A Two-Way Commitment
From a spiritual perspective we are very much like children. We have desires. We have needs. We have egos. We have opinions. But we lack experience and maturity.
We would never expect children to house, clothe, feed, and educate themselves. It doesn’t mean they are not intelligent or that they are inadequate – just that they are children! They need guidance. They need a parent to provide for them until they mature and develop the experience and skills to provide for themselves.
Children are often unaware that they need parental help and guidance. Ask a child if she wants to learn ballet – she will often truly believe that she already knows it. She doesn’t need lessons. In her mind she can already dance, figure skate, fly rocket ships, perform surgery. But ultimately the child comes to grips with the fact that she isn’t skilled at much of anything. Children have to submit to their higher power (parents) to teach them, enrol them in school, skating class, and ballet class.
God-realization is no different. In fact, our true dharma, our highest responsibility as human beings, is self-realization and God-realization. We may like to think that we can do it on our own and on our own terms. But this is just as preposterous as a four-year-old thinking she can win an Olympic gold medal in figure skating when she has never even put on a pair of skates. Who wants to work hard and sacrifice when we can just imagine success without all the hassle? Well, imagined success is empty. To achieve real success, the child needs a teacher. The teacher has the responsibility to teach and guide the student, and the student has the responsibility to follow that guidance. There is a reciprocating responsibility: the teacher’s duty is to guide (teach) well and the student’s duty is to learn well.
The need for a teacher is as true in spirituality as it is for a child seeking to learn any aspect of life. As for any other achievement, we need a teacher who has achieved what we are seeking and who will accept the responsibility to guide us to our goal. Then we have to take on the reciprocating responsibility to follow that guidance.
To realize God, we must live up to our responsibility as students – disciples of the Master. It’s not an option; it’s a must! Can you imagine thinking “I’m really tired today – I’m not going to feed my child?” With that attitude we’d most likely get put in jail and have our children removed from our home. Just as we need to care for and protect our children, we should assume a similar level of responsibility toward carrying out our meditation. By accepting initiation from the Master, we have taken on the absolute duty, the commitment, the dharma to meditate.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of becoming passive on this path. These words – taking responsibility, dharma, duty – are not passive. They are active. Remember, both the teacher and the student have responsibilities. We cannot be passive and expect the Master to do everything. At initiation, a two-way commitment is made. The Master has promised to lead us back to the Lord, while we have committed to following the principles of Sant Mat.
We may not always feel like meditating. We may not always be motivated or inspired. But we can’t wait for divine inspiration before we fulfil our commitment. What is important is that we have a duty, a responsibility, a commitment to meditate. It is not an option. It’s a duty. Like the reciprocal responsibility of a child to its parents, we must hold up our side of the bargain with our Master. So even if we don’t feel like meditating, we are committed to doing it. And by doing our meditation every day and living up to our responsibilities and duty, our dharma is fulfilled, we become balanced – and with Master’s grace our purpose in life is achieved.