us make our meditation the constant in our lives.