The Supreme Bargain
In the book Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II, Maharaj Charan Singh says:
The body is like a township, a beauteous township where the bargain of God’s nectar may be struck.
Here the human body is compared to a very beautiful town because, while living in it, we are able to strike the ultimate bargain with God. We are given these human bodies for the very purpose of God-realization. And only while living in the body can we take advantage of the bargain the Master has to offer. By following the teachings of the mystics and doing our meditation we can assist the Master in delivering us from the illusory world forever. Maharaj Charan Singh explains further:
This human form has been bestowed on us by the Lord so that we can do our real work. And what is our real work? It is any activity that frees us from the prison of the body and reunites us with the Lord.… The one real bargain we can get in the human form is love and devotion for the Lord and union with him.
So, what kind of bargain does Hazur mean? He shares with us that this bargain is love and devotion for the Lord and union with him. The bargain is substantial. In fact, this is one we cannot pass up. If we look up the definition of a bargain, we find that it is an agreement between two or more parties as to what each party will do for the other, and a thing bought or offered for sale more cheaply than is usual or expected.
It might be that Hazur is referring to both definitions. It’s definitely an agreement of both parties and it is clear what each party is to do. We agree to follow certain teachings in this human life, and the Master promises to help us achieve union with the Lord. The second definition also applies because this is the kind of agreement in which we are offered something of great value for less than expected – in this case, the bargain for our salvation for the mere price of following the vows we agreed to at the time of initiation and, in turn, developing love and devotion for the Lord.
Hazur explains elsewhere in Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II:
When we meditate on the Word according to the instructions of the Master, false love for this false world leaves us, and true love and longing for the true Lord develop within us. But until we go to a perfect Master and meditate on the Name, we cannot free ourselves from our attachment to this creation, nor can we develop love for the Lord.
That which is untrue is constantly changing. It is false because it is in a constant state of flux. Things live and die, they come and go, they are not permanent. That which is true is permanent – the only thing that is permanent is the Creator. Therefore, anything other than the Creator is false, illusory, ephemeral. The saints teach us the importance of attaching to that which is permanent. Thus, the deal we have struck with the Master, the bargain we have made, is very lofty. We have agreed to exchange this transitory existence for a complete merger with the Lord. The Masters have so much faith in us that they say that there are no failures in Sant Mat. And this makes us feel that we have secured an excellent bargain!
We are constantly reminded by the saints of the priceless nature of the gifts of the Lord. Our trade with the Divine has no worldly price tag. Ours is not a deal of worldly value.
In Tales of the Mystic East, we find the story of Nizamuddin, who was a great saint. It is said that no one who ever approached him came away empty-handed. A poor man who had a daughter to marry off once came to Nizamuddin begging for his help. The saint told the man that whatever offerings came to him in the next three days, he would happily give to the man. Not one offering was given and thus the man was terribly distraught. Nizamuddin, out of compassion and wanting to help the man, offered his shoes to him, telling him that at least he might get some food for the shoes. Disappointed, but thankful, the man took the shoes and set out to return to his home. As the man slowly made his way, he watched Amir Khusro, who had served the king, return with a huge caravan and many possessions.
As Amir approached the man, he began to smell the fragrance of his beloved Satguru (Nizamuddin), and when he passed he noticed the fragrance was behind him. When Amir asked the man where he had come from, the man shared his story of needing money but instead was given the old and worn-out shoes of Nizamuddin. With the love of a devoted disciple, Amir asked if he might buy the shoes from the man for the price of his entire caravan and all but two camels. Overjoyed, the man agreed and rejoiced at his remarkable good fortune.
Within a short time Amir found his beloved Satguru and placed the pair of shoes at his feet. Nizamuddin, smiling, asked: “My son, how much did you pay for such an old pair of shoes?” Amir humbly admitted to giving his entire caravan, his worldly possessions, and all but the two camels. Nizamuddin, smiled and said: “Brother, you paid a very low price indeed … they were truly a tremendous bargain … and actually, you got them for practically nothing!”
Further, Nizamuddin said, “To find a saint of the beloved Lord is the highest good fortune that can come to any man; for the saints are the rarest of jewels in all the world. And the gift of Nam, the Divine Melody of the Word of God that takes one to God, which the saints bestow on their disciples, is a treasure beyond any price. Compared with it, the cost of a caravan and all your worldly possessions is as nothing.”
Over and over again, we are reminded of the boon of having a living saint to teach us the way home. In the bargain we get the perfect trifecta! The realized teacher, the perfect method, and the promise that we will be delivered to our home. Until we realize what this bargain really is, it can be confusing and at times we get discouraged. Until we realize that the Guru is doing whatever he can to help us reverse the flow from outward to inward, we don’t always experience the journey as such a great bargain. As Hazur used to remind us: we can walk home with him hand in hand, or he can pull us by the ear! Sometimes the Guru has to get tough with us to get our attention.
Why do we need to make this “deal”? Why the need for such a bargain? It is because for lifetimes we have accumulated so many karmas that without the help of a Master we cannot remove the karmas, we cannot release the soul from the senses and the mind. Without the Master helping us to remove the karmas, we cannot let go of the illusion and remember that we are not really these bodies and minds that must die and be reborn, but rather we are pure soul. We have forgotten our origin. Our stories are all the same, like some strange science fiction film in which somehow we have become entrapped in an alien form and cannot access who we truly are. We are soul but cannot get free. Ours is a journey, one in which we don’t know where we are starting from, nor do we remember our destination. We don’t even know how long it will take to free the soul or to clear our karmas.
The saints are constantly trying to explain to us how the process works and the importance of meditation. Without meditation, without the practice of stillness, without the effort, we are not pulled by the Master from this wreckage of duality and illusion. Sadly, many of us get discouraged because we are still under the dictates of the mind, and we still operate from the perspective of time and desire. We have read of the journey within and we desire that. We want that. And yet, many of us get impatient with our seeming lack of progress. That is why the Master repeats over and over again that the process of separating the mind from the senses is very slow. We are like small children who want something right now. When we are little we want to be big; we want to be able to talk; we want to ride a bike or drive a car or play an instrument, but attaining these skills takes practice and patience. It is only through our practice that the Master can help us. It is through that action of meditation that we get his attention. It is through that action of meditation that we begin to see his intervention in detaching us from the world and attaching us to Shabd. It is through the practice of meditation that we experience what an incredible bargain we have made.
When Masters say that it is up to us, they are basically pleading with us to make good on our agreement to get the most out of this holy bargain. We cannot haggle over the price; we have already been told that the price of salvation is living our lives according to the vows, especially our commitment to do our meditation for at least two and one-half hours each day. It is that time with our Master that gives us our freedom. Developing love and devotion for the saint through meditation that cleanses the mind and turns it toward home.
We have somehow been given this incredible opportunity to grab on to such a priceless treasure. In essence, we have been given the boon of the supreme bargain. When we do our real work, he gives us the priceless gift of love and devotion. As Hazur says in Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II: “The one real bargain we can get in the human form is love and devotion for the Lord and union with him.”
Meditation strengthens that love. Meditation helps the love to grow, to grow to the extent that we become one with the Lord. It is all meditation. Meditation is nothing but love. What is love? What are the characteristics of love? To merge into another one, to become another being, to lose your own identity, to lose your own individuality and to become another being is love. And what is the purpose of meditation? To merge your soul back into the Father, to remove all the dross from the soul and to make it shine and to make it one with him. That is meditation. So that is why meditation itself is love. That is why we say that love is God and God is love, because God has the characteristics of love. Love of God is a characteristic of love. We become one with him.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II