Our Most Important Work
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16
This quote from the Bible is what Sant Mat is all about. The science of the soul teaches us how to look within this human body, the temple of God. During meditation we search within and become aware of the spirit of God that dwells within us.
According to all spiritual Masters, raising our consciousness to the inner spiritual regions is not only our highest task, but is also the primary purpose of our human existence and our birthright. In order to follow this path of God-realization, initiation by a living Master is essential. The message that the Master brings to us is that there is only one God and we can experience his presence during our lifetime – that is, before death.
In order to achieve God-realization, meditation must be the primary focus of all initiates on this path. Everything else is secondary. With the aid of our meditation we are able to extend our consciousness into transcendental dimensions and attain God-realization.
One could say that there are five stages to meditation. The first stage is learning to still the mind. This phase can be instantaneous at the time of our initiation, or it can take a lifetime of dedicated meditation. The second stage of meditation is when, after attaining and maintaining perfect concentration, we get to meet the Radiant or Shabd form of the Master. The third stage starts when the Shabd form of the Master guides the disciple safely through the astral and causal regions. The fourth stage is that of self-realization. This is when the soul reaches the fourth spiritual region, and in joy and ecstasy – the disciple having shed body and mind – realizes that it is pure spirit. Our soul finally remembers what it really is and exclaims, “That am I.” The fifth and final stage is God-realization. This is when the soul merges with the divine Word, the Shabd, and all sense of duality evaporates. The drop becomes one with the Ocean.
As every Master tells us, true meditation – which is listening to the inner divine sound – is the only way back to our source and to salvation. In Psalms 46:10 we read: “Be still, and know that I am God.” That is a command to do our meditation.
Meditation is what this path is all about and its rewards are boundless. Through our practice we are ultimately transported to the highest spiritual regions – to the home the soul longs for. But unfortunately we often misunderstand and distort that longing into a never-ending desire for yet more possessions and more distractions.
Meditation is the way to freedom from everything that frightens and upsets us as human beings on this level of existence. It will transport us to regions of peace and beauty beyond imagination.
Our actions need to reflect our desires. Hazur Maharaj Ji also tells us in Quest for Light:
The love of the Lord is there for everyone and there is no question of withholding it from anyone. We have to make ourselves deserving of that love. If we are receptive, the love flows from within. It is nowhere outside. The source of it is within you, whence it has to grow through meditation.
The best approach to the day is to build our lives around Sant Mat, and not to try and fit Sant Mat somewhere into our lives. Our Master is not unaware of the difficulties of living a demanding life, full of responsibilities. That’s why he says that the smallest effort on our part to keep this Sant Mat discipline will be rewarded a hundredfold by his grace. All our little baby-steps towards him are how we attempt to make ourselves deserving of that love.
With the aid of our meditation, we gradually become aware of the divine sound as exquisite spiritual music. This is not some fairy story. This is real, as all Masters throughout the ages have emphasized. It was real in ancient times and it is real today.
It has been so long that our attention has been turned away from the Father that we cannot expect to work miracles and, with a few sittings of meditation, think that we can go within and see the Shabd form of the Master. In fact, we cannot do it on our own. It is only by his grace that any progress is made. But we need to be vigilant. We need to show up for our meditation every morning. We need to make the ground fertile, and only then will the seed of Nam sprout.
Huzur Maharaj Ji was asked: ‘Where does effort come from? Does it come from grace?’ This was his reply:
They both go together. Without grace, effort will not come, and without effort, you will not get grace. Without the Lord’s grace you would never be on the path and would never meet the Master, nor would you be filled with the desire to meditate. So first came his grace and now should come the desire for meditation.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
So now that we have received his grace in the form of initiation, we have to put in the effort to meditate. Now that we know his grace is there, we must put in the effort to respond to that grace. He has played his part and now we must play ours. He is waiting for our effort so that he can reward us with even more grace. It is time to take responsibility, to the extent that we strictly adhere to the vows we take at the time of initiation.
As initiates of a perfect Master, we are all trying to merge with the divine Sound that is pulsating through everything and everybody. We are trying to transcend the physical and obtain personal spiritual experience with the help of the ultimate mystic adept – our Master.
The Master teaches us how to cross the gates of death even during our lifetime, and see for ourselves all that is hidden beyond. It is quite true that no ordinary person can physically return to us after their death to give us news of the next world. However, in a spiritual context, a perfect mystic adept dies to the world and returns to act in the world at will. As liberated souls, they freely roam about in all the spiritual planes. They tell us about the other world, and at the time of our death they can help us in our journey to those spiritual regions.
If during meditation we also manage – as soul – to go into the subtle planes, we can also see the spiritual world before our death. This is what this path does for us: it teaches us how to die daily and go into the spiritual realms before our final physical death. It teaches us to unveil the hidden mystery of these realms, and then come back into the physical body.
The author of A Spiritual Primer says:
Saints point out that there are people who, while living in the world and carrying out their duties, remain detached. Being always aware of their spiritual nature, they remain constantly in touch with it. They live in the midst of illusion and are not deceived. … They have achieved perfect balance between their worldly and spiritual duties and have escaped the stress and misery of the world. They are people who have made spirituality their number one priority, and by living the saints’ teachings, they have merged their consciousness with the power behind all life.
So do we sit in silence, focus and really listen? Can we perceive the divine presence and hear the loving divine Voice? For nearly two centuries, the successive Masters in the Radha Soami line have been impressing upon us that meditation is the most important work we can do in this lifetime. They may couch their message in various ways – by pleading with us, begging, or hammering us, but no matter how they vary it, the content remains the same. What else can be said to convey the importance of their message?
The Master never downplays the importance of meditation. He has never told us that this is not important. He has never told us that there are other things that should be done in place of meditation. It is neither the second nor the third most important – it is the most important work for us to do.
In order for us to become true disciples we need to have equipoise, which means calmness, balance, serenity and stability. The only way to obtain equipoise is through daily meditation, by which we bring balance into our lives. We need to simplify our lives and not collect unnecessary burdens upon ourselves. The simpler our life, the more balanced it will be. We can be either fresh and balanced when we sit to be with our Master, or we can be exhausted and distressed. The choice is ours. If equipoise is not present in our lives, then we must simplify our lives and find serenity in the comfort of meditation and, if possible, our Master’s darshan.
Darshan is the helplessness of the lover gazing at the beloved. It is a cycle of pure love passing between the lover and the beloved. Receptiveness in darshan of the physical Master can lead to the darshan of the Shabd form, which is the goal of all initiates. This darshan of the Shabd form is what we must strive to achieve in this lifetime.