Living in the Will of the Master
Is Sant Mat a simple path? Few people who have tried to follow it would claim that it is easy. The concepts and guidelines are simple, but the confused and polluted nature of our mind makes practice difficult. Mind creates all sorts of problems. It seems we have an in-built talent for making simple things complicated!
Typically, the word ‘pollution’ is used to refer to smog and smoke, to the holes in the ozone layer, and toxic chemicals in the atmosphere. But what about the pollution in our minds? The mind is one of our most precious assets but, in its existing state, it is also the sediment that drags us down and keeps us drowning in a fog of perpetual misery. Purification, the removal of all impurities of the mind, is the only way to achieve salvation and end our suffering. There is a way to do this – it is by living in the will of the Master.
We know the Master has come to show us what to do in order to advance spiritually. To this end, we are given four simple rules to obey. These entail adopting a lacto-vegetarian diet; using no drugs, alcohol or tobacco; leading an honest life; and practising at least two and a half hours meditation every day. All four are essential, with the last one the most important. Only meditation can purify the mind and remove us from the realm of the physical. This is why it is the one activity that the Master constantly stresses above all else.
When we practise meditation, we are living in the will of the Master because we are submitting to the precepts of spirituality. It is difficult to quieten the mind. It may even be difficult to find the motivation to practise meditation as there is so much to distract us. The outward pull on the mind is strong and the imbalance of ‘a little bit of meditation’ against ‘a lot of living’ doesn’t make things any easier. Nonetheless, we must persevere as best we can, avoiding the temptation to wait for better circumstances or for the mind to co-operate. As the Master reminds us, we must practise our meditation despite the situation in which we find ourselves.
At another level, living in the will of the Master means accepting our destiny – that is, being satisfied with, or at least tolerating, the events in our lives that we would have preferred not to experience. However, this is easier said than done. If we look back over our life we can, with hindsight, probably identify things that seemed to be a disaster but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Such realization comes with the passage of time, but it would have been so much easier if we had been willing to accept, rather than resist, the events of life as they unfolded.
This is where meditation helps. With regular practice, meditation strengthens our ability to face life’s struggles with equanimity. This is essential because no matter how hard we try we cannot change our destiny; nor will our Master interfere even though he has the power to do so. Why not? Why wouldn’t the Master want to spare us from all those events that cause us heartbreak, sorrow, anger or worry?
The Master is the perfect sevadar. Under instruction from the Lord to bring home allotted souls, he performs his duty both quickly and obediently. He will not interfere with the divine laws of the universe, including the law of karma, because karmic debt must be cleared before the soul can merge with the Lord. As our destiny represents a portion of this debt, the Master does not change it by preventing, for example, events that appear to us to be catastrophic, since this would simply delay our journey. Viewed in this light, we should be grateful they have occurred.
For many of us, however, our meditation has yet to reach a stage where we can experience negative happenings with such equanimity. Until we reach this level, we may legitimately ask the Lord for the courage and fortitude to endure painful events, maybe even the strength to view them as his gifts. Indeed, for Maharaj Sawan Singh, quoting the Adi Granth in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV, the mark of a true disciple is the ability to go through his or her destiny cheerfully; such a disciple is rewarded in the following way:
He alone is a devotee of the Master
Who is content in the Lord’s Will.
Within him ring unstruck melodies of bliss
And the Lord himself embraces him.
If we stopped to reflect fully upon this, we would throw ourselves into our meditation so that we too could experience the ‘embrace’ of the Lord. However, before this aspiration becomes a reality, we must overcome one of the biggest obstacles standing in our way – the ego.
Eradicating the ego
We could imagine the ego like a glass bottle filled with sea water. If we threw the bottle into the ocean, the water would remain in the bottle, separate from the sea. But, if we were to smash the bottle, the water would merge into the ocean and become one with the sea. In our present condition, it is our ego, our mind and sense of separateness, which encases the soul and prevents it from merging with the Lord. It is what makes it hard to live in the will of the Master.
If, however, we were to eradicate the ego, our separation would end. So, how do we do this? Returning to our starting point, the answer lies in the four simple rules the Master asks us to follow, particularly the one about diligently attending to our simran and bhajan. Obedience, acceptance, and eradicating the ego are all facets of living in the will of the Master. Through these, slowly but surely, we are being cleansed and purified so that we may become worthy of the final reunion.
It seems fitting to conclude with the following prayer. Maharaj Sawan Singh, in Call of the Great Master, gave it as an example of how we might entreat the Lord to help us surrender to his will and become one with him. It aptly captures the heartfelt desire of disciples the world over.
My Lord, I am ignorant, I do not know what to ask from you. Give me that which you think best for me. And give me the strength and wisdom to be happy about what you deem fit to give me, and about how and where you keep me.
I have no virtues, no devotion. My actions are all dark and sinful; I possess no merits and the mind has thoroughly crushed me.
For a sinner like myself, O Lord, there is no refuge but thy Blessed Feet. Please take me under Thy shelter. I want nothing more. Make me thy slave that I may become thine and thou mayest become mine.