This Human Life
In Rumi’s Masnavi, there is a story of a stickler for grammar who was being rowed across a river in a boat. Turning to the boatman with a self-satisfied air, he asked him:
“Have you ever studied grammar?”
“No,” replied the boatman.
“Then half your life has gone to waste,” the grammarian said.
The boatman thereupon felt very depressed, but he did not answer for the moment. Presently the wind tossed the boat into a whirlpool. The boatman shouted to the grammarian:
“Do you know how to swim?”
“No,” the grammarian replied, “my well-spoken, handsome fellow.”
“In that case, grammarian,” the boatman remarked, “the whole of your life has gone to waste, for the boat is sinking in these whirlpools.”
As short-lived as our lives may be, our being trapped in this human frame is not always a whole lot of fun. Life is very uncertain, and we face problems at every step. This body is like a vessel of clay, very easy to damage or destroy. But fragile as it is, this clay vessel has two things that the higher worlds cannot offer: first, a constant call from the Lord to advance spiritually; and second, the Lord, who has placed himself in this body with us. Yes, the all-powerful Creator is right inside our vessel of clay!
It is only while in the human form that a soul can progress to reach union with the Lord. In fact, the mystics explain that it can be done during this very life. What is more, we have no alternative. With the Lord’s grace this will most certainly happen.
The fact is that the soul is very unhappy here. Maharaj Charan Singh tells us:
The soul is a drop of the divine ocean and is always soaring towards its own origin. Soul is always anxious to go back to its own source. Love and devotion are in the soul. It is the mind which is keeping us attached to this creation, while the soul is becoming very unhappy in this creation. It’s very unhappy. This is why we have the feeling of loneliness, no matter what we have in this creation. We always feel lonely.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
The Lord is showering his grace on us, and he is anxious for us to be filled with his divine love. But it has become second nature for us to seek relief from our suffering by indulging in sense pleasures. It just happens so naturally. How fleeting and fragile this body and its existence are. As one of the Dera speakers of yesteryear always used to say: “Our ship of life is sinking and we are polishing the brass.”
But how to break from this deep attachment to life? How to awake from this deep sleep? How to remove the thick veil? How to turn our gaze inward and upward to the heavens from where nectar is showering down? How to reach the embrace of our Beloved?
Maharaj Ji was once asked, “Master, is it possible to break strong attachments without pain?” He responded:
You can only break strong attachments by experiencing joy; joy from becoming one with the sound and light within. That bliss and peace which you get by attending to your meditation, that will break your strong attachments and strong bondages, so then the question of pain doesn’t arise at all.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
And the load of karma that we have accumulated over innumerable lives is very heavy indeed. Paying all of it would require suffering for hundreds of lives. In the same volume of Spiritual Perspectives, Maharaj Ji says:
We can always burn our karmas. They can always be destroyed. That is the purpose of meditation; otherwise we would have taken hundreds of lives to fulfil those karmas. But by meditation it can be done in one, or two, or three lives – four at the most. The object of meditation is to destroy those karmas, to clear those karmas.
Then Maharaj Ji adds that one little portion of Nam or Shabd burns thousand and millions of karmas. And this is all possible while we are still in this human body.
It is sometimes said that the path is much longer than it is hard. The Masters explain that it is through meditation that the battle is won, slowly and slowly. There is a story told about a mystic who knew he was soon to die and needed to choose a successor. One afternoon he invited a number of his most devoted followers to go for a walk with him in the forest. Somewhere along the way they took a wrong turn and soon found themselves lost. The forest was thick and dense, and darkness descended. As the evening drew on there seemed to be no way of finding their way home.
After travelling in darkness in the treacherous jungle for many hours they reached a fork in the road. The Master then turned to his two most devoted disciples and asked them which way they thought would lead back home. One of the disciples was a learned man who promptly started analyzing the shrub growth, position of the moon and so on. The other man answered without hesitation that it was irrelevant which route they took. He had completely submitted to his Master and as far as he was concerned, wherever his Master was, that was home for him. Even just that split second of analysis from the learned disciple disqualified him from succeeding his Master. The one who had submitted completely was appointed as the next Master.
Very few disciples are capable of this kind of submission. For the rest of us this is simply impossible. We have to work to reach the eye centre. We have to work to go within – which will be a momentous occasion for which we have been waiting for innumerable ages. This will be the most profound moment in our entire existence, but it requires a high state of mental strength and purity.
In Spiritual Gems Great Master explains:
Our chief aim should be to unite with our Creator and avoid lust, anger, avarice, attachment and pride as far as we can, as they are our enemies. At all times our hearts should be full of love for the Master and our own mind should be so fearless that it should not be ruffled if it were given the kingdom of the world nor if the kingdom of the world were taken from it. When the mind has become like that, the Master penetrates it with his real light.
This is a very high state indeed, but one that the Master guarantees we will ultimately reach. Exactly how long this will take depends on us and on our meditation practice. This is the only way. As Maharaj Ji explains in Spiritual Perspectives Vol. II:
There is one very special process.… That is meditation. You see, meditation creates love. It strengthens love. It deepens love. It grows love. Ultimately, it illuminates you and it makes you God. That’s all meditation.
The objective is to reach the Radiant Form of the Master while in this human form, and then to progress onward. We have to persevere. This does not mean working really hard at meditation for a day or a week or even a year. As the saying goes: “Slow and steady wins the race.” This has become a lifelong fight between the higher and lower mind. We can never tire or give up trying to curb this lower mind and its tendencies. The truth is that we are far better and higher than all of this, and it is only a matter of time before victory will be ours.
There is a beautiful photo of Maharaj Ji at the Dera hanging in Hostel 6. He is preparing a rose to be photographed by delicately and lovingly arranging its petals. Maharaj Ji seems focused on bringing out the beauty of the rose. In the same way we need to work on our simran and meditation each and every day – turn our gaze inward and upward so that our Master may delicately open the petals of our heart and restore us to our pristine beauty. This is how the purpose of this life will be achieved.
Do not lose heart. The battle has just begun, and fight courageously. Mind is not stronger than the Sound Current. The Master is with you. He is watching your every movement. He is prepared to fight your battles with you. Take him as your helper. Have faith in him. Fight the mind and you will succeed.